James Davis Knowles Willis was my Great Grandfather. The following account of his life was written by Florence Reid Willis, another one of his great grand daughters
The parents of James Davis Knowles Willis were members of the Second Baptist Church of Boston.
James Davis Knowles was a clergyman, born in Providence Rhode Island, in 1798, died in 1838 in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. James was placed in a printing office at the age of 12, and while learning the trade he studied French and Latin. When he was 21 he became associate editor of William G. Goddard”s “Rhode Island American”. Entered the Baptist Church in March 1820. He was licensed to preach in the following autumn, and studied theology in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. There he also followed a collegiate course in Columbia College, after graduation he was appointed a tutor. On December 28 1825, he was ordained pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church in Boston.
In 1832 he was compelled by failing health to resign, and from that time until his death, which was due to small pox, he filled the chair of pastoral duties and sacred rhetoric at Newton Theological Seminary. At the same time he conducted for over two years the “christian Reiew”, a quarterly magazine. Besides addresses he published “Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson” (Boston,1829), and “Memoir of Roger Williams, the Founder of the State of RhodeIsland”.
I have paraphrased the above submission by Florence Reid Willis who in turn extracted the account from Appleton’s Encyclopedia.