Rev Jonathan Barber, Rev.

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Rev Jonathan Barber, Rev.

Birthplace: West Springfield, Hampden Co., MA
Death: Died in Groton, New London County, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: Groton, New London County, Connecticut, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Barber and Sarah White
Husband of Sarah Barber
Father of John Barber; Sarah Barber; Thomas Barber; Johathan Barber; James Noyes Barber and 4 others
Brother of Thomas Barber
Half brother of Sarah Bancroft and David White

Managed by: Private User
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About Rev Jonathan Barber, Rev.

Reverend Jonathan Barber (Yale College, 1730) was the son of Thomas and Sarah (Ball) Barber, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, and grandson of Thomas and Ann (Chase) Barber, of Suffield, Connecticut. He was born in West Springfield, January 31, 1712/1713. He studied theology, and in 1732 was licensed to preach by the Association of ministers in Hampshire County, and began his professional labors by preaching for a year or two (principally to the Indians) in what afterwards became the parish of Agawam, in the southern part of his native town. After this, he is said to have preached to the Indians in the Mohegan country, north of New London, Connecticut; and about 1735 he gathered a congregation in that part of Southold, at the eastern end of Long Island, then known as Oyster-Ponds, now called Orient. The Reverend James Davenport (Yale College, 1732), Barber's contemporary in College, though five years his junior, was settled over the mother church of Southold in 1738. The two friends early became impressed by reports of the work which the Reverend George Whitefield was doing; and in March, 1740, barber began to hold revival meetings in Southold, and proceeding thence westwards over the island, exciting a new interest in religious things. In September he crossed to Newport, Rhode Island, and greeted Whitefield on his first arrival in New England. Whitefield had heard of the summer's experiences, and was so much pleased with Barber that he offered him the place of Superintendent and lay-chaplain of his Orphan-House in Savannah, Georgia. Accepting this offer, he proceeded with Whitefield to Georgia in a few weeks, stopping in New York City to marry, on the 2nd of November, 1740, Sarah Noyes, a daughter of Doctor James Noyes, of Westerly, Rhode Island, and granddaughter of the Reverend James Noyes, of Stonington, Connecticut.

He remained in Georgia for about seven years, and then returned to Long Island. The history of his labors for the next ten years is not known; but on the 9th of November, 1757, the Suffolk Presbytery met at Oyster-Ponds for his ordination. They found the church "in a very broken and disjointed state," and on the next day proceeded to his ordination, "without any special relation to the church and congregation-advising him to exercise his ministry there, in order to gather and form a church according to gospel order." The sermon on the occasion, by the Reverend Ebenezer Prime (Yale College, 1718), was published. His work in this field was soon finished, however, for on the 3rd of November, 1758, he was installed over the Congregational Church in Groton, Connecticut. Seven years later, about November, 1765, "by a complication of bodily and mental disorders he was taken off from his usefulness, and he continued," says President Stiles, "in a dejected, disconsolate state till his death." His connection with his church was formally dissolved in December, 1768, and he died suddenly, in Groton, October 8, 1783, in his 71st year. His wife was born November 17, 1714, in Westerly, Rhode Island. She died in Groton, Connecticut, May 30, 1761, in her 47th year. They had nine children, three born in Georgia, and six in Oyster-Ponds. Their son Thomas was graduated at Yale College in 1762.


The fourth ordained minister of First Congregational Church (Groton) was the Rev. Jonathan Barber, who was installed Nov. 3, 1758. Mr. Barber was born in West Springfield, Mass., January 31, 1712 : graduated at Yale College in 1730, and in 1734 was employed as a missionary to the Mohegans. He became widely known for his sympathy and cooperation with Whitefield. For about seven years, from 1740 to 1746, he was associated with the great evangelist and had charge of the Orphan House in Georgia. On returning to the North Mr. Barber was ordained at Oyster Ponds, Long Island, November 9, 1757, but was not a settled pastor till he came to Groton. When Whitefield first landed in this country at Newport, R. I., September 14, 1740, Mr. Barber then laboring on the east end of Long Island, having watched for his coming, met him the next day after his arrival and handed him the following note:

"Reverend Sir and beloved Brother: "Although mine eyes never saw your face before this day, yet my heart and soul have been united to you in love by the band of the Spirit. I have longed and expected to see you for many months past. Blessed be God, mine eyes have seen the joyful day. I trust, through grace, I have some things to communicate to you, that will make your heart glad. I shall omit writing anything and only hereby present my hearty love, and let you know that I am waiting now at the post of your door for admission. "Though I am unworthy, my Lord is worthy, in whose name I trust I come. I am your unworthy brother, "Jonathan Barber."

When Mr. Whitefield passed through the country in 1763, while on his way to the South in June from Boston, by the way of Providence and New London, he was happy to visit his old and ardent friend at Center Groton. "Notice had been given of his coming and at ten o'clock next morning he preached, standing on a scaffolding that had been extended for the purpose on a level with the second story of Mr. Barber's house, and upon which he stepped from the chamber window. All the area around was thronged with the audience. Many people had left home the day before or had traveled all night to be upon the spot. At the conclusion of his discourse, he entered his chariot and went on his way, a multitude of people accompanying him on horses or following on foot to Groton ferry, four miles." Some have styled Mr. Barber an enthusiast. That opinion needs consideration. He was indeed enthusiastic: his natural composition and his deep piety made him so; and the times in which he lived were calculated to kindle the coolest temperament. The darkness and melancholy that rested upon Mr. Barber's last years have been erroneously ascribed to the reaction of his early and burning zeal. A dark and mournful circumstance that transpired in his family—we prefer not to name it—induced the melancholy and mental obscurity under which he labored, though no fault was ever attached to him. It is, moreover, now admitted that a slight vein of mental aberration ran through different generations of the family. Mr. Barber's pastorate closed in 1768 and his death occurred October 8, 1783. The records say "he was taken from his usefulness in the last part of the year 1765." In the old Barber mansion at Center Groton there was seen till within a few years, in the possession of his daughter, an old original portrait of the "eloquent preacher" given by Mr. Whitefield to his devoted friend.

GROTON, CONN., 1705-1905, by Charles R. Stark, Stonington, CT, 1922, p. 117-119

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Rev Jonathan Barber, Rev.'s Timeline

January 31, 1712
West Springfield, Hampden Co., MA
September 9, 1741
Age 29
Savannah, Chatham Co., GA
September 9, 1742
Age 30
Savannah, Chatham Co., GA
October 11, 1744
Age 32
Savannah, Chatham Co., GA, USA
June 11, 1747
Age 35
Southhold, Long Island, Suffolk Co., NY
March 8, 1748
Age 36
Oyster Ponds, Southold, Suffolk Co., NY
September 2, 1750
Age 38
Oyster Ponds, Southold, Suffolk Co., NY
May 17, 1752
Age 40
Oyster Ponds, Southold, Long Island, Suffolk Co., NY
November 8, 1753
Age 41
Oyster Ponds, Southold, Suffolk Co., NY