Orville Dewey, D.D.,an American clergyman, born at Sheffield, Mass., March 28, 1794. He graduated at Williams college in 1814, studied divinity at Andover from 1816 to 1819, was for eight months agent for the American education society, and declined an immediate and permanent settlement on account of unfixed opinions in theology, but accepted a temporary call at Gloucester, Cape Ann, with a candid explanation of his unsettled views, and here became a Unitarian. He was soon after appointed assistant of Dr. Channing, preached two years in his pulpit, and formed with him an intimacy that lasted during Channing's life. In 1823 he accepted the pastorate of the Unitarian church in New Bedford, where he remained ten years, until, broken in health, he sought restoration in a voyage to Europe, June, 1833. "The Old World and the New" (2 vols., 1836) contains the history of his two years' absence. In 1835 he was called to the second Unitarian church in New York, which during his ministry built the "church of the Messiah," and became a very large and prosperous society.
In 1842, his health again failing, he went abroad for two years, returned in 1844, and was compelled by continued ill health to dissolve his connection with his church in 1848, and retire to his farm in Sheffield, where he prepared a course of lectures for the Lowell institute at Boston, on the "Problem of Human Life and Destiny," which was repeated twice in New York, and delivered in many other places. This course was followed in 1855 by another Lowell course on the "Education of the Human Race," which was almost as widely repeated. Meanwhile he filled a Unitarian pulpit in Albany one winter, and in Washington two. In 1858 he was settled as, pastor over the Unitarian society in Church Green, Boston, known as the "New South," from which after four years' service he returned to his home in Sheffield. The first book he published was a little work, which attracted much attention, entitled "Letters on Revivals." During his ministry at New Bedford he contributed to the "Christian Examiner" and the "North American Review." On leaving New Bedford he published a volume of sermons.
His subsequent works have been collected and published in three volumes (New York, 1847); they consist of "Discourses on Human Nature," "Discourses on Human Life," "Discourses on the Nature of Religion," " Discourses on Commerce and Business," "Miscellaneous and Occasional Discourses," "The Unitarian Belief," and "Discourses and Reviews."