MAYHEW, JONATHAN (1720-1766), American clergyman, was born at Martha's Vineyard on the 8th of October 1720, being fifth in descent from Thomas Mayhew (1592-1682), an early settler and the grantee (1641) of Martha's Vineyard. Thomas Mayhew (c. 1616-1657), the younger, his son John (d. 1689) and John's son, Experience (1673-1758), were active missionaries among the Indians of Martha's Vineyard and the vicinity. Jonathan, the son of Experience, graduated at Harvard in 1744. So liberal were his theological views that when he was to be ordained minister of the West Church in Boston in 1 747 only two ministers attended the first council called for the ordination, and it was necessary to summon a second council. Mayhew's preaching made his church practically the first " Unitarian " Congregational church in New England, though it was never officially Unitarian. In 1763 he published Observations on the Charter and Conduct of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, an attack on the policy of the society in sending missionaries to New England contrary to its original purpose of " Maintaining Ministers of the Gospel " in places " wholly destitute and unprovided with means for the maintenance of ministers and for the public worship of God; " the Observations marked him as a leader among those in New England who feared, as Mayhew said (i 7^2), '" that there is a scheme forming for sending a bishop into this part of the country, and that our Governor, 1 a true churchman, is deeply in the plot." To an American reply to the Observations, entitled A Candid Examination (1763), Mayhew wrote a Defense; and after the publication of an Answer, anonymously published in London in 1764 and written by Thomas Seeker, archbishop of Canterbury, he wrote a Second Defense. He bitterly opposed the Stamp Act, and urged the necessity of colonial union (or " communion ") to secure colonial liberties. He died on the 9th of July 1766. Mayhew was Dudleian lecturer at Harvard in 1765, and in 1749 had received the degree of D.D. from the University of Aberdeen.
See Alden Bradford, Memoir of the Life and Writings of Rev. Jonathan Mayhew (Boston, 1838), and " An Early Pulpit Champion of Colonial Rights," chapter vi., in vol. i. of M. C. Tyler's Literary History of the American Revolution (2 vols., New York, 1897).