Rev. Samuel Niles

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Samuel Niles, D.D.

Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: New Shoreham, Washington , Rhode Island
Death: Died in Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Braintree, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Capt. Nathaniel Niles; Sarah Niles and Sarah Niles
Husband of Elizabeth Niles; Anne Niles and Elizabeth Niles
Father of Elizabeth Hayward; Sarah Niles; Samuel Niles; Mary Niles; Nathaniel Niles and 3 others
Brother of Nathaniel Niles; Ebenezer Niles; Jeremiah Niles; Nathaniel Niles; Elisha Niles and 4 others

Occupation: Prominent minister of Second Parish Church, in Braintree
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. Samuel Niles

He graduated from Harvard in 1699.

He preached from 1702-his death in 1762. In 1759 he received the degree of M.A. from Harvard.

He was the author of "Tristae Ecclasiarium", 1745, "Vindication of Divers Important Doctrines", 1752, and "Doctrines of Original Sin", 1757.

At his funeral, which was conducted by William Smith, President John Adams called him "an honest, virtuous and pious Man." He owned three slaves, which he willed to his three sons.



In 1699 he graduated from Harvard - the first from Rhode Island. In 1700 he began missionary work in Kingston, Rhode Island. On May 23, 1711 he was ordained at Braintree Second Church.


23. REV. D. D. SAMUEL3 NILES (NATHANIEL2, JOHN1) was born May 01, 1674 in New Shoreham, Block Island, Washington Co., Rhode Island43, and died May 01, 1762 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts44. He married (1) ELIZABETH THACHER May 29, 1701 in Milton, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts45, daughter of PETER THACHER and THEODORA OXENBRIDGE. She was born March 07, 1682/83 in Milton, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts45, and died February 10, 1715/16 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts46. He married (2) ANN CODDINGTON November 22, 1716 in Newport, Newport Co., Rhode Island46, daughter of NATHANIEL CODDINGTON and SUSANNA HUTCHINSON. She was born December 26, 1677 in Block Island, Newport Co., Rhode Island, and died October 25, 1732 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts. He married (3) ELIZABETH ADAMS December 22, 1737 in Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts46, daughter of WILLIAM ADAMS and ALICE BRADFORD. She was born February 23, 1680/81 in Dedham, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts, and died December 27, 1760 in New Haven, New Haven Co., Connecticut.

Notes for REV. D. D. SAMUEL NILES: In 1699 he graduated from Harvard - the first from Rhode Island. In 1700 he began missionary work in Kingston, Rhode Island. On May 23, 1711 he was ordained at Braintree Second Church. His third wife Elizabeth was the widow of Rev. Samuel Whiting.

Samuel Niles lived with his maternal grandparents about 1689. He was graduated from Harvard in 1699 and preached in the district of Rhode Island called the ministrial lands, and he preached at Kingston, Rhode Island 1702-11, was ordained pastor in that part of Braintree which is now the city of Quincy, 1711, and there baptized around 1200 and received into his church 312 persons. From 1711 until his death, he was the pastor of the 2nd Church of Braintree, MA. In 1759 he received the degree of MA from Harvard. He was the author of " Tristiae Ecclasiarium", 1745," Vindication of Divers Important Doctrines", 1752, and " Doctrines of Original Sin", 1757 and left a manuscript " Histories of the Wars in New England with the French and Indians", which was written about 1760 and has been published in "Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Third Series, Vol 6.

"He graduated at Harvard College 1699, was the author of several published works and a manuscript History of the French & Indian War, his best known work, later published in the Mass. Hist. Soc. Collections, Third Series, Vol.6. He was also tutor to a number of young students or wards. He resided on Elm St. just east of the present church building of the First Congregational Church where his descendants remained until about 1690, but he also had a large farm called Beersheba on the location of the present Norfolk County Hospital at Braintree Highlands which he purchased in 1713." (Spague- 3543R)

"Rev. SAMUEL NILES,3 son of Capt. Nathaniel2 and Sarah (Sands) Niles, b. on Block Island, May 1, 1701; (According to his gravestone, he was b. May 1, 1671). (In his Indian Wars he says he was born on Block Island, and feelingly describes the depredations committed by the French privateers, in 1689, in his youth, while he resided there. The statement, therefore, made in the Am. Quar. Register for Aug., 1835, that he was b. in Braintree is unfounded.)

m. 1, ELIZABETH THACHER, b. March 7, 1682-3, dau. of Rev. Peter Thacher of Milton, (b. 1651; H. C., 1671; d. Dec. 17, 1727,) who was son of Rev. Thomas Thacher, b. in Old Sarum, Eng., 1620; settled at Weymouth; first pastor of the Old South Chh., Boston, where he was installed Feb. 16, 1670; d. Oct. 15, 1687. (Mrs. Elizabeth Niles’s mother was Theodora Oxenbridge, dau. of Rev. John Oxenbridge, b. in Daventry, Eng., 1609; educated at Oxford; inst. pastor of First Church in Boston, April 10, 1670; d. Dec. 18, 1674, a. 65. Mrs. Niles on her death bed earnestly commended to her mournful consort, Mrs. Ana Coddington, as the (future) mother of her children, and wife of her husband. "Her memory is dear, and her example for piety above most." (MS. of Rev. Samuel Niles.) Mrs. Niles d. in child-bed, Feb. 10, 1715-16, a. 33; buried 13th; was the first person interred in the Old Cemetery in the present town of Braintree, opposite Dr. Storr’s meeting-house. (Grave-stone.)

m. 2. Nov. 22, 1716, ANN CODDINGTON, dau. of Hon. Nathaniel Coddington of Newport, R. I., by his wife Susanna Hutchinson of Boston. They were m. by Gov. Samuel Cranston of Rhode Island (Mr. Niles "was accompanied to the wedding by Rev. Nathaniel Fells, (his class-mate, H. C., 1699; of Sciluate; pastor there 46 years. 1704-1730; d. Aug. 25, 1750, a. 72) and Mr. Samuel Fiske (son of Rev. Moses Fiske of First Chh. Braintree; H. C., 1708; pastor in Salem from 1718 to 1745; d. April 10, 1770, a. 81;) who, with sundry gentlemen, all accompanied us home, where we found my much honored father, Rev. Mr. Thacher of Milton, with many others. (on our arrival) Nov. 30, 1716" (MS. of Rev. Samuel Niles.) She d. Oct. 25, 1732, a. 55.

m. 3. Dec. 22, 1737, ELIZABETH (ADAMS) WHITING, b. Feb. 23, 1680-1, wid. of Rev. Samuel Whiting, pastor at Windham, Connecticut, to whom she was m. Sept. 4, 1696, and who d. 1725. She was dau. of Rev. William and Alice (Bradford) Adams of Dedham. Her father grad. H. C., 1671; ord. pastor First Church, Dedham, Dec. 3, 1673; d. Aug. 17, 1685. Her mother was dau. of Major William, who was the son of Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth. (“We came home (from the wedding) attended with gentlemen and friends; and a great number met us at my house; and with her came her son Nathan Whiting, who was received from the church n Windham to the church in Braintree, Jan. 8, 1737-8.” (Ibid.)) Mrs. Niles d. 1700, a. 80.

Mr. Niles in his youth, and particularly in 1689, lived with his aged grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Sands, on Block Island, and took care of them. He was taken by the crew of a French privateer, in a descent made by them on that Island in July of that year, but escaped. In consequence of the ravages committed by them on the property of his relatives, he was, as he says, kept from school six years; so that he was 22 when he entered college; and was the first student, who entered college from Rhode Island. He grad. H. C., 1699; studied divinity, probably, with his father-in-law, Rev. Mr. Thacher of Milton; began to preach at Kingston, R. I., then the residence of his father in 1702; removed thence with his family to Braintree in 1710; was ordained pastor of the Second Church (now First) in Braintree, May 23, 1711; the pastor elect preaching on the occasion, as was then the custom, from Romans, 15:30. "Strive together with me in your prayers to God for me." ("Rev. Joseph Belcher of Bedham, proceeded with the church in my admission, being then dismissed from the Church of Christ in Milton, where I had stood related for divers years. viz. twelve years and about four months. Rev. Peter Thacher of Milton, (his father-in-law.) gave the Charge; Rev. John Danforth of Dorchester, the Right Hand of Fellowship; Rev. Peter Thacher of Milton, Rev. Mr. Belcher, and Rev. Peter Thacher (son of Thomas Thacher of Boston. He was pastor at Weymouth, 1707-1718; of New South Church, Boston, 1723-1739.) of Weymouth laid on hands." (MS. Rev. Samuel Niles.) It was customary at that period for ministers to be admitted members of the churches, previously to assuming the pastoral office over them.

His ministry was a long, an active, and a useful one. According to a Record which he kept, he administered the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper 301 times; baptized about 1200 persons; and received 312 to full communion in his church. He continued to preach, without a colleague, till the last Sabbath of his life; and died on his birth-day, May 1, 1762, a. 88. the sermon at his funeral was delivered by Rev. William Smith of Weymouth (grandfather of J. Q. Adams,) from 1 Sam., 15:1. "And Samuel died." He d. "in the firm belief of the great doctrines of grace, which he had faithfully preached, and publicly defended." (Grave-stone.)

He took the degree of Master of Arts in 1759, at Harvard College, sixty years after he first graduated. He was a man of much talent, and strength, and worth of character. President John Adams, though differing from him in many points of his religious belief, characterized him as :an honest, virtuous, and pious man.” His publications were -- "Tristine Ecclesiarum; A Brief and Sorrowful Account of the present state of the Churches in New England," 1745; "Vindication of Divers Important Doctrines, against the misrepresentation contained in a late printed discourse of Rev. Lemuel Bryant" (of Quincy,) 8 vo., 1752; "Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin, in answer to Taylor," 8 vo. 1757; 320 pages. Besides these works, Mr. Niles composed near the close of his life, or in 1760, a History of the Wars in New England with the French and Indians. This was prepared for the press, but no printer would undertake the publication. The MS. slumbered in an old trunk, and was long supposed, by some who had known of its existence, to be irrecoverably lost. It was found at length, about seventy years afterwards, in a box of papers, bequeathed by Rev. Dr. Freeman, of Boston, to the Massachusetts Historical Society, and was printed in the sixth volume, third series, of their collections.

It is now ninety-five years since he died; and the pastorates of two ministers, his successors, Rev. Ezra Weld, (ord. Nov. 17, 1762,) and Rev. Richard Salter Storrs, (ord. July 3, 1811,) have filled up nearly the whole of this long period. (Rev. Mr. Niles in his will, dated April 19, 1762, recorded Suff. Prob., 60:186, disposes of considerable property, and along with it of three negro slaves. The will divides the slaves among the sons, and makes no provision for their liberty.)" (The Vinton Memorial; pp. 346-348)

The cemetery where Rev Sam, his father Nathl, and 1st wife Elizabeth are buried is now known as the Elm Street Cem, Quincy MA. Quincy was established from the North Precinct of Old Braintree. ( For what it's worth, I'm not positive Rev Sam was granted a degree in 1699. He wrote a letter requesting his degree but may have not been given one. The MA degree in 1759 may have been bestowed by Harvard upon recognition of his contributions. Silby's book lists graduates of Harvard. Someday I would like to look up the class of 1699! Interestingly, Harvard only graduated about 8 or 9 students per year in those days. I note Rev Sam was not ordained until c1710, but don't know if that had anything to do with when or if he actually graduated. He did preach from about 1700 to 1710 among the Indians near his father's home in RI before going to Braintree. You would have insight on the requirements for ordaination. ) Rev Sam also wrote, "New England's Victory at Louisburg, Nova Scotia," in 1747, describing in verse the defeat of the French at Louisburg by an American ground and British naval force of over 4,000 men led by LGEN Peperrell of Maine. The defeat ended France's attempts to colonize the America northeast as a French Colony. Niles' epic poem was published in 1747 in newspapers. No doubt he took particular delight in writing it, recalling his trials at the hands of the French in his youth at Block Is. (from Allen D. Niles)       Children of SAMUEL NILES and ELIZABETH THACHER are:

     • 87.  i. ELIZABETH4 NILES, b. May 16, 1706, Kingston, Washington Co., Rhode Island; d. Abt. 1770.
     • 88.  ii.  SARAH NILES, b. May 20, 1708, Kingston, Washington Co., Rhode Island; d. October 22, 1738, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts.
     • 89.  iii.  JUDGE SAMUEL NILES, b. May 14, 1711, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts; d. April 30, 1804, Lebanon, New London Co., Connecticut.
     • 90.  iv.  MARY NILES, b. May 27, 1713, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts; d. Unknown.
     •        v.  NATHANIEL NILES, b. February 02, 1715/16, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts46; d. March 08, 1730/31, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts47.

      Children of SAMUEL NILES and ANN CODDINGTON are:   • vi. ELISHA4 NILES, b. January 08, 1717/18, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts48; d. January 11, 1718/19, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts49. 

     • vii.  ELISHA NILES, b. July 30, 1719, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts49; d. July 01, 1776, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts49; m. ANNA THAYER, December 07, 1752, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts49; b. January 31, 1721/22, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts49; d. Unknown.

  • Notes for ELISHA NILES: He held "many offices of public trust, as town Clerk & Treasurer he served twenty three years successively and continued in said offices till the day of his death which was July 1,1776" says the town record. He resided at his father's farm "Beersheba" at the present site of Norfolk Co. Hospital until his father's death in 1762 after which he probably resided in the former parsonage on Elm St. some of the time. Since he was buried at Dyer Hill Cem. he was evidently residing in Braintree Highlands at his decease. The old house there was standing until near 1900. The site is now marked by huge lilac bushes to the right of the front entrance to the hospital buildings (1950). Dr. Alden says he lived where John Holbrook who married his step daughter Anna Wild lived afterwards. No Children. (Sprague)

     • 91. viii.  SUSANNAH NILES, b. July 30, 1719, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts; d. May 09, 1754, Braintree, Norfolk Co., Massachusetts.
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Rev. Samuel Niles's Timeline

May 1, 1674
New Shoreham, Washington , Rhode Island
May 19, 1706
Age 32
Kingstown, Washington, RI
May 20, 1708
Age 34
May 14, 1711
Age 37
May 27, 1713
Age 39
February 2, 1716
Age 41
January 8, 1718
Age 43
July 30, 1719
Age 45