Rowley, Mass. First Congregational Church

Church History

The town of Rowley and the First Congregational Church were established in 1639. It originally encompassed the lands that later became Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford, and Bradford. Many of the original inhabitants were cloth-makers from Rowley, Yorkshire, England who adhered to rather puritanical values under the guidance of their pastor, Ezekiel Rogers. The land that made up the town of Rowley was purchased from Newbury and Ipswich.

Over the years, the congregation of First Church has built a succession of meetinghouses, and now resides in its fourth building. They continue to be a thriving and vital part of the community.

For a more detailed history of the First Congregational Church of Rowley, visit the church's website.

To learn more about the complete collection, see the archival finding guide.


Digital Materials

Church records ("Phillips Diary") 1664-1784

This volume, also known as “The Phillips Diary”, contains early records of both the church and the community in Rowley. It begins with the usual meeting minutes, church covenants, and baptisms, marriages, and death lists recorded by Rev. Samuel Phillips. Further records include disciplinary matters, ecclesiastical councils, and other details of seventeenth-century life in the area.

Church records 1742-1782, and Parish records 1728-1763

This volume largely consists of church meeting minutes concerning the selection of new ministers – Jedidiah Jewett in 1728 and Jonathan Allin in 1780 – and records regarding their salaries. In this case, the Parish was clearly delineated as being responsible for the congregation's material holdings, both monetary and real estate. The Church, on the other hand, cared for the members' spiritual well-being.

Church records 1782-1835

These records are primarily vital statistics and membership records, including admissions, dismissions, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. They also contain a number of disciplinary cases, mostly for intemperance or poor attendance on the Sabbath.

Parish records 1733-1782

As noted above, the Parish records are primarily financial and administrative. This volume contains church meeting minutes, particularly those pertaining to officers' salaries and other expenditures.

Parish records 1781-1822

This volume continues the previous records, and also includes an ecclesiastical council convened to resolve a dispute between the pastor at the time and a parishioner.

Parish treasurer's records 1743-1832

As the title implies, these records are financial in nature, including salaries for ministers and other church officers, pew rents, taxes, and other incomes and expenses relating to the running of the church.

J. Jewett Extract and Marriage book 1730-1783

This volume is actually two books in one, each starting at opposite covers and using the righthand pages in its respective orientation.

The "extract" portion contains Rev. Jedidiah Jewett's transcribed excerpts from philosophical and historical texts and local newspapers. The "marriage book" records marriages performed in the church, most involving at least one member of Rowley First.


Related Materials

Bradford, Mass. First Church of Christ records, 1682-1915 — finding aid, digital materials

Phillips, Samuel. Papers

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