Bentley, William, 1759–1819, American Unitarian clergyman, b. Boston. From 1783 until his death he was pastor of East Church, Salem, Mass. His Diary (4 vol., 1905–14), covering the years 1784–1819, is a valuable historical source.
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Bentley, William(1759–1819) Protestant clergyman, author; born in Boston, Mass. He graduated from Harvard in 1777 and taught school for three years before returning to Harvard as a Latin and Greek tutor. Ordained pastor of East Church, Salem, Mass., in 1783 (where he remained for the rest of his life), he developed an appealing theological and political liberalism and is considered a pioneer of the Unitarian movement. He was a regular contributor to the Salem Register, a Freemason, and a correspondent with Thomas Jefferson. His four-volume diary (published 1905–14) provides an illuminating picture of his times.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.