Beacon Street Diary

Archives: November 2018

November 15, 2018

These new collections in our New England's Hidden Histories program are provided in partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. They comprise notes for eighteenth-century sermons preached by four New England Congregationalist ministers, all of whom originally hailed from Massachusetts. Two of the collections (Rev. Eells's and Rev. Parsons's) contain only a single sermon, while the other two are more comprehensive. The quality of the notes varies widely depending on their author, since they weren't intended for posterity. While some, such as Rev. John Hooker's, generally include dates of preaching and location information, others comprise hastily-written outlines without identifying headings. Each collection offers unique insights into sermon content, as well as the drafting and writing process.

 

John White's sermons

Rev. John White (1677-1760) was a Harvard graduate ordained in 1703, serving as minister to the First Church of Gloucester, Mass. until his death. He was married three times; his second wife was the widowed Abigail Blake (née Mather), daughter of Rev. Increase Mather. This small volume of loose papers contains fragmentary notes on sermons preached by Rev. White in Gloucester, Mass.

Nathaniel Eells's sermon

Rev. Nathaniel Eells graduated from Harvard in 1728 and became the minister of the East Congregational Church in Stonington, Connecticut in 1733. He was the son of Rev. Nathaniel Eells, Sr. of Scituate, Mass., and was evidently visiting his father's parish when he delivered this single Thanksgiving sermon on November 13, 1740. His chosen verse text was Ephesians 5:20: "giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Moses Parsons's sermon

This single sermon on Galatians 6:3 was first delivered on July 27, 1746 by Rev. Moses Parsons of Byfield Parish Church in what is now Newbury, Massachusetts. Dates and locations of subsequent preaching are noted at the end of the document.

John Hooker's sermons

By far the most comprehensive collection of these four, the sermon booklets authored by Rev. John Hooker (1728-1777) span his entire career at the Congregational Church of Northampton, from 1753 until his death from smallpox in 1777. The quality of information provided varies extensively; a number of volumes are undated and lack a specified location. A prayer request is also included among the notes.

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

November 8, 2018

The latest additions to our New England's Hidden Histories program come from our project partners, the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The collections comprise papers from two prominent Massachusetts families, the Hoveys and the Wigglesworths. Cumulatively they span a broad timeframe, from the late seventeenth century to the end of the eighteenth. Both collections begin with the personal papers of the family patriarchs, Rev. Michael Wigglesworth and Rev. Ivory Hovey. Later materials consist of their children's and grandchildren's correspondence, business, and legal records.

Both families were heavily involved in contemporary society. Rev. Wigglesworth was a popular poet, and his son and grandson were professors of divinity at Harvard College. The Hovey family documents bear witness to significant historical events of the time, including the 1775-1776 Siege of Boston, the 1783 evacuation of New York, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the American retreat from Ticonderoga. Also of note is Olive Hovey Pope's letter home to her parents, in which she describes her experience on the Maine frontier, including mention of "a grate plenty of woolves" which were troubling the livestock.

 

Wigglesworth family papers

This collection includes personal papers from three generations of the Wigglesworth family of Massachusetts. The majority of them were produced by Rev. Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705). Rev. Wigglesworth was also a poet, penning The Day of Doom in 1662, which went on to become one of the most popular poems in New England at the time. Other papers in the collection belong to his son Edward Wigglesworth, Sr. (ca. 1693-1765) and grandson Edward Wigglesworth, Jr. (1732-1794). Both men served as professors of divinity at Harvard College, and Edward Jr. was also a merchant in Boston. Their papers include correspondence, deeds, estate papers, poetry, and records of estate settlements and property exchanges. Many of the documents are written using various systems of shorthand.

Ivory Hovey's papers

Rev. Ivory Hovey (1714-1803) was minister of the First Congregational Church of Mattapoisett, and later the Second Church of Plymouth at Manomet in 1770. He and his wife Olive Jordan had five children who lived to adulthood; three of his sons served in the American Revolution and his daughter Olive settled with her husband on the Maine frontier. The family material includes four letters from Rev. Hovey's sons, Dominicus (b. 1740), Ivory III (b. 1748), and Samuel (b. 1750), who witnessed notable events of the American Revolution. The items in this collection include correspondence, sermons, ecclesiastical council decisions, church records, vital records, and other papers relating to family affairs and Rev. Hovey's congregations.

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

November 1, 2018

These new additions to our New England Hidden Histories program are provided in partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society. They consist of extensive notes on sermons heard by three lay individuals living in Boston in the 17th and 18th centuries. Two of the authors are identified and one is anonymous. Judging from the names of preachers mentioned in the texts it is probable that the anonymous author was attending Boston's Old South Church in 1723, and that Boston merchant Joshua Green (1731-1806) heard most of his sermons at Brattle Street Church. Each notebook is fairly standardized in form, consisting of sermon summaries with headers identifying the preacher, date, and citations for the bible verse upon which the sermon is based.

 

John Lake's memoranda

In John Lake's single memoranda booklet he records sermons heard during 1687-1688 in Boston, Massachusetts. Lake's notes include the name of the minister, the date, and abstracts of sermons preached by such dignitaries as Rev. Cotton Mather, Rev. Increase Mather, Rev. Samuel Willard, Rev. Samuel Phillips, Rev. John Higginson, Rev. Joshua Moody, Rev. Israel Chauncy, and a "Mr. Leverett" and "Mr. Baly", among others.

Unknown author's memoranda book

In this booklet, the anonymous author records a diverse array of sermons and preachers heard in Boston in 1723. Their handwritten notes include the names of the preachers, date of delivery, the verse text, and a detailed summary of each sermon. The sermons were likely delivered at Boston's Old South Church, due to the predominance of those preached by resident ministers Rev. Joseph Sewall and Rev. Thomas Prince. A number of other ministers are also included, however, including Revs. Colman, Scivall, Cooper, Thatcher, Wordsworth, Webb, and Gee.

Joshua Green's memoranda

Joshua Green (1731-1806) was a merchant in Boston, and kept extensive records on sermons he attended, which are contained in several volumes spanning the years 1768 to 1775. The location of the preaching is not specified, but it is likely that most were delivered at Brattle Street Church in Boston, the pastorate of the most frequently cited preacher, Rev. Samuel Cooper (1724-1783). Green's summaries consist of a short series of annotations on each sermon, and a header with the date, the name of the preacher, and citations for the relevant bible verses. There are also occasional notes about local deaths and other noteworthy events. At the end of the booklet Green cites the total number of sermons he heard, how many were preached by each minister, and the liturgical occasion of each.

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.