Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Thayer, Nathaniel

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THAYER, Nathaniel, clergyman, b. in Hampton, N. H., 11 July, 1769; d. in Rochester, N. Y., 23 June, 1840. His father, Rev. Ebenezer Thayer, was pastor in Hampton for many years. The son was graduated at Harvard in 1789, studied theology, and became a pastor at Wilkesbarre, Pa. In 1795 he was installed over the Unitarian society at Lancaster, Mass., where he remained for nearly fifty years. He received the degree of D. D. from Harvard in 1817. On account of Dr. Thayer's tact and sagacity he was, perhaps more than any other man of his day, selected for the settlement of ecclesiastical difficulties, and he frequently drew up the decisions of church councils. He died while on a journey for the benefit of his health. He published twenty-three occasional sermons in 1795-1831.—His son, Nathaniel, capitalist, b. in Lancaster, Mass., 11 Sept., 1808; d. in Boston, Mass., 7 March, 1883, for many years constituted, with his deceased brother, the firm of John E. Thayer and Brother, in Boston, which was active in the development of railroads in the west, of several of which he was a director. He was a fellow of Harvard in 1868-'75, and one of its largest benefactors. He contributed to a Commons hall, erected Thayer hall in 1870 as a memorial of his father and brother, bore the expenses of Prof. Louis Agassiz's expedition to South America, which was known as the Thayer expedition, built a fire-proof herbarium at the Botanic garden, and gave much in aid of poor students of the college, and was one of the most generous citizens of Boston.