Letter from Benjamin Colman to Edward Wigglesworth about John Leverett, 1728 March 4
Letter from Benjamin Colman to Edward Wigglesworth about John Leverett, 1728 March 4
Benjamin Colman wrote this letter to Edward Wigglesworth on March 4, 1728; it was sent from Colman, in Boston, to Wigglesworth, in Cambridge. The letter concerns their mutual friend, John Leverett, who had died several years before. It appears that Wigglesworth was charged with writing an epitaph for Leverett and had solicited input from Colman. Colman writes of his great admiration for Leverett, praising his "virtue & piety, wisdom & gravity [...] majesty & authority [...] eye & voice, goodness & courtesie."
Gift of H.V. Ball; date of gift is not known.
Other materials related to Colman, Leverett and Wigglesworth are also held in the Harvard University Archives.
Benjamin Colman (1673-1747) was born in Boston on October 19, 1673. He received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1692 and an A.M. in 1695. Soon after graduation he departed on a ship for London. The ship was taken over by a French privateer, who held the passengers captive before exchanging them once on land. Once freed, Colman proceeded to England, where he preached for several years, in several locations, before returning to New England permanently in 1699. He accepted a position as minister of the newly established Brattle Street Church, where he remained for the duration of his life. Colman was also involved on a few occasions in missionary work among the Indians living in New England and served as a commissioner for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent. He served as an Overseer of Harvard College for forty-eight years and as a Fellow for eleven years, forging a close friendship and working relationship with President John Leverett. On Leverett's death in 1724, Colman was offered the Harvard Presidency, but he declined, largely from concern that his liberal views would prove too controversial and divisive. Colman was married three times - once to Leverett's widow - and had three children with his first wife. All of his children died before him. Benjamin Colman died in Boston on August 29, 1747.
John Leverett (1662-1724) was the first lawyer and jurist to become Harvard College President. He served as President from 1708 to 1724 and is recognized for his efforts in transforming Harvard College from a divinity school into a secular institution. He was born in Boston on August 25, 1662 to Hudson Leverett, an attorney, and Sarah (Payton) Leverett. His grandfather, John Leverett (1616-1679), was Massachusetts Bay Colony governor from 1672 to 1679. Leverett attended Boston Latin School before entering Harvard, where he received an A.B. in 1680, an A.M. in 1683, and an honorary S.T.B. in 1692. Upon graduation, Leverett preached irregularly for several years and became a member of the Brattle Street Church. He married Margaret Rogers Berry, the daughter of former Harvard College president John Rogers, on November 25, 1697. They had nine children, six of whom died in infancy. Margaret died on June 7, 1720. Shortly after, Leverett married again to Sarah Crisp Harris, who died on April 4, 1744. Leverett played several roles in Queen Anne's War (1701-1713), including serving as an Indian commissioner from Massachusetts and attempting, without success, to persuade the Iroquois to enter the war on the side of the British. Before becoming Harvard College president, Leverett pursued a career as an attorney, jurist, and politician. He was a member of the House of Representatives (1696-1702), Speaker of the House (1700-1702), a justice of the peace (1699), a judge in the Court of Admiralty (1705), a justice of the Superior Court (1702-1708), judge of Probate Court for Middlesex County (1702-1708), and a member of the Provincial Council (1706-1708). John Leverett died on May 3, 1724.
Edward Wigglesworth was born to Michael and Sybil (Sparhawk) Wigglesworth in Malden, Massachusetts in 1693; the day and month of his birth are unknown. He attended Harvard College, receiving an A.B. in 1710 and an A.M. in 1713. Following graduation, Wigglesworth served as an usher in the Boston Latin School. He also preached in several locations, including Salem and Barnstable, before accepting the appointment as Hollis Professor of Theology at Harvard on June 28, 1721. He was the first to hold the position and was chosen unanimously; he held it from 1721 to 1765. Wigglesworth was made a Fellow of the Harvard Corporation in 1724 and served in that role until 1765. He married twice, the first time in 1726 to Sarah Leverett (daughter of Harvard President John Leverett). Upon her death the following year, he remarried to Rebecca Coolidge; they would have four children. Edward Wigglesworth died on January 16, 1765.
Colman, Benjamin , 1673-1747
Harvard University Archives
Wigglesworth, Edward , approximately 1693-1765 (recipient.)
.01 cubic feet (1 document)
Personal correspondence.
Colman, Benjamin , 1673-1747, “Letter from Benjamin Colman to Edward Wigglesworth about John Leverett, 1728 March 4,” Colonial North American Project at Harvard, accessed September 24, 2017, http://colonialnorthamerican.library.harvard.edu/items/show/12082.