Whitefield, George

last name (variants): Whitifild; Whtifild
honorific(s): Reverend; Dr.; Mr.
Birth: December 27, 1714 in Gloucester, England
Death: September 30, 1770 in Newburyport, MA

Church of England


St. Mary's De Crypt in Gloucester, England; Pembroke College, Oxford; New Jersey College (M.A. 1754)


Methodist; Calvinistic Methodist




preacher, chaplain, evangelist


Ordained 1736 in Gloucester, England. Visited America 7 times (1738, 1739-1740, 1744-1748, 1751-1752, 1754-1755, 1763-1765, 1769-1770).

Marital status

Whitefield married Elizabeth James on November 14, 1741 in Abergavenny, Wales. They had at least one child, John Whitefield, who died as an infant (October 4, 1743-February 1744).


George Whitefield, the English itinerant preacher who helped spark the Great Awakening, was an essential supporter of Eleazar Wheelock’s project. Whitefield studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he met the pioneers of Methodism, John and Charles Wesley. He was ordained in 1736, and he made the first of his seven trips to America two years later. While abroad in 1740, Whitefield founded an orphanage in Georgia, and went on a preaching tour during which he met Wheelock and spread ideals that prompted the Great Awakening. Although Whitefield was ordained in the Church of England, his enthusiastic preaching style and charismatic personality made him a controversial figure, and traditional clergyman on both sides of the Atlantic censured him. Nonetheless, he continued to be an important contact and friend of Wheelock’s, and his dedication to Wheelock’s vision was evident. He contributed money to the cause, secured various other funders, and donated an eighty-pound prayer bell to the school. More importantly, Whitefield not only suggested to Wheelock the idea of a fundraising tour in Great Britain, he hosted Occom and Whitaker shortly after they arrived in England, provided a house for them to reside in for the remainder of their tour, and introduced the pair to influential figures such as William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth. Whitefield tabernacle’s was the setting of Occom’s first sermon in England on February 16, 1766, and many believe that Whitefield wrote the introduction to a pamphlet printed in London during the campaign (although he was not credited). Whitefield continued to be involved in Wheelock’s work until he died in Newburyport, MA in September of 1770.


Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Accessed via https://gateway.dartmouth.edu/,DanaInfo=lib.myilibrary.com+Open.aspx?id=70438. Calloway, Colin G. The Indian History of an American Institution: Native Americans and Dartmouth. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press, 2010. Accessed via http://lib.myilibrary.com/Open.aspx?id=270364. Chase, Frederick. A History of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. Ed. John K. Lord. Cambridge, MA: University Press, 1891-1913. Accessed via HathiTrust. Clark, Charles E. The Eastern Frontier: The Settlement of Northern New England, 1610-1763. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1983. Gillies, John. Memoirs of Rev. George Whitefield. Middletown, CT: Hunt & Noyes, 1838. Hart, James D., and Phillip W. Leininger. "Whitefield, George." In The Oxford Companion to American Literature. Oxford University Press, 1995. http://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195065480.001.0001/acref-9780195065480-e-5146. Henry, Stuart Clark. George Whitefield: Wayfaring Witness. New York: Abingdon Press, 1957. Love, DeLoss W. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Boston: Pilgrim Press, 1899. McCallum, James Dow. Eleazar Wheelock: Founder of Dartmouth College. Hanover: Dartmouth College Publications, 1939.