Samuel Willard (1640-1707)
January 31, 1640|
|Died||September 12, 1707
|Spouse(s)||Abigail Sherman (m. 1664)
Eunice Tyng (m. 1679)
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.
Willard's parents were Major 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 established 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.
Ministry in Groton
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.
In 1671, a 16-year-old girl in town, Elizabeth Knapp, fell ill and appeared to be possessed. Willard wrote about the strange behavior.
Ministry in Boston
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.
- Some Miscellany Observations On our present Debates respecting Witchcrafts, in a Dialogue Between S. & B.
- A Compleat Body of Divinity, 1726
- "A briefe account of a strange & unusuall Providence of God befallen to Elizabeth Knap of Groton" in Samuel A. Green, ed., Groton In The Witchcraft Times, Groton, MA: [s.n.] 1883
- Van Dyken, 13-14.
- Sibley, 13.
- Van Dyken, 26-27.
- Quincy, Josiah. The History of Harvard University. John Owen (1840), Vol. I, p. 148.
- Quincy, pp. 145-56.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "Willard, Samuel". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- 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
- 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.
- A collection of Samuel Willard's sermons are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- "Willard, Simon, settler". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. 1889.
|President of Harvard College