The Boston Earthquake of 1727

La Sainte Bible: qui contient l'Ancien et le Nouveau Testament. C'est à dire, l'ancienne et la nouvelle alliance. Le tout reveu & conféré sur les Textes Hébreux & Grecs, par les pasteurs & professeurs de l'Eglise de Genève... A Amsterdam: Dans l'Imprimerie de P. & J. Blaeu, 1687. [R.B.R. BS230 1687]

Although there had been a number of French Bible translations, it was the one published first in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1588, that became known as the standard French translation. Theodore Beza (1519-1605), the great Protestant theologian and successor to the reformer John Calvin (1509-64) as leader of the church in Geneva, headed a committee of pastors that translated and published this edition.

This copy appears to have been owned by Andrew Sigourney (d. 1748), a member of an important French Huguenot family that immigrated to Massachusetts in 1686. Its other owners included his descendants, Wirt Dexter (1832-90), a prominent Chicago lawyer, and the industrialist, inventor, and great Harvard benefactor, Gordon McKay (1821-1903). McKay records discovering an interesting handwritten record in this copy:

"Memo. This page had a piece of thick paper pasted over it to conceal the writing below. On the 24 May 1891 I wet the paper and took it. I see nothing in the writing that should have been covered. Gordon McKay

"A. Sigourney's Memoranda
"Boston Octob. the 29, 1727 being on the Lords Day at Evening about Ten and Eleven a Clock at Night their [sic] was an Earth Quake not verey terrible but the 2d and Third Exceeding Terrible So that Everey Inhabitant in the Town thought their houses would Fall upon their heads & their was a Chille thrown down to the Ground their [sic] was another about 5 a Clock in the morning and Reached an 100 miles in the Country ..."

Below this notice is a record of the Boston earthquake of 1744.

Additional images:

Title PageTitle Page

Bookplate of Wirt DexterBookplate of Wirt Dexter

Front EndpaperFront Endpaper

Sainte Bible (1687): Sigourney DescendantsSigourney Descendants

Sources of information:

Historical Catalogue of the Printed Editions of Holy Scripture in the Library of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Compiled by T.H. Darlow and H.F. Moule. London: Bible House, 1903-1911.

Sigourney, Henry Howell Williams. Genealogy of the Sigourney family. Boston; Cambridge: James Munroe and Co., 1857.

Dictionary of American Biography. "Under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies." New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928-58.

The Cambridge History of the Bible. Cambridge: University Press, 1963-70.