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Birth Year : 1776
Death Year : 1822
John Gloucester was born a slave in Kentucky. He was a gifted singer and the first African American minister of the first African American Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Before his church was built, Gloucester would sing outside, and when a crowd had gathered, he would begin preaching. In Kentucky, Gloucester had been owned by Reverend Gideon Blackburn, a leader in the Kentucky Presbyterian denomination. When Gloucester was ordained a minister, he was given his freedom. He preached throughout the United States and abroad, raising enough money to buy the freedom of his wife and children. The family settled in Philadelphia around 1807. For more see The Negro Church. Report of a Social Study..., edited by W. E. B. DuBois [full text at UNC Library, Documenting the American South]; and A Popular History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, by J. H. Patton.
See image of John Gloucester at the NYPL Digital Gallery.
Subjects: Freedom, Migration North, Musicians, Opera, Singers, Song Writers, Religion & Church Work
Geographic Region: Kentucky / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania