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An American Family History

Reverend John Fiske

Chelmsford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts was incorporated in May, 1655

Cotton Mather was a Puritan clergyman and theological writer. His writings had great influence in his time. He is generally pictured as the archetype of the intolerant and severe Puritan and is known for his part in the Salem witch trials in 1692 . He did not approve of all the trials, but had helped to instigate the hysteria by his Memorable Providences Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions (1689)

mather
Cotton Mather

Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.
from The Fiske Family by Albert Augustus Fiske

Rev. John Fiske, oldest son of John Fiske, (who died in 1683), and a great grandson of Robert and Sybil (Gold) Fiske, of England, was born about the year 1601, and was in early life devoted to God by his pious parents.

After being educated at Immanuel college, Cambridge, and studying theology, he was for several years employed in the Gospel ministry; but on account of the restrictions and disabilities imposed upon Non-conformists, of whom he was one, he turned his attention to the study of medicine, and became a licensed practitioner.

At the age of 28, he married Anne Gipps, of Frinshall, a lady of high rank and uncommon worth, and the road to prosperity and distinction lay temptingly open before him. But so anxiously desirous was he to resume the labors of the ministry, that he resolved to emigrate for that purpose to America, whatever the sacrifices he might be called to make. This enterprise was so distasteful to his wife's parents that they resolved upon disinheriting them of her share in the family estate, (several hundred pounds), but this did not deter him. At the call of duty, as he regarded it, he resolutely turned aside from the blandishments of wealth, abandoned property, home and kindred, and fled from his native land in disguise to escape the fury of his persecutors.

Embarking with his mother, his wife, two sisters, and his younger brother (the elder William Fiske, of Wenham), in the company of Rev. John Allen, his zealous colleague, and a goodly ship-load of pious emigrants, Rev. John Fiske and family arrived at Cambridge, Mass., in 1687.

There he engaged awhile in teaching school, and afterwards, in Salem, where he taught the first grammar-school with remarkable success (his pupils being able, it is said, to compose readily, in Latin, verse or prose), and occasionally he assisted the celebrated Hugh Peters in preaching.

In 1648 he removed to Wenham, (adjoining Salem), gathered a church and became its first pastor, in 1644, and continued such for more than twelve years. In, 1655, he removed to the pastorate of the church in Chelmsford, in which he continued till 1677, when he died, at the age of 76, leaving a family.

Rev. John Fiske was twice married. His first wife, after living with him about thirty-seven years, died in 1771. Such was her remarkable knowledge of Scripture that she was called her husband's best Concordance. She was the mother of the following children: John, born Sept. 29, 1688.
Moses, born April 22, 1642.
Sarah, Aug. 24, 1640.
Anna, Jan. 1.5, 1644.
Eliezer, born Feb.,8, ,1646.

In 1672, Rev. John Fiske married Mrs. Elizabeth Hinckman, at Chelmsford. She survived him several years, and died at same place.

Of his children only the first four, two sons and two daughters, lived to maturity. John, the eldest son, resided at Chelmsford, was married, but left no issue. Rev. John Fiske, therefore, has no living descendants of his name, except in the line of his son Moses.

Rev. W. Allen, in his history of Chelmsford, gives high testimony" to the value of Mr. Fiske's labors in that town, and by the concurrent testimony of the most learned and honored of his day, he held a high rank in the list of able, useful and devoted ministers of the Gospel.

It was often his practice, during the earlier years of his ministry, to gratuitously mingle the skill and labors of the physician with those of the clergyman, thus ministering to the cure of both body and soul, among the straitened members of his flock.

Cotton Mather, in his memoirs of the early New England clergy, pays the following fine tribute to his worth:

Among the most famous preachers and writers of the Gospel, with whom the primitive church was blessed, there was Luke, the beloved physician, the blessed scholar and colleague of the Apostle Paul. And among the first preachers and writers which rendered the primitive times of New England happy, there was one who might be called the beloved physician; one to whom there might also be given the eulogy which the ancients think was given to Luke — a brother whose praise was in the gospel, throughout all the churches. This was Mr. John Fiske. For twenty years did he shine in the golden candlestick of Chelmsford, a plain but able, powerful and useful preacher of the Gospel, rarely, if ever, by sickness hindered from the exercise of his ministry.

The epitaph, in Latin, of the Rev. John Fiske is as follows:

Vixi et quern dederas cursum mihi, Christe, peregi, pertaesus vitae, suaviter opto mori.

(Translated,) "I have lived and finished the work which thou, Saviour, didst give me; weary of life, I long to depart in peace."

map
1677 Map of New England
click to enlarge

Old Style Calendar
Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

Wenham, Essex County, Massachusetts was settled in 1636. The first settlers called it Enon or Salem Village. It was officially set off from the Town of Salem on May 10, 1643.

Wenham was first settled by English Puritans. The church was formed in 1644 with John Fiske as pastor.
 

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©Roberta Tuller 2017
tuller.roberta@gmail.com