William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America


John Wise

Appletons Encyclopedia

WISE, John, clergyman, born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in August,
1652; died in Ipswich, Massachusetts, 8 April, 1725. He was the son
of Joseph Wise, who, in his younger days, had been a serving-man.
John attended Roxbury free school, was graduated at Harvard in 1673,
and, after studying theology, was ordained pastor of Chebacco, a new
parish of Ipswich, on 12 August, 1683, where he remained till his
death. In 1688, for leading the citizens of Ipswich in their
remonstrance against arbitrary taxation by Sir Edmund Andros, he was
imprisoned, titled 50 and costs, and deprived of his ministerial
office, but after the revolution of the following year he brought
action against Chief-Justice Dudley for refusing him the benefit of
the habeas corpus act, and is said to have recovered damages. The
town had paid his fine and costs and sent him, as its
representative, to Boston, where he took an active part in
reorganizing the government. In 1690 he was a chaplain in the
unfortunate expedition to Canada. When it was proposed, under the
leadership of the Mathers to establish associations of ministers in
Massachusetts that should exercise authority that had belonged to
the individual churches, Wise opposed the plan as being the first
step toward a hierarchy, and published against it a pamphlet
entitled "The Churches' Quarrel Espoused" (Boston, 1710; 2d ed.,
with the "Cambridge Platform," 1715). In this he attacked the scheme
with keen satire, utterly defeating it. Dr. Henry M. Dexter, in his
"Congregationalism as Seen in its Literature," says the essay is
unsurpassed " for density, for clearness, for largeness of vision,
for conclusiveness, and for general ability and beauty of style."
Later Mr. Wise amplified his views in his "Vindication of the
Government of New England Churches," which was bound together with
another edition of the former pamphlet (1717). This is a remarkable
exposition of the general principles of civil government, and
became, says a biographer, "the text-book of liberty for our
Revolutionary fathers, containing some of the notable expressions
that are used in the Declaration of Independence." The two essays
were reprinted in a volume by the Congregational board of
publication, with an historical introductory notice by the Reverend
Joseph S. Clark, D.D. (1860). See, also, funeral sermon, by John
White (1725).


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Pilgrims and Puritans