1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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 John P.K. Henshaw Papers

 Episcopal Bishop in Providence, RI

 Papers, 1813-1852

 Size: .25 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 1133

 Processed by: Karen Eberhart, December 2003

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Bishop John Prentiss Kewley Henshaw was born in Middletown, CT where he lived until the age of 19 when his family moved to Middlebury, VT. He advanced rapidly in his studies and by the age of 16 had graduated from Middlebury College and was admitted ad eundem gradum to Harvard University. He was baptized into the Protestant Episcopal Church by Rev. Mr. Kewley in Middletown, CT sometime around 1809. He took the name Kewley as part of his own in commemoration of the event. He was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Alexander V. Griswold in St. Michael's Church, Bristol, RI on June 13, 1813 - his 21st birthday. After his ordination, he spent 3 years at St. Anne's Church in Brooklyn, NY. While there he married Mary Gorham, daughter of Isaac and Sarah Thomas, on July 19, 1814. He was then called to St. Peter's Church in Baltimore, MD where he stayed for 26 years.

            After the death of Bishop Griswold, who had presided over the Eastern Diocese which encompassed all of New England except Connecticut, Rhode Island was set apart as a separate diocese. Henshaw was elected Bishop for the new diocese and as rector for Grace Church in Providence on April 6, 1843. He served in RI until his sudden death on July 20, 1852 near Frederick, MD where he had gone to fill in for Bishop Whittingham.

            John and Mary Henshaw had a total of 11 children (7 sons and 4 daughters) 4 of whom died in infancy. John Kewley (1815-1843); Alexander (1817-1854); Mary Gorham (1819-2/21/1888) married Col. George Corliss Nightingale on July 17, 1845; William Milnor (1820-1850); Rev. Daniel (1822-1908); Charles Henry (1825-1825); Elizabeth W. (1826-1826); I. Gorham (1828-1828); Charles Henry (1830-1910); Richmond (1833-1890) and Sarah (1831-1832).

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Scope and content:

            This collection contains two volumes of the diary written by Bishop Henshaw covering the years 1843-1852. The diary begins just after he has arrived in Rhode Island to assume his new duties as the Bishop of the Diocese. See the Guide to Mens' Diaries for a complete description and excerpts. The collection also contains letters to and from Rev. Henshaw primarily relating to his election to and duties as the Bishop of Rhode Island.

            Of particular note is a bill of sale from Charles Harrison to J.P.K. Henshaw for a female negro slave named Fanny dated in Baltimore 5/18/1835. The autobiography written by Bishop Henshaw's son, Daniel Henshaw, gives information about the reason Bishop Henshaw bought this woman (MSS 9001-H Henshaw, (Rev.) Daniel).

            A letter written by son William Henshaw to his brother Daniel while on board the ship George Washington describing his voyage to San Francisco heading for the gold mines, 8/13/1849 is also filed with Daniel Henshaw's autobiography in MSS 9001-H.

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            The diaries were a gift from Brett Iannuccillo who is a descendent of Bishop Henshaw. With the exception of the letter to D. Huntington dated 7/24/1849 (#1995.1.24), the provenance for the remainder of the collection is unknown.



Vol. 1        Diary, 1843-1847

Vol. 2        Diary, 1847-1852

Folder 1    Correspondence - incoming, 1843-1852

                        Bishop William Meade, April 1843

                        Henry Waterman, W. Grinnell - Providence, RI, 4/7/1843

                        Bishop J. Johns, Norfolk, VA, 4/15/1843

                        Bishop Doane, Riverside, NJ, April 1843

                        Bishop P. Chase, Jubilee, IL, 5/6/1843

                        Bishop Phil. Chase, St. Louis, MO, 7/10/1843

                        Bishop T.C. Brownell, Hartford, CT, 7/22/1843

                        J. Bushnell, Middlebury, VT, 4/17/1850

                        J. Bushnell, Middlebury, VT, 4/29/1850

                        R. H[illegible] Baltimore, MD,9/23/1851

                        Bishop Philander Chase, Jubilee College, IL, 10/3/1851

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, Baltimore, MD, 5/29/1852

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, Baltimore, MD, 6/8/1852

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, Baltimore, MD, 6/14/1852

                        David Caldwell, Georgetown, DC, 7/13/1852 - List of white and black person

                                    confirmed in Christ Church Georgetown


Folder 2    Correspondence - outgoing, 1817, 1843-1852

                        Vestry of Saint Peters Church in Baltimore, MD, 4/28/1817

                        Vestry of Grace Church in Providence, RI, 4/17/1843

                        H. Waterman and W. Grinnell in Providence, 4/17/1843

                        D. Huntington, 7/24/1849

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, 6/2/1852

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, 6/12/1852

                        Bishop W.R. Whittingham, 6/21/1852


Folder 3    Documents, 1813-1850

                        Ordination as Deacon by Bishop Alexander V. Griswold, 6/13/1813

                        Ordination as Priest by Bishop John Henry Hobart, 6/13/1816

                        Deed George A. Hughes to J.P.K. Henshaw for land in Baltimore, 10/18/1827

Bill of sale from Charles Harrison to J.P.K. Henshaw for female negro slave named

                                    Fanny, 5/18/1835

                        Copy of the meeting minutes of the Vestry for Grace Church, Providence, RI,

                                    electing Henshaw as Rector of the church, April 3 and April 7, 1843.

Appraisal of Daniel Henshaw's homestead in Middlebury, VT by Austin Johnson,

                                    Osias Seymour, and James McDonald, 4/15/1850


Folder 4    Writings, 1845-1849, n.d.

                        A vindication of the Protestant Episcopal Church in an Address on the occasion of

                                    Laying the corner stone of Grace Church Providence on Tuesday the 8th of

                                    April,1845 by the Rt. Revd. J.P.K. Henshaw D.D. Rector of Grace Church

                                    & Bishop of Rhode Island. Published at the request of the Vestry of Grace

                                    Church.            [manuscript 17p.]

                        The Stewardship of the Christian Ministry. A Charge to the Clergy of the

                                    Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Rhode Island. Delivered at

                                    the Annual Convention of the Said Diocese, held in Grace Church,

                                    Providence, June 13, 1848 By J.P.K. Henshaw D.D. Bishop of Rhode

                                    Island.             [manuscript 24p.]

                        The following Prayers are set forth, to be used, in the Diocese of Rhode Island,

                                    during the prevalence of the cholera in our country, immediately before the

                                    General Thanksgiving, at Morning or Evening Prayers, J.P.K. Henshaw,

                                    Bishop of Rhode Island, Providence, July 26, 1849 [ typescript 1p.]

                        Address at the laying of the cornerstone of the Church of the Ascension.

                                    [manuscript written by Bishop Henshaw 7p. undated]

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African Americans - Rhode Island.

Christ Church (Providence, R.I.)

Diaries, 1843-1852.

Episcopal Church - Bishops - Rhode Island.

Grace Church (Providence, R.I.)


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