Berkley, Mass. Congregational Church

Collection History

The Congregational Church in Berkley, Mass. was first gathered in 1737, shortly after the town itself was incorporated in 1735 from an area of land that had belonged to the neighboring towns of Dighton and Taunton. In 1737, the town agreed to settle Samuel Tobey, a young graduate of Cambridge. His was a successful pastorate and he continued to serve the Congregational Church in Berkley until his death in 1781. In 1788, Thomas Andros was settled in Berkley. Rev. Andros was largely a self-taught minister from Connecticut who had also fought in the American Revolutionary War and spent time as a prisoner of war in 1781. Under Rev. Andros, the name of the church changed to the Free Christian Church in 1814.

After the formation on the United Church of Christ in 1957, the Congregational Church in Berkley reorganized as the Berkley Congregational Church, UCC which continues to serve the local community to the present time.

The digital collections below include the earliest volume of church records, dating from 1737 to 1778, as well as a volume of 18th-century sermons by various ministers of the church, and two disciplinary case documents dating to 1799 and 1814 respectively. For additional information please see the finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Church records, 1737-1778

The Old Church record book contains the earliest written records of the church dating back to the gathering of the church through the whole of Samuel Tobey's ministry. The volume contains administrative records such as records related to the gathering of the church, meeting minutes, records of votes, and officer appointments. The record book also contains vital records such as a list of original members, baptismal records, marriage records, and sacramental records.

Sermons, 1737, 1790-1796

This folder comprises three handwritten sermon pamphlets. The first, written and preached in 1737 by Reverend Samuel Tobey, is based on 1 John 3:8 and ruminates on sin and the Devil. The other two sermons were written in the 1790s and were both preached by Reverend Thomas Andros.

  • 1 John 3:8 – “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
      first preached by Rev. Samuel Tobey 26 March 1737
  • Genesis 42:21-22 – “And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.”
      first preached by Rev. Thomas Andros 16 Aug. 1790
  • Psalm 78:25 – “Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.”
      first preached by Rev. Thomas Andros 19 April 1796

Disciplinary cases, 1799-1814

These documents consist of two church disciplinary cases, the first dating from May 4, 1799 and the second dating from April 6, 1814. The first is a letter of suspension issued by Rev. Thomas Andros to Israel French for stealing apples. The second is a deposition from the employer of Isaac Sanford defending Sanford's conduct while at work in Taunton.

1799 May 4 by Rev. Thomas Andros to Israel French letter suspending Mr. French from the church for stealing apples
1814 April 6 by Isaac Sanford and his employers to the Congregational Church in Berkley affadavit of support for Mr. Sanford signed by his employers in Taunton

 

Special Thanks

This digital resource has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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