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John Eliot (missionary)

From Academic Kids

title page of 1st Bible printed in New World


John Eliot (August 31, 1604 - 21 May 1690) was a Puritan missionary born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge. Eliot arrived in Boston on November 3, 1631, on the ship Lyon, and became minister and "teaching elder" at the First Church in Roxbury. In that town he also founded the Roxbury Latin School in 1645. He, along with ministers Thomas Weld (also of Roxbury) and Richard Mather of Dorchester, are credited as editors of the first book published in the British North American colonies, i.e. the Bay Psalm Book. He participated in the examination, excommunication and exile of Anne Hutchinson, whose opinions he deplored. He converted Algonquin Indians and translated the Bible into their language, for which he devised an alphabet; in 1663, it became the first Bible printed in North America. Eliot was best known for attempting to preserve the culture (minus the religion) of the Native Americans by putting them in planned towns where they could continue by their own rule. At one point in time, there were 14 of these towns of so-called "Praying Indians." the best documented being at Natick, Massachusetts. These towns were mostly destroyed by furious English colonists during King Philip's War (1675). Although restoration was attempted, it ultimately failed.

Notes

Note 1: All that is certain is that Eliot was baptised on August 5, so this date is approximate.

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