John Eliot.

A Biographical dictionary : containing a brief account of the first settlers, and other eminent characters among the magistrates, ministers, literary and worthy men in New-England online

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Online LibraryJohn EliotA Biographical dictionary : containing a brief account of the first settlers, and other eminent characters among the magistrates, ministers, literary and worthy men in New-England → online text (page 1 of 43)
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Corr«sponding Secretary of the Massichusects Hiscoiical Society.

fbese were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of
their times. So7i of Syrach.






BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the eighth day of September, in the
thirty fourt'.i year of the Independence of the United States of America, [ohn
Emot junior, of the said district, lias deposited in this office, the title of a
Book, tlie Right whereof he claims as Proprietor, in the words following — to
nvit :

*• A Biogjraphical Dictionary, containing a brief account of the first settlers,
and other eminent cliaracters among the magistrates, ministers literary and
worthy men, in New England. By John Eliot, I). D. Corresponding .'secreta-
ry 01 the Massachusetts t istorical Society

These were honoured in their generations, and were the glory o< their times.


In conformity to the Act of the congress of the United States entitled,
** An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copie.' of Maps,
Charts and Books, to the authors and Proprietors of such Copies, dunng the
times therein mentioned ;'' and also to an Act entitled. " An act supplementa-
ry to an \ct, entitled an Act for the Encouragement of Ijcarning, by securing
the Copies of Maps, Charts and Book.s, to the Authors and Proprietors of Ruch
Copies during the times therein mentioned ; and extending the benefits there-
of to the Arts of JDeaigning, Engraving and Etching Historical, and other
Prints." W I LI I \ M S. SHAW,

C/eri of the District of Maisachusctls,



FOR the credit of human nature, some men have appeared
in every age, who adorned their lives by good actions, or their
publick stations by the dignity, virtue, and splendid excellencies
of their characters. Memoirs of such persons excite a lively inter-
est, and, trom adminng their extraordinary qualities, we desire to
see them in various attitudes, and to know the incidents of their
private life. Hence encouragement is given to works ofbiogra-
phv, which, in some form or other, arc daily issuing from the
press. Even short sketches of eminent men have been thought
instructive, as well as entertaining.

The first discoverers of this quarter of the globe possessed the
spirit of enterprise in a very un<:ommon degree. The fathers of
New England were remarkable for their piety and moral worth,
and also for their active virtues. They were men of firmness and.
resolution, ready to endure every sufi*ering, for the sake of civil
and religious freedom. They had to level forests where savage
beasts, and savage men had roamed for ages, and to make com-
fortable dwelling places amidst barren deserts. By their sagaci-
ty and prudence, their attention to the means of improving their
situation, they soon enjoyed the blessings of civilized and cultivat-
ed society. Among the first planters, we find men of genius and
literary acquirements, who would have been conspicuous as
statesmen in the courts of Europe, or as divines of the church of
England. It is no v onder that their characters were so highly
esteemed by the puritans in their own country, or that they shone
as lights in the dark places of this American wilderness. Cot-
ton, Hooker and Davenport might well rank with the Lightfoots
and Owens of the age ; they had equal reputation as scholars at
the universities. President Chauncy, as professor of Greek, or
Hebrew, had no superiour, and might have had any preferment in
the national church, if he had become subservient to the views of


archbishop Laud. Norton wrote Latin with elegance and purity \
his name was celebrated in various nations of hurope. Less is
said about Roger Williams before he left his native country. He
>vas young, and perhaps did not preach with the same force as he
wrote. All who peruse his works will wonder at the vast expan-
sion of his mind, and lament the eccentricities of his conduct.

The succeeding generation bore a resemblance to their fathers
in their character, but were not equal to them in erudition. The
Vvriter of the Magnalia divides into three classes the eminent
preachers, who emigrated to New England. The first were in
the exercise of their ministry when they came over. They were
educated either at Oxford, or Cambridge. The second class
comprehends those, whose education was unfinished, and had
only such advantages to complete it, as they could obtain in the
plantations. Mr. John Higginson, Mr. Sherman and Thomas
Thacher were the most famous among them. The third con-
sisted of those who were ejected from the ministry, after the res-
toration of the monarchy, and establishment of the episcopal
church. These were pious and good men ; but in their literary
accomplishments they were not superiour to those who were
educated at Harvard College, which was the only seminary in
North America for many years. This institution could not vie
vith the colleges in Europe for endowments ; but during the
civil wars of England, the universities lost their ablest professors,
and less attention was paid to the means ofmaking eminent schol-
ars. We may well suppose that polite literature would fall pros-
Irate with the laws of the realm. Few went to the pure fountains
of classical knowledge, though many Greek and Roman authors
\vere read. The works of their theologians, some of whom were
great and excellent men, displayed the stores of learning with-
out the skill and graces of composition. The quaint style and
manner, which then prevailed in England, was imitated by our
American divines. They were as much disgusted with the
>vorksof the English writersjwho lived in the reign of Charles or
of William, as the most famous authors in Great Britain, in those
reigns, were disgusted with the writings of the preceding age.
Cotton Mather, the most voluminous American author, and a man
of immense learning, has very little credit with the present gene-
«'ation, because his narrations are so piolix, and so many strange


things occur in so strange a style. He was a man of unbounded
fancy, astonishing memory, but of no judgment. With his
marvellous stories he has, however, collected many facts, and it
would be unpardonable if the author of this work did not pay a
tribute to his memory. Every writer of the affairs of Massachu-
setts is much indebted to him for the use of his materials.

From the date of the new charter we find very few leading cha-
ra( ters, who were not born and bred in the colonies . There was
no great encouragement for men, who had genius and talents, to
come over to New England for the sake of gaining a subsistence.
At this time, it has been said, that learning was at a low ebb in our
country. A late writer has thus described the college at New
Haven : " The students had heard of a certain new and strange
philosophy in vogue in England, and the names of Boyle, Locke
and Newton had reached them, but they were not suffered to
think that any valuable improvements were to be expected from
philosophical innovations"* This description is much exagger-
ated by the prejudices of a party writer. One of the governours
of Connecticut had been the intimate friend of Mr. Boyle, and
was a principal founder of the royal society. Two of the corpo-
ration of Harvard College were fellows of the royal society at this
very time, and the mode of instruction was the same in both se-
minaries. Can we suppose that the Newtonian philosophy was
not adopted, or that the first characters in their churches and col-
leges were sitting so contentedly in the shades of ignorance ?
From our sketches it will appear, that we had at this period not
only students in the new philosophy, but scholars who excelled in
polite learning. Philological inquiries grew fashionable, and very
excellent productions appeared from the hands of gentlemen in civil
life, as well as from the clergy. It is true that these were days of
tranquillity, and such times are not favourable to great exertions.
If we except the disturbances, which were caused by Indian wars,
we can hardly conceive of a more happy state of society, than
New England exhibited for the first half of the 18th century.
The people were submissive to the laws. There was order in
the cities, peace in the villages, and religion in the temples . These
are not the times to display great talents any more than great

Chandler's life of Dr, Jahnson, president of King's College,


crimes. When occasion cilled forth the exertions of America^
citizens, they discovtred vigour, abilities, as well as patriotism,
strong and manly virtues with political skill, and all that energy
of cliaracter necessary for raising provinces into an empire.
During the course of the war, tlic officers of the American army
showed courage and magnanimity. They were brave, active^
with a spirit of enterprise, and would have obtained distinction in
the armies or hLurope. The meml)ers of the first congress were
viewed witli admiration bordering on entlmsiasm. Their abilities
as statesmLn,and their political integrity, did honour to the United
States, and gained them respect from the great men of other na-
tions. They certainly have a claim upon the gratitude of poster-
ity. If more particular attention have been i>aid to one part ot this
biographical work, it is in doing justice to the characters of tliose
who lived between the peace o^- PariSv and the commencement of
the American revolution. The age ot the writer made every
thing impressive. Me was acquamted witli those who were ac-
tive in our publick concerns, and has been favoured with written
)iccountSf that are strengthened by tl»e opinion and conversation of
those who are still alive. Whenever he has recurred to the pub-
lications of the day, he has endeavoured to gain collateral evidence
to make the representation just. In writing biography we ought
to be very carelV.i about taking the character from newspapers.
Facts are not always to be depended upon ; characters very sel*
dom. If the deceased had virtues they are exaggerated by his
friends ; and howofienare particular delineations made by those
who knew not tlie man ! A pen is employed which is elegant, and
if the sketch is done in tne best manner, there is no inqmry whe-
ther it be true ? If we had no other knowledge of men, but what
".ve get from newspapers, would there be a proper discrimination
between the good and bad members of society ?

A remark of a sin>ilar kind may be made upon funeral ser-
mons If they are not in the style of eulogy they are not printed.
What the preacher says he doubtless believes ; but how often is
Viis opinion different from that of his audience ? How many fu-
neral orators paint nothing ? Such,performances require a nice
and delicate pencil to finish; but,in general, they are the most un-
studied conipo>itions of their authors. This is not, however, what
Tzrst excited the remark. Our objection is, that they are not pure


sources of information. A preacher is to say nothing but good
of the dead ; a writer of lives nothing but the truth; for he exhi-
bits men as they were. The preacher is apt to give a general
view of the characters ; it is the object of the biographer to enter
into the most minute details. All funeral sermons, however, are
not liable to the same censure. Those preached upon the death
of ministers sometimes bring an obscure clergyman into view,
who preferred the shade, as the most agreeable situation, but
whose virtues and talents ought to be known, that others might
be stimulated by the example. On the other hand, preachers
often say belter things of their brethren than they deserve ;.
upon no occasion is friendship or flattery more indelicate-
ly manifested. The reputation of ihe deceased depends in
some measure upon the orator If his performance be admired,
strangers who read it will think highly of the subject. If the dis-.
course be dull or inelegant, it perhaps is not printed, and no cha-
racter published. However eminent the deceased was in life, h&
is not known beyond the line of his near acquaintance, among
whom his reputation is long preserved by a moat afl'ectionate re*^

The author of this work has taken the freedom to mingle his
own observations with the documents received from others. His,
taste always led him to collect curious mss. and ancient books ; he
was favoured with many letters ot tne Huichinson and Oliver
families ; and had free access to the books and mss. of the Massa-
chusetts Historical Society. He has mostly wriiten from one
general mass of inrermation,which he has been many years in col-
lecting ; but where lie has been indebted for pnncipal facts he has
pointed to the main source of his inieiligence. The original de-
sign was to give a view of eminent men in North America. The
difficulty of obtaining documents, or such peculiar notices as are
necessary for proper delineations of characters, induced the writ-
er to confine himself to New England Some articles in its pres-
ent form are omitted, which would be equally intere' ting as those
which appear. Certain notices, which he expected to receive, di4
not arrive till it was too late for their insertion. He particularly
regrets the omission of judge Trowbridge of Cambridge, gov.
Jeiiks of Rhode Island, Mr. Hobart of Fairfield, Mr. i-.IIsworth,
^r. Tracy, and several other gentlemen of distinction in Con-


In the beginning of the work, several lives are disproportionate}
to the general scale, which obliged the author to compress tlie
articles in other parts, and under the last letters of the alphabet
to introduce no person who has died since the commencement of
the nineteenth century. Among those are several magistrates of
this state, president VVillard and professor Tappan of Cambridge,
and several eminent clergymen. Memoirs of these gentlemen
have been published lately, and their characters ably and fully
delineated; but with the addition of such names, any work would
be materially improved. If the book should ever pass through
another edition improvements may be expected.

For the errors which the reader may find in the following pages
some apology ought to be made,especially for the transposition of
several names and the misplacing of figures in the dates. These
are corrected among other typographical errata. One name is in-
troduced, page 35 1, which ought not to appear among persons de-
ceased. Those who thought the information of his death correct,
are happy to learn that the gentleman still lives.

In the course of his proceeding the author has been indebted
to several friends for their suggestions, encouragement and assist-
ance. Without their kind attentions his labour would have been
wearisome. The delicacy and warmth of their friendship
have excited sensations which are better felt than expressed ;
for their literary communications, as well as tokens of their es-
teem and affection, he begs them to accept his grateful acknowl-



ABBOT HULL, minister of the church in
Charlestown, was a native of Massachusetts ; grad-
uated at Harvard College in 1720. He was among the
first students that were put upon Mr. HoUis's foun-
dation, and recommended by Mr, HoU'is himself^ as
a youth meriting the benefit of the fund for indi-
gent and good scholars. In 1723 he was ordained,
colleague pastor with the famous Mr. Bradstreet,
and continued in the ministry till his d^ath, 1774,

He left a few printed discourses, chiefly occa-
sional, and his character was respectable as a gen-
tleman and divine.*

Adams Matthew, is worthy of notice in an ac-
count of ingenious and literary men of Boston. In the
life of Franklin it is said, that he kindled the zeal and
encouraged the talents of that philosopher, who had
free access to his books; and L3r. Franklin speaks of
him with respect and acknowledged his attentions*
Mr. Adams was only a mechanick, but with the ad-
vantages of a college education would have made
considerable progress in scientifick researches, and
been very useful at that period He was one of the
writers in the Neiv- England Journal. The essays

* His printed discourses are, Artillery Election Sermon, 8vo,'
Boston, 1735. A Sermon upon the rebellion in Scotland, 8vo.
1746. A Sermon against profane swearing and cursing, 8 vo.




he contributed were received with marks of pub-
lick ebteem, and reprinted in periodical miscellanies
of later date. Like many other ingenious men,
Mr. Adams lived in depressed circumstances, and
died with a name and character rather than any
\\ orldly estate. He left several children, who in-
herited his genius, one of whom was

John Adams, minister of the church in Dur-
ham, New-Hampshire. His father laboured to give
him a liberal education, and he was graduated at
Harvard College in 1745, and in a few years after
ordained at Durham, where he continued pastor of
the church more than twenty years. No town in
New Kngland was ever more disturbed by fanat-
icks than Durham. A spirit of opposition to the
order of the churches raged there. Every man
who received a liberal education, who wore a band
or black coat, and held a regular service on the
Lord's day, was called hireling, thief, wolf, and
any thing that would make him odious. They
after this manner insulted this pious minister, who
had not patience to bear it, and was often inveloped
in gloom, or ready to sink into despondency. This
might, in some measure, be owing to the constitu-
tion of the man. For he was in his best days, and
when he was not exposed to peculiar trials of his
ministry, very much the sport of his feelings.
Sometimes he was so depressed as to seem like a
being mingling with the dust, and suddenly would
mount up to heaven with a bolder wing than any of
his contemporaries. M his would happen frequent-
ly in the pulpit, so that when he had been all the
week preparing a sermon which was, according to
his own expression as dull as his feelings, he would
feel an exertion that would give him health, cheer-
fulness, and new life. It was his method to take a
new text, and give a flow to his sentiments and ex-
pressions, vvluch were much better than he was
ever able to utter, with previous consideration. His
delivery then was as lively as his tancy. In these


happy moments he was also a cheerful, instructive
and entertaining companion. He could write as
well as speak, like one Avho had cultivated a philo-
logical taste. A specimen of his abilities was ex-
hibited in a letter written to a committee of the
town of Boston, 1774, when the Fort Bill had an-
nihilated their commerce.*

Mr. Adams was obliged to leave Durham in the
year 1778, in consequence of other disturbances
than religious. He had been thought the most pro-
per minister to live with people so enthusjastick as
the inhabitants of Durham : for he was himself,
from his animal frame and pious sentiments, inclii>
ed to enlhubiasm ; had rather favoured than oppos-
ed the New Lights in his youth, and preached the
gospel according to the strictest sect of our forefa-
thers ; but as one extreme succeeds another, the
most cold indifference to every thing of a religious
nature was visible in the inhabitants of Durham
during the latter part of Mr. Adams's pastoral rela-
tion ; and they grew weary of maintaining a minis-
ter, in addition to the demands of money, to carry
on the war ; a contention arose upon the most
frivolous pretences, and a council advised to a remo-
val. He was soon invited to settle at Washington,
in the county of York, Massachusetts. With this
flock he lived in more easy circumstances. He
died 1793, aged about 60 years.

Adams John Rev. a divine, a poet, a Vv^r iter of es-
says, &c. He was the son of the Hon. John Adams, of
>Jova- Scotia, and was graduated at Harvard College,
1701. He died at Cambridge, 1740. The fellows of
the College were his pall-holders, and the first charac-
ters in the state attended the funeral. His charac-
ter was very respectable, though doubtless the eulogy
in the Boston newspapers, was from the pen of one
strongly prejudiced in his favour — *' It deserves to

* There was a committee appointed to receive donations. The
letter was accompanied with a present from the inhabitants oi'


be written in letters of gold on monuments of mar-
ble, or rather to appear and shine forth from some
genius of uncommon sublimity and equal to his
own. But sufficient are his immortal writings to
perpetuate his memory." His literary friends is-
sued proposals for publishing a volume ot his ser-
mons, but the subscription failed. They publish-
ed a volume of poems which discover a good
imagination and pure taste. They are equal to any
New-Kngland poetry of this date, though not merit-
ing in the encomium passed upon his writings. A
second edition was never called for. The book is
very scarce, and ought to be preserved among the
rare works of American authors.

He published during his life, a poem on the love
of money, which is ingenious and satirical. It is
not contained in the volume.

Adams Amos, minister of the first church in Rox-
bury, was a very popular preacher, having a voice
uncommonly sonorous and plaintive. The energy of
his manner in the pulpit is often mentioned by those
who sat under his ministry. He was praised in other
churches, as a very accomplished preacher, but
many were disgusted with his plainness of speech,
the length of his discourses, and his very desultory
observations. All allowed him to discover some
knowledge of human nature, in the addresses he
made to his hearers. His preaching was calcula-
ted to prick the consciences of sinners, though they
wanted correct discrimination and smoothness of
period. His memory was tenacious, and his read-
ing very extensive. His publications never appeared
to satisfy the expectations of those who heard thm
from the pulpit. They want his animated delivery. ^-

* He primed several ordination sermons, A funeral sermon
upon the death of Madam Dudley. A Thanksgiving discourse,

The discourses which give him the most reputation were two
nfion religious liberty ; and two upon the siffcriiigs of our father s,
which were rt -printed in hnglund, not is sermons, but with the
title of a Concise History ofJ\eiv-Enstand^ The evangelical sen^


Mr. Adams was graduated at Cambridge, 1752,
and died at Roxbury, October, 1778, to the inex-
pressible grief of his family and flock. At this
time a putrid dysentery prevailed in the camp at
Roxbury and Cambridge, which spread more than
twenty miles in the environs of Boston. The peo-
ple of the first church in Roxbury were very much
scattered) but Mr. Adams was assiduous in his la-
bours, and not only visited his own flock, but the
soldiers who were stationed among the people of
his parochial charge. He himself soon fell a victim
to the disease.

Adams Samuel, a man celebrated in the an-
nals of America, was as remarkable for his piety
and puritanism, in younger life, as for his political
influence, during the contests of the merican revo-
lution. He was born September, 1722, in Boston.
His ancestors were respectable, among the early
planters of New- England, but not sufficiently dis-
tinguished to be inserted in a genealogical list ; and
every kind of genealogy he affected to despise, as
a thing which gives birth to family pride. His ed-
ucation was liberal, having commenced his studies
at the South Grammar School, under the care of
Mr. Lovell. He entered Harvard College A. D.
1736. The honours of that seminary he received
in the years 1740 and 1743 He made a very con-
siderable progress in classical learning, the art of
logic, as it was then taught, as well as the elements
of natural philosophy. But his main object was the
study of divinity, as he was designed for the min-

He was always fond of systematic divinity, and
was a Calvinist, of the straitest sect of that denomi-

Online LibraryJohn EliotA Biographical dictionary : containing a brief account of the first settlers, and other eminent characters among the magistrates, ministers, literary and worthy men in New-England → online text (page 1 of 43)