D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

. (page 42 of 118)
Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 42 of 118)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


shortly after he was settled iu Dover, N. n., where
he died in 1669. The church records say that 'вАҐ he
was richly accomplished, with such gifts and qualifi-
cations as were befitting his place and calling, beiug
wise, faithful, grave, sober, and a lover of good uieu,
uot greedy of the matters of the world." Duriug his
pastorate Elder Brewster died, in 1644, aud iu 1649
Thomas Cushman was chosen his successor. Mr.
Cushman was the sou of Robert Cushmau, and at the
age of fourteen years was brought over by his father



in the "Fortune," in 1621, and left in the care of
Governor Bradford. In 1625, Mr. Cushman, the
father, who had been disappointed in his hope of
joining his fortunes permanently with those of the
colony, wrote to the Governor, " I must entreat you
to have a care of my son as your own, and I shall
rest bound unto you." The character of the sou in
after-life attests the faithful manner in which the
Governor performed his trust. Elder Gush man mar-
ried Mary, daughter of Isaac Allerton, aud died in
1691, at the age of eighty-four. His gravestone on
Burial Hill bears the following inscription :

" Here lyoth buried yo body of that precious servant of God,
Mr. Thomas Cushman, who after he had served his generation
according to the will of God, aud particularly ye church of
Plymouth, for many years in the olhce of ruling elder, fell
asleep iu Jesus, Dec. ye 1U IU , 16'Jl, in ye 81"' year of his
age."

Mr. Cushman was succeeded in the office of elder
by Thomas Faunce, who was the last elder of the
church. He was the sou of John Faunce, who came
in the "Ann," in 1623, and was born in 1647. He
married, in 1672, Jean, daughter of William Nelson,
and died in February, 1745/6, at the age of niuety-
uine, up to which time he held his office iu the
church. After the departure of Mr. Rayner, Plym-
outh had no settled minister until 1667, when John
Cotton was settled. During the interval the pulpit
was supplied by James Williams aud William Brims-
mead. The latter, a native of Dorchester, and a
graduate of Harvard in the class of 1654, preached in
Plymouth five years, from 1660 to 1665, and re-
moved to Marlboro', where he was ordained in 1666,
and died iu 1701.

Mr. Cotton was ordained iu 1669, having supplied
the pulpit eighteen months previous to that time.
He was the son of John Cotton, who was the pastor
of the First Church in Boston, and graduated at Har-
vard iu the class of 1657. Before comiug to Plym-
outh he had been settled in Weathcrslield, where he
married (1660) Joanua, daughter of Brian Rossitor.
His pastorate contiuued uutil 1697, wheu he went to
Charleston, S. C, where he gathered a church, and
died iu 1699, at the age of sixty-six. In 1668 it
was voted iu town-meeting to allow him eighty pounds
a year, one-third part iu wheat or butter, one-third
part in rye, barley, or peas, aud one-third in Indian
corn. In 1677 the same sum was allowed him, " aud
to contiuue till God in his providuuee shall so im-
poverish the towu that they shall be necessitated to
abridge that sum." He lived while in Plymouth in
the parsonage house, which stood on the spot of
grouud on the north side of Leydcu Street, now oc-



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



177



cupied by Le Baron's Alley and the house of Isaac
Brewster. In 1673 the town granted this estate to
Mr. Cotton conditionally, and in 1 (JSO voted to con-
vey it to him and his heirs forever. This lot of land
was part of the estate occupied by Samuel Fuller,
who came in the " Mayflower," and died in 1033.
In 10(14, Bridget Fuller, the widow of Samuel, and
her son, Samuel, joined in conveying the estate as a
gift to the church of Plymouth for the use of a min-
ister. The whole estate was bounded south by Ley-
den Street, east by a line drawn through the middle
of what is now the alley, north by what is now Mid-
dle Street, and west by the estate now owned by
William R. Drew. That part of the estate conveyed
to Mr. Cotton was a strip on the easterly side, below
the homestead of Harvey \V. Weston. The remain-
der was held by the church, apparently unimproved,
until 1760, when a parsonage house was built for
Rev. Chandler Robbins, which was for several years
occupied by him. It was again used as a parsonage
by Dr. James Kendall during the whole of his pas-
torate, and finally sold to Mr. Weston, in I860.

During the pastorate of Mr. Cotton the meeting-
house on the north side of Town Square was taken
down and a new one built, substantially on the site
of the present Unitarian Church. It is believed to
have stood with its front about twenty feet farther
down the square than that of the present church. It
measured forty-five feet by forty, and in its walls six-
teen feet, was unceiled, had a Gothic roof, diamond
glass windows, and a small cupola with a bell. The
records indicate that it was built without pews, and
that these conveniences were constructed by individ-
uals by the consent of the town. In 1744 another
church was built on the same site, which was taken
down in 1831, when the present church occupied by
the Unitarian society was erected. By an agreement
between the society and the town, the present church
was situated about twenty feet farther west than the
old one, and the same amount of land in front was
thrown out into the square. In 1096, during the last
year of Mr. Cotton's ministry, a church was organized
in that part of Plymouth which, in 1707, was incor-
porated as the town of Plympton. Isaac Cushman,
son of Elder Thomas Cushman, became the pastor
of this church, which was the fourth child of the
present Plymouth Church.

Iu 1699, Ephraim Little, after two years' proba-
tion, was ordained, and continued his ministry until
his death, on the 23d of November, 1723. Mr. Lit-
tle was the son of Ephraim Little, of Marshfield, and
married, iu 1698, Sarah, daughter of William Clark.
He was a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1695,
12



and, according to the record, " was a gentleman more
inclined to the active than the studious life ; but
should be remembered for his usefui services as a
minister and for his exemplary life and conversation,
being one of good memory, a quick invention, hav-
ing an excellent gift in prayer, and in occasional per-
formances also excelling. But what can never be suffi-
ciently commended was the generosity of his spirit and
his readiness to help all that were in distress." The
author appreciates the truth of a portion of this de-
scription of the character of Mr. Little, having found
in his investigation that he was largely engaged iu
the purchase and sale of real estate somewhat specu-
lative in its character. He occupied several houses
during his residence iu Plymouth, one of which stood
on the site of the Burgess house, at the corner of
North Green Street, and another on what is now the
garden of Albert C. Chandler, on Court Street. He
was buried on Burial Hill, where his gravestone may
now be seen. During his pastorate the Jones River
parish was set off, in 1717, in that part of Plymouth
which in 1726 was incorporated as the town of
Kingston, and the Rev. Joseph Stacey, a graduate of
Harvard in 1719. was ordained Nov. 3, 1720, as its
pastor.

On the 29th of July, 1724, Rev. Nathaniel Leon-
ard, of Norton, a graduate of Harvard in the class of
1719, was ordained as the successor of Mr. Little,
and reuiaiued with the church until 1755, when, on
account of ill health, he asked his dismission and re-
turned to Norton. Mr. Leonard was the son of
George Leonard, of Norton, and married, in 1724,
Priscilla Rogers. While in Plymouth he built and
occupied the house on the southerly side of Leydeu
Street, now owned and occupied by Miss Louisa S.
Jackson and her sister, having previously occupied
for a time a house on the lot now occupied by the
house of William Hedge, at the corner of Court
Square. In 1743, during the pastorate of Mr.
Leonard, the church fell into dissensions iu conse-
quence of the preaching of au itinerant minister,
Andrew Croswell, who was permitted by the pastor
to exhort from his pulpit. He initiated a revival,
duriug which protracted meetings were held, and by
his extraordinary declarations involved the town iu
excitement and disorder. He declared at communion
that three-quarters of the communicants were uncon-
verted, and finally so disgusted the more sober and .
intelligent part of the congregation that a meeting of
the church members was held, at the request of Jo-
siah Cotton and others, to consider whether, " 1st, a
sudden aud short distress, followed by a sudden joy,
amounted to true repentance; 2d, whether the judg-



ITS



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



nient and censure of good men as unconverted was
not contrary to the rule of charity contained in the
Scriptures; 3d, whether disorder and confusion in
religious meetings was not opposed to the Scripture
rule ; and, 4th, whether, as three-fourths of the
church had been declared unconverted, they were
really so or not." Nothing came of the meeting,
and as Mr. Leonard contiuucd to approve the irregu-
lar proceedings of Mr. Crosweli, the better part of
the church, including such men as Josiah Cotton,
Thotuxs and John Murdock, Isaac Lothrop, and the
venerable Elder Thomas Faunce, formed a new church
and society, and in 1744 built a meeting-house ou
the north side of Middle Street, ou land presented
to the society by Mr. Thomas Murdock, one of the
seceders. The church occupied a lot which iucluded
what are now the estates of Charles H. Friuk and
Edgar C. Raymond and the alley between. In 1707
Plympton had been incorporated, so that the church
organized at Mauomet Ponds became the Second
Church, and the new church in Middle Street was
designated as the Third. In 1744, Thomas Frink,
of Rutland, a graduate of Harvard in the class of
1722, was installed as the pastor of this church,
and remained four years. Iu 1749, Jacob Bacon,
of Keene, a Harvard graduate of 1731, was installed,
and continued his services until 1776, when, after
preaching in that part of Plympton which is now
Carver eighteen months, he went to Rowley, and
there died in 1787. In 1783, the members of the
church haviug become reduced iu numbers and the
old dissensions having become healed, the meet-
ing-house was abandoned, and the society with its
property rejoined the old organization. With regard
to a part of its possessions a legal question arose,
which either involved the First Church in litigation or
was settled without resort to it. In 1758, John Mur-
dock, a wealthy and active member of the Third
Church, died, leaving to the church one hundred
pounds, providing in his will that the capital should
be preserved, aud the iuterest should be devoted to
the support of the church ; aud further providing
that, iu default of an observance of his directions,
the bequest should revert to his son John aud his
heirs forever. In 1791, after the union of the two
societies, as is declared by the probate records, the
heirs of the son John applied for the appointment of
an administrator de bonis noti on the estate of the
testator to recover the bequest from the First Church,
iuto whose hands it had finally fallen.

Iu 1731, as has been stated above, a precinct was
formed at Manomet Ponds, but not incorporated until
1810. Iu 1747 a church was formed, consisting of



twenty-five members, under the pastorate of Jonathau
Ellis, a graduate of Harvard in 1737, and called the
Second Church. A meeting-house had been built ten
years before the ordination of Mr. Ellis, ou what is
now an old and abandoned road leading from the house
of Israel Clark to the Brook neighborhood, aud the
ancient burying-ground may now be found near Mr.
Clark's estate. The present meetiug-house, built iu
1826, is the third erected by the society, the second
having stood nearly opposite, at the fork of the roads.
Mr. Ellis participated in the extravagant proceedings
of Andrew Crosweli, and was dismissed in 1749, going
from Plymouth to Little Compton, where he was in-
stalled in the same year. In 1753, Elijah Packard,
of Bridgewater, was ordained, a graduate of Harvard
in the class of 1750, and continued his ministry until
1757. In 1770, after an interval of thirteen years,
Ivory Hovey, a Harvard graduate of 1735, who had
been previously settled in Rochester, was iustalled,
and remained in the pastorate until his death, Nov. 4,
1803, in the ninetieth year of his age. The suc-
cessor of Mr. Hovey was Seth Stetson, who was or-
dained July 18, 1804. Mr. Stetson seems to have
been unstable in his faith. At first a Hopkinsian, he
gradually drifted into Unitarianism, and out of Uui-
tarianisni into Universalism, when his conuectioo with
the church was dissolved. In 1821, Harvey Bush-
nell became the pastor, and was succeeded in 1824
by Moses Partridge, who died in the same year at the
age of thirty-six. Joshua Barret was ordaiued in
1826, followed by Gaius Conaut. The successors of
Mr. Conant, iu the order of their pastorates, have
been John Dwight, J. L. Arms, Charles Greenwood,
Daniel H. Babcock, John M. Lord, Sylvester Holmes,
David Brigham, S. \V. Cozzeus, S. W. Powell, Asa
Mann, and the present pastor, T. S. Robie.

After an interval of five years Chandler Robbios
was, at the age of twenty-two, ordained in 1760 iu the
First Church aa the successor of Mr. Leonard. Mr.
Robbius was the son of Philemon Robbius, of Brau-
ford, aud married, in 1761, Jane, daughter of Thomas
Prince, the annalist. He was a graduate of Yale, aud,
as the record states, "early impressed with the truth
and importance of the Christian system and qualified
by divine grace for the gospel ministry, commenced
a preacher of this holy religiou before he reached the
age of twenty." His pastorate extended to the time
of his death, June 30, 1799. He was buried ou
Burial Hill, the second minister iu the line who had
died in the service, aud whose grave may be found
on that sacred spot. He occupied the parsonage on
the north side of Leydeu Street until 178S, when he
built and occupied the house nearly opposite, now



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH.



179



owned and occupied by James M. Atwood. During
the pastorate of Mr. Robbins about fifty persous of
high standing in his society became restless under the
rigid rules and precepts adhered to by the church aud
pastor, aud made proposals for a separation and the
formation of a new society, with a new house of wor-
ship. A report made by a committee of the disaf-
fected said, " Upon the whole the committee are con-
strained to lament the narrow policy of the church,
in excluding from its communion many exemplary
Christians merely on account of their differeut con-
ceptions of some points of doctrine, about which
learned and good men have entertained a great variety
of opinion, and this circumstance is more especially
a source of regret at this enlighteued period, when the
principles of civil and religious liberty are almost
universally understood and practised ; for whatever
stress some persons may be disposed to lay in matters
of mere speculative belief, the benevolent genius of
the gospel will teach its votaries, amidst all their dif-
ferences of opinion, to exercise mutual candor and
indulgence, that they may, if possible, preserve the
unity of the spirit in the bond of peace."

The words of this report were strange words for
the time, and uttered a sound to which religionists
of that day had not been accustomed. They were the
first utterances of a liberal spirit, which was destined
within six years to control the church and to cause
those who now opposed their separation to become
separatists themselves. There are indications of the
hand of Joshua Thomas in the report, a mau of com-
prehensive views, broad charity, strong intellect, and
a fearless tongue. As the narration proceeds these
characteristics of the mau will be more fully disclosed.
The separation was not effected, and no breach existed
in the church during the pastorate of Mr. Robbins.
The reputation of Mr. Robbins as a learned aud elo-
queut man was confined to no narrow limits, as a
Doctorate of Diviuity couferred on him at Dartmouth
iu 1792, aud by the Uuiversity of Edinburgh in 1793,
plainly indicates. His death was widely lamented,
and his funeral drew to Plymouth many of the learned
men of New England.

On the second Sunday iu October, 1799, James
Keudall began to preach on probation as the succes-
sor of Mr. Robbins, aud was ordaiued on the 1st of
January, 1800. Mr. Kendall was the son of James
Keudall, of Sterliug, and was born in 1769. He
married two wives, Sarah Poor and Sally Kendall,
the latter the daughter of Paul Kendall, of Temple-
ton. He graduated at Harvard in 1796, aud was a
tutor in the college at the time of his invitation to
settle in Plymouth. He occupied the parsonage dur-



ing his entire residence in Plymouth, and died in
1859, and was buried on Burial Hill. Ou his first
settlement his salary was six hundred dollars a year,
together with the improvement of the parsonage and
several pieces of land and marsh. The latter were
situated on both sides of the mill-pond, and consisted
chiefly of sedge flats granted by the town in 1702 to
the precinct for the use of the ministry. Those on
the north side were leased by the precinct to William
Hall Jackson, in 1795, for nine hundred and ninety-
nine years, at an annual rent of six bushels of corn,
and those on the south side for the same term to
Stephen Churchill at an annual rent of four bushels.
As long as Dr. Kendall lived these rents were promptly
collected, but though the precinct still retains its own-
ership in the land, it is believed that since 1859 no reut
has ever been paid. Dr. Kendall received a degree
of Doctor of Divinity from Harvard in 1825, and was
always recognized as one of the most worthy sous of
the college. His life was a useful one, his character
was without a stain, his example of pure, upright,
beneficent living has been a worthy legacy to the town,
whose social and moral and intellectual welfare he so
earnestly sought and did so much to maintain.

Soon after the settlement of Dr. Kendall, whose
theological proclivities were strongly in the direction
of the new doctrine of Unitarianistn, which he after-
wards warmly espoused, with the approbation of a large
majority of his society, a movement was made to form
a new church. A petition was presented to the town,
signed by John Bishop and others, for the sale of a
part of Training Green for the erection of a meeting-
house for the accommodation of the seceders. The
petition was referred to a committee, with Joshua
Thomas as its chairman, who reported on the 5th of
April as follows : " That so far as that part of their
commission is concerned which relates to the sale of
Traiuiug Green and purchasing a new training-field,
your committee, after having fully discussed the sub-
ject, consider it inexpedient at this time. To comply
with the request of the applicants by granting a lot in
Training Green for the purpose mentioned would, iu
the opinion of your committee, not only preclude
the town, under whatever circumstances it may be,
from opposing the prosecutiou of that object, but
would sanction the separation of a small number of
persons on principles that do not appear to be sub-
stantial and well-founded. If religious societies are
to be split up into divisions merely from a variance of
sentiment in certain polemic speculations, about which
the greatest aud best men in all ages of the Christian
| church have differed, each Christian must consecrate
I his own dwelling as his sanctuary, for scarcely two of



180



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



the best-informed Christians can be found precisely
to agree on every controverted point. It is true that
the whole extent of the town will admit of two re-
spectable parishes, if due regard be had to the sit-
uation of the houses of worship, and it is as true that
without regard to this circumstance the rebuilding
would be no better an accommodation to all the in-
habitants than two. It is represented with much
serious concern by some of the principal inhabitants
of the Secoud Precinct, that on the removal of their
present aged minister, without some considerable ac-
cession of numbers and property, that society will be
dissolved, and the people who compose it be in a great
measure destitute of the ordinances of the gospel ;
whereas if their house of worship could be located in
a more central place, or another house be built in ad-
dition to that already erected, in both which a minis-
ter might preach alternately, the privileges and immu-
nities of the gospel would be more equally enjoyed,
and the peace aud harmony of the town be preserved.
Your committee would only further remark, that
many persons have still a painful recollection of those
hostile passions so subversive of the genuine spirit of
Christianity which were excited by the existence of
two parishes in the heart of the town, and while the
nature of mau remains unchanged, it is justly to be
apprehended that the same causes will produce the
same unhappy effects." This report, evidently written
by Joshua Thomas, already referred to, was accepted
by the town by a vote of 40 to 16.

The dissatisfied portion of the church adhered to
their determination to form a new church, and on the
30th of March, 1802, they were incorporated as the
Third Congregational Society of Plymouth. In the
same year they occupied their new meeting-house, on
the westerly side of Training Green, now the high-
school house, built on land bought by them of
Thomas Jackson in 1800. On the 12th of May,
Adouiram Judson, a native of Woodbury and grad-
uate of Yale College, was settled as pastor, having
been previously settled in Maiden aud Wenham. He
married Abigail, daughter of Abraham Brown, of
Tiverton, and had four children, one of whom was
Adoniram, the well-known missionary. In 1817,
having become a Baptist, he dissolved his connection
with the society, and after having preached two years
to the Baptist Society in Plymouth, went to Scituatc
in 1820, aud there died in 1826. William T. Tor-
rey succeeded Mr. Judson, closing his pastorate in
1824, when he was succeeded by Frederick Freeman,
whose pastorate continued until 1833. Thomas
Boutelle followed Mr. Freeman, and in 1837, Robert
B. Hall was ordained. Iu 1840, during the pastor-



ate of Mr. Hall, the present church was built aud
dedicated as "The Church of the Pilgrimage," and a
new society formed called the " Society of the Pilgrim-
age," the name which the " Third Cougiegatioual
Church" now bears. Charles S. Porter followed Mr.
Hall in 1845, succeeded by Joseph B. Juhusou in
1855. Nathaniel B. Blauchard succeeded Mr. John-
son, when, after a few months' supply by P. C.
Ileadley, W. W. Woodworth became pastor. In
18G4, David Bremner was installed, remaining four
years, and in 1S70, George A. Tcwksbury, the pres-
ent faithful and beloved pastor of the church, was in-
stalled.

In 1814 the Eel River Church was organized
under the pastorate of Benjamin Witinore. This
church may be considered a child of the Third and a
grandchild of the First. Uuder the ministry of Mr.
Witmore it became divided into two sections, each
of which has had a meeting-house of its own, and the
division remains unhealed. In 1830 the Robinson
Church was organized, also a child of the Third
Church, aud after the pastorates of Charles I. War-
ren, Lucius Clark, John Avery, and Cyrus Mann
was dissolved aud its meeting-house, built iu 1830,
was sold in 1852 to the Methodist Episcopal Society,
which now occupies it. In 1844 the Episcopal
Church was established under the inspiration of Rob-
ert B. Hall, who had become Episcopalian aud left
the Third Church, of which he was pastor. On the
18th of August, 1844, an Episcopal service was held
in Leyden Hall, Theodore W. Snow officiating, aud
on the 15th of November a society was formed, ami
on the 13th of April, 1846, Mr. Snow was chosen
rector. On the 3d of October the church in Russell
Street was consecrated, and its ministers, in the order
of their service, have been Mr. Stiow, Samuel Clark,
Thomas L. Franklin, Benjamin F. Coolcy, G. W. E.
Fisse, Benjamin B. Babbit, Robert B. Hall, William
H. Brooks, John Downey, James A. Sanderson, J.
E. Wilkinson, and its present incumbent, C. D. Bar-
bour.

Having described the various otfshoots of the First
Church, the narrative leads us to a closing sketch of
that church. In 1838, George W. Briggs, a gradu-
ate at Brown University, left a settlement at Fall
River aud became colleague pastor with Dr. Kendall,



Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 42 of 118)