Boxford, Mass. First Church

Collection History

The First Church of Boxford was formed in 1701 when the parishioners of Boxford were granted independent status from Topsfield Church. A meeting house was built, in which all town meetings and civic gatherings were held until 1800, when they were held alternatively in West Boxford. The meeting house building was replaced in 1742 and again in 1836. The church was likely used for storage of arms and gunpowder during the Revolutionary War, in the absence of a dedicated armory in the area until 1801.

The original manuscripts in this collection are part of a larger collection, the Perley Family Papers, which are owned by our project partners, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum. Materials pertaining to Boxford consist of loose church records which include meeting minutes and member listings. The bulk of the records, however, pertain to a lengthy dispute between two parishioners during the ministry of Rev. Isaac Briggs. Further information about the collection can be found in the Phillips Library's finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Church records, 1703-1823

These loose records include membership lists, minsters' salaries, and records related to the formation of a singing school. The bulk of the documents pertain to a dispute between parishioners Benjamin Spofford and Aaron Perley during the ministry of Rev. Isaac Briggs, with Spofford alleging that Perley had stolen one of his sheep.

1703 February 21     list of members admitted to First Church
1758 November 27     First Church meeting minutes
1805 October 31     First Church meeting minutes pertaining to singing school
1805 October 31 by Thomas Perley (scribe)   subscription lists for singing school
1808 August 8     First Church meeting minutes relating to Rev. Brigg's salary
1817 July 4 by Aaron Perley for the First Church testimony regarding dispute over a stable
1817 July 14 by J. Thimball (clerk)   First Church meeting minutes
1817 November 12 by Mr. Sleeper for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1817 December 25 by Mary Spofford for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 April 19 unsigned for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1817 April 29 by Aaron Perley for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
undated     list of subscribers for Rev. Briggs salary
1818 April 4 by Aaron Perley's brother for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 April 14 from Aaron Perley to Rev. Briggs letter summarizing dispute
undated by Aaron Perley for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 May 5 from Benjamin Spofford to Mehitable and Aaron Perley letter requesting a meeting
1818 May 6 by Aaron Perley's brother for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 May 14     First Church meeting minutes regarding dispute
undated by Mr. Merrill for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 April 28 from Benjamin Spofford to Rev. Briggs letters regarding dispute
1818 May 7     First Church meeting minutes regarding dispute
1818 May 14 by Isaac Broman, David Thimball, Charles Foster for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Perley and Spofford
1818 May 20 from Benjamin Spofford to Rev. Briggs letter requesting representation by an attorney
1819 August 3 from Messrs. Stearns, Briggs, Chickering, Allen, Soring and Edwards to the First Church Andover Association meeting minutes, refusing a re-trial as requested by Spofford
1822 November 29     First Church meeting minutes regarding a dispute between Parker Cleaveland and Solomon Stickney
undated by D. Hale, Joseph Searl, Samuel Merrill for the First Church testimony regarding dispute between Cleaveland and Stickney
1823 January 2 by E. Parish (clerk)   First Church meeting minutes with vote to admonish Stickney
1823 March 15 from Parker Cleaveland and P. Perley to Solomon Stickney letter admonishing Stickney for speaking against the pastor
1823 June 21 by E. Parish (clerk)   First Church meeting minutes, including excommunication of Solomon Stickney
1824 Jan 9 by John Bartlett (scribe) to the First Church letter describing Ecclesiastical Council's decision in the case of Spofford versus Perley
1823 June 17 from Benjamin Spofford to Rev. Briggs and the First Church letter stating refusal to confess
1823 (summer) from "a concealed writer" to Rev. Briggs letter in support of Benjamin Spofford
1823 July 2 by Stephen Peabody and other signatories to the First Church petition in support of Benjamin Spofford
undated by Rev. Briggs to a church council petition by church members refusing to readmit Spofford
1823 November 12 by Nathaniel Whitman (scribe)   letter with results of investigation by the Ecclesiastical Council
1823 December 4 by Capt. Young   contract confirming lodging for a church council
1823 December 4 from Benjamin Spofford to his supporters letter regarding meeting arrangements
1823 December 8 by Capt. Young   contract confirming lodging for a church council

 

Related Materials

Topsfield. Mass. Congregational Church — digital materials

 

Special Thanks

These digital resources have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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