Stephen Elliott

First Bishop of Georgia 1841-1866

(August 31, 1806 – December 21, 1866)

Elliott was elected the first Bishop of Georgia. He also served as Provisional Bishop of Florida and the only Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina to southern aristocracy, Elliott attended Harvard before coming back to study closer to home and graduate from South Carolina College in 1825. He practiced law in Charleston. Following a conversion experience on hearing a Presbyterian evangelist preach at his Episcopal Church, Elliott studied for holy orders. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1836, having been ordained a deacon the previous year.

He taught religion at South Carolina College from 1835-1841 when he was consecrated Bishop of Georgia. He first married his cousin, Mary Gibbes Barnwell, daughter of Col. Robert W. Barnwell in 1828. Following her death, he married another cousin, Charlotte Bull Barnwell. Charlotte was the daughter of John G. Barnwell and granddaughter of Gen. John Barnwell and of Gen. Stephen Bull, of the Revolutionary army.

Elliott was a strong proponent of education. As Bishop he founded the girl’s school, Montpelier Institute, at great personal financial cost. Together with Bishops Polk and Otey, he also founded The University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.

Among his children was the novelist Sarah Barnwell Elliott (1848-1928) and the Rt. Rev. Robert Woodward Barnwell Elliott (1840-1887), missionary bishop to West Texas.

He died suddenly on December 21, 1866 just on returning home from an episcopal visitation. He is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah. He was succeeded as Bishop of Georgia by John Watrous Beckwith.