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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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mr. Josiah Salisbury

One of several father-son teams amongst our founders, Josiah Salisbury was the son of founder Samuel Salisbury. Josiah was born in Worcester on Feb. 15, 1781, graduated from Harvard in 1798 and studied theology at the University of Edinburgh. He was also the brother-in-law of founder Jedidiah Morse.

After returning from Scotland, he was invited to settle in Providence, “but experience had convinced him that ‘his bodily strength was not equal to the effort required in continual preaching,’ to which being added ‘a natural reluctance to be the object of public attention, and extreme diffidence of his qualifications for usefulness as a minister,’ he decided, about a year after his return from Europe, to relinquish the profession. His pulpit performances, however, are said to have been excellent and highly acceptable.” Mr. Salisbury instead took the path of a merchant.

Josiah Salisbury spent some time in Dr. Channing’s church but found himself more in line with the Orthodox and became, like his father, a Deacon at Old South Church. A participant in many charitable endeavors, Josiah Salisbury was the person responsible for the profits from The Panoplist magazine being given to charity. He died in Boston on Feb. 10, 1826.

The History of Old South Church records part of his funeral sermon, which said, “His was a consistent character — always the Christian, at home and abroad, in the social circle and in the busy throng. As a deacon in a Christian church . . . his retiring disposition prevented his being as publicly active as some who sustain that important office. He never, however, shrunk from any obvious duty. In the various business transactions of the church, important services were frequently required of him, and always judiciously and promptly performed. To the poor of the church he was kind, attentive and liberal.”

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