Bentley, William (1)

Bentley, William (1), a Unitarian minister, was born in Boston, Mass., June 22, 1759. He graduated at Harvard College in 1777, and was immediately employed as an assistant in the Boston Grammar-school, in which he had been fitted for college. In 1779 he was preceptor of the North Grammar-school in Boston. In 1780 he was appointed Latin and Greek tutor in Harvard College, and held the office until 1783, devoting a portion of his time to the study of theology, with a view to entering the ministry. In September, 1783, he was ordained as colleague pastor with the Rev. James Dimon over the East, or second formed, Church in Salem, Mass. On the decease of his colleague in 1788, he became sole pastor, and continued so as long as he lived. In 1794, when the Salem Gazette was published, he aided by writing a summary of news for the paper. He was once elected chaplain to Congress, but declined the honor. In 1805 he was appointed to the presidency of the college established by Mr. Jefferson in Virginia. This he also declined. He had one of the largest libraries in the country, which he bequeathed to Meadville College, Pa., and to the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester, Mass. He died Dec. 2, 1819. He published a great many single sermons. See Sprague, Annals of the Amer. Pulpit, 8:154.

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