Tuesday, June 14, 2011


[Ancestral Link: Harold William Miller, son of Edward Emerson Miller, son of Anna Hull (Miller), daughter of William Hull, son of William E. Hull, son of Sarah Wilcox (Hull), daughter of Mary Pierson (Wilcox), daughter of Abraham Pierson, son of Abraham Pierson.]

Abraham Pierson Wikipedia Entry
Reverend Abraham Pierson (1646-1707) was the first rector, from 1701 to 1707, and one of the founders of the Collegiate School — which later became Yale University. He was born in Southampton, Long Island, where his father, the Rev. Abraham Pierson (Sr.), was the pastor of the Puritan (Congregational) church. At that time, Southampton and much of eastern Long Island were administered as part of the Connecticut Colony.

It is commonly stated that Abraham Pierson (Jr.) was born in Lynn, Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1640 or 1641. This claim conflicts with his gravestone in present-day Clinton, Connecticut [see note 5], as well as the period of time he spent as a student at Harvard (1664 to 1668).

Around 1647, Abraham's family moved from Southampton to Branford in what is now Connecticut. At that time, Branford was affiliated with the (unchartered) New Haven Colony. The plans to move from Southampton to Branford began in 1644 when Southampton chose to become affiliated with Connecticut instead of New Haven. Abraham's father was the pastor of the Puritan (Congregational) church in Branford from around 1647 to around 1667. [see note 6]

In 1667, Abraham's family moved to New Jersey where his father established the community of New Ark, present-day Newark, New Jersey. At that time, Abraham (Jr.) was a student at Harvard College. [see note 2]

After graduating from Harvard College in 1668, Abraham was ordained a minister and he joined his father in New Ark. After his father's death in 1678, Abraham succeeded his father as pastor of the First Congregational Church in Newark. Abraham also inherited a library of over 400 books from his father. [see note 7]

In 1691, The Congregational Church in Newark apparently chose to become Presbyterian. At that time, Abraham moved to Greenwich, Connecticut to become the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Greenwich. In 1694, he moved to Killingworth (now Clinton, Connecticut).

Abraham Pierson was the minister of the Killingworth Congregational Church at the same time he started to teach the first classes of what would become Yale University. The new school was supposed to conduct its classes in Saybrook, but the Rev. Pierson could not be relieved of his duties as the pastor in Killingworth. Because of this, the classes were in his parsonage. [see note 8]

Abraham Pierson is today interred in Clinton, Connecticut. Abraham Pierson School in Clinton, Connecticut (grades 4-5) was named for him, and a bronze statue of him is located on East Main Street in Clinton, Connecticut.
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Abraham PIERSON (Abraham) was born about 1641 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts. He died on 5 March 1706/1707 in Killingworth (Clinton), Connecticut and was buried in Killingworth (Clinton), Connecticut.

BIOGRAPHY: Abraham Pierson the younger was born in either Lynn Massachusetts or Southampton, Long Island. He graduated from Harvard College in 1668. In 1669, he was called to the pastorate of the church at Woodbridge, but he declined and became his father's assistant in the church at Newark, New Jersey. In March 1672, he was made co-pastor. When his father died in 1678, he became the sole pastor and remained there for 14 years. In 1692, he left that church and returned to Connecticut. He became the minister for the church in Killingworth, now Clinton, Connecticut, two years later, where he served until his death. He became prominent in the group of Connecticut ministers who founded the Collegiate School in October 1701, which was subsequently renamed Yale College. He was named one of the 10 original trustees, and on November 11, 1701, he was elected the first rector. He is now remembered as the first President of Yale College, and his statue is on the grounds of Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

Abraham married Abigail CLARKE, daughter of George CLARKE and Sarah HARVEY, about 1673 in Branford, New Haven, Connecticut. Abigail was born about 1654. She died on 15 March 1727 in Killingworth (Clinton), Connecticut and was buried in March 1727 in Indian River Cemetery, Clinton, Connecticut.
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Story of the statue
1874, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Abraham Pierson, 1874 Launt Thompson (1833-1894; M.A.H. 1874) Location: Old Campus
Civic pride inspired towns across the nation to build Civil War memorials in the 1870s, making large-scale public sculpture a permanent feature in the American landscape. Yale joined this trend in 1874 with a bronze statue honoring Abraham Pierson (1641/5-1707), the college’s first rector (or president) from 1701 to 1707. Lacking a likeness of Pierson, Irish-born sculptor Launt Thompson used portraits of the rector’s descendants to compose an idealized face. The Shakespearean actor Edwin Booth may have posed for the work, lending it all the dignity and force that made Booth’s portrayals of Hamlet famous on the stages of New York and London. Gift of Charles Morgan to Yale University, 1874
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first president of Yale University
The following year, however, these designs turned into reality. Fifty-six year old Abraham Pierson, a minister in Killingworth, Connecticut, was appointed the first rector of the college. His first student was Jacob Heminway of East Haven, Connecticut, who began attending class in March 1702. Classes were held in the rectory of Pierson's church, with the first commencement taking place on 16 September 1702. With little fanfare the ceremony was held in the home of the Reverend Thomas Buckingham of Saybrook. Nathaniel Chauncey was the school's first graduate, receiving his master's degree. Chauncey was joined by four graduates of Harvard who were also conferred with M.A. degrees at this time. The following year, John Hart of Farmington, Connecticut, became the first candidate to officially receive a bachelor's degree from the school.

During its first several decades of service, the institution faced constant uncertainty. Despite the support of area residents and the Connecticut legislature, the school struggled financially. Student enrollment, a primary source of income, fluctuated from year to year, with as many as nine members in the class of 1714, followed by only three students in the class of 1715. Student discipline was also an early concern and was likely due, in part, to the age of incoming freshmen, who typically entered school at sixteen. Another obstacle in these initial educational efforts was the institution's library, which consisted of considerably dated works. These problems were further compounded by the debate among trustees concerning the location of the school. From 1701 to 1717, the college held its classes in numerous parsonages throughout Connecticut, including Hartford, Milford, New Haven, and Saybrook. It was not until 8 October 1717 that the college constructed its first building in New Haven. This ultimately settled a long-standing dispute among trustees as to where to permanently locate the school. Other developments at this time forever changed the institution's history.

In seeking greater financial stability for the college, Cotton Mather, alienated by the direction of Harvard's educational efforts, was asked to work on behalf of the Connecticut school. Mather wrote Elihu Yale, an employee of the East India Company who was appointed governor of Madras in 1687, asking for a charitable donation to the school. Yale eventually succumbed to Mather's requests, donating both money and personal effects to the college. In honor of this gift, the school named its first and only building after Yale. This situation, however, led to some confusion concerning the relationship between the name of the school and its lone building. Between 1718 and 1719 the names "Collegiate School" and "Yale College" were used interchangeably. By the spring of 1720, however, trustees referred to the school as Yale College in their letterhead, and the name appears to have quickly replaced the initial designation.
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First President of Yale University
Abraham Pierson
Birthplace: Southampton, Long Island ca. 1641-1646
Died: Killingworth, Connecticut March 5, 1707
Rector: 1701 - 1707
The actual date of Abraham Pierson's birth is not established, but he was probably born between 1641 and 1648 at Southampton, New York. His father, Cambridge- educated and a minister of the Church of England, had emigrated to Boston in 1639 to escape the hostility of Archbishop Laud. After a brief sojourn as pastor at Lynn, Massachusetts, the elder Pierson moved to Long Island, where he helped found the town of Southampton. He did not remain there long and soon moved to Branford, Connecticut, as pastor.

The son, Abraham, received his early education in English and Latin from his father and later under the tutorship of Jeremiah Peck and John Davenport, the latter being the principal founder of the New Haven Colony. At eighteen the young Pierson went to Harvard College, where he was one of a class of five. Here he was trained in the Calvinism of the day and also in the scientific courses that were available. He was graduated in 1668 and went to Milford, Connecticut, to study theology under the Reverend Roger Newton. No doubt here he first met Thomas Buckingham, who was later to join him as one of the original trustees of Yale. And it was at Milford that he married Abigail Clark.

In 1670 Pierson rejoined his large family of five sisters and three brothers who had moved to Newark, New Jersey. At this time he was admitted to the ministry and for the next twenty-two years assisted his father in the Newark Church. In Newark his father was working to establish a colony which would hopefully be governed along the ecclesiastical lines which Davenport had labored to set up at New Haven; as a result he remained outside the more liberal political tendencies which were developing in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. In 1678 the elder Pierson died and left to Abraham the then considerable estate of £822.

The son was elected to succeed his father as minister of the Newark Church. Although he was popular in the early days of his pastorate, by the 1690's Pierson had lost much of his rapport with the congregation. Scotch-Presbyterian thought was a growing force of the day, and his own response to this undoubtedly accounted for some of the complaints.

The conflict revolved largely around the problem of church organization, in particular the powers and duties of the elders and synod. The dilemma was made more complex by the fact that Pierson had been without salary for two years. In 1692 the impasse between pastor and flock ended abruptly in Pierson's dismissal.

For the next two years he stayed at Greenwich, Connecticut, and in 1694 was called to the church at Killingworth, Connecticut (now Clinton). Here he was installed as pastor, and here he spent the remaining years of his life. At the time, Killingworth was a small and poor farming community, but it was not long before Pierson occupied a prominent place among the Connecticut ministers. With them he was drawn into discussion which led to the founding of a college within the Connecticut Colony.

In the early days of the New Haven settlement the idea of a college or seminary had been promulgated by Davenport and others. At a General Court held in Guilford on June 8, 1652, it was voted, "The matter of a College at New Haven was thought to be too great a charge for us of this jurisdiction to undergo alone.... But, if Connecticut does join, the planters are generally willing to bear their just proportions for erecting and maintaining of a College there." This project was introduced in various forms throughout the latter half of the 17th century. A large part of the impetus came from the need for a learned ministry to supply the pulpits of the Colony. Evidence also supports the view that a fear existed among the orthodox ministers of New England that Harvard was falling under the control of the "latitudinarians"-a bulwark of orthodoxy was needed. Another compelling motive was the simple necessity of providing a closer, more convenient and less expensive seat of learning.

Early in October in the year 1701 a number of clergymen from scattered towns in Connecticut met at the Branford parsonage of Samuel Russel and made a gift of books "for the founding of a college in this colony." The meeting was a hurried one, as the General Assembly of the Colony was to meet in New Haven shortly, and the ministers hoped to present the Assembly with a request for a charter. The "founders" called the projected college "a collegiate school," and although it was intended to bolster the churches it was definitely not to be controlled by them. The General Assembly granted the charter, probably on October 15, 1701. A board of ten trustees was created: James Noyes of Stonington, Israel Chauncey of Stratford, Thomas Buckingham of Saybrook, Abraham Pierson of Killingworth, Samuel Mather of Windsor, Samuel Andrew of Milford, Timothy Woodbridge of Hartford, James Pierpont of New Haven, Noadiah Russell of Middletown, Joseph Webb of Fairfield. (Mather and Woodbridge were known as the "upriver trustees.")

On November 11, 1701, seven of the board met at Saybrook and adopted general rules for the government of the college. They also elected a rector, Abraham Pierson. Israel Chauncey, the oldest of the group, was offered the position as a complimentary gesture, but he declined. Rector Pierson agreed to move in due course to Saybrook, which was selected as the location for the school. Scholars meanwhile would be taught at the Rector's house in Killingworth (roughly 12 miles away) until it was deemed "convenient" to move.
During the first half-year (January-May, 1702) only one student attended, Jacob Hemingway of East Haven. Later he remarked he "solus was all the College the first half-year." He received instruction from Pierson in classics and divinity. In September 1702, at the Reverend Thomas Buckingham's house in Saybrook the first Commencement was held, a quiet ceremony attended only by the trustees and those who were to receive degrees. Four young men who had previously been graduated from Harvard were awarded the degree of Master of Arts ad eundem and one who had been privately educated, Nathaniel Chauncey, received both the Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts. Hemingway received his degree in 1704.

Enrollment slowly increased in the early years, and by 1704 there were in all twenty students, most of them boarders at the Pierson home, which was handsomely managed by Mrs. Pierson. One may surmise that the students were supplied with certain luxuries, for the Rector made his own apple cider and cultivated his own tobacco. The increase in numbers led to the hiring of an assistant to Pierson. The first "tutor," as he was called, was Daniel Hooker; he was later replaced by John Hart, who had received the first bachelor's degree in course, in 1703. Hart was not paid a salary, being dependent upon the fines he could extract from the students for failure to obey the rules. He was somewhat overzealous in his duty-a fact which led in 1704 to the first student rebellion. The trustees quickly quelled the outbreak, and the rules were clarified both for the students and for Mr. Hart, who was then voted a salary.

The curriculum consisted of theology, Greek, Latin and Hebrew, and brief courses in logic, mathematics, and physics. The latter subject was taught from Pierson's Harvard lecture notes, which were described as obsolete, even when new! The students who used the text agreed that if they learned physics at all, it was from other sources. The upperclassmen were required to listen to the Rector's Sunday sermons and immediately afterward repeat them to him verbatim. This exercise it was hoped would promote theological orthodoxy. At least it was an exercise in memorization.

All through the early years the Collegiate School was plagued with financial difficulties, and the Colony responded with little or no support, despite the fact that the students were predominantly from Connecticut-and at that were mainly students recruited by the trustees.
A more intricate problem was the location of the School. The people of Killingworth did not want their popular pastor to move, and yet they were uneasy about students living in the town. On more than one occasion Pierson prepared to move, and the trustees repeatedly offered a salary increase; but the Killingworth congregation would not dismiss him. The trustees, irresolute as a body, were unable to agree among themselves on a permanent site in the face of bids from several Connecticut towns. In the midst of this controversy Rector Pierson died, after a short illness, on March 5, 1707.

During his years as Rector eighteen students were graduated with first degrees. The concentration of studies was chiefly in philosophy and science, his own favorite subjects. Today, Abraham Pierson is memorialized at Yale in Pierson College, and his descendants have continued to play a prominent part in the life of the University.

Source: Holden, Profiles and portraits of Yale University presidents pages: 7-11
found on ancestry.com

History of Abraham Pierson
Rev. Abraham Pierson
Abraham Pierson, son of Thomas Pierson, was born in 1611 in Bradford, Yorkshire, England and baptised 22 September 1611 in Guiseley, Yorkshire. He matriculated to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1629 as a full tuition paying student, graduated in 1632, and was ordained a deacon at the Collegiate Church, Southwell, Nottingham on 23 Sept 1632. He came to America in 1639 on the ship Mayflower along with his second cousin, Henry Peirson, arriving in Lynn, Massachusetts 10 May 1639. He was ordained in Boston as a Congregational minister. He married Abigail Mitchell, daughter of Matthew and Sarah (Wood) Mitchell about 1640. She was born in South Ouram, Yorkshire, England on 26 April 1618.

They had the following children:
Abraham Pierson, Jr. was born about 1640/41 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was the first president of Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, 1701-1707. New information indicates that he may have actually been born in 1646 in Southampton, New Haven Colony, Long Island (Suffolk County, New York).
Thomas Pierson was born about 1642 in Southampton.
John Pierson was born about 1643 in Southampton.
Abigail Pierson was born about 1644 in Southampton.
Grace Pierson was born 13 June1650 in Branford, New Haven Colony (Connecticut).
Susannah Pierson was born 1652 in Branford.
Rebecca Pierson was born 1654 in Branford.
Theophilus Pierson was born 15 May 1659 in Branford.
Isaac Pierson was born in 1661 in Branford.
Mary Pierson was born about 1663 in Branford.

Along with his second cousin, Henry Pierson, Abraham was among the primary leaders in the founding of the colony of Southampton, Long Island (New York) by about 40 families in 1640. They attempted to make a settlement on the west end of Long Island, but the Dutch had made sure of that end, so they repaired to the east end, and laid the foundations of Southampton. The first church of that town was started as a Congregational church, but it afterwards became Presbyterian (Howell's Hist. of Southampton 1st edition). He was most rigid in his desire to have the "civil as well as the ecclesiastical power all vested in the church, and to allow none but church members to act in the choice of officers of gov't, or to be eligible as such." This led to a division of the colony.

In 1647, Abraham Pierson with a small part of his congregation, attempted another settlement, across the sound, on the Connecticut shore, where they organized and formed the town of Branford. There, for 20 years, he "enjoyed the confidence and esteem not only of the ministers, but the more prominent civilians connected with the New Haven colony." He early interested himself in behalf of the Indians, made himself familiar with their language, and prepared a catechism for them, that they might know of God. In 1665, he united with John Davenport in opposing the union of the two colonies, Connecticut and New Haven, with great inflexibility. He was rigid to excess in church communion, and disapproved of the liberality of the clergy in the Connecticut colony. In this respect, he differed with them upon the ordinance of infant baptism, as no person in the New Haven colony could be made a freeman unless he was in full communion with the church. He fully agreed with Davenport and others in the colony, that no government than that of the church should be maintained in the colony.

In 1666, because of this belief, he with most of his congregation (including his nephew, Thomas Pierson, Sr.) left Branford, and repaired to New Jersey, on the Passaic River, where they purchased land of the Indians and laid the foundations of the now flourishing city of Newark. During 1666 and 1667 some sixty-five men came from Branford and two neighboring towns to Newark. Each man was entitled to a homestead lot of six acres. They brought their church organization with them from Branford, and became the First Church of Newark, which afterwards became a Presbyterian church. At Newark, for 12 years, Abraham led his flock of devoted followers. (Pierson Millennium) Read more about the founding and histories of Long Island, Southampton, Branford, and Essex.

Mr. Pierson made his will at Newark, 10 August 1671. It contains the following clause: "That my Wife shall have the Thirds of my Whole Estate to Whose Love and faithfulness I Comit the bring Up of my Children, and doe appoint her my sole Executrix, and giue her my Great bible and What other English book she pleaseth to Choose." The will was witnessed by Thomas Pierson, who swore to it in Court, 12 Mar. 1678 (1678/9). The widow Abigail accepted the trust, and gave bond as Executrix with Abraham Pierson (the son) as surety. The terms in which Mr. Pierson referred to his wife, and his appointment of her as sole Executrix would be unusual for that period if she were a second wife and not the mother of the children. Abraham died on 9 Aug 1678 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey
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Rev. Abraham Pierson
From findagrave.com
Rev. PIERSON was the son of Rev. Abraham and Abigail PIERSON, born in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1645. A graduate of Harvard College in 1668, he became an ordained minister in 1689. He assisted his father in the pastorate at Newark, New Jersey from 1678 until his father's death, at which time he replaced his father until 1694. He was then appointed pastor at Killingworth (now Clinton), Connecticut.

Rev. PIERSON along with Rev. James PIERPONT was involved in the founding of a collegiate school in New Haven, later known as Yale University. He was one of the eleven trustees established by the school's charter of 1701 and was rector there until his death in 1707.A bronze statue by Launt Thompson was erected to the memory of Rev. Abraham PIERSON on the Yale grounds in 1874. A residential college on the New Haven campus is named for him.
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1 comment:

  1. And I, Alan Pierson, direct descendant of Thomas Pierson, son of William Pearson, born in 1574 in Yorkshire, England, am very happy that relatives are floating around in the world.