Byfield, Mass. Byfield Parish Church

Church History

Byfield Parish Church, also sometimes referred to as Byfield Congregational Church, located in Byfield parish, Massachusetts, sometimes referred to as Newbury Falls, Newbury, Rowley, or Rowlberry, and now located in Georgetown, was founded circa 1702 by citizens from the western portions of both Rowley and Newbury who wished to establish their own church. They were granted tax abatement with which to fund their church, and by 1702 land had been purchased, a cemetery laid out, a meetinghouse built, and a pastor, Moses Hale, had been called. In 1704 a parsonage was built, and the parish, known as Rowlberry or Newbury Falls up until this point, was renamed in honor of Judge Nathanial Byfield.

After Moses Hale's death in 1744, the church called Moses Parsons who pastored the church until 1787 when Elijah Parish was called. Parish served until 1825 and during his tenure a Sunday School was established and a stove was installed in the meetinghouse. The next two years saw a rapid turnover of pastoral supply, as well as several declined calls. It wasn't until the installation of Isaac R. Barbour in 1827 that Byfield once again had a settled pastor. Barbour resigned in 1833 after controversy broke out surrounding a disciplinary case. That same year, still-hot ashes from the stove lit a fire which destroyed the meetinghouse. A new meetinghouse was financed by the Proprietors of the Meetinghouse, which raised such an excess of funds by selling pews that the corporation's stockholders received a dividend. The new church building was finished within the year, and in December of 1833 Henry Durant was installed as pastor.

(Source: A brief history of the Byfield Congregational Church and Parish : from 1702 to 1888, Compiled by Jos. N. Dummer [1888]).

For more information about this collection, see the archival finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Church records, 1709-1827

This volume contains records of births and deaths in the Byfield Parish Church from 1709-1827

Arrangement: Digitized pages are displayed in the order in which they are meant to be read. For more information, see the collection's finding aid. Births begin on page 5. Deaths begin on page 119.

Church records, 1744-1826

This volume contains records of persons admitted into membership in the parish church, membership rolls, church meeting minutes and votes, and records of confessions and marriages. Missing are two pages which have been removed from the volume with a knife or razor, and one record of a marriage, which has been similarly redacted with a blade. Of particular note are the minutes of December 21, 1780 in which abolitionist deacon Benjamin Coleman brings charges against then-pastor Moses Parsons for holding slaves.

Church records, 1825-1844

This volume contains meeting minutes and records of votes; records of membership, including admissions and dismissions; and records of deaths and infant baptisms. Missing from this volume is a section of page, redacted from meeting minutes by tearing.

Church records, 1832-1845

This volume contains meeting minute and records of votes; cases of church discipline, including censures, admonitions, and confessions; records of ordination and installation; and dismissions. Entries are clearly marked by date.

Become a Member