Graduated from the College of New Jersey (1763) and embarked upon a career as a Congregational clergyman. Became the minister at Boston’s Old North Church (1768) and remained there until its destruction by the British early in the Revolutionary War.
Became pastor at the Second Church in Boston, where his parishioners included Jane Mecom (1776).
Received an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh (1785). Tended towards theological heterodoxy and, near the end of his life, became a Unitarian. Active in several charitable organizations, including the Massachusetts Humane Society.
Born in Norwich, Connecticut. Married in 1771 to Mary Wheatley; in 1780 to Elizabeth Checkley Sayer. Both marriages produced issue.