Henry Livingston, Jr.


Rev. Noah Welles

Henry Livingston, Jr. Day Book
Bibliography - Complete text of:
     Poetic Intro to "Philosophic Solitude"
     Funeral Sermon
Johnson Family Papers, Yale University Library
Travels in New England and New York, by Dr. Timothy Dwight
Dau Mary and Representative John Davenport
Son Major Melancthon Woolsey Welles and Abigail Buel

Rev. Dr. Noah Welles
(25 Sep 1718, Colchester CT)
(31 Dec 1776, Stamford CT)
(son of Noah Welles and Sarah Wyatt)
+ Abigail Woolsey 1751
(31 Oct 1730, Oyster Bay LI NY)
(28 Oct 1811)
(daughter of Rev. Benjamin Woolsey and Abigail Taylor)

Sarah Welles (7 Nov 1752 - 1 Sep 1783)
Mary Sylvester Welles (20 Oct 1754 - 25 June 1847)
Dr. Benjamin Welles (22 Nov 1756 - 19 Apr 1813)
Theodosia Welles (22 Oct 1758 - 27 Jul 1776)
Abigail Welles (12 Oct 1760 - 1778)
Noah Welles, Jr. (3 Oct 1762 - 18 Nov 1838)
Elizabeth "Betsey" Welles (23 Feb 1765 - Jun or Jul 1780)
Rebecca Welles (5 Jul 1767 - 1859)
William Welles (22 Jan 1769 - 1805)
Major Melancthon Woolsey Welles (6 Dec 1770 - 7 Feb 1857)
Apollos Welles (10 Oct 1773 - 1784)
John Welles (7 Apr 1776 - 23 May 1855)
James Welles (7 Apr 1776 - 1777)

Henry Livingston, Jr. Day Book, NYHS
May 22 '84
"My son Harry began boarding at Mrs. Welles at Stanford at 4 sh per week."
Jul 17 '85
"Gave Maj. John Davenport 10 dollars to pay to Mrs. Welles in full for boarding Harry-- I gave him 6 dollars for Mr. Davenport to pay out in necessarys for Caty."
Jan '87
"Mrs. Abigail Wells x to cash L2.9.0
Feb 6 '87
"Settled with Mrs Welles & took my son home. Her amount for boarding Harry 1 year & 7 weeks was L17"14 & schooling Harry & Caty 47 weeks at 9x per week was L1x in all L19 9 I paid her 14.3.8 Due this day 5.5.4"
Henry Livingston Day Book


  • Poetic Introduction to "Philosophic Solitude" by NJ Governor William Livingston, Noah Welles' friend since Yale.
  • Patriotism described and recommended, in a sermon preached before the General Assembly of the colony of Connecticut, at Hartford, on the day of the anniversary election, May 10th, 1764.
  • A discourse delivered at Fairfield, at the funeral of the Rev. Noah Hobart M.A. late Pastor of the First Church of Christ there; who departed this life December 6th, 1773. In the 68th year of his age and 41st of his ministry.

  • Animadversions, critical and candid, on some parts of Mr. Beach's late "Friendly expostulation," in a letter, from a gentleman in New-England, to his friend in Pennsylvania.

  • The Divine right of Presbyterian ordination asserted, and the ministerial authority, claimed and exercised in the established churches of New-England, vindicated and proved: in a discourse delivered at Stanford [i.e., Stamford], Lord's-Day, April 10, 1763.

  • The real advantages which ministers and people may enjoy especially in the colonies, by conforming to the Church of England; faithfully considered, and impartially represented, in a letter to a young gentleman.

  • A vindication of the validity and divine right of Presbyterian ordination, as set forth in Dr. Chauncy's sermon at the Dudleian lecture, and Mr. Welle's [sic] discourse upon the same subject, in answer to the exceptions of Mr. Jeremiah Leaming, contained in his late Defence of the Episcopal government of the church.

  • American Historical Review, 1896, pp.248-9
    With the campaign cry of "No lawyers to the Assembly," a DeLancey merchant ticket swept the city in 1767. William Livingston and his friends did not abandon the struggle. The Assembly was still theirs. The Whig party of the Albany region and of eastern Long Island was intact, for there no class distinctions sundered the Sons of Liberty from the old party leaders. In 1767-1769, a revival of the project for an American Episcopate afforded to Livingston an opportunity to appeal for popular unity on the old familiar ground. The Lord-Bishop of Llandaff, in a sermon, called the New Englanders "infidels and barbarians." Governor Moore and his Council in New York again refused to incorporate the Presbyterian church in the city. A petition for bishops was formally despatched across the water by the Episcopal clergy of New York and New Jersey.

    The Whig politicians, as before, smelt Tory politics in the scheme; the Presbyterian ministers detected a still more sulphurous odor in it, and one of the latter in New Jersey so far forgot himself as to call the Episcopal Church "that rag of the whore of Babylon." William Livingston entered the lists against the English prelate, and received therefor a formal vote of thanks from the Connecticut consociation of churches, by the hand of its secretary, his own friend, Rev. Noah Welles. One of the wits of the DeLancey party parodied this classical tribute in verses which ended thus : —

    "March on, brave Will, and rear our Babel
    On language so unanswerable,
    Give Church and State a hearty thump,
    And knock down truth with falsehoods plump;
    So flat shall fall their churches' fair stones,
    Felled by another Praise God Barebones.
    Signed with consent of all the tribe
    By Noah Welles, our fasting scribe."

    Stamford, 1641-1900, 1900, p.214
    Stamford's first meeting house was located near the present site of the Town Hall, and is described as follows: "a structure square built and low; its posts scarcely a dozen feet in length; the four sections of its roof meeting over the center at a height of about thirty feet. One wide door opening into an area which was undivided by partition and unseated save by rude benches around the three sides, looking towards the minister's high stand; unadorned by art of sculpture or of painting, and never relieved of summer sun by blinds, or of keenest winter cold by furnace or stove."

    It was not until the year 1748 that a subscription was started by the pastor of the church, Rev. Noah Welles, for a bell to take the place of the drum which had so many years called the good people to meeting, and not until 1790 was a large Russian stove of brick introduced into the church, when the Society built a new place for worship, which for many years after the opening of the nineteenth century stood on the village green.

    American Society of Church History, Volume 6, 1921, pp.461-2

    Noah Welles was descended from a family of Welsh origin, who came to this country during the troubles under Charles the First. He was born at Colchester, Conn., January 23, 1718; was a son of Noah Welles, a respectable farmer of that town; and was the second of nine children. He entered Yale College in 1737, and was graduated in 1741. He was engaged in teaching a school at Hartford for some time after his graduation; and in 1745 accepted a Tutorship in Yale College, which he held for one year. Having received license to preach the Gospel, he was invited to settle over the church in Stamford, Conn. In due time he signified his acceptance of the call, and his ordination took place on the 31st of December, 1746. Here he continued in the quiet and faithful discharge of the duties of his office till his death,—December 31, 1776,—his ministry having continued just thirty years to a day.

    He was chosen a Fellow of Yale College in 1774, and the same year received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the College of New Jersey. President Stiles, in his diary, records the fact that, on the 13th of September, 1770, he delivered the Concio ad Clerum, in the chapel of Yale College, to a hundred and twenty ministers."

    In 1763, he felt himself called upon to engage publicly in the discussions then pending respecting Presbyterian ordination. He published a discourse on the subject, which (I state it on the authority of an Episcopal clergyman) is characterized by " much calmness and thoroughness, and great candour and courtesy." The immediate occasion of the discourse seems to have been the withdrawal of a number of persons from the Congregational to the Episcopal communion, through the circulation of Leslie's argument on Episcopacy. This discourse, in connection with Dr. Chauncy's Dudleian Lecture, published about the same time, was replied to with acknowledged ability, by the Rev. Jeremiah Learning, a missionary of the Church of England; whereupon, Mr. Welles published another pamphlet, which was subsequently reprinted, making nearly two hundred pages, octavo, which certainly displays great vigour of mind and power of argument, with not a little of controversial tact.

    In 1762, there appeared an anonymous pamphlet, which is understood to have been written by Mr. Welles, entitled "The real advantage which ministers and people may enjoy, especially in the Colonies" by conforming to the Church of England, faithfully considered and impartially represented, in a Letter to a young gentleman." He seems to have enlisted with much zeal in the Episcopal controversy, and among other objects to which his attention was specially directed, was the prevention of the appointment of a. Bishop, or Bishops, for this country, before the Revolution. ? In 1751, he was married to Abigail, daughter of Benjamin Woolsey, of Oyster Bay, Long Island. They had thirteen children, several of who.fl died young. Twelve of them were living at the time of his death. One of his sons was a surgeon in the Revolutionary army, and one of his daughters was married to the Hon. John Davenport of Stamford. His widow survived until the year 1811, when she died at the advanced age of eighty-one years.

    Besides the controversial pamphlets already referred to, he published a Sermon preached at the General Election in Connecticut, 1764; and a Sermon occasioned by the death of the Rev. Noah Hobart of Fairfield. 1773.

    The following testimony in respect to the character of Dr. Welles, is from the pen of President Dwight:—

    "Dr. Welles was early distinguished for his talents. His imagination was vivid and poetical; his intellect vigorous, and his learningextensive. His manners, at the same time, were an unusually happy compound of politeness and dignity. In hisconversation, he was alternately sprightly and grave, as occasion dictated, and entertaining and instructive. At the same time, he wa9 an excellent minister of the Gospel; exemplary in all the virtues of the Christian life; an able preacher; a wise ruler of the Church; and an eminently discreet manager of its important concerns. He was one of the three chosen friends of the late Governor Livingston of New Jersey , to whom he addressed, when young, a handsomely written poem, prefixed to his Philosophic Solitude."

    Yale Biographical Sketches, 1741, pp.693-5
    Noah Welles, second son and third child of Noah Welles, Jr., of Colchester, Connecticut, was born September 25, 1718. His mother was Sarah, daughter of Israel and Sarah (Pratt) Wyatt, of Colchester.

    He remained at College for a year after graduation, as Dean's Scholar, and then took charge of the Hopkins Grammar School in Hartford, in the meantime studying theology. So rapid was his progress that in October, 1742, the Hartford North Association of Ministers recommended him, among other candidates, to the church in East Hartford seeking a colleague-pastor. In the early part of 1745 he was preaching in New Milford, Connecticut, and a majority of the society desired to settle him, but the movement was not sufficiently unanimous. For a year from September, 1745, he held a tutorship in the College. On the 18th of June, 1746, he was recommended by the Fairfield West Association to the Church in Stamford, Connecticut, as a suitable candidate for their vacant pulpit. He was at once employed, and in September received a call from the society. He accepted and was ordained on the last day of the year, the sermon the occasion by the Rev. Noah Hobart *Harv. 1724) being published. He died in office, after just thirty years of faithful ministry, December 31, 1776, at the age of 58, from jail-fever, contracted while serving as chaplain to British prisoners in the American Army.

    Outside of the discharge of his parochial duties, he first became generally known by his appearances in print in the controversy with the Episcopalians, in which his early friend and classmate, William Livingston, was so conspicuous. On the resignation of President Clap in 1766, Mr. Welles was a prominent candidate for the succession. In the Stamp-Act troubles, and again on the outbreak of the Revolution, he advocated from his pulpit with no uncertain voice the duty of resistance to oppression. He was chosen a Fellow of the College in September, 1774, and in the same year received the deegree of Doctor of Divinity from the College of New Jersey.

    President Dwight, his nephew by marriage, pays him this tribute:

    Dr. Welles was early distinguished for his talents. His imagination was vivid and poetical; his intellect vigorous, and his learning extensive. His manners, at the same time, were an unusual happy compound of politeness and dignity. ... He was an excellent minister of the Gospel, exemplary in all the virtues of the Christian life, an able preacher, a wise ruler of the church, and an eminently discreet manager of its important concerns.

    He married September 17, 1751, Abigail, daughter of the Rev. Benjamin Woolsey (Y.C. 1709), of Oyster Bay, Long Island. She died October 28, 1812, at the age of 81. Their children were six daughters and seven sons; the eldest son was agraduate of this College in 1775, and the second daughter married the Hon. John Davenport (Y.C. 1770).

    He published:-

    1. The Real Advantages which Ministers and People may enjoy especially in the Colonies, by Conforming to the Church of England. [Boston,] 1762. 8 x, pp.47. [A.A.S. A.C.A. B.Ath. Harv. M.H.S. U.T.S. Y.C.]

    This clever anonymous attack on the Episcopal party produced a great commotion. It has also been attributed to the Rev. Noah Hobart (Harv. 1724), of Fairfield.

    2. The Divine Right of Prebyterian Ordination asserted, and The Ministerial Authority, claimed and exercised in the established Churches of New-England, vindicated and proved: in a Discourse [from 2 Cor. x, 8] delivered at Stanford, April 10, 1763. N.Y., 1763. *x, pp.78 [C.H.S. U.T.S. Y.C.]

    3. Patriotism Described and recommended, in a Sermon [from Luke vii, 5] Preached before the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut, on the Day of the Anniversary Election, May 10, 1764. New-London, 1764. 8x, pp.30. [A.A.S. B.Ath. C.H.S. M.H.S. Y.C.]

    An earnest plea for liberty and love of country.

    4. A Vindication of the validity and divine right of Presbyterian Ordination, as set forth in Dr. Chauncy's Sermon, and Mr. Welles Discourse, in Answer to the Exceptions of Mr. Jeremiah Leaming. ... New-Haven, 1767. 8x, pp.159. [A.C.A. B.Ath. C.H.S. Harv. M.H.S. U.T.S. Y.C.]

    This was soon after reprinted in Litchfield.

    5. A Discourse [from Hebr. xiii, 7] Delivered at Fairfield, at the Funeral of the Rev. Noah Hobart. N.-Y., 1774. 8x, pp.27. [B.Publ. C.H.S. M.H.S.]

    Alvord, Hist. Address at Stamford, 20.
    Beardsley, Life of S. Johnson, 272-74.
    Dwight, Travels in N.E. and N.Y., iii, 499.
    Goodwin, Genealogical Notes, 306.
    Huntington, His. of Stamford, 140-41, 203, 433-4; and Stamford Registration, 133.
    Judd, Hist. of Hadley, 593. N.Y. Geneal. Record, v, 24-5.
    Orcutt and Beardsley, Hist. of New Milford, 147.
    Sprague, Annals of Amer. Pulpit, i, 461-2.
    Tainter, Extracts from Colchester Records, 84, 106.

    American Sublime: The Genealogy of a Poetic Genre, Rob Wilson, 1991, pp.102-3
    "Sacred Transport" and Livingston's Will to Liberty

    To grasp the conventions of sublime rapture ("sacred transport") with which the colonial poem was produced, we can begin by looking at the prefatory poem to Philosophic Solitude, wherein Noah Welles brashly commended the poem of his former Yale classmate with those overenthusiastic and epithet-ridden terms before a New World creation that had first greeted/inflated Bradstreet's Tenth Muse. Oddly declaring that the verse is "smooth, yet sublime," Welles specifies his overgenerous Longinian response - mere transport into a "reader's sublime" - to Livingston's effort to elevate, as if by poetic fiat, nature in America as a scene of sacred presence, whereby a lowly "rural scene" yet can yield the vaunted affects of "sacred transport" and sublime persuasion:

    While in your verse with transport and surprise,
    We see the rural scene sublimely rise:...
    To nature's God you tune the warbling lyre;
    The sacred transport every power controuls...

    For Welles, Livingston in effect presents "sacred transport" as movement - in good Lockean fashion - from sensuous contemplation of nature to a more complex perception of "nature's God" as source of sublime presence and power. The poem, like a secondary nature, can itself function as the scenery of a conversion affectively induced, as it was for Welles. The sublime is encoded as a moment of teleological inscription: the moment wherein to encode the subject with intimations of moral liberty through that wild natural scenery in which, both Lock and Addison admitted, American abounded.

    Appletons Encyclopedia
    WELLES, Noah, clergyman, born in Colchester, Connecticut, 25 September, 1718; died in Stamford, Connecticut, 31 December, 1776. He was graduated at Yale in 1741, remained there a year as dean's scholar, and then took charge of Hopkins grammar-school at Hartford, at the same time studying theology. He was a tutor at Yale in 1745-'6, and in the latter year received a call to Stamford, where he remained till the day of his death, the thirtieth anniversary of his ordination. He took an active part in the discussion of the validity of Presbyterian ordination and in relation to the proposed American episcopate, and at the opening of the Revolution advocated from his pulpit resistance to the mother country. In 1774 he was chosen a fellow of Yale, and in the same year Princeton gave him the degree of D.D. On the resignation of Dr. Thomas Clap from the presidency of Yale in 1766, Dr. Welles was a prominent candidate for the office. President Timothy Dwight, who was his nephew by marriage, says : "His imagination was vivid and poetical, his intellect vigorous, and his learning extensive. His manners, at the same time, were an unusual happy compound of politeness and dignity." Dr. Welles published "The Real Advantages which Ministers and People may enjoy, especially in the Colonies, by conforming to the Church of England," a clever anonymous attack on the Episcopalian party, which has been attributed also to Reverend Noah Hobart, of Fairfield (Boston, 1762); "The Divine Right of Presbyterian Ordination Asserted " (New York, 1763);" Patriotism Described and Recommended," the annual "election sermon" (New London. 1774); and "Vindication of the Validity and Divine Right of Presbyterian Ordination, as set forth in Dr. Chauncy's Sermon, and Mr. Welles's Discourse in Answer to the Exceptions of Mr. Jeremiah Learning" (New Haven, 1767). He was also the author of a poem addressed to his class-mate and friend, Governor William Livingston, which is prefixed to the latter's "Philosophic Solitude"

    JOHNSON FAMILY PAPERS, Yale University Library

    Eighty-one letters, 1742-1773, from William Livingston (1723-1790) to his classmate, the Reverend Noah Welles (Y.1741), pastor of the Congregational Church in Stamford, Connecticut; from the Johnson Family Papers. Microfilmed February 1970. 340 frames. 1 reel 35mm. HM 14 price each: $40.00. price set: $40.00

    Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England and New York
    Vol. III, 1822, p.499

    Noah Welles (1718-1776). Yale 1741, tutor 1745-46, died thirty years to the day after beginning his ministry at Stamford. Welles was also known for his association with William Livingston in the defense of Presbyterianism against Anglican attacks.

    Rev. Timothy Dwight, Travels through New York and New England, 1821

    Sermon of December 24, 1749; December 19, 1751; December 19, 1762

    Mary Sylvester Welles and Representative John Davenport

    JOHN DAVENPORT, of Stamford, Conn., son of Abraham Davenport, of that place, and grandson of Jabez Huntington, of Windham, Conn., was married to Mary Sylvester Welles, daughter of the Rev. Noah Welles, Pastor of the Church in Stamford, May 7, 1780, by Abraham Davenport, Esq., assistant.(*) Hon. John Davenport died November 28, 1830, in the 79th year of his age. He sustained many civil offices, was member of Congress, &c. His widow, Mrs. Mary Sylvester Davenport, died June 25, 1847, in the 94th year of her age. They had seven children.

    John Davenport, the first child of Hon. Abraham and Elizabeth (Huntington) Davenport, was born in Stamford, Jan. 16, 1752. He graduated at Yale in 1770. His scholarship is indicated in his appointment to a tutorship in 1773. Entering on the legal profession, he was soon called to take an important place among the revolutionary patriots of that day. With a major's commission he was employed in commisary department, and his duties here were often onerous and difficult. When the patriot cause was suffering for the want of a suitable public interest in the welfare of the new nation just ordained by the declaration of independence, he was appointed by the Assembly of the state as one of a commission to visit the principal towns and arouse the people to a just sense of their dangers and move them to corresponding exertions.

    On the death of his brother James, in 1799, he was chosen to take his place in the national Congress, and held his seat in the House of Representatives until 1817, when he declined a reelection. He was a member of the Congregational church in Stamford, of which he was appointed deacon in 1795. This was the office in which his eminent goodness was best shown. He was, to his death, an example of earnest, living piety, whose fruits were ever manifest in the character of a benevolent, fervent and exemplary christian. His death occured Nov. 28, 1830.

    Rev. Timothy Dwight, Travels through New York and New England, 1821

    Major Melancthon Woolsey Welles and Abigail Buel

    He was the author, in 1818, of the first legislative bill, either in this country or in Europe, to abolish imprisonment for debt. It failed then to become a law, but in a letter to a friend Mr. Kelley said: "The time will come when the absurdity, as well as inhumanity, of adding oppression to misfortune will be acknowledged."

    During the session of the legislature of 1822-23, he made an effort to abolish all fictions in the action of ejectment, but could not overcome the attachment of the attorneys to useless forms and antiquated usages. This was one of the first steps, however, toward simplifying legal proceedings and preparing the way for our present practice. It illustrates the character of his mind, and its preference for clear simple statement and sound reality.

    Among the important matters, with which he was called upon to deal, was the claim of the older states of the Union to public lands for school purposes. This claim, set forth in various reports submitted by the legislatures of Maryland, New Hampshire and Vermont, was referred to a committee of which Mr. Kelley was chairman. On Dec. 26, 1819, he submitted a committee report, of which he was the author, dealing with the pretensions of the older states in an elaborate and convincing argument. The report and resolutions accompanying the same were adopted by both branches of the legislature. After that time, this claim does not appear to have been urged. He continued at intervals a member of the legislature, first as representative and then as senator, from Cuyahoga and adjoining counties, until 1823, when he was appointed, with others, State Canal Commissioner.

    August 25, 1817, he had married Mary Seymour Welles, oldest daughter of Major Melancthon Woolsey Welles(*) and Abigail (Buel) Welles,(+) of Lowville, New York. In a letter from (*)MAJOR MELANCTHON W. WELLES was the son of Rev. Noah Welles of Stamford, Conn., who was born Jan. 25, 1718 and was graduated from Yale College 1741. Noah Welles was a theologian of great distinction.
    Kelley Family History

    -In the name of God, Amen. I, MELANCTHON TAYLOR WOOLSEY, of Dosoris, in the town of Oyster Bay, in Queens County, taking into consideration the uncertainty of life and being in health. I leave all my lands in Dosoris and the house wherein I dwell, with all buildings and all movables and personal estate, to my wife, Rebecca Woolsey, and my brother, Benjamin Woolsey, and my brothers in law, John Lloyd, of Stamford, Connecticutt, and Joseph Lloyd, of Queens village, in Queens County, To them and their successors, In Trust as follows: They are to sell all the real estate, houses, and lands, and buildings, for the most they can; and the money and all my movables are to be divided among my wife and my two daughters, Theodosia and Rebecca, But if my wife shall have a son, it is to have one half. I appoint the said Trustees my executors.

    Dated August 15, 1757. Witnesses, Abigail Coverley, Elizabeth Smith, Jacob Valentine. Proved, November 7, 1758.
    Abstracts of Wills Vol V 1754-1760, page 175


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