Salisbury, Mass. First Church

Collection History

A church was gathered in what is now Salisbury, Mass. in 1638, and the town itself was founded two years later in 1640. Church records pre-dating 1687 were reported lost in 1865, and extant records are scattered. The western part of the town became a second population center, and in 1714 the town voted to maintain a single parish, but to support two meeting houses, each with its own minister. The 1638 church became the First or East Church in Salisbury, while the Second Church (gathered in 1718) was formed in what is now the Rocky Hill section of Amesbury, Mass. The ministers of both churches pressed the town for salary adjustments in 1787, due to the depreciation of currency. In 1790, the town voted to dismiss the First Church pastor, Edmund Noyes (ord. 1751; d. 1809), and unsuccessfully proceeded to invite candidates to fill his position. Noyes refused to recognize his dismissal and continued as pastor at Salisbury until his death in 1809.

Methodism became so dominant in the Salisbury area by 1802 that the church voted to share use of the building with the Methodists; by 1807 Methodists were allowed fulltime use of the meeting house. In 1833 the Congregationalists sold the church properties to the Methodists and many of the members became Methodists. Those whose did not join the Methodist church affiliated with the Congregational churches in Newburyport. The Methodist church is still active today under the name East Parish United Methodist Church

The digital materials below comprise a legal testimonial regarding a conflict with Rev. Caleb Cushing, who was the fourth settled minister of the church, ordained in 1698. The document recounts former parishioner Daniel Worster's attempt to seek reconcilation with the church through disciplinary action, and Rev. Cushing's denial of the action based on Worster's lapsed membership.

 

Digital Materials

Testimonial, 1746

Dated 11 April 1746, this document comprises testimony by John Morrill and Joseph Marsh regarding a dispute between former parishioner Daniel Worster and the church pastor Rev. Caleb Cushing. In the correspondence, Morrill and Marsh recount a visit made to Rev. Caleb Cushing by Worster, in which he requested disciplinary action and official dismissal. Rev. Cushing, the document reports, denied the request based on claims that Worster was no longer a subscriber, and that therefore the church no longer had any authority over him.

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