Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#131--John Eliot, Apostle to the Indians

The theme for this week is Chapel.  It could be a place or a person who worked in a church.  From my ancestors I chose John Eliot, a minister, who was also known as the Apostle to the Indians.  He is my 8th great uncle.  He was born in 1604 in Widford, England to Bennett and Lettice (Alger) Elliott. John received a degree from Jesus College in 1622 in Cambridge, and then worked with Thomas Hooker at his Puritan academy.  Eliot came to Boston, MA. In 1631 and then moved to Roxbury, MA.  John Eliot married Hanna Mumford. They had six children, five sons and one daughter.

For almost 60 years, John Eliot was the pastor of the Puritan church at Roxbury, Massachusetts.  He established the Roxbury Latin School in 1645 and served as an Overseer of Harvard College from 1642 to 1685.

His most notable achievement was his mission to the local Indians.  In 1646 he began to preach to them, first in English and later in their own language, Algonkian.  He translated the bible into Algonkian and its publication was the first printing of a bible in North America.  Eliot also established 14 towns for the Indian where they would be able to follow their own culture and laws.  At the same time, John taught several Indians to be missionaries.

In addition, Eliot also wrote several books:  The Christian Commonwealth (1659), Unbosom Psalmes (1663), The Communion Of Churches (1665), The Indian Primer (1669), and The Harmony of the Gospels (1678) and was a major contributor to the Bay Psalm Book.

John died on May 20, 1690.  He is buried in the Eliot Burying Ground in Roxbury.


  1. Mary,
    Another connection! My daughter and granddaughter are direct descendants of John Eliot. I have followed that line all the way to the present. Also, my 14th great grandfather, John Coggleshall, came to America on the same ship with John Eliot in 1631. He then attended his church for a time.

  2. This is interesting! I found this blog through googling Dr. William Aveary (my 9th-great-grandfather), and started clicking through the pages. A few generations down from Dr. Aveary, there was a marriage to a Williams, and if you go back up the Williams tree, you'll find my 8th-great-grandfather, Deacon Samuel Williams, who worked under John Eliot!