Georgetown, Mass. First Congregational Church

Collection History

The First Congregational Church in Georgetown was originally established in 1731 as the Rowley West Parish, also known as the Second Parish. Prior to the church's founding, parishioners had to travel a significant distance to worship in Rowley or neighboring Byfield. By 1768 the parish had outgrown its original meeting house and a new building was built. This meeting house, later known as Old South Church, was constructed on the corners of East Main and Elm Streets in 1769.

When the town of Georgetown was incorporated in 1838, the Rowley West Parish was renamed to the First Congregational Church of Georgetown. The third and final meeting house was constructed in 1874 along Andover Street. In 1908, the church merged with the Orthodox Memorial Church. In 1961, the church voted to become a member of the United Church of Christ. The First Congregational Church in Georgetown continues to serve the community today.

The digital collections below include the earliest church record and parish record books, dating from 1732-1855 and 1731-1814 respectively. Also included are a volume of financial records, the church covenant from the 1730s, birth, marriage, and death records, a variety of sermons preached by the Rev. Isaac Braman, and a record of sermons preached by guest ministers.

For additional information please see the finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Church records, 1732-1855

This volume primarily contains membership records for the Second Parish Church in Rowley. These include admissions, dismissions, baptisms, and disciplinary cases. There is also a copy of the covenant signed by the founding members.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Parish records, 1731-1814

This volume contains records of the officers' meetings for the West Parish in Rowley, concerning the oversight of the property and finances. It includes records of parish votes for the officers' and ministers' salaries, various committee assignments, pew subscriptions, and upkeep of the meetinghouse.

Parish (financial) records, 1799-1866

The treasurers' ledger records the income and expenses of the parish, including taxes collected by assessors, staff salaries, fees for various services to the church, and the purchase of supplies such as firewood.

Church covenant, circa 1731

This shortened version of the covenant was likely used to admit new members. It includes references to the "Westminster Assembly's catechism" and the "sacraments of the New Testament".

Death records, 1731-1854

As the name implies, this volume contains a list of the members and children of members who passed away. Each entry includes the date and approximate age, as well as parents for those who died young.

Birth records, 1731-1786

Unlike most records of the time, this volume records actual birth (rather than baptismal) dates, along with the names of the parents and locations of baptisms.

Marriage records, 1797-1854

This brief volume contains a list of marriages performed by Rev. Isaac Braman during his tenure. Most were performed at the church in Georgetown, and one or both participants were members there. Braman also recorded the fees he was paid for each ceremony, usually two or three dollars.

Rev. Isaac Braman sermons, 1759-1781

These sermons were preached at Byfield by the Rev. Isaac Braman, the majority of them on selected passages from the book of Proverbs.

  • Proverbs 30:12 – "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, & yet is not washed from their filthiness."
      first preached at Byfield, 20 October 1771, "No. 1892"
  • Proverbs 13:9 – "The light of the righteous rejoiceth: But the Lamp of the wicked shall be put out."
      first preached at Byfield, 6 April 1777, "No. 878"
  • Proverbs 1:33 – "But whoso hearkeneth unto me, shall dwell safely, & shall be quiet from fear of evil."
      first preached at Byfield, 19 January 1772, "No. 1907"
  • Philippians 2:9-11 – "Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, & given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…"
      first preached at Byfield, 7 November 1773, "No. 1953"
  • Proverbs 23:17-18 – "Let not thine heart envy Sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long. For surely there is an End, & thine expectation shall not be cut off."
      first preached at Byfield, 27 May 1759
  • Proverbs 19:8 – "He that getteth wisdom, loveth his own Soul: he that keepeth understanding shall find good."
      first preached at Byfield, 16 December 1759, "No. 1160"
  • Proverbs 17:16 – "Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a Fool to get wisdom, seeing he hath no heart to it."
      first preached at Byfield, 3 April 1768, "No. 1723"
  • Philippians 3:13-14 – "Brethren, I count not my self to have apprehended: but this one think I do, forgetting those things which are behind, & reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
      first preached at Byfield, 23 December 1764, "No. 1497"
  • 2 Peter 3:14 – "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, & blameless."
      first preached at Byfield, 26 February 1769, "No. 1766"
  • 2 Peter 1:14 – "Knowing that shortly I must put off this my Tabernacle even as our Lord Jesus Christ hat shewed me."
      first preached at New Town, 12 April 1772
      first preached at Byfield, 27 May 1781, "No. 2151"
  • 1 Peter 4:3-4 – "For the time past of our lives may suffice us to have wrought the will of the gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, & abominable idolatries…"
      first preached at Byfield, 7 January 1781, "No. 2133"
  • Supplement – unclear which sermon this was supplemental to
      first preached at the Dummer School, 12 July 1764

Rev. Isaac Braman sermons, 1794-1836

These sermons were preached by Rev. Isaac Braman at various locations in the vicinity of his home parish of Georgetown.

  • John 4:24 – "God is a Spirit, & they that worship him must worship in Spirit & in truth..."
      first preached at New Bedford, 12 October 1794, "No. 2"
  • Psalms 26:8 – "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth..."
      delivered at the Old South Meeting House in Danvers, 27 October 1836
  • Hebrews 11:4 – "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain..."
      first preached at "New Rowley", 13 December 1807, "No. 566"
  • Zechariah 4:7 – "Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain, & he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shouting, crying, Grace, grace unto it..."
      first preached at "New Rowley", 21 December 1823
  • Job 19:21 – "Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me..."
      first preached at "New Rowley", 11 March 1821

Funeral sermon, 1805

This document consists of "a sermon delivered at Rowley by the Rev. Isaac Braman, Dec. 29th 1805, occasioned by the death of Dr. Amos Spofford and Miss Abigail Palmer". The sermon was preached on the bible verses 2 Samuel 11:26 and Matthew 9:18. The first of the deceased, Dr. Amos Spofford, was a local physician and farmer, as well as one of the original members of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Abigail Palmer was the 14-year-old daughter of John and Martha Palmer.

Pulpit supply diary, 1787-1819

This volume is a record of the guest preachers at both Second Parish Rowley and Byfield, and the scriptures on which they preached. It also includes a section of vital statistics for Second Parish from circa 1706-1812.

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