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Collection Overview

Foxcroft, Thomas, 1697-1769
Thomas Foxcroft Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


Thomas Foxcroft served as a Congregational minister at the First Church of Boston. The collection consists primarily of letters sent to Foxcroft by acquaintances and colleagues, notably Jonathan Dickinson (1688-1747) and Experience Mayhew (1673-1758). Several manuscripts, including sermons by Jonathan Dickinson (both written and printed) and lengthy responses to theological debates, are also included.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists primarily of correspondence sent to Foxcroft by five individuals: Aaron Burr, Sr. (1716-1757), Jonathan Dickinson (1688-1747), Moses Dickinson (1695-1778), Jeremiah Halsey (1735-1780), and Experience Mayhew (1673-1758). Multiple letters touch upon the early history of Princeton University as Jonathan Dickinson and Burr were the first and second presidents respectively. Others letters, notably those written by Jonathan Dickinson and Experience Mayhew, are largely concerned with matters of theology and the doctrinal splits spurred by the First Great Awakening, often mentioning other prominent ministers of the time including Gilbert Tennent, George Whitefield, and missionary David Brainerd. The escalation of a doctrinal disagreement between Dickinson and Mayhew can be traced through a number of letters and manuscripts written in response to one another. The collection also suggests Foxcroft essentially served as a literary agent for these two men. The papers include drafts and copies of sermons and remarks written by Dickinson and Mayhew, many unpublished; Foxcroft was asked to review them for content and facilitate their publication and distribution. Researchers should note the collection essentially consists of items written by others; Foxcroft's hand appears only in the occasional notation.


Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent in one series:

Collection Creator Biography:

Foxcroft, Thomas, 1697-1769

Thomas Foxcroft was born February 26, 1697, in Boston, Massachusetts. Educated at Harvard, he was called in 1717 to serve as minister of the First (Congregational) Church of Boston, where he remained until his death. Foxcroft's ministry was marked by a desire to honor traditional Puritanism while also respecting the differing religious views of his contemporaries. This was perhaps best exemplified by his forty-year amicable partnership at First Church with Charles Chauncy (1705-1817), whose Arminian stance stood in contrast to Foxcroft's Calvinist bias. Spurred by a passion to reach youth, Foxcroft published over thirty sermons and tracts, many written before a 1736 stroke that left him permanently debilitated. Despite his weakened strength, Foxcroft still managed to play a significant role in the First Great Awakening. He penned An Apology in Behalf of the Revd Mr. Whitefield (1745) defending revivalist preacher George Whitefield (1714-1770). He also facilitated the publication of works by various other ministers of his day and contributed prefaces to a number of such works. He died of a stroke on June 18, 1769.

Collection History


Purchased in 1953 .


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Rebecca Garcia in 2007. Finding aid written by Rebecca Garcia on November 26, 2007.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Thomas Foxcroft Correspondence; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1

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Related Materials

Additional papers related to Princeton Presidents Aaron Burr, Sr., and Jonathan Dickinson may be found in the Aaron Burr Collection (C0090) and the Jonathan Dickinson Collection (C1046) as well as in the Office of the President Records at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.


American Writers Before 1800 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983) and American National Biography Online ( were consulted during preparation of biographical note.

Subject Terms:
Clergy -- New Jersey -- 18th century -- Correspondence.
Clergy -- New Jersey -- 18th century -- Sermons.
Clergy -- United States -- 18th century -- Correspondence.
Congregational churches -- Clergy -- 18th century.
Great Awakening.
Genre Terms:
Correspondence -- 18th century
Manuscripts, English -- 18th century.
Sermons, American -- 18th century.
Princeton University
Dickinson, Jonathan, 1688-1747
Mayhew, Experience, 1673-1758