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. Thomas Allen

Rev. Allen gets the award for traveling the farthest to create the Massachusetts Bible Society. He was born in Northampton, Mass. on January 17, 1743, graduated from Harvard College in 1762, and in 1764 became the first settled minister in Pittsfield, where he was ordained with a salary of 60 pounds per year plus firewood. He served that congregation for forty-six years.

Twice he served as a volunteer chaplain during the Revolutionary War and fought himself as a combatant in the battle of Bennington, earning himself the nickname “The Fighting Parson.” An insurance ad featuring Rev. Allen can be found on the inside back cover of this booklet.

Both a Jeffersonian and a Calvinist, no one understood how he could be a social/political liberal and religious conservative all at once. And yet the logical inconsistencies never seemed to trouble him, allowing him to keep his respected place as orthodox clergy in an area that had no Unitarian church until 1890 while still rattling the federalists with his cries for social justice.

After his revolutionary activism, he became an activist for the oppressed, railing against slavery and capital punishment in his sermons. He brought his nephew to town to begin publication of the Pittsfield Sun, for which Allen wrote many of the editorials. His open political activism eventually caused a split in his church, yet he continued to lead the diminished parish until seven days before his death on Feb. 11, 1810.

Being the oldest clergyman present, Rev. Allen was afforded the honor of “addressing the Throne of Grace” at the opening of our founding meeting on July 6, 1809.

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Blogger Judy Shea said...

My 4th Great-Grandfather! What a sweetheart! Look at that face! Could I find out where this picture hangs, or is? if it does? Perhaps it's in a book?
Judith Lee Howard Shea

November 24, 2015 at 5:40 AM  
Blogger Alejandro Milberg said...

Hello Judy, if you're interested in contacting relatives in Argentina, descendants of Mrs. Elizabeth White, his daughter, let me know.

January 11, 2016 at 11:21 AM  

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