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Legacy Library: Michael Wigglesworth

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Some important truths about conversion, delivered in sundry sermons by Increase Mather

Enarrationis Psalmorum Davidis by Heinrich Möller

A godly forme of houshold gouernment, for the ordering of priuate families, according to the direction of Gods Word. Whereunto is adioyned in a more particular manner, the seuerall duties of the husband towards his wife: and the wiues dutie towards her husband: the parents dutie towards their children; and the childrens towards their parents: the masters dutie towards his seruants; and also the seruants dutie towards their masters by Robert Cleaver

Annotations upon all the books of the Old and Nevv Testament this third, above the first and second, edition so enlarged, as they make an entire commentary on the sacred scripture: the like never before published in English. Wherein the text is explained, doubts resolved, scriptures parallel'd, and various readings observed; by the labour of certain learned divines thereunto appointed, and therein employed, as is expressed in the preface by John Downame

Thesaurus linguæ Romanæ & Britannicæ tam accurate congestus, vt nihil penè in eo desyderari possit, quod vel Latinè complectatur amplissimus Stephani Thesaurus, vel Anglicè, toties aucta Eliotæ Bibliotheca: opera & industria Thomæ Cooperi Magdalenensis. ... Accessit dictionarium historicum et poëticum propria vocabula virorum, mulierum, sectarum, populorum, vrbium, montium, & cæterorum locorum complectens, & in his iucundissimas & omnium cognitio by Thomas Cooper

Formulæ oratoriæ in usum scholarum concinnatæ. Unà cum orationibus, declamationibus, &c. Deis, collacatione oratoriæ, & artificio demum poëtico, præceptiunculis by John Clarke

Mans extremity, Gods opportunity, or, A display of Gods sovereign grace in saving a people whose recovery as to men and means is next to desperate as it was delivered in a sermon preached before the Honourable Lieutenant governour ... of the province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England on May 29, 1695 which was the day for election of counsellors for that province by Samuel Torrey

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Member: MichaelWigglesworth

CollectionsYour library (91)

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TagsReligion (63), Medicine (15), Biblical Commentary (15), Sermons (9), Anatomy (4), Chemistry (4), Classics (4), History (4), Catholicism (3), Sin (3) — see all tags

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About meRev. Michael Wigglesworth (18 October 1631 - 10 June 1705), Massachusetts divine, physician, and poet. Born in Yorkshire to a Puritan family, Wigglesworth came with his parents to America in 1638, settling first at Charlestown, MA, and then removing to New Haven, CT. Michael was educated by Ezekiel Cheever at New Haven, briefly, but was taken from school to assist his father, who had been injured. In 1644 he resumed his education, and entered Harvard in 1647. He graduated in 1651, and was quickly named a fellow of the college, in which capacity he served as a tutor.

Wigglesworth began medical training, then took up the ministry during his time as a Harvard tutor, and was called to be the teacher of the church at Malden in 1654. He was ordained somewhat later, around 1656. He was stricken by an unknown illness (perhaps a violent asthma) in the late 1650s which left him unable to preach, and turned to literary production. His The Day of Doom, a religious poem published in 1662, was a bestseller; more than 1,800 copies sold within a year.

In hopes to improve his health, Wigglesworth traveled to Bermuda in September 1663, remaining there until the following May (when, he says, he became "unable to bear the heat"). He returned to Malden, where he composed his second book of poems, published in 1670 as Meat out of the Eater.

Increase Mather attempted to persuade Wigglesworth to return to Harvard employment (probably the presidency) in 1684, but was rebuffed: "I cannot think my bodily strength competent enough to undertake or manage such a weighty work as you mention, if it were desired; nor have I reason to judge myself in any measure fit on other accounts."

Wigglesworth married first Mary Reyner, who died 21 December 1659, leaving a young daughter. Michael's second wife was Martha Mudge, just eighteen years old when he married her in 1679 (against the advice of Increase Mather). Martha died in 1690, leaving a son and five daughters. He married a third time in 1691, to Sybil (Sparhawk) Avery, the widow of Dr. Thomas Avery of Dedham, with whom he had one son.

By 1686, Wigglesworth's health appears to have improved; he preached the annual election sermon that year, and the Artillery Company sermon in 1696. Less than two years thereafter his health again declined, and he never fully recovered, dying in June 1705. Cotton Mather preached a eulogy at Malden.

About my libraryA catalog of Wigglesworth's library was taken on 22 October 1705 by Jonathan Pierpont and James Augier. A transcription is available here, via a Google Books scan of John Ward Dean's Memoir of Rev. Michael Wigglesworth.

Wigglesworth's collection was appraised for a total of £16, 13 shillings. In his will, the books are left to his two sons, after his wife had her pick of half a dozen English books. Biographer John Ward Dean writes of the collection "Next to the books which an author composes may be placed those which he read as an index to his mind; and, as a general rule, we may infer that the books he possesses are those which he reads. True, it is not always safe to judge of a man's mental tastes by the contents of his library; for one sometimes comes into the possession, by gift or otherwise, of works in which he has little, if any, interest; but such books are not often sufficiently numerous to affect the character of a library of even moderate dimensions."

Dean aptly describes Wigglesworth's book collection as an "eminently practical one, consisting largely of books useful for reference .... It is rich in works upon theology and history; and there is also a good collection of medical books. Of classical literature there is little, and of English belles-lettres nothing. But what will excite most surprise is the dearth of poetry. Not even the poems of Mrs. Bradstreet, the pride of New England; nor of "Silver-tongued Sylvester," so much in repute with the Puritans of the preceding age; nor of zealous John Bunyan, a truly fraternal spirit; nor the grand epic of Milton, on such a subject kindred to his own, are there. A solitary volume - and that by an author whose polished verses and sportive wit bear little resemblance to his own rugged rhymes and sombre fancy - comprises his whole poetical library."

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GroupsLibraries of Early America

Real nameMichael Wigglesworth

LocationMalden, MA

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Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/MichaelWigglesworth (profile)
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Member sinceApr 5, 2010

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