Founders of the Massachusetts Bible Society - 1809

The Massachusetts Bible Society began on July 6, 1809 and is an ecumenical, Christian organization dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. This blog lists brief biographies of our founders who gathered in the Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber on that historic day to sign the Charter founding MBS. Please visit our website:

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mr. Caleb Gannett, Esq.

A member of First Church in Cambridge, Caleb Gannett was born in Bridgewater on Aug. 22, 1745. Although he married the daughter of Yale’s President, Ruth Stiles, it was Harvard College that kept Mr. Gannett’s loyalty. After graduating from Harvard in 1763, he served Harvard as a tutor in mathematics from 1773-1780 and as a Steward of the College from 1779 until his death in May of 1818. The Gannett House at Harvard, pictured here, is named for him.

Mr. Gannett began his career as a Congregational minister and tried to minister in Nova Scotia, only to be driven out by the Episcopalians. We have the papers of John Adams to thank for this information as upon Mr. Gannett’s return from Nova Scotia in 1771, he enlisted the help of John Adams to try to get back the 500 acres of land around Ft. Cumberland that he had been given in 1768 as the first settled Congregational minister in that region. The rival Anglican missionary subsequently had taken the land. It does not seem that they were successful in returning the land to Mr. Gannett.

In a biography of his better-known son, Ezra Stiles Gannett, the home of Caleb and Ruth was described as a “grave Puritan home” and mentions that the younger Stiles’ humor and poetic bent were inherited from neither parent. Perhaps the rigorous duties of a Steward at Harvard were more suited to his personality than his initial career choice.

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