Thomas Smith.

Journals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, pastors of the First church in Portland: with notes and biographical notices: and a Summary history of Portland online

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Online LibraryThomas SmithJournals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, pastors of the First church in Portland: with notes and biographical notices: and a Summary history of Portland → online text (page 1 of 51)
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F. W. Nichola & Co., Printers,

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Preface to the Second edition , 5

Memoir of the Rev. Thomas Smith, 7

Preface to the First edition, 87

Journal of the Rev. Thomas Smith, with notes, 89

Names of persona deceased, mentioned in the Journal, 2G3

Seasons and weather 1722 — 1787, 265

Extracts from records of the First Parish, 285

Memoir of Rev. Samuel Deane, 289

Extracts from Deane's Diary, with notes, 801

Buildings erected from 1784 to 1809, 416


Preface, 420

Memoir of Samuel Freeman, 421

Summary History of Portland, 426

Education and Literary Societies, , .'.... 441

Religious Societie«i, 443

Benevolent Societies, 44.5

Commerce and Public improvements, 457

Town Officers and Representatives, 1718—1849, 466

County Oflicers and Court business, 1760—1849, 472

Municipal Court, 474

Index, 475


1. Rev. Thomas Smith, fronting title page.

2. Plan of Munjoy's Neck, 72

3. Meeting house of the First Parish, 93

4. Rev. Dr. Deane, fronting page, 288

5. Harvard Hall, Cambridge, 303

6. Portland at the time of the conflagration, 1775, 338

7. Rev. Dr. Nichols, fronting page, 398

8. Exchange, 440



The llrst edition of Mr. Smith's Journal having been exhausted, I have comphed
with the request of the publisher of this work, and several judicious friends, to
prepare a new edition, but in which I have no pecuniary interest. This gives me
an opportunity to correct some errors, which crept into the former work, and to
make further extracts from scattered leaves of the original manuscript, which I
have been able to obtain. In the hope of making the present edition more valuable,
I have added numerous notes, explanatory of events mentioned in the Journal,
and biographical notices, which I behevo will contain some account of all the
prominent individuals, who have been passed over our field of survey, during a
period of two hundred years.

And having in my possession the original Diary of Dr. Deane, the colleague and
successor of Mr. Smith, kept on interleaved almanacs, from 1761, to within a
month of his death, in 1814, there appeared to me a peculiar propriety, in taking
from it such facts as have a general interest, so that a regular series of events,
running through the lives of our first two ministers, and covering nearly a century,
might be preserved. To these, I have appended memoirs and portraits of their

And as the annals of the Parish must necessarily constitute the staple of the
daily record of its pastors, I have thought it would be proper, and give increased
interest to the work, to add the portrait of Dr. Nichols, the successor of our
venerable annalists in the ministry, to preserve entire, their living lineaments, as
well as the history of the Parish, with which they were connected, and whose


lives embrace, in an uninterrupted course of one hundred and twenty-dlu'ee years,
the whole period of it8 being.

In the Appendix, I have for reasons heretofore given, substituted for much of the
materials placed by Mr. Freeman, in that part of the first edition, a summary view
of the origin of Portland, and its progress to the period, when our annalists take up
the story; and close with a brief account of the present condition of the city, in its
various relations to the business, and refinements of life.

It is hoped that the additions, which have been made to the original work, will

furnish a sufficient apology for its reappearance, in this revised form.

W. W.




The venerable minister, who was author of the journal embraced
in the first part of this volume, was the son of Thomas Smitli and
Mary Corwin, who were married May 9, 1701, by the Rev. Samuel
Willard, pastor of the Old South Church, in Boston. His grandfather
Smith's name was also Thomas, and a merchant in that town. He
was born March 10, 1702, the eldest of a large family of children,
born as follows, viz : John, February 2, 1703 ; Samuel, November 29,
1705; Mary, May 30, 1708; Rebecca, January 24, 1710, died
August 6, 1740; Margaret, December 11, 1711, died January
12, 1742; Hanmh, October 26, 1713, died September 14, 1714;
Elizabeth, March 2, 1715, died April 24, 1724. His mother died in
childbirth, July, 1716 ; and October 9, 1717, his father married

Sarah , by whom he had Sarah, born September 16, 1718,

died October 28, 1721 ; Ann and Bethiah, born November 3, 1719,
both of whom died within a year and a half ; Ann, born April 22,
1721, died October 1, 1735, and Sarah, born May 15, 1724, died
May 27, 1724. Our pastor survived them all. His father died at
Saoo, February 19, 1742 : he was engaged there as Indian Agent, or
Truck Master, and had been for many years in the service of the
government in connection with Indian affairs, in this State. His
brother John, died April 6, 1769, a merchant in Boston.


Mr. Smith entered Harvard College in 1716, at the age of 14, and
took his first degree in 1720. His class consisted of twenty-one ; of
whom sixteen were trained for the ministry, and all of whom Mr.
Smith survived. The position he occupies on the Catalogue, fourth
in number, shows the estimate put upon the respectability of his
family by the government of the institution, at a time when the names
Avere arranged in the order of dignity. Those standing before him
were, Roswell Saltonstall, John Angier, the worthy minister of East
Bridgewater for sixty years, and Howard Wyborne. I have now
before me the Manuscript copy, in latin, of " the statute's, laws and
privileges of Harvard College," which Mr. Smith received on his
entrance, styled ** Statuta Collegii Harvardini." On this is the
following certificate over the original signature of the President, and
tutor Flint, venerahile novien ; viz : " Cantabrigiae, Nov. Anglorum,
7, Id. Sextilis Anno Dom. 1716. Admittatur in Collegium Harvardi-
niun, Thomas Smith. I. Leverett, Preses. Henricus Flynty

After leaving College, he seems to have entered at once upon his
theological studies ; for as early as January, 1723, a little more than
two years from his graduation, and before he was twenty-one years
old, we find him preaching at Bellingham, in Massachusetts, and
receiving a call to settle in that place. This, however, after some
deliberation, he declined in March of that year. He began to preach
still earlier than this : he says in his journal under 1750, " I began to
preach April 19, 1722."

In June, 1725, he came for the first time to Falmouth, then the
extreme settlement in Maine, and too poor to have a meeting house
to preach in. At that time, and in November and December following,
when he again visited this town, he preached seventeen Sabbaths,
and continued to preach here during a large part of the following year.
So acceptable were his ministrations, that on the 26th of April, 1726,
the people invited him to a settlement with them. To this invitation,
after nine months reflection, he gave an affirmative answer, January
23, 1727, a copy of which, together with the terms of the settlement,
will be found in a note to that year in the journal. At this time he
communicated his thoughts and views to his old Pastor, Peter
Thacher, minister of the New North Church, in Boston, and desired
advice and a regular dismission from his Church. Mr. Thacher
ireturned the followins: answer :

memoir of the rev. thomas smith, 9

« Boston, January 30, 1726—7.
Dear Sir. This accompanies your dismission according to your
desire. I gladly take this opportunity to write to you. It is with a
great deal of joy I see you concerned to behave as a Christian and
minister. That is the principal, nay, only thing. You are entering
upon the most important article of life. It is a most awful thing to
enter into the ministry. It must now be a time of much serious
thought and fervent prayer ; the greatness of the work, the awful
majesty with whom, and the precious souls for whom, you are
concerned, call for it. I will offer you a thought or two to be acted
on continually. Most deliberately and heartily now, devote yourself
to God, as a Christian and minister. Think over the grea,t things you
are binding yourself to, deliberately, and particularly resolve and
promise to perform them through Christ. Depend continually on
free grace through Christ, realizing your own nothingness. See to it
that your preaching be experimental, that you have a real work of
grace wrought on you, and that you feel your own sermons. Beg the
Spirit to lead you in the choice of your subjects, and in your
meditations on them. Let Christ and the doctrines of grace be the
principal matter, and spirit of your ministry. Make your ministerial
work and not the world, your business, and copy your sermons in
your conversation, and let your prudent, grave, cheerful, humble,
circumspect conversation, back and enforce your teaching. In this
way you will have the Redeemer's promised presence through your
ministry and from him a crown of glory. As you have desired my
thoughts, let them have due weight with you. I earnestly pray that
you may be blessed and made a blessing. I desire and expect a
correspondence with you as you have opportunity from time to time.
Your friends are well. Your aunt remembers her love to you.
I am, your real friend, &c.

Peter Thacher."

On the 8th day of March, 1727, a day memorable in the annals of
the town, Mr. Smith was duly and solemnly inducted into the pastoral
office at the age of twenty-five, in a style and with a ceremony and a
concourse of people never before witnessed in this part of the country ;
and became the first regularly ordained minister in Maine, east of


Bom and educated in a metropolis, it must have been a great
sacrifice for Mr. Smith to take up his permanent abode in this remote
wilderness, in the midst of a scattered and rude population, and for a
period of time, which contemplated no change until death dissolved
the connection. He says when he first came here, in June, 1725,
there were but about fifty-six families, such as they were, most of them
poor, and " some that were soldiers, who had found wives on the
place, and were mean animals." These families were widely scattered,
on the Neck, at New Casco and Cape Elizabeth. On the Neck, now
Portland, there were in 1716, but 15 men, with the women and
children connected with them, which would not probably carry the
whole number to one hundred, and who were clustered for security
around the lower part of what is now India street. In 1718, there
were twenty families on the Neck, and the town having been
incorporated that year, adventurers were encouraged to come to it,
and the descendants of the old proprietors, with the natural tendency
of the exile, were induced once more to return to their ancient
seats. The beauty of its local situation and its numerous advantages
for fishing, lumbering and navigation, offered temptations, which but
few unoccupied places presented at that time, to the enterprising
adventurer. At the settlement of Mr. Smith, the population of the
whole town did not exceed four hundred, of which about two hundred
and fifty resided upon the Neck. It is not therefore a matter of
surprise, that he should have been a long time, from April to January,
in coming to the conclusion, to yield up the pleasures which he might
hope to enjoy in the society of more cultivated parts of the country,
to the prospect of extensive usefulness in this outpost of civilization.

But it must not be supposed that the place was wholly without the
benefits of good society, and some of the refinements of life ; it was
perhaps more favored in these respects, than is usual in new
settlements. Here he found Major Samuel Moody, with whom he
boarded, and his two sons Joshua and Samuel, who had all received
the honors of Harvard College, and the elder of whom had been a
preacher as well as a soldier. There were also Benjamin Larrabee,
who had held a commission in the army; Samuel Cobb, from
Middleboro'; John Pritchard, from Boston; Skillings and Proctor,
from Salem ; William Scales, from Plymouth Colony ; Dominicus
Jordan and others ; men of sound sense, virtuous characters and cood


common education, who were well suited to cooperate with their
amiable and excellent pastor, in laying securely the foundation of a
vigorous and flourishing community.

Mr. Smith's acceptance of the invitation of the people to become
their pastor caused unfeigned and universal satisfaction, which
manifested itself in extraordinary efforts to make a comfortable
provision for him and his expected family. The town at a public
meeting, voted " to accept Mr. Smith's answer to settle with them,
with all thankfulness, being universally satisfied there with all;" to
supply him with fire wood, to pay his salary every six months, to
clear and fence his lots, and to find him a house. His salary " was
£70 money the first year besides his board, and the contribution of
strangers, and to be increased according to our ability, and as our
circumstances allow, until he shall be provided with an honorable

Such unanimity and such cheerful effort, could not but be gratifying
to the youthful pastor, who had cast his lot among them for life, for
better or worse. For the contract between a minister and his people
was then considered a matter of serious import and of pennanent
character, not as in the present day for a year or two, or to be broken
at the will or whim of either party.

Having now completed this important engagement, he set about
another no less important to him, and no less for life. The
companion whom he selected to share the burden of his cares, and to
be the partaker of his joys, was Sarah Tyng, daughter of William
Tyng, Esq., of Woburn, Massachusetts, to whom he was married
September 12, 1728.' This event, too, was hailed by his people
with great joy, as giving a new bond of union and interest between
themselves and their pastor. On his approach to town with his
bride, he was met at Scarborough by a number of his parishioners,
who escorted the happy pair home, and regaled them with " a very
noble supper," prepared for the occasion.

He now entered earnestly on the business of his life ; his duties
were arduous, being extended over a wide territory, and being obliged
every third Sabbath to preach at Purpoodock for the benefit of the

1. The descendants here have an impression that she was daughter of Col. John
Tyng, of Dunstable ; but I find recorded on her tomb stone, that her father was
" Win. Tyng, Esq., of Woburn."


people there. He had many trials, privations and sufferings to
endure, among which were apprehensions of famine, and of Indian
depredations and cruelties, which were by no means imaginary. All
these he bore Avith patience, and went on with untiring zeal in the
great work which he had undertaken ; to elevate the people of his
charge, in their temporal as well as spiritual condition ; to give
a higher tone to manners, and to spread around the influence of
a good example and of holy precepts. Nor were his labors confined
to pastoral duties; he was, I might almost say, equally devoted
to those of the medical profession. Like most country ministers at
that day, he had become instmcted in the ills which flesh is heir to,
and their needful remedies, so that he could at once apply balm to the
bruised body and consolation to the fainting spirit. In 1748, he says :
" I am hurried perpetually with the sick ; the whole practice rests on
me." Again, in July, 1751 : "It is a time of health and therefore a
time of leisure with me." References to his medical practice are
numerous in his journal, and show that his ministrations were as
eagerly sought for bodily relief, as for the solace and instructions of

But he did not for this, diminish his labors in his more appropriate
duties. These were arduous and unremitted, and conscientiously
performed according to the sentiment and usage of that period. His
large parish required and received the visits, the prayers and lectures
of the pastor; he travelled to its various points, in boats, on
horse back, on the ice or on snow shoes. His pulpit exercises must
have worn heavily upon his own frame, and often, if the following
notice is a fair sample of his faithfulness, almost broken down those of
his hearers, " Annual Fast. Had uncommon assistance, was an
hour in each of the first prayers." We cannot but sympathise with
the audience as needing uncommon assistance, not to say patience,
too. It is strange that persons who adhered so rigidly to the letter of
the New Testament as our predecessors did, should not have
remembered the severe censure which the Saviour pronounced upon
the long prayers of the Pharisees, and the commendation bestowed
upon the short and comprehensive ejaculation of the humble Publican.
The custom is considerably refomied ; but there is still room for
improvement in this particular. People want suggestion and


incitement and a fervent liumble supplication, not narrative nor a
didactive discourse, nor " vain repetitions." Our heavenly Father
knoweth what things we have need of before we ask him.

The people, however, in Mr. Smith's time, so far from being
dissatisfied with his services, within twelve days after the incident
above cited, raised his salary £50 old tenor. His faithfulness and
devotion to duty, will be apparent to every one who reads his journal,
where he records in the simplicity of his heart, and without any
pretension, his labors, his feelings, his struggles and aspirations.
That he was a blessing — an instrument of God, for good to this
people, cannot be doubted, and the more so, by the length, uniformity
and permanency of his ministiy.

The number of persons admitted to the Church during his ministry
was four hundred and fifty-nine, of which one hundred and fifty-six
were males and three hundred females : the largest number in any
one year was forty-nine, in 1742, during the Whitefield excitement.
But it should be remembered, that his parish which began with a
small population sent forth streams continually to other portions of
the territory in the incorporation of new parishes : thus, Cape
Elizabeth, New Casco, the Episcopal Society, the Stroudwater
Parish, and the Second Parish in this town were successively set off,
during the life of Mr. Smith. The number of baptisms was two
thousand three hundred and sixty-two ; infants, two thousand three
hundred and thirty-one, adults thirty-one. Of the births and deaths
which took place in the Parish, in his time, we have no means of
determining, as no records were kept of them.

In his religious opinions, Mr. Smith followed the theology of his
day, which in the early portion of his ministry, was rigidly Calvinistic.
These views are in part set forth in the first Church covenant, which
was probably drawn up by him, and may be seen in a note in the
following pages under the organization of the Church. In the latter
portion of his life, however, he relaxed from the severity of his earlier
creed and became what was called a moderate Calvinist. *

I have found among his papers some meditations in his ovm hand
writing, which exhibit a glimpse of his private thoughts, and illustrate
the style and language of the day, from which I make a brief extract.

1. Dr. Deane's notice of Mr. Smith.


" The just died for the unjust, to bring us to God. It cost the Son
of God much to buy us off from the justice of God ; yet this purchase
is freely offered to us ; how shall wee escape if wee neglect it.

" Wee beg that thou wouldst know us in a way of mercy in Christ,
and cast us not off for all wee have done. But dispense thyself
graciously to us in the New Covenant. Lay the burden of our sins
on the bleeding shoulders of Christ ; let us dye to sin, lest wee dye
for sin. Grant that to us to live may be Christ, that so when Christ
who is our life shall appear, wee may appear with him in glory.

" Let us love thee much and let our much be forgiven, and prevail
with us to love ourselves, persuade us to all thy holy wholesome
counsels, and manage our spirits for thyselfe.

" The Lord make us wise and established Christians ; let every truth
of God have its due value by us, and virtue on us ; let us look on
Scripture truths as wearing the stamp of Heaven. Give Jesus a
name above every name in our hearts. Wee desire to live as those
who look upon themselves not their own, but as such who have
stricken hands with thee and given up our names unto God,"

Mr. Smith had a liberal and catholic spirit ; his heart was larger
than his creed, and he did not carry into the duties of life, the
speculations and dogmas of his theology. In speaking of his religious
sentiments, Mr. Freeman in his notice of him observes : " that he
embraced the opinions of Calvin rather than those of Arminius. I
think it not improper however to notice an oral communication,
which he made to me some years before his death, and which
I then committed to wTiting. It is as follows, and was considered
by him as

"A Brief Summary of the Christian Religion.

1. That God made man after his own image, holy, just and good,
and therefore perfectly happy.

2. That man fell from this state of perfect rectitude, and thereby
brought upon or subjected himself to eternal misery.

3. That God so loved the world that he gave his son Jesus
Christ to redeem mankind from this state of punishment for sin,
who made an atonement therefor, by his sufferings and death, and
thereby purchased the grant of repentance,


4. To enable man to repent, he promised to send his Holy Spirit
to them who asked it.

5, Therefore to recover a state of happiness, we are by the
assistance of the Spirit, to repent and be obedient; and by so doing
we shall obtain eternal life."

This was tempering dowTi the dogmas of the head with the
sensibilities of the heart, which Mr. Smith possessed in large
measure. At times he was greatly depressed in spirits, and had sad
forebodings of the future ; but generally he was cheerful, sanguine
and gay, and often witty and even sarcastic. There was no bigotry
about him, and Calvin's platform on which education and the
prevailing sentiment of the age in which he was educated, placed
him, was too small for him to stand upon. Dr. Deane, from whose
discourse I shall hereafter more fully quote, says : " He was a constant
assertor of the doctrine of grace, according to the rational scheme of
moderate Calvinism. He knew how to unite orthodoxy with candor
and charity, like the late excellent Dr. Isaac Watts, whose theological
writings he much approved."

In his pulpit exercises he had a wide reputation ; he was fervent,
earnest and solemn in his prayers, and his sermons were written and
delivered in an impressive and forcible manner. He was a good
scholar, a devout and sincere Christian, and well deserved the
■reputation which he bore for many years as the leading minister in
this part of the country. Mr. Kellogg of the second parish, remarked
in the discourse which he delivered at his interment ; " In knowledge
of the Scriptures and of eminent authors on divinity, he excelled.
His imagination was lively and his memory tenacious. It is conceded
by all who heard him, that he was an instructive and agreeable
preacher. There were in his prayers a richness of expression, a
devotion and pathos, seldom exceeded. In his manners there
Avas dignity and ease. In conversation, he was grave, instructive,
affectionate ; and happy in anecdote."

His wit and humor were fresh and free, and at times hardly
restrained within clerical rules. They flowed out from him sponta-
neously, rendering him an agreeable companion in social life and quite
a prize on all those occasions which brought the clergy together ; of
whom as well as of the legal profession it may be said, that in the
olden day there was infinitely more of wit and frolic and gaiety, on


Online LibraryThomas SmithJournals of the Rev. Thomas Smith, and the Rev. Samuel Deane, pastors of the First church in Portland: with notes and biographical notices: and a Summary history of Portland → online text (page 1 of 51)