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Richard Mansfield

MANSFIELD, Richard, clergyman, born in New Haven, Connecticut, 1 October, 1723; died in Derby, Connecticut, 12 April, 1820. He was prepared to enter Yale when he was only eleven years of age, but waited until he was fourteen, and remained there two years as a resident graduate. During this period he renounced Congregationalism and became an Episcopalian. After teaching three years in New Haven, he sailed for England in 1748 to obtain ordination. Returning the following year, he became rector of Derby, Connecticut, in connection with West Haven, Waterbury, and Northbury. About 1755 he relinquished the care of the three last-named churches, and from that time until his death he remained in charge of those at Derby and Oxford. He was rector of the parish of Derby for the almost unprecedented period of seventy-two years. During the Revolution his sympathies were strongly enlisted on the side of the mother-country. In a letter dated 29 December, 1775, he writes: "As soon as these sparks of civil dissension appeared, which have since been blown up into a devouring flame, I did, as I thought it my duty, inculcate on my parishioners, both from the pulpit, and in private conversation, the duty of peaceableness and quiet subjection to the king and to the parent state .... That my endeavors and influence have had some effect appears from hence, that out of 130 families, which attended divine service in our two churches, it is well known that 110 of them are steadfast friends to government, and that they detest and abhor the present unnatural rebellian." Having subsequently addressed a letter to Governor William Tryon, expressing the opinion that, in case the king's troops were sent to protect the loyalists, several thousand men in the three western counties of the colony of Connecticut would join them, and the contents of the letter having been communicated to the committee of inquiry, orders were given for Mansfield's arrest, but he escaped to Long Island. Dr. Mansfield was an excellent classical scholar, a man of winning manners, exceedingly hospitable, and a sound and instructive preacher. He was tall, and always wore a large white wig, a broad, flat-brimmed hat, small-clothes. and shoes. A friend of his once said, when a gust of wind blew off the old gentleman's hat as he was riding by, that "it seemed as if they were laughing at an angel." He was also well known for his politeness. Passing some children of his flock, whose rapid growth surprised him, he exclaimed: " Why, my dear children, you grow like weeds--no, I should have said, like flowers in the garden!" He was given the degree of D. D. by Yale in 1792.--His wife, ANNA HULL, was an aunt of General William Hull.

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