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. William Phillips, Esq.

Born in Boston on March 30, 1750, MBS President William Phillips was not healthy enough to receive a college education. Coming from both a wealthy and benevolent family (William’s two uncles founded Phillips Academy), William devoted his life to managing and distributing his father’s fortune.

For many years he was a state representative, eventually becoming Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth. He was a deacon at Old South Church from March 24, 1794 until his death on May 26, 1827, just a few months after his son Edward’s passing.

Although his early health was poor, it did not stop him from becoming involved in Society and societies. At the time of his death not only was he President of the Massachusetts Bible Society (as he had been since our founding), but was also President of The American Education Society, The Society for Propagating the Gospel, The Foreign Mission Society of Boston, The Congregational Charitable Society, the General Hospital Corporation, The Boston Dispensary and was an honorary Vice President in several other organizations both locally and in other parts of the country.

He was as liberal with his money as with his time and generally contributed between eight and eleven thousand dollars each year to a variety of charitable causes, including, of course, MBS. He bequeathed $62,000 to charitable organizations upon his death.

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