Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DANFORTH, Thomas, colonial governor, born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England, in 1622; died ill Cambridge, Massachusetts, 5 November 1699. He was the eldest son of Nicholas Danforth, and came with his father and brother, Samuel, to New England in 1634. Soon after his arrival in this country he acquired great influence in the management of public affairs. Bancroft speaks of him as the probable author of the report on natural and chartered rights, made by Simon Bradstreet, Increase Mather, John Norton, and others, in 1661. From 1659 till 1678 he was an assistant under the Massachusetts government, becoming in 1679 deputy governor. In the latter year he was elected president of the province of Maine, then independent of the colony of Massachusetts. He opened his court at York, and granted several parcels of land. He held the offices of deputy governor and president until the arrival of Sir Edmund Andros in 1688. Meanwhile he had also been made a judge of the superior court, and in 1681, with Daniel Gookin, Elisha Cooke and others, opposed the acts of trade and asserted the charter rights of the country. During the witchcraft delusion in 1692 he showed his correctness of judgment by the firmness with which he condemned the proceedings of the court.
--His brother, Samuel, clergyman, born in Framlingham, Suffolk, England, in September 1626; died in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 19 November 1674, was graduated in 1643 at Harvard, where he was at once appointed a tutor and the second fellow. In 1641 he was invited by the Rev. Thomas Welde to become--with the Rev. John Eliot, whose numerous missionary engagements interfered with his ministerial labors--colleague pastor of the Church in Roxbury. The call was accepted, and he was ordained on 24 September 1650, and continued with this congregation until his death, ills sermons were elaborate, judicial, and methodical. He showed great interest in astronomy, publishing a number of almanacs, and also "An Astronomical Description of the Comet of 1664," in which he maintained that a comet was a heavenly body moving in accordance with divine laws, and that the appearance was indicative of approaching misfortunes. His other publications are "An Election Sermon" (1670) and "The Cry of Sodom Inquired into, upon occasion of the Arraignment and Condemnation of Benjamin Goad for his Prodigious Villanies " (1674).
--John, son of Samuel, clergyman, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 8 November 1660; died in Dorchester, 26 May 1730, was graduated at Harvard in 1677, and was for some time a fellow in that University. On 28 June 1682, he was ordained as pastor of the Congregational society in Dorchester, and he continued with this charge until his death, receiving as his colleague the Rev. Jonathan Bowman in 1729. Mr. Danforth was a man of great learning, possessed an uncommon acquaintance with mathematics, and had a taste for poetry. He published a "Sermon at the Departure of the Rev. Joseph Lord and his Church for Dorchester, S. C." (1697); "The Right Christian Tern-per in every Condition, endeavored (as the Lord vouchsafed to assist) to be set forth and recommended" (1702); "The Vile Profanations of Prosperity by the Degenerate among the People of God"; " Fast Sermon at Boston" (1703)" "The Blackness of Sins against Light, or Men's offering Violenoe to their Knowledge, a Sermon" (1710): " A Sermon on King Hezekiah's Bitterness and Relief" (1710); "Judgment begun at the House of God and the Righteous scarcely Saved" (1716); "Two Sermons occasioned by the Earthquake, to which is added a Poem on Peter Thatcher, of Milton, and Samuel Danforth, of Taunton" (1727); also, "Kneeling to God, at Parting with Friends; or the Fraternal Intercessiory Cry of Faith and Love: Setting Forth and Recommending the Primitive Mode of taking Leave," to which were annexed poems to the memory of Mrs. Anne Eliot, and John Eliot, the apostle to the Indians (Boston, 1697).--Samuel, another son of Samuel, clergyman, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 18 December 1666; died in Taunton, Massachusetts, 14 November 1727. He was graduated at Harvard in 1683, and subsequently became pastor of the Congregational Church in Taunton. All of his contemporaries represent him as a person of great learning and as having influence among young people. During 1705 unusual attention to religion prevailed among his congregation, of which he gives an interesting account in three letters published in Prince's "Christian History." He also published "A Eulogy on Thomas Leonard" (1713); " An Election Sermon" (1714); and " An Essay concerning the Singing of Psalms" (1723). Mr. Danforth left a manuscript Indian dictionary, a part of which is now in the library of the Massachusetts historical society. It seems to have been formed from Eliot's Indian Bible, as there is a reference under every word to a passage of Scripture.
--Samuel, son of John, born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1696; died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1777. He was graduated at Harvard in 1715, and became prominent in the Massachusetts colony. For several years he was president of the council, and also a judge of probate for Middlesex County. In 1774 he was made a mandamus councilor. Subsequent to the last appointment, the County convention adopted the following: "Resolved, That, whereas the Hon. Samuel Danforth and Joseph Lee, Esquires, two of the judges of the inferior court of common pleas for the County, have accepted commissions under the new act, by being sworn members of his majesty's council, appointed by said act, we therefore look upon them as utterly incapable of holding any office whatever." Mr. Dan-forth was distinguished for his love of natural philosophy and chemistry.
--Samuel, son of the third Samuel, physician, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in August 1740; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 16 November 1827. He was graduated at Harvard in 1758, and studied medicine with Dr. Isaac Rand. At first he settled in Newport, but soon removed to Boston, where he acquired a valuable practice. During the Revolutionary war his professional pursuits were disturbed, and the Whigs harshly treated him on account of his loyalty to Great Britain, but later he regained the confidence of his patients. In all difficult medical cases his opinion was relied on as being the utmost effort of human skill. He practiced with success until nearly eighty years of age, and increased his reputation by his chemical studies. Dr. Danforth was a member of the Academy of arts and sciences, and from 1795 till 1798 was president of the Massachusetts medical society.--Thomas, son of the third Samuel, lawyer, born in Massachusetts about 1742 ; died in London, England, in 1825. He was graduated at Harvard in 1762, and was one of the addressers of Governor Thomas Hutchinson. Subsequently he studied law, and became a councilor in Charles-town. He was the only lawyer in that town, as well as the only inhabitant, who sought protection from the parent country at the beginning of the Revolution. After being proscribed and banished, he departed for Halifax in 1776, and later took up his residence in England.
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