Bradford, Mass. First Church of Christ

Church History

The First Church of Christ in Bradford was formed in 1682, just ten years after the town (previously called Merrimack for its location along the river) officially changed its name. It was originally a part of Rowley until it petitioned the General Court for separation in 1668, called its first minister, Rev. Zechariah Symmes of Charlestown, and built the first meetinghouse. The East Parish was formed in 1726, and was later incorporated as the town of Groveland in 1850.

When Bradford hosted the General Association meeting in 1810, a group of students and clergy set forth a proposal that quickly gave rise to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM). Two young women of the congregation – Ann Judson and Harriet Newell – were among the first missionaries sent out by the American Board, and many other missionary groups and training programs emerged in the area.

The town was annexed by the city of Haverhill in 1897, but First Church of Christ in Bradford remains separate from First Congregational Church in Haverhill. To learn more about First Church in Bradford today, visit their website.

 

Digital Materials

Church records 1682-1806, 1824

The first volume primarily contains membership records and vital statistics, including admissions and dismissions, marriages, and baptisms. It also has a copy of the original covenant signed by the founding members and records of church business. The original book was damaged by both water and fire, resulting in text that is sometimes incomplete or difficult to read. Because of this, some pages were imaged multiple times to capture as much text as possible.

Church records 1824-1904

The second volume begins at the installation of Rev. Ira Ingraham, and mostly consists of administrative records. It includes notes about missionary work, discipline of members, selection of ministers, and preparations for the church's bicentennial celebration. There is also a short section at the end listing membership records for most of the 19th century.

Parish records 1738-1852

Parish records generally refer to financial and real estate matters. This volume includes treasurers' reports, ministerial salaries, pew subscriptions, and general expenses of maintaining the building and its staff.

Parish records 1787-1866

This volume contains both parish financial records and administrative records, as well as correspondence relating to the matters discussed at meetings of church committees. There is also a section toward the end listing members for the early 19th century.

Parish records 1852-1915

These records mostly pertain to annual meetings, including the 1915 decision to dissolve the Parish as a corporation and hand over its duties to the officers of the church. It also contains a list of new members for the early 20th century.

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