Chamberlain, Theophilus

honorific(s): Mr.; Reverend
Birth: October 20, 1737 in Northfield, MA
Death: July 20, 1824 in Preston, Nova Scotia

Yale College; Moor's Indian Charity School


Yale College (1765), Moor's Indian Charity School (1765)






Reverend, Teacher, Bishop, Officer, Civil Servant

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia (from 1757-10 to 1758-02)
  • Canajoharie (from 1765-06-19 to 1767-07-01)
  • Danbury, CT (from 1768 to 1770)
  • New Haven, CT (from 1770 to 1772)
  • New York, NY (from 1772 to 1783)
  • Preston, Nova Scotia (from 1783 to 1824)

1765: Chamberlain took part in the mass mission to the Six Nations.

Marital status

Chamberlain was married twice and had a total of ten children.


Theophilus Chamberlain was a Yale graduate and missionary employed by Wheelock. His interest in Indian ministry may have started during the French and Indian War, when he was taken captive by a tribe allied with the French (it is unclear which tribe) at Fort William Henry and spent a year in Nova Scotia. After his return to New England, Chamberlain attended Yale. Wheelock recruited Chamberlain, along with fellow Yale graduate Titus Smith, to spearhead Moor's 1765 mission to the Six Nations. Chamberlain was examined as a missionary on March 12, 1765, and ordained on April 24, 1765. During the mission, he was stationed at Canajoharie (the Mohawk "Upper Castle") and oversaw the mission to the Mohawks. While on his mission, he converted to Sandemanianism, a decision that profoundly shaped the rest of his life. It is difficult to evaluate his efficacy as a missionary: he had high praise for himself, and David Fowler said the Mohawks were affectionate towards him, but Occom described him as overzealous. Chamberlain served the duration of his contract, but clashed with Wheelock afterwards over who was responsible for debts he had incurred on his mission (e.g. transportation costs, support for schoolmasters and interpreters). After departing from Wheelock's service, Chamberlain was ordained as a Sandemanian bishop. He fled to New York and later Nova Scotia during the American Revolution because of his religious and political beliefs. In Nova Scotia, Chamberlain oversaw the establishment of the settlement of Preston.


Chase, Frederick. A history of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. 1891. Love, Deloss. Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England. Pilgrim Press 1899. McCallum, James. The Letters of Eleazar Wheelock’s Indians. Dartmouth College Press 1932. Tratt, Gertrude. “Chamberlain, Theophilus.” In Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. 6. University of Toronto/Université Laval 2003. Accessed August 26, 2013.