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(1798 - 1893)



Manuscript Collection Number 514


Accessioned:  Gift of Mr. Bill Inslee, November 7, 1972


Extent:  1 linear ft.


Content:  Sermon notes, notebooks, diaries, newspaper clippings, photos, letters.


Access:  This collection is open for research.


Processed:  October 2005, by Emily Holloway

Table of Contents

Biographical Note


            The First Reformed Presbyterian Church of New York City emerged in the late eighteenth century out of a praying society aligned closely with the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland.  Beginning as early as 1790, this praying society would meet at the home of Mr. John Agnew, whose descendents remained active in the church from that point onward.  The congregation was organized in 1797, and in 1801 the first pastor, Reverend Alexander McLeod, D.D., was elected.   Rev. Alexander McLeod remained pastor until his death in 1833.  At this time his son, the Rev. John Niel McLeod, became pastor and continued his service until his death in 1874.

Reverend Alexander McLeod, D.D. (also written MacLeod) was born on Mull Island, part of the Hebrides Islands in Scotland, on June 12, 1774.  His parents, Reverend Niel McLeod and Margaret (McLean) McLeod, were both involved in the Scottish Established Church, Niel as the pastor of two parishes in Mull Island, and Margaret as the daughter of Niel’s predecessor Reverend Archibald McLean. 

Rev. Alexander McLeod left Scotland in 1792 and took up a teaching position in Schenectady, New York.  In 1796 he enrolled at Union College, and graduated with honors two years later.  Upon his arrival in the United States he quickly united with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and was licensed to preach in 1799.  Within the year following his ordination he was called to be pastor at two New York Churches, one in Coldenham, and the other in New York City.  The First Reformed Presbyterian Church in New York City grew so rapidly it became apparent that he would need to devote all of his time to that parish.  Reverend McLeod served there until his death at the age of 59 on February 17, 1833.

Reverend Alexander McLeod married Mary Anne Agnew on September 15, 1805.  Mary Anne was the daughter of Mr. John Agnew, one of the earliest congregants of the reformed Presbyterian Church of New York City, and she was also one of the first members to be baptized in infancy under the auspices of the newly formed church.  Their marriage produced eleven children, four of which lived into adulthood.

Reverend Dr. John Niel McLeod was the first born son of Rev. Alexander and Mary Anne.  Born in New York City in 1806, John Niel McLeod graduated from Columbia College in 1826, and earned a Doctorate of Divinity from Dickinson College in 1846.  Upon his ordination in 1828, he was elected pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Galway, New York.  When his father’s health began to deteriorate in 1832 Rev. John Niel McLeod became associate pastor at the First Reformed Presbyterian Church in New York City to share the pastoral duties.  When his father died in 1833 Rev. John Niel McLeod was elected pastor of the church.  He maintained this role until his own death in 1874.

His religious work was not confined to New York City.  In 1851 he was elected Professor of Doctrinal Theology at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, located in Philadelphia.  He acted in this position intermittently until 1858.  In 1855 he traveled to Paris as a delegate to the Paris Conference to form an Evangelical Alliance for the world.   He spent six months as Chaplain for the 84th Regiment (New York) during the Civil War, and also was editor of the Philadelphia publication “Banner of the Cross.”

Reverend John Niel McLeod married Mary Thompson Wylie in 1830.  Together they had eight children.



Ayers, James A. Associated Clan MacLeod Societies Genealogical Resources.  Retrieved on October 13, 2005 from


First Reformed Presbyterian Church, New York.  A Century of Reformed Presbyterianism: The Handbook of the Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Organization of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of New York City, December 26-30, 1897New York: First Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1897.


Malone, Dumas, ed.  Dictionary of American Biography, Volume VI, Larned-Millington.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. pp. 131-132.

Scope and Contents Note

            The McLeod Family Papers, spanning the dates 1798 to 1893, was a gift of Mr. Bill Inslee in 1972.  One linear foot of notebooks containing sermons and notes, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, tax receipts and marriage certificates comprise the collection. The bulk of the collection pertains to the careers of Rev. Alexander McLeod and his son Rev. John Niel McLeod, who consecutively served as pastors to the First Reformed Presbyterian Church in New York City.  Other members of the McLeod family and the Wylie family are briefly represented in the collection. 

            The majority of the collection consists of twenty-nine notebooks of Rev. Alexander McLeod and his son Rev. John Niel McLeod.  These notebooks have been grouped by original owner, and arranged chronologically within each series.  Rev. Alexander McLeod’s notebooks span the dates 1798 to 1832, with some gaps in the years.  This time span coincides with the duration of his position as pastor at the above mentioned church.  The notebooks of Rev. John Niel McLeod span the years 1827 to 1851.  Again, there are gaps, and the notebooks terminate before the end of Rev. John Niel McLeod’s service as pastor at the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, which ended in 1874.  Many of these notebooks also include items laid in, which often are of a different date than the notebooks.  It appears that the notes and sermons in these notebooks were often reused, and at times John Niel used notes written by his father.

            Rev. John Niel McLeod is further represented in the collection by a small group of varied pieces.  Two pocket diaries, from 1869 and 1870, record the weather and daily events from these years.  There is also a photograph of the Rev. McLeod, as well as five newspaper clippings pertaining to his life, ministry, and death.  Also included is a copy of a letter to Abraham Lincoln in 1864, penned by Rev. John Niel McLeod on behalf of his congregation.  Another letter was

written to him by his Aunt Mary McLeod, of Scotland.  She refers to a trip he made to visit her in 1841, before the Tower of London burned.  Notable in the personal papers is an 1869 inventory of Rev. John Niel McLeod’s personal library, comprising over 2,000 volumes of religious and historical works (F32).

            The collection also includes items related to other McLeod family members as well the Wylie family.  The link between the Wylie and McLeod family is two-fold.  The Wylie family was long involved in the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, established in1798.  This Church housed the Theological Presbyterian Seminary of Philadelphia, where Rev. John Niel McLeod was Professor of Theology for a period.  Reverend John Niel McLeod also married Mary Thompson Wylie in 1830, uniting the Wylie and McLeod families in law as well as in religious affiliation.  The items in these series are fragmented, although they all pertain specifically to a member of the McLeod or Wylie families.  The most noteworthy pieces are two McLeod family photographs, and a letter from T.A. Wylie of Indiana to his sister, Mary Thompson McLeod.  Other pieces include obituaries of Donald McLeod, and ephemera from the Wylie Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. 

            The notebooks of Alexander and John Niel McLeod are the strongest part of this collection.  The information recorded in these notebooks offers insight into the busy life of a Presbyterian clergyman in the nineteenth century.  Both men traveled often, especially between New York and Philadelphia, and were involved with various Presbyterian societies and committees.  The sermon notes recorded in the notebooks would also be useful to historians or theologians interested in the treatment of biblical topics throughout nineteenth century.  While the other items in the collection are few and fragmented they do provide some supplemental details pertaining to the personal lives of the McLeod family.

Series List

I.          Reverend Alexander McLeod

II.         Reverend John Niel McLeod

III.       Miscellaneous McLeod

IV.       Wylie family

Contents List

Folder -- Contents


            Series I.  Reverend Alexander McLeod, 1798 – 1832

This series includes notebooks containing personal thoughts, sermon notes, lectures and discourses written and presented during the career of Reverend Alexander McLeod.  Many of the notebooks contained pieces laid in. These have been removed and placed in a folder following that of the notebook from which it came.


F1        Notebooks, 1798, 1809-1810 (2 items)

            Notebook containing “A short journal after my return from New York-Commencing August 18, 1798.”


            Leather bound notebook entitled “Sermons 1809 Anno. 1810.”  Removals located in F2 of this series.


F2        Removals from notebook, 1809-1810 (1 item)

            Sermon notes dated December 1815.


F3        Notebooks, 1811-1812, 1813-1814 (2 items)

            Red leather-bound notebook titled “Sermon-Notes 1811 anno 1812”


            Red leather-bound notebook containing a section of printed pages titled “The Psalms of David in Metre: Translated and diligently compared with the original text, and former translations.”  This portion was printed in Philadelphia by William W. Woodward in 1813.  The remainder of the journal consists of handwritten sections titled “Sermon Notes May & August 1813,” “Sermon Notes October & Nov. 1813,” ‘Sermon Notes Nov. & Decem. 1813,” “Sermon Notes Jany. 1814,” “Feby. & March 1814, and “Sermon Notes March 1814.”


F4        Sermon notes, 1815 (1 item)

            Includes notes for sermons given in May and June 1815.


F5        Notebooks, 1814-1815, 1819-1820 (2 items)

            Leather-bound notebook titled “Some Sermons by Alex. McLeod, from June 1814 to May 1815.  The last section of pages printed with “The Psalms of David in Metre,” printed in Edinburgh 1797.


            Leather-bound notebook titled “Sermons on various Topics by Alex. McLeod 1819&1820.”  Includes page numbers and index.  Removals located in F6 of this series.


F6        Removals from notebook, 1819-1820 (6 items)

            Contains sermon notes and a receipt for the sale of “24 copys of Doc. McLeods Sermons on the Life of Godliness All Bound”



            Series I.  Reverend Alexander McLeod, 1798 – 1832 (cont’d)


F7        Notebook, 1820-1821 (1 item)

            Leather-bound notebook titled “Sermon Notes in 1820 and 1821 by A. McLeod” includes page numbers.  Opening pages mentions the October 10, 1820 death of Alexander McLeod’s father-in-law, Mr. Agnew, who was also “the first Reformed Presbyterian of this city.” Removals from this notebook located in F8 of this series.


F8        Removals from 1820-1821 notebook (4 items)

            Includes notes titled “Ordinances of Man,” and an account statement for an account with John Hodge, who appears to be a book seller.  


            Also contains an 1831 letter addressed to Rev. McLeod discussing a problem with the publisher.  The author of the letter also discusses General Jackson, political issues and Indian removal policies during this period.


F9        Sermon notes, 1824 (1 item)

            Includes sermon notes on various topics.  Page numbers indicate it is from a larger work.


F10      Notebooks, 1824, 1825 (2 items)

            Leather-bound notebook, titled “1824” containing sermon notes on various religious topics and newspaper clippings listing the government officials and census information glued on inside cover.


            Leather-bound notebook titled “Notes of Lectures and Sermons by Alex. Mcleod, New York 1825.” Includes newspaper clippings about the establishment of Thanksgiving in New York State and the history of clocks and watches.


F11      Notebooks, 1826, 1827-1829 (2 items)

            Leather-bound notebook titled “Notes by Alex. McLeod 1826,” includes page numbers and statistics of the Church for 1826. Pieces laid in, see folder F12 of this series.


            Leather-bound notebook titled “Alex McLeod New York Notes, for 1827 – 1829. From October 1827 to July 1829, both months included, in all, 22 months, memoranda.” The numbered pages include sermon notes, personal entries, and records of church membership.


F12      Sermon notes. Removals from 1826 notebook. (3 items)


F13      Notebooks, 1829-1831, 1831-1832 (2 items)

            Leather-bound notebook, 1829-1831, titled  “Brethren, Conversations, Sermons, , voyages to Lower Canada, Sacraments, visits to Europe, return, journal of tour, Ecclesiastical proceedings, Sickness in person, death of sister, son &daughter and many other concerns, as well as Lectures and Sermons for more than two years are here recorded.”

            Series I.  Reverend Alexander McLeod, 1798 – 1832 (cont’d)


F13      Notebooks, 1829-1831, 1831-1832 (cont’d.)

            Leather-bound notebook titled “Sermon Notes, &c. from 1 October 1821 to 1832, by Alex. McLeod.” The entries were continued by William Norman McLeod August 21, 1837, who used the notebook to record the “Sermons preached before the Presbytery of Philadelphia as a piece of trial” for ordination. For pieces laid in see folder F14 of this series.


F14      Removals from notebook, 1831-1832 (3 items)

            Includes a receipt and sermon notes.



            Series II. Reverend John Niel McLeod, 1827 - 1907

            This series contains notebooks, sermon notes, pocket diaries, a Catalogue of Reverend McLeod’s personal library, letters, and newspaper clippings.  Many of the notebooks contained pieces laid in.  These have been removed and placed in a folder following that of the notebook from which it came.


F15      Notebooks, 1827, 1827-1834 (2 items)

            Notebook titled “Volume II” contains lectures on the soul, metaphysics, and providence.  For pieces laid in see F16 of this series.


            Hard-bound notebook including continuation of Volume II memorabilia, and “Volume III of the Memorabilia Sermon Notes, &c. Commenced June 29th, 1833, John N. McLeod, New York.”  For pieces laid in see F17 of this series.


F16      Removals from notebook, 1827 (2 items)

            Includes business card of “Theodorus McLeod, Attorney and Counselor,” and a handwritten copy of a family genealogy dated 1869.


F17      Removals from notebook, 1827-1834 (4 items)

            Includes Sermon notes and a newspaper clipping advertising an “Enquiry” into the whereabouts of a Reverend D. Graham.


F18      Notebooks, 1831-1833, 1834 (2 items)

            Hard-bound notebook titled “Volume Second of the Memorabilia commenced May 21st 1831 John N. McLeod, Galway, Saratoga Cy, New York, and since January 14th /33 pastor of the Ref. Pr. Church, Chamber St. City of New York.” For pieces laid in see F19 of this series.


            Hardbound notebook with marbled cover titled “Volume IV Memorabilia,” dated June 6 th 1834, includes sermon notes.


            Series II. Reverend John Niel McLeod, 1827 – 1907 (cont’d)


F19      Removals from notebook, 1831-1833 (10 items)

            Sermon notes and two rough draft letters: the first concerning the Society for Colonizing and Evangelizing the Jews, the second responding to accusations that Rev. McLeod stole and used manuscripts belonging to a deceased Reverend McKinney.


F20      Notebook, 1835

            Hard-bound notebook with marbled cover titled “Volume 5 – Memorabilia - by John N. McLeod at present residing at 71, Crosby (?) City of New York, January 1st 1835.”  Includes sermon notes and inserted printed page “Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion in the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America.”


F21      Notebooks, 1835-1836, 1837-1838 (2 items)

            Bound notebook titled “Volume VI Memorabilia John N. McLeod, New York October 18th 1835” includes sermons and lectures, as well as some personal entries.  For pieces laid in see folder F22 of this series.


            Bound notebook “John N. McLeod, New York December 15th 1837, vol. VII” includes sermon and lecture notes, and record of church activities.


F22      Removals from notebook, 1835-1836 (4 items)

            Includes sermon notes, and a Memorandum that may have belonged to his father Alexander McLeod.


F23      Notebooks, 1839-1840, 1842-1843 (2 items)

            Bound notebook titled “Memorabilia January 1st 1839, Sermon notes, Et cetera, John N. McLeod, Vol:8th.” For pieces laid in see F24 of this series.


            Bound notebook of sermon notes from 1842-1843. In 1843 the book was lost, and sermon notes from 1849 begin at the other end, when the book was recovered.  For pieces laid in see folder F25 of this series.


F24      Removals from notebook, 1839-1840 (10 items)

            Includes sermon notes, a newspaper clipping titled “A Word or Two About Bed Covering,” and a series of notes titled “Redemption Applied by God’s Spirit” possibly in the hand of his father, Alexander McLeod.


F25      Removals from notebook, 1842-1843 (2 items)

            Includes receipts for a room at the Catskill Mountain House, August 5, 1850, and fragments of fabric and ink patterned paper.




            Series II. Reverend John Niel McLeod, 1827 – 1907 (cont’d)


F26      Notebooks, 1844-1846, 1846-1847 (2 items)

            Bound notebook of “Sermon Notes &c. for 1845-1846.”  For pieces laid in see F27 of this series.


            Hard-bound notebook of Sermon notes and other notes 1846-1847.


F27      Removals from notebook, 1844-1846 (13 items)

            Includes sermon notes; an invitation to a meeting of the American Bible Society in New York on August 31, 1872; card for the purchase of railway passengers insurance, and a newspaper clipping of a parable about a large turnip and large cheese wheel.  Many of the Sermon notes are on the back of other documents, such as Western Union Telegrams and personal correspondence.


F28      Notebooks, 1851, 1858 (2 items)

            Bound notebook of “Sermons notes 7 other Memorabilia, 1851.” For pieces laid in see F29 in this series.


            Small notebook containing fragmented lists of church attendance in 1858 and 1859.


F29      Removals from 1851 notebook (11 items)

            Includes sermon notes; printed principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church from the Liverpool and New York Reformed Presbyterian Church; newspaper clipping concerning a court case concerning the validity of marriage; notes titled “The Death of the Righteous” possibly written by Alexander McLeod; two letters addressed to John Niel McLeod from Rev. Campbell, a missionary in India.


F30      Pocket Diaries, 1869, 1870 (2 items)

            Pocket diary of daily events of 1869.  For pieces laid in see F31 of this series.


            Pocket diary of daily events of 1870.  Also includes obituaries of William Agnew, Reverend Donald McLeod, Mrs. Crawford, Honorable Alexander McLeod, Ellen McLeod, Margaret Wylie, and Amelia Clarkson.  Newspaper clipping reporting the numerical strength of the Presbyterian Church throughout the world.


F31      Removals from pocket diary, 1869 (7 items)

            Includes newspaper clippings for life insurance companies, Tea-party of the Sabbath School of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, and the Committee on Contested Elections, and fragments of pencil that accompanied the pocket diary.


F32      Index of Personal Library, ca. 1869

            Includes “Catalogue of Library of Rev. Dr. McLeod” which consisted of 2076 volumes.



            Series II. Reverend John Niel McLeod, 1827 – 1907 (cont’d)


F33      Other papers, 1841-1907

            Includes obituaries of Rev. John Niel McLeod; newspaper clipping reporting the “Present Condition of this Church” in 1869; marriage certificates signed by Rev. John Niel McLeod; tax receipts from collector’s office; photograph of Rev. John Niel McLeod; letter from “Aunt Mary McLeod” concerning his trip to visit her in Scotland; and a handwritten copy of a letter written to Abraham Lincoln in 1864; pamphlet announcing the union of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the Scotch Presbyterian Church of New York City.



            Series III. Miscellaneous McLeod

                        This series includes items pertaining to other members of the McLeod family.


F34      Notebook and contents, 1834-1837

            Includes notebook of (William) Norman McLeod, son of Rev. Alexander and Mary Ann, with mention of the accounts of Mary Ann McLeod.  Various receipts laid in.


F35      Miscellaneous papers, n.d.

            Includes obituary of Rev. Donald McLeod; newspaper clipping of a letter from Alex McLeod Clarkson of San Francisco; business card of “Adams, Mcleod & McAdam, Attorneys & Counsellors, Notaries Public, New York; two McLeod family photographs, circa 1887.



            Series VI. Wylie family, ca. 1850-1893

            This series includes papers of the Wylie family.  The McLeod family was linked to the Wylie family through the marriage of Margaret Thompson Wylie and Reverend John Niel McLeod in 1830.  The Wylie family was involved in the Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.


F36      Wylie family, ca. 1850-1893 (4 items)

            Includes a photograph of Reverend William John Wylie of the Memorial Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, letter from T.A. Wylie of Bloomington, Indiana to his sister Margaret Thompson McLeod in New York City, obituary for Reverend Samuel Brown Wylie in 1852, and a “Manual of the Wylie Memorial Presbyterian Church” in Philadelphia.

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