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. Thomas Furber

Thomas Furber undoubtedly had many good qualities. He was apparently quite likable. However, the only real record we have is of his failure in the newspaper business. We have American newspaper publisher and author Isaiah Thomas to thank for the following account:

“Thomas Furber was born in Portsmouth, and served his apprenticeship with Daniel Fowle. Some zealous whigs, who thought the Fowles were too timid in the cause of liberty, or their press too much under the influence of the officers of the crown, encouraged Furber to set up a second press in the province. He in consequence opened a printing house in Portsmouth, toward the end of 1764, and soon after published a newspaper. In 1765 he received as a partner Ezekiel Russell. Their firm was Furber & Russell. Excepting the newspaper, they printed only a few hand-bills and blanks. The company became embarrassed, and in less than a year its concerns terminated, and the partnership was dissolved. Upon the dissolution of the firm, the press and types were purchased by the Fowles. Furber became their journeyman, and Russell went to Boston.

“Furber had been taught plain binding, and undertook to connect it with printing. Although he was not very skillful, either as a printer or as a binder, he began the world under favorable circumstances; and, had he been attentive to his affairs, he might have been successful. He was good natured and friendly, but naturally indolent; and, like too many others, gave himself up to the enjoyment of a companion, when he should have been attending to his business. He died in Baltimore, at the house of William Goddard, who had employed him for a long time and shown him much friendship. He left a widow and several children.”

Thomas Furber was born in Portmouth, NH on April 10, 1742 and the above “companion” that Thomas seems to credit for the demise of the newspaper was Sarah Frost Blunt, whom Furber married October 4, 1765.

[N.B. It is not certain that this is the correct Thomas Furber. This Mr. Furber also had a son of the same name. Another Thomas Furber was a silversmith but would have only been 10 years old in 1809. Because of his connection with printing and the several other book printers and binders among our founders and because of the presence of this Thomas Furber on the 1810 census records in Boston, I believe this is the correct choice.]

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