DANIEL AUSTIN 1793-1877
From Proceedings, Page 1873-330:
REV. DANIEL AUSTIN, BRIGHTON, Unitarian, 1838, 1839.
DANIEL AUSTIN was the son of Daniel and Mary (Penhallow) Austin. His father was a merchant of Boston, Mass., till 1800, when he moved to Portsmouth, N. H., where he died Dec, 1818, aged 65. His mother deceased a few years since at the advanced age of 87. Mr. Austin had his birth in Boston, Nov. 21, 1793, and was the only son of a large family of children. He prepared for college under Deacon Amos Tappan, and entered as a sophomore. After graduating he followed the bent of his distinguished classical taste, and attended to general literature. For a profession he studied law with Jeremiah Mason, then of Portsmouth. But, having progressed in it for a year and a half, a change took place in the fortune of his father, which led him to relinquish the pursuit. In the mean time he declined the overture to become a Major as aid to Gen. Storer, and he delivered the Republican Oration of July 4th, 1814. Though brought up to lean on parental aid, when this failed him he sank not in despondency, but nobly stood in his lot, and depended on personal efforts. He resorted to the useful and honorable employment of instructing youth. After spending several years in this occupation (and two or three in agricultural pursuits in Jefferson, N.H.), he turned his attention to theological studies. He entered Divinity Hall at Cambridge, and graduated in 1827. Being licensed this year to preach, and having had several calls to settle in other places, he became minister of the First Parish of Brighton (Mass.), June 4, 1828, as successor to the Rev. John Foster, D.D. He was persuaded by the inhabitants of the town to serve for their Representative in the Legislature of 1832 and 1833, and then he declined a re-election. He continued his pastoral relation, with a large increase of his church, to November, 1837, when he resigned it to the "regret and sorrow" of his people.
As to his domestic relations he married Hannah, the eldest daughter of Benjamin Joy, Esq., of Boston, Nov. 21, 1833. In referring to this connection he remarked, "I have had nine children, — five girls and four boys, — none of whom, alas, are living." Having left Brighton and moved to Boston, in the spring of 1838, " he was reader and assistant, from one to two years, to his friend Dr. F. W. P. Greenwood, at the King's Chapel." About this time he declined the Masonic appointment of Grand Chaplain of Massachusetts. He removed to Cambridge in the spring of 1842; was one of the first School Committee under the City Charter; and Chairman, about the same time, of the Committee of the First Parish. He was unanimously chosen deacon of its church, but declined; was two or three years successively Chairman of the Lyceum Board, and for several years superintendent of the Sunday school. In the first part of Mr. Green's mayoralty, Mr. Austin, out of regard for Washington, had placed around the tree, which bears the name of this distinguished man, and under which he stood (to take command of the army) on Cambridge Common, a substantial iron fence, at his own charge.
Mr. Austin assisted the professor of pulpit eloquence for a year or more in the divinity school, instructing the classes in elocution (and received a testimonial of their regard). He also founded and endowed a course of five lectures, relating to the evidences of Christianity, which wore delivered the same year by students of the institution selected by the Faculty, and was discontinued only through fear of exciting a spirit of rivalry. He removed to Portsmouth, N.H., in April or May, 1850; purchased "Sherburne Place," and, in Kittery, Maine, a seaside residence called "Willow Bank"; between which locations he divides the year. One of his friends, who has known him many years, has said: "He always reminds me of Lord Glenthorn in Miss Edgeworth's 'Ennui,' though I think he has never, like him, made the most of his abilities; having ever been fond of quiet observation and retirement, and too great an admirer of the character of the Roman Atticus to make the requisite exertion." He is social, reverential, tasteful and public-spirited. His prime characteristic, perhaps, is his benevolence. He has been the main support of eight or ten of his nearest relatives for the last forty years; is generally respected, and is always referred to as a good son and brother.
— Biography in Class Book of Dartmouth College.
Mr. Austin is distinguished for his liberality. His voluntary loans to the State of New Hampshire and the soldiers, and especially his donations for the benefit of the Isles of Shoals, afford prominent evidence of this characteristic. The monument erected on the Isles in honor of their discoverer, John Smith, was built on his own motion and at his sole expense.
Brother Austin writes : "I was initiated in North Star Lodge, in Lancaster, N. H., somewhere between 1819 and 1823; and was, for a few months, in a Vermont Lodge under the Mastership of my friend, Hon. Isaac Fletcher, of Lyndon. I received the Degrees of Master and Past Master, and was made a Knight, in Boston, on the same evening. I was with five thousand Masons at the laying of the Corner-stone of the Masonic Temple, marching with the venerable Dr. Ezra Ripley, of Concord, who carried the Bible and made the prayer of Dedication. I passed unharmed through the midst of Thatcher's anti-Masons collected at Brighton, expecting every moment, however, their threatened attack. I was afterward appointed to supply the place of Bishop Griswold, who declined to attend, it was said, from fear of the Malignants. I assisted, in Masonic Hall, Boston, at the funeral ceremonies in honor of the memory of LaFayette, when Hon. Mr. Baylies, of Taunton, Mass., delivered the eulogy. Subsequently, I was offered the reappointment as Grand Chaplain, by Rev. Paul Dean, which, as I was about to leave my place of residence, I felt bound to decline. Of a Masonic Oration which I delivered at Lancaster, N. H., in 1822 or 1823, I wish I had kept a copy."
Before it was known that Mr. Austin was now living, Rev. Frederick A. Whitney, of Brighton, was applied to for information regarding him. That gentleman responded cheerfully, and gave, very fully, dates and facts connected with the life of Mr. Austin. Some of the data furnished by him being presented in the "Class Book," already cited from, it is not necessary to repeat them. Mr. Whitney writes :
"He resided for many years, subsequent to 1837, at Cambridge, occasionally supplying vacant pulpits, and was for a time, superintendent of the Sunday school of the First Church there, Rev. Dr. Newell's.
"He was married, November 21, 1833, on his 40th birthday, to Miss Hannah, daughter of Benjamin and Hannah (Barrett) Joy. The marriage service was at the house of the bride's mother on Chestnut Street, Boston, and conducted by their pastor, Rev. N. L. Frothingham, D.D., of the First Church. With his faithful servant, John, who had attended him since 1855, he went abroad in 1869, then 76 years of age, and travelled extensively in Europe.
"In 1870 he last visited his old parishioners at Brighton; and passed a day or two with his successor in the ministry there, Mr. Whitney. On this occasion, Sunday, January 1, 1870, he and Mr. Whitney sat in the pulpit with Rev. Thomas Timmins, their successor; and the three took part together in the New Year service.
"Mr. Austin owns and resides on a fine estate at Kittery, Maine, opposite Portsmouth, N. H., and is an attendant at the Unitarian Church in Portsmouth, where, for several years, he was superintendent of the Sunday school, while his attached friend, Rev. Andrew P. Peabody, D.D., now of Harvard University, was pastor."
In an interview with Rev. Mr. Whitney, he suggested, and strongly recommended, that a note should be sent to Rev. Dr. Peabody, requesting his opinion of the character of Mr. Austin. Dr. Peabody's reply speaks of his friend as follows : —
CAMBRIDGE; Dec. 20, 1873.
MY DEAR SIR, — I have been intimately acquainted with Rev. Daniel Austin for more than forty years, and, for a large part of that time, he was my parishioner. I remember him well as the minister of Brighton. He was remarkable for the dignity, ease and grace with which he performed the services of the pulpit. I have never heard a better reader than he was; and the only thing that I am conscious of reading admirably well is a hymn which, when I was a divinity student, he taught me to read. He also was held in deserved and high esteem for his fidelity and kindness as a pastor; and the few old persons, who remember him as their minister, still speak of him with warm gratitude and unabated affection. As a scholar, he had a thorough classical and literary education, and has read much, especially of standard English literature. In all the relations of life he has made a good record, and he has the undivided respect and the most affectionate regard of very numerous friends of the risen and rising, no less than of the passing, generation.
I am, my dear sir,
Very truly yours,
A. P. PEABODY.