An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Forbes, John Murray

(May 5, 1807-Oct. 11, 1885). Controversial priest and seminary dean. He was born in New York City. Forbes graduated from Columbia College in 1827 and from the General Theological Seminary in 1830. He was ordained deacon on Aug. 1, 1830, and priest on May 24, 1831. Forbes began his ordained ministry as a tutor at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. He resigned that position in 1835 to become the rector of St. Luke's Church, New York City. While there he was influenced by the Tractarians. On Nov. 21, 1849, he renounced the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church. He joined the Roman Catholic Church, and on Feb. 27, 1850, he was deposed from the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church. Forbes was ordained a Roman Catholic priest on Nov. 16, 1850. In 1855 he was awarded a papal doctorate by Pius IX but on Oct. 17, 1859, he left the Roman Catholic Church. He was restored to the Episcopal priesthood on Nov. 20, 1862. Upon his return to the Episcopal Church, Forbes became the associate rector of St. Luke's, his former parish. Forbes was the first person elected dean of the General Theological Seminary by the Board of Trustees under the revised statutes of 1867. Prior to his election as dean, resident professors at General Seminary served as dean in annual rotation. Forbes returned to the Episcopal Church a firm Protestant, militantly anti-Roman and anti-ritualist. He resigned as dean on Nov. 1, 1872, and retired. Forbes died in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.