Higginson ,.I. Francis, an English clergyman, born in 1587, died in Salem, Mass., Aug. 6, 1630. He was educated at Cambridge, England, and subsequently became rector of a parish in Leicester. Becoming a nonconformist, he was deprived of his benefice, and was employed among his former parishioners as a lecturer. While apprehending an interruption in these duties in the shape of a summons to appear before the high commission court, he received an invitation from the Massachusetts company to proceed to their colony. He embarked early in May, 1629, and arrived at Salem June 29, and on July 20 was chosen teacher of the congregation established there, Samuel Skelton, his companion on the voyage, being chosen pastor. Each of them consecrated the other by the laying on of hands, assisted by several of the gravest men. Subsequently Hig-ginson drew up "a confession of faith and church covenant according to Scripture," which on Aug. 6 was assented to by 30 persons, who associated themselves as a church. On this occasion, says Palfrey, " the ministers, whose dedication to the sacred office had appeared incomplete till it was made by a church constituted by mutual covenant, were ordained to their several offices by the imposition of the hands of some of the brethren appointed by the church." Higginson continued to discharge the duties of his office until the succeeding year, when, in the general sickness which ravaged the colony, he was attacked by a hectic fever of which he ultimately died.
He wrote "New England's Plantations, or a Short and True Description of the Commodities and Discommodities of the Country" (4to, London, 1G30), and an account of his voyage, which is preserved in Hutchinson's collection of papers. II. John, an American clergyman, son of the preceding, born at Claybrooke, Leicestershire, England, Aug. 6, 1616, died in Salem, Mass., Dec. 9, 1708. He emigrated to New England with his father, adopted the profession of a preacher, and for many years was settled over a congregation at Guilford, Conn. In 1660 he was ordained pastor of the first church in Salem, of which his father had been teacher, and where he remained until the close of his life, at which time he had been 72 years in the ministry. He was a zealous opponent of the Quakers, although he subsequently regretted the warmth of his zeal; but he took no part in the proceedings respecting the witchcraft delusion in 1692. He is the author of a number of occasional sermons and miscellanies, including the "Attestation" to Cotton Mather's Magnalia, prefixed to that work (1697), which has been highly praised for its eloquence.
III. Thomas Wentworth, an American author, a lineal descendant of Francis Higginson, born at Cambridge, Mass., Dec. 22, 1823. He graduated at Harvard college in 1841, and at the theological school of Cambridge in 1847, and was settled over the "First Religious Society" at Ncwburyport. In 1850 he was the freesoil candidate for congress, and was defeated. His anti-slavery principles being distasteful to a portion of his congregation, he resigned his pastorate in 1850, and two years later became minister of a "Free Church" at Worcester. In 1853 he headed an attack on the Boston court house for the purpose of rescuing Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave then in custody of the United States marshal. In this affair he was wounded in the face by a sabre cut; and one of the marshal's men having been killed, Higginson was indicted for murder, but the prosecution failed from a flaw in the indictment. In 1856 he went to Kansas, where he took part in the military struggle of the free-state settlers against the pro-slavery invaders from Missouri. He retired from the ministry in 1858, to devote himself to literature. Soon after the outbreak of the civil war he recruited several companies of volunteers for a Massachusetts regiment, and was commissioned as captain.
In 1862 he was appointed colonel of the first regiment of South Carolina volunteers, the first slave regiment mustered into the national service. He served with them for two years, chiefly in South Carolina and Florida, making various expeditions into the interior, in one of which he captured Jacksonville, Florida. He was wounded in. August, 1863, and in 1864 had to retire from the service in consequence. He took up his residence at Newport, R. I., and has since been occupied with public lecturing and literary pursuits. His first publication was a compilation, made in conjunction with Samuel Longfellow, of poetry for the seaside, entitled "Thalatta " (1853). He has since published the following books, most of the contents of which appeared first in the "Atlantic Monthly": "Outdoor Papers" (1863); "Harvard Memorial Biographies" (1866); "Malbone, an Oldport Romance" (1869); "Army Life in a Black Regiment" (1870); "Atlantic Essays" (1871); and "Oldport Days" (1873). In 1865 he published a new translation of Epictetus.