Ichabod Wiswall

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Reverend Ichabod Wiswall (1637–1700) was the third pastor of the church in Duxbury, Plymouth Colony, British America. Though he is thought to have given the first known funeral sermon in British America at the burial of Capt. Jonathan Alden in 1697, American funeral sermons predate this event by several decades.


Wiswall was the son of Thomas Wiswall (1601–1683) and Elizabeth Berbage. The third of ten children, he was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on 3 June 1637.[1]

Wiswall matriculated into Harvard University in 1654, at 17 years of age. During his time of study at Harvard, the course of study was changed from three years to four years. Wiswall left Harvard in 1657, after only three years, thereby forfeiting the honor of being able to claim himself as an alumnus of that institution. Beginning on 7 March 1656, Wiswall served for at least three years as a teacher in the public school at Dorchester.[2]

He married Priscilla Pabodie (1653–1724). Priscilla was the daughter of Elizabeth Pabodie, and the granddaughter of Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Alden.[3][4]

Wiswall later studied for the ministry, and was ordained as minister of the church in Duxbury in 1676.[2] From 1676 until his death in 1700, Wiswall served as the third minister of the church in Duxbury, Massachusetts.[5]

In 1689, Wiswall went to London to petition for a new royal charter for the Plymouth Colony. There he encountered Reverend Increase Mather, a fellow resident of Dorchester, but one who favored a charter which united the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth colonies. The result of their combined and opposing efforts was the 1692 charter, which established the Province of Massachusetts Bay (now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), merging the two colonies.[6]

In 1697, Wiswall officiated at the burial of Capt. Jonathan Alden, son of famous Pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden. This ceremony was conducted in Duxbury, Massachusetts. While Duxbury records claim that Wiswall's sermon at this event was the first known funeral sermon in British America, other funeral sermons (including James Fitch's sermon on the death of Anne Mason (Norwich, CT, 1672)) predate Wiswall's sermon by a quarter century.[7][8] Wiswall himself would be buried in the same cemetery, three years later; he died on 23 July 1700.[1] Wiswall's tombstone is located close to that of Myles Standish, in what is now known as the Myles Standish Burial Ground in Duxbury, Massachusetts.[9]

Notable relatives[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Ancestry.com: Ichabod WISWALL Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Wiswall" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ a b David Clapp (1883). The ancient proprietors of Jones's Hill, Dorchester. Boston, Massachusetts: David Clapp & Son. p. 50. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  3. ^ Huiginn, Eugene Joseph Vincent (1914). The Graves of Myles Standish and Other Pilgrims. Beverly, Massachusetts: the author. p. 115. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  4. ^ Ancestry.com: Priscilla PABODIE
  5. ^ Huiginn, p. 15.
  6. ^ Winsor, Justin (1849). History of the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts, with Genealogical Registers. Boston: Crosby & Nichols. p. 173. Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  7. ^ Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts: Standish Burial Grounds
  8. ^ James Fitch, "Peace the End of the Perfect and Upright, Demonstrated and Usefully Improved Upon the Occasion of the Death and Decease of that Piously Affected and truely Religious Matron, Anne Mason," printed by Samuel Green, Cambridge, MA 1672
  9. ^ Huiginn, p. 179.
  10. ^ Old East Parish Burying Ground: 1st Settlers Monument
  11. ^ a b c Cuyler Reynolds (1911). Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 1802–1803. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  12. ^ a b William Richard Cutter; William Frederick Adams (1910). Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the State of Massachusetts, Volume 4. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 2359–2360. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  13. ^ a b Frank Warren Coburn (1912). The battle of April 19, 1775. Lexington, Massachusetts: the author. p. 158. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  14. ^ a b Richard Frothingham (1903). History of the siege of Boston. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Company. p. 81. 

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