The Letters of William James - Vol. 1

By Henry James; William James | Go to book overview

THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM JAMES

I INTRODUCTION
Ancestry -- Henry James,Senior -- Youth -- Education -- Certain Personal Traits

THE ancestors of William James, with the possible exception of one pair of great-great-grandparents, all came to America from Scotland or Ireland during the eighteenth century, and settled in the eastern part of New York State or in New Jersey. One Irish forefather is known to have been descended from Englishmen who had crossed the Irish Channel in the time of William of Orange, or thereabouts; but whether the others who came from Ireland were more English or Celtic is not clear. In America all his ancestors were Protestant, and they appear, without exception, to have been people of education and character. In the several communities in which they settled they prospered above the average. They became farmers, traders, and merchants, and, so far as has yet been discovered, there were only two lawyers, and no doctors or ministers, among them. They seem to have been reckoned as pious people, and several of their number are known to have been generous supporters of the churches in which they worshiped; but, if one may judge by the scanty records which remain, there

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