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

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his familv ; in which he always presided with great tenderness and
dignity. A reflection on the indulgence of Heaven in the long en-
joyment of so afiectionate and worthy a parent, and the hopeful
prospect of his happiness beyond the grave, must inspire them with
gratitude, and lead them into a cordial acquiescence in the painful
separation.

" The uncommon vigour of his mental powers, at that time of life,
is evident from a printed sermon which he preached on the day
when he completed the 85th year of his age. The University at
Cambridge voluntarily conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of
Divinity, in 1785, as an expression of their sense of his great merit.

" It was his greatest dread, he often said to his friends, to live be-
yond his usefulness : and it is remarkable, that by the continuance
of his bodily and mental abilities, he was able to persevere in the
ways of well-doing — to mamtain the post assigned him, and go
through all the duties of his office, to the very close of life.

" His death was sudden. On Lord's day morning he rose well
as usual ; while preparing for the pulpit, he was arrested by the
liarbinger of death, and, within an hour after, calmly resigned his
useful life ; and, like David of old, after he had served his genera-
tion, by the will of God fell on sleep.

" Through the long course of his ministry, he was greatly respect-
ed by his people : which is evident, not only by their attention to
him while living, but by their kind offices at his interment.

" Thus lived and died that great and good man, the Reverend
Doctor Gay, who now rests from his labours, and his works, we
trust, follow him, in the ample rewards of grace and glory." —
Mass. Gazette.

* Of the sermons of Dr. Gay which have been published, the fol-
lowing is a list, viz : — One delivered at the ordination of the Rev.
Joseph Green of Barnstable, 1725 ; two lecture sermons in Hing-

4



30 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

It is worthy of remark that for the space of more than
a century and a half, the first parish was destitute of a
settled minister for only twenty months.

The number of baptisms recorded by Dr. Gay, during
his ministry, was 2801 ; the number of deaths (including
some belonging to Hingham who died in other places)
1349 ; and the number of couples married by him was 665.

The successor of Dr. Gay, and the fourth minister of
the first parish, was Rev. Henry Ware, D. D. of Sher-
burne, the present Hollis Professor of Divinity in Har-
vard University. He was educated at that University,
and graduated in 1785. He was ordained over the church
and congregation in Hingham Oct. 24, 1787.* In con-
sequence of an invitation to the Professorship at Cam-
bridge, Mr. Ware requested a dismission from the parish,
and the connexion was accordingly dissolved. Dr. Ware
delivered his valedictory discourse May 5, 1805. During
his ministry the number of persons baptized by him was
615, the number of marriages 185, and of deaths 489.

After the dissolution of Dr. Ware's connexion with the

ham, 1728 ; a sermon before the Ancient and Honourable Artillery
Company, 1728 ; a lecture in Hingham, on occasion of the arrival
of His Excellency J. Belcher, Esq. to this government, 1730 ; a ser-
mon before several military companies in Hingham, 1738 ; a ser-
mon delivered at Suffield at the ordination of Rev. Ebenezer Gay,
Jr. 1741-2 ; sermon at the funeral of Rev. J. Hancock, Braintree,
1744 ; an election sermon, 1745 ; sermon at the annual convention
in Boston, 1746 ; sermon in Boston at the ordination of Rev. J.
Mayhew, 1747 ; in Scituate, at the ordination of Rev. J. Dorby,
1751 ; in Keene, at the instalment of Rev. Ezra Carpenter, 1753 ;
in Yarmouth, at the instalment of Rev. Grmdall Rawson, 1755 ;
Dudleian lecture, 1759 ; at the decease of Rev. Dr. Mayhew, in
Boston, 1766 ; in Hingham, at the ordination of Rev. Caleb Gan-
nett over a church in Nova Scotia, 1768 ; Thanksgiving Sermon,
Hingham, 1770 ; Old Man^s Calendar, Hingliam, 1781.

* The sermon on this occasion was delivered by Rev. T. Hilliard,
of Cambridge ; charge by Rev. J. Brown, of Cohasset ; and the right
2iand of fellowship was presented by Rev. Mr. Shute of Hingham-



HISTORY OF HINGlIAIVi. 31

First Parish, several candidates were heard, and of those,
Rev. Joseph Richardson, the present pastor, was preferred
by a majority of the Parish. He accordingly received an
invitation to settle here in the ministry.

The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Richardson was
ordained, July 2, 1806.* It is proper to mention that the
members of the parish were not unanimous in extending
this invitation to Mr. Richardson. The cause of this
disaffection, and of the eventual separation of the op-
posers of the settlement of Mr. Richardson from the par-
ish, and of their formation of a new society, are yet so
fresh in the memory of most of those who will peruse
these pages, that it is unnecessary for me to attempt to
describe them, even if I had such an inclination. Be-
sides, a detail of all the circumstances relating to this un-
pleasant controversy, would require too much space to be
inserted in this work, and would answer no purpose, ex-
cept as a record of my own opinion, which I certainly
have no disposition to obtrude upon the public. The
principal object of this history is to preserve facts and
not opinions ; and I cannot persuade myself that it is in-
cumbent on me, or desirable in any point of view, to de-
scribe the jealousies, the prejudices, or the unwise actions
of the living, and especially those of which full accounts
have been published to the world. If any one, however,
has any relish for controversies of this description, or any
disposition to refresh his memory with the accounts of
tliis second " sad, unbrotherly contention" in Hingham, in
which the clergy were involved, he may find all the de-
tails in two pamphlets published soon after its occurrence.

« * The Sermon on this occasion was delivered by the late Dr.
Bentley, of Salem ; the Charge by Rev. Mr. Barker, of IVriddle-
boroufirh ; and the Riglit Hand of Fellowship was presented by
Rev. Mr. Briggs, of Plympton.



32



HISTORY OF HINGHA3I.



To those who wish to read a Vindication of the proceed-
ings of the First Parish, in the settlement of Mr. Rich-
ardson, I recommend a perusal of the letters of the late
Dr. Bentley, of Salem, and of Rev. Mr. Norton, late of
Weymouth, together with the other papers and statements
published under the sanction of the names of the commit-
tees of the first church and parish. Those who are desir-
ous of reading an opposite statement, will find the views
of the opposersof Mr. Richardson's settlement, presented
in a JVarrative containing statements, letters, &c. with a
reply to the vindication by a committee of the opposers ; the
whole collected and published by the late Dr. Thaxter.

I have thus given a sketch of the history of the First
Church and Parish in Hingham, from 1635 to the present
time, and in order to preserve the distinctness of the nar-
ration, I have omitted to notice the organization of the
other churches during that period. There was, indeed,
but one church in Hingham until the year 1721, when
the Second Church was organized at Cohasset, or as it
was then called Conohasset.*

Of the preliminary proceedings relating to the forma-
tion of the East Precinct, and of the subsequent estab-
lishment of a church at Conohasset, I shall nov/ present a
sketch, with some account of the clergy of the place.

In 1713, May 14, the proprietors of the undivided lands
in Hingham ofave their consent to the inhabitants of Con-
ohasset, to erect a meeting house " on that land called the
Plain."

At a town meeting held on the 7th day of March, 1714-
15, the inhabitants of Conohasset " desired the town that
they would be pleased to give their consent that they

* This name is sometimes written Conohasset, Conahasset, Cony-
hassetj and sometimes Konohasset, in our old records. " It signifies
Fishing Promontory." — Flint. The town was incorporated by the
name of Cohasset.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 33

might be made a precinct, or that they might be allowed
something out of the town trea^iry to help to maintain
the worship of God amongst them, or that they might be
abated that which they pay to the minister to maintain
the worship of God at the Toimi : and the vote of the
town passed in the negative concerning all the foremen-
tioned particulars."*

It is rather remarkable that a petition so reasonable
should have been rejected. The inhabitants of Conohas-
set then presented their case to the General Court, but
the inhabitants of Hingham persisted in opposing their
petition and a committee was chosen " to give answer
to it," at the General Court in June, 1715.

In July 1715, the town voted to remit to the inhabit-
ants of Conohasset, their ministerial taxes, on the condition
that they provide an orthodox minister among themselves,
provided they cheerfully accept of the same." To this
the inhabitants of Conohasset replied ''that they could
not cheerfully accept thereof."

In September following, the town voted to reimburse
to the inhabitants of Conohasset, or to those that should
afterwards inhabit in the first and second divisions of
Conohasset uplands, and in the 2d part of the 3d division,
all their ministerial and school taxes, so long as they
should maintain an orthodox minister among themselves.
This vote does not appear to have been satisfactory ;
perhaps the condition was exceptionable. On the 12th
of March, 1715-16, the town voted to remit to the inhab-
itants of Conohasset their ministerial and school taxes for
that year, without any condition. This vote was not sat-
isfactory. In November, 1716, a committee was chosen
by the town to oppose the petition of the inhabitants of

* Town Records.



34 HISTORY OF HIXGIIA3I.

Conohasset before the General Court, and again, in Feb-
ruary 1716-17, an unsuccessful motion was made in town
meeting, to agree with the inhabitants of Conohasset
about a precinct.

In May, 1717, a committee was appointed by the town
to meet the committee of the General Court, chosen to
view the ^' lands and dwellings of the inhabitants of Con-
ohasset, to see if it be convenient to make them a pre-
cinct." It was probably soon after this time, that the
inhabitants of Conohasset obtained the privileges for which
they had so long contended.*

Having erected their house of worship, and obtained
the privileges of a parish, the inhabitants of Conohasset
soon made arrangements for the settlement of a minister.
Mr. Nehemiah Hobart, a grandson of Rev. Peter Hobart,
the first minister of Hingham, preached to them as a can-
didate from July 13, 1721, to December 13th of that year,
when he was ordained, the church having been organized
on the day previous.! The character of Mr. Hobart
may be concisely described in the words of Mr. Flint.
^^ His character, which I early obtained from aged per-
sons, who knew it, and from some of his writings which I
have in my possession, appears to have been that of a tru-

* In the excellent century discourses of Rev. Jacob Flint, the
present minister of Coliasset, it is stated that the inhabitants of
Conohasset obtained the privilege of a parish in 1715, by a petition
to General Court. This statement cannot be reconciled with the
votes abovementioned, taken from the town records. This discre-
pancy of dates is not, however, very material.

t I give these statements on the authority of Rev. Nehemiah Ho-
bart's journal, carefully copied by the late James 0. Lincoln, Esq.
whose perseverance and correctness in collecting information con-
cerning the early history of this town cannot be too much com-
mended. At the ordination of Mr. Hobart, Rev. Daniel Lewis of
Pembroke delivered the sermon ; Rev. Mr. Pitcher of Scituate the
charge, and Rev. Mr. Whitman of Hull gave the right hand of fel-
lowship ; Rev. Mr. Gay of Hingham made the introductory prayer.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 35

ly devout, enlightened and liberal divine. He had talents
as a preacher, and virtues as a christian, which would
have rendered him instructive and acceptable, in a learned
and more numerous society. His worth was not much
known abroad, but was justly and highly appreciated by his
early instructor, neighbour, and constant friend, the excel-
lent Gay." Mr. Hobart died May 31, 1740, in the 44th
year of his age,* and in the 19th of his ministry. The
first deacon of the church in Conohasset was John Jacob,
the second Joseph Bates, and the third Lazarus Beal.t

After the decease of Mr. Hobart, several candidates
were employed by the parish, and of those Mr. John
Fowle of Charlestown was preferred. J He received an
invitMion to become the pastor of the church and society.
This invitation was not extended to Mr. Fowle, by the
unanimous consent of the parish. His opposers yielded
however, to the wishes of the majority, and he was or-
dained Dec. 31, 1741. § Mr. Fowle was a well educated
and talented clergyman. He was graduated at Harvard
University in 1732. He is said however to have possess-
ed a very troublesome nervous temperament, "which ren-
dered him unequal in his performances, and at times quite
peevish and irregular." His physical infirmity rendered
his opposers more numerous, and his pastoral relation was
dissolved in the fifth year of his ministry.

At this period, the first house of worship was too small
for the accommodation of the society, which had increased

* Mr. Hobart was born April 27, 1697.

t Hobart's Journal.

t Mr. Flint's century discourses, whence I have derived many of
the subsequent statements relating to Conohasset.

§ At this ordination Rev. William Smith of Weymouth began with
prayer ; Rev. Hull Abbot of Charlestown dehvered the sermon ;
Rev. Nathaniel Eells of Scituate gave the charge, and Rev. Eben-
ezerGay of Hinghani presented the right hand of fellowship. — Mr.
Fowle's Journal:



36 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

in numbers and wealth. The erection of a nfew house
was commenced near the time of Mr. Fowle's dismission,
and it was completed in the course of the next year. This
building v/as 60 feet in length and 45 in breadth. It was
the same which is now standing. Before the completion
of this house, several candidates were heard by the par-
ish, and of those Mr. John Brown was preferred. He
received an invitation to become their minister which
was extended to him with great unaiiimity. He was or-
dained Sept. 2, 1747.*

Mr. Brown was a native of Haverhill. He received his
education at Harvard University, where he was graduat-
ed in 1741. He was a man of genius, learning and wit.
His sentiments were liberal, and his discourses indicated
a correct taste and sound judgment. He was an active,
zealous and efficient friend to the rights of his country ;
and by precept and example, he supported the principles
which were maintained by the patriots of the American
Revolution. He died in the 67th year of his age, and
in the 4.5th of his ministry. It was during the ministry
of Mr. Brown, that the east precinct in Hingham was set
off and incorporated as a town by the name of Cohasset.
I here leave the account of the ecclesiastical affairs of the
place, having introduced so much of it as comes properly
within the ecclesiastical history of Hingham.

The third church which was formed within the original
limits of Hingham, was the same which is now styled the
Second Church in Hingham, on account of the incorpora-
tion of Cohasset as anew town.j Of this church the first

* The services on this occasion were, introductory prayer by Rev.
Wm. Smith of Weymouth ; sermon by Rev. Ward Cotton ; charge
by Rev. Nathl. Eells ; right hand of fellowship by Rev. Josiah Cot-
ton ; concluding prayer by Rev. Sheajasliub Bourn of Scituatc.

t The meeting-house of the second congregational parish was rais-
ed June 22, 1742. The Parish was set off March 25, 1745.



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 37

pastor was Rev. Daniel Shute, D. D. He was ordained
Dec. 10, 1746. Dr. Shute was a native of Maiden ; he
was born July 19, 1722. He was educated at Harvard
University and graduated in 1743, He was a truly
eminent divine. He possessed a strong discriminating
mind and great weight and respectability of character. His
excellent acquaintance with human nature ; his literary ac-
quirements, and the liberality of his political and religious
sentiments, gave him great influence over the minds of
men. His colloquial powers were fine, and his conver-
sation always interesting and instructive. His discourses
were sensible, practical and impressive. During the
American Revolution, he advocated the cause of his coun-
try with zeal and earnestness. He was elected by his
fellow citizens a member of the convention which formed
the constitution of Massachusetts, and of that which adopt-
ed the constitution of the United States.*

He laboured in the ministry for a great length of time,
but on account of a failure in his sight, he quitted his
public labours in March, 1799 ; from which time he re-
tained his pastoral relation until his decease, but volun-
tarily relinquished his salary. Rev. Nicholas Bowes
Whitney, the present pastor of the church and society,
was ordained his colleague Jan. 1, 1800.| Dr. Shute
died Aug. 30, 1802, in the 81st year of his age and in the
56th of his ministry. J

* His remarks in the latter convention, on the subject of a reli-
gious test, are worthy of a perusal : they may be found in a volume
of debates on the federal constitution.

t At Mr. Whitney's ordination the sermon was delivered by Rev.
Phineas Whitney of Shirley ; the charge by Rev. David Barnes, D.
D. of Scituate, and the right hand of fellowship was presented by
Rev. Mr. Ware, then pastor of the first church in Hingham.

t The following is an extract from a well written obituary notice
of Dr. Shute, which appeared in the public papers a few days aftet
his decease.



38 HISTORY Of HINGHAM.

I have already spoken of the circumstances which gave
rise to the formation of the present Third Congregational
Church and Society in Hingham. This Society was in-
corporated by an Act of the Legislature, February 27,
1807 ; the church was organized, and assumed the name
of the Third Church in Hingham, June 16, 1807. On
the succeeding day, their present meeting house was ded-
icated to the worship of God, and their first minister,

"By the great strength of mind and clearness of perception, with
which the God of Nature had distinguished him, cultivated by study
and improved by accurate scholarship, he became eminent in his
profession for public performances, which combined good sense,
sound judgment, and extent of thought, with perspicuity of style,
and a correct taste.

A firm believer in the Gospel, he had talents to give it an able
support ; and the same clearness of intellect, liberality of mind, and
patience of investigation, which gave him a rational view of its doc-
trines and principles, enabled him also to explam them with clear-
ness, and inculcate them with success. Nor was it only by his pub-
lic labours he endeavoured to promote the cause of religion ; he gave
it also the support of an exemplary life. Liberal but not loose in
his sentiments, he was equally displeased with that austerity, which
covers religion w^ith a perpetual gloom, and with that licentiousness,
which strips her of her fairest ornaments. His religious opinions he
formed with deliberation and adopted with caution ; but when once
adopted, they were not lightly abandoned. He adhered to them
tenaciously, and maintained them with firmness, till further light, to
which his mind was always open, produced a different conviction.

In social life, though he suffered himself on no occasion to lose
sight of his character as a clergymen, his natural cheerfulness and
happy talent for pleasant and instructive conversation endeared him
to his friends, and rendered him a pleasing guest to all who enjoy-
ed his acquaintance ; for he knew hov/ to support the decorum of a
Christian Minister, and at the same time to display the affability
and ease of an agreeable companion. He possessed, in a degree
that few possess it, the talent of accommodating himself to persons of
every age and description ; so that his society was always acceptable
to the aged by his seriousness and gravity, to the learned by his
talents, information and good sense, and to the young by the cheer-
fulness and pleasantry, with which he never failed to season con-
versation, and convey useful instruction.*'

Of the productions of his pen, there have been published an artil-
lery election sermon, 1767 ; an election sermon, 1768 ; and a ser-
mon on the death of Dr. Gav, 1787.



MIsTORY OF MINGHAM. 39

Rev. Henry Colman, was ordained.* Mr. Colman was
educated at Dartmouth College. He continued the pas-
tor of the Church and Society until 1820. His pastoral
relation was dissolved, March 14th of that year, at his
request, and by the consent of the society.

Rev. Charles Brooks, the present minister of the Third
Society, succeeded Mr. Colman in the pastoral office.
He was ordained January 17, 1821.'f" I have thus given
a sketch of the history of the congregational societies in
this town, to the time of the settlement of their present
ministers ; with their present state, the inhabitants are
sufficiently acquainted, without the aid of any further
description.

Of the nine ministers, who have been settled over the
three congregational societies in Hingham, four only are
dead, viz. : Messrs. Hobart, Norton, Gay and Shute.
The aggregate number of years, which the four spent in
the ministry, in this place, exceeds two centuries ; aver-
aging over fifty years to each. It may be remarked of
them, that their talents, learning, and long continued and
faithful services, have had the most favourable effects on
the welfare of the town. They preserved for a long
series of years, the utmost harmony in the churches,
unanimity among the people, and a steady and liberal
support to the institutions of religion.

There is also at the present time, a remarkable degree
of unanimity in the religious opinions of the people.
The ministers of the three societies do not diffisr in their

* On this occasion Rev. Henry Ware, D. D. delivered the sermon;
Rev. Dr. Lafiirop of Boston the charge ; and Rev. Mr. Wiiitney of
Hingham gave the right hand of fellowship.

t At the ordination of Mr. Brooks, the sermon was delivered by
Rev. Dr. Ware of Cambridge ; the charge by Rev. Dr. Harris of
J)orchester ; and the right hand of fellowship was presented by Rev.
iMr. Francis of Watertown.



40 HISTORY OF HINGHAM.

religious views, and are of tiie denomination called Uni-
tarians. There are, however, some of other denomina-
tions in the town. An Universalist society has recently
been formed, but they have no stated preacher. There
are some Baptists, and a few Episcopalians ; the former
have stated, and the latter occasional preaching. There
are also some of the Methodist persuasion.

Civil History. Previously to giving an account of
the civil history of the town, I thought that some infor-
mation respecting the origin, names and families of the
first settlers, "might be acceptable to most readers, although
to some, the few pages which I devote to this purpose,
v/ill appear dry and uninteresting. The unfortunate loss
of the town's first " great book of records," deprives me
of one source of information, concerning the early pro-
ceedings of the town, in relation to civil affairs ; but the
preservation of the " smaller book of records," (imperfect
as it is for many years,) the records of grants of land,
the diary of the first minister, and the private papers of
Daniel Cushing, Esq. to which I have before referred,
enable me to present a pretty full account of the individ-
uals who were the first settlers of Hingham. The orig-
inal name of the place was Bare, or Bear Cove.* The
exact date at which any individual came here to reside,
cannot be ascertained. Among the papers of Mr. Cush-
ing, there is a '' list of the names of such persons as came
out of the town of Hingham, and towns adjacent, in the
county of Norfolk, in the Kingdom of England, into New
England and settled in Hingham." From this list, we
are led to believe there were inhabitants here as early as

* "Perhaps (says the editor ofWinthrop) it sometimes was thought
a natural resort of bears ; perhaps, sometimes the appearance of
the cove at low water, regulated the letters used to express the
fiame sound."



HISTORY OF HINGHAM. 41

1633, and among them Ralph Smith, Nicholas Jacob


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Online LibrarySolomon LincolnHistory of the town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts → online text (page 3 of 14)