By Francis H. Lincoln.
The Old Meeting-House, Hingham. (Erected 1681.)
The first church in Hingham was formed in September, 1635. Rev. Peter Hobart, of Hingham, in Norfolk, England, came to Charlestown in June, 1635. Mr. Hobart was educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was graduated in 1625. He declined the invitations of several settlements to become their pastor, preferring to join that at Bare Cove, where many of his fellow-townsmen in the old country were already established. On the second of September, 1635, the name of Bare Cove was changed to Hingham; and on the eighteenth of the same month Mr. Hobart and twenty-nine others drew for house-lots. Here Mr. Hobart gathered the church which was the twelfth in order of time in Massachusetts proper.
Vol. I. -- 1*
During the few years immediately succeeding 1635 settlers came in quite respectable numbers to Hingham; and there is every reason to suppose the church was in a prosperous condition.
Nov. 28, 1638, Mr. Robert Peck was ordained Teacher of the church. In the "Peck Genealogy'' by lra G. Peck, we find the following account of him:--
"Rev. Robert Peck was born at Beccles, Suffolk, County, England in 1580. He was graduated at Magdalene College, Cambridge; the degree of A. B. was conferred upon him in 1599 and that of A. M. in l 603. He was set apart to the ministry, and inducted over the church at Hingham, Norfolk County, England, Jan. 8, 1605, where he remained until 1638, when he fled from the persecutions of the church to this country."
He was a talented and influential clergyman, a zealous preacher, and a non-conformist to the superstitions, ceremonies, and corruptions of the church, for which he was persecuted and driven from the country. Brook, in his "Lives of the Puritans," gives many facts of interest in relation to him. In particular, giving some of the offences for which he and his followers were persecuted he says: --
"For having catechized his family, and sung a psalm in his own house on a Lord's day evening, when some of his neighbors attended, his lordship (Bishop Harsnet) enjoined all who were present to do penance, requiring them to say, 'I confess my errors,' etc."
Those who refused were immediately excommunicated and required to pay heavy costs. This, Mr. Brook says, appears from the bishop's manuscripts under his own hands. He says: "He was driven from his flock, deprived of his benefice, and forced to seek his bread in a foreign land."
He arrived here in 1638. 1n. relation to his arrival the town clerk of Hingham here says: --
"Mr. Robert Peck, preacher of the gospel in the town of Hingham in the county of Norfolk, old England with his wife and two children and two servants, came over the sea and settled in the town of Hingham; and he was a Teacher of the Church."
Mr. Hobart, of Hingham, says in his Diary that he was ordained here Teacher of the church, Nov. 28, 1638. His name frequently appears upon the records of the town. He had lands granted him. His family consisted of nine children. He remained here until the long Parliament, or until the persecutions in England ceased, when he returned and resumed his rectorship at Hingham. Mr. Hobart says he returned Oct. 27, 1641. He died at Hingham, England, and was buried in his churchyard there.
Cotton Mather, in his "Magnolia Christi Americana" has the following: --
"Mr. Robert Peck. -- This light, having been by the persecuting prelates 'put under a bushel,' was, by the good providence of Heaven, fetched away into New England, about the year 1638, where the good people of our Hingham did 'rejoice in the light for a season.' But within two or three years the invitation of his friends at Hingham in England persuaded him to a return unto them; where being, though a great person for stature, yet a greater for spirit, he was greatly serviceable for the good of the
In "Blomefield's Norfolk" is the following:--
"1605, 7 Jan. Robert Peck, A.M. Tho. Moor; by grant of Francis Lovell, Knt., he was 'a man of a very violent schismatical spirit; he pulled down the rails and levelled the altar and the whole chancel a foot below the church, as it remains to this day; but being prosecuted for it by Bishop Wren, he fled the kingdom and went over into New-England, with many of his parishioners, who sold their estates for half their value, and conveyed all their effects to that new plantation, erected a town and colonie, by the name of HINGHAM, where many of their posterity are still remaining. He promised never to desert them; but hearing that Bishops were deposed, he left them all to shift for themselves, and came back to Hingham in the year 1646. After 10 years' voluntary banishment he resumed his rectory, and died in the year 1656.' His funeral sermon was preached by Nathaniel Joceline, A.M., pastor of the church of Hardingham, and was published by him, being dedicated to Mr. John Sidley, high-sheriff; Brampton-Gurdon and Mr. Day, justices of the peace; Mr. Church, Mr. Barnham, and Mr. Man, aldermen and justices in the city of Norwich.
"1638, 25 May. Luke Skippon, A.M., was presented by Sir Thomas Woodhouse, Knt. and Bart., as on Peck's death, he having been absent about two years. And in--
"1640, 11 April, the said Luke was reinstituted, the living being void by lapse, it appearing that Peck was alive since Skippon's first institution; and now two years more being past, and he not appearing, it lapsed to the Crown. as on Peck's death. But in--
"1646, Peck came again, and held it to his death."
A controversy which seriously affected the harmony of the church and town arose in 1644. The cause was insignificant in comparison with the principles it involved. Anthony Eames, who had been Lieutenant, was chosen Captain of the company of militia, and was presented to be commissioned by the Council. Before this was accomplished, dissatisfaction arose, and Bozoan Allen was selected. "Winthrop's Journal" gives a long account of the affair, which is quoted at length in Lincoln's "History of Hingham." Mr. Lincoln's comments are valuable, and he leaves
nothing new to be gleaned. The writer of this chapter, with a filial respect for the opinions and industrious research of one whose interest in this town and its history were unceasing, prefers to insert the narrative as given by him rather than to
attempt any description of his own.
CONTROVERSY WITH THE MAGISTRATES.
[From the "History of Hingham," by Solomon Lincoln, 1827.]
It does not appear that the harmony of the church or the prosperity of the town was interrupted until the year when the unfortunate occurrence of the military difficulties caused a serious injury to both. The prominent part which Mr. Hobart took in this unpleasant controversy rendered him less popular at home and obnoxious to the government. His friends, however, were much the most numerous and influential party in the church; and his conduct in relation to the minority, although it gave rise to some jealousy, and in a few instances to strong dislike, does not appear to have diminished the attachment which a majority of the citizens had uniformly exhibited towards him. From the severe and burthensome fines and expenses to which he was subjected in consequence of his zeal for popular rights, he appears to have been relieved by the liberality of the people of his charge.
Previously to the difficulties of 1644, we have reason to suppose that the town was flourishing and prosperous. The situation was eligible; the facilities for fishing and for intercourse with other towns by water contributed to enrich it. In 1654 it is described by Johnson, in his "Wonder-Working Providence," in the following manner, viz.: --
"A place nothing inferiour to their Neighbours for scituation; and the people have much profited themselves by transporting Timber, Planke, and Mast for shipping to the town of Boston; as also ceder and Pineboard to supply the wants of other townes, and also to remote parts, even as far as Barbadoes. They want not for fish for themselves and others also. This towne consisted of about sixty families. The forme is somewhat intricate to describe, by reason of the Seas wasting crookes where it beats upon a mouldering shore. Yet have they compleat streetes in some places. The people joyned in C hurch covenant in this place were much about an hundred soules, but have been lessened by a sad, unbrotherly contention which fell out among them, wasting them every way -- continued already for seven yeares' space, to the great grief of all other Churches."
It is this "sad unbrotherly contention" which first attracts our attention in the early history of Hingham. It is to be regretted that most of the writers of the time when these difficulties arose should have been of that class which disapproved of the proceedings of a majority of the citizens of the town, and that no statement by those opposed to them in opinion has been preserved; because, by comparing opposite statements, we should perhaps view the conduct of those of our ancestors who were then considered to be acting in an unjustifiable and disorderly
manner, as the result of principles more consonant to the spirit of the present age than to the feelings of men at the time when they lived.
I am aware, however, that there is justice in the remark of the learned editor of Winthrop, when, in speaking of Governor Winthrop's account of these affairs, he says, "An unusual fairness for a party whose feelings had been so much engaged in the controversy is here shown by our author." These difficulties originated among the members of the military company, gradually enlisted the feelings of the whole town, arrested the attention of the church, were taken cognizance of by the neighbouring churches, and at last required the interposition of the government. A sketch of the rise, progress, and termination of these difficulties will illustrate the principles of our fathers, and give some indication of the spirit and asperity of controversies when the prejudices of religion and of politics were unfortunately blended together. Winthrop, in his Journal, vol. ii. p. 221, introduces the subject as follows:--
"1645. This court fell out a troublesome business which took up much time. The town of Hingham, having one Emes their lieutenant seven or eight years, had lately chosen him to be their captain, and had presented him to the standing council for allowance; but before it was accomplished, the greater part of the town took some light occasion of offence against him, and chose one Allen to be their captain, and presented him to the magistrates (in the time of the last general court) to be allowed. But the magistrates, considering the injury that would hereby accrue to Emes (who had been their chief commander so many years, and had deserved well in his place, and that Allen had no other skill but what he learned from Emes), refused to allow of Allen, but willed both sides to return home, and every officer to keep his place until the court should take further order. Upon their return home, the messengers, who came for Allen, called a private meeting of those of their own party, and told them truly what answer they received from the magistrates, and soon after they appointed a training day (without their lieutenant's knowledge), and being assembled, the lieutenant hearing of it came to them, and would have exercised them, as he was wont to do, but those of the other party refused to follow him, except he would show them some order for it. He told them of the magistrates' order about it; the others replied that authority had advised him to go home and lay down his place honourably. Another asked, what the magistrates had to do with them? Another, that It was but three or four of the magistrates, and if they had all been there, it had been nothing, for Mr. Allen had hrought more for them from the deputies, than the lieutenant had from the magistrates. Another of them professeth he will die at the sword's point, if he might not have the choice of his own officers. Another (viz. the clerk of the band) stands up above the people, and requires them to vote, whether they would bear them out in what was past and what was to come. This being assented unto, and the tumult continuing, one of the officers (he who had told them that authority had advised the lieutenant to go home and lay down his place) required Allen to take the captain's place; but
he not then accepting it, they put it to the vote, whether he should be their captain. The vote passing for it, he then told the company, it was now past question, and thereupon Allen accepted it, and exercised the company two or three days, only about a third part of them followed the lieutenant. He, having denied in the open field, that authority had advised him to lay down his place, and putting (in some sort) the lie upon those who had so reported, was the next Lord's day called to answer it before the church, and he standing to maintain what he had said, five witnesses were produced to convince him. Some of them affirmed the words, the others explained their meaning to be, that one magistrate had so advised him. He denied both. Whereupon the pastor, one Mr. Hubbert, (brother to three of the principal in this sedition), was very forward to have excommunicated the lieutenant presently, but, upon some opposition, it was put off to the next day. Thereupon the lieutenant and some three or four more of the chief men of the town informed four of the next magistrates of these proceedings, who forthwith met at Boston about it, (viz. the deputy governour, the sergeant major general, the secretary, and Mr. Hibbins). These, considering the case, sent warrant to the constable to attach some of the principal offenders (viz. three of the Hubbards and two more) to appear before them at Boston, to find sureties for their appearance at the next court, &c. Upon the day they came to Boston, but their said brother the minister came before them, and fell to expostulate with the said magistrates about the said cause, complaining against the complainants, as talebearers, &c., taking it very disdainfully that his brethren should be sent for by a constable, with other high speeches, which were so provoking, as some of the magistrates told him, that were it not for the respect to his ministry, they would commit him. When his brethren and the rest were come in, the matters of the information were laid to their charge, which they denied for the most part. So they were bound over (each for other) to the next court of assistants. After this five others were sent for by summons (these were only for speaking untruths of the magistrates in the church). They came before the deputy governour, when he was alone, and demanded the cause of their sending for, and to know their accusers. The deputy told them so much of the cause as he could remember, and referred them to the secretary for a copy, and for their accusers he told them they knew both the men and the matter, neither was a judge bound to let a criminal offender know his accusers before the day of trial, but only in his own discretion, least the accuser might be taken off or perverted, &c. Being required to give bond for their appearance, &c., they refused. The deputy laboured to let them see their errour, and gave them time to consider of it. About fourteen days after, seeing two of them in the court, (which was kept by those four magistrates for smaller causes), the deputy required them again to enter bond for their appearance, &c., and upon their second
refusal committed them in that open court.
"The general court falling out before the court of assistants, the Hubberts and the two which were committed, and others of Hingham, about ninety (whereof Mr. Hubbert their minister was the first), presented a petition to the general court, to this effect, that whereas some of them had been bound over, and others committed by some of the magistrates for words spoken concerning the power of the general court, and their liberties, and the liberties of the church, &c., they craved that the court would hear the cause, &c. This was first presented to the deputies, who
sent it to thc magistrates, desiring their concurrence with them, that the cause might be heard, &c. The magistrates, marvelling that they would grant such a petition without desiring conference first with themselves, whom it so much concerned, returned answer, that they were willing the cause should be heard, so as the petitioners would name the magistrates whom they intended, and the matters they would lay to their charge, &c. Upon this the deputies demanded of the petitioners' agents (who were then deputies of the court) to have satisfaction in those points, whereupon they singled out the deputy governour, and two of the petitioners undertook the prosecution. Then the petition was returned again to the magistrates for their consent, &c., who being desirous that the deputies might take notice, how prejudicial to authority and the honour of the court it would be to call a magistrate to answer criminally in a cause, wherein nothing of that nature could be laid to his charge, and that without any private examination preceding, did intimate so much to the deputies, (though not directly, yet plainly enough), showing them that nothing criminal &c. was laid to his charge, and that the things objected to were the act of the court &c. yet if they would needs have a hearing, they would join in it. And indeed it was the desire of the deputy, (knowing well how much himself and the other magistrates did suffer in the cause, through the slanderous reports wherewith the deputies and the country about had been possessed), that the cause might receive a public hearing.
"The day appointed being come, the court assembled in the meeting house at Boston. Divers of the elders were present, and a great assembly of people. The deputy governour, coming in with the rest of the magistrates, placed himself beneath within the bar, and so sate uncovered. Some question was in court about his being in that place (for many both of the court and the assembly were grieved at it). But the deputy telling them, that, being criminally accused, he might not sit as judge in that cause, and if he were upon the bench, it would be a great disadvantage to him, for he could not take that liberty, to plead the cause, which he ought to be allowed at the bar, upon this the court was satisfied.
"The petitioners having declared their grievances &c. the deputy craved leave to make answer, which was to this effect, viz. that he accounted it no disgrace, but rather an hononr put upon him, to be singled out from his brethren in the defence of a cause so just (as he hoped to make that appear) and of so publick concernment. And although he might have pleaded to the petition, and so have demurred in law, upon three points, 1. in that there is nothing laid to his charge, that is either criminal or unjust; 2. if he had been mistaken either in the law or in the state of the case, yet whether it were such as a judge is to be called in question for as a delinquent, when it doth not appear to be wickedness or wilfulness; for in England many erroneous judgments are reversed, and errours in proecedings rectified, and yet the judges not called in question about them; 3. in that being thus singled out from three other of the magistrates, and to answer by himself for some things, which were the act of a court, he is deprived of the just means of his defence, for many things may be justified as done by four, which are not warrantable if done by one alone, and the records of a court are a full justification of any act, while such record stands in force. But he was willing to waive this plea, and to make answer to the particular charges, to the end that the truth of the case, and of all proceedings thereupon might appear to all men.
"Hereupon the court proceeded to examine the whole cause. The deputy justified all the particulars laid to his charge, as that upon credible information of such a mutinous practice, and open disturbance of the peace, and slighting of authority, the offenders were sent for, the principal by warrant to the constable to bring them, and others by summons, and that some were bound over to the next court of assistants, and others that refused to be bound were committed; and all this according to the equity of the laws here established, and the custom and laws of England, and our constant practice here these fifteen years. And for some speeches he was charged with as spoken to the delinquents, when they came before him at his house, when none were present with him but themselves, first, he appealed to the judgment of the court, whether delinquents may be received as competent witnesses against a magistrate in such a case; then, for the words themselves, some he justified, some he explained so as no advantage could be taken of them, as that he should say, that the magistrates could try some criminal causes without a jury, that he knew no law of God or man, which required a judge to make known to the party his accusers (or rather witnesses) before the cause came to hearing. But two of them charged him to have said that it was against the law of God and man so to do, which had been absurd, for the deputy professed he knew no law against it, only a judge may sometimes, in discretion, conceal their names &c. least they should be tampered with, or conveyed out of the way &c.
"Two of the magistrates and many of the deputies were of opinion that the magistrates exercised too much power, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger; and other of the deputies (being about half) and all the rest of the magistrates were of a different judgment, and that authority was overmuch slighted, which, if not timely remedied, would endanger the commonwealth, and bring us to a mere democracy. By occasion of this difference, there was not so orderly carriage at the hearing, as was meet, each side striving unseasonably to enforce the evidence, and declaring their judgments thereupon, which should have been reserved to a more private debate (as after it was), so as the best part of two days was spent in this publick agitation and examination of witnesses &c. This being ended, a committee was chosen of magistrates and deputies, who stated the case, as it appeared upon the whole pleading and evidence, though it cost much time, and with great difficulty did the committee come to accord upon it.
"The case being stated and agreed, the magistrates and deputies considered it apart, first the deputies, having spent a whole day and not attaining to any issue, sent up to the magistrates to have their thoughts about it, who taking it into consideration, (the deputy always withdrawing when that matter came into debate), agreed upon these four points chiefly; 1. that the petition was false and scandalous, 2. that those who were bound over &c. and others that were parties to the disturbance at Hingham, were all offenders, though in different degrees, 3. that they and the petitioners were to be censured, 4. that the deputy governour ought to be acquit and righted &c. This being sent down to the deputies, they spent divers days about it, and made two or three returns to the magistrates, and though they found the petition false and scandalous, and so voted it, yet they would not agree to any censure. The magistrates, on the other side, were resolved for censure, and for the deputy's full acquittal. The deputies being thus hard held to it, and growing weary of the court,
for it began (3) 14, and brake not up (save one week) till (5) 5, were content they should pay the charges of the court. After, they were drawn to consent to some small fines but in this they would have drawn in lieutenant Emes to have been fined deeply, he being neither plaintiff nor defendant, but an informer only, and had made good all the points of his information, and no offence found in him, other than that which was after adjudged worthy of admonition only; and they would have imposed the charges of the court upon the whole trained band at Hingham, when it was apparent, that divers were innocent, and had no hand in any of these proceedings. The magistrates not consenting to so manifest injustice, they sent to the deputies to desire them to join with them in calling in the help of the elders, (for they were now assembled at Cambridge from all parts of the United Colonies, and divers of them were present when the cause was publickly heard, and declared themselves much grieved to see that the deputy governour should be called forth to answer as a delinquent in such a case as this was, and one of them, in the name of the rest, had written to him to that effect, fearing lest he should apprehend over deeply of the injury &c.) but the deputies would by no means consent thereto, for they knew that many of the elders understood the cause, and were more careful to uphold the honour and power of the magistrates than themselves well liked of, and many of them (at the request of the elder and others of the church of Hingham during this court) had been at Hingham, to see if they could settle peace in the church there, and found the chief and others the petitioners in great fault &c. After this (upon motion of the deputies) it was agreed to refer the cause to arbitrators, according to an order of the court, when the magistrates and deputies cannot agree &c. The magistrates named six of the elders of the next towns, and left it to them to choose any three or four of them, and required them to name six others. The deputies finding themselves now at the wall, and not daring to trust the elders with the cause, they sent to desire that six of themselves might come and confer with the magistrates, which being granted, they came, and at last came to this agreement, viz. the chief petitioners and the rest of the offenders were severally fined, (all their fines not amounting to 50 pounds), the rest of the petitioners to bear equal share to 50 pounds more towards the charges of the court, (two of the principal offenders were the deputies of the town, Joshua Hubbert and Bozone Allen, the first was fined 20 pounds, and the other 5 pounds), lieutenant Emes to be under admonition, the deputy governour to be legally and publickly acquit of all that was laid to his charge.
"According to this agreement, (5) 3, presently after the lecture the magistrates and deputies took their places in the meeting house, and the people being come together, and the deputy governour placing himself within the bar, as at the time of the hearing &c. the governour read the sentence of the court, without speaking any more, for the deputies had (by importunity) obtained a promise of silence from the magistrates. Then was the deputy governour desired by the court to go up and take his place again upon the bench, which he did accordingly, and the court being about to arise, he desired leave for a little speech, which was to this effect.
"'I suppose something may be expected from me, upon this charge that is befallen me, which moves me to speak now to you; yet I intend not to intermeddle in the proceedings of the court, or with any of the
persons concerned therein. Only I bless God, that I see an issue of this troublesome business. I also acknowledge the justice of the court, and, for mine own part, I am well satisfied, I was publickly charged, and I am publickly and legally acquitted, which is all I did expect or desire. And though this be sufficient for my justification before men, yet not so before the God, who hath seen so much amiss in my dispensations (and even in this affair) as calls me to be humble. For to be publickly and criminally charged in this court, is matter of humiliation, (and I desire to make a right use of it), notwithstanding I be thus acquitted. If her father had spirit in her face, (saith the Lord concerning Miriam), should she not have been ashamed seven days? Shame had lien upon her, whatever the occasion had been. I am unwilling to stay you from your urgent affairs, yet give me leave (upon this special occasion) to speak a little more to this assembly. It may be of some good use, to inform and rectify the judgments of some of the people, and may prevent such distempers as have arisen amongst us. The great questions that have troubled the country, are about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people. It is yourselves who have called us to this office, and being called by you, we have our authority from God, in way of an ordinance, such as hath the image of God eminently stamped upon it, the contempt and violation whereof hath been vindicated with examples of divine vengeance. I entreat you to consider, that when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities in yourselves and others. We account him a good servant, who breaks not his covenant. The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose, that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill. When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house &c. he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfhlness, for it is his profession, and you pay him for both. But when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts &c. therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for. If it fall out that the case be clear to common apprehension, and the rule clear also, if he transgresses here, the errour is not in the skill, but in the evil of the will; it must be required of him. But if the cause be doubtful, or the rule doubtful, to men of such understanding and parts as your magistrates are, if your magistrates should err here, yourselves must bear it.
"'For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the country about that. There is a twofold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to men with beasts and other creatures. By this, man, as he stands in relation to man simply, hath liberty to do what he lists; it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this liberty makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts; omnes sumus licentia deteriores
That is that great enemy of truth and peace, that wild beat, which all the ordinances of God are bent against, to restrain and subdue it. The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal, it may also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions amongst men themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this, is not authority, but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in a way of subjection to authority; it is o f the same kind of liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. The woman's own choice makes such a man her husband; yet being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her subjection her honour and freedom, and would not think her condition safe and free, but in her subjection to her husband's authority. Such is the liberty of the church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments; and if through forwardness or wantonness &c. she shake it off, at any time, she is at not rest in her spirit, until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her, and embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her, she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported, and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, let us break their bands &c. we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so, brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you stand for your natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be always striving to shake off that yoke; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any of you, or in any other way of God; so shall your liberties be preserved, in upholding the honour and power of authority amongst you.'"
The following notes of the proceedings of the deputies and magistrates in relation to this affair were collected by Mr. Savage and published in his edition of Winthrop:--
order of the magistrates is as follows: 'Fined the persons after named in such sums as hereafter are expressed, having been as moderate and gone as low as they any ways could with the holding up of authority in any measure, and the maintenance of justice, desiring the concurrence of the deputies herein, that at length an end may be put to this 1ong and tedious business.
Joshua Hubbard is fined . . . . . . . . £20 00 00
Edmond Hubbard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 00 00
Thomas Hubbard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 00 O0
Edmond Gold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 O0 O0
John Faulshame . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 O0 O0
John Towers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 00 00
Daniel Cushin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 10 00
William Hersey . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 00 00
Mr. Bozon Allen . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 00 00
Mr. Peter Hubbard,
the first that subscribed the petition . 2 00 00
All the rest of the petitioners being fined 81, out of which number are excepted three; viz., Mr. Peter Hubbard, John Foulshame, and John Towers. The rest, making 78, are fined 20 shillings a piece, the sum of which is -- £155 10.
"'We have also voted, that, according to the order of the general court, for so long time as their cause hath been in handling, the petitioners shall bear the charge of the general court, the sum of which costs is to be cast up and agreed by the court when the cause is finished.'
"'The House of Deputies, having issued the Hingham business before the judgment of our honoured magistrates upon the case came down, they have hereunder expressed their determinate censures upon such as they find delinquent in the case; viz.,--
Joshua Hubbard is fined . . . . . . . . £20 00 00}
Anthony Eames . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 00 00}
Thomas Hubbard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 00 00}
Edmond Hubbard . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 00 00}
Daniel Cushan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 00 00} £50
William Hersey . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 00 00}
Mr. Allen, }
beside his proportion with the trainband 1 00 00}
Edmond Gold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 00 00}
"'The rest of the trainband of Hingham, that have an equal vote allowed them by law for the choice of their military officers, are fined 55 puunds, to be paid by equal proportion; the which said sums of 50 and 55 pounds are laid upon the said delinquents for the satisfying of the charge of the court occasioned by the hearing of the cause, in case the said charge shall arise to the sum of 105 pounds. The deputies desire the consent of the magistrates herein.'
"Several discordant votes passed each branch before the business was brought to its close."
After giving an account of the proceedings of the court, Winthrop remarks as follows:--
"I should have mentioned the Hingham case, what care and pains many of the elders had taken to reconcile the differences which were grown in that church. Mr. Hubbert, the pastor there, being of a Presbyterial spirit, did manage all affairs without the church's advice; which divers of the congregation not liking of, they were divided in two parts. Lieutenant Emes. &c., having complained to the magistrates, as is before expressed, Mr. Hubbert, &c., would have cast him out of the church, pretending that he told a lie; whereupon they procured the elders to write to the church, and so did some of the magistrates also; whereupon they stayed proceeding against the lieutenant for a day or two. But he and some twelve more of them, perceiving he was resolved to proceed, and finding no way of reconciliation, they withdrew from the church, and openly declared it in the congregation. This course the elders did not approve of. But being present in the court when their petition against the deputy governour was heard, Mr. Hubbert, perceiving the cause was
like to go against him and his party, desired the elders to go to Hingham to mediate a reconciliation (which he would never hearken to before, being earnestly sought by the other party and offered by the elders) in the interim of the court's adjournment for one week. They readily accepted the motion, and went to Hingham and spent two or three days there, and found the pastor and his party in great fault, but could not
bring him to any acknowledgment. In their return by water they were kept twenty-four hours in the boat, and were in great danger by occasion of a tempest which arose in the night; but the Lord preserved them."
But the difficulties did not terminate here. The authority of government was resisted when the marshal attempted to levy the fines imposed on the petitioners. The following is Winthrop's account of the matter:--
"1646, 26. (I.) ] The governour and council met at Boston to take order about a rescue which they were informed of to have been committed at Hingham upon the marshal, when he went to levy the fines imposed upon Mr. Hubberd their pastor and many others who joined with him in the pe tition against the magistrates, &c. And having taken the information of the marshal and others, they sent out summons for their appearance at another day; at which time Mr. Hubberd came not, nor sent any excuse, though it was proved that he was at home and that the summons was left at his house. Whereupon he was sent for by attachment directed to the constable, who brought him at the day of the return. And being then charged with joining in the said rescue by animating the offenders and discouraging the officer, questioning the authority of his warrant because it was not in the king's name, and standing upon his allegiance to the crown of England and exemption from such laws as were not agreeable to the laws of England, saying to the marshal that he could never know wherefore he was fined, except it were for petitioning, and, if they were so waspish that they might not be petitioned, he knew not what to say to it, &c. -- all the answer he would give was, that, if he had broken any wholesome law not repugnant to the laws of England, he was ready to submit to censure. So he was bound over to the next court of assistants.
"The court being at Boston, Mr. Hubberd appeared, and the marshal's information and other concurrent testimony being read to him and his answer demanded, he desired to know in what state he stood, and what offence he should be charged with, or what wholesome law of the land, not repugnant to the law of England, he had broken. The court told him that the matters he was charged with amounted to a seditious practice, and derogation and contempt of authority. He still pressed to know what law, &c. He was told that the oath which he had taken was a law to him; and, besides, the law of God, which we were to judge by in case of a defect of an express law. He said that the law of God admitted various interpretations, &c. Then he desired to see his accusers. Upon that the marshal was called, who justified his information. Then he desired to be tried by a jury, and to have the witnesses produced viva voce
. The secretary told him that two were present and the third was sworn to his examination (but in that he was mistaken, for he had not been sworn); but to satisfy him he was sent for and sworn in court. The matters testified against him were his speeches to the marshal before
thirty persons against our authority and government, &c. 1. That we were but as a corporation in England; 2. That by our patent (as he understood it), we could not put any man to death, nor do divers other things which we did; 3. That he knew not wherefore the general court had fined them, except it were for petitioning; and if they were so waspish (or captious) as they might not be petitioned, &c. -- and other speeches tending to disparage our authority and proceedings. Accordingly a bill was drawn up, &c., and the jury found that he seemed to be ill affected to this government, and that his speeches tended to sedition and contempt of authority. Whereupon the whole court (except Mr. Bellingham, who judged him to deserve no censure, and desired in open court to have his dissent recorded) adjudged him to pay 20 pounds fine, and to be bound to his good behaviour till the next court of assistants, and then farther if the court should see cause. At this sentence his spirit rose, and he would know what the good behaviour was, and desired the names of the jury and a copy of all the proceedings, which was granted him; and so he was dismissed at present."
In 1646 the celebrated petition of Dr. Child and six others for the abolition of "the distinctions which were maintained here, both in civil and church estate," and that the people of this country might be wholly governed by the laws of England, was presented to the House of Deputies. Six of the petitioners were cited before the court and charged with great offences contained in this petition. They appealed to the Parliament of England, and offered security to abide by their sentence; but the court thought proper to sentence the offenders to fine and imprisonment. The petitioners then resolved to lay their case before Parliament; and Dr. Child, Mr. Vassall, and Mr. Fowle went to England for that purpose.1
But it appears that they met with very ill success in their exertions. Their papers were published at London by Major John Child, brother of Dr. Robert Child, in a tract entitled "New England's Jonas Cast up at London," in allusion, probably, to the remark of Mr. Cotton in one of his sermons," that, if any shall carry any writings or complaints against the people of God in this country to England, it would be as Jonas in the ship
." This tract was answered by Mr. Winslow, who was then in England, in another tract, entitled "The Salamander," "wherein," says Winthrop, "he cleared the justice of the proceedings" of the government here.
1 An amusing account of the superstitious terror of some of the passengers in the vessel in which the petitioners went to En gland, and of the ill success of their petition, may be found in Neal's "History of New England."
I introduced this notice of the petition of Dr. Child and others for the purpose of correcting an error into which Hutchinson and Neal have fallen in confounding this controversy with that of our military dispute which created so much excitement in the country. It is proper to mention, however, that Mr. Hobart was suspected of "having a hand in it," and consequently was obliged to suffer another of the mortifications to which the relentless spirit of
persecution had subjected him. I give, however, Winthrop's account in his own words:--
"In 1646. (9). 4. ] This court the business of Gorton, &c., and of the petitioners Dr. Child, &c., were taken into consideration, and it was thought needful to send some able men to England, with commission and instructions to satisfy the commissioners for plantations about those complaints; and because it was a matter of so great and general concernment, such of the elders as could he had were sent for, to have their advice in the matter. Mr. Hubbard, of Hingham, came with the rest; but the court, being informed that he had an hand in a petition which Mr. Vassall carried into England against the country in general, the governour propounded that if any elder present had any such hand, &c., he would withdraw himself. Mr. Hubbard sitting still a good space, and no man speaking, one of the deputies informed the court that Mr. Hubbard was the man suspected; whereupon he rose and said that he knew nothing of any such petition. The governour replied, that, seeing he was now named, he must needs deliver his mind about him: which was, that, although they had no proof present about the matter of the petition, and therefore his denial was a sufficient clearing, &c., yet in regard he had so much opposed authority and offered such contempt to it, as for which he had been lately bound to his good behaviour, he thought he would (in discretion) withdraw himself, &c., whereupon he went out. Then the governour put the court in mind of a great miscarriage, in that our secretest counsels were presently known abroad, which could not be but by some among ourselves, and desired them to look at it as a matter of great unfaithfulness, and that our present consultations might be kept in the breast of the court, and not be divulged abroad, as others had been."
Winthrop then remarks upon a special providence of God (as he terms it), in which he takes it for granted that Mr. Hobart, the people of Hingham, and Dr. Child entertained similar views, if they did not openly combine their efforts to promote them.
"I must here observe a special providence of God, pointing out his displeasure against some profane persons who took part with Dr. Child, &c., against the government and churches here. The court had appointed a general fast, to seek God (as for some other occasions, so) in the trouble which threatened us by the petitioners, &c. The pastor of Hingham, and others of his church (being of their party), made light of it, and some said they would not fast against Dr. Child and against themselves; and there were two of them (one Pitt and Johnson) who, having a great raft of masts and planks (worth forty or fifty pounds) to tow to Boston, would needs set forth about noon the day before (it being impossible they could get to Boston before the fast; but when they came at Castle Island there arose such a tempest, as carried away their raft, and forced them to cut their mast to save their lives. Some of their masts and planks they recovered after, where it had been cast on shore; but when they came with it to the Castle, they were forced back again, and were so oft put back with contrary winds, &c., as it was above a month before they could bring all the remainder to Boston."
The editor of Winthrop in noticing these remarks very justly observes, that "unless we be always careful to consider the cause
of any special providence, we may fail in our views of the displeasure of God;" and notices the fact that the clergy, when they came to this town to reduce the church members to sobriety, were kept twenty-four hours in the boat, and were in great danger by occasion of a tempest."
The last time at which Mr. Hobart was made to feel the displeasure of the government was in 1647. Winthrop mentions it in the following manner:--
"4. (6). There was a great marriage to be solemnized at Boston. The bridegroom being of Hingham, Mr. Hubbard's church, he was procured to preach, and came to Boston to that end. But the magistrates, hearing of it, sent to him to forbear. The reasons were, 1. for that his spirit had been discovered to be adverse to our ecclesiastical and civil government, and he was a bold man, and would speak his mind, 2. we were not willing to bring in the English custom of ministers performing the solemnity of marriage, which sermons at such times might induce, but if any minister were present, and would bestow a word of exhortation, &c., it was permitted."
I have thus gleaned from Winthrop all the facts which his valuable journal contains, relating in any manner to the military difficulties in this town, and to the conduct of the most prominent individuals concerned in them.
The dispassionate reader, while he will give to Winthrop all the credit to which his impartiality entitles him, cannot fail to discover some circumstances which tend to extenuate the criminality of the conduct of a large and respectable portion of the inhabitants of this town. The convictions which the deputy governor entertained of the disorderly and seditious course of Mr. Hobart and his friends were deep and strong; and in some instances his conduct indicated anything but a charitable spirit towards those whose principal error (if any) consisted in their attachment to more liberal views of government than those generally entertained at that time.
Winthrop acknowledges, that "the great questions that troubled the country were about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people." "Two of the magistrates and many of the deputies," esteemed for piety, prudence, and justice, "were of opinion that the magistrates exercised too much power, and that the people's liberty was thereby in danger," and the tendency of their principles and conduct was (in the opinion of the deputy governor), to have brought the commonwealth "to a mere democracy."
Thus we learn that one of the military company here professed "he would die at the sword's point, if he might not have the choice of his own officers." Some of the principles and privileges for which our fathers contended, were undoubtedly too liberal and republican for the spirit of the age in which they lived. They were, perhaps, injudicious and indiscreet in their
endeavors to promote their views; and probably in some instances might not have expressed that respect for the constituted authorities to which their character entitled them. The most superficial reader, however, may discover in the conduct of the deputy governor something of the spirit of bigotry which was, unfortunately,
too often allowed to affect the judgments of the wisest and best of men at that time, and which operated very much to the injury of those who entertained more liberal opinions in politics and religion. The deputies, although conscious of the disorder which such principles might cause in the community, did not feel so strong a disregard of the motives of the people of Hingham, which impelled them to the course which they pursued, as to induce them to consent to impose on them heavy fines, without great reluctance.
The deputy governor appears to have been very sensitive on the subject of innovations upon the authority of government, and strongly bent, not only upon punishing, but desirous of publicly disgracing the "profane" people of Hingham. He seems to have "engulphed Bible, Testament, and all, into the common law," as authority for the severe measures which were taken to mortify their feelings and to check the spread of principles so democratic in their tendency, and so dangerous to the interests of the commonwealth. Accordingly, we find that the magistrates sent to Mr. Hobart to forbear delivering a discourse on the occasion of the marriage of one of his church, at Boston, among other reasons, " because he was a bold man, and would speak his mind."
The effect of this controversy does not appear to have been ultimately injurious to the most conspicuous individuals engaged in it. Mr. Hobart, the pastor of Hingham, enjoyed the esteem of his people, and as has been before remarked, was relieved from the severe penalties which he incurred, by the liberality of the people of the town. His brother Joshua was afterwards frequently a deputy, and in 1674 he was honored by an election to the office of Speaker to the House of Deputies.
It is to be admitted that the excitement necessarily caused by the agitation of this business served to retard the growth and prosperity of the town; and while the effects of the displeasure of the government were operating to its injury, many of the inhabitants removed to other places.
The affairs of the church were apparently in a peaceable and prosperous condition after the conclusion of this troublesome affair. Nothing of importance occurred until the declining strength of the venerable pastor necessitated the settlement of a successor in the person of Mr. John Norton, in 1678. Mr. Hobart was now in his seventy-fifth year, and he had served this people faithfully, and with marked ability for over forty-three years.
The Life of Mr. Peter Hobart.
By Cotton Mather.
It was a saying of Alphonsus (whom they sir-named "the wise, King of Arragon,") that "among so many things as are by men possessed or pursued in the course of their lives, all the rest are baubles, besides old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to converse with, and old books to read." Now, there having been Protestant and reformed colonies here formed, in a new world, and those colonies now growing old
, it will certainly be no unwise thing for them to converse with some of their old friends
, among which one was Mr. Peter Hobart, whom therefore a new book
shall now present unto my readers.
Mr. Peter Hobart was born at or near Hingham, a market town in the county of Norfolk, about the latter end of the year 1604. His parents were eminent for piety, and even from their youth "feared God above many;" wherein their zeal was more conspicuous by the impiety of the neighbourhood, among whom there were but three or four in the whole town that minded serious religion, and these were sufficiently maligned by the irreligious for their Puritanism. These parents of our Hobart were such as had obtained each other from the God of heaven, by Isaac-like prayers unto him, and such as afterwards "besieged Heaven" with a continual importunity for a blessing upon their children, whereof the second was this our Peter. This their son was, like another Samuel, from his infancy dedicated by them unto the ministry, and in order thereunto, sent betimes unto a grammar school; whereto, such was his desire of learning, that he went several miles on foot every morning, and by his early appearance there, still shamed the sloth of others. He went afterwards unto the free-school at Lyn, from whence, when he was by his master judged fit for it, he was admitted into a colledge in the University of Cambridge; where he remained, studied, profited, until he proceeded Batchellor of Arts; giving all along an example of sobriety, gravity, aversion from all vice, and inclination to the service of God.
Retiring then from the university, he taught a grammar school; but he lodged in the house of a conformist minister, who, though he were no friend unto Puritans, yet he employed this our young Hobart sometimes to preach for him; and when asked, "What his opinion of this young man was?" he said, "I do highly approve his abilities; he will make an able preacher, but I fear he will be too precise." When the time for it came he returned unto the university, and proceeded Master of Arts; but the rest of his time in England was attended with much unsettlement
of his condition. He was employed here and there, as godly people could obtain permission from the parson of the parish, who upon any little disgust would recal that permission; and yet all this while, by the blessing of God upon his own diligence and discretion, and the frugality of his virtuous consort, he lived comfortably. The last place of his residence in England was in the town of Haverhil, where he was a lecturer, laborious and successful in the vineyard of our Lord.
His parents, his brethren, his sisters, had not, without a great affliction to him, embarked for New-England; but some more time after this, the cloud of prelatical impositions and persecutions grew so black upon him,
that the solicitations of his friends obtained from him a resolution for New-England also, where he hoped for a more settled abode, which was most agreeable to his inclination.
Accordingly, in the summer of the year 1635, he took ship, with his wife and four children, and after a voyage by constant sickness rendered ---- tedious to him, he arrived at Charlestown, where he found his devoted relations got safe before him. Several towns now addressed him to become their minister; but he chose with his father's family and some other Christians to form a new plantation, which they called Hingham; and there gathering a church, he continued a faithful pastor and an able preacher for many years. And his old people at Haverhil indeed, in some time after, sent most importunate letters unto him, to invite his return for England; and he had certainly returned, if the letters had not so miscarried, that before his advice to them, there fell out some remarkable and invincible hindrances of his removal.
Not long after this, he had (as his own expression for it was) "his heart rent out of his breast," by the death of his consort; but his Christian, patient, and submissive resignation was rewarded by his marriage to a second, that proved a rich blessing unto him. His house was also edified and beautified with many children, on whom when he looked he would say sometimes with much thankfulness, "Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that telleth the Lord!" and for whom he employed many tears in his prayers to God, that they might be happy, and, like another Job, offered up his daily supplications.
His love to learning made him strive hard that his hopeful sons might not go without a learned education; and accordingly we find four or five of them wearing laurels in the catalogue of our graduates; and several of them are at this day worthy preachers of the gospel in our churches.
He was mostly a morning student, not meriting the name of Homo Lectissirans?
, as he
in the witty epigrammatist, from his long lying a bed
; and yet he would improve the darkness of the evening also for solemn, fixed and illuminating meditations. He was much admired for well-studied sermons
; and even in the midst of secular diversions and distractions, his ----- mind would be busie at providing materials for the composure of them. He much valued that rule, study standing
; and until old age and weakness compelled him, he rarely would study sitting. . . . And when he had an opportunity to hear a sermon from any other minister, he did it with such a diligent and reverent attention, as made it manifest that he worshipped God in doing of it; and he was very careful to be present ---- at the beginning of the exercises, counting it a recreation to sit and wait for the worship of God.
Moreover, his heart was knit in a most sincere and hearty love towards ---- men, though they were not in all things of his own perswasion. He would admire the grace of God in good men, though they were of sentiments contrary unto his; and he would say, "I can carry them in my bosome;" nor was he by them otherwise respected.
There was deeply rooted in him a strong antipathy to all profanities
, whereof he was a faithful reprover, both in publick and in private; and when his reproofs prevailed not, he would "weep in secret places."
to excess, and mispence of precious time
in tipling or talking with vain persons, which he saw grown too common, was an evil so extremely offensive to him, that he would call it "sitting at meat in an idol's temple;" and when he saw that vanity grow upon the more high professors
of religion, it was yet more distasteful to him, who in his own behaviour was a great example of temperance.
, expressed in a gaiety and bravery of apparel, would also cause him with much compassion to address the young persons with whom he saw it budding
, and advise them to correct it, with more care to adorn their souls
with such things as were of great price before God
; and here likewise his own example joined handsomeness
, and a moderation that could not endure a show. But there was no sort of men from whom he more turned away
than those who, under a pretence of zeal for church discipline, were very pragmatical in controversies, and furiously set upon having all things carried their way
, which they would call "the rule," but at the same time were most insipid creatures, destitute of the "life and power of godliness" and perhaps immoral
in their conversations. To these he would apply a saying of Mr. Cotton's, "that some men are all church and no Christ."
He was a person that met with many temptations and afflictions, which are better forgotten than remembered, but he was internally and is now
eternally a gainer by them. It is remarked of the Patriarch Jacob that when he was a very old man, and much older than the most that lived after him, he complained, "Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life," in which complaint the few
is explained by the evil
. His days were winter-days
, and spent in the darkness
of sore calamity. Winter-days are twenty-four hours long as well as other days, yea, longer, if the equation of time should be mathematically considered, yet we count them the shorter days
. Thus, although our Hobart lived unto old age, he might call his days few
, because they had been evil
. But "mark this perfect man, and behold this upright one; for the end of this man was peace." In the spring of the year 1670, he was visited with a sickness that seemed the "messenger of death;" but it was his humble desire that, by having his life prolonged a little further, he might see the education of his own younger children perfected, and bestow more labour also upon the
conversion of the young people in his congregation. "I have travelled in the ministry in this place thirty-five years, and might it please God so far to lengthen out my days, as to make it up forty, I should not, I think desire any more." Now, the Lord heard this desire of his praying servant, and added no less than eight
years more unto his days. The most part of which time, except the last three-quarters of a year, he was employed in the publick services of his ministry.
Being recovered from his illness, he proved that he did not flatter with his lips in the vows that he had made for his recovery, for he now set himself
with great fervor to gather the children
of his church under the saving wings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in order thereunto he preached many pungent sermons on Eccl. xi. 9, 10, and Eccl. xii. 1, and used many other successful eudeavours.
Though his labours were not without success, yet the success was not so general and notable but that he would complain, "Alas, for the barrenness of my ministry!" And when he found his lungs decay by old age
, he would clap his hands on his breast, and say, "The bellows are
burnt, the founder has melted in vain!" At length, infirmities grew so fast upon this painful servant of our Lord, that in the summer of the year 1678 he seemed apace drawing on to his end, but after some revivals he again got abroad; however, he
seldom, if ever, preached after it, but only administered the sacraments
. In this time his humility
, and consequently
all the other graces which God gives unto the humble, grew exceedingly and observably; and hence he took delight in hearing the commendations of other men, though sometimes they were so unwisely uttered as to carry ???? intentions unto himself, and he set himself particularly to put all ????; and honour upon the ministers that came in the time of his weakness to supply his place. After and under his confinement, the singing of ???? was an exercise wherein he took a particular delight, saying, "That it was the work of heaven, which he was willing to anticipate." But about eight weeks before his expiration, he did with his aged hand ordain a successor; which, when he had performed with much solemnity, ???ded afterwards with an assembly of ministers and other Christians at ????? house, joyfully sing the song of aged Simeon, "Thy servant now ????? thou depart in peace." He had now "nothing to do but to die," and he spent his hours accordingly in assiduous preparations, not without some dark intervals of temptation
, but at last with "light arising in darkness" unto him. While his exteriour
, his interiour
every day, until the twentieth day of January, 1678, when he quietly and silently resigned his holy soul unto it faithful Creator.
D. Petri Hobarti.
Ossa sub hoc Saxo Latitant, defossa Sepulchro, Spiritus in Cælo,
carcere, missus agit.
Mr. Savage, the learned editor of "Winthrop's Journal," says of this mention of Mr. Hobart in the "Magnalia":--
As usual, Mather proves his kindness more than his accuracy; for he speaks of Hobart as having been a minister at Haverhill, in England, and without hesitation affirms that he was earnestly invited to return thither after he had been here some years. Hobart's own journal does not encourage such representation, and all other old writings in our Hingham uniformly claim the derivation of the pastor and flock from the village of the same name in Norfolk. This is probably a mere blunder, for the ecclesiastical historian, as he has sometimes been absurdly called, has repeated correctly some things, -- as that he was born in 1604 and died January, 1678-9. Mather says he took ship m the summer
of 1635, when we know it was April; and he adds that, on arriving at Charlestown, he found his desired relations got safe there before him. But his father had been here nearly two years, and two of his brothers, at least, had less than one year, so that he, no doubt, had letters from them before leaving home. From Mather, too, we might be in doubt whether he had 'four or five' sons in the ministry, though the author had certainly inquired of one of them. Such is the customary laxness of the 'Magnalia.'"
Rev. John Norton, the second minister, was born in Ipswich about 1650, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1671, Chief-Justice Sewall being one of his classmates. He was ordained colleague pastor with Mr. Hobart, Nov. 27, 1678. Of Mr. Norton little is known. His ministry seems to have been for the most part quiet and peaceable. He is described as a man of amiable character, fervent piety, and religious zeal, a faithful and beloved
pastor. Only one of his sermons was printed. This was an Election Sermon, delivered on May 26, 1708. Judge Sewall makes the following entry in his "Diary":--
"Midweek, May 26, 1708. Mr. Jno. Norton preaches a Flattering Sermon as to the Governour."
"May 27. I was with a Committee in the morn, . . . and so by God's
good providence absent when Mr. Corwin and Cushing were order'd to Thank Mr. Norton for his sermon and desire a Copy."
Praise of Governor Dudley was distasteful to Judge Sewall, who was opposed to the policy of the Governor.
March 26, 1710, Judge Sewall "went to Hingham to Meeting, heard Mr. Norton from Psal. cxlv. 18. Setting forth the Propitiousness of God."
Mr. Norton died Oct. 3, 1716, in the sixty-sixth year of his age,
and the thirty-eighth year of his ministry.
It was during the ministry of Mr. Norton that the first meeting-house became too small for the growing town, and a second house was erected.
The first meeting-house was built shortly after the gathering of
the church in 1635. It was on the main street, on a hill in front of the present site of the Derby Academy. It was surrounded by a palisade erected in 1645 "to prevent any danger that may come into this town by any assault of the Indians," and was surmounted
by a belfry with a bell. Around it upon the slope of the hill the dead were buried. The hill was removed in 1831, and the remains, which were disinterred by the removal, were buried within the old fort in the Hingham cemetery, and a monument erected
over them by the town, bearing the inscription "To the first settlers of Hingham. Erected by the Town, 1839."
The first meeting-house was undoubtedly a rude structure, but there are indications that it was not wholly without ornament. For forty-five years it was the only house for public worship in the town.
Jan. 19, 1679-80, the town agreed to build a new meeting-house "with all convenient speed," and a committee was appointed to view the meeting-houses of other towns, for the purpose of ascertaining the dimensions of a building necessary to accommodate the inhabitants, and the probable expense. This committee were to report to the town at the next town-meeting in May following.
May 3, 1680, the Selectmen were directed to "carry on the business to effect about building a new meeting-house," and it was voted "to have the new meeting-house set up in the place where the old one doth now stand." On this last question the
Town Records give the names of thirty-four persons voting in the affirmative, and eleven in the negative.
Aug 11, 1680, the dimensions of the house were fixed by the town as follows; length, 35 feet; breadth, 45 feet; and height
of the posts "twenty, or one and twenty feet," with galleries on one side and at both ends.
May 2, 1681, the town approved of the action of the Selectmen on relation to the building of the new meeting-house, and the place where it was to be set. Thirty-seven persons dissented from this vote. These transactions were brought to the notice of the Governor, and the authority of the magistrates interposed.
The following are copies of papers in the State archives:--
Boston, May 16th, 1681.
The Governor and Magistrates having considered the present motions in Hingham relating to the placing of a New meeting house, and also perceiving by Informationa of the Hond
Wm. Stoughton and Joseph Dudley Esq. who were desired to view the place of the present House (which is judged to be inconvenient by them), do therefore hereby disallow of the setting up of a New meeting house either in the old place or in the plaine. And do further order that a new meeting of all persons in the Towne who have right to vote in such cases be speedily ordered at which it may be fairly voted where to place the new meeting house, and the Selectmen are hereby required to make a speedy returne of the number of votes to the Honored Governor.
Jno. Hull, pr order.
Superscribed to the Selectmen
of Hingham, to be communicated
to the Towne.
At a Towne meeting holden at Hingham on the 24th day of May, 1681,
Thomas Andrews was Chosen moderator of that meeting, and at the said meeting the vote passed by papers, with seventy-three hands for the new meeting house that is now building in Hingham to be set in the convenientest place in Captaine Hobart's land, next or nearest to Samuell Thaxter's house.
As Attest, Daniel Cushing, Towne Clarke.
26 May, 1681.
The magistrate having Considered the Returne of the Selectmen of Hingham in refferenc to the voate for setting the meeting house there, Doe Approve of said vote and Judge meete, all Circumstances considered, that the new meeting house be errected accordingly in the convenientest place on Capt. Hubbards land neerest to Samuell Thaxter's house.
Past by ye Council,
Edward Rawson, Secretary
And so, after a controversy of more than a year the location of the new house was settled. Immediate measures were taken to carry the votes of the town into effect. July 8, 1681, Capt. Joshua Hobart conveyed to the town by deed of gift the site for the meeting-house, which is the same upon which it now stands.
The frame of the meeting-house was raised on the 26th, 27th, and 28th days of July, 1681, and it was opened for public worship Jan. 8, 1681-82. It cost the town £430 and the old house,
the necessary amount being raised by a rate which had been made in October, 1680.
There is a tradition that the site for the house was fixed on the Lower Plain, and that on the night preceding the day appointed for the raising of the frame it was carried to the spot where the house now stands; but there is no record of a vote of the town fixing the site on the Plain, and the story does not have
a very plausible foundation.
After the death of Mr. Norton the parish was without a settled minister for a period of twenty months. During this interval Mr. Samuel Fisk and Mr. Thomas Prince were invited to take the office, but neither accepted the invitation. Towards the latter part of the year 1717 Mr. Ebenezer Gay preached as a candidate,
and on Dec. 30, 1717, the church and congregation by their unanimous votes invited him to become their minister. Mr. Gay accepted the invitation, and was ordained June 11, 1718.
Mr. Gay was born in Dedham, Aug. 26, 1696.1
He was graduated from Harvard College in 1714, being one of a class of eleven members, of whom four were from Hingham.
At less than twenty-two years of age this remarkable man began his ministry here. "He was a burning and a shining light," and this people "rejoice in his light for a season;" his ministry falling short, by a few months only, of seventy years. He died on Sunday morning, March 8, 1787, when he was preparing for the services of the day, in the 91st year of his age. He received the degree of S. T. D. from Harvard College in 1785.
1 August 15, 1696. -- Dedham Records.
Memoir of The Rev. Dr. Gay.
By Solomon Lincoln.
The Rev. Dr. Gay was the third minister of this my native town, and
of the parish in which I was born and nurtured. Though he had passed away before I came upon the stage, I have had a good opportunity of exploring the best sources of information concerning him, and of gathering many traditionary reminiscences illustrative of his character.
Dr. Gay outlived two generations of his parishioners; and not one
of those who was a member of the parish at the time of his birth, was living at his decease. Nor can I ascertain that a single individual who was an acting member at the time of his ordination survived him. More than three fourths of a century has elapsed since his decease, yet his memory is preserved fresh in the traditions of the generations who knew him long and well. I have known many persons who recollected him in his old age.
He was of about the middle size, of dignified and patriarchal appear-
ance, and, if we can judge of his features as delineated by the pencil of Hazlitt, they were not particularly handsome. He had, however, in the recollection of those who knew him, a grave, yet benignant expression of countenance.
Those who loved him held him such affection and reverence that they would not admit that Hazlitt's portrait was not a a beautiful picture.
The Hon. Alden Bradford, in his Historical Sketch of Harvard Univerty, published in the American Quarterly Register, in May, 1837, states that he recollected seeing three venerable and learned men, -- Dr. Gay, Dr. Chauncy, and Dr. Appleton, -- pass through the college yard to the Library. "Dr. Gay and Dr. Chauncy were on a visit to Dr. Appleton, and they walked up to the chapel together, two being nearly ninety years old, and other, Dr. Chauncy, about eighty-three. It excited great attention at the time." Great intimacy existed between these three patriarchs during their long and useful lives. Chauncy and Gay died in the same year. Appleton's death took place almost about three years earlier. At the ordination of Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Simeon Howard, as pastor of the West Church, in Boston, Dr. Chauncy preached the Sermon, Dr. Gay gave the Charge, and Dr. Appleton presented the Fellowship of the Churches. They were often associated in similar services.
The earliest sermon of Dr. Gay's which was printed was delivered at the ordination of Rev. Joseph Green, at Barnstable, from Acts xiv. 15, -- "We are also men of like passions with you," -- which was much admired for its wise lessons, seasonable admonitions, and moving exhortations. His classmate (Foxcroft) accompanied its publication with a Prelatory Address "To the Reader," commending the sermon in the most affectionate terms. Towards the close of this most impressive discourse, we find the following passages in Dr. Gay's peculiar vein. Speaking of the candidate for ordination, Joseph Green, he says: "We trust that he will be a Joseph unto his Brethren, whom he is to feed with the Bread of Life
, and that God sendeth him here to preserve their Souls from Perishing. The Lord make him a fruitful Bough
, even a fruitful Bough by a well
, grafted into the Tree of Life
, and always Green, and flourishing in the courts of our God
Dr. Gay was remarkable in the selection and application of the texts of his sermons. Having for a long time been unsuccessful in procuring a well of water
on his homestead, he introduced the subject into his prayers, and also preached a sermon from Num. xxi. 17, "Then Israel sang this song. Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it." In I728 he delivered a lecture in his own pulpit "to bring Lot's wife to remembrance," from the text in Luke xvii. 32, "Remember Lot's wife," and entitled his very able and interesting lecture, "A Pillar of Salt to Season a Corrupt Age." The text of his sermon preached at the instalment of the Rev. Ezra Carpenter, at Keene, in
1753, was from Zech. ii. l, "I lift up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line
in his hand."
Whatever may have been the theological views entertained by Dr. Gay
in the early part of his ministry, it is well understood that he sympathized with the
spirit of free inquiry, which gradually wrought a change in the opinions of many
eminent divines, commencing about the middle of the last century.
In his Convention Sermon of 1746, he attributes dissensions among the clergy to "ministers so often choosing to insist upon the offensive pecularities of the party they had espoused, rather than upon the more mighty things in which we are all agreed."
He was opposed to creeds, or written Articles of Faith, proposed by men. He thus expresses himself, in 1751, in his sermon at the ordination
of Rev. Jonathan Dorby, at Scituate: "And 'tis pity any man, at his entrance into the
ministry, should, in his ordination vows, get a snare to his soul by subscribing, or any ways engaging to preach according to another rule of faith, creed, or confession,
which is merely of human prescription or imposition."
He was a warm friend of the celebrated Dr. Mayhew, of Boston, whose
biographer thinks the latter was indebted to Dr. Gay for the adoption of the "liberal and rational views" which he embraced.
President John Adams, in a letter to Dr. Morse, dated May 15, 1815,
remarks as follows: "Sixty years ago my own minister, Rev. Lemuel Bryant, Dr. Jonathan Mayhew, of the West Church, in Boston, Rev. Mr. Shute, of Hingham, Rev. John Brown, of Cohasset, and perhaps equal to all, if not above all, Rev. Dr. Gay, of Hingham, were Unitarians."
By some, who fully understand the position of Dr. Gay after the middle of the last century, he has been claimed to have been the father of American Unitarianism. This must be conceded, that his discourses will be searched in vain, after that point of time, for any discussions of controversial theology, any advocacy of the peculiar doctrine regarded as orthodox, or the expression of any opinions at variance with those of his distinguished successor in the same pulpit, the Rev. Dr. Ware.
But I cannot leave Dr. Gay without adverting to his political opinions, for our traditionary information concerning them finely illustrates his character. He was opposed to the measures which preceded the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence. His sympathies were not with the Whigs. Yet, such was his discretion that he maintained his position at the head of a large and intelligent parish, comprising all shades of political opinion, but in the main Whigs, without alienating the affection of his people or impairing his usefulness. On one occasion he and his friend and neighbor, Dr. Shute, who was an ardent Whig, were invited to address the people in town-meeting on a political question, and they both succeeded so well that the town gave them a vote of thanks. Still, Dr. Gay's political sentiments were well understood, and were a cause of occasional uneasiness among his parishioners during the period of the Revolution. We have this anecdote from an authentic source: It was a part of the duty of the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety to call upon suspected citizens, and those known to be loyalists, to demand a search for arms. It was proposed that the Committee should call upon Dr. Gay and demand his arms, probably not because they supposed he had any of which he would make improper use against the new government, but because the opportunity was a good one to give him a
sort of official admonition that he held obnoxious sentiments, in which some of the most influential of his people did not share. That the thing to be done was a little aggravating did not take away the zest of doing it; it would have been ungenerous also, had there not been a very perfect accord between Dr. Gay and his parish, as pastor and people, on all subjects save politics. The Committee presented themselves before the Doctor, who received them in his study, standing, and with entire calmness and dignity, when he inquired of them, "What do you wish with me, gentlemen?"
"We have come, sir, in accordance with our duty as the Committee of
Safety, to ask you what arms you have in the house."
He looked at them kindly, perhaps a little reproachfully, for a moment or two before answering, and then said, laying his hand upon a large
Bible on the table by which he stood, "There, my friends, are my
arms, and I trust to find them ever sufficient for me."
The Committee retired with some precipitation, discomfited by the
dignified manner and implied rebuke of Dr. Gay, and the chairman was heard to say to his associates, as they passed out of the yard, "The old gentleman is always ready."
Notwithstanding the political opinions entertained by Dr. Gay, he found among the clergy who held opposite views his most ardent friends. The intercourse between him and the Rev. Dr. Sbute, of the Second Parish, who was a
zealous Whig, was of the most friendly character, and he was on excellent terms with Mr. Smith, of Weymouth, the father of Mrs. John Adams, and Mr. Brown of Cohasset, who, at one time was chaplain to the troops in Nova Scotia, before the Revolution.
Dr. Gay's son, Jotham Gay, was a captain in the same department. The
Doctor, in writing to Mr. Brown, says, "I wish you may visit Jotham and minister good instruction to him and his company, and furnish him with suitable sermons in print, or in your own very legible, if not very intelligible manuscripts, to read to his men, who are without a preacher, -- in the room of one, constitute Jotham curate."
I think I may safely say that New England could boast of few ministers during the last century who exerted a wider influence than Dr. Gay.
Many amusing and characteristic anecdotes are told of Dr. Gay. The following will illustrate his ready wit and humor.
During the Revolutionary War, a little before the time of the annual
Thanksgiving, and when it was generally expected that there would be a great deficiency of the foreign fruits, as raisins, currants, etc., with which that festival had abounded, several English vessels laden with those productions were driven by a storm
upon our coast, captured, and brought into Boston. Dr. Gay, who was considered a prudent loyalist, was accustomed on Thanksgiving Days to make mention in his prayer of the special blessings of the year. Such a token of Divine favor did not escape without
due notice. Accordingly, in his Thanksgiving prayer, he gratefully acknowledged the unexpected bounty somewhat after this sort: "Oh Lord, who art the infinite Disposer of all things, who rulest the winds and the waves according to thy own good pleasure, we devoutly thank thee for the gracious interposition of thy Providence in wafting upon our shores so many of thy rich bounties, to make glad the dwellings of thy people on this joyful occasion." Shortly after its occurrence, some one repeated the Doctor's
ejaculation to Samuel Adams, who, with his usual promptness and decision, exclaimed, "That is trimming with the Almighty."
Dr. Gay had, for some time, missed the hay from his barn, and was satisfied that it was stolen. With a view to detect the thief, Dr. Gay took a dark lantern and stationed himself near his barn. In due time a person whom he knew passed along into the barn, and quickly came out with as large a load of hay as he could carry upon his back. The Doctor, without saying a word, followed
the thief took the candle out of his dark lantern, stuck it into the bundle of hay, and then retreated. In a moment the hay was in a light blaze, and the fellow, throwing it from him in utter consternation, ran away from his perishing booty. The Doctor kept the affair a secret, even from his own family, and within a day or two the thief came to him in great agitation, and told him he wished to confess to him a grievous sin, --
that he had been tempted to steal some of his hay, and as he was carrying it away the Almighty was so angry with him that he had sent fire from heaven, and set it to blazing upon his back. The Doctor agreed to forgive him on condition of his never repeating the offence.
A young minister having preached his first sermon in Dr. Gay's pulpit, and having, as he thought, done it with considerable eloquence, was anxious to obtain the approbation of his learned brother. "Tell me sincerely what you think of this first effort of mine." "I think it sensible and well written," replied Dr.
Gay, "but another text would have been more appropriate." "What would you have selected, sir?" "When you preach it again, I would advise you to prefix this text, 'Alas, master, for it was borrowed.'"
On one occasion Dr. Barnes, of Scituate, preached for Dr. Gay, when he was at home to hear him. The manner of Dr. Barnes was exceedingly drawling, and when the services were concluded, and the two clergymen were on their way home, Dr. Gay said: "Dr. Barnes, your discourse was excellent, but you spoil all you say by your manner. Your method of drawling
out your words is so intolerable that you put nearly all my people to sleep." To which frank testimony Dr. Barnes then and there made no reply. Now it happened that Dr. Gay had an unusually large mouth. In the
afternoon Dr. Barnes again occupied the sacred desk, and after going through the preliminary services, -- putting the congregation, as usual, to sleep in the long prayer, he came to the sermon. "My text, my brethren," he said, "may be found in the eleventh verse of the fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, and is in these words," -- he paused, and looking down over the high pulpit into the pew of Dr. Gay beneath, and upon the very top of Dr. Gay's head, he proceeded with a drawl more pronounced than
ever, but with a manner most emphatic, "in these words: 'Who -- hath -- made -- man's -- mouth.'" Dr. Gay had no occasion then to complain of the drowsiness of his congregation, for they all woke up and audibly tittered.
The old Arminian and Calvinistic clergy, ere the bitter controversy broke out, used to meet and criticise, in a friendly way, each other's theology. In the same association met Dr. Gay and Dr. Dunbar, -- the former representing Arminianism, the latter Calvinism. It fell to the lot of Dr. Dunbar to preach before the Association. He felt moved to be very positive, and make a very distinct enunciation of Calvinism. With each of the five points
he would bring down his fist upon the desk, with the exclamation, "This is the gospel!" First, total depravity was depicted, with the emphatic endorsement, "This is the gospel!? Then election and reprobation, then irresistible grace, then effectual calling, and so on to the end; and under each a tremendous sledge blow on the pulpit, with "This is the gospel!" After service the ministers met, and each in turn was asked by the moderator to give his views of the sermon. Dr. Gay had a sly, genial humor, which diffused good-nature through the clerical body he belonged to, and kept out of it the theological odium. His turn came to criticise the sermon, and he delivered himself in this way: --
"The sermon reminded me of the earliest efforts at painting. When the art was in its infancy, and the first rude drawings were made, they wrote the name of an animal under the figure which was drawn, so that the people could be sure to identify it. Under one rude figure you would see written, 'This is a horse;' under another, 'This is an ox;' and so on. When the art is perfected a little, this becomes unnecessary, and the animal is recognized without the underscript. I am greatly obliged to my brother Dunbar, in this infancy of the art, that he helped me in this way to identify the gospel. As I followed him through the five figures which he sketched for us, I must confess that unless he had written under each one of them, in large letters, 'This is the gospel!' I never should have known it."
The following is from an article in the Massachusetts Gazette, shortly after his decease:--
"His prudent and obliging conduct rendered him amiable and beloved as a neighbour. His tender feelings for the distressed induced him to afford relief to the poor, according to his ability. His beneficent actions indicated the practical sense he had of the Lord's own words, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' The serenity of his mind and evenness of his temper, under the infirmities of advanced years made him agreeable to his friends, and continued to the last the happiness which had so long subsisted in his family; in which he always presided with great tenderness and dignity."
Dr. Gay retained his mental faculties in a remarkable degree of vigor to the very close of his life. In his celebrated sermon, entitled "The Old Man's Calendar," delivered Aug. 26, 1781, from the text, "And now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old" (Joshua xiv. 10), in speaking of his parishioners he says, "I retain a grateful sense of the kindness (injuries I remember none) which I have received from them." This sermon was reprinted in England, translated into the Dutch language and published in Holland, and several editions were published in this country.
In a note attached to Rev. Peter Hobart's Diary, written by Nehemiah Hobart, we read:--
Mr. Gay, the third pastor of the town, gave us an excellent sermon, Sept. 17th, 1735, on the conclusion of the first century, from
1 Chron. xxix. 15."
It was during the ministry of Dr. Gay that the East, or Second,
Precinct was formed and a church established at Conohasset (now Cohasset).
In 1713 the proprietors of the undivided lands of Hingham gave their consent to the erection of a meeting-house by the inhabitants of Conohasset "on that land called the Plain."
At a town-meetng, March 7, 1714-15, the inhabitants of Conohasset "desired the town that they would be pleased to give their consent that they might be made a precinct, or that they might be allowed something out of the town treasury to help to maintain the worship of God amongst them, or that they might be abated that which they pay to the minister to maintain the worship of God at the Town
; and the vote of the town passed in the negative
concerning all the forementioned particulars."
This petition having been rejected, the inhabitants of Conohasset presented their case to the General Court, but the inhabitants of Hingham opposed their petition and a committee was chosen "to give answer to it" at the General Court in June, 1715.
In July, 1715, the town voted to remit to the inhabitants of Conohasset their ministerial taxes, on condition "that they provide an orthodox minister among themselves, provided they cheerfully accept of the same; "but the reply was made "that they could not cheerfully accept thereof."
In September, 1715, the town voted to reimburse to the inhabitants of Conohasset, or to those who should afterwards inhabit the first and second divisions of Conohasset uplands and the second part of the Third Division, all their ministerial and school taxes so long as they should maintain an orthodox
themselves, but this did not give satisfaction; and in March, 1715-16, the town voted to remit to them their ministerial and school taxes for that year, but even this was not satisfactory.
In November, 1716, a committee was chosen by the town to oppose the petition of the inhabitants of Conohasset before the General Court, and again in 1716-17 the town defeated a motion looking to an agreement with the inhabitants of Conohasset about a precinct.
In May, 1717, a committee was appointed by the town to meet the Committee of the General Court appointed to view the "lands and dwellings of the inhabitants of Conohasset [or Little Hingham, as it was also called], to see if it be convenient to make them a precinct; "and about this time the desired privileges of a
separate parish, for which so long an effort had been made, were obtained, a house of worship was erected, and soon after a minister was settled.
In consequence of the creation of the Second Precinct, the remaining inhabitants of Hingham, not included within the limits of Conohasset, composed the First Parish or Precinct, and organized as such, March 6, 1720-21, succeeding to the parochial rights of the town.
Still another church was formed within the original limits of
Hingham during the ministry of Dr. Gay. A meeting-house was erected at what is now South Hingham in 1742. This parish was set off March 25, 1745-46. This church was the "Third Church" until the establishment of Cohasset as a separate town in 1770,
since which time it has been styled the "Second Church."
The second and third churches were not formed as separate organizations without the earnest protests of the parent church. Perhaps, like a fond mother, she could not bear the thought of trusting her children alone, separated from her protecting influence. But she could not restrain or control the independent determination of her children, and, in spite of all her opposition, they forced her to accede to their wishes.
Undoubtedly this sentimental view had much influence, but our ancestors were in a great degree matter-of-fact people, and there was a practical side to this opposition to the foundation of new parishes, which had more weight than any sentiment. All real estate within the territorial limits of a parish was in those days
taxable for the support of preaching. Much of the real estate lying within the limits of the proposed Conohasset and South Parishes was originally granted to residents of the more thickly settled portion of the town, and had been inherited or purchased
by those who would still remain residents of the First Parish; and naturally enough there was strong objection to being taxed for the support of preaching in parishes from which no direct benefit would be derived.
The fourth minister of the First Parish was Rev. Henry Ware. He was born in Sherborn, Mass., April 1, 1764, was graduated at Harvard College in 1785, and was ordained minister of the church and congregation Oct. 24, 1787. In 1805 he was chosen Hollis Professor of Divinity in Harvard University, and his request for a dismissal from his pastorate was granted. He delivered his valedictory discourse May 5, 1805, in the eighteenth year of his ministry. In 1806 he received the degree of S. T. D. from Harvard College. Dr. Ware died July 12, 1845. He was a man of liberal views, admirably adapted to follow up the sentiments of Dr. Gay in religious matters, of logical mind, sound judgment, and large attainments.
After the close of Dr. Ware's ministry, several candidates were heard. A majority of the Parish preferred Rev. Joseph Richardson, and he was invited to become the minister. The call was not
unanimous. "Behold, there ariseth a little cloud, like a man's hand," and soon "the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." There was great disaffection on the part of a large minority, and an eventual separation of those
opposed to Mr. Richardson's settlement. The controversy has been described as the second "sad, uubrotherly contention" in the town; and it is certainly to be regretted that a more conciliatory spirit was not shown on both sides. At this distant day, more than three quarters of a century after this unfortunate event, we may look calmly and without prejudice upon the jealousies and unwise actions of our ancestors. Whether the differing sentiments and opinions of the members of the parish upon matters not pertaining to their spiritual welfare would have ultimately found some other cause for dissension, or whether the season was already ripe for action, of course, it is impossible to say. History, however, deals with facts and not opinions, and the statement of the cause of this unhappy difference must be confined to the fact that a large number of the members of the church and congregation found it impossible to continue their connection with their ancestral religious home under the ministrations of Mr. Richardson. The result was the formation of the "Third Congregational Society," which was incorporated Feb. 27, 1807. The effects of this separation were of long continued duration. The harmony of the town was disturbed in consequence of it. Happily the olive branch of peace was long since held out and accepted and we may well hope that the words of Scripture may find in this town no verification in "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."
Rev. Joseph Richardson, the fifth minister, was born in Billerica, Feb 1, 1778. He was graduated at Dartmouth College in 1802, and was ordained pastor July 2, 1808. During his ministry he filled various public offices. He was a member of the convention for the revision of the State Constitution, in 1820-21. He was a member, by repeated elections, of the Senate and House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and was elected to Congress for the term commencing March 4, 1827, and was re-elected for the term commencing March 4, 1829. He continued to perform his parochial duties until the spring of 1855, when, on account of increasing infirmities of age, his active ministry ceased, and Rev. Calvin Lincoln was, with Mr. Richardson's consent and approval, settled as associate pastor. Mr. Richardson's official connection with the parish ended with his death, Sept. 25, 1871, in the ninety-fourth year of his age, and the sixty-sixth of his ministry. Appropriate services were held in commemoration of the completion of the fiftieth year of his ministry, on which occasion Mr. Richardson delivered a discourse; and on Feb. 1, 1863, a sermon prepared by him was read by the associate pastor, from the text, "And now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years
old," (Josh. xiv. 10), -- the same as that selected by Dr. Gay as the text for his "Old Man's Calendar," preached at the same age from the same pulpit.
When about to build his house in Hingham, Mr. Richardson stipulated with the workmen that at the "raising," and during the building, no liquor should be used, as was the custom, agreeing to pay as much additional money as the cost of the liquor would amount to. From this incident he is spoken of by some as the "original prohibitionist" of the town.
Rev. Calvin Lincoln, the sixth minister, was a native of Hingham, and was born Oct. 27, 1799. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1820, was ordained over the First Parish in Fitchburg June 30, 1824. His pastoral connection was dissolved in Fitchburg May 5, 1855, and he was inducted as associate pastor of the First Parish in Hingham May 27, 1855. After the death of Mr. Richardson, Mr. Lincoln continued as sole pastor until his death, except during the three years 1877 to 1880, when Rev. Edward A. Horton was associate pastor with him.
Mr. Lincoln was a close student, and although he cannot be considered a brilliant pulpit orator, his preaching was marked by sound common-sense, and at times, especially in extempore speaking, he seemed to pour out his whole soul in the earnestness of his appeals. He was not inclined to controversy upon new theological questions, preferring to consider many points as already settled beyond dispute, but he nevertheless kept himself well informed upon all the signs of the times in which he lived. He was a welcome friend to all the denominations in the town, and few of our ministers have possessed in as great a degree as Mr. Lincoln the respect of the people of Hingham, without distinction.
Mr. Lincoln died Sept. 11, 1881, in the eighty-second year of his age, and the twenty-seventh of his ministry here. On Thursday, Sept. 8, 1881, the day appointed by the Governor for prayers for President Garfield, Mr. Lincoln, standing in front of the pulpit in the meeting-house, and while in the act of praying for the
recovery of the wounded president, was stricken with paralysis, and died on the following Sunday morning.
Rev. Edward A. Horton, the seventh minister, was born in Springfield, Mass., Sept. 28, 1843. He was ordained at Leominster Oct. 1, 1868, where his pastoral connection was dissolved Oct. l, 1875. He was installed as associate pastor of this parish April 25, 1877. His pastoral connection was dissolved May 8, 1880, and he was installed pastor of the Second Church, Boston, May 24, 1880.
Rev. H. Price Collier, the eighth minister, was born in Davenport, Iowa, May 25, 1860. He was graduated at the Harvard Divinity School in 1882, and was ordained minister of this parish
VOL. 1. -- 3*
Sept. 29, 1882. He resigned his pastorate Nov. 1, 1888, to accept a call from the "Church of the Savior," Brooklyn, NY.
March 10, 1890, the parish voted to invite Mr. Eugene R. Shippen, who was graduated at Harvard College in 1887 and at the Harvard Divinity School in 1890, but the invitation was not accepted.
Rev. John W. Day, the ninth and present minister was born in Woburn, Mass., June 13, 1861. He studied theology at the Meadville Theological School in 1881-82 and afterwards at the Harvard Divinity School, where he was graduated in 1885. He
was ordained at Newport, Jan. 8, 1886, as minister of the Channing Memorial Church, and remained there until 1887. From 1887 until 1890 he was minister of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, N.Y. Oct. 1, 1890, he became minister of this pariah, the services of installation taking place Oct. 8, 1890.
DEACONS OF THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST PARISH.
Henry Smith . . . chosen Jan. 29, 1640. Removed to Rehoboth.
Ralph Woodward . " " " " d. 1663.
Thomas Loring . . . d. 166l
Thomas Thaxter . . d. 1654
Matthew Cushing . . d. 1660 . . . . æt. 71 yrs.
John Fearing . . . d. 1665
John Leavitt . . . d. 1691 . . . . æt. 83 yrs.}were the deacons when the
John Smith . . . . d. 1695 }new meeting-house was erected.
David Hobart . . . d. 1717 . . . . æt. 66 yrs.
Benjamin Lincoln . d. 1727 . . . . æt. 55 yrs.
Peter Jacob . . . . d. 1753 . . . . æt. 86 yrs.
Joshua Hersey . . . d. 1740 . . . . æt. 63 yrs.
Solomon Cushing . . d. 1769 . . . . æt. 77 yrs. Chosen before 1737.
Thomas Andrews . . d. 1784 . . . . æt. 86 yrs.
Josiah Lincoln . . d. 1774 . . . . æt. 74 yrs.
Joshua Hersey . . . d. 1784 . . . . æt. 80 yrs. Succeeded his father.
Benjamin Lincoln(Gen.)d. 1810 . . . æt. 77 yrs.}
Joseph Thaxter . . d. 1808 . . . . æt. 85 yrs.}Chosen Feb. 15, 1769.
Benjamin Cushing . d. 1812 . . . . æt. 87 yrs.}
Isaac Cushing . . . d. 1815 . . . . æt. 69 yrs.
Thomas Fearing . . d. 1820 . . . . æt. 70 yrs.
William Cushing . . d. 1848 . . . . æt. 94 yrs. Succeeded his father.
Caleb Hobart* . . . d. 1846 . . . . æt. 92 yrs.
David Lincoln . . . d. 1825 . . . . æt. 59 yrs.
Nehemiah Ripley . . d. 1863 . . . . æt. 83 yrs.
Caleb Hobart . . . d. 1865 . . . . æt. 82 yrs. Succeeded his father.
* Succeeded Dea. Wm. Cushing
Originally a Puritan church, under the influence of Dr. Gay, with his spirit for free inquiry, the opinions of the people became less and less Calvinistic. The Trinitaran became Unitarian. It cannot be said that there was any fixed date of this change; it was gradual. When the Unitarians were acknowledged as a denomination, this parish was confessedly Unitarian and has continued as such to the present time. The same is true of the Cohasset and Second parishes already referred to. The Third Congregation ----(unreadable text)---- of the Unitarian denomination. There was
not in this town any division of the churches on denominational lines, as was common in other places in the latter part of the last century.
The meeting-house of the First Parish, or the "Old Meeting-house" as it is now called, was built in 1681. Parts of the first meeting-house were used in the construction of the new one. Its antiquity makes it one of the principal objects of interest in Hingham. No house for public worship exists within the original limits of the United States, which continues to be used for the purpose for which it
OLD MEETING-HOUSE PULPIT, HINGHAM.
was erected, and remaining on the same site where it was built, which is so old as the meeting-house of the First Parish in Hingham.
In 1780 it was enlarged, and again enlarged in 1755. In the latter year the present pulpit was built and placed nearly in its present position. Dr. Gay preached from it for the first time after it was built from Nehemiah viii. 4: "And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood which they had made for the purpose." In the same year the first pews were built, viz.: two rows of square pews all around the house, excepting the spaces occupied by the pulpit and the aisles leading from the porches. There was a pew in front of the pulpit known as the elders' pew or seat, and an enclosed seat or pew in front of the elders' pew, facing
the broad aisle, for the deacons. The two latter pews were removed in 1828. The central space or body of the house was occupied by long oaken seats for the occupancy of males on one side of the broad aisle and of females on the other. These seats
were removed from time to time, until the whole space was covered by pews. In 1799 five pews were built in the front of each side gallery, and in 1804 the same number in the rear of those first built, making twenty in all. At subsequent dates all the side gallery pews were removed and new pews built in their places, viz.: eight in the eastern gallery in 1854, the same number in the western gallery in 1855, and in 1857 four were built in the eastern, and four in the western, galleries. In 1859 four pews
were built in the front gallery, and in 1868 four more had been built in the same gallery.
In 1822 stoves were introduced for the purpose of heating the house.
In 1869 the present new pews were built on the floor of the house, furnaces were introduced, and extensive repairs were made.
On the occasion of the reopening of the meeting-house, Sept. 8, 1869, appropriate services were held to commemorate the event.
In 1867 an organ was placed in the front gallery. Previously to this date for many years the choir had been accompanied by a flute, bass-viol, and other instruments at various times. In 1869, at the time of the general repairs, the location of the organ was changed to the platform on the easterly side of the pulpit, and in
1870 a new and larger organ was purchased. It is the one now in use.
The parish seal was adopted in 1869. It consists of a picture of the meeting-house in the centre, surrounded by an ornamental circular border, which is encircled by another, leaving a space between the two in which is the following:--
"LET THE WORK OF OUR FATHERS STAND, -- 1681."
In 1870 the Parish received from Hon. Albert Fearing the gift of a lot of land adjoining its other land on the southerly side, "being a part of the land granted to Robert Peck, Teacher of the First Church in Hingham, in the year 1638," as the deed of the same recites.
Aug. 8, 1881, very interesting and impressive exercises were held in the meeting-house in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the building of the house. Mr. Charles Eliot Norton, a lineal descendant of the second minister, during whose ministry it was built, delivered the principal address. At this time a tablet of brass, set in mahogany, was placed upon the wall on the westerly side of the pulpit, containing a list of the ministers, and a statement relating to the building of the meeting-house.
Jan. 8, 1882, a discourse was delivered by Rev. Edward A. Horton, on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the opening of ----(unreadable text)---- house for public worship.
The Parish House, which stands on Main Street, nearly opposite the meeting-house was completed and dedicated March 20, 1891.
There being no vestry room or chapel connected with the meeting-house, the need had long been felt of a suitable building for the uses of the Sunday-school and other purposes connected with the religious and charitable work and social life of the parish. For fifteen or twenty years efforts had been made by those interested, with good success, to accumulate a fund sufficient for the erection of such a building. The Ladies' Benevolent Society connected with the parish, by means of fairs and entertainments, made substantial contributions to this fund; Rev. Calvin Lincoln, by his will, left to the parish a sum of money which could be used for the purpose; these with other amounts being invested from time to time increased by the accumulations of interest; money was subscribed for the purchase of the lot; and in due time this Parish House was built. Peabody & Stearns were the architects.
SECOND PARISH (COHASSET).
| The difficulties attending the formation of this parish have already been stated. |
In what year a meeting-house was erected in Conohasset does not appear by the records. It was probably in 1713, possibly not, until after 1717, but certainly before 1721. Probably there was preaching in it before the settlement of the first pastor. Its dimensions were thirty-five by twenty-five feet, and it was situated on the Plain a little to the south of the present house. May 14, 1713, it was voted
"that the proprietors of the undivided lands give their consent to the inhabitants of Conohasset to erect a meeting-house on that land called 'The Plain.'"
Many facts relating to the history of the Second Parish may be ordained from the valuable and interesting discourses delivered by the Rev. Jacob Flint, on thc completion of the first century of its existence.
Mr. Nehemiah Hobart, a grandson of the Rev. Peter Hobart, the first minister of Hingham, preached as a candidate from July 13 to Dec, 13, 1721, on which day he was ordained pastor, the church having been organized the day previous.
After his ordination Mr. Hobart wrote in his book of records:--
"O my soul, never dare to forget that day and the solemn charge I received therefrom, but be mindful of 2 Tim. iv. 1, 2, -- the preacher's text, -- that at the last day I may be able to say as in Acts xx. 26, 27. I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.'"
The new society was weak in numbers, and their meeting-house was built in accordance with their means. It was small and plain.
At the formation of the church, Mr. Hobart drew up a covenant ending in these words: --
"We do, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of God and the holy angels, explicitly and expressly covenant and bind ourselves in manner and form following, namely: We do give up ourselves to God, whose name alone is Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. To God the Father, as our chief and only good; and unto our Lord. Jesus Christ, as our prophet, priest, and king, and only Mediator of the covenant of grace; and unto the Spirit of God, as our only sanctifier and comforter. And we do give up ourselves one unto another in the Lord, covenanting and promising to walk together as a church of Christ, in all ways, of his own institution, according to the prescriptions of his holy word, promising that with all tenderness and brotherly love, we will, with all faithfulhess, watch over each other's souls, and that we will freely yield up ourselves to the discipline and power of Christ in his church, and attend whatever ordinances Christ hath appointed and declared in his word; and wherein we fail and come short of duty, to wait upon him for pardon and remission, beseeching him to make our spirits steadfast in his covenant, and to own us as his church and covenant people forever. Amen."
Rev. Nehemiah Hobart was born in Hingham, April 27, 1697, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1714, in the same class with Rev. Ebenezer Gay.
In the call, settlement, and ministry of Mr. Hobart there was perfect harmony. There seems to have been no opposition to him on the part of any one in the parish. He was a "truly devout enlightened, and liberal divine," Between him and his neighbor, Dr. Gay, them was a warm sympathy and affection. He died May 31, 1740, in the forty-fourth year of his age, and the nine-teenth of his ministry, much lamented by his people.
The parish, says Mr. Flint, "lost no time, after the death of Mr.
Hobart, before they took measures suitable to fill his place with another well-educated and respectable pastor; . . . but they did not immediately find one in whom they could unite." Finally, after
hearing several candidates, Mr. John Fowle, of Charlestown, was ordained, not without a strong opposition, though with the ultimate consent of a number of the parish, Dec. 31, 1741. Mr. Fowle was graduated at Harvard College in 1732, and "was allowed, by good
judges, to be a man of considerable genius, and handsome acquirements." He soon, unfortunately, developed "a most irritable nervous temperament, which rendered him unequal in his performances, and at times quite peevish and irregular." The number of those opposed to him increased, and his pastoral connection with the parish was dissolved in the fifth year of his ministry.
At this time the parish had so increased in numbers and material prosperity that the need was felt of a new and more commodious meeting-house. The work of building the same was commenced about the time of Mr. Fowle's dismissal, and in the
ensuing year the house now standing was erected, at a cost of £1522 19s
. The building was sixty feet by forty-five. On the northerly end of the roof was a belfry, and two flights of stairs leading to the galleries were on the inside. The front porch and the steeple were added at a later date.
Before the completion of the now meeting-house, several candidates were heard, and with great unanimity Mr. John Brown, a native of Haverhill, was invited to become the pastor. He was a graduate of Harvard College in 1741, and was ordained over the Second Parish Sept. 2, 1747.
The following anecdote is told of his settlement.
It is said there was one opposer only, whom Mr. Brown reconciled by a stroke of good humor. Calling to see the opposer, he inquired the cause of opposition. "I like your person and manners," said the opposer, "but your preaching, sir, I disapprove." "Then," said Mr. Brown, "we are agreed. My preaching I do not like very well myself; but how great the folly for you and l to set up our opinion against that of the whole parish." The opposer felt, or thought he felt, the folly, and was no longer opposed.
"The talents of Rev. John Brown were considerably more than ordinary. In a stately person he possessed a mind whose perceptions were quick and clear, and his sentiments were generally the result of just reflection. He thought for himself; and when he had formed his opinions, he uttered them with fearless freedom. Acquainted from childhood with the Holy Scriptures from them he formed his religions opinions. He believed the Son of God when he said, 'The Father is greater than I;' and although he
believed that mankind was sinful, yet he did not attribute their sins to his immediate act who is the Author of all good
Till advanced in life he was fond of social intercourse, and was able always to make society innocently cheerful." He served in one campaign as chaplain to a colonial regiment in Nova Scotia, and
by his word and example, during the Revolutionary period, encouraged his fellow-citizens to maintain the struggle for liberty. He died in the sixty-seventh year of his age and the forty-fifth of his ministry. He preached until the last Sabbath of his life, and was buried in Cohasset.
It was during the ministry of Mr. Brown that Cohasset was set off from Hingham and incorporated as a town in 1770, and from that time the history of this parish ceases to be a part of the history of Hingham.
THIRD (AFTERWARDS SECOND) PARISH, SOUTH H1NGHAM.
SOUTH HINGHAM MEETING-HOUSE.
| The Third Parish, in Hingham, was set off March 25, 1745,
and a meeting-house had already been erected in 1742. It comprised the southerly portion of the town. There was much opposition in the town to the setting off of this
as a separate parish and bitter controversies arose in consequence; but by persistent efforts the inhabitants
of the south part of the town at last succeeded in carrying out their wishes.
On the church record we find: --
"Nov. 20, 1746. The church in the south parish, in Hingham, was embodied by the revd Nathanael Eelles, of Scituate, and the revd William Smith, of Weymouth."
And the covenant to which the members assented was the following: --
"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, apprehending ourselves called of God into a sacred fellowship with one another in the profession and practice of the holy christian religion as a particular Church of the Lord Jesus Christ, do solemnly covenant with God and with one another as follows: --
"In the first place, We avouch the Lord this day to be our God, yielding ourselves to him to be his servants, and chusing him to be our portion forever.
"We give up ourselves unto that God, whose name alone is Jehovah, and is the Father, and the Son, and the holy Ghost, to be his people, to
walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice. We declare our serious belief of the christian religion, as it is taught in the Bible, which we take for a perfect rule of faith, worship, and manners.
"We acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of his people in the covenant of grace, and accept him as our prophet, priest, and king, and depend on him in the way which he hath prescribed for instruction, pardon, and eternal life.
"We profess our serious resolution to deny, as the grace of God teacheth us, all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, to endeavor that our conversation may be such as becomes and adorns the gospel.
"We promise to walk together in all ways of holy communion as brethren in the family of Christ and children of our Father, who is in heaven, to keep the faith and observe the order of the gospel, chearfully to support and conscientiously to attend the public worship of God in all the instituted duties thereof; and to submit to the discipline of his kingdom, to watch over one another with christian tenderness and circumspection, to avoid sinful stumbling blocks and contentions, and to endeavor our mutual edification in holiness and comfort.
"Farthermore, We dedicate our offspring, with ourselves, unto the Lord, engaging to bring them up in his nurture and admonition, to serve him with our household, and command them to keep the way of the Lord; and, as far as in us lieth, to transmit the ordinances of Christ pure and entire to them who shall come after us.
"All this we do in the presence and fear of God, with a deep sense of
our unworthiness to be admitted into covenant with him, and to enjoy the privilidges of the evangelical Church state, and our own insufficiency to perform the duties of it, and do therefore rely on and pray to the God of grace and peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the Sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, to pardon our many sins and to make us perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in us that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
The record says: --
10th, 1746. Daniel Shute was ordained Pastor of the third Church of Christ in Hingham."
The following letter, sent on the day before the ordination, by Rev. Ebenezer Gay to the Third Church in Hingham, indicates the state of feeling in the town towards the new parish: --
Beloved Brethren: --
I communicated to the Church under my pastoral care tje letter you sent to us desiring our presence and assistance at the Ordination you are proceeding to. By withholding the vote of compliance with your request, the greater part of the Brethren by far signified their unwillingness to grant it: whence, and by what I can since learn, 't is plain to me that I cannot attend the ordination of your minister as a Delegate from the Church, it being the mind of the generality of them not to send any. I am sorry that matters are so circumstanced betwixt you and your brethren here that they are not free to countenance and assist you more in the sett1ement of the Gospel Ministry among you. I meddle not with what has
been in controversy between you and them, being of a civil nature. Therefore shall be ready to serve you all I can in your religious affairs and interest as a Christian neighbour and Gospel Minister. Tho' I now may not in the particular you have desired as the Messenger of a Church -- than whom an Elder in an Ecclesiastical Council is nothing more, -- since the important affair before you may be as well managed without as with us, I pray you to be content that this Church should not be active in it, and explicitly encouraging of it, since they have not sufficient sight therefor.
I believe it seems hard to you to be refused what you have asked of your mother, . . . but you know it has been a day of temptation and provocation in the town, and angry resentments, whether just or unjust, are not wont soon to be quite laid aside after the strife between contending parties is at an end, and the conquered, when they submit, are not presently so loving friends as afterwards they sometimes prove.
If you patiently and silently pass over the conduct of the Church towards you, I hope there will be a comfortable harmony of affections between you and us. On the walls of a new meeting-house were once engraven these words, "Build not for faction nor a Party, but for promoting Faith and Repentance in communion with all that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity
." May this be verified in the House you have erected for Divine Worship. I wish you God's presence in it at all times, and especially on the morrow at the Ordination of a Pastor over you, and I pray God to make him a great blessing to you and to your children.
I am your sincere and affectionate friend,
and late unworthy Pastor,
|Hingham, Decem 9, 1746. |
To the Third Church of Christ
| E. Gay. |
In the face of the facts indicated by the above letter, one can hardly suppress a smile at the very first vote in the records of the first meeting of the church after the ordination of Mr. Shute, on Jan. 13, 1746-7, which is as follows: --
"That the church will choose a committee to request of the First Church, in Hingham, some part of the furniture of their communion table, provided the Revd Mr. Gay shall think proper to advise to it."
It is almost needless to state that, at a meeting held on the twenty-fifth of the same month, the committee reported "that upon their application to Mr. Gay he did not advise to it."
The principal facts concerning the formation of the Third Church and Parish, and Dr. Shute's ministry, are contained in an excellent memoir prepared by the father of the writer in 1863. It would be an affectation of an ability not possessed by his son to attempt any improvement upon, or addition to his accurate statements relating to the history of affairs in this town, or his estimate of its leading men, and it is a pleasure to be able to give his words as prominent a place as possible in this "History of Hingham." The accomplishment of such a work was his hope, but that hope, though long entertained, he was not destined to see fulfilled.
MEMOIR OF THE REV. DR. SHUTE.
By Solomon Lincoln.
Daniel Shute, a son of John and Mary (Wayte) Shute, was born in Malden, the residence of his parents, on the 19th of July, 1722. He entered Harvard College in 1739, remained there for the whole term of four years, and was graduated in 1743. Among his classmates were the Hon. Foster Hutchinson, of the Supreme Court of the Province of Massachusetts; Major Samuel Thaxter, of Hingham, a distinguished officer
in the war against the French and the Indians; the Hon. James Otis, father of the celebrated Revolutionary patriot and orator; and the Rev. Gad Hitchcock, D.D., a distinguished divine of Pembroke.
Mr. Shute, having chosen the profession of Divinity, was invited in
April, 1746, to commence his professional career as a candidate in the South Parish of Malden. In June of the same year he was invited to preach as a candidate in the recently formed Third Parish in Hingham. This Parish was set off from the First Parish (Dr. Gay's) in that town, March 25, 1745, and at that time was designated the Third, as Cohasset, which was the Second Precinct, had not then been incorporated as a separate district or town. This was done, in 1770, and the Third Parish of Hingham has since been known as the Second Congregational Parish. The inhabitants composing this Parish, which embraced territorially the south part of the town, had contended zealously for nearly twenty years for separate parochial privileges, which were denied to them. Some alienation of feeling naturally grew out of a controversy so long protracted. Confident of ultimate success in their efforts, the inhabitants of the south part of the town had, in 1742, erected a commodious meeting-house on Glad-Tidings Plain, which is now standing in a good state of preservation.
Mr. Shute declined an invitation to settle in Malden, and in September, 1746, accepted the call at Hingham. In the following November a church
was embodied by the Rev. Nathaniel Eelles, of Scituate, and the Rev. William Smith, of Weymouth. Mr. Shute was ordained their pastor, December 10th, 1746. The Rev. Messrs. Eelles of Scituate, Lewis of Pembroke, Emerson of Malden, Bayley and Smith of Weymouth, were invited, with delegates, to form the Ordaining Council. The part performed by
each on that occasion is not known. The exercises were not printed. Mr. Gay of the First Church was also invited to be present with delegates, but he declined the invitation in behalf of his church, and did not himself attend. He wrote a very conciliatory letter to the new church . . . .
But a short time elapsed before the most friendly relations were established between the two parishes and their pastors. In May following the settlement of Mr. Shute, he exchanged pulpit services with Dr. Gay, and continued to do so until the death of the latter. Mr. Shute was a frequent guest at the hospitable table of Dr. Gay, and they enjoyed many a frugal repast and rich intellectual feast together.
There was entire harmony in their religious opinions; and it has been
said that there was great unanimity of sentiment between all the members of the Association to which they belonged, of which Drs. Gay, Shute, Hitchcock, Barnes, Smith, Brown, Rand, and others were members. At a subsequent period of their lives, Gay and Shute took opposite views of
the great political questions which agitated the country, -- the former being a moderate Tory and the latter all ardent Whig. Their polltical differences, however, caused no interruption to their friendship. During a severe illness of Mr. Shute, Dr. Gay manifested the most anxious solicitude for his recovery, and expressed the warmest feelings of attachment. The first marriage of Mr. Shute was solemnized by Dr. Gay, and
at the funeral of the latter, Mr. Shute, in his discourse on that occasion, paid a most affectionate tribute to the memory of his distinguished friend.
The ministry of this venerable man covered more than the last half of
the last century. During that period pastors and people were severely tried by the French and Revolutionary wars. In both, Mr. Shute entered warmly into the feelings of the great body of the people, and used an active influence in forming and guiding public opinion. In 1758, he was appointed by Governor Pownall chaplain of a regiment
commanded by Col. Joseph Willams, raised "for a general invasion of Canada."
In 1767 he delivered the Annual Sermon before the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, from the text, Ecclesiastes ix. 18: "Wisdom is better than weapons of war." In 1768 he preached the Eleetlon Sermon from the text, Ezra x. 4: "Arise, for this matter belongeth unto thee; he will also be with thee; be of good courage and do it." Both these discourses were printed, and bear marks of careful composition, sound views, and strong common sense. His sermon at the funeral of his
venerated friend, Dr. Gay, iin 1787, was also published, and was a most impressive and fitting memorial of the character of that eminent divine, in whose footsteps he delighted to tread.
No discourse of his has been published which presents any discussion
of points of controversial theology. Indeed, tradition informs us that his public performances were remarked for the absence of all such topics; yet it is well understood that he sympathized with those who entertained what were termed "more liberal views" than those entertained by the great body of the clergy. In this respect there was great harmony of opinion in the whole town, and in all the parishes which it then contained.
The sound judgment and knowledge of the human character possessed by him were often called into requisition on Eccleslastical Councils. From his papers, which have been carefully preserved by his descendants, who hold his memory in veneration, he appears often to have been a peacemaker, and to have aided, by his moderation and discreet advice, in composing unhappy differences in parishes quite remote from his own, but to which his reputation had extended.
His salary was a moderate one. His parish was not large, and was composed chiefly of substantial farmers and mechanics. To procure the means of a more independent support, he took scholars to prepare them for college and the pursuits of business. His pupils being generally sons of wealthy patrons, he derived a considerable income from their board and tuition, whereby he enlarged his library, and acquired a respectable amount of real estate, which is now held by his descendants. Among his scholars are recollected the Hon. Thomas H. Perkins and the Hon. John Welles of Boston, and sons of General Lincoln and Governor Hancock.
In 1780 he was chosen by his townsmen a delegate to the convention
to frame a Constitution for the State, -- such was the confidence reposed in his abilities and patriotism.
In 1788 he was associated with General Lincoln to represent the town
in the Convention of Massachusetts which ratified the Constitution of the United States, and on this occasion voted and took an active part in favor of adopting the Constitution. In the brief sketches of the debates which have been preserved there is the substance of a speech which he delivered on the subject of a Religious Test, which strikingly illustrates his liberality and good sense. It is characterized by a vigorous and manly tone, taking the ground that to establish such a test as a qualitication for
offices in the proposed Federal Constitution, would be attended with injurious consequences to some individuals, and with no advantage to the community at large.
After the close of the Revolutionary war, Mr. Shute devoted himself
almost entirely to his parochial duties, indulging occasionally, by way of recreation, in agricultural pursuits.
In 1790 he was honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Harvard College.
In November, 1797, on account of the infirmities of age and a failure
of his sight, he wrote to his parish, "Whenever it shall become necessary for you to settle and support a colleague with me, I will relinquish my stipulated salary, and I will do it as soon as you shall supply the pulpit after I must resign preaching." In April, 1799, he renewed the proposition in a letter to the parish, in which he remarks: "This relinquishment of my legal right in advanced age, in the fifty-third year of my ministry, I make for the Gospel's sake, -- persuading myself that, this embarrassment being removed, you will proceed in the management of your religious concerns with greater unanimity and ardor."
Dr. Shute relinquished his public labors in March, 1799, from which
time he retained his pastoral relation until his decease; but gave up his salary, as he had proposed. The Rev. Nicholas Bowes Whitney, a native of Shirley and a graduate of Harvard College in 1793, was ordained as a colleague of Dr. Shute, January 1, 1800. Dr. Shute died August 30, 1802, in the elghty-first year of his age and the fifty-sixth of his ministry. At his funeral a sermon was delivered by the Rev. Henry Ware (senior),
the successor of Dr. Gay as pastor of the First Parish. In that sermon Dr. Ware represents him as having enjoyed a distinguished rank among his brethren for talents, respectability, and public usefulness; as having possessed a quick perception and clear discernment, and been capable of tracing a thought in all its various relations; as having aimed in his preaching at enlightening the understanding, impressing the heart, and improving the life; as having framed his discourses in such a manner that they were level to common capacities, while yet they furnished food for the more reflecting and intelligent; as having united great solemnity with great pertinence in his addresses at the throne of grace; as having mingled with his people with great freedom and kindliness, and sought to promote their advantage, temporal as well as spiritual, by every means in his power. In short, he represents him as a fine model of a clergyman,
and as having enjoyed in an unusual degree the confidence of the community in which he lived. And I may add that tradition is in full accordance with Dr. Ware's statements.
Dr. Shute possessed an excellent constitution, and lived to the age of fourscore years in the enjoyment of an uncommon degree of health until near the close of his life. The partial loss of sight was borne with patience and serenity, and the approach of the end of life did not deprive him of his usual cheerfulness.
Rev. Nicholas Bowes Whitney, the second minister, was born in Shirley, March 21, 1772, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1793. He was ordained colleague pastor Jan. 1, 1800, and after the death of Dr. Shute continued as sole pastor until April 15, 1833, when his connection with the parish was dissolved in the
thirty-fourth year of his ministry. He died Nov. 26, 1835.
Rev. Charles Brooks says of him in a funeral sermon after
his death: --
"Mr. Whitney had much ill health. Circumstances of constitution led him to struggles which few could have more valiantly sustained. With nerves tenderly strung, and a depression of spirits at times weighing mountain-heavy upon him, he was not fitted to make speedy progress among the sharp angles of life. He was naturally a diffident man. That press-forwardness which offensively pushes itself into public observation, which has no rest till it is seen, acknowledged, and admired, was no part of his character. At a time when many seem striving for office with twice the zeal they strive for heaven, it was comforting to find one who courted neither place nor power. His home and his parish were the centre, however wide the circumference. His ideas were clear, natural and practical. He loved no warfare. He was willing that others should venture out upon the boisterous sea of controversy and bear the pelting of sectarian storms; and wherever the waves of polemic strife ran high, we found him meeting his bark far up in some quiet haven."
Rev. Warren Burton, a graduate of Harvard College in 1821, succeeded Mr. Whitney. His ministry extended from May, 1833, to the latter part of 1835.
Rev. John Lewis Russell was the minister for one year, beginning in 1836; from May, 1842, to June, 1849; and rather irregularly in 1853 and 1854. Mr. Russell was born in Salem, Dec. 2, 1808, and died there June 7,1873. He was a graduate of Harvard College in 1828. He was a man of eminent talents. The various branches of natural history afforded him abundant scope for the gratification of his tastes, and he was widely known among students for his scientific knowledge. He was somewhat eccentric, at times blunt and extremely outspoken, and was distinguished more as a scientist than as a divine. It has been said of him in a memoir by Rev. Edmund B. Willson, of Salem: --
"Mr. Russell's chosen profession was that of the ministry. Though
he did not spend the greater part of his active years in permanent pastoral relations with any religious society, his heart was in this calling. He was interested in theological study, and marked its progress with a keen attention. He had great respect for good learning, and never failed to pay due honor to true scholarship. Though his personal tastes led him persuasively to the study of nature, and his deep moral convictions and humane feelings impelled him strongly to certain forms of philanthropic discourse and action, he set none the less value upon patient research, sound criticism, and the fruits of thorough professional culture.
"Mr. Russell showed marked fondness for botanical observation and
study. Side by side with his ministerial work it held its place in his regard, without however, causing his earnestness in the minister's work to flag. He was an earnest and uncompromising opponent of American slavery, at a time when slavery had many and powerful apologists in the Northern States. Although a 'hard hitter' in the field of theological controversy, he was no sectarian."
Under Mr. Russell's ministry in the Second Parish the following covenant was adopted July 7, 1844: --
"With a deep sense of our need of improvement and with a desire of performing all our religious duties through the means of grace provided for us in the mission of Jesus Christ, whom we receive as the Messenger of Truth from God, we enter into the communion of his disciples; earnestly praying that by imitating his example, and by imbibing his spirit, we may walk together in the fellowship of the Gospel."
During the interval between the first and second terms of Mr. Russell's ministry, Rev. Mr. Pickering was the settled minister from August to November, 1837, and Rev. Lyman Maynard from April, 1838, to May, 1842.
Rev. John Prince was employed as minister for five months in 1850, and Rev. B. V. Stevenson from April, 1851, to March, 1853.
Rev. William T. Clarke was minister for four years from 1855 to
1859. The Church and Parish were reorganized and united under Mr. Clarke's administration, the following covenant being adopted:
"Acknowledging our dependence upon the Infinite father and the
obligations that rest upon us as rational, moral, and immortal beings, earnestly desiring to perform all our duties and extend the reign of truth and righteousness among men, with Jesus for our teacher and guide, we unite with this church, that by mutual assistance and co-operation in spiritual things we may make that improvement and accomplish that good in the world which as individuals we cannot effect."
Rev. Jedediah J. Brayton was minister for two years ending in 1860, Rev. Robert Hassel for three months, Rev. J. L. Hatch for two years, from 1862 to 1864, Rev. Mr. Sawyer for one year, and Rev. John Savary, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School in 1860, for two years until 1868.
Rev. Allen G. Jennings was ordained minister of the Parish June 9, 1870, and continued in the office until 1881, a period of eleven years. Mr. Jennings was a faithful and energetic pastor, and was, during the last nine years of his ministry, the Superintendent, of the public schools of the town. By his labors in the cause of education the schools of the town were much improved, and he laid the foundation for that further development which has brought them to a high rank among others in the Commonwealth.
Rev. William I. Nichols, a graduate of Harvard College in 1874, was engaged as minister, and took charge of the parish Sept. 4, 1881. After a year's service he was ordained pastor Oct. 4, 1882, and continued as such until Oct. 7, 1883, when he resigned. It was his first settlement. Mr. Nichols had previously been the preceptor of Derby Academy.
Rev. Alfred Cross was the minister from Nov. 1, 1883, to July 31, 1886.
After the pastoral relations of Mr. Cross had been dissolved, the parish was for four years without a settled minister. In the meantime the pulpit of the Third Congregational Society had become vacant, and arrangements were made to settle a minister, who should have both these parishes under his charge, services to be held in the New North Church on Sunday mornings and at South Hingham in the afternoon. This plan was satisfactory to the members of both parishes and Mr. Charles T. Billings
became the minister. He was born in Fitchburg, Mass., Feb. 27, 1863, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1884. After teaching two years at the Adams Academy in Quincy, Mass., and studying a year in Europe, he pursued his theological studies at the Harvard Divinity School, where he was graduated in 1890. He was ordained minister of the two parishes July 2, 1890, the ordination services being held in the New North Meeting-house.
He is the present minister.
The meeting-house was raised June 22, 1742, on the lot on Main Street, where it now stands. The parish was set off March 25, 1745. The original front of the building was on the southerly side, having an entrance there, and another entrance to the galleries on the westerly side. The pulpit was on the northerly side, with a sounding-board over it; the floor was occupied by square pews, and long seats were in the galleries.
Extensive repairs were made in 1756, but the house remained substantially as it was built until about 1792, when a porch was built on the westerly side; a tower was built on the easterly side, and additional pews and seats were constructed. In 1793 a bell was placed on the meeting-house. Stoves were introduced in 1822. In 1829-30 the southerly and westerly entrances were abandoned; the tower was widened to the roof; the easterly end under the tower became the main entrance, with two doors; a larger bell was purchased; the old square pews were removed and new long ones took their places; the pulpit was removed to the westerly end.
In 1869 extensive improvements and changes were made. An organ gallery was built in the westerly end in the rear of the pulpit and an organ was placed in it; the pew doors were removed, and the interior was quite generally renovated. In 1881 the clock was placed in the tower.
This parish is of the Unitarian denomination.
THIRD CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETY (UNITARIAN).
The New North Meeting-house, Hingham.
The circumstances which gave rise to the formation of the Third Congregational Church and Society in 1806 havc already been alluded to. This society was incorporated by an Act of the Legislature, Feb. 27, 1807. The church was organized under the name of the Third Church in Hingham, June 16, 1807. The meeting-house was built, upon the same lot of land on which it now stands, at the time of the formation of the society by the proprietors, who were incorporated by an Act of the Legislature under the name of the New North Meeting-House Corporation, and was dedicated June 17, 1807. The two corporations exist the same today.
Rev. Henry Colman, the first minister, was born in Boston, Sept. 12, 1785, and was graduated at Dartmouth College in 1805. He was ordained pastor of this society June 17, 1807, and was dismissed, at his request, March 14, 1820, in the thirteenth year of his ministry. He died in Islington, England, Aug. 17, 1849. After leaving Hingham he opened an academy in Brookline, continuing it for a few years, when he became the pastor of the Independent Church in Salem, holding that office from Feb. 16, 1825 to Dec. 7, 1831. He then became almost exclusively a farmer, having purchased a farm at Deerfield, Mass. Influenced by this pursuit and commissioned by the State, he visited England,
Vol. 1. -- 4*
France, and other foreign countries, and fell ill in London, with a fatal disease. Mr. Colman possessed excellent abilities, was very fascinating in person and manners, and is said to have been more hospitably received by the aristocracy of England than
any other private American citizen. In a letter in the writer's possession, he says: --
"I have spent three days at the Duke of Richmond's, at Goodwood, and have now promised positively that I will go to Gordon Castle in September to spend at least a fortnight, when he says he will show me the whole county."
Lord Hatherton said of him in a letter to a friend in America, after Mr. Colman's death:--
"I never knew any foreigner so identified with us and our habits and
so entirely adopted by the country. And yet there was no lack of independence of thought and action, and he avowed preference of most things both in civil and social life in his own country. Yet he was so candid and true and honest, and so fond of those qualities in others, and with great talents there was so charming a simplicity of character, that he won on everybody he approached. There is no exaggeration in his printed letters, in which he so often spoke of the innumerable solicitations he received from persons in every part of England to visit them. All who had once received him wished a repetition of the pleasure, and their report caused him to be courted by others."
A monument to his memory stands in Highgate Cemetery, Middlesex, England, which was erected by order of and at the expense of Lady Byron.
Rev. Charles Brooks, the second minister, was born in Medford, Oct. 30, 1795, and was a graduate of Harvard College in 1816. He was ordained pastor Jan. 17, 1821.
The following is an extract from a "Memoir of the Rev. Charles Brooks" by Hon. Solomon Lincoln: --
"Upon his settlement Mr. Brooks entered at once upon active duty,
engaging with great earnestness in all the measures which he thought would be useful to his parish or the community. He established a Sunday School in his society in 1822; a parish reading society; and, during the first year of his ministry, he wrote a Family Prayer Book, intended for his people, which was afterwards published in Hingham.
Eighteen editions of it were issued, many having 4,000 copies each.
"Mr Brooks took an active interest in the Peace cause, he was an ardent friend of the American Colonization Society, by his influence the Savings Bank was established in Hingham, he was an early advocate of the Temperance cause in the Old Colony, he was the first person to introduce anthracite coal into Hingham, and he started the project of a line of steamboats between Boston and Hingham.
"Mr. Brooks was an early and constant friend of popular education,
serving as a member of the school committees of Hingham and Medford for nearly forty years, and he was also a Trustee of Derby Academy.
"The various employments in which Mr. Brooks engaged with great
readiness, and in which he worked with enthusiasm and perseverance, besides the discharge of his parochial duties, bore heavily upon his strength. He sought relief and rest by a change of scenes and occupation. He visited Europe in 1833, and made the acquaintance of many distinguished persons, among them Rogers, Campbell, Wordsworth, Jeffrey, Cousin, Arago, Schlegel, Mrs, Hemans, Miss Martineau, and many others of note.
"It was during the voyage to Europe that he became interested in
the Prussian system of education. His room-mate was Dr. Julius, of Hamburg, who was sent to this country by the King of Prussia, to collect information respecting our prisons, hospitals, and schools; so that Mr. Brooks, in a passage of forty-one days, had a the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the Prussian system, and of enlarging his European correspondence. In 1835 he addressed his people on Thanksgiving Day on the subject of Normal Schools; and from that day forward, on every opportunity, he lectured before conventions to advance the cause into which he had entered with so much enthusiasm. He lectured in nearly one hundred different towns and cities, -- in every place where he was invited. By invitation of the legislatures of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, he delivered to crowded assemblies, in each, two or three lectures, besides speaking in most of the capitals between Boston and Washington. The results were the establishment of Boards of Education and Normal Schools. A distinguished educator, who is entirely competent to judge in this matter, says that Mr. Brooks, for his long, disinterested, and unpaid labors in the cause of education, is entitled to be considered, more than any other individual, what he has been called, the 'Father of Normal Schools.'
"The citizens of Plymouth County owe him a debt of gratitude for the influences which he set in motion resulting in the establishment of the Normal School at Bridgewater. It was in 1838 that the celebrated meeting of the 'Plymouth County Association for the Improvement of Common Schools' was held at Hanover, where brilliant speeches were made by Horace Mann, Robert Rantoul, George Putnam, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster, and a powerful impression was made upon the public mind. It was on this occasion that Mr. Adams, after speaking of what monarchs had done to establish Normal Schools through their realms, exclaimed, 'Shall we be outdone by kings?' and closed a very eloquent speech amid the acclamations of the assembly. Mr. Webster spoke also, with his accustomed simplicity, directness, and power. 'If,' said he, 'I had as many sons as old Priam, I would send them all to the public schools.'
"Mr. Brooks was present at this meeting; took the lead in the measures proposed, and was deferred to as the engineer of the work to be done to create a correct public sentiment.
"In 1838 he was elected professor of Natural History in the University of the City of New York, and proposed to visit Europe to qualify himself
for the duties of his new office. He accepted the office with the concurrence of his parish, and it adopted resolutions on the dissolution of the connection, expressing gratitude for his past services and wishes for his future success.
"In 1839 he departed for Europe, where he remained upward of four
years. He devoted his time to scientific studies, and such as he deemed
of importance to him in the professorship. On his return to this country the failure of his sight compelled him to resign his professorship, and to retire to private life. Always engaged in some philanthropic object, he turned his attention to the condition of aged and destitute clergymen. He collected statistics, and formed a society for their relief. It has been eminently useful, dispensing its blessing with a liberal hand. He devoted much of his time to Sunday-schools, and was an efficient officer of the Sunday-scbool Society.
"Mr. Brooks was sincere in his friendship, candid in his judgment,
genial, cheerful, and affable. He was averse to all controversy; he avoided theological polemics, and was a peace-maker, adding to a life of practical benevolence the graces of a Christian character."
Mr. Brooks's pastoral connection was dissolved Jan. 1, 1839, after a ministry of a few days less than eighteen years. He died in Medford, July 7, 1872.
The following letter from Mr. Brooks in relation to the introduction of anthracite coal into Hingham is worthy of preservation:
To Hon. Solomon Lincoln:--
, -- Knowing you are the only person who could pardon me for sending a bill of coal,1
dated Nov. 15th, 1825, I would let my explanation be my apology.
1 Boston, 15th Nov. 1825.
Mr. Chas. Brooks,
Bought of Lyman & Ralston, 71 Broad Street.
1 small Sheet Iron Stove . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13.00
1 ton (2,000 lbs.) Lehigh Coal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.00
Trucking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Rec'd Pay't, Lyman & Ralston,
By S. D. L--g.
NOTE. -- This was the first anthracite coal brought into Hingham; and this store the first one used for burning it. C. B.
In 1825 all anthracite coal was called Lehigh coal
. The difficulty of igniting it gave rise to grave objectinns and nimble wit. One person
proposed to bore a hole into the centre of the mine, then to creep in and be perfectly safe in the general conflagration. I read something about the coal and believed it would be just the thing for my study; I therefore purchased of Messrs. Lyman & Ralston, of Boston, a sheetiron pyramidical stove, lined with fire-brick, and one ton (then 2,000 lbs.) of coal. That good-natured captain, Peter Hersey, Jun., brought tbe stove and coal to Hingham in his packet, on the 15th day of November, 1825, and arrived about 4 o'clock, p. m., of that day. I have the impression that this was the first piece of anthracite coal introduced into the town, and perhaps into the county.
Like most strangers, on first introductions, my ton of coal met with
some singular treatment. The passengers on board the packet interested themselves in handling it; breaking it, or rather in trying to break it; in guessing about its properties; in wondering how heat could be got out of it; and finally in concluding to try to burn some in the open cabin fireplace. The packet had a light head-wind, and therefore the curious and
inquisitive passengers had time enough to try their experiment. They took three or four pieces and put them upon the live coals, and expected them to blaze very soon. Fifteen minutes passed, and the coal was as black and almost as cold as ever. The bellows were brought and began to do their best, but no signs of ignition. Another pair of old bellows was pressed into the service, and two strong young men began to b1ow. The fun now commenced. Out of twenty passengers, half of them at least proposed some new way of setting fire to the queer stuff. Every way that promised the least success was faithfully tried, and yet not the slightest appearance of fire could be discovered in the black masses! The experimenters reasoned rightly about it. They said, if it was capable of ignition, fire would ignite it; and as they had fire enough to melt iron,
they could ignite that coal, and several of them resolved to work upon it till they arrived at the wharf; and they did so. The fun which these operations produced was great indeed, and ought to have been saved by some historian as part of the queer triumphed entry of Lehigh coal into Hingham. The tardy packet at last reached its wharf in the Cove, and as the passengers went down to take a last look at the undisturbed blackness of their inexplicable subjects, there was a general verdict against the wisdom of the minister, and as general a desire to see the coal burn, if that phenomenon could ever be witnessed. This matter became a town talk, and was better for Lyman & Ralston than all their advertisements. If those three or four pieces of irresistible Lehigh had been saved, I should certainly put them into the Cambridge Museum.
On the next Monday morning, the tinman came with a few pieces of new funnel, and my stove was properly prepared for the great event. First shavings, then charcoal, then Lehigh and then a match, and the thing was done. In one hour I had my stove full of ignited coal, and I kept it replenished a week without its going out. The news spread, and visitors enough I had; and such laughable exclamations and raw wonder
as my experiment elicited were truly refreshing to me. One anxious friend, after examining the fire, lugubriously said, "Those red-hot stones may give out some heat, but I am afraid they'll set fire to your house." A gentleman said, "1'1l not take any insurance on your house." Another asked, "Do you think you can cook with your red stones?" A good neighbor said, "We shall not sleep contentedly while we know you have
such a fire going all night." A brother minister from another town came to see it, and though he liked it, he could not help saying, "It is lucky for you that you have a good salary; for if you hadn't, you'd find that eight dollars a ton for such stuff would empty your purse before April."
Thus my dear sir, you see what fiery trials I went through! My Lehigh, in the mean time, burnt itself into popularlty -- and you know the rest.
Hoping to see you at the next meeting of the Historical Society, I am, with kind regards,
Yours, CHARLES BROOKS.
Medford, March 10th, 1862.
Rev. Oliver Stearns, the third minister, was born in Lunenburg, June
3, 1807, and was graduated at Harvard College in 1826. Mr. Stearns was ordained at Northampton, Nov. 9, 1831, and after short terms of ministerial service in Northampton, Newburyport,
and Boston, was obliged to give up preaching for a time on account of illness. His pastoral connection with the Third Congregational Society in Hingham began July 1, 1839, under an engagement for one year, and he became the settled pastor April 1, 1840. On the first Sunday of April, 1840, he preached a sermon recognizing the permanency of his pastoral relation with the Society, which was the only form of his installation in Hingham. His pastoral relation was dissolved Oct. 1, 1856, in the eighteenth year of his ministry here.
From the time of his leaving Hingham in 1856, to 1863, he was President of the Meadville Theological School, and from 1863 to 1878 he was a Professor in the Harvard Divinity School at Cambridge. He received the degree of S. T. D. from Harvard College in 1857. He died July 18, 1885.
Dr. Stearns was a learned divine and a fine writer. He was not of a rugged constitution. Lack of physical strength and endurance prevented him from undertaking much outside the lines of his pastoral and professional duty, yet by his patient industry and constant application he accomplished a surprisingly large amount of work during his long life. He was of a mild and amiable temperament, a man of positive convictions, a stanch advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United
States, and fearless in expressing his opinions. Although the life of Dr. Stearns does not present as many marked characteristics for biographical notice as many others of the clergymen of Hingham, yet the candid critic will credit him with being one of the most scholarly and learned of those who have been settled in the town. Under his ministry the society prospered, and he was much respected.
Rev. Daniel Bowen, the fourth minister, was born in Reading, Vt., Feb. 4, 1831, and was a graduate of the University of Rochester. His theological studies were pursued at the Theological Seminary of Rochester and at the Harvard Divinity School. He was ordained pastor of the Third Congregational Society, Dec. 21,
1859, and this connection was dissolved Sept. 24, 1863. Mr. Bowen discontinued preaching in 1867, and removed to Florida.
Rev. Joshua Young, the fifth minister, was born in Pittston, Maine, Sept. 29, 1823, was a graduate of Bowdoin College in 1845, and of the Harvard Divinity School in 1848. He was pastor of the "New South Church" in Boston from 1849 to 1852,
and was settled in Burlington, Vt., from 1852 to 1862. Having preached to the society in Hingham for a short time previously, he began his services under engagement as pastor in April, 1864, and continued in that office until Dec. 20, 1868.
Rev. John Snyder, the sixth minister, was born in Philadelphia, Pa.,
June 14, 1842, and was graduated at the Meadville Theological
School in 1869. He was settled over this parish in September, 1869, and was ordained Jan. 20, 1870. He resigned Dec. 31, 1872, to accept a call from the Church of the Messiah, in St. Louis, Mo.
Rev. William G. Todd, the seventh minister, began his parochial
connection with the parish in April, 1873, and resigned in December, 1875.
Rev. Henry A. Miles, D. D., was living in Hingham at the time of Mr. Todd's resignation, and was invited to preach on the first Sunday in January, 1876. He continued for the following Sundays, and received a call to become the settled minister, March 13, 1876. He was installed April 9, 1876, and resigned his active duties Sept. 30, 1883, but continues his parochial connection to the present time as pastor emeritus.
Dr. Miles was born in Grafton, Mass., May 30, 1809. He was graduated at Brown University in 1829, and at the Harvard Divinity School in 1832. He was ordained at Hallowell, Me., Dec. 14, 1832, and was settled there as minister until 1836, when he accepted a call from the Unitarian Society in Lowell, Mass. His ministry in Lowell continued from 1836 to 1853. After varied services in the line of his profession, but without any long continued parochial connection with any religious society, he removed to Hingham, and shortly afterwards became connected with this
society as already stated. He received the degree of D. D. from Brown University in 1850.
It is not the part of the historian to be the eulogist of the living, yet the writer cannot forbear to say that Dr. Miles has the affectionate regard and universal respect of the people of his parish and the town.
After the relinquishment of active duties by Dr. Miles, Rev. Alexander T. Bowser, born in Sackville, New Brunswick, Feb. 20, 1848, and a graduate of Harvard College in 1877, received a call to become the minister. Mr. Bowser's first year in the ministry, after graduation from the Harvard Divinity School in 1880, was
devoted to mission work in St. Louis, Mo. He was ordained there, in the Church of the Messiah, May 2, 1881, Rev. John Snyder, pastor of that church and a former minister of this society in Hingham, giving him the right hand of fellowship. After two years spent in Evansville, Indiana, as the representative of the American Unitarian Association, he received the call from Hingham, Jan. 24, 1884. He was installed June 11, 1884, and continued as pastor until Jan. 2, 1887, when he resigned to accept the position of pastor of the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, Canada.
Rev. Charles T. Billings, the present minister, was ordained minister of this society and the Second Parish, July 2, 1890,
and entered upon his pastorate at that time. A more detailed account of Mr Billings and his settlement over the two parishes has been given in the history of the Second Parish.
The "New North" meeting-house was erected, as has been stated, in 1807. No material change in the exterior of the building has been made. New pews were placed in the galleries about 1833, at the time of the purchase of an organ. March 18, 1883, John Baker, Jairus B. Lincoln, Martin Lincoln, and Jairus Lincoln were chosen a committee "to purchase a church organ for the society the expense of which shall not exceed the sum of twelve hundred dollars." This organ was formerly the property of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston. In 1849 a contract was made with George Stevens for a new organ, to cost twelve hundred dollars. This latter instrument is the one in use at the present time.
In 1852 the appearance of the interior was much changed by the removal of the draperies back of the pulpit, and the painting of the walls and ceilings in fresco, which included upon the wall over the pulpit a tablet bearing the inscription, "Sanctify them through thy truth." A commemorative sermon was preached by
Rev. Oliver Stearns, Dec. 12, 1852, on reopening the meeting-house after these expensive repairs and alterations.
In the spring of 1890 still further changes were made in the interior of the meeting-house. The fresco painting gave way to tinted walls and ceiling of a less ornate character, some of the front pews were removed to give additional open space in front of the pulpit, new pulpit stairs were built, a background of drapery was put upon the wall behind the pulpit, and the organ was thoroughly repaired and improved by the addition of new pipes and stops.
The clock, procured by private subscription, was placed in the tower in 1845.
THE FIRST BAPTIST SOCIETY.
| There is nothing to indicate that any persons professing Baptist sentiments lived in Hingham previously to the year 1814. In that year Mr. Nathaniel T. Davis made this town his place of residence, and he, with his wife and Miss Hannah Beal, were the only Baptists |
here for several succeeding years. A few others subsequently joined them in the same religious belief, and the first prayer-meeting was held at the house of Mr. Davis in 1818. Mr. Asa Wilbur, of Bostob, was visiting in town, and was invited to be present at the meeting. He became much interested in the efforts of this small band of worshippers, and was afterwards often present at their meetings. For his earnest labors and financial aid to the Baptists of this town, through many succeeding years, he is held by them in grateful remembrance.
In this same year, 1818, the first sermon by a Baptist was preached in Hingham by Mr. Ensign Lincoln, and a Sunday-school was organized. This was the first Sunday-school in Hingham. Its meetings were held in the schoolhouse which stood on the hill in front of the Derby Academy. It was collected and organized by Nancy Studley, Polly Barnes, Betsey Lincoln (afterwards Mrs. Rufus Lane), and Hannah Kingman,
and there was an attendance of ninety scholars on the first Sunday. This school was not under the patronage of any religious society, but was an independent school. The first three named ladies were connected with a few Baptists who held meetings, as before stated, at the house of Mr. Davis. Not long afterwards, Rev. Mr. Richardson of the First Parish, and Rev. Mr. Colman of the Third Congregational Society (both Unitarian), thinking the instruction in the school too evangelical, withdrew the children connected with their parishes and formed schools of their own. The original school continued, however, though with a diminished number of scholars; and when the Baptists, in 1828, became a branch of the Second Baptist Church, of Boston, the school became a Baptist school, and has so continued to the present time.
In 1820 the first baptism took place, making a strong impression upon many of those who witnessed it.
The early struggles of this little band to establish and maintain
worship according to their faith were great. Services were held at private houses until August, 1823, when a hall was secured for the purpose in the building next south of the blacksmith-shop on North Street, near the harbor. It was a rough room, in strange contrast to the elaborate churches of the present time. The wall were not plastered, the seats were simply boards nailed upon blocks of wood, which together with a small pine table and chair constituted the furniture. In this room meetings were held for nearly a year, and in spite of opposition and disturbance, both outside and inside the building during the services, the worshippers increased in number.
A building was found in a more quiet location, which could be purchased; but on account of the objection likely to arise if it should be known that it was to be sold to the Baptists, it was deemed prudent to obtain the assistance of some person outside the denomination to make the purchase, that the purpose for
which it was to he used might not be suspected. Mr. Ebenezer Shute was willing to purchase the building, costing about $450, provided some individual could be found who would arrange the bargain with discretion. Capt. Laban Hersey, a Unitarian, consented to take the deed in his own name, and subsequently conveyed the property to Mr. Shute. This building was the one now occupied by M. & M. McNeil, near Hobart's Bridge. The upper story was suitably arranged for meetings, and for more than two years afforded a convenient and pleasant place for worship.
Up to this time the pulpit had been supplied by many different ministers, among them Rev. Thomas Conant, who was engaged to come and labor here as often as his other engagements would permit, Deacon Wilbur becoming personally responsible for the expense thus incurred.
As an illustration of how earnest these Baptists were in such days of struggle and sacrifice to maintain preaching, it is related that on learning late on a Saturday that the preacher expected from Boston was unable to come, Aunt Polly Barnes, as she was called, mounted her horse in the early evening and set out for Scituate to engage Mr. Conant for the next day's services. As she went on her way over a lonely road, a man suddenly sprang from the woods, seized her horse by the bridle and demanded her money.
"You must wait until I can get it," she said, "for I have but one hand." (She had lost her left hand by amputation.)
The highwayman released the bridle for a moment, thinking his booty now secure, when she struck her horse a sharp blow; he sprang away, and the rider reached Mr. Conant's house in safety, engaged him to preach the next day, and rode quietly home to Hingham, some six miles, the same evening.
March 9, 1828, twenty persons were publicly recognized as a branch of the Second Baptist Church, of Boston, Mr. Nathaniel T.
Davis receiving the right hand of fellowship in behalf of the Hingham society.
In this year Deacon Caleb S. Hunt removed from Boston to Hingham. He organized and for many years led an efficient choir in this church. March 7, 1829, the society voted to purchase a bass-viol, and made an appropriation of five dollars to
pay for it, "if a sufficient sum cannot be otherwise obtained;" and May 10, 1833 it was
, To pay amnt of eighteen dollars for a clarionet, which had been previously purchased by some individual and used in the Baptist Meeting-house, and that the clarionet shall be the property of the church, and shall be under their direction."
Sept. 21, 1828, Rev. Harvey Ball was ordained as an evangelist, and served as pastor of this church for two years. Under his encouraging ministry a house of worship was built. A day of special prayer was set apart that a location might be agreed upon, and soon after the lot upon which the meeting-house now stands, upon Main Street, was purchased for $500. This was conveyed July 1, 1829, to Asa Wilbur, of Boston, and Quincy Hersey, of Hingham. The meeting-house was erected, costing $3,300, and dedicated Dec. 3, 1829, amid much rejoicing. In May, 1875, the house and land were conveyed to the deacons of the church and their successors forever, in trust for the benefit of the church and society.
After Mr. Ball's resignation in August, 1830, Mr. Timothy R. Cressey, a student at the Newton Theological Institution, often preached to the society. Mr. Cressey was a graduate of Amherst College in 1828. He was ordained pastor, May 5, 1831, and the church recognized as an independent body with fifty-one members. Mr. Cressey's ministry continued for three years and a half, during which a vestry was built in the basement of the meeting-house, and twenty-eight were received into the church, twenty-one of these by baptism.
Mr. Cressey was born at Pomfret, Conn., Sept. 18, 1800, and died at Des Moines, Iowa, Aug. 30, 1870.
For the two succeeding years the church was without a pastor, Rev. John G. Naylor supplying the pulpit much of the time.
Sept. 29, 1836, Mr. Waterman Burlingame was ordained pastor, and continued as such for nearly five years, until Aug. 5, 1840. During his pastorate twenty persons were received into the church, seventeen by baptism.
For an interval of more than two years the church was without a regular pastor. Rev. Charles M. Bowers frequently preached and labored here during this interval.
July 22, 1842, Mr. Sereno Howe accepted a call with the understanding that he was not to enter upon the full discharge of his duties until after the completion of his theological studies; but in order that he might be qualified to administer the ordinances of the church, he was ordained as an evangelist at Charlestown. Sept. 28, 1842, he was installed as pastor of this church, and continued as such for nearly seven years. His resignation took effect July 8, 1849. During his pastorate seventy-five persons were received into the church, fifty-seven of them by baptism.
Again, for a period of more than two years, the churchh was without a regular pastor, during which their spiritual needs were ministered to by many different clergymen and students from the Newton Theological Institution. Among the latter was Mr. Jonathan Tilson, who first preached here Dec. 22, 1850. May 3, 1851, he received a call to become the minister, which he accepted on the completion of his theological studies in the following August. His labors began September 28, and he was ordained November 5, of the same year.
During the summer of 1851, the meeting-house was moved forward eighteen feet and raised three feet, the vestry removed, and a larger one built with a committee room in the rear of it; the interior was improved, a new pulpit took the place of the former one, and new furniture was procured.
Mr. Tilson's pastorate was the longest, in the history of the church, ending Sept. 24, 1876, after a fruitful service of a quarter of a century. He received into the church one hundred and fifty-six persons, of whom one hundred and twenty-five were by baptism. During his long period of service, Mr. Tilson interested himself in the affairs of the town as well as the church, and was much respected.
Rev. A. Stewart McLean, of Charlestown, was installed pastor June 28, 1877, and resigned July 7, 1878. During his pastorate the house was extensively repaired, at a cost of $1,500, and the church received ten persons, of whom seven were by baptism.
In December, 1878, Rev. Henry M. Dean, of Dayton, Ohio, entered upon the duties of minister, and continued until June 30, 1887. During his pastorate twenty-seven persons were received into the church, of whom twenty-one were by baptism.
In 1886, still further repairs were made upon the meeting-house, and colored glass substituted for the former plate glass windows.
The next minister was Rev. Edward S. Ufford, a graduate of Bates Theological Institute, of Lewiston, Maine. He entered upon his pastorate Nov. 1, 1887, which continued until Nov. 1, 1889. During his pastorate twenty-six persons were admitted to the church, twelve of them by baptism.
Rev. Sylvanus E. Frohock was the next minister. He was graduated from Brown University, in 1889. His first settlement was in Old Warwick, R. I., where he was ordained in 1886. He was pastor of this church from April 6, 1890, to Feb. 14, 1892. During his pastorate, in the winter of 1891-92, extensive improvements were made in the interior of the meeting-house. New pews, a baptistery, and an organ were put in and the interior otherwise made attractive and convenient.
Rev. Irving Eugene Usher entered upon the duties of pastor August 28, 1892. He was graduated at Madison (now Colgate) University, Hamilton, N.Y. in 1887, and took a partial course in the theological seminary there. He was first settled in Charleston, N.Y., where he was ordained in 1887, and remained there two years. From June, 1889, to June, 1892, he was at McGranville, N.Y. Since his settlement here four persons have been admitted to the church, two of them by baptism.
All the settled ministers, with the exception of Mr. McLean, Mr. Ufford, and Mr. Usher, have been graduates of the Newton Theological Institution.
A church library was established as early as 1830.
Deacon Joshua Thayer died Feb. 26, 1874. By his will, he devised his homestead, on Elm Street, near the meeting-house, to the deacons of the church and their successors forever, in trust for the church and society, for the purposes of a parsonage. The first deacons to receive a deed of this property were Joseph Ripley
and Levi Hersey.
The first deacons were chosen in 1835. The following persons have held that office: Joshua Thayer, Nicholas Litchfield, Issacher Fuller, Josecph Ripley, Levi Hersey, Walton V. Mead, Martin T. Stoddard, and George W. Horton.
This society has never been large, and its growth has not at any time in its history been rapid, yet an earnest purpose to adhere unswervingly to evangelical truth has always prevailed among its members; and from a small beginning and opposition which amounted to persecution, the growth has been healthy and full of promise to those who have felt that they were devoutly "contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints."
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL MEETING-HOUSE.
| The town of Hingham was included in what was known as the Scituate circuit from 1807 to 1826. From the latter year until 1828 it was included in the Weymouth Society, and in 1828 it became a separate society. In 1807 Rev. Thomas Asbury, on the Scituate circuit, was the first Methodist minster who preached in Hingham. He was an Englishman, said to have been a cousin |
of the celebrated Bishop Asbury. He married Rachael Binney of Hull, and subsequently removed to Ohio, purchasing land on the present site of the city of Columbus. In 1809, Moses Tower, of Hingham, married Mary Binney, of Hull, who was a member of the Methodist Church, and their house, and that of Robert Goold, were opened to Methodist meetings for many years. Methodist ministers occasionally preached in these houses. One of the Sabbath appointments for the Scituate circuit was Cohasset, where a house of worship was erected, and where the Methodists of Hingham worshipped until 1826, when they attended church services in Weymouth for about two years.
The following ministers preached occasionally in Hingham before 1828, when, on the formation of a separate society, a regular pastor was stationed here: Thomas Asbury, George Pickering, John Broadhead, Joseph Snelling, Joseph A. Merrill, Benjamin F. Lambord, Stephen Baily, Edward Hyde, Aaron Lummus, Richard Emery, Bradbury Clay, B. Otheman, Orin Roberts, Benjamin Hazelton, Jotham Horton, Isaac Jennison, F. Upham, A. D. Sargent, Stephen Puffer, Benjamin Jones, Jobs Adams, Moses Sanderson, L. R. Sutherland, Samuel Norris, Jared Perkins.
The first class of Methodists was formed in 1818, by Rev. Edward T. Taylor, of Boston (Father Taylor), and consisted of seven members, namely: Robert Goold, Mary Goold, George Lincoln, Abigail Goold Tower, Jane Goold, Mary Gould Pratt,
and Isaiah Wilder.
The early meethings of this little band were attended with opposition and disturbances from outside the houses in which they were held, but their number gradually increased. In 1828 Rev. Stephen Puffer, who was a local preacher residing in Hingham, gave funds for the erection of a meeting-house, which was dedicated July 3, 1828, and the lot and building were conveyed to a board of trustees. Mr. Puffer built the house at his own expense, and sold the pews to cover the cost of building and furnishing. The amount expended was $1,820.
After the meeting-house was built Hingham became a station, and has been supplied by travelling and local preachers down to the present time. The following is a 1ist of the ministers: --
1828 Samuel Heath. 1855 Paul Townsend.
1828 Nathan Spalding. 1856 Lyman Leffingwell.
1829 Selah Stocking. 1857 Amos Binney.
1830 Chauncey Richardson. 1858-59 F. A. Loomis.
1831 A. U. Swinerton. 1860-61 Robert Clark.
1832 Stephen Puffer. 1862 Edward B. Hinckley.
1833 Ralph W. Allen. 1863-65 William Henry Starr.
1834 P. W. Nichols. 1866-68 George E. Fuller.
1835 Apollus Hale. 1869-71 Merritt P. Alderman.
1836 George W. Bates. 1872-73 James H. Nutting.
1837 Daniel Wise. 1874-75 Charles Hammond.
1838 James Mudge. 1876 James O. Thompson.
1839 Daniel L. McGear. 1877 Annie Howard Shaw.
1840 Robert Goold. 1878 Charles M. Comstock.
l841 William Davenport. 1879 George H. Huffman.
1842 Abel Gardner. 1880 Henry M. Cole
1843-44 Levi Daggett. 1881 Winfield W. Hall.
1845 S. C. Cook. 1882 Angelo Canol.
1845 Geo. W. Rodgers(supply). 1883 W. F. Lawford.
1846-47 Adin H. Newton 1884 Arthur Thompson.
1848 Thomas Spilsled. 1885 W. D. Woodward.
1849 J. Burleigh Hunt. 1886 B. F. Jackson.
1850 Samuel Beedle. 1887 George B. Norton.
1851 E. F. Hinks. 1888-89 John H. Newland.
1852-53 Daniel Webb. 1890 Samuel F. Johnson.
1854 F. A. Loomis. 1891-92 Edwin G. Babcock.
In 1828 the society numbered 30 members.
1829 " " " 59 "
1830 " " " 65 "
1831-32 " " 70 "
From 1832 to the present time, the society has waned and increased by turns.
In 1841-42 there were 40 members.
1860-61 " " 70 "
1863 " " 53 "
The society now numbers about seventy members.
The first record of a Sunday-school is on July 29, 1844, when the school numbered a superintendent, seven teachers, and fortyfive scholars, with three hundred and thirty books in the library.
In 1863 there were a superintendent, ten teachers, and seventy scholars, and over six hundred books in the library.
In 1863 Rev. William H. Starr, the pastor, wrote an interesting
historical sketch of the society, in which he attempts to account for the slow growth of Methodism in Hingham. It is chiefly a record of the opinions of the autbor, but his statement of one cause of weakness is so subtle and entertaining, and so complimentary to the attractions of the "devoted sisters," that it is quoted: --
"One more circumstance I will mention which has taken strength from
"The following preachers, R. W. Allen, Amos Binney, P. W. Nichols,
Francis Messeur, J. M. Carroll, William Hambleton, and E. M. Anthony, in some way learned that we had talented and devoted sisters suited to become valuable help-mates in their ministerial labors, and have come once and again and taken those loved and useful sisters from the bosom of this society to other fields of labor and usefulness. May God bless and prosper them wherever they go in their work of love and self-denial.
Their sphere of usefulness has been enlarged, and you who were so closely connected with them ought to thank God that you have had daughters and sisters called, I trust, not only by man, but also by the Spirit of God to so glorious a work."
Extensive alterations were made in the meeting-house in 1845, and in 1867 the building was moved back about thirty feet, raised, vestries built, and a new front and spire added, at an expense of nearly $4,000.
This building stood at the corner of North Street and Marsh's Bride, facing west.
At the time of the latter extensive repairs, interesting services were held at the laying of the corner-stone, and a box containing many interesting mementos was deposited beneath it.
In 1882 the lot on the opposite side of North Street, at the corner of Thaxter Street, where the meeting-house now stands, was purchased and the building moved to the new location.
In 1883, with the aid of gifts amounting to $1,000 from Mrs. Stephen Puffer, the widow of Rev. Stephen Puffer, who aided in the original building of the meeting-house, a parsonage was built upon the land belonging to the society, in the rear of the meeting-house, and it was furnished by the exertions of the members of the church.
The record of this church is not one of large membership and numerous accessions, but rather that of an earnest band of Christians, zealously striving for the cultivation and promulgation of those principles which, according to their faith, lead to the salvation of souls.
FIRST UNIVERSALIST SOCIETY.
| On Nov. l, 1823, there was a meeting of several members of
the First Universalist Society, of Scituate, at the house of Capt. Charles W. Cushing,
in Hingham. With them also met a number of persons of the Universalist belief, from Hingham, and, under the inspiration |
of a mutual sympathy and the desire of spreading their faith, these latter organized as the First Universalist Society of Hingham.
The following was their declaration of faith: --
"We whose names are hereunto subscribed, being sensible of the unchangeable and universal love of God to mankind, exhihited in the Redeemer, and in humble thankfulness to Him for disposing our hearts to unite together in the bonds of Christian love and fellowship, think it our duty, as tending to the good order of society in general, and the improvement and edification of each other in particular, to form ourselves into a church of Christ, which, we conceive, consists of a number of believers united together in tbe confession of faith of the gospel."
The meeting-house was erected in 1829, and was the same now occupied by the society, on North Street. The corner-stone was laid May 18, 1829, and the house dedicated to the worship of God Sept. 19, 1829, on which occasion the sermon was preached by Rev. Hosea Ballou.
Chapter 90 of the Acts of the Legislature of 1829 is "An Act to incorporate the Proprietors of the First Universalist Meeting-house in Hingham." "Moses L. Humphrey, Henry Nye, Marshall Lincoln, Ensign Barnes, Jr., Jairus Thayer and others
who have associated or may hereafter associate with them and their successors" were the persons named in the Act as the members of the corporation.
Among the ministers have been the following: Thomas J. Greenwood, Joseph P. Atkinson, Albert A. Folsom, John F. Dyer, Samuel A. Davis, Jeremy H. Farnsworth, Josiah W. Talbot, M. M. Preston, Albert Case, John D. Cargill, Emmons Partridge, John E. Davenport, Phebe A. Hanaford, Daniel P. Livermore, and S. R. H. Biggs.
Mr. Atkinson was born in Gloucester, Mass., Nov. 17, 1809, and died in Boston, Dec. 27, 1888. He studied theology with Rev. Thomas Whittemore, D. D., and was ordained in 1829. He was installed in Hingham April 30, 1830. His pastoral settlements were in Hingham, Dover, N. H., Weare, N. H., Marblehead, Mass., Westbrook, Me., Orleans, Mass., and Orange, Mass. During the last thirty-six years of his life his residence was chiefly in Laconia, N.H. After his retirement from his settled pastorates he administered for a time the affairs of the Universalist Publishing House in Boston with success. His funeral services took place in the Unitarian Church, Laconia, N.H., and were conducted by Rev. A. A. Miner, D. D., of Boston, assisted by several of the local clergymen.
Mr. Folsom's pastorate was of about seven years' duration, and Mr. Livermore was the minister for eleven years.
Mr. Biggs began to preach for the society in September, 1888, having charge of a parish in the neighboring town of Norwell at the same time. After a few months he received a call to become the settled pastor. His services as such began in March, 1889, and continued until July 1, 1891. He was a graduate from the Tufts Divinity School.
From a time almost as early as the formation of the society the ordinance of the Lord's Supper has been administered to all who have felt its helpfulness, and in 1856, during the ministry of Rev. Mr. Cargill, a distinct church was organized, consisting of members who subscribed to the Winchester Confession of
The installation of Mr. Atkinson, and the ordinations of Rev. John Nichols and Rev. Phebe A. Hanaford have taken place in this meeting-house.
The Sunday-school of this society has been in a flourishing condition during these many years, having had at times a membership of one bundred and twenty-five scholars.
The Uviversalist denomination has not found in Hingham a very productive field for its growth. Enthusiasm and determination have not been wanting among those of this faith in Hingham, especially in the early days of the society, but the predominant strength of thee Unitarians, existing in the older parishes, has given the Universalists less opportunity for increasing their numbers than might have been the case had they found themselves surrounded by other ecclesiastical neighbors.
EVANGELICAL CONGREGATIONAL SOCIETY.
EVANGELICAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING-HOUSE.
| The first minister of this church and society was Rev. Ebenezer Porter Dyer. Mr. Dyer was born in South Abington, Aug. 15, 1813, entered Amherst College in 1829, where he remained one year, and was graduated at Brown University in 1833, after which he pursued his theological studies at the Andover Theological Seminary. He was licensed to preach in 1838, at Carlisle, and was ordained by the wayside at Stow, Sept. 25, 1839. He was for |
a time pastor of the Evangelical Congregatioual Church in Stow, from which he was dismissed in March, 1846. He served as city missionary in Boston from February, 1846, to October, 1847. While city missionary, in August, 1847, upon invitation of the Norfolk Conference of Churches, he visited Hingham with a view to establishing Evangelical Congregational preaching here.
Religious services according to this faith had previously been held by Rev. Mr. Loring, in the Town Hall, and in September, 1847, with financial aid from the Norfolk Conference, an engagement was made for Mr. Dyer to preach in the Town Hall for a period of one year. In October of the same year a Sunday-school was organized. Dec. 21, 1847, a church was formed, with eleven member's, of which Asa H. Holden was chosen deacon.
In 1848 the present meeting-house was erected, at the junction of Main and Pleasant Streets, and on Jan. 4, 1849, it was dedicated.
At the close of Mr. Dyer's engagement of a year he became the settled minister, and his installation took place on Jan. 4, 1849, the day of the dedication of the meeting-house.
Mr. Dyer was dismissed from his pastorate Nov. 17, 1863, after sixteen years' service, during which he served the church faithfully, and he was a good citizen of the town as well.
The ministers of this church who succeeded Mr. Dyer have been the following: --
Rev. Henry W. Parker, a graduate of Amherst College and
Auburn (N.Y.) Theological Seminary, who supplied the pulpit for over a year, commencing in March, 1864.
Rev. Henry W. Jones, a graduate of Amherst College and Hartford Theological Seminary, who was installed in May, 1866, and dismissed June 7, 1871.
Rev. Austin S. Garver, educated at Pennsylvania College and a graduate of Andover Theological Seminary. He was ordained as pastor Oct. 31, 1872, and his pastorate ended in July, 1875.
Rev. Edward C. Hood, a graduate of Princeton College and Union Theological Seminary, from September, 1875, to September, 1882.
Rev. Edward A. Robinson, a graduate of Harvard College in 1879, and of Union Theological Seminary, who was ordained July 11, 1883. His pastorate ended July 29, 1888.
Rev. Frank L. Goodspeed, acting minister, from June 1,1889, to June 1, 1890. Mr. Goodspeed was a graduate of the School of Theology, Boston University, and during his year of service in Hingham was pursuing his studies as a member of the senior class in Harvard College, from which he was graduated ?? 1890.
Rev. Albert H. Wheelock, the present minister, a graduate of Bangor Theological Seminary, in 1888. He was ordaincd July 3, 1888, as pastor of the Congregational Church in Topsham, Maine, where be remained until he came to this parish in November, 1891.
The deacons of the church have been Asa H. Holden, Caleb S. Hunt, Samuel G. Bayley, Jacob O. Sanborn, Tobias O. Gardner, George E. Kimball, and Charles Bates.
During the pastorate of Mr. Hood the meeting-house was extensively repaired, a new organ purchased and placed by the side of the pulpit, and a piano purchased for use in the vestry. Further alterations and repairs were made in the winter of 1886-87, and stained-glass windows were put in. The clock was placed in the tower and started April 19, 1887.
For about thirty years the church received financial aid from the Home Missionary Society. In 1878 the system of raising money for parish expenses by weekly offerings was adopted. By a vote of the parish, May 17, 1882, self-support was assumed, and it has been self-sustaining since that time.
In another part of this chapter it bas been stated that the parishes in Hingham did not divide upon denominational lines, as was common in the latter part of the last century. For nearly two centuries after the settlement of the town there were no other churches within its original limits, except those which became Unitarian. Doubtless the inclination of the sons to follow in the footsteps of their fathers in matters pertaining to religious faith and church allegiance will account for the fact that no earlier effort was made to establish an Evangelical Congregational Society here. The policy of this denomination in Hingham has
not been extremely aggressive, but tolerant of others' opinions, and it is not strange that, in a town but little subject to changes in the characteristics of its inhabitants, it has not grown to a very large membership. It should be credited, however, with an earnest, self-respecting, and constant devotion to the principles of
THE FREE CHRISTIAN MISSION.
FREE CHRISTIAN MISSION CHAPEL.
| This Church and Society was organized Jan. 29, 1878, under
the name of "The Free Christian Mission" by those holding the belief in the "Second Advent," and it has continued under the same faith to the present time. |
Three years before the organization of the
society, a little Sunday-school and meetings were started by two sisters.
Prominent among those who were instrumental in establishing the society, or who have contributed largely for its support, have been John Tuttle, Henry W. Sinclair, William H. Searles, William H. Crockett, Alonzo Manuel, and Joseph H. Hackett. Others also have aided according to their means and ability, with money and
work, to keep alive the Christian work in the vicinity of the church. The society has always been self-sustaining, and an independent body in its relations to any denomination, conference, or mission.
The chapel, situated near the junction of High and Ward Streets, was built in 1873 with contributions of money collected by a committee. The following extract from the Town Records will explain the manner in which a permit to build a chapel was obtained from the town:--
"March 4th, 1872. Voted
, That the report of the Committee to whom was referred the request of John Tuttle and others, to build a Chapel to be used for the purpose of religious worship, at the junction of High and Ward Streets, be amended by striking out the words 'thirty feet,' and 'Selectmen,' and adding 'Road Commissioners,' and as amended be accepted.
To the inhabitants of Hingham, in Town Meeting assembled:
The Committee to whom was referred "the question of the town granting consent to John Tuttle and others, to build a Chapel to be used for the
---------(whole line unreadable)---------
streets, with instructions to take into consideration all the facts in relation thereto," have given to the subject a careful examination and respectfully Report. The advantages which follow an attendance upon public worship are apparent to nearly every candid and thinking person. A community is not only improved in intelligence, virtue, and happiness thereby, but with these characteristics come a more earnest recognition and maintenance of law and order, as well as an increased interest in the prosperity
and general welfare of society.
From our local history, we learn that the early settlers of the town
were a godly and law-abiding people; and to a considerable extent their characteristics have heen sustained by their descendants.
The first church in Hingham was formed in 1635. From it have sprung ten other religious societies, all having places for public worship within the original limits of the town, which included Cohasset. At the present time a number of our fellow citizens desire to establish another church. With their associates they number about one hundred persons, a majority of whom reside on Ward and High Streets, or in that vicinity. They have held meetings during the past year at their residences, and
these meetings, we learn, have been well attended. In many instances the house occupied was not sufficiently large to accommodate all who were present.
On account of the interest thus manifested, the erection of a Chapel is contemplated. To this end several hundred dollars have already been pledged or subscribed; but the amount does not at present meet the necessary requirements. By renewed exertions, however, those interested in the movement expect soon to overcome this difficulty.
The piece of land which the petitioners ask the town to permit them
to build upon is eligibly situated and well adapted for their purpose. It has laid unimproved for the past fifty years without benefit to any one. Your committee have sought in vain for any title in the premises other than that of the town.
They have corresponded and conferred with people who have been familiar with the locality for the past seventy years.
They have also carefully searched the records of Suffolk County, beginning with the time when the lot was first occupied by James Hayward, and thus far have been unable to find any conveyance of the property, either by will or deed.
In view of these circumstances, and of the benefits which the town may receive from an increase of taxable property in that locality, your committee recommend: --
First. That the town reserve thirty feet of the said lot, fronting on
High Street, for widening and otherwise improving that street; and
Second. That the petitioners have liberty to enclose a lot for the purposes of erecting a chapel thereon as requested, within such limits as the Selectmen shall fix and determine upon; and that a plan of the same shall be filed in the Town Clerk's office.
Crocker Wilder,} Committee.
Elijah Shute, }
Hingham, March 4, 1872.
The membership at the present time is thirty, and the usual attendance at the services has been from fifty to one hundred.
Rev.? William H. Crockett has been the minister since 1879.
PARISH OF ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST
| Before the organization of any Episcopal mission or church in Hingham, there had been for many years intermittent services in the town. |
In 1824, the first services of the Episcopal Church were held in Hingham and continued for a time, with good attendance, in a hall
fitted up for the purpose by Mr. Daniel Bassett, an ardent Episcopalian.
The number of those interested for any length of time was so small, however, that no attempt was made to establish a church on a permanent foundation.
From the Hingham Gazette we learn that Rev. Mr. Cutler preached on the Sunday following Christmas, 1827; and from a private letter that the Rt. Rev. Alexander Viets Griswold, S. T. D., Bishop of the Eastern Diocese, preached in Hingham on an evening in June, 1828, which was probably the first visitation of a Bishop to Hingham.
About the year 1841 Rev. Samuel Cutler, of Hanover, held services in Bassetts hall, being assisted by clergymen who chanced to be in the vicinity during the summer season.
The families of Daniel Bassett, Atherton Tilden, and Edward Wilder were the only residents of the town, so far as can be ascertained, at that time identified with the church.
In 1848, services were again held in the same hall by Rev. John P. Robinson, of Quincy. The hall was loaned for the purpose, seats were put in, and prayer-books purchased, which were marked upon the covers, "Episcopal Church, Hingham." Some of these books are now in use. The services were abandoned after a short time, as the number interested in them was small.
Rev. Theodore W. Snow, a missionary in 1844, "visited many places in the Diocese, and among others held one of more services in Hingham."
May 30, 1869, an evening service was held in Loring Hall, and through the following summer continued regularly. The Rt. Rev. Manton Eastburn, S. T. D., LL.D., Bishop of Massachusetts,
preached at one of these evening services, which were conducted mostly by Rev. Mr. Street, of Weymouth. There were occasional services during the summer of 1870 and 1871.
Finally, in 1879, a successful effort was made to establish permanent Episcopal services. July 6, 1879, services were conducted, in Southworth's hall, on Broad Bridge, by Rev. Julius H. Ward, of Boston, and they were confirmed regularly through the summer, and as often as twice in each month in the following winter, under the charge of Rev. Thaddeus A. Snively, of Quincy, and Rev. George S. Bennett, of Dorchester. In November, 1879, a Sunday-school was organized.
The apostolic rite of Confirmation was administered, for the first time in Hingham, by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Henry Paddock, S. T. D., Bishop of Massachusetts, June 13, 1880, to six persons.
Through the summer of 1881 the services were in charge of Rev. Percy C. Webber, and during the following winter, of Mr. Sherrard Billings, as lay reader, then a candidate for holy orders, and a student at the Episcopal Theological School at Cambridge.
July 1, 1881, a lot of land on Main Street, opposite Water Street, was purchased for $1,000, and a fund for the erection of a churchh was started.
At Easter, 1882, a mission was organized; and July 1, 1882, Rev. Charles L. Wells was placed in charge. Mr. Wells was a graduate of Harvard College in 1879.
Services continued in Southworth's hall until 1883.
With the proceeds of a sale, the efforts of the Women's Guild, and amounts subscribed by generous friends, sufficient funds were procured to justify the building of a church on the lot already purchased, and ground was broken for it in November, 1882. Mr. Edgar A. P. Newcomb, of Boston, was the architect, and generously contributed his services. The church was finished and consecrated June 5, 1883, by the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Henry Paddock, S. T. D., Bishop of Massachusetts. The occasion was one of much interest. Over two hundred persons were present at the services of consecration, in which about thirty clergymen assisted.
The dimensions of the church are sixty-four by twenty-four feet, and it has a seating capacity for about one hundred and fifty. Its cost was about $3,000.
The chancel window was the gift of Miss Blanche Shimmin in memory of her grandmother, Mary George Parkman. The large window in the west end of the church was the gift of Mrs. George S. Glover and Governor John D. Long in memory of Mary Woodward Long, the daughter of Mrs. Glover and wife of Governor Long.
The chancel furniture and font were gifts as well as the organ, the latter presented by St. Paul's Church, of Stockbridge, Mass.
The brass jewelled receiving basin came from London, England, and was also a gift.
| The chalice and paten of silver and gilt, engraved and inscribed, enclosed in a case of polished oak, were sent from St. Andrew's Church, of Hingham, England, and still further gifts of a lectern and bishop's chair, of oak, massive and elaborately carved, which had been in use in that ancient church,
were sent across the ocean and presented as a sign of Christian brotherhood and intimate church relationship between the old and the new Hingham. The following extracts from "The Hingham Deanery Magazine," of April 1883, are interesting in connection with these latter gifts from St. Andrew's Church, of Hingham, England: -- |
"Hingham in America. -- The Rector has received a letter from New York from an American lady, who visited our parish last summer, in the hope of gaining some information concerning an ancestor,
BISHOP'S CHAIR IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
Thomas Joy, 'who left "Hingham, England, with a band of Puritans about the year 1630, and after a short stay in Boston, Massachusetts, founded a town near by, which they named Hingham, in tender memory of their English home.' The lady's letter enclosed a letter addressed to herself by the 'Minister in charge of the Mission of St. John the Evangelist,' dated Hingham, March 5, 1883. He gives an account of a small church which is in course of building there, and which it is hoped to open for Divine service in the beginning of May. This church is to cost about £600, and there seems little doubt of the money being forthcoming.
Alluding to a request for aid which he had heard of buying been made a year ago to the Rector of our Hingham, the Minister says: 'I should prefer not to receive money from there, even if he were able and inclined to send it. I will say, however, that a book, or window, or some article of church furniture (if possible something that had been used there) would be a pleasant memorial of our Mother Church . . . . I do not think we ought to receive aid from Hingham, but some token of Christian brotherhood and Church relations would be of inestimable value.' The wish thus expressed will surely find a response. A committee has been formed of three ladies, to consider in what way the Church people of Hingham, Norfolk, can best manifest their sympathy with the Church
builders and worshippers of Hingham, Massachusetts."
ATTLEBOROUGH, March 21, 1883.
Dear Sir, -- I have lately received and read with much interest and pleasure a letter of yours to Mrs. Dyer, in which you give her an account of Church work at Hingham, Mass. I read your letter to-day to a working party of ladies who are employed much in the same way as the Guild that you write of. They will be much pleased to carry out your suggestion and to make some present to your Church which may be a token to you and your people of the interest felt for them by the parishioners of Old Hingham . . . . There is a fine old chair which has stood in our Church a long time, which, if you have room for it, I think we might send you to represent your Bishop's "cathedra."
MAYNARD W. CURRIE.
To Rev. CHARLES L. WELLS.
ATTLEBOROUGH, April 12, 1883.
My Dear Sir, -- . . . I think our means would suffice to procure a
chalice and paten suitable for your little church, -- if that is what your congregation would like. The chair which I offered is large and rather unwieldy, but if you think it worth being carried across the Atlantic, I am sure the church-wardens would be willing to send it. There is a lectern of proportions suitable, I should think, to your church and made of old oak, which would be much at your service. Let me assure you of my appreciation of the sentiments expressed in your letter to Mrs. Dyer, and of the sympathy of the Church people of Old Hingham with you and your people of the new.
I am, my dear sir,
MAYNARD W. CURRIE.
To Rev. CHARLES L. WELLS.
HINGHAM, ATTLEBOROUGH, July 27, 1883.
My Dear Sir, -- . . . The committee of ladies of which I told you have made a collection among their friends here, to which I hope to be
allowed to make an addition, and I may say that we thus have a sum of £20 (twenty pounds) to be devoted to the procuring of something for your church which would be acceptable to you and your congregation as a token of the sympathy and brotherly regard felt by the Church people of the Old Hingham for the Church people of the new. It occurs to me that a silver chalice and paten would be an appropriate gift to your church, and a durable memorial of the regard which we wish to express. . . . I have not forgotten the wish you expressed to have some furniture that had been in use in the old church . . . . I will write you again about the chair, and if it is not too big for you and you wish to have it, I feel sure our church-wardens will offer no objection to my sending it . . . .
Yours very faithfully,
MAYNARD W. CURRIE.
To Rev. CHARLES L. WELLS.
HINGHAM, Massachusetts, August 11th, 1883.
Rev. and Dear Sir, -- Your favor of the 27th ult. is at hand, and I
thank you heartily for the kind and cordial feeling which it expresses. We are delighted with the exceedingly generous expressions which it promises us of the brotherly regard of the Church-people of Old Hingham for us of the New. Above all we thank you for your interest in bringing about a happy result; it will be a joy and an inspiration to us for many years to come. Nor can we conceive of a more desirable, more
acceptable, or more appropriate form in which to express the Christian love and Church brotherhood than that which you suggest.
The Chalice and the Paten used in celebrating the memorial of the redeeming Passion of our common Lord will thus serve not only to bring before us our communion with Him and with each other, but also to remind us, continually, in a beautiful and significant manner of our communion with our Mother Church across the sea, "to which," as the preface to our own Prayer Book so truly and so beautifully says, "the Church in these States is indebted under God for her first foundation and long continuance of nursing care and protection." May the union be strong and lasting, ministering to the glory of God and to the prosperity of His Church . . . . Believe me, with the greatest respect and esteem,
Very faithfully yours,
CHARLES L. WELLS.
To Rev. Maynard W. Currie.
The silver chalice and paten were ordered from Messrs. Keith & Son, Demnark Street, Soho, with the following inscription: "Presented by the Church-people of Hingham, England, to the Church of St. John the Evangelist, Hingham, Massachusetts,
U. S. A.," engraved on the under side. On the paten is added the text, "We being many are One Bread and One Body."
April 24, 1883.
My Dear Sir, -- Before leaving home for a few weeks I ordered the chair and lectern, both of which have stood in our old Parish Church, to be sent to you . . . .
Yours very truly,
MAYNARD W. CURRIE.
To Rev. CHARLES L. WELLS.
HINGHAM RECTORY, ATTLEBOROUGH.
St. Luke's Day, 1883.
My Dear Sir, -- The enclosed extract from our "Deanery Magazine" will show you that we have acted on your acceptance of the proposal contained in my last letter.
The Chalice and Paten have been on view for the last ten days. It has been suggested that your congregation would like to think that they had been used in the Mother Church, and I propose to use them on Sunday next in the celebration of the Holy Communion. The vessels, in their box, shall then be sent up to London for transmission to Boston. I trust that they will arrive safely, and I know that your people will receive our gift as a token of the brotherly love which we entertain for
our kinsmen across the ocean . . . .
I am with kind regard,
MAYNARD W. CURRIE.
To Rev. CHARLES L. WELLS.
Mr. Wells resigned in the autumn of 1884, and during the following winter the Mission was in charge of Mr. Walter E. C. Smith, a candidate for Holy Orders in the Episcopal Theological School, at Cambridge.
Rev. James I. T. Coolidge, D. D., was in charge from 1885 to Nov. 1, 1888, his first sermon being on Whitsunday, 1885. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1838, and received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from Hobart College in 1870.
Rev. Alsop Leffingwell, the present rector, was born July 23, 1858, in Fairfield, Conn. He was graduated at Wesleyan University in 1880; entered Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Conn., in 1886, from which institution he was graduated, in 1889. He was temporarily connected with the parish from June to October, 1889, and since that time he has been regularly in charge.
The organization as a parish took place in June, 1885.
UNITED SOCIAL SOCIETY OF SOUTH HINGHAM.
In the extreme southerly part of the town religious meetings had been held occasionally but not regularly for some years previously to 1890. In the vicinity of Gardner and Whiting Streets there is quite a village. In the spring of 1890, there being no place near enough to that village to enable the inhabitants to attend church, or the children to go to Sunday-school, it occurred to Mrs. Annie Belcher and her sister, Mrs. Sarah Chubbuck, of Gardner Street, that a Sunday-school could be established there. They consulted with the families in the neighborhood, and finding them all in favor of the undertaking, and willing to assist, not only in the formation of a Sunday-school, but also in establishing regular Sunday services, a room was engaged in a building erected by Leonard Gardner for a wooden-ware manufactory, situated on Gardner Street, and the first meeting was held and a Sunday-school organized on the first Sunday in May, 1890, Rev. Jacob Baker, of South Weymouth, officiating, and I. Wilbur Lincohln being Superintendent of the Sunday-school. The meetings continued with unabated interest during the summer and autumn of 1890, the attendance increased, and during the summer fifteen persons were baptized. Upon the approach of winter the meetings were discontinued, as there was no means of heating
the room in Mr. Gardner's building, but the Sunday-school was held in different houses during the winter. The enthusiasm which first prompted and had so successfully carried on the good work during the season continued to increase, and the project was then conceived of erecting a building suitable for the wants of the society. In the autumn of 1890 twenty-two persons formed an incorporated organization under the name of the "United Social Society of South Hingham," with the following officers: --
J. Fremont Belcher, President.
Miss Clara J. Gardner, Secretary.
Mrs. Lloyd Raymond, Treasurer.
Charles A. Gardner, }
Mrs. Charles A. Gardner,} Standing
Mrs. J. Fremont Belcher,}
I. Wilbur Lincoln, } Committee.
Mrs. Charles M. Clark, }
It was decided to proceed at once to the erection of a chapel; a building committee was chosen; a lot of land at the junction of Gardner and Derby streets was given to the society by Lewis Gardner, and work upon the building was immediately begun. Owing to the cold winter, however, it was not completed until
the following spring. It is a tasteful building, twenty-two by forty feet, with an alcove for the minister and choir. The total cost, exclusive of labor performed by various members of the society, was over $800. To a small society of twenty-two members the erection of this chapel seemed quite an undertaking; but friends from Hingham and adjoining towns gave encouragement and substantial aid, which, combined with the persistency and faith of the members of the society from its commencement, completed a building which exceeded the expectations of those directly interested in its construction, and which would be a credit to any community. The chapel was dedicated Sunday, May 16, 1891, with appropriate exercises. At the exercise of dedication an appeal was made to the congregation by one of the visiting speakers, for aid to reduce the debt incurred in building the chapel, and $151 were contributed. The society is now free from debt. The organ, chairs, and some other furniture were the gift of the sewing society. Services are held every Sunday. There is no settled minister, but clergymen from Hingham and adjoining towns officiate at the services. This society is doing a good work.
Although the original limits of the South Parish extend to the southern boundary line of the town, yet the natural boundary line of Liberty Pole Hill marks the division between Glad Tidings Plain and Liberty Plain and the adjacent country. The thickly settled portion of extreme South Hingham forms a village quite a
distance from the Meeting-house, and partly from this cause and perhaps also from a diversity of opinion there has been a demand for a nearer place of worship.
As has been previously stated there had been occasional religious meetings and Sunday-schools through many years in this part of the town. Beginning some forty years or more before the formation of this society, meetings were held regularly for a number of years in the schoolhouse, which brought together on
Sundays a large congregation, not only from this immediate vicinity, but also from Scituate and Hanover. Rev. George Lincoln preached. There was a large Sunday-school connected with these meetings. In 1859-60 there were religious services in Liberty Hall, at which Rev. J. F. Dyer preached.
The formation of the United Social Society of South Hingham is the natural outcome of these earlier efforts to maintain regular religious services.
CHURCH OF ST. PAUL
| At the time when services of the Roman Catholic Churchwere first held in Hingham, the town was within the limits of the Quincy parish. This was soon after 1850. Afterwards it was attended from Randolph, then from Abington, until 1867, at which time Weymouth became a separate parish. Hingham was then attached to the Weymouth parish and so continued until it was itself |
made a separate parish in 1876. The first organization of Catholics in Hingham was in 1850, when the "Hingham Catholic Association" announced a course of eight weekly lectures, beginning Feb. 5, 1850, upon subjects connected with the history of the Roman Catholic Church, by Rev. Mr. Roddan, of Quincy, "in the Society's rooms near the depot." These lectures were favorably noticed in the "Hingham Journal."
For about twenty years after the first services here, the Catholics of Hingham felt the great need of a suitable edifice in which to worship God after the form of their own religion. During that time their religious services had been held in the Town Hall. Efforts had been made from time to time to erect a church, but no progress was made in that direction until Rev. Hugh P. Smyth, the pastor of the Weymouth parish, which included Hingham, took the matter in hand. Father Smyth determined to have a church in Hingham. He bought a site for it in the commanding position on North Street opposite Broad Bridge. He labored indefatigably to build a church for his congregation, and on June 12, 1870, the corner-stone was laid with impressive ceremonies. In the absence of the Bishop the Very Rev. P. F. Lyndon, V.G., officiated as celebrant. The dedication common?
was preached by Rev. Charles Lynch, of North Adams, Mass. The following clergymen also took a part in the ceremonies: Rev. M. Moran, Abington; Rev. Thomas McNulty, North Bridgewater; Rev. James Sullivan, Quincy; Rev. Michael Supple, Charlestown; Rev. Michael Lane, and Rev. F. Dolan, South Boston. The services were conducted in the presence of a large congregation.
The energy of Father Smyth was unceasing in urging on the completion of the church, and it was so far finished as to be dedicated July 23, 1872, a testimony at once of the pastor's zeal and the people's earnestness.
Among the clergyman present at the dedication were the Right Rev. John J. Williams, Bishop of Boston; Rev. James A. Healey, St. James Church, Boston; Rev. Sherwood Healey, rector of the Cathedral; and Rev. Peter A. McKenna, of Marlboro'. A choir under the direction of Mr. Lloyd, of St. James Church, Boston, sang with good effect. The ceremony of dedication was performed by the Right Rev. Bishop according to the ritual, which was followed by the Mass, at which Rev. Sherwood Healey officiated. The sermon was preached by Rev. Peter A. McKenna, of Marlboro'.
The church is of wood and its dimensions are one hundred and eleven by fifty-six feet, with a tower and spire one hundred and twenty-eight feet high. In the basement is a spacious vestry with a number of anterooms connected with it. The interior has a finish of chestnut capped with black walnut. The architect was P. C. Kelley, of Brooklyn, N.Y. It has numerous windows of stained glass, which were contributed by devoted members of the parish.
For some time the pastor, Father Smyth, was assisted in his parish work by Rev. Peter J. Leddy. When Hingham was made a separate parish, Father Leddy was
appointed pastor. He was an affable and genial man, respected in the town. He died
here, much lamented, Jan. 15, 1880.
Father Leddy was followed by Rev. Gerald Fagan, the present pastor.
During a portion of the time Father Fagan was assisted by Rev. Hugh J. Mulligan.
The church is dedicated to Saint Paul.
This church has a larger membership than any other in the town, and is active in all matters relating to the work of the Roman Catholics.
In reviewing the ecclesiastical history of New England much has been written about the intolerance of our Puritan ancestors, -- those "holy and humble men of heart" by whom our Colonies were planted. Mr. Winthrop speaks of them as "sublime example
of piety, endurance, and heroic valor," and says, "We sometimes assume to sit in judgment on their doings. We often criticise their faults and failings. There is a special proneness of late to deride their superstitions and denounce their intolerance." The church in Hingham began its existence under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Peter Hobart, who was a man of too large and liberal views to be a bigot in religious matters. Quoting again from Mather, "his heart was knit in a most sincere and hearty love towards pious men though they were not in all things of his own persuasion, saying, 'I can carry them in my bosome.'" Under the lead of such a man there appears to have been no unusual intolerance here. Possibly the discipline of the church was no less severe in Hingham than in the neighboring towns, but he who searches our early church records will find no mention of such cases of discipline as are found in the records of many churches.
It may be that the ecclesiastical history of Hingham is very much like that of many other New England towns, but we cannot study it closely without being impressed with one central and pervading principle, -- not that of intolerance, but of independence.
That independent spirit which gave the people of this town the courage born of their convictions, the boldness to assert their opinions, the determination to establish and maintain their faith, and the resolute adherence to the right of search after truth according to the dictates of conscience, is manifest throughout all their history.
That independent spirit is seen in our Puritan ancestors, who left their homes, crossed the sea, and settled here to escape persecution; in Peter Hobart, the bold, fearless, resolute man, in his controversy with the magistrates; in Ebenezer Gay, who dared to promulgate broader and more progressive opinions than most of his contemporaries; in the inhabitants of the Second Precinct and South Parish in their determined efforts to secure for themselves independent churches; in the founders of the Third Congregational Society; in the Baptists and Methodists, who struggled and persisted in establishing churches of their own faiths, overcoming opposition amounting almost to persecution; and in the more peaceful, yet none the less loyal efforts of those of other churches, whose history has been told.
Out of all this independence has come logically a spirit of toleration. There can hardly be found in New England a community in which there is so much liberty of religious opinion as in Hingham. Ministers of the various churches have been accustomed to stand in each others' pulpits and deliver their holy messages to appreciative and sympathizing congregations, and in the spirit; of true Christianity are always ready to lend a helping hand and speak a consoling word to any who are in trouble, regardless of denominational affiliations. Happily for the welfare of the town,
the members of all churches are at peace with each other. They differ without acrimony, each in his own way endeavoring to "worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."
"In pleasant lands have fallen the lines
That bound our goodly heritage;
And safe beneath our sheltering vines
Our youth is blessed, and soothed our age.
"What thanks, 0 God, to thee are due,
That thou didst plant our fathers here,
And watch and guard them as they grew,
A vineyard to the Planter dear.
"Thy kindness to our fathers shown,
In weal and woe, through all the past,
Their grateful sons, O God! shall own,
While here their name and race shall last."