Marrant, John

Black American evangelist and minister, born in New York on 15 June 1755. He was the son of a free-man who died when John was barely four years old. He was taken by his mother to Florida, then to Georgia and finally to South Carolina. At 13 he and another black youth attended one of George Whitefield's meetings in Charleston with the intention of causing trouble, but he was converted instead. Family disapproval caused him to adopt a wandering existence, doing missionary work among the Indians and narrowly escaping with his life on one occasion. After Independence he came to England, where he felt drawn to minister to the refugee slaves who were sent to Nova Scotia because of their loyalty to the British side in the war.

In 1785 he was ordained in the Countess of Huntingdon's chapel at Bath by her chaplain, the Rev. Thomas Wills and in the same year published his Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with John Marrant. Many of the former slaves whom he evangelized went to the new British colony of Sierra Leone in 1792, where they established a branch of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion which is still in existence. Marrant himself, however, does not appear to have been an officially appointed missionary of that Connexion and the Sierra Leone work was unknown to the Connexion in London until well into the next century. Obtaining a chaplaincy in Boston, Mass. in 1787, he married there and returned to England three years later. His Journal and two sermons were published in 1790. After a brief ministry in London he died at Islington on 15 April 1791. An engraving captioned 'Jno. Marrant, who preached among the Methodists in England, &C.' and published by D. Boulter, Yarmouth, in 1795, is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.