William Newell was born in Littleton, Massachusetts, on February 25, 1804. He graduated from Boston Latin School in 1818. He received an AB from Harvard in 1824 and an AM in 1827. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1829.
In a college essay on religious controversies, he wrote: "Upon the whole, Religious Controversy seems to me, if not absolutely pernicious, at least unprofitable; and, if it have some good effects, they are more than counterbalanced by its evil tendencies." This view made him a good choice when, in 1830, he was called to the ministry of the First Parish in Cambridge, which for many years had been divided into Trinitarian and Unitarian parties and had, in 1829, seen the resignation of its minister and the withdrawal of the majority of its church members. He was ordained on May 19, 1830, and served this congregation until his retirement on March 31, 1868. In 1853, he received an honorary STD from Harvard. He died in Cambridge on October 28, 1881.
For more information, see: Discourses and Poems of William Newell, Minister of the First Parish in Cambridge: A Memorial Volume. Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1882. A copy of this work is available here. The library also has several collections of the records of the records of First Parish in Cambridge, the largest of which is bMS 300. [Carte de visite: bMS 1446/151]