Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Rev James Freeman Clarke

James Freeman Clarke

Reverend James Freeman Clarke is one of those men who were well known in their own time, but have disappeared from popular knowledge since their day. Clarke was born in 1810 in New Hampshire, and in time became a leading Unitarian minister, a productive writer, a reformer and a friend and peer of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker. After attending Harvard and Harvard Divinity School, he moved to Lexington Kentucky - the "West" at the time - to help spread Unitarianism to the American frontier. In 1841, Clarke and his family moved back to Boston, where he founded a new kind of Unitarian church, serving the Boston area rather than a local community. The Church of the Disciples survived the loss of Freeman for three years to illness, and reformed when he returned. After a failed attempt to revive Brook Farm in West Roxbury, the Clarke family settled in Jamaica Plain in 1856. During the 1860s, During the 1860s, he served on the Massachusetts Board of Education, and was named to the faculty of Harvard Divinity School and the Harvard University Board of Overseers. Clarke was a pioneer of the study of comparative religion. He remained active throughout his life, and died at his home in 1888.

The Clarkes lived in Jamaica Plain on Woodside avenue, between Washington and Forest Hills streets. In this 1874 map, find Egleston square at the top left. Moving down the left side of the map, Woodside avenue is just above Glen road.

Forest Hills Cemetery.

Source: Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography


  1. what about a photo of the house?

  2. The house is long gone - removed to squeeze in more houses on smaller lots.