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First Parish Church Records

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First Parish Record Book, 1739-1825
manuscript on paper; leather bound pasteboard
On loan from the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Duxbury
LDAL2018.FPC.002

The First Parish Church of Duxbury was gathered in 1632 under Elder William Brewster. It was more formally established in 1638 when Rev. Ralph Partridge was called to be its first minister. Its formation coincided with the founding of the town of Duxbury as all matters, both civic and religious, were intertwined in the fledging Plymouth Colony.

The original Meeting House stood at the corner or today’s Pilgrim By-Way and Chestnut Streets. It serviced the small congregation until 1706 when the larger Second Meeting House was built 4 rods (22 yards) away. In 1784 the growing congregation again felt the need to build anew. This time, the land chosen was on Tremont Street. The first service in the Third Meeting House took place on June 13, 1785.

The first volume of First Parish Church records (1739-1825) begins when the congregation still worshipped in the Second Meeting House and continues until 1825, 36 years after the move to the Third Meeting House. It spans the pastorships of four ministers: Rev. Samuel Veazie (1738-1754), Rev. Charles Turner (1754-1775), Rev. Zedekiah Sanger (1776-1786) and Rev. John Allyn (1788-1833). The volume also coincides with a period of substantial growth in the town, both in population and prosperity, as Duxbury became a leader in the shipbuilding industry.

The first volume is bound in leather now, but it was originally “bound in a full parchment-over-boards with lines tooled into the covers, and a title in manuscript ink on the upper cover” according to recent conservation notes by the New England Document Conservation Center (NEDCC).

 

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First Parish Record Book, 1826-1904
manuscript on paper; leather bound pasteboard
On loan from the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, Duxbury
LDAL2018.FPC.003

The second volume of First Parish Church Records (1826-1886) begins at the period of disestablishment in Massachusetts when the First Parish Church was led by Rev. John Allyn. It also coincides with the congregation’s move toward Unitarianism and the building of the fourth church building in 1840, today’s current First Parish Church. Through much of this volume, Rev. Josiah Moore was the minister (1834-1881), with the assistance of Rev. Frederick Newman Knapp (1876-1882). During Moore’s tenure the town went through an economic bust with the end of shipbuilding to an eventual resurgence with the coming of summer tourism.