|Death:||Aug. 7, 1667|
WILSON, John, clergyman, born in Windsor, England, in 1588; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 7 August, 1667. Young Wilson was educated at Eton and at Cambridge, where he was graduated about 1606. He studied law three years at one of the inns of court, and took orders in the Church of England, but soon became conspicuous for his Puritanical leanings, he preached at Mortlake, Henley, Bumstead, Stoke, Clare, and Candish, and for several years was minister of Sudbury, Essex, where he was repeatedly suspended or silenced by the bishop's court for his opinions, but was befriended by Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick. Becoming interested in the colonization of Massachusetts, he and many of his neighbors embarked on 8 April, 1630, in the great fleet with John Winthrop and his associates of the Massachusetts company. He landed at Salem on 12 June, and soon afterward removed to Charlestown, where he preached under a tree, and on 30 July organized what was subsequently the 1st church in Boston, to which place the majority of the members soon removed. He was ordained teacher of the church on 27 August by imposition of hands by the several communicants. In 1631 he sailed for England, where he remained until May, 1632, and was ordained pastor in November of the latter year. He again visited England in the autumn of 1634, and remained absent a year. Soon after his return the Antinomian controversy arose in his congregation, and Governor Winthrop and Wilson fought stoutly against the faction that was led by Anne Hutchinson. While this discussion was pending, an expedition was sent against the Pequots, and Mr. Wilson was selected by lot as its chaplain. He outlived two colleagues in the ministry, John Cotton and John Norton, and was left at the age of seventy-six with the entire charge of his congregation on his hands. He continued in the active discharge of his duties until finally disabled by a fatal disease.
Sarah Talcott Wadsworth*
Elizabeth Mansfield Wilson (____ - 1658)*
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Kings Chapel Burying Ground
According to Cotton Mather, John Wilson, the learned and pious teacher and minister of the first church established in Charlestown, later the First Church of Boston, was beloved by many. In addition, he “had so nimble a Faculty of putting his Devout Thoughts into Verse, that he Signalized himself by the Greatest Frequency, perhaps, that ever Man used, of sending Poems to all Persons, in all Places, on all Occasions” and thus “was a David unto the Flocks of our Lord in the Wilderness.” Educated at King’s College, Cambridge, where he came into contact with Puritan ideas, Wilson sailed with the first group to come to Massachusetts Bay led by John Winthrop. In London in 1626 he published a lengthy poem for children entitled A Song or, Story, For the Lasting Remembrance of diuerse famous works, which God hath done in our time, better known as A Song of Deliverance, the title of the second edition published in Boston in 1680. In New England, he was prolific but published little, circulating most of his poems in manuscript. He especially excelled at composing funeral elegies based on anagrams of the name of the departed, sometimes squeezing up to six anagrams and elegies, in English and Latin, from the names of particularly eminent divines, such as his series on Thomas Shepard and John Norton. His anagrammatic elegy on Abigail Tompson, mother of the poet Benjamin Tompson, while conventionally pious, is notable for its use of the woman’s voice with its gentle critique of her minister husband’s inability to communicate the joys of heaven.
The lives of John Wilson, John Norton, and John Davenport 1846 - M'Clure, Alexander W. (Alexander Wilson), 1808-1865
Ancestry and descendants of Rev. John Wilson of Boston, Mass. (1907) - Bartlett, Joseph Gardner, 1872-1927
Anagram made by Mr John Willson of Boston upon the Death of Mrs. Abigaill Tompson, and sent to her husband in Virginia, while he was sent to preach the gospell yr (1640)
American Poetry of the Seventeenth Century by Harrison T. Meserole (see page 384)