Pitkin, Timothy, 1727 - 1812
The son of Governor William Pitkin and Mary Woodbridge, Timothy Pitkin was born in East Hartford, Connecticut in 1727. After graduating from Yale College in 1747, he studied theology and worked as rector of Hopkins Grammar School and a Yale tutor from 1750 to 1751. In 1751, Pitkin married Temperance Clap, daughter of Thomas Clap, the President of Yale College. The following year, Pitkin succeeded Rev. Samuel Whitman as pastor of the First Church in Farmington, where he and his wife found a very favorable reception. An evangelical preacher, he guided his congregants through the First Great Awakening, even welcoming George Whitefield to preach from the First Church’s pulpit.
In other matters, Pitkin continued Whitman’s role as minister and overseer to the Tunxis Indian community. In early November 1768, Pitkin delivered a sermon at the execution of John Jacobs, a member of the Tunxis community, who had murdered James Chockrer, a Schaghticoke, at Kent, Connecticut. When Temperance died in 1772, the African American writer Phillis Wheatley, a correspondent of Rev. Pitkin, authored a moving eulogy to him, To the Rev. Mr. Pitkin, on the death of his lady. In the summer of 1773, Pitkin invited Samson Occom to preach in the town’s Congregational Church.
In 1777, Pitkin was elected a member of the Corporation of Yale College. After thirty-three years of acceptance by his congregation, however, he noticed a change in the new generation’s attitude towards his ministry. Pitkin consequently resigned his pastoral leadership in 1785 and retired. He continued as a member of the Corporation to 1804.
Dexter, Graduates of Yale College, 129-130. Find A Grave, Memento Mori Cemetery, Farmington, CT. “Memoirs of the Reverend Timothy Pitkin,” Connecticut Evangelical Magazine and Religious Intelligencer 5, no. 9 (September 1812): 338-343. Mabel S. Hurlburt, Farmington Town Clerks and Their Times (Hartford, CT: Press of Finlay Brothers, 1943), 156. Phillis Wheatley, To the Rev. Mr. Pitkin, on the death of his lady (Boston, 1772). Love, Samson Occom and the Christian Indians of New England, 202. Julius H. Rubin, Tears of Repentance: Christian Indian Identity and Community in Colonial Southern New England, (Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 2013), 261. Image courtesy of Yale Art Gallery, painting by Reuben Moulthrop
Born:January 13, 1727
Died:July 8, 1812