This is an exceptional letter in outstanding condition from Rev Addison Searle to John Harris (see bios below) regarding Searle’s activities in Boston and surrounding communities prior to his Naval service (which he mentions in the letter). He comments on other Episcopal clergy, including the bishop of Rhode Island and provides virtually a complete account of his daily activities. A RARE COMMUNICATION OF GREAT HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE BETWEEN TWO PROMINENT MEN.
Rev. Addison Searle, b. Oct. 19, 1791.
Having finished his preparatory studies at the Academy, in New Ipswich, he entered Dartmouth College in 1812, and graduated in 1816. After leaving college, he was engaged about two years in teaching a school of young ladies, in Boston. He pursued his theological studies at Bristol, RI, with the Right Rev. Alexander V. Griswold, Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, and was ordained Deacon by that Prelate, in St. John's church, Providence, RI, in September, 1819. During his diaconate, he officiated several months in Hopkinton and Concord, NH. In April, 1820, he was appointed a Chaplain in the Navy, and in the following August was admitted to Priest's orders, in St. Michael's church, Bristol, RI, by Bishop Griswold.
In May, 1821, he sailed from Boston, for a cruise in the Mediterranean, in the Frigate Constitution, bearing the flag of Commodore Jacob Jones, and returned to the United States in 1824. From 1824 to 1827, his official duties were performed at the New York Navy Yard. During 1827 and 1828, he was rector of St. Paul's church, in Buffalo, N. Y., and also of a church in Detroit, Michigan. Feb. 8, 1829, he was stationed at Pcnsaco la Navy Yard, FL; in 1830 and 1832, at the Navy Yard in Charlestown; in 1833, at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In Oct. of 1833, he returned to Detroit. In the spring of 1835, he sailed from New York in the sloop of war " Peacock," destined, (as flag-ship) for the East India station.
On her outward passage, the Peacock touched at Bio Janeiro, and there Mr. Searle was transferred to the sloop of war, Erie, the flag-ship of the U. S. Squadron on the coast of Brazil. At the expiration of this cruise in 1837, he was appointed to the chaplaincy of the Navy Yard, Boston. He continued at this station till the summer of 1849, when he received orders for duty on board the Frigate Cumberland; and in August, sailed from New York in that ship, for a cruise in the Mediterranean.
For several years before entering upon this, (which proved to be his last) service, Mr. Searle had suffered from disease of the heart. His health, at the time of his sailing, was apparently improved, but several months after, he had a return of his complaint. Under this he gradually failed, and on the 2d of August, 1850, died on board the Cumberland, on her passage from Messina, Island of Sicily, to Alexandria, in Egypt.
Some time after his decease, a few of his friends in Boston and vicinity, erected in Mount Auburn Cemetery, a marble cenotaph1 to his memory, which bears the following inscription:
Rev. Addison Searle,
Senior Chaplain in
U. S. N.
Buried at Sea, August 2, 1850.
Erected by friends
who, valuing him in life, remember
him in death with true affection
and deep regard.
At the annual meeting of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templars of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, in Oct., 1850, resolutions were passed commemorating the virtues and good fellowship of "Rev. Sir Addison Searle, late Prelate of this Body."
Excerpts from a biography by C. C. LORD.
John Harris was born in Harvard, Mass., October 13, 1769; and came to Hopkinton, N. H., in 1794. He resided in Hopkinton till his death, on the 23d of April, 1845. When John Harris came to Hopkinton at the age of 25, the township was comparatively a new one, just redeemed from the wilderness.
John Harris was one of the social elite of Hopkinton. In person, he was dignified; in mind, cultivated; in morals, strict; in his home, a master of men-servants and women-servants; in industry, diligent and exact; by profession, a lawyer: by initiation, a Freemason; in politics, a Whig; in religion an Episcopalian. In his day and generation some of these things might be said of many men, but all of them could hardly be affirmed of anyone outside of the smaller social circle including that class sometimes called aristocratic.
John Harris was of medium stature and rather slim. In physical bearing, he was erect, but he sometimes walked with a peculiarly rapid motion that was noticeable. His complexion was fair, his hair was light, and he had blue eyes. We hear that he had a smooth face. By this we infer that he had no beard. John Harris dressed well, but he was not particularly scrupulous about his attire. In this he was like many other men of distinguished mental attainments. He collected a class of scholars and gave them free instruction in reading. His school room was the senate chamber of the old Hopkinton court house.
During much the larger part of the time John Harris lived in Hopkinton, he dwelt at the angle of two roads in the western part of the village, where the road to Henniker leads off from the main village street. The estate embraced about fifty acres of land, "suitably divided," as is often said. John Harris was diligent and studious. He could not frequently attend social sittings and indulge small talk. Consequently he became marked for his seclusiveness. Like numerous others of his kind, he was to a greater or less extent set down as" odd.
His father was Richard Harris and his mother was Lydia Atherton. Richard Harris was a carpenter. Diligent regard was given to John Harris' education, for in 1791, or when about 22 years of age, he graduated at Harvard College. He read law with Simeon Strong, of Amherst, Mass., and Timothy Bigelow, of Groton. Mass. In September, 1799, he married Mary Poor, born in Hampstead, NH, and daughter of Eliphalet Poor and Elizabeth Little. They had four children. George was born Feb. 6, 18o1, and died Feb. 17, 1849. Catharine, who became the wife of Timothy Wiggin Little, of Hopkinton, was born Jan. 23, 18o4, and died Feb. 16, 1843. Eliza Poor was born Jan. 21, 18o9, and died Oct. 31, 185o. Ann was born Feb. 19, 1812, and died Aug. 1, 1832. Mrs. Harris died Mar. 6, 1843, aged 64. Her reputation was that of a superior woman.
John Harris held numerous public offices. In November, 1810, he was appointed captain of the 4th company of the 21st regiment of the New Hampshire militia. When the Hopkinton post office was first legally established. April 1, 1811, John Harris was the postmaster, being succeeded by his son in 1825. In 1816. he was made a trustee of Dartmouth College. He was solicitor of Hillsborough County from 1817 to 1S23; judge of probate from 1812 to 1823, and the same for Merrimack County from 1823 to 1843. He was associate justice of the supreme court of New Hampshire from 1823 to 1833.
We have already spoken of John Harris as a Freemason. He gave great diligence to the welfare of the local Masonic element. In 1803, on the 10th of January, a preliminary meeting of the Palladian Society was held at his home. A constitution had been framed and adopted, and John Harris became the first treasurer. In 18o7, Trinity Chapter was formed in Hopkinton. In the priority of chapters in the State, Trinity was the second. John Harris was its founder. In 1824, he was its treasurer. He was also founder of the Tyrian Council, and of the Mount Horeb Commandery of Knights Templars. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge, .Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter at its formation in 1819, and first Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templars of New Hampshire at its formation in 1826.
In religious matters, as in other affairs, he was prominent. In 1803, an organization of the Episcopal Church, under the superintendency of the Rev. Samuel Meade, was effected in Hopkinton. It was known as "Christ's Church," and worshipped in the old county court house. John Harris was one of the subscribers to the ecclesiastical constitution. In 1826, the Rev. Moses B. Chase became the clergyman of the church and founded a new parish, which was incorporated in 1827 as "St. Andrew's Church." John Harris and William Little were its first wardens.