Pemberton, Ebenezer Jr.

honorific(s): Rev.; Mr.
Birth: February 6, 1704 in Boston, MA
Death: September 1777 in Boston, MA

Harvard College; New York Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge; New England Company; College of New Jersey


Harvard (A.M. 1721)


New Light Calvinist





  • Boston, MA (from 1704-02-06 to 1721)
  • Castle William, MA (from 1721 to 1726)
  • New York, NY (from 1727 to 1753)
  • Boston, MA (from 1753 to 1777-09)
Marital status

Pemberton was married three times.


Ebenezer Pemberton was a New Light minister who wrote the infamous "Oliver letter" to try to discredit Samson Occom during the latter's 1765 fundraising tour. He also opposed Wheelock's efforts to obtain funding from the Massachusetts Assembly. After graduating from Harvard in 1721, Pemberton served a five-year stint as chaplain at Boston's Castle William (Fort Independence). In 1726, First Presbyterian Church in New York hired him, although they allowed him to be ordained Congregationalist in Boston. Pemberton served First Presbyterian until 1753, when battles within the Presbyterian Church drove him out. He is noteworthy as the only minister in New York who welcomed George Whitefield, transatlantic superstar of the First Great Awakening, into his pulpit. While in New York, Pemberton was a member of the New Jersey Board of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. This board hired several missionaries, including David Brainerd, John Brainerd, and Azariah Horton, and established the College of New Jersey (which awarded Pemberton an honorary D.D. in 1770). Pemberton also preached at the ordination of John Brainerd, a Presbyterian minister with whom Wheelock worked closely. After the fissure in his congregation, Pemberton returned to the comforts of Congregationalism in Boston at the Old North Church (also known as the New Brick Church, and not the same Old North Church connected to the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere). Pemberton joined the New England Company once he reached Boston. Along with other New England Company board members, he discouraged Occom's fundraising tour. He was also the author of the 1765 letter attempting to discredit Occom and Wheelock. Pemberton opposed Wheelock's efforts to secure money from the Massachusetts Assembly on at least two occasions, once in 1762 and once in 1766. After Andrew Oliver retired from the New England Company around 1770, Pemberton took over as de facto secretary. The Revolution forced Pemberton to give up his pulpit. He was a Tory, and Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was a loyal member of his Boston congregation. The rest of the congregation was not pleased by Pemberton's politics. From February 1774 on, Pemberton was more or less in early retirement, and he died a few years later. Pemberton should not be confused with 1) his father, Ebenezer Pemberton Sr., who was minister at the Boston Old South Church, or 2) Israel Pemberton, a wealthy Philadelphia businessman who gave money to Moor's.


Chase, Frederick. A history of Dartmouth College and the Town of Hanover, New Hampshire. 1891. Hamilton College Library Digital Collections. Accessed 10/8/2013. Richardson, Leon. An Indian Preacher in England. Hanover: Dartmouth College Press 1933. Robbins, Chandler. A History of the Second Church, or Old North, in Boston: To Which is Added A History of the New Brick Church. Boston: John Wilson & Son 1852. Sprague, William Buell. “Ebenezer Pemberton, D.D.” In Annals of the American Pulpit, Vol. 1. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1859 pp. 336-337. Webster, Richard. “Ebenezer Pemberton.” In History of the Presbyterian Church in America, From its Origins Until the Year 1760. Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson 1857 pp. 397-403.

General note

For one probable text of the "Oliver letter," see Richardson, p. 137.