• Puritan Missionary to Massachusetts Indians
  • Organized 16 'Praying Indian' Communities
  • Published First Bible in America
  • Wrote First political science book in America
  • Founder of Roxbury Latin School

John Eliot was born 5 August 1604 in Widford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom to Bennett Eliot (1574-1621) and Lettice Alger (1576-1620) and died 20 May 1690 Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Hannah Mountford (1611-1687) 4 September 1632 in Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts.


Rev. John Eliot was a Puritan missionary to the American Indians of Massachusetts whom some called "the apostle to the Indians" and the founder of Roxbury Latin School in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1645.

He founded at Natick, MA, the first Indian Church in New England. Completed the Indian translation of the bible in Algonquin and it was the first BIBLE printed in America in 1663. In 1689, he gave his new John Eliot School, seventy-five acres of his own land, "for the teaching and instructing of the Children of that end of the Town (together such Negroes or Indians as may come to the said Schoole)", in Jamaica Plains, MA.

Early Life in England

John Eliot was born in Widford, Hertfordshire, England and lived at Nazeing as a boy. He attended Jesus College, Cambridge.[3] After college, he became assistant to Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) at a private school at Little Baddow, Essex.[4]

1631 Migration to America


He was a passenger on the English ship Lyon. The Lyon left Bristol, England August (23) 1631 with her Master, William Peirce, arriving in Nantasket November 02 1631, Completing its 3rd of 4 voyages to the new world. It sank after the 4th voyage. John sailed with his older brother Philip.

After Hooker was forced to flee to Holland, Eliot emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, arranging passage as chaplain on the ship Lyon and arriving on November 3, 1631. Eliot became minister and "teaching elder" at the First Church in Roxbury.

From 1637 to 1638 Eliot participated in both the civil and church trials of Anne Hutchinson during the Antinomian Controversy. Eliot disapproved of Hutchinson's views and actions, and was one of the two ministers representing Roxbury in the proceedings which led to her excommunication and exile.[5] In 1645, Eliot founded the Roxbury Latin School. He and fellow ministers Thomas Weld (also of Roxbury), Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard, and Richard Mather of Dorchester, are credited with editing the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in the British North American colonies (1640). From 1649 to 1674, Samuel Danforth assisted Eliot in his Roxbury ministry.[1]

Watertown Founders Monument

Watertown Founders Monument

He is listed on Watertown Founders Monument, commemorating the first settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The town was first known as Saltonstall Plantation, one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in early 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and George Phillips, it was officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.

Marriage and Family

First Bible printed in New World, 1663

John Eliot married Hanna Mumford. They had six children, five sons and one daughter.[21] Their daughter Hannah Eliot married Habbakuk Glover . Their son, John Eliot, Jr., was the first pastor of the First Church of Christ in Newton,[23] Another son, Joseph Eliot, became a pastor in Guilford, Connecticut, and later fathered Jared Eliot, a noted agricultural writer and pastor. John Eliot's sister, Mary Eliot, married Edward Payson, founder of the Payson family in America, and great-great grandfather of the Rev. Edward Payson.


Offspring of Rev. John Eliot and Hannah Mountford (1611-1687)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Hannah Eliot (1633-1708) 17 September 1633 Roxbury, Essex County, Massachusetts 8 February 1708 Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Habackuk Glover (1628-1693)
John Eliot (1636-1668)
Joseph Eliot (1638-1694)
Samuel Eliot (1641-1664)
Aaron Eliot (1643-1655)
Benjamin Eliot (1647-1687)
Rebecca Eliot (1655-)


Offspring of Bennett Eliot (1574-1621) and Lettice Alger (1576-1620)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Philip Eliot (1602-1657) 15 April 1602 Widford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom 24 October 1657 Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States Elizabeth Sybthorpe (1605-1659)
John Eliot (1604-1690) 5 August 1604 Widford, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom 20 May 1690 Roxbury, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States Hannah Mountford (1611-1687)
Jacob Eliot (1606-1651)
Margaret Eliot (1613-)
William Eliot (1614-)
Francis Eliot (1615-1677)
Elizabeth Eliot (1616-)

Vital Records


  • Wikipedia: John Eliot (missionary)
  • Rev John Eliot at Find A Grave #5838759
  • Moore, Martin (1822). The Life and Character of Rev. John Eliot, Apostle of the N.A. Indians. Boston: T. Bedlington.
  • "English Bible History: John Eliot". The Great Site. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  • "Elliott, John (ELT618J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  • "Hooker, Thomas (HKR604T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  • Battis, Emery (1962). Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 189–246.
  • "john Eliot" Dictionary of American Biography.New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936.Biography in Context. Web 29 Nov.2014
  • "John Eliot" Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Biography in Context.Web.29 Nov. 2014.
  • "The Dartmouth Copy of John Eliot's Indian Bible (1639): Its Provenance". Retrieved 2016-10-27.

Footnotes (including sources)