Miss Hill and Miss Prince Receive Bibles for their Sunday School

The Sunday school begun by Hannah Hill and Joanna Prince in 1810 soon caught the attention of Robert Rantoul, a local merchant whose dry goods store was located on Washington Street a few blocks from the school.  Together, they petitioned the Salem Bible Society, an organization founded in March 1811, to provide six Bibles (old and new Testaments).to the ladies in support of their work.  Rantoul, who also served as Clerk of the First Parish Church, mentored the two women for many years thereafter and, around 1820 invited them to conduct the school in the Vestry, what we know today as the White Whale.  Rantoul’s letter, transcribed below, is the earliest written reference we have of the Beverly Sunday School. 

Beverly, July 18, 1811

Miss Hannah Hill &
Miss Joanna Prince-

Ladies- In behalf of the members of the Bible society of Salem and vicinity, I present you six Bibles and six Testaments, which they request you accept for the use of your Sunday school, to be disposed of as you may think best.  You will permit me to improve this opportunity to express the high opinion I entertain of your disinterested exertions to promote the religious instruction of the young generation.  No method is better calculated to assure the knowledge & practice of the religion of the Redeemer, than the early inculcation of its precepts on the tender minds of the young, with the benign influence of religious principles happily exemplified in devoting so much of your time to this object without expecting, as no doubt you do, the approbation of your religious friends and of your own minds & of your heavenly Father_______ . That your labor may be blessed with attendance success, and that your example may expedite an enlightened zeal for good works among all your Christian friends is my sincerest prayer.

I am very respectfully

ladies

your obedient servant

(signed) Robert Rantoul

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