Online Encyclopedia

MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH (1631-1705)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 626 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH (1631-1705), American clergy-man and poet, was born in England, probably in Yorkshire, on the 18th of October 1631. His father, Edward (d. 1653), persecuted for his Puritan faith, emigrated with his family to New England in 1638 and settled in New Haven. Michael studied for a time at a school kept by Ezekiel Cheever, and in 1651 graduated at Harvard, where he was a tutor (and a Fellow) in 1652-1654. Having fitted himself for the ministry, he preached at Charlestown in 16531654, and was pastor at Malden from 1656 until his death, though for twenty years or more bodily infirmities prevented his regular attendance upon his duties—Cotton Mather described him as " a little feeble shadow of a man." During this interval he studied medicine and began a successful practice. He was again a Fellow of Harvard in 1697-1705. He died at Malden on the Loth of June 1705. Wigglesworth is best known as the author of The Day of Doom; or a Poetical Description of the Great and Last Judgment (1662). At least two English and eight American editions have appeared, notable among them being that of 1867 (New York), edited by W. H. Burr and including other poems of Wigglesworth, a memoir and an autobiography. For a century this realistic and terrible expression of the prevailing Calvinistic theology was by far the most popular work written in America. His other poem: include God's Controversy with New England (written in 1662, " in the time of the great drought," and first printed in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society for 1781), and Meat out of the Eater; or Meditations concerning the Necessity, End and Usefulness of Afflictions unto God's Children (1669; revised in 1703). His son, SAMUEL (1689–1768), also a clergyman, was the author of several prose works and of one poem of merit, " A Funeral Song " (1709). Another son, Edward (1693–1765), was the first Hollis professor of Divinity at Harvard (1722-1765), and the author of various theological works; and a grandson, Edward (1732–1794), was the second Hollis professor of Divinity (1765–1791), in which position he was succeeded by Michael Wigglesworth's great-grandson, Rev. David Tappan (1752–1803). See J. W. Deane, Memoir of Rev. Michael Wigglesworth (Boston, 1871).
End of Article: MICHAEL WIGGLESWORTH (1631-1705)
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