Transcript:Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts:Eliot, John, 1656

Page 1:476

Born 1636, died 1668, aged 32.

Rev. John Eliot, M. A., of Newton, eldest son of the Apostle Eliot, by his wife Anne Mountfort, was born 3 August, 1636, at Roxbury, and baptized in the First Church at Boston on the 28th of the following December. Cotton Mather says, "He bore his Father's Name, and had his Father's Grace. He was a Person of

Page 1:477

notable Accomplishments, and a lively, zealous, acute Preacher, not only to the English at New-Cambridge, but also to the Indians thereabout." Morton says, "He was Educated (at Cambridge) in the Latine School, and in the Colledge, until he became Master of Arts."

From the Steward's Account-Books, which contain no charge for "Entrance" it appears that his connection with the institution continued without interruption from 10-7-52, the date of his first quarter-bill, till 5-4-57; a subsequent bill, 9-6-59, being £3 for "three years detrements" 7s. 7¼d. for commons and sizings, and £2 for "his Comencment chardges" when he took his second degree. The items on his bills indicate self-denial in regard to everything not necessary for his comfort.

Among the items put to his credit are "geott mutten," "a geoatt 14s. mor by two wether gootts 28s.," "foulles 5s.," "ane oxe £6 4s. 8½d.," "two bush of appeles 8s.," "barly malt from goodman pearpoynte £5," and "beaff," etc., from Joseph Wise, who was a butcher in Roxbury. It is not improbable that some of these were contributions for his support from his friends or the friends of his father. March 9, 1654-5, £3 15s. is allowed him from "a schollership," and, "9-6-56," £7 10s. from "two schollershipes." His bills were not all paid till 28-5-59, a few days before he took his second degree, when he is credited by ten shillings in "siluer," "a weather," "wheatte," "appelles," "checkenes," etc.

In 1660 he was made freeman.

From a comparison of dates, it appears that he began his ministerial labors about the time he left college. Annually, in September, 1657, 1658, 1659, and 1660, for his services amongst the Indians, the Commissioners of the United Colonies allowed him twenty pounds, which was increased to twenty-five pounds in 1661, and to fifty in 1662 and 1663, these being all the records

Page 1:478

of payments which I have found, except twenty-five pounds allowed as late as September, 1667.

July 20, 1664, the first church at Nonantum, New Cambridge, or Cambridge Village, now Newton, was organized, and he was ordained.

Gookin says he "was not only pastor of an English church … and a very excellent preacher in the English tongue; but also, for sundry years, he preached the gospel unto the Indians, once a fortnight constantly at Pakemitt [Stoughton], and sometimes at Natick and other places: and the most judicious christian Indians esteemed very highly of him, as a most excellent preacher in their language, as I have often heard them say."

Morton says: "He was a person excellently endowed, and accomplished with Gifts of Nature, Learning, and Grace; of comely Proportion, ruddy Complexion, chearful Countenance; of quick Apprehension, solid Judgement, excellent Prudence; Learned both in Tongues and Arts for one of his time, and studiously intense in acquiring more knowledge. His Abilities and Acceptation in the Ministry did excell; His Piety, Faith, Love, Humility, Self-deniall, and Zeal, did eminently shine upon all occasions. … In a word, there was so much of upon all occasions. … In a word, there was so much of God in him, that all the wise and godly who knew him, loved and honoured him in the Lord, and bewailed his death."

Hubbard says: "For his years" he "was nulli secundus as to all literature and other gifts, both of nature and grace, which made him so generally acceptable to all that had opportunity of partaking of his labors, or the least acquaintance with him."

Homer says: "A tender affection subsisted between him and the people of his charge. A warm friendship prevailed between him and the venerable Mitchell of Cambridge, with whom he frequently exchanged pulpits,"

Page 1:479

and whom he survived about three months. "He fell sick with an eruption of blood," and died 13 October, 1668. His successor in the ministry was Nehemiah Hobart. H. U. 1667.

Eliot's first wife was Sarah, born 4 May, 1643, third daughter of Thomas Willet, the first English mayor of New York City. She died 13 June, 1664, having had Sarah, baptized 21 September, 1662, who married, 16 November, 1681, John Bowles, H. U. 1671. May 23, 1666, he married Elizabeth, born 14 March, 1645, daughter of Major-General Daniel Gookin, and by her had John, H. U. 1685. December 8, 1680, the widow married Colonel Edmund Quincy, and died 30 November, 1700.

According to Jackson, Eliot's homestead of twenty acres was situated on the westerly side of the Dedham road, about sixty rods north of the burying-ground. In his will, Eliot desired that, after his wife's decease, it should descend to their son, John Eliot. By order of the General Court in October, 1733, on the petition of Jonathan Elsworth and Mary, the widow of this son, who were the executors, it was sold for £415 to Henry Gibbs, to defray the expenses of educating the grandson, John Eliot, who also was an only son. In 1736 Gibbs sold the place to the Reverend John Cotton, H. U. 1710.


A Speech of Mr. John Eliot upon his Death-Bed. Printed in the Congregational Quarterly, vii. 194.

In reference to this Speech, Cotton Mather says, Eliot "upon his Death-bed uttered such penetrating things as could proceed from none, but one upon the Borders and Confines of Eternal Glory."


Authorities. — Congregational American Quarterly Register, x. 243. Quarterly, vii. 193. J. Farmer, in D. Gookin, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, i. 171. Harvard College Steward's Account-Books, i. 137, 138. E. Hazard, State Papers, ii. 378, 395, 406, 431, 433, 508. A. Holmes, Annals of America, i. 350. J. Homer, Century Sermon, 18. W. Hubbard, History of New England, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, xvi. 606. J. Hull, Diary, in the Archæologia Americana, iii. 187, 228. F. Jackson, History of Newton, 117, 120, 275, Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, i. 171, 218; v. 266; xvi. 606. Mass. House Journals, 1733, 93. C. Mather, Magnalia, iii. 173. N. Morton, New England's Memorial, 196, 197. Plymouth Colony Records, x. 188, 205, 218, 245, 262, 277, 296, 330. E. S. Quincy, Letter, 1863, July 24. J. Savage, Genealogical Dictionary, i. 224; ii. 110, 279; iv. 557.