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Sturbridge, Mass. Separatist Congregational Church personal records, 1749-1762.

Identifier: RG0971

Scope and Contents

This collection includes a series of personal records relating to the formation of the Separatist Church in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The records dated 1749 are formal letters written by some of the separatists to the Congregational Church formally providing written testimony for their reasons for leaving the church. The two documents created after 1749 were written by separatists who, after separation, wished to rejoin the Congregational Church. Those documents are akin to confessions which would have been read to the whole parish.


  • 1749-1762


Restrictions on Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted and open to the public.

Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are subject to U.S. Copyright Law. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of collection items and to secure any permissions necessary for their reproduction and publication. Requests for permission to publish material must be discussed with the archivist or librarian.
Digital Reproductions are protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use the Digital Reproductions in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the Congregational Library & Archives for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the Congregational Library & Archives. For additional information regarding copyright, please consult the Congregational Library & Archives' Digital Collections Copyright & Use policy.

Historical Note

The Separatist Church in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and also known as the Strict Congregational Church, was formed in 1747 after 15 members of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge, including two deacons, left the church in May. By November the Separatist Church was formally gathered and in September of 1748 the first minister of this church was called.

The reason for the split was likely over a difference of belief between the parishioners and the Congregationalists. The split may have also been encouraged by a Baptist preacher from Brimfield. The separatists refused to pay ministerial taxes due since they had their own church and claimed Baptist beliefs. However the town did recognize the separatists as "regular Baptists" and so began to aggressively collect the back taxes. Physical possessions and some livestock were forcibly taken from some of the separatists and at least five were briefly imprisoned.

In 1749 the separatists reorganized as the Baptist Church in Fiskdale, Massachusetts. A few of the separatists returned to the Congregational Church at later dates. The Baptist Church in Fiskdale, Unitarian Church in Sturbridge, and Congregational Church in Sturbridge all merged in 1922 to form the Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale which continues to serve the local community today.


1 Folder

Language of Materials



The Separatist Church in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, was formed in 1747 after 15 members of the Congregational Church in Sturbridge left the church. The separatists refused to pay ministerial taxes and in response the town aggressively attempted to collect the taxes by forcibly taking possessions, livestock, and imprisoning at least 5 of the separatists. In 1749 the Separatist Church was reformed as the Baptist Church in Fiskdale. This collection include personal records relating to the separation and the personal reasons the separatists either left the Congregational Church, or wished to rejoin.


Items in this collection have been arranged in alphabetical order by the author's last name.

Technical Requirements

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Acquisition Information

No acquisition information is available for this collection.


Additional accruals are expected for this collection in the form of full-text transcription. There is no anticipated date for this accrual.

Separated Materials

A single document in this collection, a letter from Rev. Joshua Paine to parishioner Miriam Newell admonishing her for her lack of attendence, has been removed from this collection and transfered to the Sturbridge, Mass. Congregational Church records, 1736-1871, RG5194.


Steven, Raymond. Highlights of 250 Years of the Congregational Society of the Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale. Sturbridge: 1986. 17.11.1 S787.3 FedCSF

Processing Information

Processed by Zachary Bodnar, June 2019, using DACS Second Edition.
Sturbridge, Mass. Separatist Congregational Church personal records, 1749-1762.
Zachary Bodnar
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108