Sheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) Thorpe.

North Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 online

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especially a terror to evil doers in this direction and
woe betide the luckless sinner who fell into his

Upon one occasion, Mr. Anson Blakeslee, father
of Col. Henry M., was engaged during the Revo-
lutionary war on some sione work for the Star
Works, at Middletown, Connecticut. It was his prac-
tice to walk from his home at North Hill to his work
and back weekly. On one of these visits, being com-
pelled to return earlier than usual, he started out
Sunday afternoon. His course was unmolested until
Durham was reached, where he was apprehended and
held for trial. The crafty old gentleman set up the
plea "that he was engaged in the United States ser-
vice, and that the needs of the government would
admit of no delay ; besides they had no business to
hinder contractors in such critical times." Durham
firmly held for State rights, however, and the officials
could not get it through their sagacious old heads
why the United States should override Divine Provi-
dence, and so they held Mr. Blakeslee till sunset, and
then compromised by allowing him to go on his



Occasionally, even at a more recent period, some
official's zeal outran his discretion, as in the case of
the arrest of Bishop Brownell of the Episcopal
church, who on one occasion essaying to pass through
the parish on his diocesan tour, was unceremoniously
brought to a halt by Esq. Humaston, and made to
prove his identity and business, before being allowed
to proceed.

Every community had more or less experience of
this sort, and on the whole, notwithstanding the em-
barrassments often created, the effect on the outward
observance at least of the Lord's day was salutary.
But how long would the present generation en-
dure it? '

It is to be feared — to return a moment to the
First Ecclesiastical Society's action in 176S — that they
did not entirely succeed by their manifesto in putting
to flight Apollyon and his alien forces. A curious
document has recently come to light, which illustrates
better than can modern words, certain conditions of
society here half a century after the latter date
quoted, and with its presentation this subject is dis-

We the Grand Jury and Tythingmen of the Town
of North Haven being requested by this Society to
Draw lip a Resolve to be read in publick respecting
the Sabbath and that they will support us in our
prosecuting all Breaches of the Law on the Sab-
bath and particularly in the Lords House Think
it our Duty as informing Officers to Comply with
said vote and request that said paper be read in

We the Grand Jury and Tythingmen of the Town
of North Haven having been sworn to our respective
offices and Considering that an oath is a solemn
thing, give this public notice that we wish to have
no occasion to inform against anyone, or to present
anyone for a Breach 'of the Sabbath; hoping the


people of this Town and this Society will so reform
as to save us the trouble of prosecuting anyone.
But should there not be a reformation among the
people we shall be under the necessity of presenting
numbers, as we may consider some things in the Lord's
House a breach of Law that perhaps some of the pecj-
ple think but little of. The Sabbath is an Holy Day
and ought to be kept Holy by every Person. It is a
very wicked thing to go to a meeting and play and
make disturbance in the House of God. Surely there
cannot be any one person that wishes to be respected
of his fellow creatures that will do this thing. We
sincerely wish the people of this town and this society
would assist us in bringing about this reformation
by setting good examples themselves and by using
their influence to persuade the people to pay a par-
ticular attention to the Sabbath by going to a meeting
and hearing the Gospel explained which by the
Divine blessings may make us glad; in this world
and happy in the injoyment of our Creator in the
world to come. We wish that the young people would
take their seats in the Meeting House and not huddle
into a Company at the top of the stairs, and that
every person both old and young would keep from
whispering and all kinds of play or anything that has
any kind of tendency to Disturb the Public Worship.
It is Requested that the singers who have very oblig-
ingly assisted in that part of Worship would take
their seats in season and assist one another in singing
which would be very obliging to ever}^ person. We
sincerely remain your friends and humble servants,

Isaac C. Stiles, 1

Joel Todd. j. grand Jurors.

Joshua Thorp, i Todd, J

CoorER Blakeslee, ^

LxMAN Barnes, J- Tyihvigmen.

Talcott Ives, )


This paper having" been read in a meeting of the
civil authority and selectmen we do approve of the
same and willingly subscribe our names:

TosHLTA Barnes./' . ., . ,, ..
i. .^ r Civil Authoriiy.

Peter Eastman, )

Jacob Bassett, \

Philemon Blakeslee. >• Selectmen.

Giles Pierpont, )

Nathan Marks, . Constables.
John Abbott, J

Voted unanimously that the within address be read in each
society if they see cause.
North Haven. January 14th, iSio.

This was pubUcly read in the meeting house by me.

Benjamin Trumbull,
Pastor of the Church in Xorth Haven.

To return to the consideration of the Rev. Mr.
Trumbull. On his assumption of the pastorate, he was
modest and unassuming, as became his youth. His
first appearance at the General Association of the
Colony of Connecticut was at Coventry eight years
after his ordination. He attended this meeting again
in 1787, at Berlin, Conn.; then at Lebanon, 1789; New
Haven, 1790; Cheshire, 1793; Hebron, 1798, and per-
haps once or twice in other places. But these half
dozen meetings were by no means an index of his
interest in the work of the Association. He was fully
alive to its importance and devoted to its aims. ' He
was appointed Standing Register of this body in 1774,
resigning in 1796. Also, in 1774, when the first Home
Missionary enterprise began to be agitated, he was
chosen one of the committee of three " to receive the
subscriptions made or that may hereafter be made for
the purpose of supporting missionaries to be sent to
the settlements in the wilderness to the northwest-
ward of the colony," and with the Rev. Mr. Williams,
of Northford, and Goodrich, of Durham, was author-
ized to assume executive control of the same.


It is reasonable to suppose that with the inaug^ura-
tion of this movement Mr. Trumbull first be^;^an u,
call upon his people for benevolent contributions.
Attempts may have been previously made, but no
records exist of them, and it is not until 1793 that their
efforts appear to assume systematic form, as shown
by the accompanying schedule: For the Committee
of Missions— 1793, $10; ^794, $9.36; 1795, $11-62. For
the Missionary .'Society of Connecticut — 1799, 815;
1800, $325.06; t8oi, $73.06; 1802, $36.14; 1803, $43.4^':
1804, $14.57; 1S05, S16.34; 1806, $15.18; 1807, $12.51;
1808, $11.07; 1812, $18.02; 1813, $1808; 1814, $18.50:
1815, $19-70; 1816, $22.15; 1817, $20.45; 1S18, $22.09;

1819, $16.82; l820,$7.20.

Regarding the above, the amount for 1800 includes
a legacy of three hundred dollars, but by whom it is not
known. In 1809-10-11 the missionary society was
using its surplus funds, and no money was asked for:
the contributions, if received, were diverted into other

Thus did Dr. Trumbull's people respond to his
touch. Indeed, who can say but to his earnest efforts
"The Ladies' Missionary Association of North
Haven " (now " The Benevolent Society ") owes its
birth, and is the Christian link that not only binds us
to his da}- and generation, but which helped to lay the
foundations of that broad and tender sympathy which
the people of this town have ever maintained toward
the calls of God and humanity? For mark this: Dr.
Trumbull died in 1820; the local association was
formed in 1821. Its original members were Miss Char-
lotte Bradley, Miss Amelia Bradley, ]\Iiss Abi Bas-
sett, Miss Charlotte Ray, Miss Beda Mansfield, Mrs.
Henry Gill, Mrs. Perit M. Sanford, Mrs. David Bishop.
Mrs. Eliada Sanford. These ladies, with the exception
of the first named, were members of Dr. Trumbull's
church and congregation, and what more natural than
that his inspiration anct infiuencc should crystalize



throujj^h them into one of the most blessed of all
iliaritable organizations?

We pass now to the consideration of that which,
besides the preaching of the gospel, was the main
issue of his life — his labors as a historian. It is pos-
sible, if the evidence conld be carefully weighed,
it would be found that his reputation rests fully
as much upon his secular as on his sacred work. In
brief, he was not a popular preacher, but he was a
•^VQViX historian.

The incipient move in this direction was made at a
meeting of the General Association held at Norwich,
Conn., 1785, Mr. Trumbull not being present. The
following memorandum was made:

"This Association taking into consideration the
great duty and importance of having the interposi-
tions of Providence in the events that have effected
and attended the late American Revolution religiously
improved not only by present but by future genera-
tions and that some suitable and concise history be
prepared for that purpose accordingly request the fol-
lowing gentlemen. Rev. Messrs. Enoch Huntington,
Ucnjamin Trumbull, Levi Hart, Theodore Hinsdale,
Thomas Bray, to collect and compile such a history,
and that the Rev. ^Ir. Trumbull in particular be
desired to digest and write the whole and prepare it
tor the press."

At the next annual meeting it was " Voted that
this Association will encourage the printing of the
history which Mr. Trumbull is desired to complete, by
assisting in procuring subscriptions which it is to be
hoped may be to an Amount not only sufficient to pay
the printing but also to afford some reward to Mr.
Trumbull for his labors and Service."

Five years passed and the reverend historian was
ready with a portion of his manuscript. He asked at
the Association's meeting in 1790, that a committee be
appointed to " inspect his work and report an opin-



ion." Accordingly a deputation of three was selected
and these were at Mr. Trumbull's request continued
four years in succession. This committee reported t.,
the parent body in 1793, and the latter voted "That it
is the desire of this Association if on inspection thev
shall esteem it worthy of public notice they encour-
age him (Trumbull) to exhibit proposals for its publi-
cation with such joint recommendations of theirs as
they shall judge expedient."

Once under way the matter did not come up again,
apparently, for several years. The compilation of
historical matter in those days was a slow and labori-
ous task. No one felt the hurry attendant on exist-
ence in the present century, and they were assured
the project was in competent hands and they could
wait, and so it was not till 1810 that the first volume
of Dr. Trumbull's History of the United States was
ready for the public.

Its issue did not disappoint his constituency. It
was regarded as a careful, concise and comprehensive
work; its opinions were fair and candid, and its state-
ments have remained for the most part unquestioned.

At the following meeting of the association — 181 1
— Drs. D wight, Ely and Payson were appointed a
committee to prepare and report to that body a letter
of thanks to Dr. Trumbull " for his faithful and suc-
cessful labors in executing the business of a historian
assigned to him by the General Association."

This committee performed its work acceptably,
and a copy was at once forwarded to the reverend his-
torian. A couple of extracts from it will best illus-
trate the estimation in which he was held:

Farmingtox, June 20, iSii.
" We are not insensible of the expense of time and labor
necessarily involved in such a work, nor can we fail to consider it
as a high respect to the General Association that at their request
you have undertaken a task of so much difficultj* and brought it
to so near a conclusion.


"By some of our members your history has been read; by
-••.hers its reputation is known. So far as we are severally
j-juainted with it, the manner in which it has been executed has
given us much pleasure. To write on political and military sub-
;i.vts in a religious manner has been the employment of very few
historians— of fewer by far than good men could wish. The
example which in this instance you have set will, we hope, be fol-
Inwed by others in the present and succeeding generations."

The title page of this work bears the following



General History

of the

United States of America

From the Discovery- in

1492 to 1792,


Sketches of the Divine Agency

In Their Settlement, Growth and Protection,

and especially in the

Memorable Revolution.

In Three Volumes.

By Benjamin Trumbull, D. D.

The appearance of this work was by no means his
tirst published effort. The public had long been
acquainted with his printed pages. Indeed, the pro-
duction of this history approached so near the close
of his life, that the contemplated other volumes were
never completed.

The mental power of this man, coupled with his
intense vitality, was remarkable. During the prepara-
tion of the work mentioned he was also engaged on
a general history of Connecticut, and published one
volume, 1797, which involved an endless amount of
travel and correspondence. Not content with this, in
1^1 1 he further submitted to that ministerial body he
loved so well, a plan for a work which called forth
Irom them the following* expression:


"Whereas, Benjamin Trumbull, D. D., has communicated to
the General Association of Conn, his design to write ' The His-
tory of the American Churches of every denomination of Christ
ians within the U. S. of America; noticing the place and perux'.
of their first appearance; the time of their immigration iiiici
America; the place of their settlement in this country; their pecu
liar doctrines and discipline, with their modes of worship,' votti!
we approve of this and render him all the aid possible."

Much material was accumulated for this undertak-
ing, but death prevented its accomplishment. Many
of the manuscripts therefor are now in the possession
of Yale University.

Herewith is submitted a statement af the doctor's
publications in chronological order:

1. Discourse delivered at the Freemen's meeting, New
Haven, 1773.

2. A plea in vindication of the Connecticut title to the con-
tested lands lying west of the province of New York. 1776.

3. Sermon at the ordination of Nehemiah Prudden, at Enfield,
Conn., 17S2.

4. Thanksgiving sermon on the peace concluded with Great
Britain, 17S4

5. An appeal to the public on the unlawfulness of divorce,

6. Sermon on the ordination of Thomas Holt, at Worcester,
Mass., 1790.

7. Sermon on the immediate choice of God. 1791.

8. Sermon at the ordination of Reuben Moss at Ware, Mass.,

9. Sermon at the installation of Rev. A. Gillett, New Haven,

10. Sermon at the ordination of L. Tyler at New Haven. 1703.

11. Sermon at the ordination of Aaron Woodward at Wilton,
Conn., 1794.

12. History of Connecticut, 1797.

13. Funeral discourse on the death of General George Wash-
ington, iSoo.

14. Century sermon. iSoi.

15. Election sermon preached at Hartford, Conn, iSoi.

16. An address on Prayer and Family Religion, 1S04.

17. Twelve discourses comprising a systematic demonstration
of the Divine Origin of the Hojy Scriptures, 1799 (bound volume.
300 pp.)



i>. History of the United States, vol. i, iSio.
ii). Two pamphlets on the unlawfulness of marrying a wife's
s;>ier. iSio.

2.0. Sermon on the death of the Rev. Noah Williston, iSii.
21. History of Connecticut. 2 vols., iSig.*

Yale College, in 1796, raised Mr. Trumbull to the
rank of Doctor of Divinity. Such a degree had been
richly earned; it was but a fair acknowledgment of
merit already established, and when his work on the
Divine Origin of the Holy Scriptures came to be
issued three years afterwards, it was seen he had
more than abundantly proved his claim to the title.

This little volume had apparently a greater circu-
lation than any of his other printed works. In all,
twelve hundred sixteen copies were subscribed for
in advance of publication, and an edition of fifteen
hundred was probably struck off. Of this number,
three copies went to the State of New Hampshire,
one hundred fourteen to Massachusetts, thirteen to <
Vermont, thirty-foiir to New York, and one thousand
fifty-two to Connectictit, of which forty-nine were
taken in North Haven

We shall become better acquainted with our early
people if we know the names of these subscribers.
Undoubtedly there were others whose names are lost:
Jared Barnes, Thomas Cooper,

Capt. Joshua Barnes, Thomas Coope.-, Jr.,

Joel Barnes, Jude Dayton,

Ju.stus Barnes, Calvin Eaton,

Samuel Barnes, Capt. Peter Eastman,

Kli Bassett, Dr. Joseph Foot,

Abel Bishop, Street Humaston,

Titus Bradley, Mary Ives,

Benjamin Brockett, Catherine Mix,

Kli Brockett, John Pardee,

Giles Brockett, Giles Pierpont.

Lyman Brockett, John Pierpont,

E>r. Elisha Chapman. Joseph Pierpont,

Caleb Clark, David Ray,

• Second edition.


Joel Ray, Capt. Gideon Todd,

Anna Sanford, Lyman Todd,

Eliada Sanford, Dea. Titus Todd,

John Smith, Elam Tuttle,

Jude Smith, Hezekiah Tuttle,

Thomas Smith, Dea. Solomon Tuttle,

Isaac C. Stiles, Jesse Waters,

Enos Todd, Capt. Ebenezer Webb,"
Samuel Mix, Esq.

To present knowledge there is only one copy
belonging to this original list now extant in the town,
and that was Mr. Joseph Pierpont's. Besides this,
there are two copies, not known to whom issued,
one of which is possessed by Deacon Whitney Elliot,
who has nearly a complete list of the doctor's pub-
lications, and the other by the writer. The book
was in circulation in both religious societies, as refer-
ence to the list shows, and at one time its author
donated seventy copies to the Missionary society of
Connecticut for circulation on the frcntier.

The History of Connecticut, published in 1797-
1819, deals to a considerable extent with Ecclesias-
tical affairs. In this line it has been subjected to
rather severe criticism. The charge is made that
age did not liberalize him as it should, and that he
failed to keep step with the music of the opening
years of the nineteenth century. Dr. Trumbull was a
Calvinist, though not of the ultra type, and his life was
in harmony with his convictions. He, masquerading
though ever so little in his later years with his old arch
enemy the devil, would have been a sorry spectacle, not
only to his church, but to the ages and to his God. His
history is the completest record of the religious life
of the colony It is standard to-day.

It did not reach the circulation of the former men-
tioned work, for it was much more expensive; indeed,
it is difficult to see how two volumes of such magni-
tude could have secured a circulation at all commen-
surate with the cost of publication.


The North Haven subscribers were:

Captain Joshua Barnes, Samuel ^lix, Esq.,

Jared Barnes, Joseph Pierpont,

Joseph Bassett. Giles Pierpont,

Oliver Blakeslee, Eliada Pierpont.

Isaiah Brockett, Eliada Sanford,

Dr. Elisha Chapman, Thomas Smith,

James Cooper, John Smith,

Captain Peter Eastman, Isaac C. Stiles,

Dr. Joseph Foot, Enos Todd,

Daniel Hull, Jonathan Tuttle,

Captain Noah Ives, Jacob Walter,

Stephen Jacobs, Thomas Woolcutt,
Richard ^lansfield.

These topies have become widely scattered and it
is not even surmised how many are in existence to-

Of Dr. Trumbull's church and congreg^ation, there
was one who came down from Mr. Stiles' ministry,
with whom he formed a life-long relationship, Joseph
Pierpont, a graduate of Yale, class of 1751. Mr. Pier-
pont was five years the senior in age and eight in
graduation of 'Slv. Trumbull. It is believed he was
the only college bred native resident in the church at
this time, and perhaps the only one in the parish,
unless it was Dr. Walter Munson, who came here soon
after [760.

In Mr. Pierpont, Mr. Trumbull found an educated
man, a loyal citizen, a zealous church official, a warm
hearted Christian, and though their ways diverged at
last (though never separated) a life-long friend.

Joseph Pierpont was the son or Lieutenant Joseph
Pierpont and grandson of the Rev. James Pierpont,
of New Haven. He was born in this parish 1730.
His birth, inheritance and education made him a Con- It is not known when he united with
Mr. Stiles' church, but he was elected clerk of the
First Ecclesiastical Society in 1757, serving contin-
uously twenty years, or until 1777. Mr. Pierpont ten-



dered his resignation as clerk in 1773 and JonatTiaiT
Dayton was chosen to succeed liim. but for some rea-
son never served. Probably Mr. Pierpont was induced
to recall his decision for he was annually chosen foi:r
years further and was then succeeded by Philip Dag-

It was at this time — 1773 — ^Ir. Pierpont withdrew
from the old faith of his fathers (as practiced at least
in America) and united with the Church of England.
A curious feature is connected with this transfer. A
comparison of the records of the First and Second
societies reveals him as acting in a dual capacity.

It will be noted Mr. Pierix)nt handed in his resigna-
tion to the First Society in 1773. In that same year
he was chosen to be assistant clerk in the Second
Society. Notwithstanding this, as has been shown, he
was annually chosen clerk four years in succession by
the First Society and acted as such, for the records are
unmistakably his penmanship. Also during these same
four years he was anually appointed assistant clerk
by the Second vSociety and- Served them as well. Thus
is presented the rare instance — is there a parallel — of
the same official serving foiu' years in succession as
clerk of both a Congregational and Episcopal body.*

Rumor has ever been busy with the causes which
led to this action of Mr. Pierpont. By some it has
been held the Revolution was the tiirning- point, and
that his sympathies were with the old mother country.
Such an opinion has no foundation whatever from the
fact that at least two years' before this outbreak his
course was decided upon. Again, it is alleged it was
a harsh and censorious spirit which the honored
divine held against the Church of England which
eventually separated them, but they must be indeed
poor readers of history, and particularly poor students

♦The term "Episcopal" is used here to make the raeanio.i; perfectly clear to
every one. Strictly speaking, it has no flace in this history till subsequent to the
Revolutionary war.


of Trumbull, who find in the man or his writings any
invective sufficient to warrant such belief.

The true cause lay deeper than the surface. With
}.Ir. Pierpont it was a matter of conscience and belief.
In the light of tradition, and very clear light it is, too,
the answer may be read. Giles Pierpont, Sr., was a
brother of Joseph in question. The tradition was
transmitted by him to his son Giles, and by the latter
to his daughter, that Joseph longed for a return of
the old forms of worship as enjoyed by his ancestors
in England. Nor was this unaccountable.

^ A glance at the old English Pierpont family lines,
with their starred array of barons, knights, lords'
dukes and- earls, shows the strain of blood that came
to America, and leaves little room to wonder at its
manifestations in Joseph's veins.

The tradition further relates that this decision was
by no means a hasty one. Days, weeks, months— yes,
years, we are told, the discussion went on in Dr.
Trumbull's study between Mr. Pierpont and himself
over their theological beliefs, each arguing with all
the intensity of which he was capable, but alas in
parallel lines that could never meet. There was much
heat at times, hasty words, temporary excitement,
but no lasting rancor, no unjust reviling, no bitterness
marked the controversy. Both were deadly in earnest
and each knew himself to be in the right.

So they churchwise separated. Not so though in

Online LibrarySheldon B. (Sheldon Brainerd) ThorpeNorth Haven annals : a history of the town from its settlement, 1680, to its first centennial, 1886 → online text (page 16 of 32)