Rev. Eli Forbes, D.D.

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Rev. Eli Forbes (Forbush), D.D.

Birthdate: (78)
Birthplace: Westborough, Worcester , Massachusetts
Death: Died in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Jonathan Forbush and Hannah Hayward
Husband of Mary Forbes; Lucy Forbes; Sarah Forbes and Lucy Forbes
Father of Mary Coffin and Eli Forbes
Brother of Hon. David Forbush; Abigail Rice; Mary Forbush; Dinah Forbush; Jonathan Forbush and 3 others
Half brother of David Forbush and John Forbush

Occupation: Missionary, pastor of the First Church of Gloucester, chaplain
Managed by: Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton
Last Updated:

About Rev. Eli Forbes, D.D.

Rev. Eli Forbes

  • Birth: Oct 26 1726 - Westborough, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
  • Parents: Jonathan Forbush, Hannah Holloway
  • Married: Mary Parkman; Lucy Smith, widow of Thomas Sanders; Sarah, widow of Thomas Parsons; Lucy Parkman, widow of Jeduthan Baldwin
  • Death: Dec 14 1804 - Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, USA

Biography from Americana, Volume 13 (Google eBook) - National Americana Society, 1919 - United States. Page 62

Rev. Eli Forbes was born in 1726, at Westborough, Massachusetts. He entered Harvard College in 1744. In July of the following year he was demanded as a soldier, and cheerfully shouldered his musket, marching more than a hundred miles to oppose the French and Indians. He was released by the interposition of his friends, and returned to his studies, graduating in 1751. He was ordained minister of the Second Parish in Brookfield, June 3, 1752. During 1759, he was in the service of the Province, from March 31 to November 15, as chaplain in a regiment under Colonel Timothy Ruggles, ministering often on the same day at different stations from three to five miles apart. At the close of the campaign he, in company with another chaplain, had four hundred invalids committed to their charge to march with them to Albany, and to serve both as chaplains and officers. For this service, which he represented to the General' Court as tedious and expensive, he received an allowance.

In 1762, Rev. Forbes went as a missionary to the Oneidas, one of the six nations of Indians, and planted the first Christian church at Onaguagie. Having established in this place a school for children, and another for adults, Rev. Forbes returned, bringing with him four Indian children, whom he sent back again in a few years, after providing them with such knowledge as would be useful to them. He continued at Brookfield until March, 1776.

His settlement at Gloucester, Massachusetts, took place at a time when a deep gloom overspread the town, owing to the inhabitants being cut off from their ordinary means of livelihood, and reduced to the necessity of enlisting in the army, or engaging in the precarious employment of privateering. The church members were divided, many refusing to attend services. During all this contention, Rev. Forbes was silent and inactive, which was the right position to take. The wise pastor was more solicitious to maintain the peace and harmony of society than to gather to the parish coffers a few grudgingly paid dollars. The only means which he tried to win his congregation was a constant manifestation of kindness and regard, the memory of which has long outlived that of the ill feeling engendered by the occasion that called them forth. The remainder of Rev. Forbes' ministry was passed in the quiet discharge of the ordinary duties of his office, which he continued to perform until far advanced in life. In 1804 the health of the venerable pastor began to fail, and on December 15, of that year, at the age of seventy-eight years, his long and useful life was brought to a close. A short time before his death the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Harvard College.

As a preacher, Rev. Forbes possessed respectable talents, and his pulpit performances commanded the attention and approbation of his congregation. He had a sufficient command of language to enable him to write with readiness and to speak with fluency, and many of his sermons were so well received at the time of delivery as to be desired in a printed form. In stature he was slightly above the medium size, and, in manners and address, gentlemanly and engaging. His countenance bespoke the pure and amiable qualities of bis mind, and ever beamed with such unbounded good nature that he was eagerly welcomed in every social circle. In his intercourse with his parishioners, he suffered no irksome restraint to be felt in his presence, but on all proper occasions always strove to excite childhood to laughter, youth to mirth, and mature age to cheerfulness.

The political sentiments of Rev. Forbes were strongly conservative, and they led him to denounce with unmeasured force and horror the successive revolutions in France, as destructive of all the best institutions of society, and opposed to the highest good of the human race. For many years he annually preached a political sermon, in which his views of the exciting events of the times were freely and fearlessly stated.

Rev. Forbes was married four times, his first wife being Miss Mary Parkman, a daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Parkman, of Westborough, Massachusetts. She died January 16,1776. Rev. Forbes was united in marriage (second) with Mrs. Lucy Sanders, the widow of the Hon. Thomas Sanders. In 1780, Rev. Forbes married (third) Sarah, the widow of Captain Thomas Parsons, of Newbury, Massachusetts, who died in Boston in 1792. The fourth and last wife of Rev. Forbes was Mrs. Lucy Baldwin, of Brookfield, a sister of his first wife.

Eli Forbes had two children, a son and a daughter. The son, Eli Forbes, was a captain in the army in 1798. After leaving the army he went to Baltimore, Maryland, where he became a teacher of a school, and where he passed away. The daughter, Polly Forbes, became the wife of Peter Coffin, in 1773, and died May 18, 1795, at the age of forty. It was one of her daughters, Mary Forbes Coffin, who became the wife of Dr. Henry Phelps.


  • his portrait is used as an example of "male adornment in the 18th century"


Rev. Eli Forbes was the first minister of the second church in Brookfield, afterwards of the first church of Gloucester, where he died. He made his will in Sept. 1803, and bequeathed to his son-in-law, Peter Coffin, Esq., his eight-day clock; to son Eli, desk, book case, wearing apparel, Bible in two volumes; to eldest granddaughter; Mrs. Phelps, leather-bottomed chairs, and silver porringer; to granddaughter, Lucy Coffin, great Bible and six volumes Dr. Dodridge's Family Exposition; best bed and furniture, and my picture (which is now in possession of his great-granddaughter, Mrs. Henry Haskell of West Gloucester, a partial copy of which is in the chapel of the "first Congregational family in North Brookfield; a full copy in photograph, small size, is owned by Charles Adams, Jr., presented to him by E. F. Waters, Esq.. of the" Boston Advertiser, a descendant of the Forbes'); to grandson, Eli P. Coffin, silver watch and silver pepper box; the residue of the estate, to be sold and divided among said children and grandehildren, except son Eli; his part in consideration of moneys paid to him, to be paid Lucy Coffin; to dear daughter-in-law, Mrs. Betsey Gilbert, bureau and whatever her late mother brought with her, fronting of estate three-fourths house and land, $ 1,800; land at head of harbor, $415; furniture, horse, chaise, etc., $860.33, of which personal estate is appraised his library valued at $91.32.


  1. Pierce, Frederick Clifton. Forbes and Forbush genealogy: the descendants of Daniel Forbush, who came from Scotland about the year 1655, and settled in Marlborough, Mass., in 1675. (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1967), 33. "Rev. Eli Forbes, s/o Johnathan, b. 28 Oct 1726, m. 5 Aug 1752 Mary Parkman. Graduated Harvard 1751"
  2. Forbes and Forbush Genealogy: The Descendants of Daniel Forbush, who Came from Scotland about the Year 1655 and Settled in Marlborough, Mass., in 1675 (Google eBook) Frederick Clifton Pierce 1892 - 199 pages. Page 30-34
  3. Gatherings toward a genealogy of the Coffin family. Published 1896 by D. Clapp in Boston . Written in English. Page 29
  4. Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, United States. Vital Records of Gloucester, Massachusetts, to the End of the Year 1849. (Salem, Massachusetts.: Essex Institute, 1917), 133. "Forbes, Eli, Rev. Dr., Dec. 15, 1804. [a. 78 y. GR1] [Birth about 1726.]"


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Rev. Eli Forbes, D.D.'s Timeline

October 26, 1726
Westborough, Worcester , Massachusetts
Age 28
Brookfield, Worcester , Massachusetts
December 5, 1804
Age 78
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Age 77
Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, United States