Wenham, Mass. First Congregational Church

Church History

The Congregational Church in Wenham was founded in 1644. Their first request to form a church was denied, but a second was approved, and the church was formally gathered under the ministry of Rev. John Fisk. In 1655, Rev. Fisk and a majority of the congregation moved westward to resettle in Chelmsford. The remaining members eventually called Antipas Newman to preach for them about two years later, though he was not ordained until 1663. By 1674 the church was in its second meetinghouse and had been joined by residents from the neighboring town of Hamilton. The church remained largely unaffected by King Phillip's War, and in 1688 voted to build a third meetinghouse. In 1815 a Sabbath school connected to the church was established and run out of a private house; seven years later the school became a formal part of the church. The congregation is still active today as First Church in Wenham, and now inhabits their fifth church building.

The original manuscript of the oldest volume in this collection is owned by our project partners, the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Further information about the collection can be found in the NEHGS catalog.

 

Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

 

from the New England Historic Genealogical Society

Church records, 1674-1719

This volume was kept by the church's third minister, Rev. Joseph Gerrish. It primarily contains church meeting minutes and membership records, including admissions, dismisisons, deaths, and baptisms. Those vital statistics were transcribed and published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register in two installments, membership lists and baptisms, which are available through the Internet Archive.

 

at the Congregational Library & Archives

Because these materials were scanned from an older microfilm rather than the original documents, some pages have been imaged twice to provide as much detail on the text as possible.


Church records, 1643-1805

This volume primarily contains records beginning in 1720/21 after the death of Rev. Gerrish, but it includes a two-page summary of the church's history from the town's founding up to that point. Those records include lists of admissions, existing members, marriages, deaths, and baptisms. Also included are records of church meetings, and records pertaining to the ministers who served the church during this period.

  A full transcription of this volume is available.

Church records, 1792-1847

This volume contains records of deaths, marriages, baptisms, and membership records, as well as church meetings and ecclesiastical councils which pertain to the call or dismisison of new ministers. Also included are records of correspondence, censures, admonitions, and charitable actions. There are five pages of "Old records preserved" spanning 1643-1805 that were transcribed into this book in 1805 by Rev. Rufus Anderson, along with his commentary on those notes.

 

Special Thanks

The digital resources in this collection from our partners at the New England Historic Genealogical Society have been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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