Hopkinton, Mass. First Congregational Church

Collection History

The area that now comprises the towns of Hopkinton and Ashland was once known as Magwonkkommok (or Magunco), and consisted of 51 families of “praying Indians” who had been converted to Christianity by the Puritan missionary Rev. John Eliot. Harvard College subsequently purchased the land from the Native residents in 1715, renaming it Hopkinton after Edward Hopkins, a major benefactor of the college. The First Congregational Church, initially composed of 15 members, was organized in September of 1724. Rev. Samuel Barrett, a graduate of Harvard, was ordained as the first minister. In 1731 the church voted to observe the Cambridge Platform of Church Discipline, adopting a congregational form of governance.

Rev. Barrett remained as pastor until his death in 1772, at which time his colleague Rev. Elijah Fitch took over the ministry until his own death in 1788. In 1791 the Rev. Nathaniel Howe was ordained, although as a condition of his ordination he specified that he would not personally admit members to the church under the Half-Way covenant. He preached a famous “Century Sermon” in 1815 to commemorate the centenary of the town, which was subsequently published worldwide.

The parish was officially incorporated in 1827, the town having managed the church before that time. The parish committee quickly voted to build a new meeting house, and the first building was sold and moved off-site. The second meeting house was finished and dedicated in January of 1830, measuring 50x62 feet, with a seating capacity of 600 in the main auditorium. It also included a steeple and bell. An organ was installed at a cost of $600 in 1847.

In 1882, a fire swept through Hopkinton, destroying the second meeting house, along with the town hall, post office, a hotel, and a shoe factory. Funds were quickly raised for the construction of a new and third meeting house, costing a total of $31,000, which was dedicated in May of the following year. This building was also the victim of a cataclysmic event, when the hurricane of September 21, 1938 toppled the steeple and effectively destroyed the entire church. A replacement meeting house was built in 1939. A fifth iteration of the meeting house was constructed in 1997 to accommodate expanding membership. The church continues to serve the community today as Faith Community Church.

The digital collections below include the earliest records of the church, consisting of meeting minutes, financial reports, and listings of marriages, baptisms, deaths, and dismissions, and relations of faith by members seeking admission to the church. There is also a legal contract for the construction of a new meeting house in 1829.

For additional information please see the finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Church records, 1708-1885

This volume is primarily comprised of a year-by-year history of the town from 1708 until 1859. Events noted in each year include a list of town citizens prior to 1730, petitions, the activities of notable residents, genealogical information, deaths, appointments to the church, the church’s finances, and major church or town events. Other material includes newspaper clippings and some loose correspondence.

Church records, 1724-1864

This volume includes births, marriage, deaths, admissions, baptisms, meeting minutes, records of complaints, a discussion of the original settlers of the town, and an index at the back.

Church records, 1724-1911

Materials in this volume include a copy of the church covenant, births, marriages, baptisms, deaths, admissions, dismissions, church meeting minutes, correspondence, and the selection and installation of pastors.

Church records, 1791-1838

This volume is comprised of a copy of the church covenant, confessions of faith, church meeting minutes, admissions, baptisms, dismissions, marriages, deaths, excommunications, and ministers' ordinations. There is a table of contents at the front of the volume.

Church records, 1827-1858

This volume includes correspondence, church meeting minutes, financial records, pew appraisal records, and by-laws of the parish.

Church records, 1838-1880

Material in this volume includes ecclesiastical council notes, pastor installations, church meeting minutes, committee meeting notes, officer lists, monthly and annual church conference minutes, committee reports, a church manual with the confession of faith revised in 1856, resolutions on the topic of temperance, correspondence, financial records, and disciplinary case records.

Church building contract, 1829

This is a legal contract from the Hopkinton parish to build a meetinghouse for the church in 1829.

Relations, 1799-1830

This is a collection of personal records from the church comprised of relations, written accounts of individuals' religious experience that were often required in the process of applying for full membership. They are organized alphabetically by last name.

Adams, Benjamin relation 1806
Bowker, Charlotte relation 1813
Bowker, Patience relation 1811
Briggs, Betsy relation 1808
Briggs, John relation 1808
Burnam, Josiah relation 1818
Burnam, Ruth relation 1803
Cody, Abigail relation 1812
Cody, John relation 1812
Cody, Sally relation 1812
Cozzens, Ruth relation 1810
Crook, Sally relation 1829
Davids, Polly relation 1811
Dench, Anna relation undated
Eames, Anna relation 1803
Eames, Patty relation 1819
Ellis, Ireene relation undated
Ellis, Julia relation undated
Fisk, Abel relation undated
Fitch, Emily relation undated
Flagg, Azubah relation 1821
Freeland, Catharine relation 1823
Freeland, Nancy relation undated
Gibson, John relation 1830
Gibson, Margery relation 1799
Greenwood, Miriam relation undated
Haven, Azenath relation 1829
Haven, Elisha relation 1821
Haven, Martha relation undated
Hayden, William relation 1810
How, Betsy relation 1802
Howe, Eliza relation undated
Johnson, Adeline relation undated
Jones, Martha relation 1820
Littlefield, Elisabeth relation undated
Lovering, Hilley relation 1811
Lovering, Lydia relation undated
Loving, Mary relation undated
Loving, Nathaniel relation 1803
Morse, Elisha (w/ Patty) relation undated
Morse, Patty (w/ Elisha) relation undated
Morse, Winthrop relation 1811
Phipps, Sarah relation 1812
Pike, Sally relation 1812
Pond, Benjamin relation undated
Pond, Polly relation 1829
Pool, Abigail relation 1821
Prentiss, Mary relation 1821
Proctor, Benjamin relation undated
Reed, Emily relation undated
Richards, Betsey relation 1827
Richards, Nancy relation 1811
Thompson, Charity relation 1819
Walker, Elizabeth relation 1821
Walker, Samuel relation undated
Wark, Emma relation 1823
Wheton, Ruth relation 1796

 

Special Thanks

This digital resource has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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