Samuel Willard

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For the American physician, see Samuel Willard (physician).
Samuel Willard
SamuelWillard.jpg
Samuel Willard (1640-1707)
Born (1640-01-31)January 31, 1640
Concord, Massachusetts
Died September 12, 1707(1707-09-12) (aged 67)
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation Minister
Spouse(s) Abigail Sherman  (m. 1664)
Eunice Tyng (m. 1679)
Signature Appletons' Willard Simon - Samuel signature.png

Reverend Samuel Willard (January 31, 1640 – September 12, 1707) was a colonial clergyman. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts; graduated at Harvard in 1659; and was minister at Groton from 1663 to 1676, whence he was driven by the Indians during King Philip's War. The Reverend Willard was pastor of the Third Church, Boston, from 1678 until his death. He strenuously opposed the witchcraft trials, and served as acting president of Harvard from 1701. The Reverend Willard published many sermons; a folio volume entitled A Compleat Body of Divinity was published posthumously in 1726.

Early life[edit]

Willard's parents were merchant Simon Willard and Mary Sharpe, who had emigrated from England to New England in 1634, settling first in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1635, with Rev. Peter Bulkley, they helped establish the town of Concord, Massachusetts, where Samuel was born the sixth child and second son. After the death of his mother, his father remarried twice, and Samuel was one of seventeen children born to the family.[1]

At the age of fifteen, Willard entered Harvard College in 1655, graduating in 1659, and was the only member of his class to receive an M.A.[2]

Ministry in Groton[edit]

In 1663, Willard began preaching in Groton, Massachusetts, then at the very frontier of the Massachusetts colony. The town's first minister, John Miller, had become ill, and when he died, the congregation asked Willard to stay, and he was officially ordained by them in 1664.[3]

On August 8, 1664, Willard married Abigail Sherman of Watertown, MA, and in 1670 he became a freeman, with full privileges of citizenship.

In 1671, a 16-year-old girl in town, Elizabeth Knapp, fell ill and appeared to be possessed. Willard wrote about the strange behavior.

Groton was destroyed on March 10, 1676, during King Philip's War, and the 300 residents abandoned the town. Willard and his family removed to Charlestown, Massachusetts.

Ministry in Boston[edit]

Willard preached at Boston's Third Church during the illness of Rev. Thomas Thacher and gave an election-day sermon on June 5. The Third Church called Willard to be its Teacher, an associate pastor, on April 10, 1678. When Thacher died on October 15, Willard became their only pastor. Members of the congregation included a variety of influential members of the colony: John Hull, Samuel Sewall, Edward Rawson, Thomas Brattle, Joshua Scottow, Hezekiah Usher, and Capt. John Alden (the son of John and Priscilla Alden of Plymouth). His wife Abigail died sometime in the first half of 1679; in July of that year he married Eunice Tyng, a possible sister-in-law of Joseph Dudley.[4]

Leading Harvard[edit]

Willard was the acting president of Harvard, although having the nominal title of vice-president, from 1701 until his death in 1707.[5]

Works[edit]

First page of Some Miscellany Observations On our present Debates respecting Witchcrafts, in a Dialogue Between S. & B., attributed to Samuel Willard.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Van Dyken, 13-14.
  2. ^ Sibley, 13.
  3. ^ Van Dyken, 26-27.
  4. ^ Quincy, Josiah. The History of Harvard University. John Owen (1840), Vol. I, p. 148.
  5. ^ Quincy, pp. 145-56.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Seymour Van Dyken, Samuel Willard, 1640-1707: Preacher of Orthodoxy in an Era of Change (1972) ISBN 0-8028-3408-6
  • Ernest Benson Lowrie, The Shape of the Puritan Mind: The Thought of Samuel Willard (1974) ISBN 0-300-01714-6
  • http://www.pragmatism.org/american/willard_samuel.htm
  • John Langdon Sibley. "Samuel Willard," pp. 13–36 of Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge Massachusetts, Vol. II, 1659-1677. Cambridge: Charles William Sever, 1881.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Increase Mather
President of Harvard College
acting

1701–1707
Succeeded by
John Leverett