Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Prince, Thomas

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PRINCE, Thomas, clergyman, b. in Sandwich, Mass., 15 May, 1687; d. in Boston. Mass., 22 Oct., 1758. He was the grandson of John Prince, of Hull, England, who emigrated to this country in 1633. After graduation at Harvard in 1707, he visited the West Indies and the island of Madeira, went to England in 1709, and preached in Coombs, Suffolk, and elsewhere. In 1717 he returned to Boston, and on 1 Oct., 1718, was ordained colleague of his classmate, Dr. Joseph Sewall, pastor of the old South church in Boston, where he continued until his death, and became eminent as a preacher, linguist, and scholar. He began, in 1703, and continued through his life, to collect manuscript documents relating to the history of New England, which he left to the care of the Old South church. They were deposited in the tower, which also contained a valuable library of the writings of the early New England divines that had been gathered by Mr. Prince. These were partly destroyed by the British in 1775-'6, and much important matter relating to the history of New England was thus lost. The remainder of the manuscripts, with his books, which are of value, form part of the Boston public library, and of these a catalogue was published by William H. Whitmore (Boston, 1868), and a later one with his portrait (1870). He published twenty-nine single sermons between 1717 and 1756; “An Account of the First Aurora Borealis” (1717); “Account of the English Ministers at Martha's Vineyard,” appended to Experience Mayhew's “Indian Converts” (1727); “A Sermon on the Death of Cotton Mather” (1728); “Memoirs” of Roger Clap, of Dorchester (1731); an edition of John Mason's “History of the Pequot War,” with introduction and notes (1736); “A Thanksgiving Sermon occasioned by the Capture of Louisburg” (1745); “Earthquakes of New England,” with an appendix on Franklin's discoveries in electricity (1755); and “The New England Psalm-Book, Revised and Improved” (1758). Several of his sermons are contained in the publications of the Massachusetts historical society, and six of his manuscript discourses were published after his death by Dr. John Erskine (Edinburgh, 1785). He also left a diary and other manuscripts. Mr. Prince began a work entitled “The Chronological History of England” in the form of annals, the first volume of which was published in 1736, and two numbers of the second in 1755. It is published in the collections of the Massachusetts historical society, and was edited by Nathan Hale, who published' it in book-form (Boston, 1826). Dr. Charles Chauncy said that Mr. Prince was “the most learned scholar, with the exception of Cotton Mather, in New England.” The Prince society, a printing association, was established in Boston in 1858.—His brother, Nathan, scholar, b. in Sandwich, Mass., 30 Nov., 1698; d. in the island of Ruatan, Honduras, 25 July, 1748, was graduated at Harvard in 1718, where he was tutor from 1723 till 1742, and of which he became a fellow in 1727. Subsequently he took orders in the Church of England, and was sent as a missionary to the Mosquito Indians in Central America. He published an “Essay to solve the Difficulties attending the Several Accounts given of the Resurrection” (Boston, 1734), and an “Account of the Constitution and Government of Harvard College from 1636 to 1742” (1742).—Thomas's son, Thomas, editor, b. in Boston, Mass., 27 Feb., 1722; d. there 30 Sept., 1748, was graduated at Harvard in 1740. He edited the earliest American periodical, which was entitled “Christian History,” and contained accounts of the revival and propagation of religion in Great Britain and America for 1743 (2 vols., 1744-'6).