Simon, James

Affiliation:

Groton Pequot; Charlestown Narragansett

Faith:

Separatist

Nationality:

Pequot

Occupation:

(Itinerant) Minister

Residence:

Charlestown, RI

Biography:

James Simon was a semi-itinerant Pequot preacher who was active in the early 1750s. Little is known about his life outside of his conflict with Samuel Niles at Charlestown in 1752. Simon arrived at Charlestown in the late 1740s or early 1750s, just as separatism was dividing the Christian population. In 1750, the Anglo-American Baptist Stephen Babcock led away part of Joseph Park’s Congregationalist church. Many Narragansett Indians, under the influence of their charismatic spiritual leader Samuel Niles, went with him. However, by 1752, Niles faced a challenge for leadership of the Narragansett separate community: many Narragansett preferred James Simon as a minister. Babcock sided with James Simon and ordained him, leading Niles to host his own ordination. It seems that Niles was able to drive Simon out, because by late 1752, Simon was preaching farther afield, for instance in Titicut, MA. It is unclear where his career took him from this point forwards. Although James Simon shares a surname with Sarah Simon, a Christian Narragansett woman who sent five children to Moor’s Indian Charity School, it is unlikely that he was her husband. W. D. Love suggests that Sarah’s husband was a John Simon, but as often, his sources are unclear. Love’s conclusion seems reasonable, if only because of the brief time which James Simon spent in Charlestown and the number of Sarah’s children.

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Sources:

Brooks, Joanna. The Collected Writings of Samson Occom, Mohegan: Leadership and Literacy in Eighteenth-Century Native America. Oxford 2006. Fisher, Linford. The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America. New York: Oxford University Press 2012. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899.