Baptist History Homepage

Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860
      Edward Upham was born in Maiden, Mass., in the year 1709, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1734. He is supposed to have received the benefit of Mr. Hollis' donation.

      In 1727, five persons were baptized by immersion, in West Springfield, by the Rev. Elisha Callender, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Boston. In 1740, they, with several others who had joined them, were formed into a church, and the Rev. Edward Upham became their Pastor. Though there were persons belonging to this church from different parts of the town, yet most of them were from that part which was afterwards the Second Parish; and that was the principal field of Mr. Upham's ministerial labour. In 1748, he resigned his charge, in consequence of an inadequate support, and removed to Newport, R. I., where he succeeded the Rev. John Callender, as Pastor of the First Baptist Church in that town.

     Sometime after Mr. Upham left West Springfield, most of those who had constituted the church of which he had had the care, consented so far to waive their distinctive denominational views as to join with a number of others, of a different communion, to form the Congregational Church, of which the Rev. Sylvanus Griswold+ became Pastor. There was a
* Benedict's History Bapt., I. - Dr. Lathrop's Autobiography.
+ Sylrvanus Griswold, a son of the Rev. George Griswold, (who was graduated at Yale College in 1717, became the Pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Lyme, Conn., and died in 176l.) was born at Lyme about the year 1732; was graduated at Yale College in 1757; and was ordained Pastor of the Second Congregational Church in West Springfield, in November, 1762, - one week after its organization. He continued minister of the parish till 1781, and Pastor of the church till his death, which occurred on the 4th of December, 1819, at the age of eighty-seven.

[p. 44]
mutual agreement that while Mr. Griswold should, when desired, conform to the views of the Baptist brethren in respect to the mode of Baptism, they, on the other hand, would receive from him the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

     In 1771, Mr. Upham, having resigned his charge at Newport, returned to reside* on a farm which he owned in his former parish in West Springfield. At the insistance of some of the people, he resumed his public labours, and again collected his former charge. As a considerable proportion of them had become members of Mr. Griswold's church, which, at best, was feeble in point of numbers, their secession was sensibly felt. Mr. Upham continued his labours among them till he had passed his eightieth year, from which time he gradually sunk under the infirmities of age. The church, of which he had been Pastor, about that time became extinct. He died at his residence, in Feeding Hills Parish, October, 1797, aged eighty-seven years. His Funeral Sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. Lathrop, from Job. xlii. 7 - "So Job died, being old and full of days."

     Mr. Upham was one of the earliest and most zealous friends of Rhode Island College. He was a Trustee and Fellow of that institution from its foundation in 1764 till 1789.

     Mr. Upham was married in March, 1740, to Sarah, daughter of Dr. John Leonard, of Feeding Hills. They had six children, five of whom survived him. His eldest son was shot dead, by mistake, while engaged, with a party, in hunting bears, in the night.

     Dr. Lathrop has described Mr. Upham to me as a sensible, well educated and liberal minded man. He was an Open Communion Baptist, both in sentiment and in practice. After his return to West Springfield from Newport, he preached several times at private houses in Dr. Lathrop's parish, and introduced the Baptist controversy; and it was understood put in circulation among Dr. Lathrop's people certain pamphlets, designed to vindicate his own views. This led Dr. L. to preach two sermons on the subject, which were afterwards published; but I believe it never disturbed the friendly personal relations that existed between himself and Mr. Upham. I know Dr. Lathrop had a high regard for him, as being, in general, a fair minded and honourable man. I received the impression from him that Mr. Upham's orthodoxy was not of the straitest sect, and would probably not rise above Arminianism. He had the reputation of being a very respectable preacher; and so I think he must have been, from having read some of his manuscript sermons. His style was remarkable for simplicity and perspicuity, and, though very correct, was adapted to the humblest capacity. I believe he used his manuscript in the pulpit, contrary to the common usage of ministers of his denomination at that day.
* Dr. Ezra Stiles, who at that time resided at Newport, has the following entry in his journal, under date, April 19, 1771: - "Rev. E. Upham. with his wife and family, sailed for Connecticut river, removing to Springfield. His congregation and friends accompanied them to the ship with many tears."


[From William Buell Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860, pp. 43-44. Document from Google Books. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Baptist Biographies
Baptist History Homepage