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. Samuel Kendal, DD

Born in Sherborne on July 11, 1753, Rev. Kendal spent his ministry as the pastor of First Parish in Weston, where he was ordained in the year following his 1772 Harvard graduation. (Although his name is listed with two l’s in the founders list, he preferred the spelling with only one.) Samuel Willard, then President of Harvard and father of founder Sidney Willard, preached the ordination sermon. He received his D.D. from Yale in 1801.

Like many of the divines of the day, Samuel Kendal tutored young men in the town, either to fit them for College or for ministry. Rev. Kendal did this so successfully that a memoir of a Sudbury lad named Jacob Bigelow speaks of Rev. Kendal’s “powerful frame and military antecedents” and his renown as “a breaker of unruly horses and refractory boys.” He goes on to describe the experience: “A few of us, who constituted a domestic school under his roof, found him genial, kind, and indulgent. He was liberal in his theological views, but not particularly relenting toward political adversaries, or heretical poachers on his parochial domain.”

Rev. Kendal also provided shelter to his father, who being loyal to the American cause, was forced to flee Nova Scotia in his advancing years. It was the father that saved Rev. Kendal and his young family, however, when he awakened in 1791 to a fire. The fire consumed the house and its contents, but thanks to the alertness of the senior Mr. Kendal, the family was spared. The parish quickly built Rev. Kendal a new and better home where those “refractory boys” came to have their studies.

The father left behind six daughters in Nova Scotia, three of whom were unmarried and thus followed their father to Massachusetts, showing up on Rev. Kendal’s doorstep so destitute that they had walked all the way from Boston to Weston. Rev. Kendal’s biographer tells of a wild dog ravaging the sheep of the town. Rev. Kendal chased the dog down and threw a large bone at it with such force that the offending dog was killed on the spot.

It is also told of a tramp, who came to Rev. for help, received his hospitality and left with both a full stomach and an apron and silver spoon to which he was not entitled. Rev. Kendal mounted his horse, chased down the thief and, finding him unwilling to admit the crime (yet with the apron string sticking out from his coat) grabbed the thief by the collar and brought him back at a brisk walk attached to the horse. The thief was at last repentant and returned the items.

Samuel Kendal died of typhoid in Weston on Feb. 16, 1815, having missed only one Sabbath service in his thirty-one-year pastorate.

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