Tennent, Gilbert (1703-1764)

Evangelical preacher.

Licensed by Presbyterian Church (1725); ordained and called to New Brunswick, New Jersey (1726). With other ministers in the region, initiated a religious revival. Closely associated with George Whitefield, who wrote, “Hypocrites must either soon be converted or enraged at his Preaching. He is a Son of Thunder, and I find doth not regard the Face of Man.” Toured New Jersey, Maryland, and New England, preaching with popular success comparable to Whitefield’s (1739-41). Tennent’s denunciation of conservatism and formalism and his disregard for church discipline produced a schism in the Presbyterian Church (1741). Called to Philadelphia as minister of a newly organized Presbyterian church (1743); there he became a more conventional Calvinist preacher and worked to repair the schism. Trustee of the College of New Jersey (1746); traveled to England to seek funding forthe school (1753-55).

Son of Rev. William and Catharine (Kennedy) Tennent of County Armagh, Ireland. Immigrated to Philadelphia with his family as a teenager. Educated by his father, who later founded the “Log College.” Married (1) —. Married (2) Cornelia (De Peyster) Clarkson (c. 1742). Married (3) Sarah Spofford (by 1762); three children.