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OGILVIE, JOHN, Church of England clergyman; b. 1724 in New York City, son of Lieutenant William Ogilvie of the British army; m. 15 Sept. 1751 Susanna Catharine Symes of New York, and they had five children; m. secondly on 17 April 1769 Margaret Marston, widow of Philip Philipse, of New York; d. 26 Nov. 1774 in New York.

John Ogilvie enrolled in Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1745 and as an undergraduate became a candidate for holy orders; at this time he served as a lay reader in two missions. He graduated in 1748 and then sailed to England, having been recommended to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel as “a young Gentleman of good abilities . . . of much Piety and Zeal, and of a virtuous Life.” He was ordained deacon in London on 27 March 1749 and was raised to the priesthood on 2 April. On 30 June Ogilvie was licensed to officiate as an SPG missionary and was back in New York by 30 November.

On 31 March 1750 he began work at St Peter’s Church in Albany (N.Y.), a mission to which was attached the care of the Indians at Fort Hunter, some 40 miles to the west. Here, during a decade of turbulence and war, he ministered in English and Dutch to his motley frontier flock. Soon he was able to read church services in Mohawk, but he used an interpreter in preaching to the Indians. In later years he maintained his interest in the Fort Hunter congregation and directed the publication of the second Mohawk prayer book. This book was a new edition of a translation which had appeared in 1715. The revision had been done under the direction of Henry Barclay, former missionary at Fort Hunter; printing was begun in 1763 but was not completed until 1769 because of Barclay’s death and publishing difficulties. Christian Daniel Claus, who prepared a third edition in 1780, later indicated that the 1769 one was “replete with mistakes.”

Before the Seven Years’ War Ogilvie occasionally preached for the army, and on 1 Sept. 1756 he was appointed chaplain to the newly raised Royal American Regiment (62nd, later 60th Foot) on the recommendation of Sir William Johnson. In that capacity he accompanied the expedition under Johnson and Brigadier-General John Prideaux to Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.) in the summer of 1759, and after the capture of the fort he returned to Albany for a short time. He took up chaplaincy duties again under Amherst at Oswego, went to Montreal following its capture in 1760, and stayed there for four years. Ogilvie thus became the first minister of the Church of England to serve in Montreal. He was popular with the military and civil population, and he got along well with the Roman Catholic clergy and members of the religious orders. Since no Anglican church had been erected he conducted services in the chapel of the Hôtel-Dieu. He maintained contact with Albany and New York and he probably visited Quebec. Ogilvie performed baptisms at Sorel, Chambly, and Boucherville, near Montreal, and endeavoured to commend Anglican worship to Roman Catholic Mohawks by showing them the prayer book in their own language. In letters to the SPG in 1760 and 1763, Ogilvie observed, with some caution, that the large Sulpician and Jesuit estates might be a source for endowing missionary work among the Indians and for the establishment of the Church of England in Canada. In mentioning the Jesuit estates he anticipated an issue of major political importance in the next century [see Jean-Joseph Casot; Antoine-Nicolas Braun*].

In September 1764 Ogilvie was appointed assistant minister at Trinity Church in New York, where he laboured until his death. In 1769 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity by Marischal College (University of Aberdeen). Ogilvie was remembered favourably by many of his contemporaries; one commented that his “appearance was singularly prepossessing; his address and manners entirely those of a gentleman.” Claus, who as an Indian department official had been closely associated with Ogilvie, wrote to the SPG in 1782 describing him as “an ornament and a blessing to the Church he belonged to.”

T. R. Millman

Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A., Archives and Hist. Coll. – Episcopal Church (Austin, Tex.), E. L. Pennington papers, “The manuscript register and journal of the Reverend John Ogilvie, from April 22, 1750, to February 12, 1759 . . . ,” ed. E. L. Pennington (typescript), in the custody of the Hist. Soc. of the Episcopal Church (Austin) (copy in Anglican Church of Canada, General Synod Archives, Toronto). Abstracts of wills on file in the surrogates office, city of New York (17v., N.Y. Hist. Soc., Coll., [ser.3], XXV-XLI, New York, 1892–1908), VIII: 1771–1776, 247–48. Archives of the general convention: the correspondence of John Henry Hobart [1757–1811], ed. A. [E.] Lowndes (6v., New York, 1911–12), IV, 72, 123–34. [A. MacV.] Grant, Memoirs of an American lady . . . (New York and Philadelphia, 1846), 187. Charles Inglis, Sermon on II Corinth. V.6 occasioned by the death of John Ogilvie, D.D., assistant minister of Trinity Church, New-York (New York, 1774). Johnson papers (Sullivan et al.). F. B. Dexter, Biographical sketches of the graduates of Yale College with annals of the college history (6v., New York and New Haven, Conn., 1885–1912), II, 174–77. DAB. William Berrian, An historical sketch of Trinity Church, New York (New York, 1847), 127–34. Joseph Hooper, A history of Saint Peters Church in the city of Albany, intro. W. W. Battershal (Albany, N.Y., 1900). J. W. Lydekker, The faithful Mohawks (Cambridge, Eng., 1938). W. B. Sprague, Annals of the American pulpit . . . (9v., New York, 1857–69), V, 134–37. A. H. Young, “The Revd. John Ogilvie, D.D., an army chaplain at Fort Niagara and Montreal, 1759–60,” OH, XXII (1925), 296–337.

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Cite This Article

T. R. Millman, “OGILVIE, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed October 22, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/ogilvie_john_4E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/ogilvie_john_4E.html
Author of Article: T. R. Millman
Title of Article: OGILVIE, JOHN
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1979
Year of revision: 1979
Access Date: October 22, 2014