Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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DUKE, William, clergyman, born on Patapsco Neck, Maryland, 15 September 1757; died in Elkton, Nd., in 1840. He was licensed as an exhorter when only sixteen years of age, and continued preaching until the spring of 1780, when, his health failing, he devoted the following summer to study, taking lessons in Latin and Greek. Up to 1784 the Methodists had been regarded as a branch of the Episcopal Church, and Mr. Duke had always considered himself an Episcopalian. When, therefore, at Christmas of that year, the Methodist conference constituted itself a separate Church, Mr. Duke at once severed his connection with it. In 1785 he was admitted to holy orders by Bishop Seabury, and in 1787 was called'to preside over St. Paul's parish in Prince George County, Maryland His salary being small, and not easily collected under the new voluntary system, Mr. Duke was again compelled to resort to teaching.
He labored subsequently in St. Paul's chapel, near Baltimore; North Elk parish, at the head of Chesapeake bay; St. Margaret's, Westminster, Anne Arundel Co. ; and St. Ann's Church, Annapolis. He also taught at Elkton, Maryland, was professor of languages at St. John's College, Annapolis, in 1803'4, was principal of Charlotte Hall School in 1812'14, and in 1818 returned to the academy at Elkton. He left a valuable library, which was presented by his daughter to St. James's College. He was the author of "A Clew to Religious Truth" (1795), written at a time when French infidelity was thought to be making inroads among the gentry of Maryland, and in 1819'20 was a contributor to the "Theological Repertory," his principal articles being "Letters to Candidates for Holy Orders," the "Thirty-nine Articles Collated with Texts of Scripture," and "The Study of Hebrew."
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