John Dempster, an American clergyman, born in Florida, Fulton co., N. Y., Jan. 2, 1794, died at Evanston, 111., Nov. 28, 1863. His father, the Rev. James Dempster, though educated at the university of Edinburgh and bred a Presbyterian, was a colaborer with John Wesley, and was sent by him as a missionary to America, and died while his son was a child. Becoming a peddler of tinware, young Dempster manifested no marked characteristics till his conversion in his 18th year, when he set about repairing the defects of his earlier education by most persistent study. In 1816 he was admitted into the Methodist general conference, and till 1825 was stationed at various places in Canada and New York. In 1835 he was sent as missionary to Buenos Ayres. Returning in 1842, for three years he had charge of churches in New York city. Meanwhile he had decided on Newbury, Vt., as a favorable site for a theological seminary, which soon after was removed to Concord, N. H. Here in 1847 was inaugurated the Biblical institute, which now constitutes the school of theology of Boston university.
After seven years' labor in this institute, Dr. Dempster departed for the west, to seek a favorable location for the second in the chain of theological seminaries that he proposed to establish between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. A property for the adequate endowment of a Biblical institute in or near Chicago was obtained, and he was appointed senior professor in 1856. The steps he had taken for planting like institutions at Omaha, and next in California, failed, chiefly from the financial revulsion which the entire country suffered in 1857. Preparatory to a contemplated journey to the Pacific coast to further his favorite plan, he submitted to a surgical operation that proved fatal. He left very extensive manuscripts, only one volume of which has been published, "Lectures and Addresses" (Cincinnati, 1864).