Dorchester, Massachusetts. First Church records, 1727-1784.

Collection Information

Dorchester, Mass. First Church records, 1727-1784.


First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.)


1727, 1757-1784


1 box (0.05 cubic feet)

242 unique page images: archival TIFF, derivative JPEG & PDF

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:

Original materials are closed for researcher access. Digital surrogates exist and may be used by researchers upon publication to the web.

Technical Access:

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.

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the First Church (Dorchester, Mass.) records, RG0861. The Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, MA.

Additional Resources:

Item-level metadata is available for digital duplicates. Please contact the library for more information.



Processing information:

This collection was processed and described by Sari Mauro according to the rules of DACS 2nd Edition in October 2013.


First Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, was gathered in 1630, following organization at Plymouth, England. Later, in 1636, reconstituted under the leadership of pastor Richard Mather (1596-1669). This collection contains early records of First Church of Dorchester, Massachusetts, before the town’s annexation by the City of Boston.

Acquisition Information:

No acquisition information is available for this collection. First record of the collection comes from original card catalog cards, circa 1950-1970.


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

Historical Note

First Church in Dorchester, Massachusetts, was gathered in 1630, following organization at Plymouth, England; during the winter of 1635-1636, some of the church members went to Windsor, Conn. with the junior minister, John Warham. It is unclear if this group removed themselves as an organization or as members of the Dorchester church. The members who remained at Dorchester, along with new immigrants from England, deemed it necessary to reorganize the church; in 1636, the church was reconstituted under Richard Mather (1596-1669). Church became Unitarian circa 1845 and still exists today as a Unitarian-Universalist church, First Parish in Dorchester in 1996.


Ministers (1630-1836)

John Maverick (1630-1635/36)
John Warham (1630-1635)
Richard Mather (1636-1669)
Jonathan Burr (1640-1641)
John Wilson, Jr. (1649-1651)
Josiah Flynt (1671-1680)
John Danforth (1682-1730)
Jonathan Bowman (1729-1773)
Moses Everett (1774-1793)
Thaddeus Mason Harris (1793-1836)


Scope of Collection

This collection contains early records of First Church of Dorchester, Massachusetts, before the town's annexation by the City of Boston. Included are records of membership, notes from sermons preached at the church in the year 1727, and records of Sunday events, including preacher names, scriptures, days of fasting, days of sacrament, and baptisms. It should be noted that the collection's date range contains gaps, and not all records included in this collection speak to the same time periods.


Further Searches

Subject Headings

Mather, Richard, 1596-1669.

Mather, Samuel, 1706-1785.

Baptismal records.

Sermons, American - 18th century.

Sermons, American - Massachusetts - Boston.

Boston (Mass.) - Church history.

Dorchester (Boston, Mass.)

Dorchester (Boston, Mass.) - Church history.

Church records and registers - Massachusetts - Dorchester.

First Church (Dorchester, Boston, Mass.)

Slavery - Massachusetts.

Slavery - New England.

Slavery and the church - Congregational churches.

Church membership.

Fast-day sermons.

Fast-day sermons - 18th century.

Fast-days - United States - Massachusetts


Related Materials

Boston, MA (Dorchester) : First Church 17.11.1 B65.5 FIRCD C

Boston, MA (Dorchester) : First Church 17.11.1 B65.5 FIRCD P

Boston, MA (Dorchester) : First Church 17.11.1 B65.5 FIRCD

Boston, MA (Dorchester) : First Church. Image



Collection items are arranged in three series. The series are arranged chronologically. Digital materials are reflective of physical arrangement.



  Date Location
Sermon Notes 1727 B1/F1
      Online Interface
  This volume contains records of sermons preached at First Church in the year 1727. Notes for forenoon and afternoon sermons are included, as well as the relevant scripture passages and name of the preacher. Preachers include John Danforth (1660-1730), Increase Sumner of Roxbury, Samuel Mather (son of Cotton Mather), and Thomas Clap. The volume is bound at the top. Notes were taken only on the "front" of each page. The volume was then turned over, and notes were taken on the blank "backs" of the pages. This is indicated by hand-written pagination at the top of each page. The volume was digitized in page order to preserve the manner in which the volume was meant to be read. Some pages are missing from this volume.
Membership Records 1757-1781 B1/F2
    Online Interface
  Titled "Names of persons who joined the Church", this small collection of loose papers lists the names of members who joined the church. The list is divided into years. In some cases, no first names are given, or members are identified in relation to another member (i.e. "wife of Mr."). The pages most likely originally belonged in a volume, but are now loose. These loose pages are arranged chronologically.
Church records 1773-1784 B1/F3
    Online Interface
  This crudely-bound notebook contains chronological entries noting the date, name of the preacher, the names of those baptized, and the scripture used that day. Occasionally special events are also noted, including sacrament and fast days. Many of the preachers are referred to without first names.


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