Governor Dummer Academy History, 1763-1963

By John W. Ragle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
The Dummer Family in America

Every evidence emphasizes the fact that Master Moody, though eccentric, and mercurial in temperament, was a gifted teacher and leader of boys. The procuring of his services as first Master of Governor Dummer's school was an act of sheer inspiration. No administration in the long history of the school stands higher in success; very few can claim to approach its achievement; only two or three can justifiably claim to equal it. Credit for acquiring the services of this unique and most interesting eighteenth century schoolmaster belongs to a special committee headed by Moses Parsons, the eminent divine who was for thirty-nine years minister to Byfield Parish. (Reference has already been made to his famous son, the celebrated jurist, scholar, and patriot, Theophilus Parsons.)

The original authority for the Reverend Mr. Parsons to work conjointly with five freeholders -- principal inhabitants of Byfield Parish, chosen yearly for that purpose at the annual meeting -- derived directly from the last Will and Testament of colonial Lieutenant-Governor William Dummer. From the remarkable benevolence of this far-sighted man stems the school which bears his name.

Governor Dummer was descended from the sturdiest, most influential, and most public-spirited of Puritan stock. In 1632, barely two years after John Winthrop had headed the first large group of settlers and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Boston, William Dummer's ancestor, Richard Dummer, and his wife Mary came to America aboard the ship Whale from Southampton. The spirit of adventure, as well as religious conviction, must have spurted the young people to leave England, for the Dummers were apparently well-to-do landowners at Bishopstoke, just six miles toward London from Southampton. In the wake of two hard winters in the new colony, discouraging reports were reaching England. Few were hardy enough to embark for Boston in the face of such reports. The Richard Dummers were among the 250 who, according to the records of Governor John Winthrop, were all that joined the colonists during 1632. The young couples trip across on the Whale must have been an adventure, to

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