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

Rev. Jacob Norton

Born in Abington on Feb. 12, 1764 and graduated from Harvard College in 1786, Jacob Norton was ordained at Weymouth on October 10, 1787. Described as “a tall, erect, spare man of dignified appearance,” Rev. Norton served the church in Weymouth until 1824, during which time he also preached the election sermon before the legislature as well as addresses to other societies, our own included.

His departure from Weymouth was a matter of theology rather than health, being dismissed from that congregation due to his theological changes, especially his new opposition to infant baptism. He became a Unitarian after his dismissal. A Unitarian paper in 1843 wrote of discovering the aged, yet spry Rev. Norton in their congregation: “He appears cheerful and happy—and why should he not? He has spent a long life in virtue and usefulness, and now he has the hope of Universalism to cheer him as he travels to the tomb.”

He died in Billerica on Jan. 17, 1858 at the age of 93 years, eleven months, and five days. At the time of his death he was the oldest surviving graduate of Harvard College. He was noted for his many polemical writings although his character was such that he was highly esteemed by his colleagues despite the fact that they “deplored his heresy.”

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