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in Friendship, in Conversation pleasant and Instructive, in Religion Sincere, Unaffected, Cheerful; truly Humble, Patient, Fearless in the Cause of God and Truth; a Pattern of Conjugal and Parental Affection and Humanity, a Wise, Great and Good Man. 5 years he was an Hon' to the Sacred Ministry in Newington, 13 years Yale College flourished under his Pious, Learned, Faithful Instruction and happy Govern', the Glory of ye College and Ornament of his Country. He after filled and adorned several Civil and Military Caracters: Heaven claimed what was Immortal; that Glad obeyed; and drop'd here the Dust to rest till Jesus comes. Obiit 24t0 Julii 1755. Aetatis 61mo.

mo "*

The descendants of Robert Williams of Roxbury are a race that is remarkable in many ways, though it numbers no men of world-wide renown. Its members, indeed, have seemed to take most naturally to every-day business, rather than to those pursuits that might foster the budding of genius, or bring conspicuous celebrity. They have had a certain gift for practicality, for affairs. But they have been, nevertheless, an educated, cultivated stock. The names of nearly one hundred of the family are borne upon the roll of Harvard graduates, and more than eighty have received their diplomas from Yale.

Elisha was the son of William, minister of the Hatfield, Massachusetts, church and was born in that town August 24, 1694. Of his early life there are few memorials. In 1708 he entered the Sophomore class at Harvard, and according to President Stiles of Yale was "educated under Mr. Tutor Remington." He was graduated, it is said vaguely "with honor," in 1711, at the age of seventeen years, obtaining the degrees of A.B. and A.M. from President Leverett. The year after his graduation he began his career as a teacher by taking charge for a time of the grammar school at Hadley, but soon returned to Hatfield, where natural and hereditary tendencies, as well as the influences of environment, impelled him to undertake the study of theology under the direction of his father who, says Jonathan Edwards, was “a person of uncommon natural abilities and distinguished learning, a great divine, of a very comprehensive knowledge, and of a solid, accurate judgment.”

* Doubtless intended to read “60 years, 11 months.”

I have been unable to find the motive for Elisha Williams's change of residence from Massachusetts to Connecticut, from Hatfield to Wethersfield. Perhaps the fame of the climatic salubriousness and the vegetarian reputation of Hartford's suburb had penetrated, even in those early days, to the small Massachusetts town; perhaps Eunice Chester, the daughter of Thomas Chester of Wethersfield, whom Elisha married February 23, 1714, had something to do with this departure from the ancestral roof. At all events, about the date of his marriage we find the young student of divinity located in Wethersfield, varying the study of theology by work on a farm. But a certain restless, almost adventurous, strain in his character may be inferred at this comparatively youthful time from the fact that sometime in this immediate period he voyaged to the island of Canso, off Nova Scotia, and preached for a while to the fishermen there. This, however, was merely an incident of short duration. On his permanent establishment at Wethersfield he began, perhaps, to discover within himself possibilities and ambitions that he suspected the Congregational ministry, even in those strenuous ecclesiastical days, might not satisfy. Whatever the reason, he appears to have undertaken the study of law, with the intention of practicing, and to have begun to take a part in the public affairs of the town.

One matter that at this time was engaging the attention of educated people in the colony was the affairs of the so-called "collegiate school" at Saybrook, in which Elihu Yale, late governor of Fort St. George, Madras, was beginning to take a certain substantial interest. It was now practically admitted that the selection of Saybrook as a site was a mistake, and in the discussion of future settlement it seemed probable that rival interests might clash. The trustees, who met at Saybrook in April, 1716, did not consider it necessary at that meeting to formally open the question of a new location, but found enough reason in the complaints of the students against the disadvantages of Saybrook to warrant giving permission to the Seniors to finish their studies elsewhere. This permission other dissatisfied students, not in the Senior class, arrogated to themselves, and the consequence was that almost at once the undergraduates began to scatter. During the following summer the few who remained at Saybrook were compelled by an outbreak of the smallpox to move to East Guilford. But the chronicles of the college tell us that the majority betook themselves to Wethersfield, where they continued their studies under the direction of Elisha Williams.

The two Hartford trustees, Timothy Woodbridge and Thomas Buckingham, were doubtless advocates, in a quiet though vigorous way, of this migration to Wethersfield. It was probably the first move in their plan to establish the college at Hartford, or in its immediate vicinity. In fact, at the May session of the Assembly, these trustees and a wealthy resident of Hartford, claiming to represent many others, petitioned the colonial legislature for the removal of the school to Hartford, which step, according to Samuel Smith of Glastonbury, the historian of the period, “caused a mighty commotion.” But what we may with reason assume to have been the Hartford trustees' arrangement with Elisha Williams was a sagacious one, for during the dispute he held the students, which is the more remarkable when we remember that at this time he was barely twenty-two years of age, though he had been married for more than two years. Perhaps indeed his very youth was one factor in establishing sympathy with these young men whose average age is said to have been only about three years less than his own. He was undoubtedly popular. He seems to have had a certain winning, attractive manner. (You will remember that his conversation is described as pleasant as well as instructive.) In fact there seems to have existed in him that enviable combination of qualities that, in want of a better name, we sometimes call personal magnetism.

Among educated people and especially in the Congregational ministry, the feeling over the question of the school's location was intense. The students, too, seem to have had the courage of their convictions so far as to take sides in the affair, for when, in October, 1716, a majority of the trustees voted to establish the school at New Haven and proceeded on the strength of this vote to gather their pupils there (though the matter was still undecided so far as the Assembly was concerned, the lower house favoring the vicinity of Hartford, but the upper house refusing to concur), it was found that a group which outnumbered by one this New Haven body of students still continued to remain at Wethersfield under Elisha Williams, in defiance of the so-called regular establishment. Young Mr. Williams was evidently a drawing card. To be exact, there were thirteen scholars at New Haven, three or four still at Saybrook (under the tuition of the local minister) and fourteen at Wethersfield, where also went Samuel Smith, who, with Samuel Johnson, afterward the first president of King's now Columbia College, had just been elected a tutor for the New Haven contingent, but who declined the appointment in order to go to Wethersfield, where the fourteen undergraduates under Williams and Smith formed a rival school that continued for two years or more after the location at New Haven; finally, however, uniting with New Haven as passage of time dulled bitterness of dissension, and the New Haven establishment became permanent by legislative sanction, the erection of buildings and accumulation of money and lands. Thus it was that Wethersfield, and possibly Hartford, narrowly escaped becoming the future home of Yale University. It is interesting to note that one of Mr. Williams's pupils during this experiment at Wethersfield was his connection, young Jonathan Edwards, who was graduated in the class of 1720, but who spent nearly three years of his course in charge of Mr. Williams from whose precepts he so far differed in later years as to become involved with his former preceptor in a theological discussion that we may have occasion to mention in a few moments.

Mr. Williams's duties as an instructor of youth, however, did not during this period absorb all his attention. The collegiate school affair became a political matter, and perhaps it was upon this issue that he was in 1717 chosen a deputy for Wethersfield to the assembly. At all events it was in this year that his political career was thus begun, and during the continuance of his teaching at Wethersfield he was one of the representatives from that town. On his first election he was chosen clerk of the lower house, a position he filled during several sessions, receiving for his services in this capacity the grant of one pound five shillings at the close of each session.

In 1719 or 1720 Mr. Williams was, according to President Stiles of Yale, “sanctified” by a severe illness. “His religious exercises at this time," says Dr. Sprague,"seem to have been of a more decided character than at any previous period; and to have constituted an appropriate preparation for his entering on the active duties of the ministry.” This, in fact, was the work which he now undertook, accepting the invitation of the recently organized Newington Church to become its first minister. The parish was at the time a small and poor one, and the erection of the meeting house and the building of a house and barn for the minister took so much time that it was not until October 17, 1722, that Mr. Williams was formally ordained in the unfinished, unpainted church, though he had probably preached here and there in the parish before that time. Here at Newington, in his new home, built on the eight acres near to the widow Elizabeth Andrus' dwelling house,” that had been granted him out of the common land, he remained during the four following years; here were born two, at least, of his seven children; here he did most of his early sermon writing, one of these discourses appearing later in print on what was doubtless its second delivery, before the Assembly, that body believing that its publication, “may be of great service to religion in confirming the people in the great truths by him delivered.” Of his manner in preaching we have the word of a brother minister, the Rev. Mr. Lockwood of Wethersfield, who in his funeral sermon on Mr. Williams said, "His diction and address were rational, nervous and convincing to the understanding. His preaching was chiefly on the great doctrines.” With the future president of Yale, judge of our superior court and officer in the colony's military forces, this was a period of quiet work and study that

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