Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PIERCE, John, antiquary, born in Dorchester (now part of Boston), Massachusetts, 14 July, 1773; died in Brookline, Massachusetts, 24 August, 1849. He was a descendant in the sixth generation from Robert and Anne (Greenway) Pierce. who were among the first settlers of Dorchester. He was graduated at Harvard in 1793. He taught two years at Leicester academy, then studied theology with Reverend Thaddeus Mason Harris, of Dorchester, on 3 December, 1796, settled at Brookline, Massachusetts, and was ordained pastor there, 15 March, 1797. In 1822 Harvard conferred on him the degree of D.D. He continued the sole pastor of the church in Brookline for fifty years. On his semi-centennial, 15 March, 1847, he preached a jubilee sermon in which he gave much historical and statistical information relating to the church and town. In October, 1848, Reverend Frederick N. Knapp was settled as his colleague. Dr. Pierce was well known for his genealogical and historical researches, and he was an authority on these subjects. He was a member of various historical societies, for nineteen years secretary and twenty-one years president of the Massachusetts Bible society, of which he was one of the founders, and was an earnest worker in the cause of temperance and all other social reforms. He was devoted to the interests of Harvard, of whose board of overseers he was secretary for thirty-three years. He was present at sixty-three commencements, and for fifty-four years led the singing of the tune of " St. Martin's " at the commencement dinner. In the contest that divided the Congregational church of Massachusetts he would willingly have avoided taking sides, and preferred being called simply a Christian, although his feelings and affiliations were with the Unitarians, with which body his church finally united. His published works consist chiefly of sermons and addresses, but his memoirs, in eighteen quarto manuscript volumes, were bequeathed by him to the Massachusetts historical society, and give a full and faithful account of the theological history of his times, which, from his habits oi! research, exactness, and absolute and unquestioned truthfulness, may be relied upon as the best authority. They can be consulted at the society's library, but restrictions have been placed upon their publication.
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