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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Location: Newton Centre, MA, United States

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mr. Edward Dorr

A shipwright by trade and a distant cousin of founder Edward Dorr Griffin, Edward Dorr was born in Roxbury on Oct. 4, 1757 and during the Revolution served for three years in John Merritt’s Company as a private. He became a deacon in founder Eliphalet Porter’s church in Roxbury on July 27, 1797, although in later life he joined the Protestant Episcopal Church. He served in a number of municipal offices and died in Salisbury, MA on March 27, 1844.

Mr. Dorr knew his business and was quite willing to teach what he knew to others. Although Nathaniel Bowditch is credited as being the father of modern maritime navigation, he learned an early lesson from Mr. Dorr. The historical collections of the Essex Institute record that: Bowditch was a boy attending in the store of Ropes & Hodges, and Mr. Dorr, being in want of a Gunter's Scale, entered the store for the purpose of buying one; he enquired of young Bowditch for a Gunter's Scale, and was told by him that they had not got such a thing. "Why, yes you have," said Mr. Dorr, "for I see them on the shelf," and pointed out to him the article; "Oh!" said Bowditch, "we call them two-foot rules." "Very well, whatever you call them, this is what I want, and the proper name for it is a Gunter's Scale." He then told Bowditch that it was something more than merely a two- foot rule, and explained to him the uses of the different lines drawn on its sides, that with this scale and a pair of dividers, he could work any proportion, and the seaman could work up his day's work. Seeing Bowditch quite interested, he worked several questions in the Rule of Three for him, and taught him how to multiply and divide numbers by it, to find the square and cube roots of numbers; and from this accidental occurrence, proceeded the full, fine, particular and practical description of that instrument in his Navigator.

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