Marblehead, Mass. First Church

Church History

Marblehead was originally settled as a plantation of Salem in 1629, and incorporated as a town in 1649. The First Church in Marblehead, also sometimes referred to as Old North Church, was formally established in 1684, although pastors had been preaching in the plantation as early as 1637. Samuel Cheever, who had begun his tenure in Marblehead in 1668, was called as pastor.

The meetinghouse used by First Church predated the founding of the church by 25 years, with a tax for the building of the meetinghouse being raised in 1648 and built in 1659 on Old Burial Hill. Various additions were made to expand the building and its capacity. Sometime shortly before 1716 the building was moved a new location. In 1824 a new building was built after the original was lost in a fire.

The Second Congregational Church (est. 1715, later Unitarian) and Third "South" Congregational Church (est. 1858) both split off from First Church following disputes over incoming ministers. Many members of Third Church rejoined First Church in 1877 when their building was lost in a fire.

The church records primarily relate to the spiritual life of the congregation, whereas the society records encompass the bulk of the finances and administration of the parish as a legal entity.

For more information about the First Church of Marblehead today, visit the church's website.

For more detail about this collection, see the archival finding guide.

 

Digital Materials

Church records, 1684-1800

This volume contains the church's official declaration of separation from Salem, its covenant, and early membership records. It also includes church meeting minutes and financial records.

Church records, 1740-1837

The second volume continues the membership records and church meeting minutes.  The original manuscript pages were in delicate condition, but we have captured as much of the information as possible.

Church records, 1837-1857

The third volume continues the membership records and church meeting minutes. It also contains the wills of William and Hannah Reed.

"Meeting house book," 1695-1785

This volume contains records pertaining to the construction, maintenance, and administration of the first church building.

Society records, 1755-1795

This volume collects the financial records of the parish society, including pew owners and related taxes. The book itself consists of several groups of pages bound at a later date.

Society records, 1795-1825, 1852, 1857

This volume contains the financial records of the parish society, including meeting minutes, pew taxes, and a copy of the Act of Incorporation put in place following official disestablishment by the Massachusetts General Court.

Society records, 1825-1866

Concerns the parish, financial matters, and the building. Records regular committee, quarterly, and annual meetings.

Financial records, 1717-1836

Primarily lists expenses for bread and wine, referred to as "Church Stock". Also indicated are amounts gained "By Collection". Church historian's notes indicate that the collection would have been for Sabbath School.

Financial records, 1783-1803

Lists individual member contributions, pew taxes, expenses, and maintenance.

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