home :: site contents :: contact     

The Holy Bible (with Commentary)
The Psalms (for singing)

Scottish Gaelic Turkish

Foreign Languages
Law and Grace
Short Articles

Doctrinal Articles
Stories of Faithful Christians
Famous Letters

Summary of Bible Teaching

The Christian’s Great Interest
Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

Pilgrim’s Progress

Christian Clothing

Other Online Books













































Thomas Mayhew, Esq.




The book itself has an attestation prefixed by eleven ministers at Boston, dated June 14th, 1726. And the Appendix is written by Mr Prince, one of their number.


2. THOMAS MAYHEW, Esq., the father of the former. This gentleman was both patentee and governor of Martha's Vineyard and the neighbouring islands. After his son's death, seeing no probability of a regular minister to labour among the Indians, his zeal for the glory of God, and charity for the souls of this perishing people, raised him above all those forms and distinctions that lay in the way, which he accounted nothing in competition with their eternal salvation. He therefore resolves to do his utmost, both to preserve and carry on this public work. He goes once every week to some of their plantations. At so advanced an age he sets himself with unwearied diligence to perfect himself in their language; and though a governor, yet he is not ashamed to become a preacher among them. He sometimes travelled on foot in this work near twenty miles through the woods. In a few years, with the assistance of those religious Indians who taught on the Lord's-day, he persuaded the natives on the west end of the island to receive the gospel. About the year 1664 he was greatly relieved and assisted by the Rev. Mr John Cotton. The Indians were so edified and pleased with Mr Mayhew's labours, that they desired him, though now about fourscore years of age, to accept the pastoral charge over them; but he thought this would not so well consist with the prime place he held in the civil government, wherein they also very greatly wanted him; and therefore advised them to chuse such Indian pastors as he thought would do good service among them; which they accordingly did, making choice of Hiacoomes and Tackanash for their pastors. The day appointed being come, which was August 22, 1670, an Indian church was completely formed to the satisfaction of the English church, and other religious people on the island, who by advantage of many years' acquaintance, had sufficient experience of their qualifications. Nor did this abate his ministerial care or pains. He still proceeds in the laborious work, even to the ninety-third year of his age, and the twenty-third of his ministry, which was in 1680, when he died, to the great lamentation of  both the English and Indians. A little before his death he told a grandson of his, yet living, "That the time of his departure was near at hand; but he earnestly desired that God would give him one opportunity more in public to exhort the English of the town where he lived; whom he had for some time been also obliged to teach, through the want of a regular minister." God granting his desire, he taught them the following Sabbath, and then took his affectionate farewell of them; and falling ill that evening, he assured his friends, "that his sickness would now be unto death, and he was well contented therewith, being full of days, and satisfied with life," &c. He gave many counsels and exhortations to all about him; his reason and memory not being at all impaired, as could be perceived. And he continued full of faith, and comfort, and holy joy to the last. Though the loss of his only son in his old age was a great and lasting sorrow, yet by God's lengthening out his life to so uncommon a term, he had the reviving consolation to see a very valuable son of that son associated with him in the Indian service to their great acceptance, a few years before he died; and which doubtless made his departure more easy and joyful to him. We therefore now come to.


3. The Rev. Mr JOHN MAYHEW, the youngest son of Mr Thomas Mayhew junior. Mr Thomas Mayhew junior left three sons, viz., Matthew, Thomas, and John. This John, born in 1652, applied himself to the work of the ministry, wherein he was for some small time contemporary with his aforesaid grandfather; and succeeding him, continued therein to his death. When he was but twenty-one years of age, he was first called to the ministry among the English in a new and small settlement, at a place named Tisbury, near the midst of the island, where he preached with great acceptance. But he also naturally cared for the good of the Indians; and understanding their language well while he was a very young man, he used frequently to give them good instructions, and even the chief Indians on the island used often to resort to him for counsel. And being arrived at the age above mentioned, they would not be contented until he became a public preacher to them likewise; so ardent and urgent were their desires, that he could not deny them, even though his grandfather was then a laborious and acceptable preacher among them. And having both the English and Indians under his care, his diligence was now to be doubled, especially after his grandfather's death; and this much the more, by reason of certain erroneous opinions in danger of taking root in the island. Mr Mayhew was rightly for repelling them with spiritual weapons; and being a person of very superior abilities, and acquaintance with the scriptures, he used to desire such as began to imbibe those principles, to produce the reasons; and those who wanted to be resolved in their difficulties, to give them an advantage to resolve them in public, that others might also receive light and satisfaction; whereby they came to be more clearly instructed, and more fully convinced and satisfied, than in the ordinary way of preaching, which yet always preceeded the other. In short, he had such an excellent talent for the defence of the truth against gainsayers, that those who would have spread their errors found that they could make no progress in their designs on the island: and the churches and people, and in them their posterity, were happily saved from the spreading of those erroneous opinions, and the disturbance and troubles they would have produced among them.


As for the Indians; his custom was to tarry some time with them after the public exercise was over, allowing them to put questions to him for their own instruction, and also trying their knowledge, by putting questions to them. And he was so very well skilled in their language, as to be able to discourse freely with them upon any kind of subject, and to preach and pray in their tongue with the greatest readiness. The whole of what was allowed him for his incessant labours, both among the English, and Indians, put together, would scarce amount to ten pounds a year, except the two last years of his life, when the commissioners being sensible of the eminent service he did, raised his salary to thirty pounds. But he went on cheerfully, in hopes of a rich and joyful harvest in heaven. And having finished what God in his all-wise and perfect providence saw meet to employ him in, he died on the 3rd of February, 1688-9. about two in the morning, in the 37th year of his age, and the 16th of his ministry; leaving the Indians in a very orderly way of assembling on the Lord's day, for public worship in four or five several places, and of hearing their several well instructed teachers, who usually began with prayer, and then after singing part of a Psalm, from some portion of Scripture spake to the auditors: as also an Indian church, of one hundred communicants, walking thus according to the rule of the Scriptures. And thus expired this third successive Indian preacher of this worthy family; after he had set another bright example of disinterested zeal for the glory of God, a lively faith of the invisible and eternal world, and a generous and great concern for the salvation of all about him. He left eight children; the eldest of whom was but sixteen years of age, and soon after succeeded him in the Indian service. And this is now


4. The Rev. Mr EXPERIENCE MAYHEW, the eldest son of Mr John Mayhew. He was born January 27, 1673, and began to preach to the Indians in the Vineyard, March 1694, about five years after his father's decease; and has continued in the same laborious employment, having the oversight of five or six Indian assemblies; to whose service he has been wholly devoted, and to one or other of which he has constantly preached for above these thirty-two years. The Indian language has been from his infancy natural to him, and he has been all along accounted one of the greatest masters of it that has been known among us. The honourable commissioners therefore employed him to make a new version of the whole book of Psalms, and the gospel of John; which he did in collateral columns of English and Indian, with a great deal of accuracy, in 1709. He has several children living, and is now endeavouring to bring up one of them for the college in order to the Indian service. But this worthy man, the compiler of the [following] Indian examples, being now alive, and flourishing among us, I may not venture to trespass so much on his modesty, as to enter into any further description of his character. 


HIACOOMES, the first Christian Indian, and Minister in the island of Martha's Vineyard.



“HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF ACCOUNTS OF REVIVAL,” compiled by the Rev. John Gillies, D.D., 1754. Published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981. pp 223-224.