Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Higginson, Francis

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HIGGINSON, Francis, clergyman, b. in England in 1588; d. in Salem, Mass., 6 Aug., 1630. He was graduated at Cambridge, and about 1615 became minister at Claybrooke, one of the parishes of Leicester. Here he acquired great influence as a preacher, but, becoming a Puritan, left his parish, although he continued to preach occasionally in the pulpits of the established church. He refused offers of many excellent livings on account of his opinions, and was supporting himself by preparing young men for the university, when, in 1628, he was invited by the Massachusetts Bay company to accompany its expedition to New England in the following year. He arrived in Salem on 29 June, 1629, and on 20 July was chosen teacher of the congregation. He drew up a confession of faith, which was assented to, on 6 Aug., by thirty persons. In the following winter, in the general sickness that ravaged the colony, he was attacked by a fever, which disabled him, and finally caused his death. He wrote an account of his voyage, which is preserved in Hutchinson's collection of papers, and “New England's Plantation; or a Short and True Description of the Commodities of that Country” (London, 3d ed., 1630; reprinted in the Massachusetts historical society's collections, vol. i.). — His son, John, clergyman, b. in Claybrooke, England, 6 Aug., 1616; d. in Salem, Mass., 9 Dec., 1708, came to this country with his father, after whose death he assisted in the support of his mother and brothers by teaching in Hartford. With Giles Firmin he was employed by the magistrates and ministers of the Massachusetts colony to take down in short-hand the proceedings of the synod of 1637. He was chaplain of the fort at Saybrook for about four years, and in 1641 went to Guilford as assistant to Rev. Henry Whitfield, whose daughter he married. In 1643 he was one of the “seven pillars” of the church there. He sailed for England with his family in 1659, but the vessel put into Salem harbor on account of the weather, and he accepted an invitation to preach there for a year, finally settling as regular pastor of the church that his father had planted. He was ordained in August, 1660, and continued there till his death. He was an active opponent of the Quakers, but subsequently regretted his zeal, and took no part in the witchcraft prosecutions of 1692. He was one of the most popular divines in New England, and at his death had been seventy-two years in the ministry. He published various sermons, and was the author of the “Attestation” to Cotton Mather's “Magnalia,” which was prefixed to the first book of that work.