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From Proceedings, Page 1873-335:

REV. WILLIAM BARRY, LOWELL, Unitarian. 1841, 1842, 1843.

WILLIAM BARRY was born Jan. 10, 1805, in the north part of Boston, and was the son of William Barry, Esq., and of Esther (Stetson) Barry, youngest sister of Major Amasa Stetson, of Dorchester. Having studied in Woburn under the direction of Rev. Thomas Waterman, and in Hingham under the charge of Rev. Joseph Richardson, he entered Brown University in the class of 1822, with Hon. Isaac Davis and Judge Kinnicut, of Worcester, Professor Caswell and others who have been distinguished. After graduation, he studied law with Judge Shaw, of Boston, for about a year and a half; but the state of his health not allowing him to continue his studies, he left Boston, and visited New Orleans, and other parts of the Southern States. Thus he passed two years, without being able to resume his studies. Entering the Divinity School at Cambridge, he continued there till July, 1828, when he sailed for Europe, with the Rev. James C. Richmond, as a companion. They together entered the University of Göttingen, having been favored with letters to Blumonbach and Heeren, the well-known veterans of that institution, whose lectures, with those of Ewald the Hebraist, Liicke, etc., they attended. The following year, Mr. Barry proceeded to Paris, passing some months in attendance on the lectures of the Sorbonne, and in historical researches in the Royal Library; and, in the summer, travelled in company with a young English physician in Switzerland and Holland, and subsequently in England, pursuing historical researches in the British Museum in London. Thence he proceeded to Copenhagen with the same design, returning to America from Elsineur in the autumn of 1829. In June, 1830, he was licensed to preach by the Boston Association; and after supplying, for a few weeks each, the pulpits of the First Church in Roxbury, and that of Medfield and Philadelphia, in May of that year he commenced his labors with a new society formed in Lowell (the South Congregational Society) consisting at first of about twenty-five families, over which he was ordained as pastor, Nov. 17, 1830, Rev. Dr. Lowell, of Boston, preaching the sermon of ordination. Here he continued till July, 1835, when a renewed failure of health compelled him to suspend his labors; and he resigned his ministry. The society at that time numbered over two hundred and fifty families, involving arduous and exhausting labors, quite beyond his strength. In the mean time, a substantial church edifice had been erected; and a parish association, of an efficient character, had been organized, to provide, with the aid of a library, for an effective administration of the Sunday School, for charities to the poor, for the diffusion of religious knowledge, etc. The church, at the same time, numbered nearly a hundred and fifty communicants.

After some months' retirement, Mr. Barry resumed preaching, and Dec. 16, 1835, was installed pastor of the First Parish in Framingham. Here he continued, for a term of ten years, in the faithful discharge of his duties as a pastor, gaining the esteem and love of his parishioners, and enjoying the friendship of the venerated Dr. Kellogg, his predecessor, till his death, and also of Rev. Charles Train, the esteemed minister of the Baptist Church in that town, who, for some time, was an attendant on his ministry. The society in Framingham, after the secession of the Orthodox members, who formed a new society after the resignation of Dr. Kellogg, was never large; but it retained much of the traditionary spirit of the ancient New England churches, and embraced many substantial and worthy men. Mr. Barry interested himself in the public schools of the town, as also in its history, on which he prepared an extended and elaborate work, in a handsome octavo volume of four hundred and fifty pages, published in 1847.

In June, 1844, failing health obliged him again to seek relief; and in company with his wife and other friends, he visited Europe, passing some months in Nismes, in the south of France, whence he returned, but partially benefited, in December. The following year he declined an invitation to take the charge of a new society and church in Lowell; and, in December, he resigned his ministry in Framingham, not preaching at all for two years.

In October, 1847, at the renewed invitation of his friends in Lowell, he commenced a ministry, without installation, at that place, where he continued until May, 1853; during which period the new society erected a substantial church edifice (the Lee-street Church) provided for an active ministration to the poor of the city, and to the neglected children of a large and destitute neighborhood. Continued feebleness of health required a recess from active labor, and in 1851, he once more crossed the ocean; at this time visiting Asia, travelling in Syria, and returning through Italy and France. Successive attacks of illness resulted in his final retirement from the ministry; and, in obedience to his medical advisers, he removed to the West, taking up his residence in Chicago, which has since been his home.

Upon the organization, in 1856, of the Chicago Historical Society, Mr. Barry was invited to take charge of its operations, as its secretary, a position for which his early acquisitions and historical tastes had well prepared him. Here he found pleasant employment; passing five or six hours a day in his office, in arranging the books and pamphlets received from the friends of the institution, in waiting upon visitors, and in carrying on a large correspondence with similar institutions in various parts of the world. The society, through the centre of its operations in Chicago, contemplates the broader field of historical research for the State of Illinois and the entire Northwest. Mr. Barry has been associated, as a member, with the American Antiquarian Society, with the Massachusetts, New England, Vermont, and Iowa Historical Societies, with the Essex Institute, and with the Chicago Academy of Science. He has also been a Trustee of the Ministry at Large, and of the Charitable Eye and Ear Infirmary at Chicago. He was formerly President of the Lowell Missionary Association, and a trustee of the academies at Derry, N. H., and at Framingham.

Mr. Barry was married Nov. 11, 1835, to Elizabeth C. Willard, daughter of Cephas Willard, Esq., and Clarissa Willard, of Petersham, Mass., who was niece of Rev. Dr. Willard, of Deerfield, and grandniece of President Willard, of Harvard College. Their children are two daughters. Elizabeth married Lawrence Proudfoot, Esq., counsellor-at-law; and Julia Dalton married Belden F. Colver, Esq., a merchant, both living in Chicago. Their only son, a beautiful boy, died in Lowell, at the age of five years.

At the invitation of the Regent of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, Mrs. Barry took charge of the collections for that association, as vice-regent for the State of Illinois.


  1. Farewell Sermon at Lowell, 1835.
  2. Two Discourses on the Rights and Duties of Neighboring Churches, Framingham, 1844.
  3. Thoughts on Christian Doctrine; Tract of American Unitarian Association, 1844.
  4. The History of Framingham, 1847.
  5. The Twenty-fifth Report of the Schools of Lowell, 1852.
  6. The Antiquities of Wisconsin, in Transactions of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Madison, 1857.

Mr. Barry also published in the Christian Register, for 1845, Letters on the Religious Condition of France; also in the Lowell Journal of 1851, Letters from the East, and has been a contributor to the journals of Chicago, on historical, agricultural and sanitary subjects, etc.
— Allen's Worcester Association.

Distinguished Brothers