Born in Massachusetts, Gilbert went into the piano manufacturing business in Boston, obtaining a number of piano-related patents along the way.
Gilbert attended several Baptist churches in the city, seeking a congregation that welcomed black members. He eventually helped found the Free Baptist Church in April 1839, a non-segregated, anti-slavery church at the corner of Bromfield and Tremont. Two years later he helped the congregation acquire its own meeting space. The church became known as the Tremont Temple Baptist Church.
The day following Gilbert’s death, the Evangelical Baptist Benevolent and Missionary Society honors the influential Baptist:
Whereas God, in his all-wise providence, has called our late associate, Deacon Timothy Gilbert, from the activities of earth to the enjoyments of heaven, it seems proper that this Board should place on record some suitable memorial of his character and worth.
Deacon Gilbert has been honorably identified, for more than forty years, with the interests of the Baptist denomination in this city. During this long period he has been actively identified with the leading public enterprises for the advancement of the cause of Christ. He was one of the few Christian men who laid the foundations of Newton Theological Institution in sacrifice and prayer. He was also an early patron of the cause of missions to the heathen, and many of our missionaries, both among the living and the dead, have shared his benefactions and hospitalities. He was emphatically a lover of good men, and engaged in all good works.
It was while engaged in efforts for the religious instruction of the adult youth and strangers thronging the city, that he conceived the idea of establishing the Tremont Temple enterprise as a free place of worship. His labors and sacrifices in connection with this enterprise are so well known that no detailed account of them in this connection is necessary. His unwearied efforts, his steady courage, and his large pecuniary offerings in this behalf, entitle him to the gratitude of the friends of Christ, ard the success of his work there constitutes his best and most enduring monument. His labors are ended, and he has entered into his rest. Impressed with a sense of our great personal loss in the removal of our venerable friend and brother from our earthly counsel, we hereby tender to his afflicted family our sincere condolence in this hour of their deep domestic sorrow.
J. W. Converse, Cyrus Carpenter,
J. W. Merrill, Frederick Gould,
G. \V. Chipman, Solomon Parsons, Secretary,
G. C. Goodwin, Joseph Sawyer,
J. H. Converse, Chas. S. Kendall,
Joseph Story, G. W. Little,
L. B. Marsh, Jesse Tirrell.
His funeral was attended in the Temple by a large concourse of citizens, conspicuous among whom were the piano-forte manufacturers, who assembled in a body, and escorted his remains beyond the city limits. The clergy of the Baptist denomination were present, with the exception of his former pastor and much beloved friend, Rev. Rollin H. Neale, D. D., who was absent from the city. The prayers of Drs. Stow and Eddy in the Temple were brim full of appreciative sympathy, and breathed a spirit of thankfulness to God for the gift of such a life to the church and to the world.