From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Ferrill, London [First African Baptist Church]

(born: 1789  -  died: October 12, 1854) 

A slave from Hanover County, VA, London Ferrill   became minister of the Lexington First African Baptist Church in 1820. The church became the largest church in Kentucky with 1,828 members. 

London Ferrill was born into slavery in 1789, the slave of Mrs. Ann Ferrill Winston, who gave him the name of her birth place, London, England [source: "Rev. London Ferrill; Kentucky's greatest Negro preacher," Lore of the Meadowland, by J. W. Townsend, pp. 28-34]. All of her slaves had the last name Ferrill. When Winston died when London Ferrill was nine years old, he was sold to Colonel Samuel Overton for $600, separating him from his mother. 

Ferrill's wife purchased his freedom (it is assumed that she was already free), and the two left Virginia for Kentucky, settling four miles outside of Lexington. The family of three is listed in the 1820 and 1830 U.S. Federal Censuses. 

London began preaching in the homes of his congregation, eventually ordained by the Elkhorn Baptist Association. At his request, he was granted permission to remain in Kentucky by the General Assembly [free Negroes were to leave the state  unless they were born in Kentucky].

At the age of 20, London Ferrill was baptized by Rev. Absalom Waller. During the time that  Lexington and Fayette County were hit by cholera, London Ferrill lost his wife on June 11, 1833. After her death, Ferrill moved into the Lexington community and eventually became the founder of the First Baptist Church for Colored People. which stood on the corner of East Short and Deweese Streets.

Ferrill died in Lexington on October 12, 1854, and is buried in the Old Episcopal Third Street Cemetery. He had no children when he died but left a will giving his property to his adopted children. 

For more see Biography of London Ferrill, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Colored Persons, Lexington, Ky at the Documenting the American South website; A History of Blacks in Kentucky from Slavery to Segregation, 1760-1891, by M. B. Lucas; London Ferrill Community Garden; and London Ferrell, [sic], African American Baptist Pastor on the Baptist History website. 

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Ferrill, London [First African Baptist Church],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-11-03 13:44:28