Biography of John Mayhew, 1652

A very short history of John Mayhew, born 1652.

John Mayhew, 1652

Source: Annals of Chilmark Vol 2 pg 32-35. From the sketch written by Rev. Thomas Prince of Boston. Published in "Indian Converts" page 302-306.

John was 5 years when his father died, therefore missed the advantage of an education. He was early inclined to ministerial work. He had the benefit of his grandfather's wise instructions and his father's library. Being a person of great industry and sincere piety, he made such a study and knowledge of divine things that about 1672, when he was only 21 years, he was first called to the ministry among the English in Tisbury.

He was a good friend to the Indians on the island, understanding their language well while a very young man, gave good instruction to them. Even the chief resorted to him for counsel. He became a public preacher to them because of their ardent and urgent pleas. He taught literally in all their assemblies, a lecture every week and assisted them in their ecclesiastical affairs. After his lectures to the Indians, they would ask him questions, then he would put questions to them. He became skilled in their language, so was able to discourse freely with them. He was a person of clear judgement, great prudence and of an excellent spirit. The Indians came freely to his home for advice and relief in their wants. He had the English and Indians under his care and even more, after his grandfather's death in 1681. He had an excellent talent for the defense of the truth against gainsayers.

He walked in his house with perfect heart; having his children's and servant's love and respect, being frequently and seriously instructed and counseled by him. He lived and died in Chilmark, but preached once a week to the English in Tisbury and one of another of the Indian assemblies on the Island of Martha's Vineyard. He made it his aim to serve his generation by the will of God, than to be known and observed in the world. All that he received from his incessant labors amont the English and the Indians would scarcely amount to 10 pounds a year, except for the last two years when he received 30 pounds. And yet he went on cheerfully in hopes of a rich reward and joyful harvest in heaven. He often said that though he had little reward from men, if he could be instrumental in saving any, he would be satisfied.

Having finished what God in His wise and perfect providence say meet to employ him in, he deceased on 3 Feb 1688 in the 37th year of 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 his last sickness he expressed desire if it were the Divine Will to live a while longer, to leave his children a little grown up before he died. He left eight children, eldest being but 16 years of age who succeeded him in the Indian service, Far from being afraid to die, having hopes the Grace of obtaining eternal life, he enjoyed a great serenity and calmness, having a lively appreciation of the Mercy of God. He counseled, exhorted, and encouraged his relations and others who came to visit him. Thus died the third successive Indian preacher of this worthy family.

Elizabeth Hilliard born 1654 in New Hampshire was his wife.