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History of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts online

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of years. He died April 19, 1760.

Isaiah Lewis, son of John Lewis, was born June 10,
1703, graduated at Harvard University, in 1723, and set-
tled in the ministry atEastham, now Wellfleet. He died
October 3, 1786.

No All HoBART, son of David, andbrother of Rev. Nehe-
miah Hobart, of Cohasset, was born January 2, 1705, and
graduated at Harvard University, in 1724. He was set-
tled as a minister at Fairfield, Conn. February 7, 1732.
A few years after his settlement, a number of persons in
Fairfield County, adopted the episcopalian worship, and
separated themselves from the congregational churches.
The episcopal missionaries represented the ministers of
the country as not the true ministers of Christ. In con-
sequence of these representations, Mr. Hobart preached
a sermon in 1746, to vindicate the validity of presbyterian
ordination ; to which Mr. Wetmore of North Haven re-
plied. This commenced a controversy in which Mr.
Hobart had for his opponents. Dr. Johnson, Mr. Wetmore,
Mr. Beach and Mr. Caner. " He contended, that the

inhabitants of the American plantations were not obliged
11*



118 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

by any laws of God or man to conform to the prelafic
church, as established in th^^ south part of Great Britain,
that it was not prudent to embrace the episcopal commu-
nion, and that it was not lawful for members of the New
England churches to separate from them and produce a
schism. He also animadverted upon the conduct of the
society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts, and
upon the misrepresentations of its missionaries. This
controversy lasted a number of years. Mr. Hobart died
December 6, 1773, in the sixty eighth year of his age,
and the forty first of his ministry. In his life he exhibited
the virtues, and in his death the resignation and peace of
the Christian. Not long before his departure from the
"world, as some one remarked to him, that he was going
to receive his reward, he replied, " I am going, I trust,
to receive the mercy of God through Jesus Christ."

" Mr. Hobart had few equals in this country for acute-
ness of genius and learning. A sound judgment, a reten-
tive memory, and an uncommonly social and communica-
tive temper, joined to a knowledge of books, and an exten-
sive acquaintance with most branches of science, espe-
cially with history and divinity, which were his favourite
studies, rendered his conversation very interesting and
useful. In the public offices of religion he acquitted him-
self with graceful dignity, and with a solemnity, which
indicated a deep impression of the majesty of that Being,
in whose presence he appeared. In his preaching he ad-
dressed himself to the understanding rather than to the
imagination and passions, inculcating the great doctrines
of regeneration, of repentance towards God, and faith in
Jesus Christ, and pressing with earnestness upon his
hearers the necessity of that holiness, without which no
man will be admitted to heaven." — JiUcnh Bio. Die.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 119

Thomas Gill, was born October 12, 1707, and gradu-
ated at Harvard University, in 1725. He resided in Hing-
ham, and was a delegate to the General Court in 1742,
1743 and 1744. He died March 19, 1761.

Jeremiah Chubbuck, was born March 31, 1704, and
graduated at Harvard University in 1725. He resided
for some time in Hingham, and afterwards removed, but
to what place, is unknown.

Joseph Lewis, son of Joseph Lewis, was born Decem-
ber 1, 1705, and graduated at Harvard University, in
1725, After he had completed his education, he resided
in Boston, where he was a merchant. He afterwards re-
moved to Hingham, and taught a school for a consider-
able number of years. He died January 14, 1786.

Thomas Lewis, brother of the preceding, was born
September 30, 1707, and graduated at Harvard Univer-
sity, in 1728. He studied divinity and preached occa-
sionally. He abandoned the profession, and died in
Hingham, April 4, 17 87.

Ezekiel Hersey, son of James Hersey, was born
September 21, 1709, and graduated at Harvard University,
in 1728. He settled in his native town as a physician.
He became eminent in his profession. In the contro-
versy between the colonies and the mother country, he
espoused the cause of the former, and ,his opinions
had a most favourable effect on the community in
which he lived. His charities were extensive, as his
means were adequate to do much good. He was among
the benefactors of Harvard University. In his will, ex-
ecuted November 29, 1770, he directed his executrix to



li>0 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

pay to the corporation of tliat University, £100Q, ^^ the
interest thereof to be by them appropriated towards the
support of a professor of anatomy and physic." His
widow gave the same sum for the same purpose. A pro-
fessorship was estabhshed on this foundation, entitled the
riersey professorship of anatomy and surgery. Dr. Mer-
sey died December 9, 1770.

James Lewis, son of Joseph Lewis, was born Sep-
tember 9, 1712, and graduated at Harvard University
in 1731. He removed to Marshfield^ where he taught
a school, and died in that town.

Thomas Marsh was graduated at Harvard University,
in 1731. He was a Tutor of the University from 1741
to 1766, and a Fellow from 1755 to 1766. He died at
Watertown, during the Revolutionary War.

Benjamin Pratt, son of Aaron Pratt, was born March
13, 1710-11, in that part of Hingham now included within
the limits of Cohasset. He was graduated at Harvard
University, in 1737. He entered that seminary at an
advanced standing, in the junior class, and was distin-
guished for the extent of his acquirements, and the matu-
rity of his judgment. His distinguished talents and the
strong and powerful motives of an ambitious mind, point-
ed to the course which he finally pursued. He read law
with AucHMUTY or Gridley, or both, and commenced
business in Boston. He was a man preeminently intel-
lectual, and possesed those strong and decided traits of
character which were calculated to render him not only
conspicuous at the bar, but made his course sure and
easy to the highest political distinctions. For several
years, he was one of the representatives of Boston in the



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 121

legislature, and was a constant, fearless, and independent
lover of freedom ; and never hesitated to support what he
thought was just, wise and expedient. He was an inde-
pendent whig. His learning and eloquence gained him
the intimate friendship of governour Pownal, and in a
state of strong political excitement, by his attentions to
the governour, he incurred the jealousy of the people,
and he was left out of the list of representatives. Obstinate
prejudices frequently arise out of trifling and even from
honourable transactions ; yet so powerful is their force,
that the most shining ornaments of the political world are
sometimes distrusted and neglected. Pratt possessed all
the pride of a New England man. But the land of his
nativity was not destined to be the scene of his useful-
ness, or to reap the glorious reward of cherishing an
honourable ambition to attain the well earned reputation,
of an elegant scholar and a profound lawyer. By the
influence of Pownal, he was appointed Chief Justice of
the Supreme Court of New York. On the occasion of
his separation from the bar of Suffolk, the members sent
him a valedictory address, which affectionately spoke of
his worth. His answer was a classical composition, full
of dignity and feeling.

Many of the people of Boston thought him morose,
distant and haughty ; bu t they did not fully understand
him. To the few for whom he felt a high respect for
their worth and intelligence, he was courteous and com-
municative. His talents were never questioned by any.
It is not improbable that his early misfortune, the loss of
a limb, gave a sober cast to his character. The charac-
ter of Pratt's eloquence and of his poetry, prove that he
reasoned much upon the nature of man, and upon the
Avisdom and design of God in making him what he is. He
must have been a man of great research and learning,



122 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.

for he ha<i made such an extensive collection of rare
documents, relating to the events of this country, that he
contemplated writing a history of New England ; but he
died too soon to accomplish it. This was deeply regret-
ted by all who knew how well qualified he was for such
a task. The public on this account alone, lost much by
his death, for his style was far superior to that of any
man of his time. His models were classical, and his
manner free from the gravity then prevalent among Amer-
ican writers. He frequently wrote poetry which was pub-
lished in the newspapers and magazines of the day. A
canto on death, which is traced to him, proves that he
had taste and fancy.

Pratt's domestic character was amiable ; in conversa-
tion he was attractive and pleasing ; nor was he deficient
in urbanity of manners. He married a daughter of
Judge Auchmuty ; she is said to have been an accom-
plished woman, and to have been equally competent to
appreciate his virtues and intellect.

Chief Justice Pratt contemplated a return to New-Eng-
land, to spend the close of life, but this agreeable antici-
pation was never realized. He died at New York,
January 5, 1763. "Death is not charmed by eloquence,
nor warded off by virtues ; the monarch of worlds loves
to point his dart near the throne of Omnipotence, and to
send those who bear the brightest image of their Maker
to mingle with kindred spirits." — Knapp''s Sketches, Jin-
iholopj and Jim. Bio. Die.

Matthew Gushing, was graduated, at Harvard Uni-
versity, in 1739. He afterwards taught a school at Ply-
mouth, and at Charlestown, Massachusetts. Thence he
removed to New York, where he died.



HISTORY OF HIXGHAM. 123

Samuel Gay, son of Ebenezer Gay, D. B. the third
minister of Ilingham, was born January 15, 1720, and
graduated at Harvard University, in 1740. He studied
medicine, and went to England to obtain professional in-
formation, where he died, before the completion of his
studies,

John Thaxter, son of John Thaxter, was born No-
vember 22, 1721, and graduated at Harvard University,
in 1741. He settled in his native town, and was a re-
spectable, intelligent and wealthy farmer. He was a
representative to the General Court, in 1772. He died
October 6, 1802.

Samuel Thaxter, son of Samuel Thaxter, was born
November, 15, 1723, and graduated at Harvard Univer-
sity, in 1743. He was an officer in the war between the
English, and the French and Indians, and was present,
at the massacre after the capitulation of Fort William
Henry, in 1757, from which he fortunately escaped. In
the last part of his life he lived in Bridgewater, where he
died August 6, 1771.

Samuel French was graduated at Harvard University,
in 1748, and studied divinity. He is represented as an
excellent scholar and an amiable man. He died May 21,
1752, in the 23d year of his age.

Bela Lincoln, son of Hon. Benjamin Lincoln, and a
brother of General Benjamin Lincoln of the Revolutionary
Army, was born in March, 1733-4. He was graduated
at Harvard University, in 1754. He studied the profes-
sion of medicine, and settled in his native town. After
he had practiced for a considerable time, he visited Eu-



124 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

rope for the purpose of obtaining professional information ;
and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine, from the
University of Aberdeen. His constitution was feeble,
but his intellectual powers were vigorous and strong. He
took an active part in the cause of his country during the
controversies that preceded the Revolution ; but did not
live till the time of the declaration of our independence,
nor to participate either in the toils and dangers which
were subsequently endured by the friends of civil liberty,
or in the rich blessings which its establishment produced.
He died July 13, 1773.

Joseph Thaxter, son of Dea. Joseph Thaxter, was
was born April 23, 1744, and graduated at Harvard Uni-
versity, in 1768. After he was graduated, he spent con-
siderable time in his native town, as a teacher of a public
school. When hostilities commenced between this coun-
try and Great Britain, in 1775, he was preaching as a
candidate for the ministry at Westford, and on the advance
of the British troops towards Lexington, he hastened to
Concord on horseback, armed with a brace of pistols,
and was among those who received the fire of the enemy
at Concord Bridge. He was afterwards appointed a chap-
lain to the army and was attached to Prescott's regiment,
at the time of the battle at Breed's Hill. During the
war, he was chosen by his fellow citizens at Hingham, to
represent them in the General Court, which situation he
resigned, to discharge more active and important duties
in the army. After the acknowledgement of our inde-
pendence, he settled in the ministry at Edgartown, where
he lived for a great length of time in the discharge of his
duty as a faithful, zealous and useful divine. He parti-
cipated in the ceremonies of the 17th of June, 1825, at
the laying of the corner stone of the Bunker Hill Monu-



HISTORY OF HIXGHAM. 125

ment. He was at that time the only surviving chaplain
of the revolutionary army. Few who were present, will
forget the fervent and devotional prayer which this ven-
erable patriot uttered on that occasion, or the patriarchal
appearance of that early, zealous and persevering advo-
cate of civil and religious liberty. He died, July 18,
1827.

Joshua Barker, son of Capt. Francis Barker, was born
March 24, 1753, and graduated at Harvard University,
in 1772. He studied medicine with the late Dr. Dan-
forth of Boston. \ gentleman who was intimately ac-
quainted with Dr. Barker, thus describes his character :

" With a mind naturally active and capable of improve-
ment, he had enjoyed the advantages of a liberal educa-
tion, upon which he continued through life to improve by
study. Having chosen for his profession the practice of
physic, after a regular course of preparatory study, he set-
tled as a physician in his native town, where he continued
to practice with reputation and success, until he was taken
off from his active and useful labors by an attack on the
nervous system, which, after a gradual and distressing
decay of near eleven months, terminated in dissolution.
As a physician, his attention to the sick was always
prompt, kind and impartial, and administered with the
same readiness to the rich and poor. In the domestic
and social relations, and in his character as a member of
civil society, few men were more justly esteemed and
respected, than Dr. Barker. An easy politeness, refined
taste, cheerful hospitality, and intellectual conversation
made his house a pleasant resort to his friends and ac-
quaintances, and by his attentive notice of strangers who
visited the town, he was an honour to the place in which
he lived.

12



126



HISTORY OF HINGHAM.



In friendship, he was warm and affectionate, yet steady
and faithful. In his deaHngs he was regular, methodical,
punctual and conscientiously upright. As a citizen, a firm
friend to liberty, order and peace, he was a friend to all
the institutions of his country which have the promotion
of these for their object, whether civil, religious, or lite-
rary ; and was always ready by his example, his influence,
his exertions, and the contribution of his property, to
promote them."

Dr. Barker was in the habit of corresponding with
many distinguished gentlemen of his profession, and en-
joyed their esteem and regard. He took a deep interest
in the unfortunate Ibbekin, a German who resided for
some time in this town, and who amused himself with vis-
ionary attempts to fly like a bird ! His experiments
proving unsuccessful, he shot himself in a " paroxysm of
despair." Some account of Ibbekin may be found in
the appendix, in a letter from Dr. Waterhouse to Dr.
Barker.

Dr. Barker died April 2, 1800, as deeply lamented in
death, as he had been amiablcj useful and deserving in
life.

Levi Lincoln. To the character of this distinguish-
ed lawyer and civilian, I have no expectation of doing
justice, in the slight sketch which I am obliged to pre-
sent of it. He was one of eleven children of Mr. Enoch
Lincoln, an intelligent and substantial farmer in Hing-
ham, who had rendered his fellow citizens considerable
services during the Revolution, having been frequently on
important committees, and a representative to the Gen-
eral Court, Not intending to grant to one of his chil-
dren advantages, which he was unable to offer to all ; his
son Levi was placed at the usual age as an apprentice to



History of hingham.



127-



an Iron Smith.* He soon exhibited indications of talent,
and a love of literary pursuits which attracted the attention
of his friends and acquaintances. He devoted much of his
time to reading, and to the study of the Latin and Greek
languages, in which he received considerable assistance
from Mr. Joseph Lewis, who taught a grammar school in
this place for many years, and also from Dr. Gay, who took
a deep interest in his welfare. His love of books soon cre-
ated a disrelish for the occupation in which he was en-
gaged. They were his companions by day and by night.
He generally appeared as if engaged in deep thought,
and by some was considered reserved and distant in his
manners. There was a degree of seriousness in his de-
portment, and propriety in his conduct, which procured
for him the esteem of the virtuous and the good. His
love of literature increased with his years, until, at length,
his friends and acquaintances expressed a general desire
that he should receive the advantages of a collegiate ed-
ucation. He accordingly abandoned his trade, and after
a few months preparation, he entered Harvard University,
at the age of 19, and was graduated at that seminary, in
1772. After he was graduated, he read law with Haw-
ley, and commenced the practice of his profession, at
Worcester, in 1775. He soon became distinguished, and
for more than twenty years, was at the head of his pro-
fession in that county.

He was appointed Clerk of the Court of Common
Pleas, in 1775, and in the succeeding year. Judge of Pro-
bate for the County of Worcester. In 1731, he was
elected a delegate to Congress under the Confederation ;
in 1787, he was re-appointed a delegate^ but declined the
office. In 1797, he was a senator from Worcester Coun-

♦ See page 90.



128 HISTORY OF IIIXGHAM.

ty ; and in 1 800, was chosen to represent that district in
Congress. He took his seat, March 4, 1801, and the
next day was appointed by President Jefferson, Attorney
General of the United States. He resigned in 1805.
He discharged the duties of Secretary of State under
Mr. Jefferson, until Mr. Madison reached Washington.
In 1807, he was elected Lieutenant Governour of Mas-
sachusetts, and re-elected in 1808, when, in consequence
of Governour Suilivan^s death, the administration devolv-
ed on Mr. Lincoln. In 1810, he was elected a member
of the Executive Council of this Commonwealth, and in
1811, he was appointed an Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States, which office he
declined, and soon after retired to private life.

The number of important offices which Mr. Lincoln
filled give some indication of the estimation in which his
talents were held by the people, and by some of the most
distinguished statesmen of the country. He was learned
in his profession, and in his addresses to a jury, eloquent
and sometimes irresistible. As a statesman, he was fear-
less and independent, and obtained respect by his energy
and decision of character, and not by the practice of any
arts to secure popular favour and public admiration.

The following remark on the character of Mr. Lincoln,
appeared in the Worcester Spy a few days after his de-
cease, which took place April 14, 1820.

" The death of Lieutenant Governour Llxcoln is an
event calulated to excite the most interesting considera-
tions in the minds of those engaged in tracing the origin
and progress of our laws and judicial institutions.

" Deservedly placed at the head of his profession in
this county, for many years, it is a proper subject of in-
quiry, especially by the juniors of his profession, hov/
was this ascendency acquired, and so long maintained ^



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 129

'^ With perhaps but one or two exceptions, we have
now followed to the tomb the last of that illustrious band
of Statesmen and Lawyers, who laid the foundation of
that admirable system of government and laws, which for
forty years has afforded security, and dispensed blessings
to our Commonweahh. Their works form for them, col-
lectively, a monument durable as our liberties ; but, with-
out the aid of some faithful biographer, what will poster-
ity know of them individually ? Our Law Reports have,
indeed, ^' erected a frail memorial" for those who have
been accidentally named in them — but those whose plas-
tick hands formed and matured the majestic fabric of our
laws and liberties, who gave the first practical construc-
tion to our Constitution, will soon be remembered no
more. — While we are protected and comforted by its
shade, it certainly would be an instructive as well as cu-
rious employment to trace from the acorn the gradual de-
velopement and growth of the majestic oak, under whose
branches we sit. The few surviving contemporaries of
Gushing, Dana, Parsons, the Strongs, Sewall, Sullivan,
Sedgwick, Lincoln and their companions, owe it not only
to posterity, but to the greater part of the present gener-
ation to place upon record the history of their lives, par-
ticularly those instructive and interesting anecdotes that
connect them with the great history of the countrv.
Few of our lawyers and divines are acquainted with the
fact that the arbitrary encroachments of the Royalist cler-
gymen in the year 1776, were first successfully resisted
here, and that too by Mr. Lincoln — that it probably was
his exertions that first defined and settled the often con-
flicting interests of Minister, Church, and Parish. How
few of our rising politicians have been taught that the
first practical comment on the introductory clause of the

Bill of Rights, was first given by a Worcester iurv :
12*



130 HISTORY or HINGHaM.

That it was here first shown, by the irresistible eloquence
of Lincoln, that ^ all men were in truth born free and
equal,'' and that a court sitting under the authority of
our Constitution, could not admit as a justification for an
assault, the principle o^ Master and Slave : — That it was
the memorable verdict obtained upon this trial, which
first broke the fetters of negro slavery in Massachusetts,
and let the oppressed free. This deed of Judge Lin-
coln, even if it stood alone, ought to consecrate his
memory with every freeman."

At the decease of Mr. Lincoln, the Bar of the County
of Worcester adopted resolutions expressive of their
veneration of his distinguished learning and eloquence,
and of respect for his memory.

Martin Leavitt, son of Elisha Leavitt, was born March
20, 1755, and graduated at Harvard University, in 1773 ;
he was a physician and practised a few years. He died,
November 27, 1785.

TnoiviAS LoRiNG, son of Thomas Loring, was gradu-
ated at Harvard L'niversity, in 1774 ; he is now a mer-
chant in Hingham.

John Thaxteh, son of Col. John Thaxter, was born
Julv 5, 1755, and graduated at Harvard University, in
1774 ; he read law in the office of the late President Ad-
ams, at Braintree, and in 1776, was appointed Deputy
Secretary to Congress. Afterwards, in the absence of Mr.
Thomson, he performed the dutiesof Secretary with honour
and fidelity. In this station, his prudence, attention and
propriety of conduct gained the friendship ofmamj and the
esteem of all the members of Congress, and introduced
him to the particular notice of President Laurens. In



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 131

1779, when Mr. Adams was appointed Minister Plenipo-
tentiary to make a Treaty of Peace, and also a Treaty
of Commerce, with Great Britain, Mr. Thaxter accom-
panied him to Europe, in the character of Private Secre-
tary. With Mr. Adams he resided in France and Hol-
land ; and while his taste for literature rendered him an
agreeable companion, his integrity and perfect fidelity in
the duties of his station, claimed and received the utmost
confidence of that patriotic statesman. Peace being con-
firmed in 1783, the Commissioners sent him to America^,
with the charge of presenting the Definitive Treaty to
Congress ; he was received with attention and respect.


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