Thomas Thayer

Last updated

Thomas Baldwin Thayer (September 10, 1812 in Boston, Massachusetts – February 12, 1886 in Roxbury, Massachusetts) [1] was the leading Universalist theologian in the late nineteenth century. [2] [3]



Thayer entered Harvard at an early age, but left after the first year and began to teach, at the same time studying divinity. He was ordained in 1832, and from 1833 to 1845 was pastor of the 1st Universalist Society in Lowell, Massachusetts, where his ministry was important in the history of Universalism in New England. During the crusade against Universalism from 1840 to 1842, he established and edited in its defense the Star of Bethlehem, and with his co-worker, Abel C. Thomas, wrote the Lowell Tracts in the same interest. [4]

Thayer was called to a pastorate in Brooklyn, New York, in 1845, where he edited the Golden Rule in the interest of the fraternity of Oddfellows. After six years he returned to his old parish in Lowell. In 1859 he became pastor of the Shawmut Avenue Church, Boston, which charge he resigned in 1867. In 1862 Thayer assumed the editorship of the Universalist Quarterly, which contains some of his most important literary work. He continued these labors, with an interval of travel in Europe and the East, until his last illness. [4]

He received the degree of D.D. from Tufts college in 1865, and he was for many years on the board of overseers of Harvard. Thayer was a biblical scholar of rare breadth, and a pioneer in Universalist literature. [4]


He wrote much verse that has never been collected. He published:

Related Research Articles

Hosea Ballou

Hosea Ballou D.D. was an American Universalist clergyman and theological writer.

George Stillman Hillard

George Stillman Hillard was an American lawyer and author. Besides developing his Boston legal practice, he served in the Massachusetts legislature, edited several Boston journals, and wrote on literature, politics and travel.

Charles Francis Adams Sr.

Charles Francis Adams Sr. was an American historical editor, writer, politician, and diplomat. He was a son of President John Quincy Adams, and grandson of President John Adams, about whom he wrote a major biography. He was the father of Henry Adams.

Boston Brahmin Members of the Boston upper-class society

The Boston Brahmins or Boston elite are members of Boston's traditional old upper class. They are often associated with Harvard University, Anglicanism, upper class clubs such as the Somerset in Boston, the Knickerbocker in New York, the Metropolitan in Washington D.C., the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, and traditional Anglo-American customs and clothing. Descendants of the earliest English colonists are typically considered to be the most representative of the Boston Brahmins. They are considered White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

Cornelius Conway Felton American educator

Cornelius Conway Felton was an American educator. He was regent of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as professor of Greek literature and president of Harvard University.

Jared Sparks

Jared Sparks was an American historian, educator, and Unitarian minister. He served as President of Harvard College from 1849 to 1853.

Francis Bowen

Francis Bowen was an American philosopher, writer, and educationalist.

Nathan Appleton

Nathan Appleton was an American merchant and politician and a member of "The Boston Associates".

Charles Kittredge True was a United States Methodist Episcopal clergyman, educator, and author.

Charles Lowell (minister)

Charles Lowell was a Unitarian minister and a son of judge John Lowell, as well as the father of James Russell Lowell and Robert Traill Spence Lowell.

Rev. Nathaniel Thayer I was a congregational Unitarian minister.

William Appleton (politician)

William Appleton was an American businessman and politician from Massachusetts. He was a trader, shipowner, and banker, and served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts from 1851 to 1855, and again from 1861 to 1862.

Charles Hudson (American politician)

Charles Hudson was a United States minister, writer, historian and politician. Hudson served in both houses of the Massachusetts General Court, on the Massachusetts Governor's Council, and as United States Representative from Massachusetts.

Alonzo Ames Miner

Alonzo Ames Miner was a Universalist minister. He was the second president of Tufts University.

John Wesley Hanson D.D. (1823–1901) was an American Universalist minister and a notable Universalist historian advancing the claim that Universalism was the belief of early Christianity. He was born at Boston.

Thomas Whittemore (Universalist) American politician and writer

Thomas Whittemore was a Christian Universalist author, speaker and influential member of the Universalist Church of America. He founded and was the editor of The Trumpet and Universalist magazine, which succeeded the Universalist magazine of Hosea Ballou in 1828.

George Edward Ellis

George Edward Ellis was a Unitarian clergyman and historian.

James Appleton

Brig. Gen. James Appleton was an American abolitionist, early supporter of temperance, and politician from Maine.

Joseph Tuckerman

Joseph Tuckerman was a United States clergyman and philanthropist.

Luella J. B. Case American author, hymn writer (1807-1857)

Luella J. B. Case was an American author. She wrote several popular books and was a contributor to various periodicals, including The Rose of Sharon, The Ladies' Repository, and The Universalist Review among others. Affiliated with the Universalist church, she also wrote hymns.


  1. Emerson, George H. (July 1886). Richard Eddy (ed.). "Article XXIII. Thomas Baldwin Thayer". The Universalist Quarterly and General Review. Boston: Universalist Publishing House. XXIII: 341–356.
  2. Harvard Square biography
  3. Howe, Charles A. The Larger Faith: A Short History of American Universalism 1993
  4. 1 2 3 One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Thayer, Thomas Baldwin"  . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton.