EMBURY, PHILIP: The first Methodist preacher in America; b. at Ballygaran near Ruthkeale (16 m. s.w. of Limerick), Ireland, c. Sept. 1, 1728; d. at Camden, Washington Co., N. Y., Aug., 1775. His parents were members of a colony of Palatines who settled in Ireland. He learned the carpenter's trade, was converted under Wesley's preaching in 1752, and began to preach soon afterward. Accompanied by Peter Sweitser, Paul and Barbara Heck, and others, he emigrated to America, landing at New York Aug. 10, 1760. Here he followed his trade and did not begin preaching again till 1766, being moved to do so then by the reproaches of his cousin Barbara Heck. The first services were held in his own house in Burrack Street, now Park Place. In 1768 the meetings were transferred to the famous "rigging loft" in what is now William Street. This was the first Methodist congregation in the United States of which there is record. In 1768, under Embury's direction, the first Methodist church was built on the site of the present John Street church. It was a stone structure forty-two by sixty feet. Embury himself worked on the building as a carpenter, and preached the dedicatory sermon Oct. 30, 1768. After serving the church gratuitously as pastor, trustee, and treasurer, Embury removed to Camden in the spring of 1770, shortly after the arrival in New York of the first missionaries sent out by Wesley. Here he continued to follow his trade during the week and preach every Sunday. At Ashgrove, near Camden, he organized the first Methodist society in what is now the Troy conference. His remains were first interred on a farm near Camden, then at Ashgrove, and finally (1866) in Woodland Cemetery, Cambridge, N. Y., where a monument to him was unveiled by Bishop Simpson in 1873.
Bibliography: N. Bangs, History of the Methodist Episcopal Church, vol. i., New York, 1832; W. B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, vii. 1-3, ib. 1861; J. M. Buckley, History of Methodists in the United States, passim, ib. 1896.