Newburyport (Mass.). St. Paul's parish.

Two hundredth anniversary, St. Paul's parish, Newburyport, Mass. Commemorative services with historical addresses online

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the permission of the ruling powers. It was looked upon as an unwel-
come and intrusive body. It had existed for a quarter of a century
and had increased in numbers and influence.

During this time missions of the Church had been formed north and
south of Massachusetts Bay, but King's Chapel remained the only place
in the Province where the services of the English Church were publicly

Scattered Churchmen read the service in the privacy of their homes
and went occasionally to the Chapel in Boston on some great festival
like Christmas or Easter. To the watchful observers there were no
signs of the extension of the Church, and they no doubt earnestly hoped
that there would be none, and that the Prayer Book service had been
restrained and effectually limited.



This feeling of security was suddenly broken when twenty persons
of the West Precinct of Newbury (not known as favorers of the Church
of England) delivered to Governor Dudley a petition saying that they
were of " the pure Episcopal Church of England," and that they had
sent to the Bishop of London for a minister and that they desired protec-

This action was of importance as showing a distinct gain in open-
ing the way for greater freedom in religious liberty. For this reason
it was an occasion of grief and fear to the opponents of the Chapel and
of encouragement and joy to those who believed in and favored it.

To the eminent diarist, Judge Samuel Sewall, it was a grievance
that the Church of England had been set up in his family town of

To Col. Francis Nicholson and John Bridger it brought satisfac-
tion as showing that the services which they loved and venerated, and
for which they zealously labored, had gained a new station in Massa-
chusetts Bay and was a sign of further extension.

Queen Anne's Chapel stands in the history of Massachusetts Bay
as a significant sign of the exercise of the right of Liberty of Conscience
and of the inherent right of worshiping God according to the dictates
of one's conscience. As such it is worthy of commemoration and remem-
brance and of thanks to God for its founding and preservation.

m i/Pu_> <utUY i



From the records of Queen Anne's Chapel



XOVEMHER 22, \~-22
From Queen Anne's Chapel Records

From letter in St. Paul's Church records, dated January 20, 1711


From its Establishment in 1738
to the present time




When Queen Anne's Chapel was built in 1711, Newbury was an
agricultural town, and the inhabitants, interested in maintaining relig-
ious worship at the " Plains," were practical and prosperous farmers.
A few years later ship-building was established, in favorable locations,
at the Waterside between Chandler's Lane, now Federal Street, and
Ordway's Lane, now Market Street, Newburyport, and trade with
Barbadoes and other West India Islands was carried on quite exten-
sively. In 1738, Joseph Atkins, Patrick Tracy, Michael Dalton, An-
thony Gwynn, and other merchants and sea captains, suggested the
building of a new church for the accommodation of the inhabitants living
near the centre of the town.

To this suggestion Rev. Matthias Plant gave his assent and sub-
scribed the sum of fifty pounds to be expended in the purchase of mate-
rials for the proposed new edifice.

May 13, 1738, Joseph Atkins purchased, of Moses Ordway, land
on the corner of Ordway's Lane, now Market Street, and the country
road, now High Street, and February 3, 1741, conveyed this land, with
a building erected thereon, to the Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's
Church. At that date the building was unfinished, and although con-
venient and comfortable was evidently devoid of architectural grace
or beauty.

At a meeting of the Wardens and Vestrymen, held May 1, 1744,
a contract was made with Eben and Nathan Little to build the pulpit
and pews in the body of the Church for one hundred pounds, and with
Ephraim Blaisdell to plaster the walls and ceiling for eighty pounds.

Four of the pews built at that date were assigned to Joseph Atkins,
three to Thomas Tannatt, two to Patrick Tracy, three to Joseph Cottle,



two to Michael Dalton, two to Benjamin Harris, one to John Crocker,
one to William Atkins, one to Thomas Woodbridge, one to Ambrose
Davis, and one to Daniel Marquand. Other pews were assigned to
William Jaques, Joseph Greenleaf, and others, including one to the
Wardens and one to strangers.

The men prominent in the early history of St. Paul's Church were
evidently merchants of broad and liberal views ; sea captains familiar
with the worship and ritual of the Church of England in foreign lands,
or mechanics and artisans of recognized skill and ability.

JOSEPH ATKINS, for many years one of the Wardens and Vestry-
men of the Church, was the son of Andrew and Sara Atkins. He was
baptized November 4, 1680, in St. Clement's Church in the town of
Sandwich, County of Kent, England, and probably came with his wife
and two sons to Newbury, Mass., in 1724. A few years later his wife
died, and April 7, 1730, he married Mary, widow of Francis Wain-
wright, of Boston, daughter of Joseph Dudley, Governor of the Province
of Massachusetts Bay, and sister of Katharine, wife of Lieut. -Governor
William Dummer. He owned and occupied a spacious dwelling-house
on what is now Strong Street, Newburyport, with an attractive garden
extending to the Merrimack River. He died January 21, 1773, and
was buried in St. Paul's churchyard. The inscription on his tombstone
reads as follows :

This Stone
Is erected to the Memory


Joseph Atkins, Esquire,
One of the Founders and a Generous


of this Church.

Formerly an Eminent Merchant

In this town
And highly esteemed by those who knew him.

He departed this life
January 21, 1773, jEtat 92

and of

Mrs. Mary Atkins,

The virtuous and amiable Relict

of Joseph Atkins, Esquire,

and daughter of

His Excellency Joseph Dudley.

She died November 19, 1774, jEtat 82.



PATRICK TRACY, elected Vestryman in 1743, served in that capacity
for several years. He was probably born in Wexford County, Ireland,
but came to Newbury at a very early age, and soon became a promi-
nent shipmaster and ship-owner. He married, first, Hannah Carter, of
Hampton, N. H. ; second, Hannah Gookin of the same town ; and third,
Mary, widow of Michael Dalton. His sons by the second marriage,
Nathaniel and John Tracy, and his daughter, Hannah, who married
Jonathan Jackson, were conspicuous in the commercial and social life
of Newbury and Newburyport previous to the Revolution. He died
February 28, 1789, and was buried in St. Paul's churchyard.

BENJAMIN HARRIS was one of the Wardens of St. Paul's Church
in 1743, and afterwards served as Vestryman for ten or fifteen years.
He was the son of Rev. Henry Harris, and was born in Boston in 1718.
He came to Newbury in 1738, and was one of the subscribers to the
fund raised to defray the cost of building St. Paul's Church. He mar-
ried in October, 1740, Lucy Whitman, of Stowe, by whom he had two
daughters, Elizabeth, born November 8, 1741, and Mary, born No-
vember 9, 1746. For many years he owned and occupied a dwelling-house
on Greenleaf Lane, now State Street, and through land on the easterly
side of this house Harris Street was laid out in 1796. He died March
8, 1773, and was buried in St. Paul's churchyard.

CAPTAIN JOHN CROCKER was a member of Christ Church, Boston,
and married, April 12, 1727, Mary, daughter of Thomas and Mehitable
Savage. He removed to Newbury in 1737, probably, and was one of
the Wardens of Queen Anne's Chapel in 1739 and served as Vestryman
in 1740. When the new church building on the corner of Ordway's
Lane, now Market Street, and the Country Road, now High Street, was
completed he was elected Vestryman and afterwards held the office of
Warden until 1753 and perhaps later. He had a ropewalk on the
easterly side of Frog Pond, on land now known as Bartlet Mall, where
he manufactured cordage for ship-owners and ship-builders. He died
March 19, 1763, and was buried in St. Paul's churchyard.

THOMAS TANNATT was one of the Vestrymen of St. Paul's Church
in 1743 and was subsequently reelected to that office or to that of



Warden for ten or fifteen years. He was a sea captain and died in
Newbury July 21, 1759, leaving a widow, Mary, and one son, Thomas
Tannatt. After the death of his father Thomas Tannatt, Junior,
learned the trade of a baker and established himself in business in
Newburyport. In 1793 he sold his dwelling-house, bakeshop and land
and removed to Boston.

MICHAEL DAI/TON, son of Philemon and Abigail (Gove) Dalton
was born in Hampton, N. H., February 22, 1709, and came to Newbury
when only seventeen or eighteen years of age, looking for employment.
After several successful voyages to the West Indies he was placed in
command of a ship, and, February 3, 1733-4, married Mary, daughter
of Tristram Little. A few years later he purchased a house on the
northwesterly side of Market Square, where he lived until 1746, when
he built and afterwards occupied the house on State Street, now the
property of the Dalton Club. He was one of the Vestrymen of St.
Paul's Church in 1743, and afterwards served in that capacity or as
Warden for more than twenty-five years. He died March 1, 1770, and
was buried in the southeasterly corner of the churchyard, near the
grave of Patrick Tracy.

ANTHONY GWYNN, born in Bristol, England, married, October 26,
1738, Mary Gerrish, of Newbury, Mass., and two years later purchased
one-half a dwelling-house, with the land under and adjoining the same,
near the meeting-house then standing in what is now Market Square,
Newburyport. He was Warden of St. Paul's Church in 1745 and 1746,
and Vestryman from 1747 to 1753. In the early deeds of conveyance
to and from him he was sometimes called Mariner, but more frequently
Merchant. During the last years of his life he owned and occupied a
house on Water Street, near the foot of Federal Street, with the wharf
adjoining, now the property of Cashman Brothers. He died leaving
no children, and by his will, dated February 21, 1772, and proved
February 6, 1777, he gave the whole of his estate, real and personal,
to his wife, Mary, who survived him.

DANIEL MARQUAND was Warden of St. Paul's Church in 1745 and
Vestryman in 1746, 1748, and 1749. He married Mary Brown, of



Newbury, and lived for many years in a house on Water Street, at the
head of what is now Commercial Wharf. He died May 31, 1789, when
eighty-nine years of age. The house that he owned and occupied at the
time of his death, with several warehouses adjoining, was destroyed in
the great fire of 1811.

THOMAS WOODBRIDGE, a Vestryman of St. Paul's Church in 1743
and annually elected to that office until chosen Warden in 1749, was
born in Newbury January 31, 1708-9; a lineal descendant of Rev. John
Woodbridge, and son of Benjamin and Sarah Woodbridge. He married
Dorothy Titcomb June 10, 1735, and by this marriage had several
children ; Sarah, a daughter, baptized by Rev. Mr. Plant, of Queen
Anne's Chapel, June 16, 1738, and a son (name not recorded) baptized
by the same clergyman, October 7, 1739.

He purchased a dwelling-house on the northwesterly corner of
State Street and Market Square in 1746, with land under and adjoin-
ing the same, and lived there for many years.

After the death of his first wife, Dorothy (Titcomb) Woodbridge,
he married Sarah Greenleaf, November 21, 1749. He was one of the
subscribers to the fund raised by members of St. Paul's Church in 1756
for the purchase of an organ, imported by Thomas Brattle, and by him
bequeathed to the proprietors of King's Chapel in Boston.

In 1763 he was one of the petitioners to the General Court for the
incorporation of the town of Newburyport, and was at that time an
active and enterprising ship-builder and part owner in several small

In 1768 his brothers, Benjamin and Joseph Woodbridge, conveyed
to him land with the buildings thereon at the foot of State Street, after-
wards known as the Ferry Wharf property, and at or about the same
time he leased for a term of ten years land in the rear of the present
Police Station, then known by the name of the Middle shipyard.

The date of his death is uncertain, but he was buried January 21,
1774, by Rev. Edward Bass.

Other merchants and men of prominence in Newbury were interested
in the effort to establish and maintain public worship in the new church
and contributed liberally to the fund raised for that purpose. In 1743


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an agreement was made with Rev. Matthias Plant to supply the pulpit
and read the service every other Sunday until otherwise ordered. This
arrangement, however, did not prove satisfactory and led to complica-
tions that left St. Paul's Church without a settled minister for nearly
nine years.

In the meantime Rev. Mr. Plant remained in charge of Queen Anne's
Chapel and devoted his whole time to its temporal and spiritual affairs.

After several unsuccessful attempts to reconcile the conflicting
views and opinions of Rev. Mr. Plant and the Wardens and Vestrymen of
St. Paul's Church, a settlement was finally agreed upon June 24, 1751,
and Edward Bass was sent to England to be ordained to the priesthood.
On his return to Massachusetts in October or November, 1752, he was
appointed assistant to Rev. Mr. Plant, who was then in charge of both
the Episcopal churches in Newbury.

Although Queen Anne's Chapel and St. Paul's Church had separate
organizations and were to a certain extent independent of each other,
they were subject to the same ecclesiastical authority, were located in
the same town, and constituted one parish that still retains its ancient
rights and privileges in the Diocese of Massachusetts.

Rev. Mr. Plant died April 2, 1753. After that date Rev. Edward
Bass officiated in the chapel on the Plains until 1765, when, owing to
the death of many of the older parishion-
ers, and the dilapidated condition of the
building, services were discontinued.

The church at the Waterside, also
under the care of Rev. Mr. Bass, was more
vigorous and prosperous, and arrange-
ments were made to build additional pews
for the accommodation of the increased
number of worshipers.

In January, 1753, a committee was
appointed to agree with some suitable per-
son to build a porch and front gallery to
the church, and in 1756 an organ was pur-
chased of the treasurer of King's Chapel,
in Boston, and was probably the first one
set up in the town of Newbury. It was


FOR 500.

Name, and the benefit ot thy

holy Church, through Jefus
Chrift our Lord. Amen.

h Court of

MOST gracious God, we
humbjyjbgjpech thee, as
tor this aaHMbtt in general, fo

this time arlembled; Thatthou
wouldcft be pleafed to direct
and profper all their Confulta-
tions to the advancement of
thy Glory, the good of thy
Church, the fafety.^honour,

d\ r r '"ft A &4+* A L* . *

welfare, of

things may be fo ordered and
fettled by their endeavours,
upon the beft and fureft foun-
dations, that peace and happi-
nefs, truth and juftice, religion
and piety, may be eflabliihed
among us for all generations.
Thefe, and all other necefla-
rics, for them, for us, and thy
whole Church, we humbly beg
HI the Name and mediation of
Jefus Chrift, our moft blelfed
Lord and Saviour. Amen.

f A Collect, or 'Pitr^r for all Con-
'///, to he ujcd at jnch
Titne^ when tbe I Maty is not ap-
.tedtobe [aid.

OGod, the creator and pre-
ferverofall mankind, we

tnat tnou woi
to make thy \
them; thy 'ft*
all Nations. M
pray for the gc
Catholick Chu
be fo guided a
thy good Spir
profefs and
Chrillians, ma
way of truth, :
in unity of Ipi
of peace, and
of life. Final!
to thy Fatha
thofe who are
ed or diitreHet
or eftate f * c/p
thofe Jot si-hut
pniycrs arc <k
that it may
thee to comf
them accordir
ral neceffities ;
tience under
and a happy
their affli&ion
beg for Jefus

^ si 'Prayer tin,
any of ti

OGod, v, 1
mercy and to
our humble
though we be
with the chair
let the pitifuln
mercy loofe u


Kingdom " changed to " Commonwealth."

High Court of Parliament under our most religious and gracious King " changed
to " General Court."

Our sovereign and his kingdom," changed to " this People."


afterwards sold to St. John's Church, Portsmouth, N. H., and although
more than a hundred and fifty years old is still in use at the chapel
services in that church.

At the regular Easter Meeting held April 1, 1771, the proprietors
of St. Paul's Church voted to petition His Excellency Thomas Hutchin-
son, governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and humbly request
that the communion plate recently taken from King's Chapel, Boston,
in exchange for a more elaborate service from King George the Third,
" be given, granted and assigned " to the Church at Newburyport.

In answer to this petition a flagon inscribed with the words " The
gift of K. William and Q. Mary to ye Rev'd Sam'l Myles for the use of
their Maj'ties Chappel in New England 1694 " and a chalice bearing
the inscription " Ex dono Johannis Milles 1693 " were sent to Mr. Bass
and remained in possession of the parish until stolen, with other com-
munion plate, in 1887.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War the inhabitants of New-
bury and Newburyport were thoroughly aroused to the importance of
the impending struggle, and fearing that the use of certain collects
and prayers would seriously interfere with the work and influence of
St. Paul's Church and possibly lead to serious results, the Wardens and
Vestrymen, in a letter addressed to Rev. Mr. Bass, requested him to
omit, at morning and evening service, all prayers, collects, or suffrages
relating to the King, Royal Family, or Government of Great Britain.

Deeply impressed with the difficulties of the situation, and anxious
to avoid criticism, Mr. Bass, after consultation with prominent members
of the parish, considered it wise and prudent to comply with the request.
The proposed changes were promptly made and the Book of Common
Prayer, amended and temporarily revised, continued in uninterrupted
use in the parish until long after the close of the war.

These alterations in the Prayer Book and the observance of days
appointed by Congress for fasting and thanksgiving, ultimately led the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to drop the
name of Mr. Bass from the list of missionaries in its service in New Eng-
land. Accused of giving aid and encouragement to the rebellious sub-
jects of the King, he replied that in the discharge of his duties as
minister he had only made such concessions as the exigencies of the

case demanded.



It is not unreasonable to suppose that Mr. Bass, like many other
clergymen, merchants, lawyers, and statesmen, living in the Province of
Massachusetts Bay, was impressed with the idea that separation from
England was undesirable, and he may have contemplated its possible
accomplishment with considerable apprehension and anxiety, but there
is no evidence that he sought by word or deed, in the pulpit or out of
it, to oppose the wishes or restrict the rights and privileges of the ardent
and zealous supporters of the Continental Congress. He abstained from
personal controversy, resolutely refused to preach upon political topics,
and was evidently undisturbed by troublesome dissensions in his parish,
although Tristram Dalton, afterwards Senator to Congress from Massa-
chusetts ; Rufus King, twice Minister plenipotentiary to the Court of
St. James ; Patrick Tracy, an eminent merchant, zealous and patriotic ;
Captain Thomas Thomas and Captain Nicholas Tracy, owners and
commanders of successful privateers ; and many others who contributed
in various ways to the support of the Colonial Government, were members
of his congregation.

After the commencement of hostilities he was occasionally mis-
represented and some times treated with indignity, but he was seldom
irritated or annoyed by criticism or comment on his conduct and con-
tinued his parochial work all through the war.

August 30, 1789, a letter signed by the Wardens and Vestrymen of
St. Paul's Church was sent to the Episcopal churches in Massachusetts
and New Hampshire requesting their cooperation in an effort to obtain
a representation of the laity in the councils of the Church and asking
them to elect lay delegates to attend the convention to be held in Phila-
delphia September 29, 1789. This suggestion was not favorably received
and most of the churches declined to take any action in regard to it,
but the members of St. Paul's Church elected Hon. Tristram Dalton
and Hon. Elbridge Gerry delegates to the convention, instructing them
to insist on the proposed amendment of the Constitution and Canons
of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America. Since that date the
laity as well as the clergy have been represented in the General Con-
vention and taken part in its deliberations.

At a meeting held in Salem, Mass., June 4, 1789, the clergymen
having charge of Episcopal churches in Massachusetts and New Hamp-
shire elected Rev. Edward Bass bishop, " to be received as such when



canonically consecrated and invested with the Apostolic office." Owing
to the difficulty of securing the cooperation of the Right Rev. William
White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, the Right Rev. Samuel Provoost,
Bishop of New York, and the Right Rev. Samuel Seabury, Bishop of
Connecticut, the consecration of Rev. Mr. Bass was delayed several years.

In the summer of 1791 Bishop Seabury, of Connecticut, preached
in St. Paul's Church and confirmed a hundred and thirty or forty per-
sons. This was probably the first time that a Bishop of the Protestant
Episcopal Church had visited Newburyport, officially, and administered
the rite of confirmation.

May 24, 1796, Rev. Mr. Bass was re-elected Bishop of Massa-
chusetts and Rhode Island, and May 7, 1797, he was consecrated in
Christ Church, Philadelphia, Right Rev. William White, Bishop of
Pennsylvania, Right Rev. Samuel Provoost, Bishop of New York, and
Right Rev. Thomas J. Clagget, Bishop of Maryland, officiating.




Proposals for a new church building were discussed and finally
agreed to previous to the beginning of the year 1800, and on the
twenty-fifth of March of that year a committee appointed by the pro-
prietors of St. Paul's Church agreed with Stephen Toppan to remove
the old building and erect a new one on the same spot with a vestry
room in the rear and " a piazza of the Truscan order in front supported
by twelve pillars." The Pulpit, Reading Desk and Clerk's Pew to be
similar in style of finish and workmanship to those in Trinity Church,
Boston. The bell, organ, and reredos, or altar piece, were to be taken
down and set up again in the new church ; everything to be finished and
completed in a workmanlike manner previous to October 15, 1800.

If an architect was employed to make the plans and draw up the
specifications for the new building his name does not appear in the
proprietors' book of records, and probably the contractor, Stephen
Toppan, was well qualified and able to furnish all that were needed.
At all events he was a skilful and experienced mechanic, thoroughly
familiar with the details of his work as carpenter and house-builder.

While the new church was being built services were held in the
Second Presbyterian Meeting House on Harris Street, and there on
the twenty-second day of May the
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
Free and Accepted Masons as-
sembled to assist in laying the cor-
ner stone of the new edifice. After
prayers had been offered, the
Apostles' Creed said, and the Te
Deum sung, Rev. William Bently,
D.D., a Congregational clergyman
of Salem, Mass., delivered an ad-


Online LibraryNewburyport (Mass.). St. Paul's parishTwo hundredth anniversary, St. Paul's parish, Newburyport, Mass. Commemorative services with historical addresses → online text (page 2 of 3)