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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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John Norton

NORTON, John, clergyman, born in Stortford, Hertfordshire, England, 6 May, 1606 ; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 5 April, 1663. He was educated at Cambridge university and became a curate in his native town. Having embraced the tenets of the Puritans he came to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1635, and preached there during the winter. Early in 1636 he removed to Boston, and before the close of the year became minister of the church at Ipswich. He was an active member of the convention that formed the " Cambridge platform" in 1648. In 1652 he became colleague of Reverend John Wilson as minister of the First church at Boston, and in 1662 he accompanied Governor Bradstreet as agent of the colony to present an address to Charles II. after his restoration, and to petition in behalf of New England. The king assured them that he would confirm the charter of the colony, but he required that justice should be administered in his name, and attached other conditions that the colonists regarded as arbitrary. Upon the return of the agents to Massachusetts they were regarded with suspicion, and the report was circulated that they had sold the liberties of the country. This greatly affected Mr. Norton's popularity as a preacher, and it is supposed that it hastened his death. The first Latin book that was composed in the colonies, "Responsio ad totam questionum syllogen" (London, 1848), was by him, and was written in answer to questions relating to church government that were sent to New England from Holland by Apollonius. He also wrote " A Discussion on the Sufferings of Christ" (1653); " The Orthodox Evangelist " (1654) ; "Election Sermon " (1657); " Life of Reverend John Cotton" (1658); " The Heart of New England Rent by the Blasphemies of the Present Generation " (1660) ; a letter in Latin to John Dury, a catechism, and other works. He left some writings in an unfinished state, of which the principal one was a large "Body of Divinity," which is preserved in the archives of the Massachusetts historical society. His life was written by Reverend Alexander W. McClure in "Lives of the Chief Fathers of New England" (1850).--His nephew, John, born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, in 1651; died in 1716, was the son of Reverend William Norton. His mother was the daughter of Emanuel Downing, and the niece of Governor John Winthrop. He was graduated at Harvard in 1671, and ordained as successor to Reverend Peter Hobart over the First church, in Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1678. In the same year he married, and published a "Funeral Elegy" upon Mrs. Anne Bradstreet, a stiff production of little merit except piety of sentiment and propriety of formal versification. Professor Moses Coit Tyler, in his" History of American Literature," ascribes poetic genius to its author, which indicates that his poem was not inferior to the average verses of his contemporaries. His only other publication was an " Election Sermon," delivered 26 May, 1708, and published under the title of " An Essay tending to promote Education." Mr. Norton was a pious scholar, and is reported to have been an amiable man, beloved and respected in the community of which he was the spiritual head. The Hingham meeting-house in which he preached and which is represented in the illustration was built in 1681. and still stands. It is the oldest house of worship in New England.-His descendant, Andrews, clergyman, born in Hingham, Massachusetts, 31 December, 1786; died in Newport, Rhode Island, 18 September, 1852, was graduated at Harvard in 1804, and afterward pursued a course of literary and theological study there. After serving as tutor at Bowdoin in 1809-'10, and at Harvard in 1811-'12, he became editor of "The General Repository." From 1813 till 1821 he was librarian at Harvard, and in the former year he became lecturer on biblical criticism and interpretation. In 1819 he was elected Dexter professor of sacred literature in the new divinity school at Cambridge, which chair he occupied till 1830, when ill health forced him to resign. He spent the rest of his days in literary retirement at Cambridge until 1849, when he made Newport his summer residence. In his theological views and writings Mr. Norton united opposite schools of thought. He was radical as a critic and interpreter, conservative as an expositor of Christian doctrine, and while leading the van in the Unitarian protest against Calvinism he was foremost in opposition to the naturalistic school, of which Theo-dote Parker was the principal representative. As a lecturer on scriptural interpretation he had few equals and no superiors in the United States. Besides contributing to numerous periodicals, he edited the " Miscellaneous Writings of Charles Eliot " (1814); the " Poems of Mrs. Hemans" (1826) ; and, in conjunction with Charles Folsom, " The Select Journal of Foreign Periodical Literature" (4 vols., Boston, 1833-'4) ; and wrote "A Statement of the Reasons for not believing the Doctrines of Trinitarians as Concerning the Nature of God and the Person of Christ" (Boston, 1833 ; new ed., with a memoir of the author, 1856); "Historical Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels " (3 vols., 1837'-44) ;" Tracts Concerning Christianity "(Cambridge, 1852) ; " A Translation of the Gospels, with Notes" (2 vols., 1855) ; and " The Internal Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels" (1855). He was also the author of fugitive poems.--His son. Charles Eliot, author, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 16 November, 1827, was graduated at Harvard in 1846, and shortly afterward entered a Boston countinghouse to gain a knowledge of the East India trade. In 1849 he went as supercargo of a ship bound for India, in which country he travelled extensively, and returned home through Europe in 1851. He made other visits to Europe in 1855-'7, and from 1868 till 1873. In 1855 he edited with Dr. Ezra Abbot his father's translation of the gospels with notes (2 vols.), and his "Internal Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels." During the civil war he edited at Boston the papers issued by the Loyal publication society, and in 1864-'8 he was joint editor with James Russell Lowell of the "North American Review." He has published "Considerations on some Recent Social Theories" (Boston, 1853) ; "The New Life of Dante," an essay, with translations (Cambridge, 1859); "Notes of Travel and Study in Italy" (1860) : "A Review of a Translation into Italian of the 'Commentary' by Benvenuto da Imola on the ' Divina Commedia' " (1861) ; "The Soldier of the Good Cause" (Boston, 1861); " William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job, with Sketch of the Artist's Life and Works" (1875) ; "List of the Principal Books relating to the Life and Works of Michael Angelo, with Notes" (Cambridge, 1879) ; and "Historical Studies of Church-Building in the Middle Ages: Venice, Siena, Florence" (New York, 1880).

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