Hawley, Gideon, 1727 - 1807

Born in Stratford, Connecticut in 1727, Gideon Hawley was a graduate of Yale College (1749) who became a Congregational preacher and missionary for the New England Company.  He first served under Jonathan Edwards at Stockbridge, Massachusetts as a teacher but left, frustrated by the factional divisions within the mission.  He then removed among the Six Nations along the Susquehanna at Oghwaga, where he served as a missionary, translator, and diplomat.  His tenure among the people of the Six Nations was short lived, beginning in the summer of 1754, immediately following his ordination in Boston, and ending in the spring of 1756, as hostilities during the French and Indian War made remaining at the mission unsafe. That summer, Hawley became a chaplain in the British army serving in Colonel Richard Gridley's regiment during their summer campaign at Crown Point.  His health, however, failed him several months into his service and he returned to Boston.  In 1757, the New England Company asked Hawley to provide pastoral care, on a provisional basis, to the nearby Mashpee Indians.  Funded by the Company and by Harvard Corporation, he set to work among the Mashpee, accepting a permanent position there the following spring.   Hawley married, started a family, and settled into what would be a long and often tumultuous relationship with the Mashpee community.  In the late 1780s, he incurred the intense anger of the Mashpee for encouraging Massachusetts authorities to reimpose the guardianship upon the tribe and, as one historian has summarized it, for "his conservative belief in hierarchy and deference, his racial attitudes, and his curmudgeonly personality."  Nonetheless, Hawley was a prominent figure in the political and religious affairs of the Mashpee for close to fifty years.  He remained a controversial figure up until his death in October of 1807.  In his last will and testament, signed April 5, 1806, Hawley, among other bequests, left his house, outbuildings and several parcels of land, including some marsh land at Great Neck, all within Mashpee, to his son Gideon Hawley, Jr.  ANBO.  Daniel R. Mandell, "We as a tribe, will rule ourselves": Mashpee's Struggle for Autonomy, 1746-1840," in Reinterpreting New England Indians and the Colonial Experience; Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991,Barnstable Probate Records, Vol 33-34, 1800-1810, Ancestry.  Image from Gideon Hawley, Find A Grave, courtesy of Betty Short, taken from Historical Essays of Windsor Township and Village, Broome County, New YorkCompiled and edited by Marjory BHinman and Bernard Osborne. (Windsor, N.Y.: The Town of Windsor, 1976.  Original in the Sandwich Glass Museum, Sandwich, MA.
November 5, 1727
October 3, 1807