From English to Algonquian: Early New England Translations

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Job Nesuton

Job Nesuton (d. 1675)

Job Nesuton was a Massachuset Indian who likely first met John Eliot in 1646, when Eliot began preaching to the Indians at Nonantum (in present-day Newton, Massachusetts). By the time Nesuton came to work with Eliot, Cockenoe, Eliot’s previous native interpreter, had left his service. Nesuton proved to be a valuable replacement for Cockenoe. In a letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England dated August 21, 1650, Eliot writes:

I have one already who can write, so that I can read his writing well, and he (with some paines and teaching) can read mine; I hope the Lord will both inlarge his understanding, and others also to do as he doth…

By 1651, Nesuton was working as a schoolmaster in the praying town at Natick. Shortly thereafter, Nesuton served as Eliot’s closest translator and interpreter, a position he held for nearly twenty-five years. It was during this time that Eliot produced the bulk of his native-language translations, including the Algonquian Bible, completed in 1663.

Nesuton died in 1675, fighting on the side of the colonists in King Philip’s War.