John Eliot (1592)

John Eliot (1592)

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John Eliot was born in Cornwall in 1592. He was elected to the House of Commons in 1614 and was knighted in 1618. The following year he was appointed vice-admiral of Devon.

When Charles I came to the throne King Louis XIII was involved in a civil war against the Protestants (Huguenots) in France. Parliament wanted to help the Huguenots but Charles refused as he did not want to upset his wife or brother-in-law. Eventually it was agreed to send a fleet of eight ships to France. However, at the last moment Charles sent orders that the men should fight for, rather than against, Louis XIII. The captains and crews refused to accept these orders and fought against the French.

Parliament was very angry with Charles for supporting Louis XIII. When he asked for taxes of £1,000,000 they only gave him £150,000. They also asked Charles to sack his chief minister, George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, as they thought he was guilty of giving the king bad advice. Charles refused and instead dissolved Parliament. Sir John Eliot, who had led the attacks on the king was imprisoned.

On his release Eliot led the opposition to Charles I. He was particularly critical of the king's arbitrary government and the collection of taxes with the agreement of Parliament. In 1629 Eliot was imprisoned and fined £2,000.

Sir John Eliot remained in the Tower of London until his death in 1632.

John Eliot

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John Eliot, (born 1604, Widford, Hertfordshire, England—died May 21, 1690, Roxbury, Massachusetts Bay Colony [now in Massachusetts, U.S.]), Puritan missionary to the Native Americans of Massachusetts Bay Colony whose translation of the Bible in the Algonquian language was the first Bible printed in North America.

Educated in England, Eliot graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1622 and emigrated to Boston in 1631. From 1632 to his death he was pastor of the church at nearby Roxbury. With the support of his congregation and fellow ministers, he began a mission to the Native Americans, preaching at Nonantun (Newton) and at other towns. Groups of “praying Indians” soon arose, and by 1674 there were 14 villages with 4,000 converts. The following year, however, the communities suffered serious setbacks from persecutions that occurred during King Philip’s War, and the villages never fully recovered.

Eliot’s work was financed chiefly from England, where his activities inspired the creation of the Company for Propagating the Gospel in New England and Parts Adjacent in North America (1649). This was the first genuine missionary society. Eliot’s methods set the pattern of subsequent “Indian missions” for almost two centuries. Civilization, he believed, was closely bound up with evangelization. His converts were gathered into Christian towns, governed by a biblical code of laws, and gradually introduced to the English manner of life. Each village had a school where the Indians were taught English and the handicrafts by which they could support themselves. After severe testing, believers were organized by covenant into a Puritan “church-state,” and native teachers and evangelists were trained. Eliot himself, called the “Apostle to the Indians,” produced the needed literature in the Massachusets Algonquian language, beginning with his primer or catechism of 1654. His translation of the New Testament appeared in 1661, the Old Testament in 1663. Among his other works are The Christian Commonwealth (1659) and The Harmony of the Gospels (1678).

Eliot, John (1604-1690)

Eliot left England, the land of his birth, in 1631 as a young Puritan pastor. He worked in Boston for a year, then established a church five miles away in Roxbury, where he remained for 58 years, until his death. From the beginning he established an excellent relationship with the Narragansett Indians in the area and gradually also with other peoples speaking related languages. From 1660 he was called the Apostle of the American Indian. He carried on his work with the Indians parallel to his pastoral duties at the Roxbury congregation and to his general duties for the New England church as a whole.
Beginning at Natick, where he preached biweekly until he was past 80, Eliot was instrumental in organizing fourteen Indian villages. No whites were resident, and a form of self-government was instituted according to the pattern given in Exodus 18. Interested neighboring pastors were encouraged to participate in regular instruction. Although most of the evangelization was carried out by personally trained Indian evangelists, Eliot himself traveled on foot and on horseback, taxing his strength to the utmost, sometimes drenched by rain, in order to bring the gospel to the people. He brought cases to court to fight for Indian property rights, pleaded for clemency for convicted Indian prisoners, fought the selling of Indians into slavery, south to secure lands and streams for Indian use, established schools for Indian children and adults, translated the Bible (1663) and twenty other books into Indian languages, and attempted to train Indians to adopt a settled way of life.
Hostilities and mutual suspicion increased between whites and Indians, until in 1675 during King Philip’s War, most of the Indian villages were damaged or destroyed, and many of the Indian Christians joined the war or were relocated. Eliot spent the remainder of his life reestablishing some of the villages.

Rooy, Sidney H., “Eliot, John” in Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, ed. Gerald H. Anderson (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1998), 197.
This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright © 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of Macmillan Reference USA, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Digital Texts

Eliot, John. The Christian Commonwealth: or,The Civil Policy Of The Rising Kingdom of Jesus Christ. An Online Electronic Text Edition. Paul Royster, editor and depositor, U. of Nebraska-Lincoln. (This text must be downloaded to be read.)

_____. “Brief Narrative (1670)” giving a report on the progress of Christianity among the Natives, particularly concerning the condition of each “praying town.”

Moore, Martin. Memoirs of the Life and Character of Rev. John Eliot. Boston: T. Bedlington, publisher Flagg & Moore, printers, 1822.


Eliot, John. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old Testament and the New. Cambridge: [Mass.]: Printed by Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson, 1663.

_____. A Brief Narrative of the Progress of the Gospel Amongst the Indians in New-England, in the Year 1670. London: Printed for J. Allen, 1671.

_____. The Harmony of the Gospels in the Holy History of the Humiliation and Sufferings of Jesus Christ From His Incarnation to His Death and Burial. Boston: Printed by John Foster, 1678.

_____. The Indian Grammar Begun : Or, an Essay to Bring the Indian Language Into Rules, for Help of Such as Desire to Learn the Same, for the Furtherance of the Gospel Among Them. Bedford, MA: Applewood Books, 2001.

Eliot, John, Thomas Thorowgood, Richard Baxter, and Michael Clark. The Eliot Tracts : With Letters From John Eliot to Thomas Thorowgood and Richard Baxter. Contributions in American history, no. 199, Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers, 2003.


Cogley, Richard W. John Eliot’s Mission to the Indians Before King Philip’s War. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Moore, Martin. Memoirs of the Life and Character of Rev. John Eliot. Boston: T. Bedlington, publisher Flagg & Moore, printers, 1822.

Rooy, Sidney H. The Theology of Missions in the Puritan Tradition a Study of Representative Puritans: Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, John Eliot, Cotton Mather, and Jonathan Edwards. Delft: W. D. Meinema, 1965.

Winslow, Ola Elizabeth. John Eliot, Apostle to the Indians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.


Biography of John Eliot with particular emphasis on his linguistic and translation work.

It is unknown exactly when the Eliots settled in Devon, however it is estimated they prospered there for 8 to 10 generations. [1] The earliest written record of the surname is an indenture signed in 1400 by RYC Elyot. [1] John Eliot of Devonshire (born 1375) is a common ancestor for all Eliots of South England. [2] He had two sons, Mychell (born 1414) and Walter (born 1433). [3] Mychell's family took residence in East Coker while Walter remained in Devon. [2] Walter's son William married Joan Coteland, daughter and heir of Nicholas Coteland of Cutland. [4] In 1480 they had a son John Eliot of Cutland who married Joan Bonville, granddaughter of William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville. [4] Edward Eliot of Cutland (died 1522) was third cousins with Sir Thomas Elyot, son of Sir Richard Elyot and descendant of Mychell Eliot. [3]

During the reign of King Henry VIII the Eliot family gained significant wealth through privateering. [5] In 1564 John Eliot, son of Edward Eliot of Cutland, purchased the priory of St Germans and the family relocated from Devon to St Germans, Cornwall. [1] The priory was renamed Port Eliot [5] and experienced significant expansion with many farms and cottages being added to the property. The main house features 123 rooms, 13 staircases, and 83 chimneys.

Sir John Eliot was born at Port Eliot on April 11, 1592. Quickly rising to political power, he was a prominent advocation for the rights of Parliament. [6] His serial imprisonment at the Tower of London by King Charles I and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death in 1632 where important catalysts in the growing dispute between parliament and the king. [6] After Sir John's death, Port Eliot was passed to his eldest son John Eliot (1612-1685). However, his sons Daniel Eliot (1646-1702) and Richard Eliot (1652-1685) both died without male heirs, [5] causing confusion as to who would inherit Port Eliot. Sir John's second son Richard Eliot (born 1614) only had an illegitimate son, while Sir John's third son Edward Eliot (1618-1710) also died without an heir. The port was inherited by Edward Eliot (died 1723), the grandson of Sir John's youngest son Nicholas Eliot. [5] Following Edwards death in 1723 the port was passed to his brother Richard Eliot (died 1748).

Earls of St Germans Edit

Edward Eliot (1727-1804), the son of Richard Eliot (died 1748), served as Member of Parliament for St Germans, Liskeard, and Cornwall, as well as commissioner of the Board of Trade and Plantations. [7] He remained in the House of Commons until 1784, when he entered the Peerage of Great Britain as Baron Eliot. In 1789 he assumed the additional surname Craggs, after his mother Harriot Craggs. [7] When he died the barony was passed to his oldest living son, Lord John Eliot (1761-1823). In 1815 King George III created him Earl of St Germans, a title that he passed to his brother William Eliot, 2nd Earl of St Germans and heirs male of his body. [8] Montague Eliot, 8th Earl of St Germans was Gentleman Usher to both King Edward VII and King George V, as well as Groom-in-Waiting for Edward VII and Extra-Groom-in-Waiting for George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II. The title is currently held by Albert Eliot, 11th Earl of St Germans, the heir presumptive is Hon. Louis Eliot.

Eliot Military Family Edit

Richard Eliot and Catherine Killigrew had an illegitimate son George Elliott, whose descendants built ties with the British military. George's son Roger Elliott was appointed Governor of Gibraltar [9] and married Charlotte Elliot, the sister of Sir Gilbert Eliott, 3rd Baronet, of Stobs. [10] George Augustus Eliott, 1st Baron Heathfield was his nephew. The marriage helped bring this branch of the family back to prominence after the relative obscurity of Richard and George.

Granville Elliott rose to the rank of Major General and married Jeanne Thérèse du Han, a lady of honour for the Empress of Germany. [10] Granville was appointed Chamberlain for Emperor Charles VI, made Count of the Empire, and Comte de Morhange. [10] In 1785 he returned to England and commanded Colonel Elliott's Regiment of Foot. Granville spent a large amount of time attempting to prove Richard Eliot and Catherine Killigrew had married prior to George's birth, making Granville the rightful heir to Sir John and Port Eliot. Despite his attempt failing, Granville was given the title Graf von Port Eliot. [10] Granville was also responsible for changing the surname back to the spelling “Eliot”, which he named the children of his second marriage.

Francis Perceval Eliot succeeded his half-brother as Count Eliot but felt it was not proper to assume the title. [6] He had 7 sons that kept the family strongly tied to the military, at least 4 fought alongside each other at the Battle of Vimeiro. His eldest son William Granville Eliot authored “A Treatise on The Defence of Portugal”. [11] Documentation done by Edward John Eliot forms an important record of military life during the early 1800s.

American Eliot Family Edit

Between 1668 and 1670 Andrew Eliot and his son, also named Andrew Eliot, immigrated from East Coker to Beverly, Massachusetts. [3] Moving to Boston, the family gained significant wealth and influence. Members of the Boston Brahmins, the Eliots played a significant role in shaping the American education system. [12] Notable members include Samuel Eliot (banker), Harvard president Charles William Eliot, Washington University founder William Greenleaf Eliot, Reed College founder Thomas Lamb Eliot, Nobel Prize winning poet T.S. Eliot, and Charles Eliot (landscape architect).

Canadian Eliot Family Edit

Francis Breynton Eliot, the second son of Francis Perceval Eliot, immigrated to Canada sometime in the mid-1800s. The family remained closely tied to the British Military, residing directly across from the Department of National Defence on Elgin Street. [13] The most notable member is Charles William John Eliot. A portrait of Sarah Granville Eliot by Prudence Heward hangs in the National Gallery of Canada. [14]

The shield of the Eliot family is argent and features a fess gules between wavy azure double-cotises. The crest is an elephant head couped argent, collared glues. [2] Eagles with expanded wings are traditionally used as supporters by the Earl of St. Germans.

The motto of the Eliot family changes depending on the faction. The Earl of St. Germans uses “præcedentibus insta”, meaning “press close upon those in the lead.” Count Eliot [ who? ] used a passage from The Book of the Governor by Sir Thomas Elyot, “fac aut tace” which translates to “do or be silent”. [3] Other branches [ who? ] feature the motto given to Sir William de Aliot by William the Conqueror [ citation needed ] , “per saxa, per igneous, fortiter et recte”, [10] although this is predominantly used by Clan Elliot.

Descendants of the Eliot military family owned land in the Forest Hill and Brockley area. Several roads in Forest Hill are named after the family. Eliot Bank & St Germains Road also a pub on the corner was named St Germains (Now renamed The Honor Oak).

John Eliot

Historians customarily date the beginning of the modern missionary movement in 1792, with William Carey's voyage to India. But a full 150 years earlier, Puritan John Eliot was evangelizing Native Americans&mdashthough the long-range impact of his work was destroyed by colonists' fears.

Impressed with the vigor of godliness

Eliot was born to a wealthy family in Herfordshire, England. After graduating from Cambridge in 1622, he came under the influence of Puritan pastor Thomas Hooker, the man chiefly responsible for his conversion: "When I came to this blessed family," Eliot later wrote, "I then saw, and never before, the power of godliness in its lively vigor and efficacy."

In 1631, as Anglican leaders applied heat to Puritans, Eliot emigrated to Roxbury, Massachusetts. There he became pastor of a church composed of many of his English friends. The following year, he married Ann (Hannah) Mumford.


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The main legacy of Eliot's early years was producing the first book published in America: the Bay Psalm Book (1640), which put the psalms in metrical verse.

Eliot was a quintessential Puritan: he was frugal, eating just one plain dish for dinner. He also rejected tobacco, wigs, and long hair for men. But he was unique in this: he cared deeply for the Indians who populated New England. At Roxbury, he began learning Algonkian and by 1647 was preaching in the native tongue. He began translating and in 1663 published the entire Algonkian Bible&mdashthe first Bible printed in America.

Unfortunately, he was a product of his age: he confused Christianity with English culture. He delayed many Indian baptisms "until they were come up unto civil cohabitation, government, and labor, which a fixed condition of life will put them upon." In other words, until they began living like Englishmen, "they were not so capable to be trusted with that treasure of Christ."

This meant, among other things, haircuts for the men, English clothing for all, and moving Indians into villages patterned after English towns. By 1674, there were 14 such towns with a total of 1,100 "praying Indians," as they were called.

Ministering to broken bands

The system gave some Indians the rudiments of the Christian faith and some training for the ministry. But it also isolated them, both from their own people (whose culture they were required to reject) and from their English sponsors (they were not even permitted to join Puritan churches).

During the bloody King Philip's War (1675&ndash76) between Wampanoags and the English, the "praying Indians" were caught in the middle. Though they supported the English, the English colonists distrusted their loyalty, rounded them up, and confined them to concentration camps. The war not only destroyed the trust of the Indians, but also nearly all copies of Eliot's Algonkian Bible and all but four of the Indian villages.

Eliot refused to be discouraged, and he continued to minister to broken bands of Indians until his death. Villages of "praying Indians" continued into the early eighteenth century.

John (Elliot) Elliott (1516)

Born in 1516 in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. In1546 when John was 30, he married Margaret SHEPPY, in Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England.

John Eliot's descendants became wealthy mercers in London and claimed Welsh aristocratic descent. "The name of his first wife is unknown her burial is noted in the churchwardens' accounts for Bishops Stortford for 1521-22 as 16d received of "John Elyat for the wast of the torchis at the buryall of his wyfe". According to the Essex visitations, unforunately riddled with inaccuracies, John Eliot first married Elizabeth Grave and second Margaret Shepey. The name of his first wife in the visitations is probably incorrect. In his will John Eliot left 20d to "every child that Richard Grave or his wife hath now living. saving to John Elyott her eldest son, unto whom I give and bequeath twenty shillings." It is probable that Richard Graves' wife was the widow of an unidentified older son of John Eliot, especially as John's will recognizes her family in the midst of bequests to his other children."

The will of John Elyott of Bishops Stortford, dated 22 Oct 1557, names wife Margaret and leaves her "my lease of the tythe and parsonage of Stortford" during her widowhood. To son Rowland he also left the lease of Parson's Mill." To every child of daughters Agnes Pylston, Blythe Hanes, and George he gave one ewe and one lamb.

1-Rowland Eliot Born: Abt 1525, Died: 13 Nov 1576 - Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, England

Sir John Eliot 1592 To 1632 English Statesman From The National And Domestic History Of England By William Aubrey Published London Circa 1890 PosterPrint

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Parliamentary career

Eliot was only twenty-two when he began his parliamentary career as Member of Parliament for St Germans [1] in the "Addled Parliament" of 1614. In May 1618, he was knighted, and next year through the patronage of Buckingham he obtained the appointment of Vice-Admiral of Devon, with large powers for the defence and control of the commerce of the county. It was not long before the characteristic energy with which he performed the duties in his office involved him in difficulties. After many attempts, in 1623, he succeeded by a clever but dangerous manoeuvre in entrapping the famous pirate John Nutt, who had for years infested the southern coast, inflicting immense damage upon English commerce. However, the pirate, having a powerful protector at court in Sir George Calvert, the secretary of state, was pardoned while the Vice-Admiral, upon charges which could not be substantiated, was flung into the Marshalsea prison, and detained there nearly four months.

A few weeks after his release, Eliot was elected Member of Parliament for Newport [1] (February 1624). On 27 February, he delivered his first speech, in which he at once revealed his great powers as an orator, demanding boldly that the liberties and privileges of Parliament, repudiated by James I in the former Parliament, should be secured. In the first Parliament of Charles I, in 1625, he urged the enforcement of the laws against the Roman Catholics. Meanwhile, he had continued the friend and supporter of Buckingham and greatly approved of the war with Spain.

Buckingham's incompetence, however, and the bad faith with which both he and the King continued to treat the parliament, alienated Eliot. Distrust of his former friend quickly grew in Eliot's mind to a certainty of his criminal ambition. Returned to the parliament of 1626 as Member for St Germans, Eliot found himself, in the absence of other leaders of the opposition whom the King had secured by nominating them sheriffs, the leader of the House. He immediately demanded an inquiry into the recent disaster at Cádiz. On 27 March, he made an open and daring attack upon Buckingham and his administration. He was not intimidated by the King's threatening intervention on 29 March, and persuaded the House to defer the actual grant of the subsidies and to present a remonstrance to the King, declaring its right to examine the conduct of ministers. On 8 May, he was one of the managers who carried Buckingham's impeachment to the Lords and, on 10 May, he delivered the charges against him, comparing him in the course of his speech to Sejanus.

Next day, Eliot was sent to the Tower. When the Commons declined to proceed with business as long as Eliot and Sir Dudley Digges (who had been imprisoned with him) were in confinement, they were released, and Parliament was dissolved on 15 June. Eliot was immediately dismissed from his office of Vice-Admiral of Devon, and, in 1627, he was again imprisoned for refusing to pay a forced loan, but liberated shortly before the assembling of the Parliament of 1628, to which he was returned as Member for Cornwall. He joined in the resistance now organised to arbitrary taxation, was foremost in the promotion of the Petition of Right, continued his outspoken censure of Buckingham, and after the latter's assassination in August, led the attack, in the session of 1629, on the ritualists and Arminians.

In February the great question of the right of the King to levy tonnage and poundage came up for discussion. On the King ordering an adjournment of Parliament, the speaker, Sir John Finch, was held down in the chair by Denzil Holles and Benjamin Valentine while Eliot's resolutions against illegal taxation and innovations in religion were read to the House. In consequence, Eliot, with eight other members, was imprisoned on 4 March in the Tower. He refused to answer in his examination, relying on his parliamentary privilege and, on 29 October, was again sent to the Marshalsea. On 26 January, he appeared at the bar of the King's Bench, in front of Lord Chief Justice Sir Nicholas Hyde, with Holles and Valentine, to answer a charge of conspiracy to resist the King's order, and refusing to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court (see R v. Eliot, Hollis and Valentine.) He was fined £2000 and ordered to be imprisoned during the King's pleasure and till he had made submission. This he steadfastly refused. While some of the prisoners appear to have had certain liberty allowed to them, Eliot's confinement in the Tower was made exceptionally severe. Charles's anger had always been directed chiefly against him, not only as his own political antagonist but also as the prosecutor and bitter enemy of Buckingham "an outlawed man," he described him, "desperate in mind and fortune."

John Eliot: The Apostle to the Indians

“Who will go to the Indians?” This question hung for a long moment in the assembly hall in Boston. The magistrates of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had decided that they would provide for the annual support of two ministers who would leave their home churches and labor among the Indians of the Massachusetts Bay region. The silence was long and intense. All that had been asked was that two servants of God volunteer. By 1646, dozens of churches dotted the Atlantic seaboard. In fact, there were more ministers than there were churches, the opposite problem to that which now faces the churches of New England. Preachers of the Gospel were readily available, and some churches had several ministers in attendance. Surely, two of them could easily be found who would volunteer to go preach the everlasting Gospel of the Son of God to the poor benighted natives of the region. Rather than another Pequot War, how much better it would be to reach the Indians with the tidings of the Prince of Peace.

In the crowded assembly hall, finally there was a stir of activity. One courageous man stepped forward to offer himself for the mission work among the Indians. He knew nothing of the Indian language. He was the pastor of the church in Roxbury and had a comfortable situation and a steady income. This was not a mere novice. The man who stepped forward was in the prime of his life, 42 years old. His name was John Eliot, and he came from a very prosperous family back in England. He was a graduate of Jesus College in Cambridge University and was recognized as an excellent Hebrew scholar. He had cast his lot with the Puritans and crossed the ocean, arriving in Boston in 1631.

Immediately upon his arrival in New England, Eliot had assumed the pastoral charge of the church of Roxbury southwest of Boston. His pastoral duties had included taking an important part in the debate that arose over the wild and fanatical unrest caused by Anne Hutchinson’s private visions and dreams. Eliot sat on the panel that judged her case and banished her from the colony. Pastor Eliot had already been the chief instrument in translating the book of Psalms from the original Hebrew into English meter. That production was known as the Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in America. He was one of the most scholarly and influential pastors that New England had to offer. Now, it seemed to some that this man was throwing his life away to work among the Indians. Eliot was offered a meager £10 for his efforts and was promised a yearly income of £20 beginning the following year. This was a very small and pitiful income even in 1646. A common farmer at the time usually could expect £160 for his fall crop.

Eliot Preaching to the Indians

It is sad that so few Americans today are even aware of the name and history of this first American missionary. Adoniram Judson, the first American missionary to go abroad, has received a good bit of fame, and he is certainly worthy of it. But he would not set sail for Burma for over a century. A famous missionary couple of the 20th century, Jim and Elisabeth Elliot, carried a similar last name. Perhaps this is another reason why John Eliot has been largely forgotten.

Eliot’s work was monumental. In assuming his new responsibilities, he did not give up his old one. He resolved that he would continue his work as pastor in Roxbury, but travel on a regular basis into the western woods to minister in the Indian villages. Leaving his comfortable home on a regular basis, John Eliot faithfully served simultaneously as pastor, missionary, husband, father, and medical doctor in the Indian villages. He took civilization with him, for the only civilizing force in all the world is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ had said in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” When Jesus said “teach all nations,” the word He used is literally the word for “ethnic groups.” This is a command to give the Gospel to every ethnic group on the face of the globe, teaching them to obey all that God commands.

Eliot, in obedience to this great commission of Jesus, immersed himself in the Indian language. With his background in Hebrew, he had a good understanding of linguistics, and in only a few short months, he had learned the language to the extent that he could preach with difficulty. He also began a translation of the Word of God into the language of the Indians of Massachusetts. Eliot and his wife catechized the Indian children. To each little Indian boy or girl who answered a question correctly, the Eliots would give an apple. Eliot answered questions presented by the sachems (or chiefs) of the surrounding villages. He taught them to know and obey the Ten Commandments.

On one occasion, an old sachem came to him with tears in his eyes and asked him if the English God received old men. With a smile, Eliot assured him that He did and told him of the many old men in the Bible who were accepted by God. This old sachem died in the confidence that God would accept him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Eliot warned the Indians against the danger of their “pawwawing” (sorcery). He also taught them practical things: how to salt their fish to preserve it and how to use iron tools to their advantage.

John Winthrop, the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, gave this glowing report of John Eliot’s work among the Indians:

God prospered his endeavors. Some of the Indians began to be very seriously affected and to understand the things of God and they were generally ready to reform whatever they were told to be against the word of God.

Eliot continued his labors among the Indians for the rest of his long life. The major work of his life was the completion of the translation of the entire Bible into the Algonquian language, and this book, the first Bible printed in the New World, came off the printing press in 1661.

Eliot Preaching to the Indians

And what of the Indian converts he made? They were known no longer by their formal tribal names. In fact, the Indians of that region came to be known simply as “the Praying Indians.” But John Eliot knew that praying was not enough. He wanted his converts to be, not only pious, but also obedient. He believed that the Gentile nations ought to obey and submit to the Law of God. He patterned the Christian Indian villages after what he found in the Old Testament, appointing officers and judges in each village to hear cases and administer Biblical law.

Too often, modern mission efforts stop with the Gospel. But Jesus told us to “teach them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” This demands that we teach our converts not only how to get to heaven, but how to govern a home Biblically, how to farm Biblically, how to punish crime Biblically, how to wage war Biblically, and how to govern a village Biblically. In this, we could learn much from the “Praying Indians,” perhaps more rightly called “Obedient Indians.”

Eliot died in 1690 at the remarkably old age of 86. He was still the pastor in Roxbury, and he was still the missionary to the Indians. By that time, he was assisted by his sons in carrying onward the work of the ministry. When John Eliot died, there were eleven hundred “Praying Indians.” There were fourteen Indian villages that were governed according to the Law of God. Where there was once polygamy and all sorts of uncleanness, there were now Biblical families with husbands, wives, and children seeking to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and strength and to love their neighbor as God had commanded.

Cotton Mather, who described these Indians before their conversion as “doleful creatures, the veriest ruins of mankind,” whose way of living was “infinitely barbarous,” now had this to say about Eliot’s work:

It is above forty years since that truly Godly man, Mr. John Eliot . . . not without very great labor, translated the whole Bible into the Indian Tongue. He gathered a church of converted Indians in a Town called Natick these Indians confessed their sins with tears, and professed their faith in Christ, and afterwards they and their children were baptized and they were solemnly joined together in a Church Covenant. The Pastor of that Church now is an Indian, his Name is Daniel. Of the Indians there are four and twenty who are preachers of the Word of God.

The Cambridge graduate, Hebrew scholar, musician, translator, linguist, and pastor of the “Praying Indians” was a very humble man, a man whose name has been all but forgotten. John Eliot has been given a noble title: “The Apostle to the Indians.”


New England’s Memorial by William Bradford
Magnalia by Cotton Mather
The Journal of John Winthrop

The Life of Sir John Eliot 1592-1632: Struggle for Parliamentary Freedom

Title: The Life of Sir John Eliot 1592-1632: .

Publisher: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London

Publication Date: 1957

Binding: Hardcover

Illustrator: Plate Illustrations

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: First Edition.

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mail at [email protected] or telephone 773-577-3806 (texting only, in U.S.A.),
if you have any problems or complaints. (If needed, our Illinois Business
Registration Number is 2583-7060.) Books will be held two weeks upon receipt of
order by client. All books are returnable in 30 business days for full refund if not as
described, and if .

Orders usually ship within 2 business days. Shipping costs are based on books weighing an average of 2.2 LB, or 1 KG. If your book order is heavy, oversized, or in multiple volumes, contact us so we can let you know what extra shipping charge is required.

Watch the video: PNTV: Overachievement by John Eliot #26


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