Richard Furman was born in Esopus, New York in 1755, but his family moved to South Carolina soon after he was born. Furman pursued a career in religion and was ordained May 10, 1774. He preached in High Hills of Santee until 1787, and then became pastor of the Charleston Baptist Church, where he remained until his death. He married Elizabeth Haynsworth in 1774 and had four children: a son who died at birth, Rachel, Wood, and Richard (died in infancy). His second marriage was to Dorothea Burn in 1789, with whom he had thirteen children: Richard, Samuel, John Gano (died in infancy), Josiah, Charles Manning, Maria Dorothea, Henry Hart, Sarah Susanne, John Gano (2nd), Thomas Fuller, James Clement, Anne Eliza, and William.
Furman served as a propagandist for the patriot cause during the Revolutionary War, and was invited to be a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention of 1790. A strong supporter of education, Furman served as Chairman of the General Committee of the Charleston Association for educating ministers, and was involved in the founding of Columbian College (now George Washington University) and Furman University. He was granted the M.A. degree from Rhode Island College and the D.D. degree from South Carolina College. Furman was elected president of the Triennial Convention in 1814 and re-elected in 1817. He also became the first president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 1821. Furman died in Charleston, South Carolina on August 25, 1825.