From English to Algonquian: Early New England Translations

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Grindal Rawson

Grindal Rawson (1659-1715)

Grindal Rawson was a classmate of Cotton Mather’s at Harvard College, where they both graduated in 1678. Rawson became reverend of the church at Mendon, Massachusetts, upon being ordained in 1684. During his tenure in Mendon, Rawson learned the native language and began to preach sermons in Algonquian. Additionally, Rawson translated several popular English texts into Algonquian: Thomas Shepard’s Sincere Convert, John Cotton’s Spiritual Milk, and a Confession of Faith for Boston Churches.

Rawson was known amongst his contemporaries as possessing a great command of the native language. In Cotton Mather’s Just Commemorations (1715), he writes of Rawson: “We generally Esteemed him a truly Pious Man, and a very Prudent One, and a Person of Temper….We honoured him, for his doing the Work of an Evangelist among our Indians, of whose Language he was a Master that had scarce an Equal, and for whose Welfare, his Projections and Performances, were Such as render our loss therein hardly to be repaired.”