John Greenleaf Adams was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on July 30, 1810. He was ordained in Rumney, New Hampshire, on June 12, 1833. He served Universalist churches in Claremont, New Hampshire (1836-38); Malden, Massachusetts (1838-53); Worcester, Massachusetts (1853-60); Providence, Rhode Island (1860-65); Lowell, Massachusetts (1865-74); Cincinnati, Ohio (1874-76); and Melrose, Massachusetts (1877-87). In 1877, he received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Buchtel College in Akron, Ohio. He died in Melrose on May 4, 1887.
He was active in moral reforms, in the anti-slavery movement, and in promoting Sunday schools. He was the author of theological and biographical works that were popular among Universalists, and he wrote hymns and edited several hymnals. Works by him include his sermon at the ordination of Phoebe A. Hanaford, Hymns for Christian Devotion, The Gospel Psalmist, Vestry Harmonies, and his historical and biographical survey of the Universalist movement, Fifty Notable Years.
For more information, see his obituary in the Universalist Register for 1888 (p. 82). [Hand-colored photograph from his collection: bMS 414/1 (35)]