Wrentham, Mass. Second Church

Collection History

Wrentham, first known as Dedham, was established by a group of English settlers. The land was not bought from King Phillip (Metacomet) until 1622. Although the town was burned down during King Phillip’s War, most of the families returned and rebuilt. Wrentham was officially incorporated as a town in 1673. Portions of the towns of Franklin, Foxboro, Norfolk, and Plainville were originally part of Wrentham.

The church gathered in 1738 as the Second Church in Wrentham. The ecclesiastical council recorded in this document was gathered to judge the moral character of Rev. Caleb W. Barnum and contains the recommendations of the council regarding his removal. Caleb W. Barnum was the son of Thomas Barnum of Woodbury, Connecticut. He graduated from Nassau Hall in 1757 and was ordained as pastor of the Second Church in Wrentham on June 4, 1760.

According to Emerson Davis, Rev. Barnum left Second Church as the result of his intervention in a difficultly between two members of the church about a crop of cranberries. It appears that the pastor offered to pay the injured party the damages owed if he would drop the matter, which was regarded as proof that Barnum favored the alleged guilty party. In 1768 Rev. Barnum moved to Taunton, Mass. and was installed at the First Parish Church there in 1769. That church took the name of the name of First Church in 1792. When the Revolutionary War commenced, Barnum was appointed to a chaplaincy. He went with the army from Boston to New York and back to Ticonderoga. When he contracted bilious fever, Barnum returned to Boston. Upon arriving in Pittsfield, he was unable to go farther and died there on August 23, 1776 at 39 years old.

 

Digital Materials

Ecclesiastical council meeting results

Results of an ecclesiastical council dated 1767.

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