Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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WILLETT, Thomas, merchant, born in England in 1611; died in Barrington, Rhode Island, 4 August, 1674. He came with Isaac Allerton from Leyden in 1630, and became a trader and sea-captain of Plymouth colony, but lived much of the time in New Amsterdam, and in 1650 acted as a commissioner on behalf of the New Netherlands to settle boundary disputes with New England. In 1651 he became a magistrate of Plymouth colony. He was the first to inform Peter Stuyvesant of the coming of a hostile English fleet in 1664. After the surrender he accompanied the officers that went to take possession of Albany as a mediator with the Indians, and on 12 June, 1665, was appointed by Governor Richard Nicolls the first mayor of New York. On 23 August he was nominated one of the commissioners of admiralty. He was a councillor under Governor Richard Lovelace. When the Dutch retook the colony in 1673, his property in New York was confiscated, and he retired to New England.--His son, Thomas, soldier, born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1 October, 1646, was major commanding the militia of Queens county, and summoned them to meet the French under the Marquis Denonville in 1687. He was a councillor under Sir Edmund Andros, and was continued in the office under Governor Henry Sloughter.--The first Thomas's great-grandson, Marinus, soldier, born in Jamaica, L. I., 31 July, 1740; died in New York city, 22 August, 1830, served with distinction as a lieutenant in General James Abercrombie's expedition against Fort Ticonderoga in 1758, and participated in the capture of Fort Frontenae. He was one of the leaders of the Sons of Liberty in New York city, and on 6 June, 1775, prevented the sending of arms from the arsenal to the British troops in Boston harbor. He joined General Richard Montgomery's force, was commissioned as captain, took part in the expedition against Canada, and remained in command of the post at St. John's after its capture. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 3d New York regiment, and was engaged in skirmishes near New York city in the spring of 1776. In August, 1777, he was second in command at Fort Stanwix, whence he led a sally against the main force of Colonel Barry St. Leger, and thus gave the victory to the militia at Oriskany. He joined General Washington's army in New Jersey in June 1778, and in 1779 accompanied General John Sullivan in his expedition against the Six Nations. From 1780 till the end of the war he commanded the forces in the Mohawk valley, encountering the irregulars of Sir John Johnson at Johnstown in the summer of 1781, and in February, 1783, conducting" the last hostile movement against the British, which was an attempt to surprise the garrison at Oswego. He was elected to the state assembly after the peace, but vacated his seat in February, 1784, on being appointed sheriff of New York, which office he held till 1792. In the latter year he was offered the command and rank of a brigadier-general in the expedition against the western Indians, but declined. He was sent by President Washington in 1794 to the south on a mission to the Creek Indians, and brought Alexander McGillivray and his principal chiefs and warriors to New York, where they signed a treaty of peace. When De Wilt Clinton was removed from the office of mayor of New York, in 1807, Willett was appointed in his place. In 1810 the section of the Republicans that became the Tammany party nominated him for lieutenant-governor in opposition to Clinton. On 24 June, 1812, he was secretary of a mass-meeting in favor of military preparations against the British. See " A Narrative of the Military Actions of Colonel Marinus Willett," prepared chiefly from his manuscript journals by his son, William M. Willett (New York, 1831).--Marinus's son, William Marinus, author, born in New York city, 3 January, 1803, entered the New York conference of the Methodist Episcopal church in 1823, and preached in eastern New York and Connecticut, and afterward in the limits of the Genesee conference, to which he was transferred in 1826 till 1833. In 1838 he became instructor in Hebrew at Wesleyan university, and in 1841-'2 was professor of Hebrew and biblical literature, and also edited the last numbers of the college magazine that was called the "Classic." In 1843 he founded the Biblical institute at Newbury, Vermont, of which he was president till 1848. His life has since been spent in literary labor. He edited the "Newbury Biblical Magazine" in 1843-'4, and in 1882 the "New Bible Magazine," which was continued only through one volume. His works in-elude "Scenes in the Wilderness: Authentic Narrative of the Labors and Sufferings of the Moravian Missionaries among the North American Indians " (New York, 1842) ; "A New Life of Summerfield" (Philadelphia, 1857); "The Life and Times of Herod the Great, as connected, Historically and Prophetically, with the Coming Christ" (Philadelphia, 1860) ; "Herod Antipas, with Passages from the Life of Jesus," a sequel to , the last-named (New York, 1866); "The Messiah (Boston, 1874); and "The Restitution of All Things" (New York, 1880).
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