Image of John Eliot


Lifetime: 1640 - 1690 Passed: ≈ 334 years ago


Religious Teacher



John Eliot

John Eliot was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians who some called "the apostle to the Indians" and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645. In 1660 he completed the enormous task of translating the Eliot Indian Bible into the Massachusett Indian language, producing more than two thousand completed copies.

John Eliot was born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England and lived at Nazeing as a boy. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge. After college, he became assistant to Thomas Hooker at a private school in Little Baddow, Essex. After Hooker was forced to flee to the Netherlands, Eliot emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, arranging passage as chaplain on the ship Lyon and arriving on 3 November 1631. Eliot became minister and "teaching elder" at the First Church in Roxbury.

From 1637 to 1638 Eliot participated in both the civil and church trials of Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy. Eliot disapproved of Hutchinson's views and actions, and was one of the two ministers representing Roxbury in the proceedings which led to her excommunication and exile. In 1645, Eliot founded the Roxbury Latin School. He and fellow ministers Thomas Weld (also of Roxbury), Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard, and Richard Mather of Dorchester, are credited with editing the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in the British North American colonies (1640). From 1649 to 1674, Samuel Danforth assisted Eliot in his Roxbury ministry.

John Eliot married Hanna Mumford in September 1632, the first entry in the "Marages of the Inhabitants of Roxbury" record. They had six children, five sons and one daughter. Their daughter Hannah Eliot married Habbakuk Glover . Their son, John Eliot, Jr., was the first pastor of the First Church of Christ in Newton,[26] Another son, Joseph Eliot, became a pastor in Guilford, Connecticut, and later fathered Jared Eliot, a noted agricultural writer and pastor. John Eliot's sister, Mary Eliot, married Edward Payson, founder of the Payson family in America, and great-great-grandfather of the Rev. Edward Payson. He was also an ancestor of Lewis E. Stanton a United States attorney for the District of Connecticut. He is related to the Bacon family.

Eliot died in 1690, aged 85, his last words being "welcome joy!" His descendants became one branch of a Boston Brahmin family.

Books by John Eliot

The Christian Commonwealth Cover image

The Christian Commonwealth

Political Science Religion
Christianity political Religious America Laws Democracy United States

John Eliot, a North American missionary, advocates for post-civil-war England to adopt a representative democracy, using the Mosaic Law as a model.