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History of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts online

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The Trustees were authorized to send, each, two schol-
ars to the school, one of each se.t, of the ages and des-
criptions before mentioned.

Male pupils from the South Parish, intended for Har-
vard College are to be admitted under twelve years of
ase, and such others of the same Parish '• as desire to
be instructed in the art of surveying, navigation, and
their attendant branches of the mathematics, at the re-
quest of parents, guardians or patrons." Each pupil is
required to furnish a proportional share of fire-W'Ood,
under the direction of the Trustees. " And no person
except such as is above mentioned and described, shall
on any pretence be even admitted to the said school, un-
less the number of female scholars in the said school be
less than thirty, or the number of males be less than forty,
in either of which cases the said Trustees, their survivors
or successors may admit such a number as shall increase
the number of female scholars to thirty, and the number
of male to forty, preference forever to he given to such poor
orphans whose guardians or patrons shall request their ad-
mittance ^

In case it became necessary to rebuild the house, it
was required to be situated central to the North Parish,
as near as may be.

An annual lecture by " some able minister of the gos-
pel" is to be delivered in the North Parish, for which he
is to receive the sum of six pounds. In case of the de-
cease of a Trustee, the survivors are authorized to fill
the vacancy, and not more than four of the Trustees can
be residents of Hingham.

3



18 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

By her Will, Mrs. Derby bequeathed to the Trustees?,
^2500 in Massachusetts State notes, the interest thereof
to be by them appropriated for the use of the Preceptor ;
and .£700 in silver, the interest of which, to be by them
appropriated for the use of the Preceptress for the time
being. She also directed that her clock and portrait
should be placed in the school ; and after making oth-
er legacies, created the Trustees residuary legatees
of all her estate real and personal. She also expressed
her desire that Abner Lincoln should be appointed Pre-
ceptor of the school as soon as opened.

In the Codicil to her Will, there was a provision insert-
ed, that if the Trustees should neglect at any time, for
the space of two years together, to apply the rents, and
income of the funds to the purposes for which they were
intended, they were to become the property of the Presi-
dent and Fellows of Harvard College, in trust, the inter-
est thereof to be appropriated for the support of the Profes-
sor of Anatomy and Physic. She also expressed in thit
Codicil, her wish for the Trustees to relinquish the priv-
ilecre of sendinor two scholars each.

I have thus enumerated the most important provisions
of the Deed, Will and Codicil, that they may be fully un-
derstood by the people of Hingham, and that the liber-
ality of the benevolent founder of the Academy may be
properly appreciated.

The munificent grants and bequests of Mrs. Derby,
constituted a very respectable fund, which was increased
by the Legislature, by an act passed June 18, 1803, grant-
ing to the Trustees a half township of land in Maine,
to be disposed of by them for the interest and benefit of
the institution.

The available funds of the Academy exclusive of the
building for the schools, amount at the present time, to



HISTORY OF IIINGIIAM.



19



^24,500. The present large and commodious edifice for
the use of the schools, kc. was erected in 1818.

The following named gentlemen have been the Precep-
tors of the School and Academy since its establishment.
Abner Lincoln, Esq. was the first ; he was appointed by
the request of Mrs. Derby herself, as well as on account
of his peculiarly excellent qualifications as a teacher and
estimable character as a man. He filled the ofiice from
1791 to July 1805, when he resigned the situation. His
successor was Rev. Andrews Norton, now Professor of
Sacred Literature, in the University at Cambridge. He
continued in the office but a short time. He was succeed-
ed by Mr. James Day, who remained one year, when
Mr. Samuel Merrill was appointed. In 1808, Rev. Dan-
iel Kimball accepted the appointment of Preceptor and
continued in the office until 1826, when Mr. Increase S.
Smith, the present Preceptor was appointed.

The Preceptress is Miss Susan Waterman, and the
Assistant Preceptress, Miss Elizabeth C. Norton.

The present number of scholars is 78 ; 33 males and
45 females.

The present Board of Trustees is composed of the
following gentlemen, viz. :

Rev. John Allyn, D. D. of Duxbury,
'^ Peter Whitney, of Quincy,
" N. B. Whitney, of Hingham,
" Jacob Flint, of Cohasset,
Dr. Levi Lincoln, of Hingham,
Hon. James Savage, of Boston,

Martin Lincoln, Esq. of Hingham,
Dr. Cushing Otis, of Scituate,
^^ Robert Thaxter, of Dorchester,
Rev. Charles Brooks, of Hingham,

Ezra W. Sampson, Esq. of Braintree.



-0 HISTORY OF HINGHA3I.

My information respecting the public schools,* is prin-
cipally derived from the Chairman of the School Com-
mittee of 1826. The statement for this year, corresponds
very nearly, with the existing facts, the arrangement of
the schools, not having been materially altered for the
present year. In 1826, the whole number of public
schools was thirteen, five male and eight female. Three
of the male schools are kept, each, during the whole year,
and two of them for six months each ; the female schools
for six months each.

The number of youth in Hingham, between the ages
of 4 and 16, is 879.

In 1827, October, the number of scholars on the lists
of the eight female schools, was 334, and on the three
summer male schools, 204.

In 1826, the amount of money paid for salaries to
school teachers, was ^1740.

The number of scholars attending private schools, was
in 1826, 150, and the amount paid for private tuition,
was $898.

* The earliest date, at which a public school was established in
Hingham, cannot be ascertained. The earliest notice of tlie erec-
tion of a school house is found in the Selectmens' First Book of
Records, which appears to have been in the year 1668. In 1670,
Mr. Henry Smith contracted with the selectmen, " to teach and
instruct, until the year be expired, in Latin, Greek and English,
writing and arithmetic, such youths of the inhabitants of Hing-
ham," as should be sent to their school. His salary was fixed at
£24, to be paid quarterly, in wheat, rye, barley, peas and Indian
corn, at current prices. In 1673, James Bates, Senior, was paid
" for keeping school." In 1674, Joseph Andrews and James Bates
received compensation as school masters. In 1677, James Bates
made a written agreement with the selectmen to teach " Latin,
English, writing and arithmetic," for one year for £20 sterling. In
1679, Matthew Hawke was paid by the town, for teaching a school.
In 168.5, Mr. Thomas Palmer contracted with the selectmen, to
teach Latin, Greek, English, writing and arithmetic for £20 ; £10
in money, and £10 in corn. In 1(»S7, Mr. Samuel Sliepard was



HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.



21



The salary of the preceptor of the academy, is $700
per year, and that of the preceptress $300 ; the assistant
preceptress receives $150 per year.

These expenditures are exclusive of those for books,
fuel, rents, repairs, &c. &c. There is also one private
seminary (Misses Cushings') for young ladies, the ex-
penses of which are not embraced in this statement, the
scholars who attend it being principally from other towns.

Ecclesiastical History. The first church in Hing-
harn, was formed in September, IGSo, and is ranked by
Mr. Savage (in his note on the early churches in Massa-
chusetts, in "Winthrop, vol. i. p, 95) as the tv/elfth that
was formed in Massachusetts proper. Rev. Peter Ho-

employed as a teacher of Latin, &c. with a salary of £,25 in corn.
In 1690, Mr. Richard Henchman was a teacher. In 1694, Mr. Jo-
seph Estabrook, Jr. contracted to teach Latin, Greek, &c. for £22
per year, one half to be paid in money, and the other in corn.
Mr. Estabrook continued until 1696, when IMr. Jedidiah Andrews
(afterwards a minister at Philadelphia) was employed for a salary
of £30 in money. Mr. Estabrook was again employed in 1700,
and continued until 1705, Aug. 20, when Mr, John Odlin was en-
gaged ; but he remained for only a short time. Mr. Joseph Marsh
(the same probably, who was afterwards the minister of Quincy),
was employed in 1706 and 1707. After him, Mr. Daniel Lewis, who
subsequently settled in the ministry at Pembroke, taught the school
for several years. This note is already too long, and I give merely the
names of a few other teachers, 1712-13, Mr. Jonathan Gushing ;
1713-14, Mr. Gushing and Mr, John Norton, Jr. From April, 1714,
to 1717, Mr. Job Gushing, afterwards the minister of Shrewsbury.
1718, Mr. Allen, Mr. Gornelius N3'e and Mr. Adam Gushing. Mr.
Nye taught a school in the north part of the town, from 1718 to
174.5, with the exception only of two or three years. Perhaps pre-
viously, and during that time, other schools were established in
other parts of the town. The south part of the town and the east
precinct drew their proportion of money from the treasury, and ap-
propriated it for the support of schools as they thought proper. Mr.
Isaac Lincoln, was a teacher of the school in the north part of the
town for a long series of years. He died April 19, 1760, aged 59.
From the foregoing list, it appears that well educated teachers were
early employed in this town, to instruct the youth. They were gen-
erally men of liberal education.

3*



22 HISTORY OF HIXGHAM.



bait of Hingham, England, with his family, arrived at
Charlestovvn in June, 1635, where his father's family had
arrived before him.* Several of his friends from Hing-
ham, England, and otherst had alreadv settled in this
town. It is said (on the authority of Mather) that
he declined the invitations of several towns to become
their minister ; prefering to join the new settlement at
Bare Cove, (which on the second of September, 1635,
received the name of Hingham) and here he gather-
ed the first church. Mr. Hobart and twenty-nine oth-
ers drew for house lots on the 18th of Sept. 1635, but at
what time he actually settled here it is impossible, and
perhaps not material, to ascertain with perfect accuracy.
Nor can we discover from any record at what particular
time the first house of worship was erected. It was a
small building, surrounded with a palisadoe for the pro-
tection of the worshippers against any attack by the In-
dians. Its situation was very near the spot on which the
post office now stands, opposite the academy.

We have reason to suppose from the rapid increase of
the number of settlers in the course of the four or five
first years of the settlement of the town, that the church
soon became respectable in point of numbers and other-
wise prosperous and flourishing. In the year 1638, Mr.

* " 1633, Edmond Hobart, senior, came from Hingham, in Nor-
folk, (Eng.) with his wife, and his son Joshua, and his daughters
Rebecca and Sarah, and their servant Henery Gibbs, into New
England, and settled first at Charlestown, and after the said Ed-
mond Hobart and his son Joshua and Henery Gibbs settled in this
town of Hingham." — Manuscript of Daniel Gushing, 3d town
clerk of Hingham.

t " 1633, Ralph Smith, Nicholas Jacob, and his cousin Thomas
Lincoln, (weaver), from Hingham, and Thomas Hobart, from
Windham, came from thence and settled in this Hingham. — Cush-
ing's MSS.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 23

Robert Peck, a preacher of the gospel in Hingham, Eng-
land, arrived in this country, and settled in Hingham.*
He was ordained teacher of the church November 28th
of that year. The people of Hingham were thus early
blessed with the labours of two clergymen, the duty of
one being to instruct the people in doctrine, and that of
the other confined generally, to exhortation. But as re-
marked by Mather, ^^the good people of Hingham, did
rejoice in this light (only) for a season." Mr. Peck, at
the solicitation of his friends in England, returned to
them in 1641,'j" and there remained a minister of the gos-
pel. The first notice which can be found of the appoint-
ment of deacons, was in the year 1640. On the 29th of
January of that year, Henry Smith and Ralph Woodward
were chosen deacons, and they were ordained on the 2d
of February following. +

It does not appear that the harmony of the church or
the prosperity of the town was interrupted until the year
1644, when the unfortunate occurrence of the military
difficulties^ caused a serious injury to both. The promi-
nent part which Mr. Hobart took in this unpleasant con-
troversy, rendered him less popular at home, and obnox-
ious to the government. His friends, however, were much
the most numerous and influential party in the church,
and his conduct in relation to the minority, although it
gave rise to some jealousy, and in a few instances to strong
dislike, does not appear to have diminished the attachment
which a majority of the citizens had uniformly exhibited
towards him. From the severe and burthensome fines
and expenses to which he was subjected in consequence

* Cushing's MSS.

t Hobart's Diary and Cushing's MSS.
t Hobart's Diary.

§ A full account of these difficulties may be found under the head
of Civil History, in a subsequent part of this work.



24 HISTORY OF HINGHA3I.

of his zeal for popular rights, he appears to have been re-
lieved by the liberality of the people of his charge.

His salary in 1648 was three score and ten pounds.
It was the same for the two subsequent years. In 1651,
the town voted that ^' Mr. Hobart should have five score
pounds a year, for two years, for his maintenance and to-
wards building of him a house." " Five score pounds"
appears to have been his regular salary for many years
afterwards.*

Nothing particularly worthy of mention occurred in the
affairs of the church, until within about two months before
the decease of Mr. Hobart, when his declining strength
and inability to discharge the pastoral duties, rendered it
necessary to ordain a successor. The person selected
was Rev. John Norton. He was ordained pastor of the
church Nov. 27, 1678. Mr. Hobart assisted in the ser-
vices on the occasion. Mr. Norton was educated at Har-
vard University, where he graduated in 1671. He was
a nephew to Mr. Norton, the Minister of Boston. The
decease of the venerable Hobart took place January 20,
1678-9, in the 75th year of his age and 53d of his ministry;
nine years of which he spent in Hingham, England. He
was an indefatigable student, and his acquirements were
various and extensive. " He was much admired (says
Mather) for well studied sermons," and the remark is
a just one, if we can judge from the manuscript copies of
a few of them which are now preserved. Independent in
his own feelings, vigour and strength were the character-
istics of his discourses. They possess more of exhorta-
tion than of doctrine, and were calculated to produce the
most salutary moral effects. |

*His salary Avas generally paid in rye, Indian corn, wheat, &c.
t A more particular account of Mr. Hobart's family may be found
in a note at the end of the volume.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 25

The successor of Mr. Hobart was of a more mild and
conciliating spirit, with probably less extensive acquire-
ments ; but distinguished for his amiable character, fervent
piety, and zeal for the promotion of true religion. He
laboured in the ministry nearly thirty-eight years, and
died on the third of October, 1716, in the 66th year of
his age.

It was during the ministry of Mr. Norton, that the town
voted to erect a new meeting-house ; but as this subject
produced considerable excitement, and as the proceed-
ings in relation to it are blended in some measure with
the civil history of the town, I have reserved an account
of it for that department of this work.

After the decease of Mr. Norton, about twenty months
elapsed before his successor was ordained. During that
time candidates were heard, and on the 11th of Februa-
ry, 1716—17, the inhabitants concurred with the church,
and "did then by a major vote carried in by papers with
one hundred and five hands, chuse Mr. Samuel Fisk, of
Braintree, to be the minister of said Hingham."* Mr.
Fisk, it appears, did not accept this invitation of the in-
habitants of Hingham to become their minister, and for
what reason it is not known ; perhaps, however, the vote
in his favour might not have been unanimous, and this idea
is supported by tradition.

On the 28th of March, 1717, the town voted to "grant
unto a minister for a yearly salary one hundred and ten
pounds in money, and a settlement of £200 to be paid in
Province bills of credit, or in such money as usually pass-
eth between man and man."

On the 9th of Sept. 1717, " The Church and Congre-
gation voted and chose Mr. Thomas Prince to take the

*Tovvn Records.



26 HISTORY OF HINGHAjM.

office of a pastor over the church of Christ and Congre-
gation in Hingham."* Mr. Prince, also, declined the
acceptance of this invitation. After Mr. Prince, Mr.
Ebenezer Gay preached as a candidate, and on the 30th
December, 1717, the church and congregation by their
unanimous votes, gave him an invitation to become their
pastor. Mr. Gay signified his acceptance of this harmo-
nious call, which proved to be one of the most fortunate
and happy events in the history of the church. He was
ordained June 11, 1718.1 The talents, learning, and lib-
eral views of this eminent divine, were a rich blessing to
the people of his charge, and have justly given him rank as
" one of the greatest and most valuable men of his time. "J
He lived in the ministry for the remarkably long period
of sixty-eight years, nine months, and a few days ; and
died March 18, 1787, in the ninety-first year of his age.§
At his interment a discourse was delivered by Rev. Dr.
Shute. An extract from that discourse, will show the
opinions entertained of him, by an enlightened and liberal
contemporary :

^^But no encomium of mine (says Dr. Shute) can ele-
vate your ideas of his amiable and excellent character,
both as a christian, and as a minister of the gospel. You
and your fathers, are ivitnesses how holily and justly and un-
blamably he behaved himself; and with what diligence and
fidelity he discharged the duties of the ministerial office.
Nor were his abilities, exerted in promoting the interest

* Town Records.

t "Mr. Belcher preached from 2d Tim. iv. 5, ''Make full proof
of thy ministry.^'' Mr. Danforth gave the Charge, Air. Eells the
Right Hand of Fellowship. With those Mr. Pickraan and Mr. Niles
laid on hands." — Gay's Record.

t This was the opinion expressed by Dr. Chauncy respecting Dr.
Gay.

§ Dr. Gay was born at Dedham, Aug. 26, 1696.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 27

of the Redeemer's kingdom, unknown to others ; — his
light was so illustrious, that his praise is in all the church-
es. For learning — for liberality — candour, and strength
of mind, he was distinguished and celebrated, by the ju-
dicious and candid. A particular and exact delineation
of his character, however, is not pretended ; to draw which
would require a pen equal to his own. True greatness
needs no laboured panegyric.

But yet the pensive mind, habituated to esteem and
veneration by a long uninterrupted course of friendship,
will follow him beyond the grave, into the regions of im-
mortality, and please itself in contemplating him as re-
moved from all the imperfections incident to humanity, in
this mortal state, — from the labours of mental pursuits, —
from all doubts in points of speculation, here seen through
a glass darkhj, — from the debility and lassitude, which
time, by the constitution of Heaven, produces in the hu-
man frame, and as ?M>?y engaged in the service of his Ma-
ker, with unceasing ardour, and rejoicing before him, in
the vigour of perpetual youth.

While we drop the friendly and sympathetick tear over
the remains of your dear and venerable pastor, and con-
template his better part as having left this dark abode for
the realms of eternal day ; we must wish to die the death
of the righteous, and that our last end may be like /m."*

*The following obituary notice of Dr. Gay, was published March
30, 1787, and as every thing relating to this distinguished man is
interesting, it is here inserted : —

" The Reverend Ebenezer Gay, D. D. Pastor of the First Church
in Hingham, departed this life March 18th, 1787, in the 91st year
of his age, and 69th of his ministry. To give a good man his de-
served character, is not only justice to the dead, but charity to the
living ; for while they mark the perfect man, and behold the up-
right, impressed with the amiableness of his virtues, they may be
induced to imitate them, and their end be peace. This purpose, it
is hoped, may be answered by a faint portrait of the Doctor's.



28 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

Dr. Gay retained his mental faculties in a remarkable
degree of vigour to the very close of life. Of this, his
justly celebrated sermon, entitled the Old Man^s Calendar

" He had his education at Harvard College, he made distinguished
proficiency in the knowledge of the classics, and various other sci-
ences, and received his first degree in 1714. His inclination early
led him to the study of divmity ; and soon after he had received his
second degree, he began to preach, and was ordained to the work
of the ministry in Hingham, June 11, 1718. The duties of his office
engrossed his whole attention ; and making the Bible the rule of his
faith he studied that sacred book with great diligence, and soon be-
came mighty in the scriptures : in consequence of which he was led
to a juster view of the plan of divine grace in the gospel, and to sen-
timents more liberal and candid, than were common in that day.
His compositions were judicious — evidently the result of intense
thought and application — calculated to give his hearers a know-
ledge of the method of reconciliation through the Mediator, and
impress upon their minds a sense of moral obligation. The doc-
trines which he preached to others were enforced by his own exam-
ple : his people are witnesses how holily, how justly, and unblam-
ably he behaved himself among them. To them he readily afforded
assistance in times of distress ; and upon all occasions discovered,
that their temporal as well as eternal interest lay near his heart.
His heart and his doors were always open to his friends ; and by
his hospitality he secured the affectionate regard of all who visited
his house.

" By his inoffensive and condescending conduct, he manifested the
pacific disposition of his heart, and rendered his unwearied exer-
tions to promote peace and good order more eflTectual. In ecclesi-
astical councils (to which he was formerly often invited) his wisdom
and benevolence were conspicuous, and gave him great advantage
in composing diflferences, and healing divisions subsisting in
churches.

*' Though his conversation abroad might seem reserved, yet in
private, among his friends, it was free, instructive and edifying ; the
salutary effects of which have been sensibly felt by his brethren
in the ministry ; and his kind, parental treatment will ever be ac-
knowledged by them. His prayers were rational and devout, and
well adapted to the various occasions of life. Enthusiasm and su-
perstition formed no part of his religious character. In his chris-
tian warfare, he did not entangle himself with the affairs of this
life, but his conversation was in heaven. In times of sickness, and
in the near views of dissolution, he appeared to have composure
and resignation of raind, and hopes of full immortality.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 29

which was delivered Aug. 26, 1781, from Joshua xiv. 10,
is full evidence. This excellent production was re-print-
ed in England, translated into the Dutch language and
published in Holland, and several editions of it have been
published in this country.*

" His prudent and obliging conduct rendered him amiable and
beloved as a neighbour. His tender feelings for the distressed in-
duced him to afford relief to the poor according to his abilitv. His
beneficent actions indicated the practical sense he had of his Lord's
own words — ' It is more blessed to give than to receive.' The se-
renity of his mind, and evenness of his temper, under the infirmi-
ties of advanced vears, made him agreeable to his friends, and
continued to the last the happiness which had so long subsisted in


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Online LibrarySolomon LincolnHistory of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts → online text (page 2 of 14)