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Orr (Greenock)

John Sayers Orr – The Archangel Gabriel.

John Sayers Orr, born in Demerara c.1800, was a fiery anti-Catholic preacher who sparked riots in Greenock in 1850/51 and again in 1855, in the United States in 1854, and in his native Guyana in 1856, where he incited riots against the Catholic Portuguese population. He had earlier been arrested in London in 1832 for open air preaching as a follower of Edward Irving. In Guyana he was arrested, tried and convicted and died prison in 1857. He was popularly known as the Archangel Gabriel because of his use of a trumpet to attract an audience.

His father was John Orr, who died in Demerara in 1804 having been in partnership with Colin Macrae in Orr Macrae & Co. He was sufficiently prominent to have been elected as a member of the College of Kaizers. He also had a share in plantation La Penitence on the east bank of the Demerary River [EDG 2 Feb 1805], which was owned by John Sayers, a London and possibly Dublin merchant who died Totness, Devon in 1808. John Sayer’s brother Samuel Sayers was his attorney in Demerara.

John Sayers Orr’s mother was a woman of colour and when he returned to Georgetown in 1855 he lived with her. According to his account of his own life - which may be unreliable - he came from Demerara to Greenock at the age of three with a brother ans sister.

See Shaun Kavanagh, An Unholy Messenger: The Angel Gabriel Riots in Greenock, 1851-1855

Jeffrey Green, John Sayers Orr, street preacher 1854-1855

V. O. Chan (1970) The Riots of 1856 in British Guiana, Caribbean Quarterly, 16:1, 39-50, DOI: 10.1080/00086495.1970.11829037


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