Braintree, Mass. First Church
The first congregation to settle in the Braintree area in 1634 was known as "Mount Wollaston", named after the founder of a trading post in 1624. The Mount Wollaston Parish Meeting House was established in 1639 in the present-day Quincy Area, and by 1640 the town was renamed Braintree. The town originally included present-day Braintree, Quincy, Randolph, and Holbrook. The Parish Meeting House was the site of the original church, which first gathered in 1707. The next year, the town was divided into the North Precinct (Quincy) and the South Precinct (Braintree). At the time, Braintree was sometimes referred to as "Monatiquot" after the Massachusett Indian village and home of Chief Wompatuck. When Quincy became an official town in 1792, the 1707 church was designated as the First Church in Braintree. Over the years, the church has been known as the First Congregational Church and Christ Church. Today it continues as First Congregational Church of Braintree, UCC.
The digital collections below include a volume of 1762-1824 church records with administrative information and birth, marriage, and death records. There is also a separate volume of financial records spanning 1708-1796, as well as a journal kept by the church's minister Rev. Samuel Niles in which he records details of ministerial and personal life.
For additional information please see the finding aid.
Two sets of records were kept within this volume, and are presented here consecutively for ease of use. The first set of records includes lists of the church's minsters and members, covenants, and meeting minutes. The second set of records contains lists of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and admissions to the church. This volume is stated to be a direct continuation of Samuel Niles’s Journal, which he originally took with him to Abington when he left this church.
The entries in this journal, dating from 1697 to 1777, document the pastor, Samuel Niles', thoughts and activities within the church as well as the organizational and membership history of the First Congregational church of Braintree. The journal includes entries regarding the Covenant of Redemption, the Episcopacy, the Godhead of the Christ, the Protestant Power, the Papal Power, the 1665 plague in London, and the pastor's work, "A Prospect of Death - A Pindarique Essay", written on March 19, 1721. Also included in the entries is the pastor's own account of his birth, wives, children, marriages, and ordination. The volume also includes records of the marriages, baptisms, and members admitted into communion, which the Pastor oversaw. On page 48, there is a written history of Samuel Niles. The records also include the Abington church covenant that was in place during Niles' ministry, records of burials near the Braintree church meeting house, Niles' financial account with the church and a list of the Churches of Christ living in December of 1777.
A full transcription of this volume is available.
The records in this volume document the financial and organizational history of the Braintree Precinct from 1708 to 1796. Meeting minutes include discussion to build the new meetinghouse, a list of pew ownerships, and a report of the precinct’s boundaries being drawn. The different names used to refer to the precinct within the records also reflect the evolution of the region's geography. As time passed the area was referred to as "South Precinct", "the South or Middle precinct", "Middle Precinct", "First Precinct", and "Braintree Precinct".
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