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About John Payne
John Payne (January 9, 1815 – October 23, 1874) was a Missionary Bishop from the Episcopal Church to Liberia, and the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Liberia.
Payne was born in 1815 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He was the son of John Payne and Francis (Morris) Payne, both of Virginia. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1833 and from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1836. Following his graduation, Payne was ordained deacon on July 17, 1836 at Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He married Anna Matilda Barroll in 1837, and they both spent the next five years as missionaries in Africa, primarily serving the colony of African-American ex-slaves living around Cape Palmas. Payne returned in 1841 to be ordained priest.
On July 11, 1851, Payne was consecrated Bishop of Cape Palmas and Parts Adjacent in West Africa. He was the 52nd bishop in the ECUSA, and was consecrated by Bishops William Meade, Alfred Lee, and John Johns. He spent the next twenty years in Liberia, before returning to the United States in ill health in 1871. During Payne's tenure, the Episcopal Church built five churches, two asylums, and a hospital, and ordained twenty priests. As an outgrowth of Payne's suggestion that a theology school be built in Liberia, the Liberian legislature incorporated Liberia College in 1851. During his time as bishop, Payne's wife died and he remarried, in 1858, to Martha Jane Williford of Georgia, another missionary.
The House of Bishops accepted Payne's resignation in 1871, and he died three years later at his home, "Cavalla," in Westmoreland County.