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Birthplace: Gloucester, Massachusetts
Death: Died
Managed by: Robert Webber
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About Winthrop Sargent


From Judith Sargent Murray: Essayist, educator, and promoter of female abilities by Bonnie Hurd Smith (reprinted from Mingling Souls Upon Paper: An Eighteenth-century Love Story)

At about the same time, Judith’s father [Winthrop Sargent] read James Relly’s book on universal salvation, Union, or, A Treatise of the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church. Winthrop Sargent was intrigued with the scriptural interpretation Relly articulated, and he began to host gatherings in his home to discuss the new theology. It was a radical departure from traditional doctrine, and Judith was among those who embraced Relly’s hopeful, egalitarian view of the worlds here and beyond.     In 1774, when Winthrop Sargent learned that the English Universalist preacher John Murray was lecturing in Boston, he invited him to visit Gloucester. On November 3, John Murray presented himself at the Sargent family home where Judith met him for the first time. Judith asked John if he would agree to engage in a correspondence, and he accepted. While John moved to Gloucester shortly thereafter, he traveled frequently to other parts of New England and depended on Judith’s accounts of life in his adopted town while he was away.     At first, Judith’s letters were filled with theological inquiry, but soon she was reporting fearful goings-on in Gloucester such as when British warships appeared off the coast in 1775 and Judith and her family retreated for their safety to Chebacco Parish, Ipswich, that winter. Her Loyalist uncle, Epes Sargent, later one of John Murray’s most influential supporters, was forced by angry separatists to leave town for Boston.     These were tense times in Gloucester, and not simply because of the war. John Murray’s Universalist supporters, including Judith, faced a different kind of battle in 1775 when they were threatened with expulsion from First Parish Church for not attending. John Murray was accused of being a British spy, and he quickly accepted a post as Army chaplain to prove his loyalty to the American cause. During his absence, Judith kept him apprised of Gloucester’s desperate poverty while the port was closed. When John returned in 1776, he successfully raised funds to alleviate Gloucester’s distress.        By 1778, war activities had moved south, and now the leadership of First Parish took action against the Universalists of Gloucester by suspending Judith Sargent Stevens, Winthrop Sargent, Epes Sargent (who had returned to Gloucester), and others from the church.

Instead of backing down, the Universalists, including Judith, signed Articles of Association the following year to create a new religious society: the Independent Church of Christ. Soon after, the Gloucester Universalists built their own meetinghouse and dedicated the building on Christmas Day 1780, calling John Murray as their pastor. Even though Judith was in Boston at the time nursing her father through smallpox, she delighted in the Universalists’ significant achievement.

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Хронология Winthrop Sargent

March 6, 1727
Gloucester, Massachusetts
May 1, 1751
Age 24
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
May 1, 1753
Age 26
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
August 14, 1768
Age 41
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts
December 3, 1793
Age 66