Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Reverend Mr. John Mayhew, d. 1688 Martha's Vineyard

This tombstone was photographed in West Tisbury, Massachusetts on the island of Martha's Vineyard.



HERE LYES YE BODY OF MR
JOHN MAYEW THAT WORTHY
LABORIOUS MINISTER OF YE
GOSPELL TO YE INHABITANTS
OF TISBURY & CHILMARK UNITED
TO YE CHRISTIAN INDIANS
WHO DIED FEBRUARY YE 2D
1688 AETATIS 37

Reverend John Mayhew is my 8th great grandfather.  He was born in 1652 and died very young.  He was married to Elizabeth Hilliard, of Hampton, New Hampshire who outlived him and died in 1746.  John Mayhew is best known for his ministry to the Wampanoag people on the island of Martha's Vineyard.  He learned their language, and made friends with the Indians on the island.  His wonderful relations with the Wampanoag nation kept the violence of King Phillip's War away from Martha's Vineyard, one of the few places in New England where there was no blood shed during this time period.  

After his early death, his father,  Thomas Mayhew, was moved to give up his life as a merchant and turned to continuing his son's ministry to the Indians.  John's son, Experience Mayhew, was also a missionary to the Praying Indians and published several religious books in the Wampanoag language, including a Psalter in 1709, sermons in 1724, and others. His book "Indian Converts", 1720, was a best selling book of its time.  In 1723 Harvard College granted him a masters of arts degree, which was unheard of for a man who had never stepped foot inside a school and was totally self educated. 

You can read a short sketch about John Mayhew in The Annals of Chilmark, Volume II, pages 32 - 34.  

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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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