Ipswich, Massachusetts. First Church. Records, 1724-1830.
Ipswich, first known as Agawam, was settled by John Winthrop and his twelve companions in 1633 and the town was officially incorporated a year later. The town name was chosen to honor the merchants of Ipswich, England who were financial supporters of the Massachusetts Bay Company. In 1634, the first meeting-house was built and the Reverends Nathaniel Ward and Thomas Parker were settled. At the time, it was the ninth church in Massachusetts. The towns of Newbury, Boxford, Hamilton, Essex and Topsfield were later incorporated from lands once a part of the town of Ipswich. In 1702 the third meeting house of the First Church was built on the north green. In 1740 "The Great Awakening" arrived in Ipswich and in 1747, a group of parishioners living on the South Side withdrew from the First Church on the north green and built their own meeting house, later named the South Church, on the school green. In 1749 the parishioners of the First Church built a new meeting house on the north green, although their membership had been reduced due to the schism. Both parishes worked together congenially on several joint endeavors. In 1773 the First and South Parishes jointly purchased a burial ground on the south side of town, and in 1804 they offered to build an engine house for a vehicle to be bought by subscription. As of 1984, the First Church has had six different meeting houses.
The First Church in Ipswich had four daughter churches. The Second Church in Ipswich, originally called the Chebacco Parish, is now the Congregational Church of Essex and was organized on September 6, 1681. The Third Church in Ipswich, embodied October 27, 1714, is now the First Congregational Church of Hamilton. The Linebrook Church, first called West Farms Parish, was organized on November 15, 1749. The South Church continued until 1922, when it united again with the First Church to form "The First and South Congregational Church". The First or "Old North" Church was retained as the house of worship and the South Church became the Parish House.
Scope of Collection
The First Church records document the history and parish life of the church through meeting minutes, reports, financial documents, and vital statistics. In addition, topics such as ministry work, pew rights, land discussions, hymns in church, and lists of the sacraments that occurred at the different parishes are included within the records. The vital records include birth and baptismal records, marriage records, and death records.
Ipswich, MA : First Church historical materials (17.11.I68.7 FIRC)
The three volumes are arranged chronologically by start date.
|The Book of Records of the First or Town Parish||1724-1756||Online interface|
|This volume contains the minutes of the First Parish dating from 1724 to 1755, and also contains the minutes of Ipswich town meetings. The minutes document church and town happenings and record the votes that took place. The volume chronicles the history and development of the town and First Parish of Ipswich. The topics covered include salaries, ministry work and assistance, discussions of building a meeting house on the South side of the river and its development, and the governance of the parish. The volume includes a list of members divided by geographical locations.|
|Records of the First Church of Christ in Ipswich||1739-1806||Online interface|
|This volume largely contains lists of vital statistics including the birth, baptismal, marriage, admission, dismission, and death records of the church from 1739 to 1806. The volume also contains hand copied excerpts from other sources pertaining to the founding and history of the church.|
|The Book of Records of the First Parish in Ipswich||1757-1830||Online interface|
|This volume contains the warrants and meeting summaries of the First Parish in Ipswich from 1757 to 1830. The meeting summaries cover both the development and governance of the First Parish and of the town of Ipswich. Principal topics include payments to pastors, records of votes, the burial grounds of the parish, and the role of song in church service. Other topics include the pew allocations, including a diagram, division of land, and the digging of graves.|