From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Ferrill, London [First African Baptist Church]

(born: 1789  -  died: October 12, 1854) 

A slave from Hanover County, VA, London Ferrill became minister in 1820 of the Lexington First African Baptist Church, which became the largest church in Kentucky with 1,828 members. London Ferrill was born in 1789, the slave of Mrs. Ann Ferrill Winston, who gave him the name of her birth place, London, England [source: "Rev. London Ferrill; Kentucky's greatest Negro preacher" in the title Lore of the Meadowland by J. W. Townsend, pp.28-34]. All of the slaves had the last name Ferrill. Ann F. Winston died when London Ferrill was nine years old and he was sold to Colonel Samuel Overton for $600, separating him from his mother.  London Ferrill's wife purchased his freedom (it is assumed that she was already free) and the two left Virginia for Kentucky and settled four miles outside of Lexington. The family of three is listed in the 1820 and the 1830 U.S. Federal Census. London Ferrill began preaching in the homes of his congregation. He was eventually ordained by the Elkhorn Baptist Association. He requested and was granted permission to remain in Kentucky by the General Assembly [free Negroes were to leave the state, unless they were born in Kentucky]. At the age of 20, London Ferrill was baptized by Rev. Absalom Waller. When Lexington and Fayette County were hit by cholera, London Ferrill lost his wife on June 11, 1833. After the death of his wife, Ferrill moved into Lexington and would become the founder of the First Baptist Church for Colored People. The church was on the corner of East Short and Deweese Streets. London Ferrill died in Lexington on October 12, 1854, and is buried in the Old Episcopal Third Street Cemetery. He had no children when he died, but left a will giving his property to his adopted children. For more see Biography of London Ferrill, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Colored Persons, Lexington, Ky at the Documenting the American South website; and A History of Blacks in Kentucky from Slavery to Segregation, 1760-1891, by M. B. Lucas.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Lore of the meadowland : short studies in Kentuckiana
NKAA Source: A History of Blacks in Kentucky: from slavery to segregation, 1760-1891

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Braxton, Frederick [Bracktown] [Main Street Baptist Church]

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Ferrill, London [First African Baptist Church],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 23, 2021,

Last modified: 2020-10-30 22:52:40