Patrick J. Sparrow

H-SC President, 1845-1847

Patrick J. Sparrow The local familiarity of Patrick Sparrow at the time of his election deepens the mystery of his abrupt departure only two years later. Educated at a "log college" in South Carolina, he held no college or seminary degrees, but had been the first professor of ancient languages at Davidson College, which he helped organize, from 1837 to 1841. Having previously been pastor of nearby Briery Church (part of the pastoral charge of several earlier Presidents), he was well known in the Hampden-Sydney community. In 1841 he became pastor of both College Church and the Farmville Presbyterian Church and was elected a Trustee of the College. When the eminent William Plumer declined election to succeed William Maxwell the Board turned to this old friend. Sparrow did what he could, helping to secure some solid faculty and in other ways. But for reasons now unknown, some of his fellow Trustees had quickly grown unhappy with Sparrow's performance. In July 1847 ten Trustees held a secret meeting apart from a called full one and resolved to ask for Sparrow's resignation because of "evidence that your administration is not acceptable to the public on which we rely for patronage"; the nature of the evidence and of the alleged dissatisfaction is unknown. Although at the regular September meeting the majority of the Board repudiated the request, Sparrow quite understandably quit, effective immediately; he spent the remainder of his life in obscure pastorates in Alabama.