Abel Jewett

A Short Biography: Abel Jewett, Harvard Shaker  (1717-1806)

by Roben Campbell, Shaker researcher


Abel Jewett and his wife Mary moved from Rowley to Littleton, Massachusetts, where they raised their children. Some years before Mother Ann’s arrival in 1781 they joined a New Light Baptist sect led by Shadrach Ireland in the northeast corner of Harvard, which became the site of the future Shaker village. Ireland’s spiritual “Light of Redemption”[1] had some similarities to Mother Ann Lee’s gospel. They both denied the flesh and renounced material things, choosing a simple celibate life apart from the world. Under Ireland’s direction, Abel had been one of the principle builders of the building that came to be known as the Square House.[2] Ireland died in 1780, in great distress of mind and feeling the wrath of God, but not before claiming he would rise again in eight or nine days.[3] This he did not do, and his followers felt they had been deceived.[4]

Abel and his wife united with the Shaker gospel when Mother Ann arrived in June of 1781. In their home in Littleton, they provided refuge for Mother Ann and the Elders when pursued by a mob in Harvard.[5] A decade later with dedication and fortitude, Abel gave his energy to the future Shaker village: He signed a petition to build the Meetinghouse in 1790,[6] and also the Harvard charter with sixty other Believers. In 1792, he deeded fifty acres of land abutting the southerly part of the Square House to the Shaker community  “in love and good will.”[7] In 1798, he contributed three days of work to build the wall and fence around the burying ground with other brethren.[8]

In 1801, Abel was moved to the Square House, where Mother Ann’s feet had trod, to live with two other elderly Believers who had worked hard to build a community on Shaker ideals.[9] He died in 1806.






[1] July, 13, 1826, Abijah Worster’s Biography, WRHS.VI.A.5

[2] Thomas Hammond Book, p. 170 Sketches of Shadrach Ireland, et al. WRHS.VII.B.22, also AAS p. 12

[3] Thomas Hammond Book, p. 166.

[4] RG, 27L.

[5] August 16, 1782, Testimonies of Mother Ann and the Elders, first published in 1816, second edtion in 1888 with minor changes, p. 89.

[6] OC rec bk, 1790

[7] Harvard Shaker Record Book, FM 1.7, p. 116, under Deeds, No. 3, (and recorded at Worcester, Co. of Worcester, Feby 3rd 1797, Book 128, page 559). Shaker Manuscript Collection, Fruitlands Museum.

[8] October 28, 1798, Harvard Shaker Record Book, FM 1.7,  p. 85. Shaker Manuscript Collection, Fruitlands Museum.

[9] March 24, 1801, Harvard Book of Records, P. 89 FM 1.7. The two other brethren were John Stevens and Abiathar Babbit.



All rights reserved. © Roben Campbell, 2016.