John Prescott 6 BIGELOW

16952.3    John Prescott 6 BIGELOW, son of Timothy 5 ( Timothy 4 ,Daniel 3,Joshua2, John1), and Lucy (PRESCOTT) BIGELOW, was born 25 August 1797 at Groton, Middlesex co, MA. He was a lawyer by profession, and served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of MA 1836-1843.  He was Mayor of Boston a number of years, and died in Boston 04 July 1872.  He married, 09 March 1824, Louisa A. Brown, who died in England 22 October 1847, aged 47 years. John graduated from Harvard College in 1815; studied law.  He was president of the Common council of the city of Boston, for several years Secretary of State for MA and subsequently mayor and a member of the Executive Council.  Mr. Bigelow laid the foundation of the Boston Public Library which he had the satisfaction of seeing grow to the gigantic proportions of some 150,000 volumes and had been one of the trustees from its foundation until health compelled him to resign in January 1869. Mayor Shurtleff, in presenting his resignation said of him that "he had ever been an ardent friend of the Library and that he gave the first money that was received towards the foundation."  He expressed "great regret that his feeble health demanded the severence of the time which had for so long a time connected him with this and other branches of the city government."  It was Mr.Bigelow's delight to do good and be useful, and he was entirely void of that selfishness and exclusiveness which is but too common among many in the higher walks of life. John Prescott Bigelow died in Boston 04 July 1872. 

Son of John P. and Louisa Ann (Brown) Bigelow:

16952.31     Prescott, b 16 Feb 1825 Boston; d ____ ; m 16 Nov 1858 Mrs.Caroline (Thatcher) Andrews (b 15 June 1838, daughter of William T. and Fanny M. Andrews). (see below)

Bigelow Family Genealogy Volume. I page.351;
Howe, Bigelow Family of America; 
Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1852-1868. Born 1797 in Groton, MA; died 1872 in his Boston residence. A veteran Massachusetts politician by the time he served as Boston’s mayor from 1849-1851, John P. Bigelow witnessed and participated in the formation and development of the Public Library. Through his support, City and private funding as well as material donations were encouraged during his mayoral term. Upon leaving public life, he was elected to the Board of Trustees as one of its first citizen members. The first fund received by the Library for acquiring books was the Bigelow Fund, which was established through his contribution to the fledgling Library of monies raised for a testimonial to recognize his efforts during an 1849 cholera outbreak in Boston. (see below)

Green, Samuel A. Groton Historical Series, vol. 3. Cambridge, MA: University Press, J. Wilson and Son, 1887-1899, p. 254.
Kestenbaum, Lawrence. “Index of Politicians: Bigelow”, The Politicial Graveyard: A Database of Historic Cemeteries [online database] at .
Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Illustration: "John P. Bigelow", engraving, from Massachusetts Political Archive, Print Department

NEHG Register.
Don Bigelow 9 13 1977 e-mail; Janice Farnsworth, e-mail:,
"The Bigelow marriages to my Prescott ancestors" from "Prescott Memorial" John Prescott/Mary Platts Line, Lancaster, MA.
                          This is a great site!!! I am researching the descendants of John
                          Prescott Bigelow, former Mayor of Boston, for a special project at
                          the Boston Public Library. I have found that John Prescott Bigelow
                          had a son Prescott who married Caroline Thatcher Andrews. Does
                          anyone know if Prescott had any children and if so, what are their
                          names and where did they live? Also, does anyone have a death
                          date for Prescott Bigelow. I have found a few Prescott Bigelow's
                          but the obituaries/death notices don't seem to point to my
                          direction. Or they may have and I was missing some information to
                          link the person. I've hit a road block. Any help would be greatly
                          appreciated. Thanks!

New Note from Janice Farnsworth 02/10/07:

Mayors of Boston: an illustrated epitome of who the mayors have been and what they have done
By State Street Trust Company (Boston, Mass.), Walton Advertising and Printing Company (Boston, Mass.)
     John Prescott Bigelow was the son of Timothy Bigelow, who for eleven years was speaker of the House of
Representatives and was a grandson of Colonel Timothy Bigelow, the Revolutionary War hero of Worcester.
His birthplace was Groton, Massachusetts, where he was born August 25, 1797.  He entered Harvard and
graduated in 1815.
     He was admitted to the bar in 1818. In 1824 he went abroad, where he spent some years. His wife died in
1847, and his son also was taken from him, and he turned to politics, in which he had early taken an interest.
     He became a member of the Common Council for Ward 9, where he was one of those who worked the hardest to stay the cholera scourge which afflicted Boston.
In 1828 the Whigs elected him to the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, to which he was re-elected with the exception of one year, until 1836.
He was prominent in the movement to reduce the number of membership (which was then over 700); was active on many committees, and took a leading part in railroad legislation.
     From 1836 to 1843 he served as Secretary of State with marked ability, and then became a member of the
Executive Council under Governor Briggs, serving four years. He was elected Mayor of Boston in 1848.
During his tenure of office the jail at Charles and Cambridge Streets was completed at a cost of $450,000.
In the summer of 1849, Asiatic cholera caused the death of no less than 5,080 people out of a population
of 130,000. An event that was fraught with much trouble for Mayor Bigelow  was a meeting in 1850 at
Faneuil Hall to congratulate George Thompson, the abolitionist, upon his arrival in this country.  Cheers for
Daniel Webster, Jenny Lind, and the Union, which the police, acting under the instructions of Mayor Bigelow,
did nothing to stop, broke up the meeting. The next year the Board of Aldermen declined to allow the use of
Faneuil Hall for a reception to Daniel Webster, because of the fear of a disturbance. Webster and his friends
were furious, and when the Common Council with the concurrence of the Mayor, later sent a committee to
wait upon Webster at the Revere House and "tender him in the name of the City Council an invitation to meet
and address his fellow-citizens in Faneuil Hall," Webster curtly replied it was not convenient for him to accept. 
At the next election the Mayor and Council were all retired to private life.
     In 1851, the last term of Bigelow, every section of Boston was supplied with pure water at a cost of
$4,321,000, the new almhouse was built on Deer Island, a system of telegraphic fire alarms invented by
Dr. William F. Channing was installed and the great pageant was held to celebrate the completion of the
railroads between Boston and Canada and the Great Lakes.
     On Mayor Bigelow's retirement a number of friends wished to show him their appreciation by presenting
him with a silver vase. He asked that the money be given to the Public Library, and this was the first gift
the library received.  Mr. Bigelow became one of its Board of Trustees. He died July 4, 1872.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
Subject: John Prescott Bigelow
Source Prescott Memorial
John Prescott/Mary Platts Line - Lancaster, Mass.
John Prescott Bigelow b. 1797 son of the Hon. Timothy Bigelow & his wife Lucy Prescott (dau of Dr. Oliver Prescott, Sen'r & wife, Lydia Baldwin - p.77 Prescott
Memorial)  (see Lucy Prescott p.78,  below)
John Prescott Bigelow m. 1824, Louisa Brown, an English lady, who died in 1847.
He graduated Harvard College in 1815; studied law.  He was president of the Common
Council of the City of Boston; for several years he was Secretary of State for Mass.,
and subsequently the Mayor of Boston and member of the Executive Council. Mr.
Bigelow laid the foundation of the Boston Public Library, which he has the satisfaction
of seeing grow to the gigantic proportions of some 150,000 volumes and has been one of the
Trustees from its foundation until feeble health compelled him to resign on the 11th of January , 1869. 
     Mayor Shurtleff, in presenting his resignation, said of him that
"he had ever been an ardent friend of the Library and that he gave the first money that
was received towards it foundation."  He expressed "great regret that his present feeble health demands the severance of the tie which had for so long a time connected him with this and other branches of the City Goverment."  It was Mr. Bigelow's delight to do good and be useful, and he was entirely void of that selfishness and exclusiveness which is but too common among many in higher
walks of life. (record ends.)
     Lucy Prescott b. Mar 13, 1771 m. Sept. 30, 1791, Hon. Timothy Bigelow, son of
Col. Timothy Bigelow of Worcester (who commanded one of the Mass. regiments
in the Revolutionary War.) Hon. Timothy Bigelow was b. April 30, 1767; grad. Harvard
Coll. 1786; read law with Hon. Levi Lincoln, Sen'r and opened an office at Groton, Mass.
in 1789. 
     He was eminently successful in the practice of his profession; a sound
lawyer and distinguished advocate. In 1802 he was rep. to the General Court and was
chosen from that body as one of the Executive Council, in which office he served two
years.  In 1806 he removed from Groton, Mass., to Medford, Mass., and opened an
office for practice in Boston.  He represented the town of Medford in the General Court
nearly if not quite all the years from the time of his removal there to the time of his death. 
He was a Senator for Middlesex County, from 1797 to 1801, inclusive, and
Councillor again in 1821. 
     His executive abilities were of the first order,and he had a
fine opportunity to exhibit them while presiding as Speaker of the House of Rep's for
eleven years, beside presiding in various literary and charitable societies of which he
was a member.  He was a close student and a great reader.  Books in all the liberal
arts and sciences were his familiar acquaintances.  He died May 18, 1821, aged 54
years and 19 days.  Mrs. Bigelow died in the consolation of a religious faith, Dec 17,
1852 aged 81 years and 9 mos.  The newspapers of the day that recorded her death,
stated that she was a worthy consort of a good and eminant man. She was well known
for her moral loveliness and beauty, the elevation of her character, the gentle-
ness of her nature, and calm self-possession.  It is said that a prominent trait in her
endowments was a concern for the welfare of others and a resignation and Christian
patience and fortitude under trials and losses of her children.
Hon. Timothy Bigelow and wife, Lucy Prescott.
1. Katherine Bigelow b. 1793 m. June 28, 1819, Hon. Abbott Lawrence of Boston,
b. Dec 16, 1792. Was repeatedly  elected a Rep. to the General Court, a Representative
to Congress, and for several years was resident minister of the United
States at the Court of St. James. He founded and endowed at Harvard Univ.,
a School of Science, applied to the arts, and gave liberally to other institutions.
He died Aug 18, 1855.  See a Memoir of him in the Historical & Genealogical Register, Vol. X.
p.297, October 1856.  See also Lawrence Genealogy.
2. Rev. Andrew Bigelow, b. at Groton, Mass., May 7, 1795; m. Jan 26, 1824, Amelia
Sargent Stanwood, b. at Gloucester, Mass., Sept. 12, 1806; she was the dau. of
Theodore & Sarah (Rogers) Stanwood.  Graduated at Harvard College, 1814. Studied
Theology, and settled first at Medford then in Taunton. Resided in Boston, 1865 to 1869. Two children:

         1. Timothy Bigelow b. at Medford Mar 15, 1825; now (1869) of Boston.
         2. Theodore Stanwood Bigelow b. in do., Aug 1, 1826; now (1869) also of
3. John Prescott Bigelow (see above)
4. Edward Bigelow b. and died in Medford June 1838, unmarried.
5. Helen Bigelow.
6. Francis Rufus Bigelow b. ___; he was a merchant of Boston.
7. Elizabeth Prescott Bigelow who m. Henry Stevens, a merchant in New York City.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth

Subject: Founder of the Boston Public Library controversy
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2007 11:45:35 EDT
Subject: John Prescott Bigelow, Founder of the Boston Public Library.
Source: The New England Historical and Genealogical Register. p.205
The New England Historic, Genealogical Society held a special meeting to commemorate the event,
which President Wilder opened by a brief speech, and at which Messrs. William W. Wheildon, Thomas
C. Amory and Nathaniel F. Safford read excellent papers on topics suggested by the occasion. The
pamphlet before us contains the proceedings with the president's speech, the papers of Messrs.
Wheildon, Amory and Safford in full, and some extracts from the Massachusetts records furnished
by Mr. David Pulsifer, showing the transition from a provincial to a state government. It also
contains the doings by the state and city in honor of the day, includinjg Governor Long's pro-
clamation and speech, and Dr. Hopkin's prayer. Besides this, there are other matters, particu-
larly an elaborate article by Mr. Wheildon, which appeared in the Sunday Herald, Oct. 3, 1880,
calling attention to the event.
Reply to Francis Brimley on the Claims of Honorable John P. Bigelow as Founder of the Boston
Public Library. By Timothy Bigelow. Read before the Boston Antiquarian Club, May 11, 1880.
Boston: Tolman & White, Printers, 383 Washington Street. 1880 (8vopp.50).
This is a caustic reply to a communication from the Honorable Francis Brinley, of Newport, R.I.,
read at a previous meeting of the Boston Antiquarian Club, in which the claims of the friends of
the Honorable John Prescott Bigelow that he was the founder of the Boston Public Library were
controverted. The author, who is a nephew of Mr. Bigelow, and familiar with the incidents in his
life, has been indefatigable in collecting new facts bearing upon the point at issue. We think
that the evidence here presented shows that the idea of giving the Bigelow Fund to the city for
a public library originated with Mayor Bigelow himself, and that if this is considered the origin
of the Public Library, of which however we have serious doubts, the claims of his friends are well
End. Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth,+founder&ie=ISO-8859-1

Also from Internet:

Mayor John Prescott Bigelow
Served 1849-1851

     "Born in Groton, August 25, 1797; died July 4, 1872, served as Mayor during 1849-1851.
His administration has been characterized as one of 'marked ability and discretion.' The year prior to his election, the Mayor and Aldermen had refused to license the sale of intoxicating liquors. Mayor Bigelow said that the attempt to suppress the traffic in this way had utterly failed; and he recommended the re-establishment of the license system. The Mayor had the support of the grand jury, but when a test case in regard to licensing came up before the Board of Aldermen, the Mayor had not a single supporter. In spite of legal licenses, there was said to be 1,500 places where intoxicating liquors were sold, according to City Marshall Tukey.
Mayor Bigelow was opposed to the erection of a new county jail recommended by his predecessor, and for which contracts had been made. But the Aldermen decided to proceed with the work at a reduced expense. The building was completed in 1851 at an outlay, including the site, of about $450,000.
     Mayor Bigelow, like his predecessor Quincy, realized that the high rate of taxation made necessary by diverse city projects induced many of the largest owners of personal property to escape into the country at the annual period of taxation. The evil has grown since that time in spite of attempts to check it by legislative enactment.
     The national census of 1850 gave Boston's population as 136,881. The rapid growth was due to the opening of railroad communication with the West and steamship communication with the East. The valuation of all property within the city amounted to $180,000,500. The tax levy was $1,237,000, a rate of $6.80 a thousand; and the funded debt had increased to more than $6,000,000, including the water loans. Mayor Bigelow complained of the heavy burden the city had to bear, but the new work developed made it impossible to reduce the outlay.
In the last year of his administration, Mayor Bigelow was able to state that every section of the city was supplied with pure water. The entire cost of the water works amounted to $4,321,000. In the same year. a new almshouse on Deer Island was completed and the system of telegraphic fire alarms introduced.
     One of the events under Mayor Bigelow was the attempt to break up a meeting in Faneuil Hall, called to receive George Thompson [abolitionist], then a member of the British parliament, on his arrival in this country. Another was the refusal of the Board of Aldermen to allow Faneuil Hall to be used for a reception in honor of Daniel Webster. The refusal was made on the ground that it might cause a disturbance and aroused intense indignation. The Common Council tried in vain to mend matters by inviting Daniel Webster to address his fellow citizens in Faneuil Hall at another time. The Mayor and Aldermen concurred later in this invitation. Politically, of course, the whole affair was a blunder, and all who had opposed Mr. Webster found themselves promptly relegated to private life.
     The crowning event in Mayor Bigelow's career as head of the municipality was the completion of the railroad line connecting Boston with Canada and the Great Lakes. It was celebrated in September, 1851."

 Rod Bigelow
Box 13  Chazy Lake
Dannemora, N.Y. 12929