William Henry Foote, D. D. (1794-1869)
William Henry Foote, D. D., was born in Colchester, Connecticut, December 20th, 1794. He entered Yale College, in September, 1814; in the Spring of 1816 went to Virginia as Tutor in a private family, at Falmouth; returned to college in September, and received his degree of A. B., September 11th, 1816. Afterwards he resumed his duties as Tutor, in connection with the duties of which position he began to hold religious meetings in destitute neighborhoods, thus early developing a spirit which never ceased but with his life. In October, 1817, he placed himself under the care of the Presbytery of Winchester as a candidate for the gospel ministry. In July, 1818, he left Falmouth and became an assistant in the school of the Rev. Dr. Hill, in Winchester. In October, 1818, he went to the Theological Seminary at Princeton, but having injured his health by the excessive study incident to an effort to keep up with two classes he left the Institution in the Fall of 1819. He was licensed to preach the gospel, October 30th, of that year. After his licensure he performed missionary labor for some time, at the Ridge, and the Northern Neck. He began preaching, October 29th, in a circuit embracing Shenandoah county, and points of Frederick and Hampshire. After preaching as a missionary at other places, in June, 1822, he organized and afterwards became the pastor of the Church of Woodstock, and also the previously existing Church of Stoverstown (now Strasburg). While residing in Woodstock he established and conducted an academy.
In September, 1824, Dr. Foote was installed pastor of the congregations of Mouth Bethel, Springfield and Romney, residing at Romney, where he established, and conducted with great success, a Male and Female academy. His first pastoral connection with Romney extended to 1838, during which period his abundant labors there and throughout the country were greatly blessed. About the beginning of 1838 he was Agent of the "Central Board of Foreign Missions," and labored with great earnestness and success in the bounds of the Synods of Virginia and North Carolina. While engaged in this work he became deeply interested in the early history of the Presbyterian Church and ministry, and the fruits of his investigations are seen in his admirable "Sketches." In May, 1845, he returned to his old charge, in Romney and the Academy, and there continued until 1861, after which he was Agent for Hampden-Sidney College, then returned once more to Romney and Springfield, to labor till the close of his life, which occurred November 22d, 1869.
Dr. Foote was in many respects a marked man, of clear and strong convictions, and indomitable energy in carrying them into action. As a missionary and pastor, he was abundant in labors, never deterred by difficulties or dangers from the discharge of duty. As a member of different ecclesiastical bodies, he was faithful and judicious. In debate he was vigorous and logical. As a scholar, he was accurate and well informed; and as a writer, easy, copious and attractive. In his home and moments of relaxation he was affectionate and sympathetic, preserving greenness of heart even down to old age.