Born in Devonshire, England, in 1788, Henry Blatchford came to America in 1795, and upon graduating from New York’s Union College in 1811 was admitted to Princeton Seminary in 1812, becoming one of the Seminary’s first three students.
Even as a student at the Seminary, Blatchford’s characteristic devotion to caring for the ill was evident. When an outbreak of yellow fever hit the neighboring College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), Blatchford dedicated himself to attentively nursing its ill students. Out of gratitude for his compassionate care, the students of Nassau Hall presented Blatchford with several books in 1814. This early example of Blatchford’s heart for serving the sick would be indicative of his future ministry.
Following his studies at Princeton Seminary, Blatchford was ordained by the Presbytery of New York. Shortly thereafter, he took a post as pastor of the Irish (Seventh) Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he served for three years before moving to a pastorate in Salem, Massachusetts, for another three years.
In 1822, Blatchford accepted a charge in the rural Eastern Shore area of Maryland. His time serving there, however, was tragically short-lived. Only months after taking the position as pastor, Blatchford contracted malaria while caring for ill members of his parish. Having only taken the pastorate in June, Blatchford preached his last sermon in August, dying only two weeks later in early September. He was thirty-four years old.
Henry Blatchford’s daughter commented on her father’s pastoral heart in caring for the sick and suffering, writing, “He died on Monday of the following week, away from his family, of fever contracted from exposure to malaria; having delayed, a week longer than he intended, to comfort afflicted friends.”
Photo: The “1812 House”
The building in which Princeton Seminary held its first classes in 1812 and in which Henry Blatchford would have conducted his studies.