After hearing a preacher speak John Marrant would be on the path to becoming the first Black preacher. Marrant was born 1755 in New York City but after his father passed, his mother moved the family throughout the Southern colonies. He was educated at an early age and able to read at 11. John Marrant was also a musically gifted child, able to play the violin and French horn.
EXPOSURE TO RELIGION
As a teenager, John Marrant would first listen to George Whitefield, a Methodist preacher, speak. Following a falling out with his family in regards to religion, he would head into the forest and end up lost. He resorted to his faith in God to lead him out safely but ends up being found by the Cherokee who sentence him to death. According to Marrant, he talked his way out of being executed and lived with them for two years.
CAREER AS A PREACHER
John Marrant began training to be a Methodist minister via the Countess of Huntingdon’s Connexion. Prior to this Marrant claimed to have served in the Royal Navy for six years. Of interest is that around this time he is documented as holding three slaves—a woman named Melia Marrant and two children. It is believed that this is his family and a means of keeping them out slavery.
By 1785, Marrant is ordained and sent to Nova Scotia. His flock is based in the Birchtown settlement just outside of Shelburne. That same year he wrote, “A Narrative of the Lord’s Wonderful Dealings with John Marrant, A Black” with help of fellow Huntingdon pastor William Aldridge. This was a very popular book and would see several editions.
He was in Nova Scotia for two years before moving to Boston. Very little is mentioned about his family life other than he married an Elizabeth Herries in Nova Scotia in 1788. He is made the African Masonic Lodge’s chaplain while in Boston and becomes involved in abolitionist activity. John Marrant would pass three years later in England at the age of 36.