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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mr. Francis Parkman

One of our younger founders, Mr. Parkman was just 21 years old at the time of our founding, going on to serve MBS in various offices for 24 years, holding the office of Vice President of the Society upon his death on Nov. 12, 1852.

He was born in Boston on June 4, 1788 and graduated from Harvard in 1807, where he was also an Overseer from 1819 to 1849, helping to establish the endowment for the Parkman Professorship of Theology. He studied theology with William Ellery Channing and in 1815 he was ordained as the pastor of the New North Church, where he served for 36 years, following the ministry of founder John Eliot.

The son of a prominent Boston merchant, Rev. Parkman inherited a substantial fortune and in the introduction to his memoir it is recorded: “Every association in his native State and city, devoted to the cause of humanity, if based on a broad and Catholic platform, found in him a liberal patron, and in very many cases an active officer and fellow-laborer.”

A memoir of his son, historian Francis Parkman, says of the father: “He held a prominent place among the Unitarian clergy of his day, was esteemed an eloquent preacher, and was thought to have ‘a special gift in prayer.’ His conversation was delightful, abounding in wit and humor.” It is also noted that he was “particularly kind to the unattractive.”

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