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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rev. John Lathrop, DD

A neighbor of Benjamin Franklin’s sister in Boston and therefore acquainted with Mr. Franklin in his later years, Rev. Lathrop was born May 17, 1740 in Norwich, Connecticut, intending initially to study medicine but graduated from Princeton in 1763 with his sights set on divinity. He was granted the D.D. degree from Edinburgh in 1784. Rounding out his support of Colleges, he was part of the Corporation of Harvard College for forty years. He was the Vice President of the Massachusetts Bible Society and was a member of many religious and benevolent societies.

He was called to the pulpit of the Mathers in the Second Church in Boston (the other “Old North Church” of Boston, which was burned by the British in 1775) in May of 1768. After the Evacuation, the congregation united with the New Brick Church and upon the death of New Brick’s pastor, Rev. Lathrop took charge of both congregations for a ministry that spanned fifty years.

No stranger to the public square, Rev. Lathrop also served as Chaplain of the House for the Massachusetts legislature. He also had an active interest in science, writing a paper on the effect of lightning on the springs and wells of Boston.

The history of Second Church, in remembering the eulogy for Rev. Lathrop delivered by fellow MBS founder Francis Parkman, praises Rev. Lathrop for “his unfeigned piety, his pure conscientiousness, his amiable temper and most winning spirit of Christian love, his delightful candor, the tenderness and gentleness of his domestic affections, his serene dignity, his public spirit, his devoted attachment to liberty, his unyielding defence of the rights of conscience, his energy and firmness when the cause of truth demanded or the public good required, and his beautiful resignation and triumphant composure in the hour of death.”

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