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John Ewing Edit Profile

pastor , President , professor , provost

John Ewing was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1759 until his death in 1802 and served as the provost of the University of Pennsylvania from 1780 to 1802.


Ewing, John was born on July 22, 1732 in East Nottingham, Maryland, United States. Son of Alexander Ewing.


Ewing was educated at a Pennsylvania prep school run by the Rev. Francis Alison, a respected classical scholar, and at the College of New Jersey (today's Princeton University), where he graduated with the class of 1754.


He also was a noted mathematician. Their parents, Nathaniel Ewing and Rachel Porter, had emigrated to America several years earlier from Northern Ireland. Ewing married Hannah Sergeant in 1758, and they had 12 children.

After working as a tutor at Alison's school, Ewing joined the faculty at the College of Philadelphia (today's University of Pennsylvania) in 1758 as a professor of ethics. He became a professor of natural philosophy in 1762. A selection of his sermons was published in 1812.

He became the university's provost in 1780. Ewing's scientific pursuits included observing the 1769 Transit of Venus from an observatory at the State House Yard and assisting with the routing of the boundary line for the state of Delaware and the path for the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. Ewing traveled to Britain in 1773 to raise money for the Newark Academy in Delaware.

During the trip, he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity from the University of Edinburgh and met with a number of prominent Britons, including Lord North, who was the prime minister, and Dr. Samuel Johnson, the English writer.


  • Other Work

    • Author papers published as A Plain Elementary and Practical System of Natural Experimental Philosophy, 1809.


Married Hannah Sergeant, circa 1758.

Alexander Ewing. Ewing

Hannah Sergeant