Ezekiel Cloyd

1760 - 1851

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister


EZEKIEL CLOYD was born on the 12 of February, 1760. His parents are supposed to have lived at the time in Montgomery county, Virginia. He was the son of John and Margaret Cloyd. His mother's name before her marriage was Scott. His parents emigrated from Ireland and settled in Virginia in 1758. They were, however, of Scotch origin. The name seems to have been originally Clyde. Of course the family were thoroughly Scotch. The parents were both members of the Presbyterian Church. I have in my possession the mother's certificate of Church-membership in Ireland. It is dated August 14, 1758, and given to Margaret Clyde, alias Scott.

In 1789 the parents of Mr. Cloyd, and himself with them, moved from Virginia to North Carolina. Some time previous to this removal he was married to Miss Rebecca Williamson. I have before me three certificates given by his friends and neighbors of Montgomery county, Virginia, upon the occasion of his removal to North Carolina. They all represent him as a "well-behaved person." a "good member of society," and one of them as a "patriot."

About the year 1800 he left North Carolina, and settled in Tennessee, it is supposed at the place where he spent the most of his remaining years, in the lower end of Wilson county.

In the year 1800 he professed religion at Shiloh Meeting-house, in Sumner county. He received his first deep religious impressions under the preaching of Rev. James McGready. One of the Virginia certificates, however, represents him and his wife as members of the Church in that State. Whatever may be true in this respect, it is certain that he made a profession of religion at Shiloh, and considered himself to have been converted there.

On his return home from the meeting at Shiloh, he immediately commenced the exercise of family prayers, which he kept up with strict punctuality for fifty years.

It was customary in those days for zealous and active men to be employed, whilst still private members of the Church, in holding prayer-meetings, and in exhortation. In this way Mr. Cloyd commenced his public labors. He was always unusually gifted and effective in exhortation and prayer.

At what time he was received as a candidate for the ministry it is not known, but he was probably received by the Cumberland Presbytery before its division. The first Presbyterial notice of him which we have been able to find, is a notice of his licensure, at the spring meeting of the Nashville Presbytery in 1814. The following is the record: "Mr. Ezekiel Cloyd delivered a written discourse from the second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, 8th chapter and 9th verse, which was sustained as a popular discourse, preparatory to his licensure." It will be seen that the record is very full. Those good old men were in the habit of doing their business carefully. There is an additional record of the same day, Wednesday, March 30, 1814: "Presbytery examined Messrs. Robert Guthrie and Ezekiel Cloyd on Divinity and English Grammar, which were sustained, and having obtained a good report of their moral character, Presbytery licensed them to preach the gospel in the bounds of this Presbytery, or wherever God in his providence may cast their lots." This meeting of the Presbytery was held at New Hope.

At an intermediate Presbytery held in July of 1822, at Sugg's Creek Meeting-house, Mr. Cloyd, in connection with James S. Guthrie, and the writer, then a very young man, was ordained. The transaction was a very impressive one, at least to myself. A camp-meeting was held at the same time, and a number of persons professed religion.

Previous to his ordination his wife, who had been in feeble health for a number of years, died. After a widowhood of some time, he married Mrs. Nancy White, of Wilson county. Mrs. White was the widow of Rev. John White, a Methodist minister. She was a woman of great worth, and contributed much to the comfort and happiness of his latter days. My correspondent says that "in the latter part of his life he was subject to much bodily infirmity and mental affliction, yet he staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God." He died in Lebanon, in August, 1851. Mrs. Cloyd, his second wife, died also in Lebanon, April 17, 1854.

The whole ministry of Mr. Cloyd extended through a space of near forty years. He was always a zealous and earnest man. He made no pretensions to a high order of ability, or attainments; he rather underrated himself in these respects; but he was a useful man, and left a precious record behind him. He was especially effective in exhortation, and in his labors with mourners. After his ordination, although advanced in life, he traveled as a circuit-rider for a number of years. For a short time he served as pastor of Stoner's Creek congregation, in the bounds of which he spent the most of his life. Indeed, he was one of the fathers of the congregation, and preached to them occasionally during his whole ministry. His son-in-law, Benjamin Alexander, an elder in the congregation, who has been curious in recording such things, has a record of two hundred and ninety-two sermons preached by Mr. Cloyd to that congregation.

His example and presence were a standing reproof of wickedness and vice of every kind. On one occasion he was greatly troubled at what seemed to be the prospect of the introduction of dancing-parties into the neighborhood. An appointment was made, as he learned, for such a party at the house of an acquaintance on a particular evening. He determined upon an effort to arrest the progress of the evil in its commencement, remembering the wise injunction, "Obsta principiis: Resist wrong in its earliest stages." He went to the house about the time he supposed the dancing would commence, knocked at the door, and was ushered into the room. Of course the company were somewhat startled at such a movement. Without taking his seat, he at once proposed singing and prayer, gave out a hymn, and a negro of the neighborhood, who had some connection with the occasion, joined him in singing. The rest of the company, however, were too much taken by surprise to participate, even if they had been disposed otherwise to do so. After singing and prayer, he delivered an earnest exhortation, and left the company. The effort was successful. Some of the young gentlemen were very much incensed--threatened violence--but the dancing-parties died out. It is worthy of remark, too, that the negro who shared in the singing afterward professed religion, and lived and died an unusually consistent Christian.

Mr. Cloyd raised a large family. As far as I know, they all became members of the Church. His youngest son is now an elder in the congregation which his father contributed so much toward building up. His youngest daughter is the wife of Rev. John Beard, of Kansas. His grandson is now pastor of Stoner's Creek congregation.

Mr. Cloyd was a farmer as well as preacher. According to the custom of the times in which he lived, he labored on his farm during the week, and performed his ministerial service on the Sabbath. The principal portion of this service was a work of love. He received scarcely any pecuniary compensation. Still he lived comfortably, and was always able to minister a generous hospitality to his friends, especially to his brethren of the ministry. His house was a home to such. It is pleasant to remark, took that the same "house of cedar" still stands, a monument of patriarchal simplicity and economy.

The personal appearance and bearing of Mr. Cloyd were those of an unaffected gentleman of the old school. His dress was always neat, and his manners, without the slightest parade or pretension, were affable and kind. It is cheerful to linger amidst the recollections of such a man.

[Source: Beard, Richard. Brief Biographical Sketches of Some of the Early Ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Methodist Publishing House, Published for the Author, 1867, pages 192-197]

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Updated March 5, 2009