Newbury, Mass. First Church
The First Parish Church of Newbury, in Newbury, Massachusetts, was established by Revs. Thomas Parker and James Noyes in approximately 1635. The building of the meetinghouse caused the town of Newbury to fall into a debt of sixty pounds, which led the church to apply to the General Court of Massachusetts for support from taxation in 1637. The original "Old Meeting House" was replaced a few years later by a newer building in approximately 1651. Sources suggest that the meetinghouse became crowded and a new meetinghouse was built by 1661, leading to subsequent disagreements over seating arrangements, which had been assigned for life on the basis of social position. In 1670 the church's co-founder, Rev. Parker, was suspended from his ministry due to his perceived Presbyterian bias. After a lengthy dispute involving the General Court it was ruled that Rev. John Richardson should assist Parker with the ministry. The parish was divided in 1695 when the Second Church of Newbury was established, followed by the Third Church in 1726.
At the Congregational Library & Archives:
This booklet contains a handwritten copy of the council minutes made in 1853. Also included in this booklet is a written history of the town of Newbury. The council was called to advise the church on changing their church governance from a Council of Elders to a more democratic system of governing through popular vote by hand of all members of the church. The response of the ecclesiastical council was overwhelmingly negative, claiming that such a process was against the Congregational way and promoted popery. Despite this, by 1683 Newbury First had no ruling elders.
For more information about this document please see the CLA's finding aid.
At the Phillips Library:
The following original manuscripts are owned by our project partners, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. Further information about their collection can be found in the Phillips Library's finding aid.
This volume contains documents related to the formation of the First Church, as well as a copy of the church records from 1674-1745. These include biographies of Rev. Parker, accounts of the church's founding, meeting minutes, church policies, covenants, baptisms, marriages, member list from 1745, admissions and dismissions. There are also copies of legal correspondence and testimonies related to the dispute with Rev. Parker.
This volume contains meeting minutes, member lists, and lists of expenses, and a description of the boundary between the First Church of Newbury and the Parish of Byfield.
This volume contains meeting minutes, copies of correspondence, member lists, and marriages and baptisms.
Loose documents, 1749-1751
|1751 February 20||from congregation of Newbury||to the Council of Churches||objections to the ministry of Rev. Moses Hale|
|undated||from the Ecclesiastical Court||to Gov. Francis Barnard||reply to petitioners' concerns about location of Second Church's meeting house|
|1749 February 16||by the Council of Churches||recommendations relating to complaints against Rev. Barnard|
|undated||from Captain Pearson and Deacon Ayer||to the First Church of Christ in Haverhill||letter regarding the "distressed state and condition" of the Second Church of Christ in Newbury|
|1750 September 18||unsigned||to the Second Church of Christ in Newbury||letter regarding complaint against Rev. Barnard|
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