Best known for the popular Christmas song Jingle Bells, which he wrote in 1857. The One Horse Open Sleigh was its original title.
He was an organist and music director at a church. He ran away from boarding school to work on a whaling ship known as The Shark.
He was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.
His father, Reverend John Pierpont, pastored the Hollis Street Unitarian Church in Boston, while his uncle was financier-banker John Pierpont Morgan. He married second wife Eliza Jane Purse in 1857.
His song Jingle Bells was named one of the top 25 most-recorded songs in history, beating out other standards such as Blue Skies by Irving Berlin.