Skip to main content

Middleboro, Mass. First Church of Middleboro records, 1702-1925.

 Collection
Identifier: RG4970

Scope and Contents

This collection of records from the First Congregational Church in Middleboro, Massachusetts, documents the administrative history of the church and the religious life of its members. The membership records within the collection are particularly robust and include hundreds of individual’s relations, marriage intentions, membership requests and dismissions, and disciplinary records. The collection includes administrative and financial records, including meeting minutes, committee reports, ecclesiastical council results, receipts, and pew records. The collection also includes manuscript sermons, the majority written by Sylvanus Conant, and some print materials related to the history of the church.

Dates

  • 1702-1925

Creator

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 area of Middleborough was first settled by English colonizers from the Plymouth Colony in March 1662 after the purchase of land from the Native American sachem, Wampatuck. The settlement was destroyed in 1675 during the King Phillips War. It was resettled in 1679. Among the new group of settlers was Samuel Fuller, son of Dr. Samuel Fuller of the Mayflower, who acted as minister for the new settlement. The first meetinghouse was constructed in 1680. The First Congregational Church in Middleboro, also referred to as the First Church of Christ, was organized on December 26, 1694 (O.S.) and Fuller was ordained the same day. Fuller died the following summer.

The second meetinghouse was constructed in 1701 and the First was auctioned off shortly after. Rev. Peter Thacher oversaw a revival movement during his ministry which ended with his death in 1744. Following his death, ecclesiastical differences between the “standing party” and the “revival men” resulted in a split in the congregation. The “standing party” maintained the majority of the congregation and the second meetinghouse. This group called Rev. Thomas Weld to be their pastor. The “revival men” built a third meetinghouse in 1745 and called Sylvanus Conant as their pastor. In 1746, George Whitefield preached from the third meetinghouse and tradition holds that the building was so crowded that Whitefield could only leave by climbing out a window behind the pulpit. The church reunified in 1749 after the dismission of Weld.

The fourth, and current, meeting house was built in 1828 and designed by the architect, James Sproat. Sproat had joined the church in 1816 and he later became a deacon in 1833. The building was dedicated in 1829 and the dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Lyman Beecher. The church largely saw growth during the nineteenth-century.

After the General Council of Congregational Churches voted to merge with the Evangelical and Reformed Church to form the United Church of Christ in 1957, the First Congregational Church in Middleboro decided to instead join the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches. The first half of the twentieth-century also saw declining church membership. Membership grew after the ordination of Manfred Kohl in 1969. In 1993, the church also joined the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. The church continues to serve the Middleboro community today.

Ministers

Samuel Fuller
1694-1695
Thomas Palmer
1702-1708
Peter Thatcher, Jr.
1709-1744
Sylvanus Conant
1745-1777
Thomas Weld
1745-1749
Elijah Packard
1753-1754
Joseph Barker
1781-1815
Emerson Paine
1816-1822
William Eaton
1824-1835
Israel W. Putnam
1835-1865
Rufus M. Sawyer
1866-1869
Ephraim N. Hidden
1869-1874
Theophilus P. Swain
1875-1878
Nathan T. Dyer
1878-1885
Howard A. Hannaford
1885-1888
Josiah W. Kingsbury
1889-1891
George W. Stearns
1891-1905
Arthur G. Cummings
1905-1954
James R. Williams
1954-1957
Warren C. Campbell
1957-1958
Albert D.C. McIlroy
1958-1968
Frank H. Oxenford
1968-1969
Manfred W. Kohl
1969-1977
Robert T. Pardon
1977-1984
Robert Olson
1984
Bruce R. Brown
1984-1991
Charles McCrillis
1991-1993
James R. Henry
1993-1997
David White
1997-1999
Peter W. Murdy
1999-present

Extent

2.22 Cubic Feet (2 boxes, 2 reels)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The First Congregational Church of Middleboro was first organized on December 26, 1694 and Samuel Fuller was ordained as the first minister. The First meeting house had been constructed previously in 1680 and the second was constructed in 1701. Ecclesiastical differences between competing factions resulted in the congregation splitting and the third meeting house being constructed in 1745. The congregation remerged in 1754. The fourth and present meeting house was built in 1828. The congregation continues to serve the Middleboro community today. The collection contains valuable membership records along with administrative records, financial records, manuscript sermons, and print materials.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into six series, listed below. Except within the membership series, records have been arranged in chronological order, by start date. Within the membership series, records have been grouped by topics, and further divided by either alphabetical or chronological order.
Series 1: Church and parish records, 1702-1895
Series 2: Financial records, 1744-1908
Series 3: Membership records, 1741-1880
Series 4: Ministerial records, 1832-1891
Series 5: Manuscript sermons, 1737-1779
Series 6: Publications, 1759-1925

Technical Requirements

A microfilm reader is required in order to access microfilmed materials. One microfilm reader is available to the public upon request.
To access digital user’s copies via online-interface, a java-enabled web browser is required. Internet Explorer 8.x and later, Firefox 5.x and later, Opera 12 and later, Safari 5.x and later, or any version of Google Chrome are recommended.

Acquisition Information

No acquisition information is available for the Ecclesiastical council records, 1832, which originally formed the "Middleboro, Mass. First Church ecclesiastical records, 1832, RG0126."
No acquisition information is available for the microfilm surrogates of the 1707-1821 church record book. These microfilm surrogates were likely created in 2009 by the NEDCC. The location of the original ledger is currently unknown. These microfilm surrogates formed the "Middleboro, Mass. First Congregational Church records, 1707-1821, RG4919."
The remaining materials within the collection were placed on permanent loan to the Congregational Library & Archives by the First Church of Middleboro in the summer of 2011; accession 2011-08.

Accruals

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

Bibliography

Book of the First Church of Christ, In Middleborough, Plymouth County, Mass. Boston: C. C. P. Moody, 1852. 17.11.1 M58.4 FirCC B 1852

"Our History." First Congregational Church in Middleboro. Accessed December 5, 2018. http://www.fccmiddleboro.org/?page_id=14.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Jim McDonald, Middleboro Church historian, Jessica Steytler, and April Johnson in 2011. Collection re-described by Sari Mauro in September 2013 in accordance with DACS 2013. Collection fully reprocessed and merged with RG0126 and RG4919 by Zachary Bodnar, November 2018, using DACS Second Edition. Additional descriptions by Jules Thomson.
Title
Middleboro, Mass. First Church of Middleboro records, 1702-1925.
Status
Completed
Author
Zachary Bodnar, Jessica Steytler, April Johnson, Jim McDonald
Date
2019-01-08
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

Contact:
14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108
617-523-0470