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Picture of Bard of the Bethel

Bard of the Bethel

The Life and Times of Boston's Father Taylor, 1793-1871

Author(s): Wendy Knickerbocker

Book Description

The Rev Edward T. Taylor (1793–1871), better known as Father Taylor, was a former sailor who became a Methodist itinerant preacher in southeastern New England, and then the acclaimed pastor of Boston’s Seamen’s Bethel. Known for his colorful sermons and temperance speeches, Father Taylor was one of the best-known and most popular preachers in Boston during the 1830s–1850s.

A proud Methodist, Father Taylor was active within the New England Annual Conference for over fifty years, and there was no corner of New England where he was unknown. His career mirrored the growth of Methodism and the involvement of New England Methodists in the social issues of the time.

In Boston, the Seamen’s Bethel was nondenominational, and Unitarians were its primary supporters. Father Taylor was loyal to his benefactors at a time when Unitarianism was controversial. In turn, he was respected and admired by many Unitarians, including Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Father Taylor was a sailors’ missionary and reformer, a lively and eloquent preacher, a temperance advocate, an urban minister-at-large, and a champion of religious tolerance. His story is the portrayal of a unique and forceful American character, set against the backdrop of Boston in the age of revival and reform.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5407-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5407-7
Date of Publication: 01/02/2014
Pages / Size: 515 / A5
Price: £59.99


Wendy Knickerbocker is an independent scholar who studies American religious and cultural history. A retired academic librarian, she holds a BA in American Studies and a MS in Library and Information Science. She is the author of Sunday at the Ballpark: Billy Sunday’s Professional Baseball Career, 1883–1890. She lives in Castine, Maine.