Lucius R. (Lucius Robinson) Paige.

History of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register online

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meeting in Hardwick, December y® 20*^, 1748, voted, that the
church comply and fall in with the advice of the Rev. Ministers
on the 29*^ day of June last, in the case depending between the
church and Deacon Christopher Paige. Upon which it was pro-
posed to Deacon Paige whether he would comply with the said
advice, and he declaimed that he would not comply with the sub-
stance of it. Upon which declaration, the church voted, that
Deacon Christopher Paige be proceeded with, by giving him the
second admonition." Nothing further in regard to this case ap-
pears on record until April 18, 1749, when "Deacon Paige's desire
of laying down the office of deacon was mentioned to the church,
and the major part thereof complied with and gratified him in
his desire, and dismissed him from said office of deacon."

The cause of this controversy between the church and its
senior deacon does not appear on record, nor has it been pre-
served even by tradition. On the one hand, we cannot well sup-
pose it to have been of a trivial character, as it involved such
1 Now Belchertown. 2 jjov? Petersham.


serious results. On the other, there is no evidence of aggravated
guilt on either side. The council which met June 29, 1748,
either exonerated the church from blame, or administered so
slight a rebuke and required so little coucession, that it was voted,
December 28, 1748, "that the church comply and fall in with
the advice of the Rev. Ministers." And although Deacon Paige
" declared that he would not comply with the substance of it,"
he evidently had not forfeited his good name as a Christian and as
a trustworthy citizen : — at the first town-meeting after the deci-
sion of the council he was elected moderator, selectman, and as-
sessor, to which offices he was reelected the next year, after he
had resigned the office of deacon ; and the church in Petersham,
whose pastor had been a member of the advising council and
fully understood the merits or demerits of the whole case, admit-
ted him to fellowship in full communion. Whereupon, " At a
church meeting in Hardwick, May y« 20*^ 1752, Voted (1.) To
send to the church in Nichawaug, to signify to them that we look
upon their conduct in receiving Deacon Christopher Paige into
their church to be irregular, and matter of just offence, and to
desire a brotherly conference with them, to make up the differ-
ence. (2.) Voted, that Mr. White, Deacon Freeman, Deacon
Allen, Deacon Cooper, Nathaniel Whitcomb, Lieut. Merrick,
and Ensign Warner, undertake this business as a committee.
The said committee are empowered by the church to make up the
whole difference with the church at Nichawaug respecting their
receiving Deacon Paige, if they can agree ; if not, to propose to
them to join with us in the choice of a council to advise in the
matter." What response was made by the Petersham church
does not appear. So far as the Hardwick records show, the whole
matter rested for nearly twent}' years, until June 21, 1770, when
it was voted " that this church do overlook what the church of
Christ in Petersham formerly did relative to Deacon Christopher
Paige, and are now in charity with said church." This was a
substantial acknowledgment that no good reason existed why he
should be debarred from Christian privileges.

Troubles seldom come singly. " At a church meeting in Hard-
wick March y« 2^ 1748 (1748-9) Deacon Samuel Robinson de-
sired the church that he might lay down his office of deacon in
said church ; which desire the church complied with." ^ Like

1 No record is found of any election to March 1, 1746-7, he was called simply

fill the vacancy occasioned by the resig- "John Cooper;" but when his wife was

nation of two deacons ; but the election of admitted, July 9, 1751, she was styled

John Cooper is distinctly indicated by the " wife of Deacon John Cooper."
fact that, on his admission to the church,


his senior in office, Deacon Robinson was an active and energetic
leader in public affairs, and his secession tended to weaken the
church, through its effect on many of its members. He held
office a short time. " April y® 30*^, 1746. At a church meeting
in Hardwick, Samuel Robinson was chosen to the office of a dea-
con in said church, by a majority of the members ; which office
he afterwards accepted." His delay, if not actual hesitancy, in
accepting the office probably foreshadowed his reason for resign-
ing it so soon. About this time an extraordinary wave of relig-
ious excitement passed over New England and engulfed many
churches. The controversy waxed so sharp and bitter that many
withdrew from the established churches, and were thenceforth
styled " New Lights," or more generally " Separates," of whom
more will be said in another place. In this movement Deacon
Robinson was early interested, and became a prominent leader.
He felt constrained, therefore, to "lay down his office." It does
not appear that there was any other cause for his resignation.
The church afterwards called him and several of his associates to
account, and censured them for withdrawing " from the public
worship of God at the meeting-house in Hardwick ; " but there is
no evidence that any of them were excommunicated from the
church for that offence.^

For the next thirty years the records indicate almost uninter-
rupted peace and harmony in the church. Few cases of disci-
pline are mentioned, and these of such a nature that the offend-
ers were forgiven, and " admitted to former privileges."

A change was made in regard to the psalms and hymns proper
to be sung, and to the manner of singing them. " March 10,
1765. It being moved to the church after public exercise on the
Sabbath, whether Messieurs Tate and Brady's version of the
Psalms should be sung in the public worship of God, — voted in
the affirmative." ^ " At a church meeting held in Hardwick at
the meeting-house, June 21, 1770, voted, with respect to the pres-
ent method of singing in public woi'ship, that one half of the por-
tion that shall be sung shall be read, line by line, as has been the
former practice in this Congregation, sung in some old tune ; that

1 There is no record of excommunica- March 7, 1791, "that Doct. Watts' Psalms
tion, for any cause whatever, during Mr. and Hj'mns be introduced to be sung in
White's ministry. this town, in the room of Tate's and Bra-

2 President Dunster's revision of tlie dy's; and that they are to begin to be
Bay Psalm Book had probably been in sung in the congregation within three
use up to this time. Tate and Brady's months." Various changes have been
version was used, until the town voted, made more recently.


the otlier luilf sliall be sinig without being thus read in some new
tune ; that the psahn or hymn that shall be appointed to be sung
at the Communion Table shall be read, line by line, and sung in
some old tune, so called." The change, thus partially made, be-
came entire at a later period ; but it was exceedingly disagreeable
to many, and of some it is said they would leave the meeting-
house while psalms or hymns were sung without having been
read, line by line, and return after this offensive exercise was con-
cluded. ^

About this time two deacons were elected : November 9, 1769,
" Capt. William Paige was chosen to the office of deacon, by a
great majority of votes," probably in the place of Deacon John
Cooper, who seems to have died, or removed a few months previ-
ously ; and April 28, 1774, " Mr. John Bradish was chosen to be
a deacon in said church, by a majority of votes." Soon after-
wards, however, danger of losing an important officer appeared
in an unexpected quarter. The senior surviving deacon was so
much exercised in spirit by the shortcomings of his brethren, that
he absented himself from the Lord's Supper, and in rendering
reasons for so doing, preferred grave charges against the church
in general, and one of its members in particular. The proceed-
ings are recorded under date of February 1, 1779 : " Deacon Jo-
seph Allen having withdrew himself from the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper, he gave in his reasons in writing to the Reverend
Pastor, Mr. White, which are these : (1.) The young people
walking disorderly on the Sabbath, both in time of public wor-
ship and in the intermission season. (2.) The youth frequently
gathering in set frolics at a public house, and carrying them on
with music and dancing, both males and females, and many of
them using profane language. (3.) That he suspected that there
were some in this town that had owned the baptismal covenant,
and promised publicly that the}^ would perform the duties of it,
yet that they walked disorderly, and neglected family prayer.
(4.) That there were some in full communion in this church, that
absented themselves from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper,

1 While I would not williiij^ly return the sanctuary during an cxhihition of

to the old method of alternate reading vocal gymnastics, when fasliiouable opera-

and singing of hymns, " line by line," yet music, dramatically rendered by profes-

I confess my deep sympathy with these sional artists, was substituted for the un-

old saints in what many will regard as ostentatious singing of " psalms, and

their unreasonable prejudice as to the hymns, and spiritual songs," by a volun-

manner of conducting public worship. I tary choir or by a Christian congrega-

have often been sorely tempted to leave tion.


and also neglected public worship, and yet were not called to
give the reasons of their neglect of these ordinances. (5.) The
special reason why he withdrew at that time was the conduct of
a Brother, viz., Thomas Robinson, at the last church meeting and
the town-meeting following, which appeared to him not of a piece,
not in the simplicity of the gospel, not agreeable to the Scripture.
" The church were regularly called and assembled together to
hear Deacon Allen's reasons, at the meeting-house in Hardwick,
on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1779, and after a consideration of the
abovementioned matters of grievance, came into the following
resolves : — Article 1. Young people walking disorderly on the
Sabbath ; resolved, that the March meeting being near at hand,
when tyding-men ^ and wardens are to be chosen for the years
whose special business it is to inspect and prevent all disorder on
the Sabbath, this affair is submitted to and left with them, as
their proper business. Article 2. As to young people gathering
together in set frolics, especially at a public house, resolved, that
we will every one of us here present, that are heads of families,
take all proper care that the youth under our care and charge, to
prevent them from running into these frolics, and acting any part
in them. Article 3. As to those persons that are called half-
members ^ &c., resolved, that we will keep a watch over them, ac-
cording to our solemn promise when we received [them] into
their present standing in the church ; that we will reprove them
when we see them walk disorderly, and encourage them to the
practice of virtue and piety by our counsels and our good practice.
Article 4. That there were some persons in full communion in
this church that absented themselves from the public worship of
God and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper ; two persons were
named in particular ; resolved, that (these persons not being
present) the Rev. Mr. White shall send to them, to know their
reasons of their neglect of these holy ordinances, and when ob-
tained of them he lay them before the church to consider
whether [the] reasons are a sufficient excuse or not. Article 5.
The special reason given why he withdrew himself at that time
was the conduct of a Brother, viz., Thomas Robinson, &c. The
church having considered and weighed this matter, some few of
the church voted that said Robinson his changing the side that
he first held with was an evidence that he had changed his mind ;

1 Tything-men. to participate in the Lord's Supper; or

2 Those who had tai^en the " half-way such as the record describes as " received
covenant," in order that their children into the covenant, and under the watch
might be baptized, but were not qualified and government of the church."


but the majority of the church thought that the matter did not
belong to tliem to determine, and therefore declined voting any-
way ; and thus the matter was left respecting Deacon Allen and
Thomas Robinson, and no further determination or [illegible]
upon it." ^

It would seem that the meeting-house erected about 1741
proved unsatisfactory, and in little more than a quarter of a
century, preparations were made for the erection of a new one,
equal if not superior in size and magnificence to any church edi-
fice in the county. September 7, 1767, "Voted that the town will
build a meeting-house in Hardwick for public worship. Voted,
that they will set said house (if they can purchase the land) in
the field at the north end of the burying place, occupied by Mr.
Asa Hatch." This field contained somewhat more than one acre
and three quarters of land, and was owned by John Rowe, Esq.,
of Boston, who conveyed it to the town for £6. IB. 4. by deed
dated May 30, 1768.^ Without waiting for the execution of the
deed, the town proceeded at once to make arrangements for the
erection of the house, and on the 21st of October accepted the
report of a committee previously appointed: "The committee
have heard the proposals of Deac. Joseph Allen and Mr. Joseph
Safford, who are willing and ready to undertake the building of
said house, and finish it in a workmanlike manner, only for the
benefit of the money they can raise by the sale of the pews agree-
able to a plan herewith humbly laid before the town for their
consideration. TlM° RUGGLES, in the name of the committee."
"Voted that the town will choose a committee to contract with
Deac. Joseph Allen and Mr. Joseph Safford to build a meeting-
house, as mentioned in the report of the former committee.^
Voted that Mr. Daniel Oliver, Brig'! Ruggles, Capt. Mandell,
Deac. Fay,* and Capt. Paige, be the committee. Voted, to build
a steeple to said house, and that the town pay what said steeple
shall cost more than a convenient porch for stairs into the galler-
ies." May 16, 1768, " Voted the sura of £Q6. 13. 4. to the un-

1 I have somewhat anticipated the reg- turning at right angles, and running east-
ular succession of events, in order to erly 13 rods; there turning at right an-
group together all the recorded difficulties gles, and running southerly 22 rods ; there
between the church audits deacons dur- turning at right angles, and running
ing Mr. White's pastorate. westerly, by the burying jjlace, 1.3 rods to

2 The description is "one acre, three the bounds first mentioned." Worcester
quarters, and six rods of land, lying iu Deeds, lix. 113.

said Hardwick, adjoining to the public ^ The " undertakers" are said to have

burying-place there, bounded as followeth : lost money.

beginning at the northerly corner of said * James Fay was deacon of the " Sepa-

burying-place, and from thence running rate Church " until it removed bodily to

northerly, by the road, 22 rods; then Bennington, Vt., in 1761.


dertakers of the raeeting-house, to enable them to proceed in
building a steeple to said house." May 18, 1769, '' Voted to
raise XI 20 lawful money, to enable the undertakers to finish the
steeple, besides what has already been voted," and " to choose a
committee to treat with the undertakers, in order that they be
obliged to finish the steeple for the above price." October 19,
1769, under a warrant " to see if the town will allow the un-
dertakers of the meeting-house to build a pew in the steeple
above the west gallery," it was " voted, to shut up the place in
the steeple, over the west gallery, which was proposed for a pew."
October 27, 1769, " Voted to grant the undertakers of the meet-
ing-house the privilege of building a pew over the west gallery,
providing they make it tight and close ; and the town reserved
the privilege of having an officer to set in the pew, to oversee the
boys." ^ The house was finished probably not long before De-
cember 31, 1770, at which date it was " voted to choose a com-
mittee to seat the raeeting-house - and that said committee con-
sist of five persons ; and made choice of Capt. William Paige,
Lieut. Roland Sears, Deac. Joseph Allen, Capt. Constant My-
rick, and Paul Mandell for said committee ; and they to seat each
person according to age and pay to the last year's valuation or
invoice. Voted, that the front seats in the gallery be appropri-
ated to the use of the men. The question was put, whetlier the
town would grant the seats on the side galleries next the front
gallery for the use of the men and women singers, and it passed
in the negative.^ Voted, that the town will purchase the pew,
the west side the pulpit stairs, for the use of the minister's fam-
ily for the time being, viz., to be kept by the town as a ministry

^ The apprehensions expressed in this for the singers, and what room necessary

vote were not altogether unfounded. The for that purpose, reported as follows :

pew was so high above the general level that they thought it would be proper to

that its occupants were screened from ob- appropriate the west division of the front

servation. According to my recollection, seat and the first and second seats in the

seventy years ago, an officer to " oversee division of the side gallery next adjoining,

the boys " was more needed there than in for said purpose ; and the town accepted

any other part of the house. of the above report." Subsequently the

2 A " Body of Seats " was originally east division of the front seat and the ad-
constructed, seven on each side of the joining side gallery were substituted, and
centre aisle, for the use respectively of the became a permanent location ; and dur-
meu and women, who were not otherwise ing the first quarter of the present cen-
provided for, and who were " seated " by tury, it may be doubted whether better
committees duly appointed. church music, both vocal and instrumeu-

3 The " method of singing in public tal, was heard in the county, than that
worship " had not then been changed. A which was rendered by the voluntary
convenient place was assigned February choir who entered into that court with
1, 1779: "The committee appointed to thanksgiving.

consider what seats would be convenient


pew, at £26. 13. 4., being the sum set on the same by Deac. Jo-
seph Allen and Joseph Safford, undertakers for building the
meeting-house." August 19, 1771, under a warrant, " to see if
the town would purchase the pew adjoining the pulpit, there
not appearing persons as was proposed to purchase the same," it
was voted, to buy the pew adjoining the pulpit,^ and to keep it
for their own use. " Voted, to give the undertakers of the meet-
ing-house £20. lawful money, for said pew." As a proper adjunct
to the temple for worship, the town voted. May 18, 1772, " to al-
low Deac. Joseph Allen 10* 8'^ for making the stocks."

Having completed the house, of which our ancestors were
justly proud (for it was then one of the most elegant in the
county), they took some measures for its preservation, which
their less hardy descendants might not altogether approve. They
voted, March 2, 1772, " that there be no stows carried into the
new Meeting-house ^ with fire in them." How long this pro-
hibition was enforced, I know not. It is certain, however, that
foot-stoves were generally used in the house more than seventy
years ago. But the larger stoves, designed to make the whole
house comfortable, were not introduced until within the last fifty
or sixty years. At the present day, it would be regarded as a
painful sacrifice of bodily comfort, to sit in the midst of winter,
without any fire in the house, to listen to a sermon one or two
hours long, and other services of corresponding length ; but
the men who were preparing, and prepared, to march barefooted
in the snow, and lodge on the cold ground, in defence of their
liberties, could easily undergo such a slight inconvenience.

These w^ere apparently the golden days of Mr. White ; b^it
they were soon overshadowed. The political excitement preced-
ing and during the Revolutionary War so entirely engrossed
public attention, that the church became comparatively inactive.
For several years before 1779, scarcely any action directly affect-
ing the interests of the church can be gleaned from the records
of either the church or the town, in addition to what has al-
ready been mentioned. In 1779 the bodily infirmities of Mr.

^ This pew was in front of the pulpit, tion of the Lord's Supper. It was also

ami behiiul the deacon's seat. Several occu])ied by the moderator, selectmen,

aged men occupied it, within my recollec- and town clerk, at town-meetings, un-

tion, supposing tliey could hear the til the town house was erected,
preacher more distinctly there than else- - The old meeting-house was sold,

where ; and hence probably it derived its March 2, 1772, at auction, for £44, to be

aniiliar name of " Deaf Pew." It was removed within three months,
used by the pastor, during the celcbra-


White, indicated by the employment of an assistant for two
months, in 1741, before mentioned, seem to have increased to
such an extent that the settlement of a colleague was consid-
ered desirable. Contrary to the usual custom, the town took the
lead, and at a regular meeting, January 25, 1779, requested the
church to unite with the town in giving a call to Mr. Joel Fos-
ter.^ "Feb. 1,1779. The church . . . being regularly called and
assembled together at the meeting-house, to know the minds of
the members of the church respecting giving a call to Mr. Joel
Foster, to settle in the work of the ministry in said town, as
a colleague with the Rev. Mr. White ; the vote being put, there
appeared thirteen members that were desirous of giving Mr.
Joel Foster a call as above, and sixteen appeared against."
The town was unwilling to yield the point entirely, and on the
same day (February 1, 1779), voted, "to apply to Mr. Joel
Foster, to preach the gospel in this town for a number of
Sabbaths, and chose a committee for that purpose, viz., Jonathan
Warner, Timothy Paige, Timothy Newton." The effort to
obtain this manifestly favorite preacher was in vain, and he was
soon ordained at New Salem. After this date, only two votes of
the church appear on record during the ministry of Mr. White,
the former of which, by the indefiniteness of its conclusion, in-
dicates some failure of his mental energy : " July 5, 1781. The
church regularly called and met at the meeting-house ; this thing
was proposed : (1) Whether it be the mind of the church that
all baptized are visible members of the church, and under the
special care and watch of it ; voted in the affirmative : (2) If it
be the mind of this church that the baptized persons under the
care of this church, that are arrived to years of discretion, be
called upon to see whether they own their baptismal vow or not ;
voted in the affirmative. Agreeable to the above vote, in a con-
venient time, it was moved in the congregation that all that was
willing to comply with the above vote, by owning their baptismal
vows, would show their consent by standing up ; and a great
number did, — too many to set down their names." The last

1 Rev. Joel Foster, son of Nathan talents, and was specially gifted in
Foster, was born at Stafford, Conn., prayer." 2 Mass. Hist. Coll., iv- 62. He
April 8, 1755, grad. D. C. 1777, was or- was brother to Rev. Daniel Foster, who
dained at New Salem, June 9, 1779, dis- was born at Stafford, in 1751, grad.
missed for lack of competent support, D. C. 1777, was ordained at New Brain-
January 21, 1802, and installed at East tree, October 29, 1778, as colleague with
Sudbury (now Wayland), September 7, Rev. Benjamin Ruggles, and died in
1803, where he died in office, September office, September 4, 1795.
25, 1812. " He possessed excellent pulpit


vote recorded by Mr. White had reference to the employment of
an assistant in his hibor : " May 13, 1782. At a church meeting
regularly called and met in the meeting-house, it was put to vote
whether they would invite Mr. Josiah Spaulden ^ to preach any
more with us ; and it passed in the affirmative by a very great
majority." Although the ministry of Mr. Spalding did not re-

Online LibraryLucius R. (Lucius Robinson) PaigeHistory of Hardwick, Massachusetts. With a genealogical register → online text (page 21 of 73)