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Andrew Boyd

Union or Secession
Andrew Hunter Holmes Boyd (1814–1865)
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ANDREW HUNTER HOLMES BOYD (1814–1865)

Andrew Hunter Holmes Boyd (4 June 1814–16 December 1865), Presbyterian minister, was born in Berkeley County, the son of Elisha Boyd, a prominent attorney and member of the Convention of 1829–1830, and his second wife, Ann "Nancy" Holmes Boyd. He was named for his great-uncle Andrew Hunter Holmes, a Presbyterian minister. Boyd was educated at Martinsburg Academy and received an A.B. in 1830 from Jefferson College (later Washington and Jefferson College) in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He studied under Nathaniel William Taylor at Yale Divinity School from 1830 to 1832, at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1833 to 1836, and in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh in 1837. Boyd returned to Virginia and married Eleanor Frances Williams on 11 January 1838. They had three sons.

On 30 September 1837 the Winchester Presbytery licensed Boyd to preach and ordained him on 20 April 1839. He served short terms as the stated supply of Presbyterian congregations in Leesburg, at Middleburg in Loudoun County, at Cook's Creek in Rockingham County, and in Harrisonburg until March 1842, when he moved to Winchester as pastor of the Loudoun Street Presbyterian Church. Doubling as minister at nearby Opequon Church until 1850, Boyd regularly preached three times every Sunday during much of his time in Winchester. From 1850 until his death he also served as stated supply at Opequon. In 1853 Delaware College (later the University of Delaware) in Newark awarded him a D.D.

As a former pupil of Taylor, Boyd was one of the minority of Virginia Presbyterian clergymen to align themselves with the so-called New School Presbyterians, who differed from their Old School brethren on some questions of church governance, more readily embraced the evangelical movement, and endorsed a milder form of Calvinism. Loudoun Street was a newly formed New School congregation when Boyd became its pastor, and during the remainder of the antebellum period he was widely recognized as one of the leading New School ministers in Virginia. During the 1850s many northern New School Presbyterians became so critical of slavery that in 1857 Boyd joined other regional New School ministers in forming the United Synod of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a separate southern church.

Boyd defended the institution of slavery without apology. His Thanksgiving Sermon, Delivered in Winchester, Va., on Thursday, 29th November, 1860 (1860) accorded full responsibility for divisive sectionalism to Northern opponents of slavery. At that time Boyd earnestly espoused the cause of the Union, but after Virginia seceded he was equally vocal in his opposition to the Union army, which occupied Winchester several times. Between 1862 and 1864 he was arrested several times for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, for defiance of Union authority, or to serve as hostage to guarantee the good behavior of Winchester's citizens and was imprisoned for months in Wheeling and at Fort McHenry in Maryland. His health irretrievably damaged by the experience, Andrew Hunter Holmes Boyd died at his home in Winchester on 16 December 1865 and was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery in that town.

Contributed by R. Stanley Harsh

This biography, with a bibliographical note, appears in John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: The Library of Virginia, 1998– ), 2:167–168.

Copyright 2001 by the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.