Edward Hale


Edward Hale (1858–1918) – Emily Hale’s father – Unitarian minister, was born in Northampton, Mass. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, New Hampshire, he went on in 1875 to Harvard College, whence he graduated AB in 1879, at the top of his class of 200 and with the highest honours in classics. At Harvard he contributed to the Advocate and Lampoon. (His popularity led his classmates in 1904 to elect him Secretary of the Harvard Class of ’79.) For two years he lived in Rome, tutoring the two sons of the American educator and author Mrs Langdon Williams Wilson (1864–1937); and after returning to Boston he commenced the study of architecture – which he hoped for a while to make his profession – in the office of H. H. Richardson. (His avocation as architect stayed with him for life.) In 1882–3 he worked as private secretary to President Charles William Eliot of Harvard University.

At that point in his career, Hale chose to enter the church, and from Jan. 1884 studied in the Harvard Divinity School, graduating STB (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) in 1886: whereupon – after spending the summer in France and on the island of Jersey – he was ordained in Oct. 1886 and installed as Associate Minister of South Congregational (Unitarian) Church in Boston (the legendary and greatly reverenced Dr Edward Everett Hale was the minister; but despite bearing the same name, he and Dr Edward Hale were not closely related). From 1891 to 1897 he was first minister of the recently incorporated First Unitarian Church of Essex County, Orange, New Jersey – where Emily Hale spent her first years – and finally he served the First Church of Chestnut Hill in Newton, Massachusetts, from 1897 until his death on 27 Mar. 1918.

A quiet man, Hale was universally respected as a devout, scholarly and conscientious pastor, with a sincere commitment to pastoral care. He served too as an official for several church and charitable organisations, including a society for the relief of aged clergymen. For three years he was president of the Benevolent Fraternity of Churches; and for a few months one year he edited the Christian Register. His merits were duly recognised when he was invited in 1901 to become President of the Meadville Theological School, although he decided not to accept the honour. In addition, he was a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (for three years as a member of the Council); and he wrote for the Academy a Memoir of the Revd Dr Edward Henry Hall.

While at Orange Hale designed the First Church building; and at Chestnut Hill he worked closely with the architect J. Lovell Little to design a new church building, and he also designed his own house there. In addition, he designed houses for his brother and for a number of friends. On top of his other labours, he taught as Assistant in Homiletics at Harvard Divinity School, 1886–96; and he was promoted to Assistant Professor of Homiletics, 1897–1906. At the request of the Harvard Divinity Faculty, he undertook to reconstruct and edit the lectures of the late Revd Charles Carroll Everett. On 19 June 1889, he married Emily Jose Milliken (1868–1946), born in Orange, New Jersey – he may have come to know her through her parents. He died in Brookline on 27 Mar. 1918. See too Samuel A. Eliot, Heralds of a Liberal Faith (Boston, 1952), vol. 4, 154–5.