Hawley, Gideon. Missionary journals, 1753-1806.

Collection Information

Gideon Hawley missionary journals, 1753-1806.


Hawley, Gideon, 1727-1807




4 volumes (0.33 cubic feet)

5 reels 35mm microfilm: 2 negative, 3 positive (0.1 cubic feet)

4,113 digital objects (32.1GB)

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:

Volumes are restricted and unavailable for researcher access. Microfilm and digital copies are available for researcher use. Please contact the library for more information.

Technical Access:

A microfilm reader is required to access the microfilm reels. To access digital user’s copies via online-interface, a java-enabled web browser is required. Internet Explorer 8.x and later, Firefox 5.x and later, Opera 12 and later, Safari 5.x and later, or any version of Google Chrome are recommended. Digital copies may be accessed here: http://www.congregationallibrary.org/nehh/HawleyGideon1237

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the Gideon Hawley missionary journals, 1753-1806. MS1237. The Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA.

Additional Resources:

Item-level metadata is available for the digital duplicates in this collection. Please contact the archivist for more information.



Processing information:

Collection described by archives staff in 1996 and re-described by Sari Mauro, September 2013 in accordance with DACS 2013.


Gideon Hawley (1727-1807) attended Yale and was ordained by the Fairfield East Association. Volumes in this collection particularly document Hawley’s work with various Native American tribes. The collection contains correspondence, journal (diary), accounts, lists of births and deaths, a table of Indian statistics, and a map (1756) by Hawley of Onohoguage villages in New York. Persons named include James Abercromby, Jonathan Edwards, John Hancock, William Johnson, and Rebecca Kellogg Ashley.

Acquisition Information:

Gifted to the Congregational Library & Archives by A. C. Thompson in 1875.

Massachusetts Historical Society holds a copy of diaries on microfilm. Call Number P-363 reel 8.1


No accruals are expected for this collection.

Historical Note

Gideon Hawley was born at Stratfield (Bridgeport), Connecticut, the son of Gideon and Hannah Bennett Hawley. His mother, a daughter of Lieutenant James Bennett of Stratfield, Connecticut died at Hawley's birth. Hawley's father died when Hawley junior was three years old. Hawley was a descendent of Joseph Hawley, who immigrated to America in 1629.

Hawley graduated from Yale College in 1749 and was licensed to preach by the Fairfield East Association May 1750. He accepted a position in Stockbridge in 1752, under the pay of the Society for Propagating the Gospel among the Indians and under the supervision of Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards was a preacher to the whites and the Housatonic Indians in the Stockbridge; he occasionally visited Hawley's school to the Iroquois and gave Hawley advice about his work with the Native Americans there.

Due to "opposing cliques among the controlling authorities" at Stockbridge (1), Hawley accepted a position from the Society to establish a mission among the Six Nations on the Susquehanna; he was ordained in Old South Church, Boston, July 31, 1754 for this position and left for the site, near the contemporary town of Windsor, New York (close to the area where Rev. Elihu Spencer, Yale 1746, made an unsuccessful attempt at ministry five or six years before). Besides acting as a missionary, Hawley also acted as an interpreter at this post. War did not affect his mission until May 1756, when Hawley was forced to leave. He attempted to return to his former mission, but since it was unsafe, he remained in West Springfield, Massachusetts for the winter. He tried to rejoin his former congregation in the spring of 1757, but the prevalence of small pox prevented him from doing so.

Hawley returned to Boston and accepted a commission as chaplain to Colonel Richard Gridley's regiment. He departed with the army for Crown Point July 12 but was forced to return in October, due to illness. The Society then sent Hawley on a temporary mission to the large plantation (approximately 300) of Native Americans at Mashpee, Massachusetts, who had been without a preacher for fifteen years. The Mashpee requested Hawley's permanent appointment (2); Hawley took up the permanent post April 8, 1758.

In Mashpee, Hawley married Lucy Fessenden July 14, 1759, second daughter of Rev. Benjamin Fessenden (Harvard 1718) and Rebecca (Smith) Fessenden of Sandwich. Hawley and Fessenden had three sons and two daughters. The eldest son died in infancy, and other children all lived to maturity. The youngest son graduated at Harvard in 1792 and died in 1800, early on in his pastoral life. Lucy Fessenden died in December 25, 1777 at the age of 50 and Hawley remarried Mrs. Elizabeth Burchard October 7, 1778, widow of Captain David Burchard of Nantucket and previous widow of a Mr. Hussey. Mrs. Elizabeth Burchard was born in Mendon, Massachusetts October 12, 1726 and died August 7, 1797. Hawley died in Mashpee in 1807.


Bibliographical Note:

Information in this biographical note is taken from:

Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the College History. New York: Henry Hold and Company, 1896. Vol. 2, May 1745 - May 1763, p. 205 - 208.

Malone, Dumas, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932. Vol. 8, p. 418.



(1) Malone, Dumas, ed. Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932. Vol. 8, p.418.

(2) Ibid.


Scope of Collection

Items in this collection include correspondence, journal (diary), accounts, lists of births and deaths, a table of Indian statistics, and a map (1756) by Hawley of Onohoguage villages in New York. Includes material relating to life in the Mohawk country, the Six Nations, the Mashpee Indians, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Indians, the Massachusetts General Court, and the French and Indian War. Persons named include James Abercromby, Jonathan Edwards, John Hancock, and William Johnson. Of particular note are records containing mention of Hawley’s long-time translator, Rebecca Kellogg Ashley.

This collection is part of New England's Hidden Histories. Digital historical representations of the collection may be viewed online.


Transcription of Original Description

The smallest of these volumes is entitled on first page: Book of Journal after my mission into the country the Six Nations. Beginning at January 27th to last of May 1754...The middle part of this volume dates "Beginning at June 1754 and continues to September 9th following. - "which contains my journey in New England."

["This journey was too diverting; I had not used to be in so much company and it had a natural tendency to unhinge my mind and disengate it from the great affair I ought to have had my mind more upon."]

On Tuesday, June 10 the writer speaks viz. "Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Woodbridge and his company lodged at my house." The upper town in Cantaurota.

The last few pages of this volume contain his journal from April 20th 1755 to January 1756.

This volume seems to contain only the record of his coming and going among the various Indian tribes. Of his preaching "on ye Lord's Day." It contains no letters written by Mr. Hawley. He tells of his waiting upon the Governor and "upon gentlemen of note" "in the Province of lay before them the melancholy state of ye Indians by reason of a large quantity of spiritous liquors carried among the Indians. They appeared sensible of it but had not resolution enough to do anything about it." etc. Al [sic.] length found one strictly prohibiting of selling of spiritous liquors among them. Saturday the treaty with the Indians opened."

The volume next in size (about 22 cm.), begins at Orohoguage, June 13th, 1753. This book is also a journal of his travels and work among the Indians. These accounts are in the form of letters, all of which being addressed "Dear Sir," evidently to the Governor or Lieut. Governor. One letter dated Albany 25th June, in which he states he was "driven there by hunger." Mr. Woodbridge and an interpreter travel with him for awhile afterward Mr. Woodbridge called elsewhere.

There are pages of accounts giving his expenses, evidently rendered to the governor.

The next date of journals follows under same binding, September 1756. With letters to his Excellency Governor Hancock written from the Plantation of Mascopee, in the county of Barnstable, and the last part of the volume gives statement of his expense accounts, and states that on October 15, 1795, he gave up his Treasureship of the Plantation of Mascopee and settled his accounts with the Board of Overseers and gave his obligations to Joseph Nye, Esquire, his successor, for what was due to the Plantation.

Some few pages of accounts follow and at the end of the volume is an alphabetical list of words in English and a corresponding word in Mohawk words.

The volume closes with Resolutions passed "as a meeting of the Commissioners" regarding Mr. Hawley's settlement at Mascopee with the expectation that the corporation of Harvard College will assist in his support and settlement. Voted that the Reverend Mr. Hawley be allowed out of the Society's Stock fifty pounds per annum during his continuance in the service, etc.

The volume next in size, is made up of letters to:

1. Rev. Dr. Andrew Eliot, dated Masopee May 5, 1777
2. William Lane, Esq., July 18, 1787
3. His Excellency the Governor and the Honorable General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, October 20, 1788
4. Governor Hancock
5. Governor Hancock, July 8, 1791
6. Honorable Mr. Samuel Phillips, January 30, 1794
    Mashpee July 1794 was the fortieth anniversary of Mr. Gideon Hawley's ordination as a missionary to the Indians (an account of same follows at some length).
7. Honorable Nathan Dane, Deacon Mason and Dr. Eustice
8. William Lane, Esq., Secretary to the Honorable New England Company in London, Mashpee, November 1801.
9. Ephraim Spooner, Esq., Dec. 2, 1801
10. Great and General Court of Massachusetts and to the several branches thereof.
11. Indians in the old colony of Plymouth who hath his residence (Hawley) and in the county of Barnstable at Massopee.
12. Honorable the Senate and the Honorable House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court, June 6, 1804.
13. Honorable the Senate and the Honorable House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General Court, August, 1804 and July 2.
14. His Honor the Lieutenant Governor
15. Judge Thomas, March 26, 1805
16. Rev. Dr. Morse, Lord's Day, April 27, 1805
17. Copy or extract of Dr. Morse's letter to Mr. Hawley, Nov. 1805
18. Samuel Parkman, Esq.
19. Rev. Dr. Morse
20. Ebenezer Storer, Esq. at Boston
21. Deacon Storer, Oct. 1806
22. Deacon Storer, Oct. 1806
23. Lieutenant Governor
24. Deacon Spooner

The largest volume is folio. This volume has a pen and ink sketch evidently made by Mr. Hawley, locating mountains, the Indian paths, the Onohoguage town, the Indian's planting ground, their pastures, Adam's Island, a swamp. Lower Tusceroras or Caunoiaugaurotrek, Lower Luscaroras planting fields, Upper Luscaroras of Cautaurot, the Delawares, a launay hunten, Twisting Waters, Waulega, the village of Noonlautok, Indian hunting house, Cherry Valley at Col Wellas. A map of three Onaohoguango villages in the year 1753 (map one mile to an inch).

The first three pages following this sketch contain a report to Mr. Cilemp, which is to the committee of the commissioners upon the petition of the Mashpee Indians representing some grievances they labor under, etc.

The journal continues with letters from Massappee Plantation, to Rev. Dr. Morse, to the Hon. Dr. Tufts of the committee and Overseers, giving full account of the different Indian settlements, number in each and number of houses, wigwams, etc. and letter to Deacon Spooner, also to the Governor advising the erection of forts among the Indians.

Letter to Andrew Oliver, Esq. Boston, to William Dummer, Esq. Lieut-Gov. and Commander in Chief in and over his Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.

A list of marriages Sept. 1764.

A list of children born in 1761-1766.

A list of deaths 1758-1768, 1775-1777

Letters follow to and from Messrs. Lane and Fraser of England, 1781, 1782-1783, the New England Company of London, and from Mashpee.

Letter to the Gov. of Massachusetts, John Hancock, Esq. July 8, 1791.

Letter to Rev. Dr. Thacher.

Letter to Messrs. Parker and Allen.

Mr. Hawley's son Gideon is taking his father's place in the Mission, as the senior resigned.

The last pages give accounts of the County of Barnstable, Massachusetts and letters to Hon. W. Spooner of New Bedford, Massachusetts, an "old old friend" and of Mr. Hawley's, and to Hon. Peleg Coffin, Esq., to his Excellency the Gov. in Council, to John Avery, Esq., Sec. on service of the Commonwealth, 1805 and 1806, and to Deacon Storer, the Treasurer of Harvard College which college made grants toward the expenses of Mr. Hawley's work in the mission to the Indians.


Further Searches

Subject Headings

Hawley, Gideon, 1727-1807.


Edwards, Jonathan, 1703-1758.

Ashley, Rebecca Kellogg, 1695-1757

Congregational churches - Massachusetts - Stockbridge.

Old South Church (Boston, Mass.)


Native Americans

Missionaries - Massachusetts - Biography.

Stockbridge Indians - Missions.

Mashpee Indians.

Indians of North America - Missions - New England.

United States - History - French and Indian War, 1755-1763.

Massachusetts (Colony). General court.


Related Materials

Stockbridge, MA : Congregational Church of Interlaken. 17.11.1 S73.5 CONC

Stockbridge, MA : First Congregational Church. 17.11.1 S73.5 FIRCC

Historical memoirs, relating to the Housatunnuk Indians, or, An account of the methods used, and pains taken, for the propagation of the gospel among that heathenish-tribe, and the success thereof, under the ministry of the late Reverend Mr. John Sergeant : together with the character of that eminently worthy missionary; and an address to the people of this country, representing the very great importance of attaching the Indians to their interest, not only by treating them justly and kindly, but by using proper endeavours to settle Christianity among them. RBR H 77.5 H



Collection items are contained in 4 volumes. Volumes are reproduced onto one reel of microfilm as well as digitally. Digital copies are available online.



Journal 1754-1756 Volume 1
Reel 1 of 1
Online Interface
  The first volume (1754-1756) chronicles his time as a missionary traveling through "the Country of the Six Nations" — what is now western New York and Pennsylvania that were still largely populated by Native American tribes. Rev. Hawley kept track of the villages he visited, people he interacted with, and the Bible passages on which he preached.
Journal circa 1753-1795 Volume 2
Reel 1 of 1
Online Interface
  The second volume (ca. 1753-1795) contains copies of correspondence referred to in vol. 1, financial records, and a continuation of his travelogue from "the Country of the Six Nations". His movements were often hampered by early battles in the French and Indian War, which he also describes.

The first few pages in this book contain a later 19th-century letter to a genealogist with a brief Hawley family history, and the 1875 inscription from A. C. Thompson when he donated the journals to the Congregational Library.
Journal circa 1753-1795 Volume 3
Reel 1 of 1
Online Interface
  The third volume (ca. 1777-1806) is largely comprised of correspondence to friends and officials back in New England. Rev. Hawley advocates for better treatment of both their Native American neighbors and lower-class English soldiers. There are also sections in which Hawley reflects on his missionary career, providing further detail about the events recorded in vols. 1 & 2.
Journal circa 1781-1806 Volume 4
Reel 1 of 1
Online Interface
  The fourth volume (ca. 1781-1806) is also primarily correspondence. The topics range from the fates of indentured Mashpee Indians to friends' legal matters to his own personal finances. Rev. Hawley also recorded local births, deaths, and marriages at the Mashpee plantation for much of the latter half of the 18th century.


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