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Full text of "A discourse delivered to the First Parish in Hingham, September 8, 1869, on re-opening their meeting-house [electronic resource]"

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Old Meeting House 

1681 - 1873. 



University of California. 



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SEPTEMBER 8, 1869, 



Sixth Pastor op the Parish. 







14 Statb Stbekt, 



The publication of this Discourse was postponed to the present 
time, because it was deemed desirable to accompany it by some 
account of the history of the Meeting-house. It is now the oldest place 
of public worship in New England, if not in the United States, having 
been erected in 1681. The undersigned undertook to collect the facts 
of its history, to be found in public and private records, and, also, those 
transmitted by traditions of our fathers, many of which, if not now 
preserved in a permanent form, will be in danger of being lost 
forever. We have been especially fortunate in discovering in various 
old manuscripts, many curious and interesting facts, which will appear 
in the A^endix. We are able to give a full list of those persons to 
whom seats were assigned in the Meeting-house before it was opened 
for public worship. We have illustrated our work by prefixing a 
Portrait of Rev. Mr. Lincoln, the present Pastor of the Parish, and 
by inserting also a View of the Ancient Edifice, and have added Plans 
of the Pews, both Old and New. In the labor of collecting and 
preparing the materials for the Appendix, each member of the 
committee has had the pleasure of participating. 

Solomon Lincoln, 


George Lincoln, 
Fearing Burr, 
Henry C. Harding, 

Committee of 

HiNGHAM, July 1, 1873. 

{231 /G 



Only twelve years are wanting to complete two centuries, 
since our fathers first assembled for Christian worship beneath 
this roof. Compared with this edifice, the house which they 
erected was of narrow dimensions, and of rude and inexpensive 
workmanship. Neither plastering nor paint was employed to 
exclude the freezing winds of winter, or to conceal the roughly 
hewn timbers by which it was supported. Cushioned pews in 
an atmosphere artificially softened, were unthought of and 
undesired by the earnest men and women of that generation. 
Seats of oak covered the entire area, both of the floor and the 
galleries, and these were occupied on the one side by the male 
and on the other by the female portion of the congregation. 
Still, when we consider the numbers and the resources of the 
builders; their offering for the worship of God, for tlie 
upbuilding of Christ's kingdom, and for the highest welfare of 
our race, greatly exceeded in expensiveness, the more costly 
structure which we have now assembled to rededicate to the 
service of our father's God. Place yourselves in imagination 
in the midst of these early inhabitants. Somewhat less than 
fifty years had elapsed since their homes were the homes of a 
savage race ; since their cultivated fields were covered with 


primeval forests— the hunting ground and the hiding place of the 
bear and the panther. Our Puritan and Pilgrim ancestors did 
not generally belong to the wealthier classes in the country from 
which they emigrated. A portion of their estates, if no pecuniary 
sacrifice attended their sale, was necessarily expended in their 
passage across the Atlantic. Less than fifty years had been 
occupied in felling the woods, in reclaiming the soil and in build- 
ing a shelter for themselves and their families. This was their 
second Meeting-house ; and when its cost is estimated by the 
population and the property of the settlement, how exceedingly 
is its value enhanced, how are its proportions magnified ? it 
stands before us as a worthy monument of Christian faithfulness 
and heroic courage, of lofty aims and willing sacrifices in 
the cause of Christ and for the extension of His kingdom in 
the world. As we go back in thought to that day in mid-winter, 
when for the first time within these walls, the incense of praise 
and prayer arose from subdued but believing hearts to the 
throne of the Eternal ; can we withhold our heartfelt reverence 
for the enduring faith, the dauntless courage, and the deep-toned 
piety of the worshippers ? and as we remember how inwrought 
was their conviction of God's immediate presence, how earnest 
their prayers, how real to their hearts were the verities of the 
spiritual world, what tender and awe-inspiring associations 
gather around the place : it becomes to us more than ever before 
the House of God and the Gate of Heaven. 

The men who in weakness and penury executed this work 
and the generations which followed them, were quick in 
discovering the demand of the time in which they lived, and 
prompt in providing the required supply. As the town increased 
in population and property, more ample and improved accommo- 
dations for public worship became a necessity. Ascribing less 
of sacredness to the house than to the uses for which it was 
erected and by which it was sanctified ; our fathers at an early 

period, cheerfully consented to important changes. Two very 
considerable additions were made to its dimensions ; the 
situation of the pulpit was changed and a new one constructed. 
From time to time pews were introduced, and this process 
continued until the last remains of the original seats of oak 
had disappeared. Other alterations in the interior arrange- 
ments conducive to the comfort of the worshippers, have shown 
the willingness of the parish to consult the wishes of its younger 
members, and to conform, in all things innocent, to the customs 
observed in other societies, and to the taste of the passing 

Thus modified in its interior, but retaining its original 
external form, this Meeting-house after the passage of nearly 
two centuries, became the inheritance of the present generation. 

In our early New England edifices however massive and 
enduring their timbers, no adequate ventilation secured those 
portions of them in proximity to the earth from a gradual but 
certain loss of vitality and strength. For years it had been 
known that our house of worship was suffering from the cause 
just named. Within the current year it became evident on 
examination, that thorough and somewhat expensive repairs 
must be made if we would save this venerated structure from 
rapidly increasing decay and from becoming at no very distant 
period a deserted ruin. This fact was not the only consideration 
which influenced the action of the parish. A very considerable 
portion of the Society, including the major part of its younger 
members, without whose active interest no society can live and 
prosper, believed the time to have fully arrived when the 
welfare of the parish demanded more comfortable pews on 
the lower floor, for the accommodation of the worshippers. 
Such extensive alterations when first proposed, were regarded 
by numbers in the parish, especially among its older members, 
with strong disfavor. Our life-long associations with the place, 


the tender memories of childhood and the deeper experiences 
of maturer life, the liistory of the past, the struggles and the 
fortitude of the generation who, in obedience to the divine 
voice in their hearts had sought a home in the wilderness, 
marked epochs in our country's annals, when Christian patriots 
gathered within these walls to consult for the welfare of the 
States, and to ask strength and wisdom of God in prayer, the 
record of venerable men and women, of distinguished and able 
ministers and honored citizens who had here sought the instruc- 
tions and here shared in the consolations and hopes of the 
Gospel ; all seemed with a united voice to forbid the proposed 
innovations ; and it appeared almost a sacrilege to remove a 
single memorial of a past so hallowed in our hearts by 
sentiments of reverence and love. These first impressions 
however, were removed as we calmly considered the question 
before us. It was generally seen that the intended work was 
not one of destruction, but of preservation ; that the form and 
external appearance of the house would remain unchanged, and 
that the visible alterations in the interior would not extend to 
the more ancient, but to those portions of the building which 
were comparatively of recent construction ; and it was very 
plain that we should more truly honor the fathers by imitating 
their practice, who were not slow in complying with the 
requirements of the time in which they lived, than by simply 
retaining the work of their hands. Great credit is certainly 
due to the more advanced in years for the cheerful spirit with 
which they have yielded their personal wishes in compliance 
with the wishes of . the majority. Shall we not count it a 
specially happy omen, that a work of such magnitude in itself, 
and attended by so many difficulties, has been undertaken and 
executed with so much unanimity, with so much hope and 
courage ? Have Ave not a right tO expect that those who have 
so earnestly desired to improve this temple made with hands. 


will, by a new dedication of themselves to the service of God 
and the cause of Christ, become more fitting temples for the 
indwelling of the Holy Spirit ? 

A question of graver import now demands our consideration. 
Is our present ecclesiastical position true to the principles, on 
which this church as a living branch of the living vine, was 
first established ? That our church in its theology has departed 
somewhat widely from the opinions held by its Puritan founders, 
there can be no question. Still I believe that while we have 
discarded opinions which they accepted as true, and adopted 
explanations of doctrines which they would have rejected as 
false, we are loyal to principles which they distinctly avowed 
and announced as fuudamental. Our fathers,with all Protestants, 
were unquestioning believers in the sufficiency of the Scriptures 
as a rule of faith and practice. Most certainly they did not 
cross the ocean and endure the hardships of the wilderness to 
form a Lyceum for the study of the sciences, nor to found a 
school of philosophy to inquire whether men were endowed 
with a spiritual nature, nor whether a communication from the 
infinite to the finite mind were a possibility ; but they came 
hither for the express purpose of establishing a Christian 
church on the foundation of Prophets and Apostles, Jesus 
Christ, himself, being the chief corner-stone. In Him they 
believed as the Son of God, the representative of divine 
perfections, the revealer of the divine-will, and being such, as 
their Lord and Savior. This was the one prominent doctrine 
in the covenants used in the admission of members to church 
privileges ; on this one fundamental doctrine our church has 
stood through its past history ; on this foundation I thank God 
it stands to-day. In confirmation of this statement, I refer you 
to the records of the time, to the covenant adopted by the 
church at Salem, and cordially approved by leading represen- 
tatives of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, and so far as our 


knowledge extends to the prevailing practice throughout New 
England. At this early period if the representations of Cotton 
Mather are trustworthy, character was the primary condition of 
membership in the church ; the candidate was not usually if 
ever required to accept a creed expressed in words of human 
device, and avowing a decided opinion on the more difficult 
and abstruse points in a metaphysical theology. The candidate 
was required to avow his faith in God and Christ and the Holy 
Spirit, and to declare his determination to devote himself to his 
Master's service ; he was required to make the Scriptures his 
study, and to accept their instructions. Creeds, technically so 
called, were the contrivance of a later period. They were 
unknown in the churches until found necessary to check the 
growth of new opinions, the natural consequence of a faithful 
study of the sacred volume. Is it not obviously true that with 
finite minds, honest and intelligent inquiry for truth pertaining 
to the infinite, must issue in diversity of opinions ? For this 
result our early churches, unintentionally it may be presumed, 
prepared the way in the covenants which they adopted. Am I 
reminded that the Massachusetts Puritans came to this country 
with a specific aim and purpose ; and in trying to accomplish 
this purpose were severely intolerant of dissent ? I allow at once 
that their views were narrow, and unjust to the inborn rights of 
the human soul ; but we should remember that inconsistency is 
no uncommon mark of* human imperfection. These same men 
were dissenters from the established church in England. Tliey 
boldly defended their right to depart from Episcopal usages, 
and in defending their own course, asserted and maintained 
principles, which, followed to their legitimate conclusions, were 
utterly incompatible with bigotry in judgment, and persecution 
in practice. They solemnly declared that they could not 
conscientiously bow to the dictation of any human authority, 
because the finite mind owes its supreme allegiance to the 


infinite mind. In this statement, we have the fundamental, 
underlying support, the seed truth of all rational liberty, civil 
and religious. 

The men of this generation were earnest and profound 
thinkers; and do you believe that a quickening truth like this 
could long remain unfruitful in their ever-wakeful minds, or 
that in due time, the depth of its meaning and the extent of its 
application should not be generally understood and accepted ? 
Still further, the church which our fathers planted in this place 
was on the very borders of the Plymouth Colony, and 
unquestionably held communion with the church of which 
Robinson was the pastor in England and in Holland. Can we 
believe that the band of pilgrims who left him with tearful eyes 
and aching hearts would soon forget his farewell address ? You 
know how faithfully he warned them against an unintelligent 
adherence to accepted doctrines, exhorting them to follow him 
no farther than he followed Christ, and assuring them of his 
own belief " that God had yet more truth to break forth from his 
holy word." Great truths and worthy sentiments possess an 
innate life and a power of diffusion ; they pass from mind to 
mind ; they enter into the common thought until they become a 
reforming force in the world. Can we doubt that the words of 
the beloved pastor were often repeated by members of his flock 
amid the anxieties and bereavements of their first winter at 
Plymouth ? Must they not have been frequently reported by 
such men as Brewster, and Bradford, and Winslow, in their 
intercourse with other churches ? and when reported, could they 
fail to stimulate inquiry and to encourage freedom of thought ? 
In calling your attention to this very early period in our 
history, I would not be thought to suggest even a doubt 
concerning the opinions generally held by our fathers. There 
can be no question that they firmly believed in that logically 
adjusted system of doctrines previously published and defended 


]>y the controlling mind in the Genevan School of Theology. 
But -what I do urge and believe is this, — that the founders of 
our churches, by acknowledging the worth of the individual 
soul ; by insisting on man's direct responsibleness to God for his 
opinions ; by urging believers to study with diligence the sacred 
scriptures and freely to search for the truth, did plant in the 
minds of the people, convictions and opinions which must lead 
to unanticipated results ; convictions in regard to the duties and 
consequently to the rights of the individual, which, with 
constantly increasing means of knowledge, must conduct them 
to improved methods of study, to new interpretations of 
scripture language, and to improved statements of Christian 
doctrines. C'ould men who believed themselves religiously, 
bound to search for truth long refrain from claiming the right 
to avow their supposed discoveries, or from according this right 
to their fellow disciples ? 

May we not confidently, and with gratitude to God, turn to 
our own past history in illustration of the views which have been 
presented and humbly claim that we are lineal children of 
Puritan and Pilgrim fathers ? Our church commenced its 
existence under the spiritual guidance and inspiring influence of 
a man of no ordinary mind or character. Rev. Peter Hobart 
w^as born in England, and received his education in the 
university of Cambridge. To an intellect of great clearness 
and vigor ; to large acquirements ; to pulpit talents Avhich 
secured him distinction in his native land and in that of his 
adoption, he added a warm and generous heart. He had a 
quick perception of justice, a ready sympathy for the oppressed, 
and was an ardent friend of civil liberty. In defending what he 
believed to be the rights of a portion of his flock, he withstood, 
in argument, the magistrates of the colony ; and by doing so, 
incurred their censure ; so that on one occasion he was 
forbidden to preach in Boston, as the excellent AVinthrop said, 


" because he was a bold man and would speak his mind." 
A man of such large liberal views on other subjects could 
hardly be a bigot in religion. Hence as Mather informs us, 
" he cherislied a hearty love towards pious men though they 
were not in all things of his own persuasion, saying, 'I can 
carry them in my bosom,' and states that he had a strong 
dislike for men, who, under pretence of church discipline, were 
very pragmatical in controversies, applying to them the words 
of Mr. Cotton, ' that some men were all church and no Christ.' " 

Of the Rev. John Norton, far less is known than of his 
predecessor. He received a liberal education and was endowed 
with highly respectable powers. His preaching was chiefly 
practical, and consisted to a great extent in applying Christian 
doctrines, as then understood, to the nurture of a divine life in 
the souls of his hearers. He was a faithful and beloved 

The third minister of this parish. Dr. Ebenezer Gay, was 
widely known as a learned theologian and an independent 
thinker, as a man of great prudence, of sound judgment, and 
of a catholic spirit. Dr. Gay was a student through life. In 
his expositions of Christian doctrines he was generally under- 
stood to differ materially from his predecessors ; so that 
dissatisfaction was occasionally expressed by a small number 
of his flock, not so much (as is often the case in oiir own time,) 
" on account of what he did as of what he did not say." In 
the convention of Congregational ministers and in ecclesiastical 
councils, his great influence was invariably exerted in the 
promotion of peace and mutual charity among his brethren. 
Though a prudent man, Dr. Gay was a stranger to timidity. 
When every clergyman in Boston refused to join in ordaining 
the first minister of the West Church, because of his anti- 
trinitarian opinions, he attended the ordination, preached the 
sermon, and addressed the pastor-elect in the following words: 


" I have been pleased in frequent conversations with you, to 
observe your thirst after knowledge, a desire to find truth, to 
prove all things and to hold fast that which is good." 

Br. Henry Ware is known to you by his printed works, 
rather than by your remembrance of his services in this pulpit. 
His logical mind, his sound judgment, his large attainments and 
his candid temper, enabled him to exert a great influence on 
other minds during the protracted period of his public labors. 

Of his successor, even were it needful, as he is still living, it 
would be unbecoming in me to speak. 

As we thus review the past history of our church, can we 
withhold our warmest gratitude from that all-merciful Being who 
permits us to enter into this rich inheritance. How various and 
affecting are our associations with this ancient house of worship. 
Still how much more precious is the legacy bequeathed to us in 
the lives and characters of the Christian men and women of 
successive generations who have here assembled for communion 
with God. As we reflect upon their trials and their fortitude, 
their fidelity in the search for truth, calling no man master, yet 
bowing humbly before the authority of the Savior's teachings ; 
as we think of their willing sacrifices in the interest of humanity, 
their piety towards God and their benevolence towards men ; 
does not a voice, increasing in volume and power as it 
approaches, come to our hearts, through all this long past, 
commanding and entreating us to enter resolutely into their 
labors, urging us not to look backward and glory in their 
efforts and "achievements, but to look forward, and with manly 
courage and devoted hearts to take up the work which God is 
now giving us to do ? 

And now, friends of this parish, the designed repairs on this 
house and the contemplated improvements in its interior 
arrangements have been completed. With glad hearts we 
again enter within its portals, and anew consecrate it to the 

worship of the one living and true God. To Him the all-wise, 
all-holy, to Him the infinite being unseen by mortal eyes, but 
manifested in the person of His Son, we devote it : to the 
cause of Christ it is henceforth dedicated, to the unfolding of 
his truth and the enforcements of His precepts, to the highest 
interests of immortal souls, it is consecrated. Here may the 
unthinking be awakened, the inquirer for truth be blessed with 
a divine illumination : here may the mourner receive strength 
and comfort from the ever present friend of the afflicted, and 
here may all who are seeking a divine life, be helped forward 
in the pathway to Heaven. And while these walls shall stand, 
may there never be wanting within them a congregation of 
earnest worshippers, hungering to be fed with the bread from 
Heaven, nor a voice to proclaim to them the unsearchable 
riches of the gospel of Christ. 





Some account of the Meeting-house, the recledication of which, 
after extensive repairs, was the occasion of the preceding discourse, 
may be of interest to those who, from residence or association, have 
been by themselves or their ancestors connected with the town or 
parish to which this house has respectively belonged. 

It was the second house erected for the purpose of public worship 
within the territorial limits of Hingham, including Cohasset. It was 
built by the town before it was divided into parishes. 


The first house for public worship was erected by the first settlers 
of the town probably within a short time after its settlement in 1635. 
It was situated on a slight eminence in front of the present site of 
the Derby Academy. It was surrounded by a palisado, and 
surmounted by a belfry with a bell. Around it, upon the declivity of 
the hill, the dead were buried, where after a repose of nearly two 
centuries, they were disturbed by the march of improvement. 

In 1831, the hill was removed, and the remains, which were 
disinterred by the removal, were carefully collected and buried in a 
substantial vault, in the old fort, within the limits of the Hingham 
Cemetery, and a simple granite monument was erected over them, by 
order of the Town, and it bears the inscription in front, " To the 
first Settlers of Hingham." and on the reverse, " Erected by the 
Town, 1839." 

The first Meeting-house like the early dwellings of the settlers, 
was undoubtedly a rude structure, although the scanty records 


relating to it which remain, indicate that it was not wholly devoid of 
ornament, or of taste in its construction. 

At a town meeting held March 11th, 1644-5, "Joshua Hubbard 
and Nicholas Jacob, was deputed by the town to make an agreement 
with the young men to set up a Gallery at the West end of the 
Meeting House as well for the length and breadth as for the place." 
An agreement was accordingly made with " Edward Oilman, Thomas 
Turner, John Sutton and Daniel Lyncon," empowering them to build 
" at the North side of the Meeting House, one Gallery for themselves 
and such as they shall admit of, the manner to be as followeth. The 
length to be the breadth of the Meeting House, the breadth of it not 
to exceed six feet and the height to be at the discretion of Stephen 
Lincoln, the workman ; all the posts and pillars to be turned, the 
floor rabyted and matched and this gallery to remain the 
property of the aforesaid Edw. Gilman, Tho's Turner, John Sutton, 
the younger, and Daniel Lincon and the rest of their partners who 
join with them in the building." 

This house was the only place for public worship, for forty-five 
years from the settlement of the town, and during the entire ministry 
of the first Pastor, Rev. Peter Hobart, who died January 20, 1678-9. 
Rev. John Norton was ordained as Mr. Hobart's successor in the 
pastorate, Nov. 27, 1678, Mr. Hobart taking part in the services. At 
the expiration of one year from the death of Mr. Hobart, January 
19, 1679-80, the town "agreed to build a new meetinghouse with 
all convenient speed," and appointed a committee consisting of Capt. 
Joshua Hobart, Capt. John Jacob and Ensign John Thaxter, to view 
the meeting-houses of other towns, for the purpose of forming an 
opinion of the dimensions of a building necessary to accommodate 
the inhabitants, to ascertain the probable expense, and to report at 
the next town meeting, to be held in May following. 

At the same meeting, the Selectmen were ordered, by vote to 
provide a new bell for the use of the town at the meeting-house and 
" they are to get one as big againe as the old one was, if it may be had." 

On the third of May, 1680, the Selectmen were directed to "carry 
on the business to effect about building a new meeting-house," and at 
the same meeting it was voted " to have the new meeting-house set 
up, in the place where the old one doth now stand." The names of 
those who voted on this last question are recorded in tlie Town 
Records. There were thirty-four in the ainrmative, and eleven in 
tlie neiiative. 


The following from the Town Records shows the state of the vote 

At the above said Town Meeting, on the third clay of May, 1680, these persons, 
wiiose names are under written, dcchired themselves, by word, to have the new 
meeting liouse set up in the place where the old one doth now stand. 

Captain Joshua Hobart, 
John Bealc, Senior, 
Deacon Jolm Leavitt, 
Tlioraas Hobart, 
Andrew Lane, 
Thomas Gill, Senior, 
John Beale, 
Edward Wilder, 
Doctor Cutler, 
Ensign John Thaxter, 
Thomas Lincoln, (husband- 

Nathaniel Beale, Senior, 
Edmund Pitts, 
Joshua Lincoln, 
Thomas Marsh, 
Francis James, 
Stephen Lincoln, 
Moses Collier, 
John Prince, 
John Langlec, 
Joshua Beale, 

Tliomas Lincoln, (carpenter] 
Caleb Bcal, 

James Hersee, 
Thomas Andrews, 
Joseph Joy, 
William Hersee, 
Matthias Brigs, 
John Chubbuck, 
Josiah Lane, 
Robert Waterman, 
Matthew Whiton, 
Scrjant Daniel Lincoln, 
Samuel Stowcll. 

At the said Town Meeting, these persons whose names are under written 
declared themselves to be against the new Meeting House standing in the place 
where the old one do stand. 

Daniel Cushing, Senior, 
Simon Burr, Senior, 
Nathaniel Baker, 
Joseph Jacob, 

Humphrey Johnson, 
Captain John Jacob, 
Serjant Matthew Cushinj. 
James Whiton. 

Ibrook Tower, 
Lieutenant John Smith, 
Jeremiah Beal, Senior. 

On the 11th of August, 1680, the dimensions of the house wei'e 
fixed by the town as follows : length fifty-five feet, breadth forty-five 
feet, and the height of the posts "twenty or one and twenty feet," 
with galleries on one side and at both ends. 

In 1681, May 2, the town approved of what the Selectmen had done 
in relation to the building of the new Meeting-house and the place 
wh«re it was to be set. Thirty-seven persons dissented from this vote. 
These transactions were brought to the notice of the Governor and 
magistnites who interposed their authority as will be seen by the 
following copies of papers in the archives of iJie State. 



Boston, May 16th, 1681. 

The Governo'' and Magistrates having considered the pi'sent motions in 
Hingham relating to the placing of a New meeting house and also perceiving by 
Information of the Hon* W™' Stoughton and Joseph Dudley Esq"^' who were 
desired to view the place of the present House (which is judged to be inconvenient 
by them^ do therefore hereby disallow of the setting up of a New meeting house 
either in the old place or in the plaine. And do further order that a new meeting 
of all persons in the Towne \yho have right to vote in such cases be speedily 
ordered at which it may be fairly voted where to place the new meeting house and 
the Selectmen are hereby required to make a speedy returne of the number of votes 
to the Hon'"'^ Governo'- 

JNO. HULL, pi- order. 

Superscribed to the Selectmen 
of Hingham, to be comunicated 
to the Towne. 

At a Towne meeting holden at Hingham on the 24th day of May 1681 
Thomas Andrews was Chosen moderator of that meeting and at the said meeting 
the vote passed by papers, with seventy-three hands for the new meeting house 
that is now building in Hingham to be set in the convenicntest place in Captaine 
Hobarts land next or nearest to Samuell Thaxters house. 

As Attest, DANIELL GUSHING, Towne Clarke. 

26 May, 1681. 

The magis*« having Considered the Returne of the Selectmen of Hingham in 
refFerenc to the voate for setling the meeting house there Doe Approoye of said 
vote and Judge meete all Circumstances considered that the new meeting house be 
errected accordingly in the convenientest place in Cap'- Hubbards land neerest to 
Samuell Thaxte''s house. 

Past by y<= Council, 

EDW» RAWSON, Secret- 

Thus after a controversy of more than one year, the location of 
the proposed new house was finally settled ; and immediate measures 
were taken to carry the votes of the town into effect. 



On the eightli day of July, 1681, Capt. Joshua Hobart conveyed 
to the Town by deed of gift, the site for the Meeting-house. It is 
the same on which the Meeting4iouse now stands. 


TO ALL CHRISTIAN PEOPLE to whom these Presents shall come, 
Cap*' Joshua Hobart of Hingham of the County of Suffolke in New England 
Sendeth Greeting : 

Know t^« that I the afores^^ Captain Joshua Hobart, as well for the respect that 
I bear unto the Inhabitants of the s<i Town of Hingham & other good causes and 
considerations me at tliis present especially moving have given granted, alienated 
assigned and confirmed and by these Presents doe fully freely and absolutely give 
grant alien assign and confirm unto the Inhabitants of the s^ Town of Hingham 
and their heirs and successors forever A peice or parcel of land for to erect and sett 
a new meeting house upon of that lott of land which I lately purchased of Cap *• 
John Thaxtcr of s* Hingham, which s^ granted piece or parcel of land lyeth on 
the front of said lott and being in breadth upon the front one hundi'cd & fifty foot 
and in the rear one hundred & fifty foot and in depth one hundred and sixteen 
foot, as it is lying & being within the Township of s"! Hingham butting & bounded 
southwestward with the Town Street that Icadeth from the old meeting house 
toward the Plain and southeastward with the house lott of Samuel Thaxter & with 
the remainder of the above s'^ house lott northwestward & northeastward. Together 
with all and singular the libertys and privilidges belonging unto the s"! granted 
premisses. And also all my right title and interest estate use propriety claim or 
demand of in or to the s* granted premisses with their libertys and privilidges. To 
have and to hold the said hereby granted peice or parcel of land for lo erect and 
sett a new meeting house upon, of that s<i lott of land and lately purchased of 
s^ Cap*- John Thaxtcr and being one hundred & fifty foot in breadth afores<i on the 
front and one hundred and fifty foot in s^ rear & one hundred and sixteen foot in 
s^ depth & lying in Hingham afores*! & bounded a^ afores*^ with all and singular 
the libertys and priviledges to the s^ granted premisses unto the s* Inhabitants and 
unto the sole and proper use and behoofe of them the sf^ Inhabitants of s'^ Hingham 
their heirs and successors forever. And I the s^ Caj)'- Joshua Hobart for myself 
my heirs executor's adm" and assigns doe by these presents covenant promise grant 
and agree to and with the s'' Inhabitants and their heirs and successors in manner 
and form as followeth, that is to s.iy, that they the s'^ Inhabitants of s*^ Hingham 


and tlicir heirs and successors shall and may by force and vertue of these presents 
from time to time and at all times forever hereafter lawfully peaceably and quietly 
have hold use possess and enjoy all the above granted premises with their libertys 
and privilidges without any rents acknowledgments or other dues or dutys to be 
yielded paid or done unto me the s^ Cap*- Joshua Hobart my heirs executo'^ adm'^^ 
or assigns forever. And also that the s^ granted premisses are free and clear and 
freely and clearly acquitted exonerated and discharged of and from all and all 
manner of other bargains sales gifts grants dowers and title of dowers and all 
other incumbrances whatsoever from the beginning of the world unto the day of 
the ensealing and deliver}' of these presents. And shall and will warrant the 
s^ granted premisses forever ag* me the s* Cap*- Joshua Hobart my heirs exe" 
adm" or assigns or any other person or persons claiming or pretending to claim 
any lawful! right title or interest in or to the s'^ granted premisses or any part 
thereof from by or under me the s^ Cap'- Joshua Hobart. In witnesse whereof 
I the s"! Joshua Hobart have hereunto sett my hand and seal this eighth day of 
July Anno Domini Sixteen hundred eighty and one, Anno Regni Regis Caroli 
Secundi XXXHI Joshua Hobart Sen"^ & a seal Signed sealed & delivered in the 
presence of us witnesses Daniel Gushing Sen'' John Thaxter E"" Pitts Nathan «i 
Beale Selectmen of the s<i Hingham. Upon the 3^ of May 1692 M'- Daniel 
Gushing and Nathaniel Beals appearing before me made oath that they were 
personally present & saw Cap'- Joshua Hobart perfix his hand and seal to this above 
written instrum' and sett their hands as witnesses to the same and that at the same 
time John Thaxter and Edmund Pitts also sett their hands as witnesses. Sworn 
before me John Smith Assist*- 

Nov"^ 25* 1703. Received and accordingly Entred and Examine* 

p. Addington Davenport Regisf* 

The frame of the Meeting-house was raised on the 26th, 27th and 
28th days of July, 1681, and the liouse was completed and opened 
for public worship January 8, 1681-2. It cost the town £430 and 
the old house. 

A rate had been made in October, 1680, to defray the expense of 
the building. We are able to present the following copy of it, 
preserved in the handwriting of Daniel Cushing, Town Clerk. 


THE EATE OF 1680, 

"fok the building of a new meeting-house." 

A Rate made the ninth Day of October 1680 by the Selectmen of the Towne of 

Hingham for the building of a new meetinghouse in Hingham. 

£ s. d. 

Imprimis Captainc Joshua Hobart 01 00 00 

Nathaniel! Beale Junior 01 04 00 

Mathew Witon 01 04 00 

"William Woodcock 02 03 09 

Josiah Loreing 03 17 01 

Thomas Andrewes 07 10 05 

Captaine John Thaxter 07 08 04 

Edmond Pitts 03 10 00 

Samuell Lincolne Senior 01 08 04 

Samuell Lincolne Junior 01 10 00 

Mordicay Lincolne 01 04 00 

Enoch Hobart 06 18 04 

John Chubbuck 07 01 08 

John Tucker 04 15 00 

Benjamin Lincolne 04 08 04 

Israeli ffering. 03 00 00 

John ffering 03 04 02 

Edmond Hobart 01 00 10 

Daniell Hobart 01 02 06 

John Record , 01 00 00 

Samuell Hobart, promised 01 05 00 

Thomas Gill Junior 01 05 00 

Thomas Gill Senior 05 12 06 

Samuell Gill 

Dauid Hobart 01 10 00 

Josiah Lane 03 16 08 

Thomas Marsh 02 06 08 

Ephraim Marsh 01 05 00 

Jacob Beale 02 03 04 

Ephraim Lane 04 12 00 

John Lane, Carpenter 01 03 04 

Thomas Lincolne, Cooper , 03 14 02 

George Lane 06 06 08 

Thomas Hobart 04 14 07 

Moses Collier 02 10 10 

Joshua Lincohie 04 02 06 

Thomas Lincolne, husbandman 07 12 06 

Caleb Lincolne , 01 00 00 

Serjant Daniell Lincolne 04 00 00 

Ephraim NicoUs 04 10 00 

Thomas Lincqlne, Carpenter 03 18 00 



. here followetli more of the Rate for building the meeting house. 


Henry "Ward 01 

Robert Waterman 02 

Samuell Stowell Senior 06 

John Stowell, promised 01 

Dauid Stowell 01 

Joshua Beale 03 

Caleb Beale 03 

John Langlee 01 

Timothy Hewet. 01 

Israeli Nicolls 02 

Thomas Nicolls 02 

James Hersee 07 

William Hersee 14 

John Hersee promised or frcely giuen 01 

Elizabeth Hewet widow 01 

John Beale Senior 00 

John Beale Junior 04 

Steuen Lincolne 03 

Simon Gross 01 

Daniell Lincolne Junior 02 

Richard Wood 01 

Samuell Bate 01 

Docter Cutler 01 

William Hersee Junior promised 01 

Arthur Caine 01 

Joseph Bate 02 

Nathaniell Beal Senior 01 

James Garnet giuen freely 01 

Joshua Hobart mariner 01 

John Low 01 

John Garnet promised 01 

ffrancis Garnet promised 01 

George Russell 01 

John Lewis 01 

Daniell Stodder 02 

Samuell Stodder 01 

Samuell Thaxter 02 

Joseph Joy promised 01 

Jeremiah Beale blacksmith 01 

Andrew Lane 01 

John Mayo 01 

John Prince 06 

Peter Bams 03 

Daniell Cushing Senior 15 

Daniell Cushing Junior 01 






























































































more of the rate for building the meeting house. 


Matthias Briggs 01 

John Manficld Junior promised 01 

John Manfield Senior 04 

Nathaniell Baker 08 

James Bate Senior 03 

Benjamin Bate 01 

Joseph Bate Sone of James Bate 01 

Serjant Jeremiah Beale 05 

Purthee Mackforlin 04 

John ffarrow Junior. . . .' 02 

John ffarrow Senior & Nathan ifarrow 02 

Josiah Leauitt 02 

Israeli Leauitt 01 

Deacon John Leauitt 07 

Joseph iFord 01 

Thomas Sayer 03 

Simon Burr Senior 04 

Simon Burr Junior 01 

Cornelius Cantlberry 07 

Cornet Mathew Gushing 09 

Anthony Sprague 06 

Joseph Jones Senior 05 

Joseph Jones Junior 00 

William Spragne 04 

Robert Jones 01 

John Lazell 05 

Joshua Lazell '. 01 

Steuen Lazell 01 

Abraham Riply 05 

Lieutenant John Smith 11 

Mathew Hawke 06 

ffrancis James 04 

John Riply Senior 05 

John Riply Junior promised 01 

Joshua Riply promised 01 

John Bull 01 

Ibrook Tower 01 

John Stodder 01 

John Tower Senior 02 

Edward Wilder 07 

Ephraim Wilder 01 

John Wilder 01 

Captaine John Jacob 12 

Joseph Jacob 03 




























































































more of the rate for building the meeting house. 

£ s. d. 

Samuell Bacon , 01 04 00 

Peter Bacon 03 06 08 

Humphry Johnson 03 11 08 

James Witon Senior 08 00 00 

James Witon Junior promised 01 00 00 

John Tower Junior promised 01 00 00 

William Hiliard 01 08 00 

Charles Stockbridge of Scittuate 01 00 00 

Kobert Dunbarr 02 03 04 

Nathaniel! ChubbUck 03 00 00 

John Sprague 01 10 00 

Benjamin Johnson 01 05 00 

William flSsher promised 01 00 00 

the totall sum 436 14 11 

This is a true Copy of the original! rate Joshoa Hobart 
Testee Daniell Cushing Clarke John Thaxtek 

Edmond Pitts > Selectmen 

Nathaniell Beale 
Daniell Gushing 



We are able to present a copy of a private record made by 
Daniel Gushing, Town Clerk, which has fortunately come into the 
possession of the Committee, and which shows to whom seats were 
assigned in the new Meeting-house, in compliance with a vote of the 
Town at the first Town meeting held in the new house, and before it 
was opened for public worship. 

Fkom Daniel Cushing's MAjq^uscKiPTs. 

"Att a Towne meeting holden at Hingham on the fift day of January 1681 
M"" John Norton our pastor & the two deacons (viz) John Leauit & John Smith, 
Captaine John Thaxter, Nathaniell Beale Senior, Serjant Thomas Andrews, 
Cornet Mathew Gushing & Ensigne Jeremiah Beale were Chosen by the Towne to 
order the Seating of y® people of the Towne in the new meeting house in Ilingham 
& to doe it presently with all Convenient speed that they can possible, it being the 
first Towne meeting that was in the new meeting house, on the eight day of said 
January was the first Sabboth day that the people of Hingham met in the new 
meeting house to worship god, & Israeli Nicolls the son of Israeli Nicolls & 
Hannah beale the Daughter of Jeremiah Beale were the first Children that were 
baptized in the said meeting house which was on the said eight of January." 

The record of the doings of the Committee above named " is as 
foUoweth :" 


In the Deacons Seate. 

Deacon John Leauitt 
Deacon John Smith 
Mathew Hawks 

In the seate under y^ pulpit. 

John Beale Senior 
Tho^- Lincoln, Coop 
George Russell 
George Lane 
John Tower Senior 

In the foreseate in the body of 
THE Meeting house por the 


Captaine Joshua Hobart 
Daniel Gushing Senior 
Nathaniel Baker 
Doctor John Cutler 
Edmond Hobart 
Thomas Hobart 
Thomas Lincoln, hush** 
William Hearsey Senior 

In the second seate. 

Edmond Pitts 
Nathaniel Beale Senior 
Edward Wilder 
Humphry Johnson 
Thomas Gill Senior 
Thomas NicoUs 
John Ripley Senior 
James Witon Senior 

In the third seate. 

John Manfield Senior 
James Bates Senior 
John Tucker 
Cornelius Cantlberry 
Simon Burr Senior 
John Lazell 
ffrancis James 
Caleb Bet^les 

In the fourth seate. 

Abraham Ripley Senior 
Antony Sprague 
Joseph Jones Senior 
Benjamin Lincolne 
Moses Collier 
Samuel Lincolne Senior 
William Woodcock 
Israeli fferring 
Josiah Lane 

In the fift seate. 

Nathaniel Chubbuck 
Samuel Stoder 
William Sprague 
Jacob Beale 
Joseph Joy Senior 
John fFarrow Junior 
Andrew Lane 
Robert Waterman 
Peter Bams 

In the sixt seate. 

Peter Bacon 

Daniel Lincoln Junior 

William Hillard 

Ibrook Tower 

John Bull 

Nathaniel Beales Junior 

Samuel Hobart 

James Witon Junior 

The seuenth seats. 

Simon Gross 
John Wilder 
Daniel Hobart 
Joshua Lazell 
Arthur Coin 


The foreseate for the men on 
the north side of the meet- 
ing house. 

Eobert Jones 

John Prince 

John fFarrow Senior & Nathan 

Mathias Briggs 

Samuel Stowell Senior 

The SECOND seate. 
John Stodder 
Henry Ward 
Samuel Bates 
Daniel Stodder 
Purthe Mackfarlin 

In the third seate. 

John Sprague 
James Witon Junior 
John Tower Junior 
Thomas Jewell 

The FOURTH seate. 
John Records 
Benjamin Tower 
Paul Gilford 
John Low 
fFrancis Garnet 

In the pew. 
Mfs Hobart 
M" Norton 

In the first seate next y''- peav. 
Captaine Hobarts wife 
L'tenent Smiths wife 
Deacon John Lcauitts wife 
John Riplys wife 

In the second seate. 
Tho^ Lincolne malsters wife 
old widdow Andrewes 
George Russells wife 
widdow Sprague 
Edward Wilders wife 
widow Lane 
James Bates wife 
widow Joy 

In the third seate. John ffarrow 

Senior his wife 
widow Barns 
the wife of Robert Jones 
The wife of John Tower senior 
widow Lincolne 
the wife of Moses Collier 
The wife of William Woodcock 

In THE FOURTH SEATE tllC wifc of 

Robert Dunbar 
the wife of John Sprague 
the wife of John Stodder 
the wife of Daniel Stodder 
the wife of Samnel Stodder 
the wife of Purthe Mackfarlin 
the widow Hewet 

In THE FiFT SEATE the wifc of 

John Lane Shoomaker 
the wife of John Dunbar 
the wife of Paul Gilford 
the wife of Thomas Jewell 
the wife of John Low 
The wife of Benjamin Tower 


foreseate Nathaniel Bakers wife 
the wife of Daniel Gushing Senior 
the wife of Mathew Hawks 
the wife of Tho^ Lincoln husband- 
the wife of George Lane 
the wife of Thomas Hobart 
the wife of William Hearsey Senica* 
widow Deborah Tarlton 

In the SECOND SEATE thc wifc of 

Edmond Pitts 
the wife of Nathaniel Beale Senior 
the wife of Ensigne Jeremiah Beale 
the wife of Thomas Andrewes 
the wife of John Manfield 
the wife of James Witon Senior 
the wife of Humphry Johnson 
the wife of John Prince 
the wifc of Daniel Lincoln Senior 


Lv THE THIRD SEATE, the wifc Of 

Mathias Briggs 
John Beales wife 
the wife of Cornelius Cantlbeny 
the wife of Simon Burr 
the wife of John Tucker 
the wife of Joshua Beales 
the wife of Steuen Lincolne 
the wife of Samuel S to well 
the wife of Caleb Beales 

In the fourth seate for the 
^yoMEX IX the body of the 


The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 
The wife 

of John Lazell 
of Antony Sprague 
of Joseph Jones 
of ffrancis James 
of Abraham Riply 
of Samuel Lincoln 
of Benjamin Lincoln 
of Peter Bams 
of Israeli ffering 
of Josia Loreing 

In the fift seate 

The wife of Thomas Nicolls 

The wife of Samuel Thaxter 

The wife of Nathaniel Chubbuck 

The wife of Joseph Joy 

The wife of John ffarrow 

The wife of Jacob Beales 

The wife of Andrew Lane 

The wife of Jeremiah Beale Junior 

In the sixt seate 

Josiali Lanes wife 
The wife of Henry Ward 
Tlie wife of William Sprague 
The wife of William Hillard 
The wife of Ibrook Tower 
The wife of John Bull 
The wife of Mathew Witon 
The wife of John Langlcc 

In the seuenth seate. 
7 The widdow Tower 
The wife of John Wilder 
The wife of Simon Gross 
The wife of John Tower Junior 
The wife of Daniel Hobart 
The wife of Joshua Lazell 
The wife oC ffrancis Garnet 
The wife of Arthur Cain 

Maids for t^ foreseat below 
IN T« east end, Ruth Bates 
Mary Stowell Rachell Gill 
Mary Garnet Elizabeth CantlbeiTy 
Mary Lincoln Mary Lazell 
Jemime Tower Remember Stowell 
The daughter of ffrancis James 
Patience Nicolls Hester Bates 
Henry Wards daughter 

Seats for the women on the 
gallart at the east end with 
a part of the gallart on the 
south side as followeth — 
I Captaine John Thaxters wife 

Cornet Mathew Cushings wife 

Captaine John Jacobs wife 

Doctor John Cutlers wife 

John Chubbucks wife 

James Herseys wife 

The wife of Joshua Hobart, Mariner 

The wife of Joshua Lincoln 

Thewifeof Thomas Lincoln Carpenter 

The wife of Enoch Hobart 

The wife of Dauid Hobart 

The wife of John Smith 

The wife of John ffering 

The wife of Joseph Jacob 

The wife of Israeli Leauitt 

The wife of Daniel Gushing Junior 

The wife of Josiali Leauitt 

The wife of James Hawks 

The wife of John Mayo 

The wife of Thomas Gill 

The wife of John Hearsey 

The wife of Thomas Sayer 

The wifc of Thomas Mtu-sh 

The wife of Ephraim Nicolls 

The wife of John Lewes 

The wife of Israeli Nicolls 


The secoud seatb ik the oal- 
lary for women in the 
south side of the meeting 


Robert Watermans wife 
Nathaniel Beales Junior his wife 
The wife of Daniel Lincoln Junior 
The wife of Peter Barns 

In the second seate in the 
gallary at y^ west end 
more of the young men. 

Joseph Bate son of James bate 
Joseph Bate son of Joseph Bate 
Benjamin Bate 
Timothy Hewet 
John Garnet 
Enoch Witon 
James Garnet 
Joseph Jones 

The second seate on the gal- 
lary at the east end of the 
house for y^ maids. 

Abigail Hobart, Lydia Hobart, 

Hannah Hobart, Mary Leauitt, 

Jaell Jacob, Hannah Hawks, 

lluth Andrewes, Susanna Beales, 

Mary Thaxter, Rebekah Hersey, 

Elizabeth Lincoln, Hannah Leauitt, 

Hannah Lincoln, Ruth Lincoln, 

Mary Beales, Mary Witon, 

Elizabeth Jacob, Mary Beales, 

Sarah Steuens, Mary Riply, 

Mary Cantlberrj', Jane Loreing, 
Elizabeth Andrewes,Mary Lincoln, 
Steucn Lincolns Daughter, 
Patience Jones. 

The SECOND seate in the front 


Thomas Thaxter 
Caleb Lincoln 
Epliraim Wilder 

Samuel Lincoln Junior I 


Joseph Lincoln 

William Hersey Junior 

Nehemiah Leauitt 

Benjamin John.son 

Nathan ffarrow 

Ephraim Lane 

John Beale, son of Jeremy beale 

Joseph Ford 

Mordecai Lincoln 

Simon Burr 

The SECOND seate in y= gallary 


Tho Lincoln Junior 
Ephraim Marsh 
Theophilus Gushing 
Ebenezer Lane 
John Riply Junior 
Samuell Stowell Junior 
John Hearsey 
Steuen Lazell 
John Manfield Junior 
Samuell Gill 
Isaac Wilder 
John Stowell 
Dauid Stowell 
John Lewes 
Joshua Riply 
Joseph Loreing 

The foreseate on the gallary 
ON the south side of the 
meeting house, for men. 

Capt. John Thaxter 
Captaine John Jacob 
Cornet Mathew Gushing 
Ensigne Jeremiah Beales 
Thomas Andrewes 
Joshua Beales 
John Chubbuck 
Thomas Lincoln, carpenter 
Josiah Loreing 
Jamjs Hearsey 
Joshua Hobart, mariner 
Joshua Lincoln 
Dauid Hobart 
John Smith 


The end gallary for men at 
the west end of the meeting 


Daniel Lincoln Senior 
John Beales Junior 
Steuen Lincoln 
Joseph Bates 
Samuel Thaxter 
Enoch Hobart 
Joseph Jacob 
John fFering 
Thomas Sayer 
John Hearsey 
Thomas Marsh 
Thomas Gill Junior 
Israeli Leauitt 
James Hawk 
Daniel Gushing Junior 
Josiah Leauitt 

Ephraim Nicolls 

Jeremiah Beale, blacksmith 

Israel Nicolls 

John Lane, carpenter 

John Mayo 

John Langlee 


Jabez Wilder, John Burr, 
Nathaniel Nicolls, Mathew Gushing, 
Benjamin Jones, Lazarus Beale, 
James Ray, James Hersey, 

Thomas Loreing, Moses Hobart, 
Joseph Jones Junior, 
Thomas Andrewes 
Daniel Lincoln Junior, 
Dauid Jacob, 
Samuel Thaxter. 

The foregoing list is of exceeding interest. "We can see in it, at a 
glance, those to whom seats were assigned in the new Meeting-house 
and who were contemporaries. It embraces a large number of the 
first settlers of the town, whose descendants to several generations, 
and for nearly two centuries, have gathered for public worship under 
the same roof. 

This list gives almost a complete census of the town in its original 
limits. There were men among them who knew the Pilgrims of 
Plymouth ; and it is a pleasant thought that some of the Pilgrims 
probably attended public worship in the new Meeting-house, and 
listened to the preaching of Rev. John Norton. There were men 
there who had suffered in person and estate from the depredations of 
the Indians, and some who bore arms in the war against Philip of 
Pokanoket, and were present in the great Narraganset Fight, in 
December, 1675. 


The appearance of the Meeting-house itself, when completed, must 
have been nearly the same as it now is, and of which the View 
facing the Title of the Appendix gives a correct idea. 

In the interior there were galleries on one side, and at both ends. 
The pulpit was on the North East side of the house. There was 
probably no plastering upon the walls, and there was no ceiling. 
The whole interior was open, showing the old oaken rafters and braces 
which supported the roof. The walls, both outside and inside, were 
clapboarded. The seats were of oak, arranged in rows or sections as 
indicated by the " Seating of the House," and there appears to have 
been one pew, which was occupied by the widow of the first 
minister and the wife of the second. The Deacons also had their 
separate seat. Matthew Hawke was permitted to occupy a seat with 
them, perhaps to facilitate his taking down in short-hand the sermons 
of the preacher, a service which he was accustomed to perform. 

It will be quite an interesting problem for an ingenious antiquary 
to solve, — to arrange the seats of the Meeting-house as they were, — 
and to be able to locate the occupants in their proper order and 
position, when assembled for public worship. It will then need but 
a slight effort of the imagination to picture the striking scene. 

It will be recollected, that the town at this time, constituted but 
one parish, and so continued until after the close of Mr. Norton's 
ministry. He died Oct. 3, 1716. Before that date and so early as 
1713, the inhabitants of Cohasset began to agitate the subject of 
forming a second precinct. This was finally accomplished, and 
Cohasset was made the Second Precinct of Hingham, Nov. 21, 
1717. Havinff erected a Meeting-house and obtained the privileges 
of a parish. Rev. Nehemiah Hobart was ordained their Pastor, 
Dec. 13, 1721. 

In consequence of the creation of the Second Precinct, the 
remaining inhabitants of Hingham not included within the limits of 
Cohasset, composed the First Parish or Precinct and organized as 
such, March 6, 1720-1. From that date, we have full and correct 
records to which we can now resort for much of the subsequent history 
of our Ancient Meeting-house. 

The building of a new Meeting-house within the limits of the town 
would seem to have relieved the pressure for room in the old house, 
but the contrary appears to have been the result. From the 
commencement of the Parish records, to 1729, there appears to have 
been constantly agitated the question of increasing the accommo- 
dations of the worshippers. Many votes were passed, at various 


meetings, in relation to building pews ; enlarging the galleries, by 
bringing them forward ; extending galleries from the sides to the 
pulpit; building another tier of galleries; putting pews over the 
stairs, etc. : none of which seem to have been carried into effect. 
On the 31st day of March, 1729, the Parish voted, "That there be 
an addition made to the back part of the Meeting House and that 
the same do not exceed fourteen feet wide or back." This enlarge- 
ment was completed during that or the following year, for on Aug. 
24th, 1730, it was voted " that the pulpit should be moved back to 
the northwardly side of addition to the meeting house, — 39 to 35." 
The cost of the addition was £296, Us. Id. Subsequently, various 
votes were passed in relation to further finishing the honse. 

Jan. 19, 1731, it was voted that "no part of the meeting house 
should be pewed." 

In May, 1731, voted, "That the remainder part of the meeting 
house should be sealed overhead and that the two posts standing 
in the fore seats should be wrought into a suitable form." The 
cost of "sealing overhead" was £121, Is. 9d. In March, 1731-2, 
" That there should be a new belfry erected on the top of the meeting 
house."— Cost, £34, 14s. 8d. 

We have found in the Parish records the following votes : 
Sept. 1734. The Committee to see to putting in new windows "be 
and are hereby further impowered to clapboard the outside of the same" 
(Meeting-house) "where they shall think it needful, and also to plastur^ 
with lime so much of the inside of the s'^ house where it is now clap- 
boarded as they shall think proper." £100 raised to defray expense. 
March, 1739. Permisssion refused Elijah Beal to build a pew 
over the w^omen's gallery. 

May, 1740, "Not to dispose of any ground in the meeting house 
to erect pewes on." 

June, 1752. The question whether the Meeting-house shall be 
pewed "in any method whatsoever," passed in the negative. 

March 12, 1755. " That an addition be made and finished at the 
South Southwest end of this house fourteen feet in length, and that 
all proper repairs be made to the old part of s*^ house, windows, 
glazing, &c., and that the pulpit be removed into the centre of the 
whole length when the addition is made and that all the seats be 
removed agreeable thereto and that a sutable Bellfree be erected 
and finished on the top of the s'^ house and that the pew ground 
proposed in a plan now exhibited by Benjamin Lincoln be disposed 
of to the highest bidders, for the payment of the. whole cost." 


A committee was chosen " to cany on and fmisli the whole of y" , 
s^ addition and repairs as soon as may be." 

At a meeting in October, 1755, among other votes passed, was one 
" not to build a new Pulpit." This vote was reconsidered ; and a 
vote passed to "order the same to be built." The Committee on 
Repairs was " impowered to cause the pewes to be forthwith erected." 

This action of the Parish seems to have hastened the work. The 
house was enlarged as voted, a new pulpit constructed, a new belfry 
erected on the top of the house, and the pews were built, viz. : two 
rows of square pews on all sides of the house, excepting the spaces 
occupied by the pulpit and the aisles leading from the entrances, and 
those between the rows of pews. There was a pew in front of the 
pulpit, known as the elders pew, or pew for elderly men, and also an 
enclosed seat or pew in front of the elders pew, facing the broad aisle 
for the use of the Deacons of the church. 

The central space or body of the house was filled with long oaken 
seats, for the occupancy of males, on one side of the broad aisle, and 
of females on the other. These seats were separated from the pews 
by aisles. The galleries were changed and located as they now are, 
oaken seats were placed in them, and the south-western gallery 
assigned to males and the north-eastern gallery to females. 

The pulpit was built by Ebenezer Lincoln. The work " about the 
pews," was done by Elijah Beal and two boys, (probably his appren- 
tices) Thomas Joy, Joseph Stowers and Caleb Bates. They were 
employed nearly all the time from the first of November, 1755, until 
the middle of January, 1756. 

This last addition to the Meeting-house established its dimensions 
as they now are, viz : seventy-three feet, by fifty-five feet. 

1756, January 6. At a Parish meeting, "the forward pew adjoining 
to the stairs leading up to the pulpit" was reserved for the use of the 
minister and his family for the time being. At the same meeting, 
various other votes were passed in relation to the sale of the pews. 
The Committee on Repairs was "impowered to determine upon a 
certain sum at which each pew should be put up at in the sale of 
them to the highest bidders." This meeting was adjourned to the 
20th of January, when the pews were sold successfully, " Captain 
John Thaxter being by the committee appointed Vendue Master." 
A full account of the sale is recorded in the Parish records. 

It is an interesting fact that the strength and growth of the Parish 
justified and required this enlarged accommodation for the use of the 
inhabitants within so few years after the formation of a new Parish 


embracing in its limits the South part of the town. The subject of 
establishing a new Parish was proposed so early as 1738, and was 
pursued by the members who resided in that section of the town, with 
great zeal and ultimate success. The Third Parish was set off March 
25, 1745-6, and included more than one-half the territory of the whole 
Parish. On the incorporation of Cohasset, in 1770, the Third 
became the Second parish in Hingham. Their first minister. Rev. 
David Shute, D. D., was ordained, Dec. 10, 1746. 

The separation of the second precinct, (Cohasset,) in 1717, and of 
the third, (South Hingham,) in 1745-6, did not diminish the interest 
of the members of the First Parish in maintaining their old house of 
worship, but on the contrary, in both instances, gave fresh impulses to 
enlarge it and improve its condition. Both the additions were made 
during the ministry of Dr. Gay. 

From 1756 to 1791 no further changes were made in the Meeting- 
house. In 1778, March 23d, it was voted not to act on the 4th 
article in the warrant, which was to see if the Parish would dispose of 
any spot in the Meeting-house for pews. 

In 1791, at a meeting in March, a committee of nine was chosen to 
report at the annual meeting, in April, on the subject of granting 
additional space for pews. The committee reported in favor of 
appropriating a space eight feet deep on each side of the back part 
of the body seats for that purpose, whereby eight pews might be 
constructed four feet deep and nine feet long. The report was 
accepted and the pews were built as proposed and sold to members 
of the Parish. 

In 1791, during the ministry of Dr. Henry "Ware, (who was 
ordained pastor Oct. 24, 1787,) a disposition was manifested to make 
material changes in the form and appearance of the house. Thus at 
a meeting in June, it was voted " that the meeting-house be repaired 
in the following manner, viz. : that the roof be carried up to a point 
the same pitch as the southwest roof is over the centre of the house; 
and that the ridge extend from the northwest side of the house to the 
southeast, the whole width of the house ; and that where the porch 
now stands a tower be built on which the bell shall be hung, and such 
work on the top of the tower as shall hereafter be ordered ; and that 
a small porch be built at the southwest door ; and that the house shall 
be painted all over except the roof; and that stairs be built in the 
tower to lead into the gallery as they now do." A committee was 
chosen to superintend the work. In February, 1792, it was voted 
" that a tower be built at the southwest side of the meeting-house for 


the bell to hang on." And in March following it was voted " that 
the meeting-house roof be taken off and a proper pitch roof made to 
correspond with the tower that is to be built and to have proper 
covings." Afterwards it was voted " to leave it to the judgment of 
the committee to form the roof as they shall judge best." The 
committee were Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, Dea. Joseph Thaxter, Col. 
Charles Cushing, Caleb Bates, and David Andrews. At the meeting 
in April, 1792, the committee reported that they found the top of the 
Meeting-house so defective that it was not best to repair it without 
taking off the roof, and their report was accepted. But in August, 
following, it was voted that the vote for taking off the roof " be dis- 
solved." A still more important vote was passed at the same meeting, 
which was as follows : " Voted to take down the meeting-house and 
build a new one similar to a plan exhibited in the meeting which is on 
file, 60 in favor of it and 28 against it." 

Committees were appointed to perfect the plan and appraise the 

In November, 1792, the Parish fortunately abandoned the plan of 
building a new Meeting-house and passed these votes : " Voted, 
not to take down the meeting-house and build a new one on any 
principles." It was also voted, " to repair the meeting-house in its 
present form." 

In April, 1793, a committee chosen in March, to consider the 
question of repairs, " offered the following statement for consideration, 
viz. : That the under pinning be well secured by a wall without, and 
the middle to be filled up with earth ; that the northeast end and 
part of both sides be new silled ; that there be new steps at the south- 
west door ; and that all the doors be repaired ; that the northeast 
end be clapboarded and the other repaired ; that there be covings 
under the eaves of the front, rear, and southwest end ; and also the 
porch be shingled, and that of the northeast end repaired ; that a 
new roof be made where it is now leaded, and that there be banisters 
round it ; and a new frame and wheel for the bell ; the steeple 
repaired, the roof secured from spreading by two beams being placed 
across in the garret from front to rear and secured with iron clasps, 
and one lengthwise in the same manner ; the posts in Jonathan 
Lincoln's pew secured at the bottom ; the ceiling overhead white- 
washed, and the walls of the front, rear, and southwest end be 
painted on the outside." 

The committee estimated the cost and gave as their opinion that it 
would not exceed £200. 


This report was accepted and a committee consisting of "Jacob 
Leavitt, Hawk Fearing, Noah Hearsey," chosen " to prepare the stuff 
and to compleat the repairs." This work was done and the ancient 
edifice saved. 

1793, July 22. It was voted " to build a porch at the southwest 
door of the meeting-house, and that the porch be ten feet square on 
the ground, about ten feet post, a false door with a piedmont in front, a 
door on each side, and finished as is usual for a porch of that kind to 
be finished." 

It was also voted "to paint the inside of the Meeting-house, (except 
the body seats,) to include the pew under the pulpit and the Deacon's 
seat, to whitewash the walls and repair the plastering." 

The whole expense of the repairs and improvements made in 1793, 
was £278, 5s. Qd. 

1799, March 11. It was voted "to build 4 pews on the women's 
side in the body of the meeting-house," and a committee was chosen 
to procure the pews to be built on the best terms they can and 
conformable to the pews last built, being confined to the 3 hindmost 
seats." And in November, of the same year, it was voted " to build 
four pews in body seats on the men's side conformable to those last 
built on the women's side." At the same time, it was voted to build 
five pews on each of the side galleries in front. 

In 1804, May, it was voted to erect pews in the galleries back of 
those already made in said galleries. 

All the alterations, additions and pews which have been mentioned, 
from 1791 to 1804, were made and constructed during the ministry 
of Dr. Ware. 

In 1817, May 17, it was voted, "to pew the remainder of the body 
seats on the lower floor in the Meeting house and to reduce the present 
Parish pews, in width, so as to erect five tiers of pews on the whole 
ground." " To be built before the first day of March next." 

1818, March 3, "Voted that the Parish Committee make such 
alterations in the Elderly seat as will make it convenient for the 
Moderator and other officers on publick meetings." 

Voted, " That the four front pews on the lower floor be left for the 
accommodation of the elderly people if necessary." 

1818, March 21, Voted, "That the Steeple of the Meeting-house 
and Bell frame and all the top of said house be put in thorough 
repair," and August 31 of the same year. Voted, "That the Spire be 
raised eighteen inches higher than it formerly was." 

In 1819, the Parish sold two of their pews on the floor of the 
liouse to members of the Parish. The remainder of the Parish 


pews were retained by the Parish, being seventeen on the lower floor 
and all the gallery pews, which were let from time to time, by 
auction, to such persons as the Parish approved. 

In 1824, March 9, an alteration was authorized to be made in the 
front gallery, by making it in the form of an arc of a circle for the 
convenience of the Choir. In making this alteration, two pews were 
constructed, one at each end of the front gallery, which were sold to 
individuals and purchased of them by the Parish, as appears by a 
report of the Parish Committee made in 1844. 

In 1828, a committee made a report to the Parish, which was 
accepted, and in which it was recommended, that the pews in front 
of the pulpit should be removed ; that the house should be painted 
inside ; the walls and ceiling whitewashed ; that curtains be procured 
for the pulpit windows ; curtains be placed in front of the singers' 
gallery ; and new cushions furnished for the pulpit and desk. 

In 1854, the Parish Committee were authorized to cause eight new 
pews to be built in the Eastern gallery; and in 1855, the same 
number was ordered to be built in the Western gallery. In 1857, 
four additional pews were ordered to be built in each of the above 
mentioned galleries. 

In 1858, March 9, at the a,nnual meeting of the Parish, a 
communication was received from the "Ladies' Benevolent Society" 
of the Parish, in relation to repairs on the Meeting-house and 
tendering donations in money to effect the object. 

The Parish Committee were instructed to confer with the ladies in 
order to carry their propositions into effect. Several hundred dollars, 
a part of which was the proceeds of a Fair, conducted under the 
direction of the Benevolent Society, were given to the Parish which 
was expended by the Parish Committee in repairing and beautifying 
the house. At the annual meeting in 1860, it was vjoted, "That the 
Parish present their grateful acknowledgments to the Ladies' Benevo- 
lent Society, for the very liberal donations of money which that Society 
has made on two recent occasions, towards repairing and beautifying 
the Meeting-house." 

In 1859, four pews had been constructed, by order of the Parish 
Committee, in the front gallery; and in 1868, four more pews had 
been built in the same gallery, making the whole number of gallery 
pews, thirty-two. 

We come now to a period in the history of the Meeting-house of 
unusual interest and importance. 




At the annual Parish meeting, held March 10, 1869, it was voted, 
" That a committee be chosen to consider the matter of reseating 
the lower floor of the Church," and ascertain the probable expense of 
a new floor and new pews, and report to the Parish at their next 

Voted, That said committee consist of five, and that the same be 
nominated by the moderator, (Gen. Luther Stephenson, Jun.) 
Warren A. Hersey, Ebed S. Ripley, William Fearing, 2d, E. Waters 
Burr and Henry C. Harding were named by the moderator and 
accepted by the Parish as said committee. 

Voted, That the members of the Parish Committee be added to 
the above committee. The members of the Parish Committee were 
John K. Corthell, Israel Whitcomb and Quincy Bicknell. 

1869, April 7, at an adjourned Parish meeting, the foregoing 
committee presented a report on the subject committed to them. In 
this report, the committee stated that the floor of the Meeting-house 
was " in a very advanced state of decomposition," and that it was the 
unanimous opinion of the committee, that for its preservation, a new 
floor was expedient, that the construction of a new floor involved the 
necessity of removing the old pews and constructing new ones ; and 
that the prosperity and growth of the Society required that a Vestry 
be constructed under the " Church." The estimated cost of doing the 
work, materials, value of the old pews, repairing foundation and 
contingencies, was $7,500, without a Vestry ; and with a Vestry, 

This report was accepted excepting that part of it which recom- 
mended a Vestry. 

A committee was chosen to carry the report as amended and 
accepted into effect. The following named gentlemen were chosen 
to compose the committee, viz: Israel Whitcomb, John K. Corthell, 
Quincy Bicknell, E. Waters Burr, Warren A. Hersey, Ebed S. 
Ripley and William Fearing, 2d. 

The committee were directed " to have the old pews appraised and 
also the new ones when completed." 

1869, June 11, a special Parish meeting was called to consider the 
subject of repairs and alterations with a view to a more detailed 


report of those which should be regarded as necessary or expedient, 
also on the subject of furnishing and heating the Meeting-house, — 
with estimates of the cost of the same. 

The whole subject was referred to the committee of seven 
appointed at the last meeting, with a request that they report to the 
Parish at the earliest day practicable. 

1869, June 21, a special meeting of the Parish was held to hear 
the report of the committee and to act thereon. 

The report was very full and elaborate, and was arranged in 
eighteen sections, of which the following is an abstract : 

Section 1. The committee deem it expedient that the Choir and 
Organ be located upon the platform on the Easterly side of the 

Sect. 2. The South-eastern porch to be repaired, new sills, 
floor, stairs and doors. A chimney to be built from the basement to 
the chimney in the "attic." Stairs from the porch to basement 
under the gallery stairs. 

Sect. 3. The walls of the whole house to be clapboarded anew. 

Sect. 4. New windows with plain glass, (10x15) and blinds, or 
with stained glass, without blinds. 

Sect. 5. The outer walls to be painted with two coats of paint. 
The painting of the spire and the gilding of the vane and ball to be 

Sect. 6. Three sides of the roof to be shingled. The committee 
are unable to state the extent to which repairs should be made. 

Sect. 7. The lower and unfinished part of the posts in the 
interior of the " Church " should be finished in such a manner as to 
conform in appearance to the upper part of the same. 

Sect. 8. The committee state their objections to stoves for 
heating the house ; and propose two furnaces in brick, having two 
registers or one register each: or two portable furnaces with two 
registers, or one i-egister each. An estimate of the expense was given. 

Sect. 9. The purchase of new carpets for the lower floor of the 
house, cushions of uniform character for the pews, and such pulpit 
furniture and drapery as may be deemed necessary, is recommended. 

Sect. 10. A flight of stairs on each side of the pulpit is proposed. 

Sect. 11. If section 1 is approved, the committee ask for authority 
to place seats or erect pews in the gallery recently occupied by the 
Choir, and to dispose of the same for the best interest of the Parish. 

Sect. 12. The committee recommend that the grounds around 
the " Church " be graded to conform to the foundation of the same. 


Sect. 13. The committee proposed that the expenses incurred by 
repairs on the outside of the Meeting-house, viz. : clapboarding, 
painting, shingling the roof, and necessary repairs on the spire, and 
also the cost of windows be paid by a Parish tax to be levied and 
paid in five equal annual instalments. 

At the said meeting, the report was taken up and considered by 
sections with the following result: 

Sections 1, 2 and 3 were severally accepted without amendment. 
Section 4 was accepted with an amendment " that there be 37 new 
windows with diamond sashes and plain .glass." Sections 5, 6 and 7 
were severally accepted without amendment. Section 8 was 
referred to the committee to act in the premises as they think best. 
Sections 9 and 10 were accepted without amendment. Section 11 was 
accepted after striking out the clause in relation to the disposal of 
pews. Section 12 was accepted and referred to the committee to 
act as they may deem best. Section 13. Voted that no action be 
taken thereon at this meeting. 

At this meeting the Parish Committee offered a report in relation 
to the sale of pews which was read for information and laid on the 
table for future consideration. 

At a special meeting of the Parish held August 9, 1869, the report, 
read for information at the last meeting, in relation to the appraisal of 
the pews, their sale by auction and the conditions of sale, as well as 
the conditions to be inserted in the deeds of the same by the Parish 
Committee, was considered and accepted with an amendment limiting 
the sale to those now being erected on the lower floor of the house. 
The conditions to be inserted in the deeds of pews, being printed in a 
form prepared by the Parish Committee, are in the possession of every 
pew-holder and are therefore not reprinted. 

It was also voted, that the Committee on Repairs be requested to 
carry out the provisions of the vote of the 7th of April, last, in 
relation to the appraisal of pews, and which directed the committee to 
have the old pews appraised, and also the new ones when completed. 

A plan of the old pews is here inserted with their numbers, by 
which, and their position, persons interested can recall to their minds 
their occupants and the general appearance of the congregation. 

1869, August 17, a Parish meeting was held, at which it was voted 
that the pews in the galleries be offered for sale at the same time as 
those on the lower floor and on the same terms and conditions. It 
was also voted, that the Treasurer be requested to offer the pews for 
sale on Wednesday, the eighth day of September next. 

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It was also voted tliat the Parish Committee be requested to open 
the Meeting-house for public worship as soon as it shall be completed 
and dedicated. 

The work on the Meeting-house was completed before the day 
appointed for its rededication and the sale of the pews. 

The following extracts are taken from an article published in the 
Hingham Journal, written by a member of the Committee on Repairs, 
and contain some facts which have not been mentioned in the preceding 

From the Hingham Journal of July 7, 18 69. 

By a notice in our advertising columns, it will be seen that the 
pews in the Meeting-house of the First Parish, in this town, will be 
sold by auction, on Wednesday next, at two o'clock in the afternoon. 
If any apology be necessary for calling more particular attention to 
this sale than is given by the advertisement, it must be found in the 
interest which not only the members of this Parish but many people 
beyond the limits of this Parish have felt in the matter since the work 
of repairs was commenced upon this ancient edifice. This interest 
has had something more than a local character, for wherever the 
descendants of those who nearly two centuries ago erected this house, 
are scattered throughout the whole of our wide-spread domain, there 
is some knowledge, traditional or otherwise, in relation to the peculiar 
history of this old house ; and the thousands of strangers who have at 
different times visited us have carried away lasting impressions of the 
unique style of building once familiar to the fathers, but now of rare 

There is no other house for public worship now standing in New 
England, which was built for that purpose, and which has been in 
constant use for so long a period of time ; perhaps none in the whole 

Several articles have appeared in the columns of this paper during 
the time the work of repair has been going on, evincing no small 
degree of interest in relation to the manner in which the committee, 
who had the work in charge, proposed to accomplish it, and it is not 
surprising that therein fears were expressed that something would be 
done in the progress of the work to mar the general character of the 
building ; and the committee ought to feel under some obligation to 
this expression of public feeling, in restraining any tendency in this 
direction, if unhappily it had any foothold among them. It was no 


mere desire for change or to conform to modern fashion of architecture 
which led to the work of repair, but an apparent necessity for making 
essentia:! repairs had been felt for some years. This at last led to an 
examination of the floor of the house, and this examination revealed 
the fact that if the Parish wished to preserve their house they must 
forthwith commence the work of repairs, and that nothing short of an 
entire new floor would answer the purpose. This rendered the 
removal of the pews necessary, and the removal involved their 


There were many associations connected with those old pews, full 
of the deepest interest to those occupying them, and nothing but the 
sternest necessity could have reconciled the owners to their sacrifice. 
Those old square pews were not put in the house when it was first 

built, but were placed there when the last addition was made in 1755. 


It will be noticed that the new windows have the diamond shaped 
glass, — this, too, approximates to a restoration of the original windows, 
the remains of one of which were found on removing some of the 
floors. It was made of leaden bars, crossed in the shape of a diamond, 
according to the fashion of those times. 

The present condition and aspect of the Meeting-house are 
something as follows : A cellar has been excavated under the house, 
of sufficient depth, in which are placed two brick furnaces for heating 
purposes. The new sills and large floor timbers and the columns 
supporting the same are of the best Southern pine ; the floor joists 
are of spruce, and tlie floor boards are of pine. The pews are made 
of chestnut, with black walnut ends and mouldings ; furnished with 
cushions, and carpeted uniformly with the aisles, the prevailing color 
of the cushions and carpets being green. The pews were made by 
Daymen & Rice, of East Weymouth. 

The pulpit is the one built in 1755, with some alterations. It is of 
pine, and painted. In 1828 it was repainted by the late Col. Charles 
Lane, in imitation of mahogany. This painting is preserved, and it is 
highly creditable to the taste and skill for which, we all remember. 
Col. Lane was so justl}' celebrated. The alteration of the entrance 
to the south porch, and the change of the stairway therein, render 
access to the house and galleries from that direction more convenient 
than formerly. 

An Organ was placed in the singing gallery about three years ago. 
This, with the position of the Choir, has been removed to a platform 

on the left of the pulpit, and pews haye been put in the singing 

The ground has been lowered around the house to a depth of about 
two feet, so as to show the stone foundation. The stone work was 
laid by Charles E. Colbitth, and it was finished by pointing, in the 
best style of that art, by Warren A. Hersey. 

Under the south-west corner stone is deposited a leaden box, 
containing appropriate documents and memorials connected with the 
history of this parish, and also containing an account of the present 
work done on this house. These were prepared under the direction 
of the Hon. Solomon Lincoln. Among the documents are three small 
books of autographs of the six ministers of the parish, and of men 
prominent in the history of the town and parish. These were 
prepared by George Lincoln, and they are correctly and beautifully 
executed. The external appearance of the house is very little 
changed, if we except that slight change which a different color to 
the paint gives it. In the interior the change is more marked, 
arising from the difference in the style of the pews from that of the 
old ones. The outside painting was done by Cross & Reed, and the 
inside painting by J. & S. Sprague, and it seems to be very well done. 

The whole work of repairs and alterations has been carried 
on under the immediate superintendence of David Leavitt, who 
furnished the plans, and who has carried the work through in a very 
thorough and satisfactory manner. 

And now the work being finished and the house ready for use, the 
Parish and the Pastor propose, on Wednesday forenoon next, in 
accordance with time-honored custom, to rededicate it to the purposes 
for which it was erected, and for which it has hitherto been used — to 
the worship of Almighty God. The circumstances attending the 
rededication are of more than usual interest. This service should 
connect and consecrate the work of the present through nearly two 
centuries of time with all that is holy and sacred in the memory of 
the past. The footsteps of six generations of holy men and women 
re-echo to our own as we tkread these ancient portals ; — the very 
walls speak to us with the entranced sounds of niany voices once 
joined in hymns of praise to their Maker. 

We can see the very spot where the amiable and pious Norton 
stood as he exhorted the people. We gaze into the very pulpit 
consecrated by the wisdom and piety of the venerable Gay, and made 
memorable by the Christian attainments and learning of the elder 
Ware ; while at the present time it embraces the labors of two 


Pastors, one living at a greater age than even the venerable Gay 
attained, and the other just completing the three score years and ten. 

In the afternoon, after the dedication, the pews in the Meeting- 
house are to be sold, from the proceeds of which the quite large costs 
of all these repairs are to be paid ; and the opportunity is offered to 
any one of obtaining a pew in this house on very liberal terms — an 
opportunity not likely to occur again. 

And now the public, which has held this Parish and its committee 
to the most strict account, to the bar of its opinion, in everything 
connected with the preservation of all that was venerable and 
consecrated in their house, will have the means of showing the extent 
of its interest by a tangible and certain measure, and we trust the 
result will show that this public sentiment and interest will be found 
true to all the just and honorable tests to which it may be subjected ; 
and we wish the Parish may realize an amount from the sale of their 
pews exceeding their most sanguine expectations. 


At the meeting held August 17, 1869, the Committee on Repairs 
and the Rev. Mr. Lincoln were appointed a committee to make 
arrangements for the dedication. It was also voted, that an addition of 
three be made to the above named committee; and Hon. Albert 
Fearing, Hon. Solomon Lincoln and Henry C. Harding were added. 

This committee made arrangements for the rededication in con- 
formity to a previous vote of the Parish. 

We subjoin the Order of Services on that occasion : 






Meeting-house of the First Parish, 

On Wednesday, September 8th, 1869. 


" Beautiful arc tliy towers, O Zion, 

Lovely in their strength thy walls and stately palaces 

For thy Shepherd loveth thee, 

He shall comfort thee in every danger. 

He shall defend thee in the day of trouble. 

His sun shall direct thee by day, 

His stars shall hold good watch over thee by night. 

Lovely art thou, O Zion, 

Firm are thy towers and thy lofty domes, 

For thy good Shepherd loveth thee, 

He shall guard thee. He shall defend thee, 

Thy foes shall not lead thee captive, 

And thou shalt sing his praise 

Forevermore." Amen. 

By Rev. John D. Wells, of Quincy, 

III. HYMN. " The House our Fathers built to God." — Emerson. 
. Tune — China. 
(The Congregation are requested to join in singing this hymn.) 

We love the venerable house 

Our fiithers built to God; 
In heaven are kept tlieir grateful vows, 

Their dust endears the sod. 



Here holy thoughts a light have shed 

From many a radiant face, 
And prayers of tender hope have spread 

A perfume through the place. 

And anxious hearts have pondered here 

The mystery of life, 
And prayed the Eternal Spirit clear 

Their doubts and aid their strife. 

They live with God, their homes are dust ; 

But here their children pray, 
And, in this fleeting lifetime, trust 

To find the narrow wav. 

By Rev. Calvin Lincoln. 

ANTHEM. "On opening a Place for Worship."— il/o«/^o/Hery. 

Lord of hosts to thee we raise 
Here a house of prayer and praise ; 
Thou thy people's heart prepare 
Here to meet for praise and prayer. 

Let the living here be fed 
With thy word, the heavenly bread ; 
Here in hope of glory blest, 
May the dead be laid to rest. 

Here to thee a temple stand. 
While the sea shall gird the land ; 
Here reveal thy mercy sure, 
While the sun and moon endure. 

Hallelujah ! — earth and sky 
To the joyful sound reply; 
Hallelujah ! — hence ascend 
Prayer and praise till time shall end. 


By Kev. Joseph Osgood, of Cohassct. 

By Rev. Ezea S. Gannett, D.D., of Boston, and others 


O Thou, whose own vast temple stands, 

Built over earth and sea, 
Accept the walls, that human hands 

Have raised to worship thee. 

Lord, from thine inmost glory send, 

Within these courts to bide. 
The peace that dwclleth, without end. 

Securely by thy side. 

May erring minds that worship here 

Be taught the better way, 
And they who mourn, and they who fear. 

Be strengthened as they pray. 

May faith grow firm, and love grow warm, 

And pure devotion rise, 
While round these hallowed walls the storm 

Of earth-born passion dies. 



TvsE— Old Hundred. 

(In which the Congregation are requested to join.) 



The services of i-ededication were of a highly interesting character. 
Notwithstanding the extreme heat, the house was well filled at an early 
hour. Clergymen of the town and neighboring towns of different 
denominations were present. The venerable senior pastor of the 
society, Rev. Joseph Richardson, then in his ninety-second year, 
with his aged wife, occupied seats on the platform near the pulpit, 
facing the congregation. In consequence of the infirmities of age, he 
had, within a few years, ceased from his ministerial labors, but on the 
present occasion, although blind and well stricken in years, he 
determined to be present, and manifested a strong interest in all the 
services and proceedings. The discourse by Rev. Calvin Lincoln, the 
associate pastor, is printed in this pamphlet and needs no encomium 
of ours. It is not improper to say that it was characteristic of its 
author. It was a plain, simple, frank exposition of sentiment, appro- 
priate in its historical allusions, and delivered in an effective style of 
eloquence. It gave great satisfaction to those who enjoyed the 
privilege of hearing it, and will be read with equal pleasure and profit. 
The prayer of dedication by the Rev. Joseph Osgood, of the former 
" second precinct of Ilingham," was comprehensive, appropriate and 
impressive. Rev. Ezra Stiles Gannett, D. D., and Rev. George W^^ 
Hepworth were present by invitation, and addressed the audience. 
Dr. Gannett threw his whole soul into the occasion. He was full of 
life, energy and spirit. He entered into all the feelings of his friend and 
classmate, the associate pastor, and spoke in that flowing and fervent 
style of eloquence which seemed almost like inspiration. The fact 
that his honored father. Rev. Caleb Gannett, was ordained in this 
house more than one hundred years ago, to be pastor of a church in 
Nova Scotia, was spoken of with a tenderness and pathos which is 
seldom surpassed. 

Mr. Hepworth also was exceedingly animated and interesting. He 
spoke with great rapidity and it seemed almost impossible to catch his 
ideas in their rapid flow, yet expressed with great felicity and power. 

It is matter of regret that a reporter was not employed to take 
down the language of the eloquent speakers. 

The performances were all interesting and not so prolonged as to 
be tedious. The beautiful poetry of Emerson, JNIontgomery and 
Bryant was sung in strains which were appropriate, and with fine 
musical effect. 

At noon, refreshments were served to the audience, in Loring Hall, 
which presented an attractive scene. Ample tables were loaded with 
an eh'gant collation, embellished with choice fruits and flowers, and 



gracefully distributed by a select committee of young ladies of the 
Parish. Such was the enthusiasm of the occasion that Dr. Gannett 
could not, if he would, suppress another burst of his burning eloquence, 
and he was followed by others who had caught his spirit and gave 
utterance to their best thoughts expressed with unusual spirit and 
eloquence. The services of that day will long be remembered by 
those who had the good fortune to be present. 

At the close of the day, some solicitude was felt for the safety of the 
ancient edifice, when a severe hurricane arose which prostrated 
buildings and many ornamental trees in this and other sections of the 
country, but its frame of oak sustained it throughout the violence of 
the tempest with very slight injury. 


In the afternoon of the same day, those interested in the sale of pews 
assembled at the Meeting-house, and Col. Charles W. Seymour 
having been selected as auctioneer, the sale over appraisal commenced. 
The bidding was spirited, and the results of the sale were highly 

On that and a subsequent day, all the pews on the floor of the house, 
as well as those in the galleries, were sold. The proceeds of the sales 
exceeded in amount the cost of the repairs and alterations which was 
a little more than thirteen thousand dollars. There were a few 
changes of ownership after the public sales, but in order that the 
names of the pew-holders, as finally settled, may be preserved for 
convenient reference, they are here inserted, together with a plan of 
the new pews on the floor and in the galleries, with the numbers of 
the pews corresponding with those prefixed to the names of the 
pew-holders on the next two pages. 





Jdly 1 

, 18 



Parish — for Singers. 


Joseph W. Philbrook, 


Ebcd L. Ripley. 


Hawkes and Morris Fearing. 


Seth Sprague, 2d. 


John R. Brewer. 


Josiali Sprague. 


Lincoln Jacob. 


Thomas J. Leavitt. 


Elizabeth R. Hersey. 


DaAid A. Hersey. 


Lydia Sprague, 


Mary Y. C. Farmer. 


Lydia and Mary Lincoln. 


Henry Stephensoii. 


Nehemiah Ripley. 


Charles Leavitt. 


William Fearing, 2d. 


David Leavitt. 


E, Waterg Burr. 


Levi Corthell. 


Charles Siders. 


Sidney Sprague. 


Solomon Lincoln, 


Quiney Bicknell. 


John Stephenson, 


Luther Stephenson, Jr. 


Henry C. Harding. 


Elijah C. Corthell, 


Caleb B, Marsh. 


Warren A. Hersey. 


Isaac Easterbrook. 


Justin Ripley. 


Calvin Lincoln. 


Albert Fearing. 


Jairus B, Lincoln, 


Seth L. Burr. 


Weston Lewis. 


Alanson Crosby. 


Alexander Lincoln. 


John W. Peirce. 


Emily Fearing. 


Starkes Whiton. 


Joshua Leavitt. 


Fearing Burr. 


Albert Fearing. 


Charles Howard. 


Jason W. and George F. Whitney 


Ezra Stephenson. 


Charles T, Burr. 


John K. Corthell. 


Mary E. and Adeline L. Riddle. 


Emma and Arthur A. Burr. 


Loring Jacob. 


Peter N. Sprague. 


Moses Cross. 


Pyam C. Burr. 


Henry Trowbridge. 


Susan and Martha Lincoln. 


Samuel and I^eavitt Sprague. 


Parish— for Sin<>ers. » , *^ 
Parish— for Skigers. M^-'XiVi, 


Joseph Easterbrook, 



Caleb Beal, 


Albert Leavitt. 


Charles E. Thayer. 


David Cushing, 2d. 


John D. Gates. 


David Fearing, 


John 0, Remington, 


Anson Nickcrson. 


Abner L, Leavitt, 


Thomas Sprague. 


Emeline Hollis. 


Ebed L. Ripley. 


Heirs of Martin Fearing. 


77. John M. Corbctt. 

78. Thomas Stephenson. 

79. Catherine H. Ilobart. 

80. Charles B. W. Lane. 

81. Bcla H. Whiton. 

82. Scth L. Hobart. 

83. John Todd. 

84. George Lincoln. 

85. Maria Hersey. 

86. Royal Whiton. 

87. Royal Whiton. 

88. Adeline A. Barnes. 

89. Thomas Cain. 

90. Charles F. Hough. 

91. E. Waters Burr. 

92. William P. Kclscy. 

93. Giles H. Gardner. 

94. Ebed L. Ripley. 

95. Eliza Ann Spraguc. 

96. Reuben Sprague. 

97. William Jones. 

98. Thomas C. Humphrey. 

99. Albert Fearing. 

100. Henry Merritt, Jr. and George R. 


Zenas Loring. 
Lincoln Fearing. 
Bela Whiton. 
Erastus Whiton. 
Luther Stephenson. 
Henry M. Hersey. 
E. Waters Burr. 
Samuel Sherman. 
Israel Whitcomb. 
Allen A. Lincoln. 
John B. Lewis. 
Thomas H. Lincoln. 
Reuben Thomas. 
Charles Spring. 
Silas H. Cobb. 
Henry C. Harding. 
Russell LeBaron. 

Sydney Lincoln. 
Morris Fearing. 
Reuben Reed. 
George W. Tilden. 
Charles Schmidt. 

Public worship, after the alterations, was first held on the Sabbath, 
September 12, 1869. 


At a Parish meeting held October 15, 1869, a committee consisting 
of Quincy Bicknell and Wallace Cortliell, previously appointed to 
procure a common seal for the use of the Parish and to prepare a 
device for the same, made a report, in which they stated that the 
design was made by Mr. Cortliell, and consists of a picture of the 
Meeting-house in a centre surrounded by an ornamental circular 
border, which is itself encircled by another, leaving a sufficient space 
between the two for the following motto and date : 


The committee stated that the motto was selected by Hon. Solomon 
Lincoln. The report of the committee was unanimously adopted by 
the Parish. 



At the above meeting, held October 15, 1869, the subject of 
furnishing apparatus for lighting the Meeting-house was referred to a 
committee consisting of Quincy Bicknell, John K. Corthell, and Israel 
Whitcomb, to report at a future meeting. 1870, January 11, the 
committee made a verbal report stating the number and form of lamps 
which would be desirable and put in position at a cost of one hundred 
and fifty dollars. Upon this subject there was a difference of opinion. 
A proposition to substitute an evening for an afternoon service was 
negatived ; but after further debate it was finally voted " that lamps 
be procured for the lighting of the Meeting-house, as recommended 
by the committee; but the house on no occasion shall be lighted 
except for public worship, or religious meetings connected with the 

In 1870, July 1, the Parish voted "that an evening service be 
substituted for the afternoon service during the months of July, 
August and September of this year." By a subsequent vote, the 
evening service was continued during the month of October. In the 
three subsequent years, 1871, 1872, 1873, votes were passed by the 
Parish, at the annual meetings, to substitute an evening for an 
afternoon service, from July 1 to November 1, in each year. 


At a Parish meeting held July 1, 1870, information was given that 
Hon. Albert Fearing had expressed a wish to give a lot of land to 
the Parish, to enlarge its grounds, if the same would be acceptable. 
The Parisli Committee were authorized to confer with Mr. Fearing 
on the subject and to accept any such proposed gift. 1870, October 
5, the committee presented the following 


The Parish Committee who were authorized by vote of the Parish 
to receive of the lion. Albert Fearing a deed of gift of a piece of land 
adjoining the Parish land, report that they have received a deed of 


said land and herewith present the same to the Parish. And your 
committee would recommend in the acceptance of this gift the 
following votes : 

Voted, That the First Parish in Hingham, in Parish meeting 
assembled, gratefully accept the gift of a piece of land described in a 
deed of the same by Hon. Albert Fearing, dated August 22, 1870, 
according to and subject to the conditions and provisions therein 
mentioned, and return to him thanks of acknowledgment for this 
munificent gift, recognizing herein another among the many acts of 
liberality which have marked the life-long interest he has manifested 
in the prosperity of this ancient Parish. 

Voted, That this gift has a peculiar value to the Parish, found in 
the recital of the deed, " being a part of the land granted to Robert 
Peck, Teacher of the First Church in Hingham, in the year 1638," 
so that land appropriated by the Town, (at that time being identical 
with the Parish,) for the purpose of furthering religious instruction 
among the people, has again, through the liberality of a descendant 
of one of those, for whose benefit among the others, this land was 
devoted, been returned to complete the purpose of its original grant. 

All of which is respectfully submitted. 

John K. Corthell, ) Parish 
QuiNCY BiCKNELL. j Committee. 

Hingham, September 30, 1870. 

The above report was accepted, and the Clerk was requested to 
communicate the same to Mr. Fearing. 

At the same meeting, a committee to whom had been referred the 
subject of grading the Parish grounds, and for the erection of a 
building suitable to accommodate horses and carriages, made a report. 
The committee presented a plan which would enable the Parish to 
meet the wishes of the citizens of the town, often expressed, for the 
widening and reducing the grade of Main street in front of the Parish 
lands. They recommended a release by the Parish to the town, of so 
much of the land of the former, as was designated, and to establish 
a new line on the street, provided the town would cause a suitable 
wall to be built to protect the Parish lands on the said line. The 


committee also recommended the erection of a building on the lot 
given by Hon. Albert Fearing, for the shelter of horses and carriages, 
ninety feet long, and forty-three feet and six inches wide, with ten 
feet posts, at an estimated cost of fifteen hundred dollars. 

This report was referred to the Parish Committee and Ebed S. 
Ripley, Ezra Stephenson and Seth L. Hobart, with instructions to 
proceed at once to grade the grounds and erect a carriage house as 
proposed, but if they should deem it advisable to deviate from the 
plan, thereby materially increasing the expense, to make report to 
the Parish before proceeding with the work. At the annual 
meeting held March 13, 1871, the committee reported that the work 
was finished. The grounds had been graded, a carriage- house 
erected, suitable fences and walls built, and the platform around the 
Meeting-house enlarged, the cost of which including certain incidental 
expenses, amounted to $2,381.49. The report was accepted by the 
Parish, and provision made for defraying the expense. The stalls 
in the new building (twenty in number) were let by auction and have 
since been disposed of in the same manner, or by the "Parish 
Committee, by virtue of a special vote of the Parish. 

At a Parish meeting held September 18, 1871, a vote was passed 
giving consent that the wall proposed to be built by the town on 
the line of the Parish land on Main street, or such part of it as is 
necessary, be built upon the Parish ground, the face of the capping 
of the same to be on the line of the street ; the style of the capping 
to be referred to a committee consisting of the Parish Committee 
together with Seth L. Hobart, James S. Lewis and Caleb B. Marsh, 
with authority to act in the premises as they may deem advisable, 
and also to grade the grounds to conform to the wall. 

At the same meeting it was voted, that a fence be built upon the 
wall such as the same committee may deein suitable. 

At the annual meeting, held March 6, 1872, the committee 
appointed September 18, 1871, to take charge of capping to be 
placed upon the wall on Main street, to procure a suitable fence to 
surmount said wall, and to complete the grading of the grounds 
around the Meeting-house, reported to the Parish that they had 
completed the work so far as practicable, on account of the severity 
of the season, at an expense of $846.80, but that to complete the 
work of grading, painting the fence, and setting out suitable trees on 
the grounds and on the edge of the side-walk in front, a further 
expenditure would be necessary, estimated at $275. The report was 
accepted ; the committee continued and authorized to carry out their 


plan. Twelve maple trees were planted on the edge of the side-walk, 
in May, 1872, under the direction of George Lincoln. 

1873, March, the Parish appointed a committee consisting of John 
Todd, George Lincoln and Seth L. Hobart, to take into consideration 
the improvement of the grounds on the south side of the " Church 
edifice," and report a plan and the estimated expense of the same, 
at a meeting to be held in April. At the April meeting, the 
committee reported a plan for improving the grade of the Parish 
grounds at an estimated expense of one thousand dollars. John Todd, 
George Lincoln, Seth L. Hobart, Albert Fearing and Solomon 
Lincoln, were chosen a committee with full powers to carry out the 
improvement recommended by the committee. The work on this 
improvement is now in progress; and when completed, will doubtless 
add to the convenience and beauty of the grounds. 

We have thus presented such facts respecting the Meeting-house 
as we have collected from various public records, private manuscripts 
and authentic traditions, in chronological order, to enable those who 
are interested in its history, to know what has been done for its 
preservation and what are its present appearance and condition. 

The whole house has been put in a thorough state of repair from 
spire to basement ; the outside has been clapboarded and painted. 
New windows have been inserted and glazed with diamond glass, 
which, so far, is a restoration of the form of the original sashes. The 
foundation has been rebuilt, and the grounds graded. Inside we find 
much that is old and some work that is new. The floor is new, so 
also are the pews or slips, and the organ. The substantial columns 
which sustain the gallei'ies and roof remain as formerly. The 
galleries are untouched. The pulpit, built in 1755, still remains in 
the same position, and the ancient sounding-board over it, is also 
preserved. The curious frame of oak which sustains the roof, belfry 
and spire, and which is as old as the Meeting-house itself, remains as 
our fathers left it. A spacious basement has been constructed for 
the reception of two large furnaces set in brick by which the whole 
house is comfortably heated. Lamps have been suspended for light- 
ing the house, for evening worship, which diffuse a cheerful and 
mellow light throughout the house. The Old and the New are most 
judiciously harmonized in all the arrangements ; and there is no 
reason why the fabric, which has stood firmly through the storms and 
tempests of nearly two centuries, should not stand for two centuries 
to come. In the words of the motto on the Parish Seal, 



Having given so much of tlie history of the Meeting-house as 
seemed to be desirable to preserve in a permanent form, we thinlc it 
proper to give other information, derived from the records and other 
authentic sources, intimately connected with that history, and conven- 
ient also for reference. 


In connection with notes upon the history of the Meeting-houses 
of the First Parish, it seems proper to give the names of the Pastors 
who have officiated in them. The town was formally settled in 1 635. 
In September of that year, house lots were drawn by thirty persons, 
most of whom came from Hingham and its vicinity, in the County of 
Norfolk, England. Among them was Rev. Peter Hobart, who 
became their Pastor, and remained with them until his death. 

"We give the subjoined list of Pastors, with a brief notice of 
prominent facts in their history, not designing to give any extended 
sketches of their lives, which may be found elsewhere. We do not 
include in the list, Rev. Robert Peck, who came over in 1638, was 
ordained " Teacher " of the Church, and returned to Hingham, 
England, in 1641. 

I. REV. PETER HOBART, son of Edmund and Margaret 
(Dewy) Hobart, was born in Hingham, England, where he was 
baptized October 13, 1604. He was educated at Magdalen College, 
Cambridge, where he received the degree of Bachelor, in 1625, and 
of Master of Arts, in 1629. He was married in England, and came 
to this country with his wife and four children, and arrived in June, 
1635. He settled in this town in September, of that year. He was 
twice married, the last wife being Rebecca, daughter of Richard 
IbTook. Mr. Hobart had a large family of children. He names 
fifteen in his will, five of whom were educated at Harvard College. 
Two of his grandsons were also educated at the same institution. 
Four of the sons and the two grandsons were ministers. Mr. Hobart 
was Pastor of the church until his decease, January 20, 1678-9, in 
the seventy-fifth year of his age, and forty-foui'th of his ministry. 


II. REV. JOHN NORTON was the second minister of Hingham. 
He was a son of William and Lucy (Downing) Norton, of Ipswich, 
in which town he was born, about 1650. He was educated at Har- 
vard College, and was graduated in 1671. He was a nephew of 
Rev. John Norton, the distinguished minister of Ipswich and Boston. 
He was ordained Colleague Pastor with Mr. Hobart, November 27, 
1678, less than two months before the decease of the latter. Mr. 
Norton was married to Marj, a daughter of Arthur Mason, of Boston, 
and left two children, — Elizabeth Norton, who married Col. John 
Quincy, and Capt. John Norton. The descendants in both male and 
female lines have been prominent in politics, theology, and literature. 
Mr. Norton died October 3, 1716, in the sixty-sixth year of his age 
and thirty-eighth of his ministry. 

III. REV. EBENEZER GAY, D. D., the third minister, was 
a son of Nathaniel and Lydia Gay, of Dedham, and was born in 
that town, August 15, 1696. He was graduated at Harvard College 
in 1714. He had four classmates from Hingham, viz.: Samuel 
Thaxter, Nehemiah Hobart, Adam Cushing and Job Cashing. Dr. 
Gay began to preach in Hingham in 1717, and was ordained Pastor, 
June 11, 1718. He was married November 3, 1719, to Jerusha, 
daughter of Samuel Bradford, of Duxbury, the son of William 
Bradford, and the grandson of Governor Bradford. They had eleven 
children, of whom seven died before their father, and two sons and 
two daughters survived him. Some of the descendants have been 
well known in the professions of law and medicine, as well as in 
literature and art. Dr. Gay died on Sabbath morning, March 8, 
1787, when he was preparing for the usual public services of the day. 
He was attacked by a sudden illness, which terminated fatally within 
an hour. He was ninety years old, and the length of his ministry 
was sixty-eight years nine months and seven days, and including the 
time of his preaching before his settlement, his ministry falls short, 
by a few months only, of seventy years. 

IV. REV. HENRY WARE, D. D., the fourth minister, was a 
son of John and Martha Ware, of Sherborn, and was born in that 
town, April 1, 1764. He was graduated at Harvard College, in 
1785, and ordained Pastor, October 24, 1787. In 1805, he was 
chosen HoUis Professor of Divinity, in Harvard College ; the 
appointment was confirmed by the Overseers on the 14lh of February 


of that year. In consequence of this appointment, he asked a 
dismission from the pastorate, which was granted by the Parish, and 
he delivered his valedictory discourse, May 5, 1805, in the eighteenth 
year of his ministry. 

Dr. "Ware discharged the duties of his professorship until 1840, in 
which 3'ear he resigned the position, on account of a failure of eye- 
sight, after a laborious and acceptable service of thirty-five years. 

Dr. Ware was thrice married. In 1789, March 31, he was married 
to Mary, daughter of Rev. Jonas Clark, of Lexington, who died July 
13, 1805, having been the mother of ten children, — seven daughters 
and three sons. He was married a second time, to Mary, daughter 
of James Otis, and widow of Benjamin Lincoln, Junior. She died 
on the 17th of the same month. He was married a third time, in 
September, 1807, to Elizabeth Bowes, daughter of Nicholas Bowes, 
of Boston, who became the mother of nine children, five sons and 
four daughters. Six of Dr. Ware's sons were graduated at Harvard 
College, and his sons and grandsons have been distinguished in the 
professions, and in the walks of literature and science. Dr. Ware 
died at Cambridge, July 12, 1845, aged eighty-one. 

V. REV. JOSEPH RICHARDSON, fifth minister, was a son 
of Joseph and Patty (Chapman) Richardson, of Billerica, and was 
born in that town, February 1, 1778. He was graduated at Dart- 
mouth College, in 1802, and ordained Pastor, July 2, 1806. During 
his ministry, he was chosen to fill various public offices. He was a 
member of the convention called to revise the State Constitution, in 
1820-21. He was a member, by repeated elections, of the Senate 
and House of Representatives of Massachusetts, and was elected to 
Congress for the term commencing March 4, 1827, and re-elected for 
that commencing March 4, 1829. 

At the close of his Congressional service, he resumed and attended 
to his parochial duties, without interruption, except from ill health, 
when the Parish relieved him by temporary supplies of the pulpit, 
until the spring of 1855, when, with his consent and approval. Rev. 
Calvin Lincoln, was settled as Associate Pastor. The servi<*es of 
inducting Mr. Lincoln into this office were performed May 27th, 1855, 
on which occasion, Mr. Richardson and Mr. Lincoln each preached 
an appropriate sermon. 

After this date, Mr. Richardson occasionally preached, and per- 
formed other parochial services. We mention some of his discourses 
and sermons on special occasions. 


1856, June 28. He delivered a discourse on the close of the fiftieth 
year of his ministry, which was printed. 

1862, February 2. He preached a sermon on the Sabbath after 
the eighty-fourth anniversary of his birth. 

1863, February 1. A sermon written by Mr. Richardson the pre- 
ceding week, for the occasion of the eighty-fifth anniversary of his 
birth, was read by the Associate Pastor. His text was from Joshua, 
XIV, 10. ^'And now, lo I am this day four score and Jive years 
old." Dr. Gay preached his celebrated sermon entitled " The Old 
Man's Calendar," from the same text, at the same age, from the 
same pulpit. Both the sermons were printed. Mr. Richardson also 
prepared discourses for the Sabbaths after the 86th and 87th anniver- 
saries of his birth, which were read by the Associate Pastor. He was 
present at the re-opening of the Meeting-house, September 8, 1869, 
as has been mentioned ; and attended public worship, for the last time 
on Sabbath morning, October 3, 1869. The infirmities of age 
increased, he had become blind, yet his strong constitution did not 
yield, until September 25, 1871, when he died at the age of ninety- 
three years seven months and twenty-four days, and closing a pastoral 
connection of sixty-five years, two months and twenty-three days. 

Mr. Richardson was married May 23, 1807, to Ann, daughter of 
Benjamin Bowers, of Billerica. She was born in that town, March 
14, 1785, and died September 16, 1870, aged eighty-seven years six 
mouths, and two days. They had no children. 

VI. REV. CALVIN LINCOLN, the present Pastor, is the" 
sixth minister of the Parish. He is a native of Hingham, a son of 
Calvin and Linda (Loring) Lincoln, and a lineal descendant of 
Stephen Lincoln, one of the early settlers of the town. Mr. Lincoln 
was graduated at Harvard College, in 1820, was ordained over the 
First Parish in Fitchburg, June 30, 1824; his active ministry there 
terminated June 15, 1850; and his pastoral connection was dissolved 
May 5, 1855, a short time before his induction to the pastoral office 
in this Parish. The length of his ministry here exceeds that of Dr. 
Warfe. We forbear, for obvious reasons, to enlarge upon the personal 
history of our respected Pastor, and leave to others, at some future 
time, more appropriate than the present, to speak of his life and 

We close these brief minutes respecting the ministers of the Parish, 
with a list of their names, with the years in which their pastoral 
connections befiran and terminated. 


I. Peter Hobart, 1635-1679. 

11. Jobn Norton, 1678-1716. 

III. Ebenezer Gay, 1718-1787. 

IV. Henry Ware, 1787-1805. 

V. Joseph Richardson, 1806-1871. 

VI. Calvin Lincoln, 1855. 

This is a remarkable statement ; we think no similar one can be 
presented by any other Parish or Society in New England. Four pf 
the ministers died in this town, and their remains repose in the 
Hingham Cemetery. One only, (Dr. Ware,) died out of this town ; 
and the last is still living, actively engaged in the discharge of his 
pastoral duties. It is proper, in this connection, to state that after 
the decease of Mr. and Mrs. Richardson, the Parish purchased a lot 
in the Hingham Cemetery, and have caused an appropriate marble 
monument to be erected therein, to the memory of all their deceased 
Pastors : Hobart, Norton, Gay, Ware and Richardson, — and a marble 
memorial stone, appropriately inscribed, at the graves of Rev. Mr. 
Richardson and his wife. 


Intimately associated with our ancient Meeting-house, are the 
services which have been performed in it. Of them, the singing of 
songs of praise to Almighty God is an interesting part, and we have 
felt a strong desire to know more of what our fathers did to promote 
an interest and cultivate a taste for this important part of public 
worship. The voices of at least seven generations have sounded 
within its sacred walls. We are aware of the intense feelings which 
prevailed in relation to Psalmody at the settlement of the country, 
and what bitter controversies arose at every stage of improvement. 


The Pilgrims of Plymouth brought over music to enliven the 
solitude of the wilderness. It is believed that they had but one 
book, and that was the Manual of Henry Ainsworth. It was entitled 
'•'•The Book of Psalms Englished both in Prose and Meeter." The 
prose was printed on the left-hand page ; the poetry, with the music 
over it, on the right. This manual was used in Plymouth, so late 
as 1692. 

The Puritans, who settled Massachusetts, undoubtedly used the 
version of the Psalms by Sternhold and Hopkins, " done into verse 
and set to music," and this version was used by many churches. It 
should be remarked, that the early settlers of New England always 
sang congregationally ; and continued to do so for more than a 
century, and in some places, until the Revolution. In a few churches 
singing was excluded altogether. 

In 1640, five years after this town was settled, Stephen Daye 
printed, at Cambridge, a new translation of the Psalms. Cotton 
Mather says that " the chief divines in the country took each of them 
a portion to be translated ; among whom were Mr. Weld and Mr. 
Eliot, of Roxbury, and Mr. Mather, of Dorchester." Its popular 
title was the " The Bay Psalm Book" but the title-page of the first 
edition is '■'■The Whole Book of Psalms Faithfully Translated into 
English Metre" etc. In this edition there were no hymns or spiritual 
songs. A second edition, in 1647, contained a few spiritual songs. 
In the same year Rev. John Cotton wrote his " Singing of Psalms 
a Gospel Ordinance" which had an influence to extend the use of 
the Bay Psalm Book, which gradually made its way into the public 
services. A third edition of it, revised by President Dunster, was 
published in 1650. This version went through numerous editions, 
was reprinted in England and Scotland, and used by many of the 
English dissenting congregations. It was added to several English 
and Scotch editions of the Bible. This edition contained additional 
scriptural songs. 

Rev. Thomas Prince revised the Bay Psalm Book, in 1758, several 
editions of which were published, and used in churches even up to 
the commencement of the present century. The title-page of the 
first edition of Prince's revision was ^'■The Psalms, Hymns ^ Spiritual 
Songs of the Old and New Testament Faithfully Translated into 
English Metre, — Being the New-England Psalm Book, Revised 
and Improved," etc. 

Prior to this publication of the Bay Psalm Book, by Pnnce, the 
version of the Psalms by Tate & Brady, had been published in 



London. The title-page of the first edition of this well known 
version was as follows : "A New Version of the Psalms of David 
Fitted to the Tunes used in Churches. — By K Tate and N. Brady, 
London, 1696. 

In the second edition also, the name of Tate precedes that of Brady, 
but the Royal license for printing, of December 3, 1696, is granted 
upon the humble petition of Nicolas Brady and Nahum Tate, and in 
subsequent editions, the names are printed in the same order. 

An edition of Watts's Psalms and Hymns, was published in Boston, 
in 1741. 

We have thus given a brief account of the principal versions of 
the psalms and hymns which were used for the first century and a 
half after the settlement of the country. For many of these facts 
we are indebted to Charles Deane, Esq., of Cambridge, who has a 
rare collection of the early Psalm and Hymn Books ; and also to 
Rev. Elias Nason, of North Billerica, by whose kindness we have 
enjoyed the privilege of perusing his interesting Lecture, in manu- 
script, on New England Psalmody. 

We have made diligent inquiry for a copy of either of the collections 
which we have mentioned, and have not succeeded in finding a single 
one of the early editions of either of them in the possession of any 
person in this town, excepting that of Tate & Brady, of which there 
are several copies in existence, to which we shall hereafter make 
more particular reference. 

The mode of performing the exercise of singing was generally the 
same in all churches. As books were few, while ruling elders were 
continued, one of them read a single line and such of the congregation 
as could sing arose in different parts of the Meeting-house and sung it, 
and then another line until the psalm or hymn was finished. In later 
times, when no such officers were chosen, a deacon and sometimes the 
minister performed tlie same duty. 

We have no records of an early date to show how the subject of 
Psalmody was regarded in this Parish. We have reason to believe, 
however, that Peter Ilobart, the first minister, was not indifferent to 
it, for Cotton Mather, in his appreciative biographical sketch of Mr. 
Hobart, says, that during his last illness, " the singing of psalms was 
an exercise wherein he took a particular delight ;" saying " that it was 
the work of Heaven, which he was willing to anticipate." 

It is quite probable that the versions of the psalms by Sternhold 
and Hopkins printed with the Bible, to which we have alluded, may 
have been used. 


Nothing with reference to the musical part of the service occurs in 
the records of the Parish, until 1763, when, on the 8th of April, a 
meeting was held " in order to see whether the said Parish will assign 
any perticular place, seat or seats where a number of persons skilled 
in Musick may set together that so that part of Religious exercise may 
be performed with decency and order." 

At this meeting it was voted " that Mr. Gay be desired to invite 
one or more to set in ye seat behind the Deacons' to strike first in 
singing," and further " that a part of the womans' front seat and ye 
second seat, not exceeding one half of each, be seperated for ye use 
of the singers." 

No mention is made of the persons selected by Mr. Gay. That the 
request, however, was complied with, is confirmed by the fact that the 
Parish, at a meeting held in the following June, declined to add one 
or more " to the number of singers already in ye seat, behind the 
Deacons' seat." 

Fifteen years afterwards, in May, 1778, it was voted "that the two 
hindermost seats in the body of the Meeting-house, both men's & 
women's, be appropriated to the use of the singers ;" and in the 
following September, the portion thus set off was further enlarged by 
a vote " that the three hindermost seats in the Meeting-house be 
appropriated to the singers and that they have liberty to make doors 
& flaps of bords to each seat. " This arrangement, from some 
unexplained reason, was of brief duration ; for in the year following, 
on the 8th of November, the Parish voted "to indulge the singers a 
Liberty to set in the front gallery where it best suited them." 

The permission thus granted was probably accepted on the part of 
the choir, and at or near this time the removal of the singers from the 
body of the house to the gallery took place. 

With the exception of a few unimportant votes relating to the 
alteration of the seats and the appropriation of a small sum of money 
for the benefit of the singers in the Parish for procuring fire-wood, 
candles, etc., for their accommodation at their meetings, nothing of 
interest occurs in the records, until 1799, when, on the 11th of March, 
a committee of seven was chosen for the purpose of laying " some plan 
that will best accommodate & promote the singing & unite the 
singers." At a subsequent meeting in April, this committee was 
continued with additional instructions with regard to procuring a 
" room, fireing and candles," and also witli the further provision that 
if it should be found " that the school-house will not accommodate 


them the committee might provide some other room at the expense of 
the Parish." 

On the 10th of March of the next year, 1800, the committee 
submitted a report which was accepted, " with this addition, that the 
15 singers are to procure a teacher." 

There can be little doubt that from 1763, the time of the selection 
by Dr. Gay of three persons "to strike first in singing," to 1800, the 
number who participated in this part of the service gradually increased, 
until, as appears from the foregoing vote, fifteen persons were included 
in the choir. 

In 1801, March 9, it was voted "that the Parish be at the expense 
of purchasing a Bass-viol and commit it to Barnabas Lincoln, to be 
used by him or his family in the Meeting-house to assist the melody, 
and that Mr. Barnabas Lincoln be invited to assist in leading the bass." 

This is the first record we find of any action by the Parish to 
encourage the introduction of any musical instrument to aid in the 
performances by the choir. 

The bass-viol (violoncello) was continued in use from its first 
introduction until 1867. Various other musical instruments were 
used from time to time, and among them were the clarionet, double 
bass-viol, tenor-viol, violin, bassoon and flute. The flute and bass-viol 
were principally relied on to give harmony and effect to the musical 
performances. 'These were in the hands of several persons in 
succession, who voluntarily assumed the charge of performing upon 

1809, March 24, the Parish voted "that the singers have the use 
of the whole of the front gallery." 1825, March 8, voted " that the 
leader of the singers have the use of pew No. 67, on the lower floor." 

It was not customary for the Parish, until a later period, to make 
any formal election of a chorister. The singing was regulated by the 
members of the choir, in conjunction with the Parish Committee, and 
sometimes by a special committee. The whole service was voluntary 
and gratuitous. The Parish occasionally granted aid to singing 
schools and adojited other measures to promote the " improvement of 
the singing." 

1858, March 9, the Parish voted "that Rev. Mr. Lincoln be 
requested to select a liymn, at the close of the forenoon and afternoon 
services of the Sabbath, adapted to be sung in a familiar tune, that the 
congregation may join with the choir in singing." 



In 1867, the subject of introducing an Organ, as a substitute for 
other musical instruments, was discussed by those interested in 
improving this part of public worship, and the proposition met with 
so much favor, that measures were taken to procure one of moderate 
cost. At the annual meeting, held March 6, this vote was passed: 
" That the consent of the Parish is hereby given to the erection of 
an Organ in the gallery of the Meeting-house." At the same 
meeting, John K. Corthell, John M. Corbett and Henry Siders, were 
chosen a committee " to have full charge of the Music, with authority 
to re-organize the Choir, and make such other arrangements as may 
seem to them best." 

This proceeding virtually dissolved the old Choir ; and David A. 
Hersey, who had performed on the bass-viol for nearly half a 
century, with admirable skill and fidelity, and Sidney Sprague, whose 
performances on the flute, for thirty-six years, had been so acceptable 
and gratifying to the Parish, closed their services. The Parish, very 
properly, recognized the value of their services, by passing the 
following vote : " Voted, That the thanks of the members of the 
Parish be given to Mr. David A. Hersey, Mr. Sidney Sprague, Mr. 
Israel Whitcomb and the other members of the Choir, for their long 
continued, faithful and satisfactory services," Mr. Whitcomb had been 
for some time, leader of the Choir. 

1867, March 10, was the last Sabbath, on which the old Choir 
performed their services. On the 24th of the same month, a small 
Organ was used, which was loaned for the purpose, by the Old Colony 
Lodge of Freemasons ; and on the next Sabbath, the Organ, which 
had been purchased and placed in the gallery, was used for the first 
time. Reuben Sprague officiated as organist. 

1868, March 11, the Committee on Singing was abolished ; and a 
Chorister was elected by the Parish, at the annual meeting. Gen. 
Luther Stephenson, Jun., was elected, and has been re-elected annually 
to this time, 1873. 

In 1869, that part of the report of the Committee on Repairs 
was adopted, in which was this proposition : " That the location of 
the Choir and Organ should be such that they may best serve the 
purpose for which they were designed and instituted, and we there- 
fore deem it expedient, that the Choir and Organ be located upon 
the platform on the Easterly side of the pulpit." This proposition 
was carried into effect. 


1870, January 20, the Parish voted, " That it be recommended to 
the officiating Pastor to ask the Congregation to adopt the form of 
Congregational singing, for the closing hymn of the morning 
service, the tune to be announced and the whole Congregation 
rising." ' 

1870, July 1, at a Parish meeting, it was voted, that the Parish 
purchase an Organ, to be placed in the Meeting-house, at an expense 
not exceeding Twenty-one hundred dollars, provided that all such 
sum or sums of money as have already been subscribed or which may 
hereafter be subscribed towards that purpose, be paid into the Parish 
treasury ; also that the old Organ be sold and the proceeds of such 
sale be paid into the Parish treasury. Voted, that a committee of 
three be chosen with full powers to carry out the provisions of the 
above vote, said committee to consist of E. Waters Burr, Ebed S. 
Ripley and Luther Stephenson, Jun. In accordance with this vote, an 
Organ was procured which was built by J. H. Willcox & Co., of 
Boston, placed in its position in the Meeting-house, and used for the 
first time, in the services of public worship, on Sabbath day, Septem- 
ber 11, 1870. The cost of the Organ itself was precisely the amount 
authorized, $2,100. The incidental expenses of alteration of plat- 
form to receive it and for sundry other charges, amounted to $108. G6, 
making the whole cost of the Organ $2,208.66. This amount was 
paid by subscription. The Parish ordered the list of subscribers to 
be recorded in the Parish records, which has been done. The 
organists have been Reuben Sprague, before mentioned, who per- 
formed on the first Organ, William H. Nash, who performed on both 
Organs, and Francis 0. Nash, who succeeded him, and is the present 
organist. The Choir is a double quartette, — two who sing soprano, 
two, alto ; two, bass ; and two, tenor. 

Having given some account of the earliest editions of psalm and 
hymn books which were in use in this country in the first century and 
a half after its settlement, we have diligently sought from tradition or 
written record for some evidence of the views which were entertained 
in this Parish respecting them and of the practical use which was 
made of them. The disputes respecting singing by rote or by note 
were very violent, nor were they less bitter in relation to the intro- 
duction of musical instruments. There is no evidence that this 
Parish participated in these controversies. There is a vague tradition, 
that one individual only was disturbed, when the bass-viol was first 
used. Dr. Jonathan Edwards was a lover of music and favored the 
new way of singing by note, while Dr. Nathaniel Emmons regarded 


the use of any musical instrument an abomination. They were both 
eminent divines. Undoubtedly the hymn book of Tate & Brady was 
well known to members of this Parish several years before any action 
was taken to regulate the practice of singing, (1763.) Thus we find 
that Joshua Leavitt, who for thirty years was so well known as the 
treasurer of the town, was the owner of a copy of Tate & Brady 
in 1759, of the edition of 1754, and Caleb Gill, another respected 
member of the Parish, inscribed his name in a copy of the edition of 
1757, in 1791. We infer from these facts, that Tate & Brady's version 
of the psalms, with hymns added, chiefly from Dr. Watts, and about 
fifty tunes attached, was used for thirty or more years. 

William Billings, a famous composer of music, who was born in 
1746 and died in 1800, had great influence in causing an entire 
revolution in sacred music. In 1770, he published his "New 
England Psalm-singer or American Chorister," containing a number 
of psalm-tunes, anthems and canons, upwards of 100 in number. 

This " Psalm-singer" came into general use, and during the war of 
the Revolution, was well known in the army as well as in the 
churches. It destroyed the practice of "deaconing" the psalm or 
hymn, and led the way to the singing by choirs. Some of the tunes of 
Billings are yet occasionally sung, but the compositions of later authors 
have gradually superseded them as the public taste and sentiment have 
improved. During the ministry of Dr. Ware, the " Psalms and 
Hymns" collected by Dr. Jeremy Belhnap were introduced. The first 
edition of this collection was published, probably, in 1795, as the 
Preface is dated May 10, of that year. In 1830, April 8, the Parish 
voted "that this Parish will hereafter, in the services of public 
worship, make use of the Cambridge Selection of Hymns and Psalms" 
accordingly, Belknap's collection was used until new books could be 
procured, and for the last time, April 25, 1830, and the " Cambridge 
Selection" was used for the first time on Sunday, May 2, 1830. In 
1844, March 5, at the annual meeting, a committee was chosen on the 
subject of a change of hymn books, and by their recommendation Dr. 
Greenwood's ^'■Collection of Psalms and Hymns for Christian Worship" 
was adopted and continued to be used until April 17, 1870, when the 
'■'■Hymn and Tune Booh" published by the American Unitarian Associa- 
tion, was used for the first time, agreeably to a vote of March 21, of 
the same year. This Collection is now used. 

We are not able to state at what time female singers first became 
members of the Choir. It was certainly befoi-e the close of the last 
century. Within the recollection of persons now living they were 


so numerous as to fill one-half the front seat in the singers gallery, 
and also the front seats of the Eastern gallery to the pews. 

We here close our minutes on the subject of music, some of which 
will, perhaps, afford but little interest to many readers ; but we trust 
that these gleanings may be regarded in a different light by those 
who are to come after us. We shall at least enjoy the satisfaction 
of presenting historical facts and local traditions which will suggest to 
others that a field of inquiry and research is opened worthy of further 
investigation. There is no doubt that many interesting facts preserved 
in private records and in the memories of aged persons remain to be 
disclosed to us. 


BELLS. We have seen that when the town voted to build the 
present Meeting-house a vote was also passed to procure a new bell 
" as big againe as the old one was, if it may be had." That a bell was 
obtained by authority of that vote is evident from the following copy 
of a receipt preserved by Daniel Gushing : 

" Boston, January 8, 1C80.(— 81.) 
Reed of Mr. Daniel Gushing in money five pounds four shillings in full 
for a hell sold him and Capt. Huhard. I say Reed by me. 


In the Parish records, we find, that in 1731, November 19, 
" Samuel Thaxter, .Tun., Joshua Hearsee and Joseph Lewes " were 
impowered to procure the repair of the bell, "if it may be con- 
veniently done, otherwise to exchange the same for a new one as 
soon as may be." At the same time, one hundred pounds was raised 
towards procuring a new bell, if there should be occasion. 

1731-2, March 6. The Parish voted, " That there should be a new 
Bellfrey erected on the top of the meeting house of the Precinct, 
and ordered, that the assessors of sd precinct see the work 


1732-3, March 5. The committee was authorized "to draw from 
the Treasury what is wanting for the new Bell," £29 2s. At the 
same time a committee was chosen to obtain a " new toung for the 
Bell, or to enlarge or lengthen the present." 

From all which, we infer, that a new bell was obtained by authority 
of the preceding votes. 

1752, May 14. The Standing Committee of the Precinct, viz.: 
Mr. Isaac Lincoln, Joseph Thascter, and Hezekiah Gushing, were 
" impowered to treat with, and agree, if they think proper, with Mr. 
Caleb Barkei*, upon reasonable terms to new cast the Bell." 

In 1765, May, the Parish voted " to New Cast ye bell, and that it 
be made six hundred weight and that twenty pounds lawful money 
be raised for doing the same." 

In 1783, May 12, the Parish voted to raise £45 to defray the 
expense of " New Casting their Bell." 

In 1793, July, it was voted, to "cause an additional weight to the 
tongue of the Bell." 

In 1818, August 31, the Parish voted to have a new bell. It was 
also voted, " to choose a committee to dispose of the old bell to the 
best advantage they can, & procure a new bell that shall weigh not less 
than eleven hundred weight nor more than thirteen hundred, and 
that the committee be authorized to draw money from the treasurer 
to defray the expense." The committee then chosen for the purpose 
above mentioned, consisted of John Leavitt, Benjamin Thomas, 
Jedediah Lincoln, Blossom Sprague and Caleb Hobart, Jun. The old 
bell weighed, when sold, 542 pounds, the new bell weighed 1106 
pounds. This bell lasted but for a short time ; and it became 
necessary to procure a new one ; and at a Parish meeting, held May 
6, 1822, Voted, to choose a committee to inquire if a bell, weighing 
from twelve to fifteen hundred weight, can be procured, and on 
what conditions. The committee consisted of Benjamin Beal, John 
Leavitt, Charles Lane, Charles Gill, and Peter Sprague. Voted, "that 
the aforesaid committee be authorized to pui-chase a bell of the 
above description if necessary." They did regard it as necessary, 
and purchased the present bell, weighing 1537 pounds. It was 
placed in the belfry, July 26, 1822, and has been in use for more 
than half a century. 

CLOCKS. Before the Revolutionary War, there was a clock 
placed in the Meeting-house, in the attic story, the dial of which 
appeared in the dormer-window on the south-westerly slope of the 



roof ; and was thus visible to the public. It was owned by 
proprietors, and constructed by Dr. Josiah Leavitt, who is said to 
have built and resided in the house now owned and occupied by 
George Bassett. It was built in 1773. 

We find the following votes respecting the Clock in the Parish records. 

1774, March 14, at a Parish meeting, "the question was put 
whether the request of the proprietors of the Clock in the Meeting- 
house, be referred to next May meeting, passed in the affirmative." 

1774, May 18, the Parish voted, "that the weights of the Clock in 
the Meeting-house have their course through the ceiling down into 
the body of the House." 

1775, March 13, at a Parish meeting, "upon a motion made and 
seconded, the question was put whether Mr. Samuel Thaxter have 
refunded to him his expenses for the Clock weights and it passed in 
the affirmative." 

For some cause, unknown to us, the Clock was removed. Dr. 
Leavitt sold his estate in 1777, to Joseph Blake, of Rutland, and was 
afterwards an organ builder in Boston. 

A Clock to give the time inside the House, was placed, in 1 835, on 
the front of the singers' gallery. It was obtained by subscription, 
and set in motion, on the morning of the celebration of the two- 
hundredth anniversary of the settlement of the Town, September 28, 
1835. This Clock was made by Aaron Willard and is now in 
use. It is a great improvement upon the hour-glass which formerly 
stood upon the pulpit to mark the hours and indicate the length of 
the services. The substitution of a marble, for its original face, has 
improved its appearance. 

HEATING THE HOUSE. The first attempt to heat the 
Meeting-house was in 1822. A subscription having been made of a 
sufficient amount of money to purchase suitable stoves and apparatus 
connected with them, the Parish at a meeting held on January 22d, 
of that year, voted, " that the Parish give their assent that two stoves 
with the necessary funnels, may be set up in the Meeting-house in 
the two front outside body pews, the front of said pews to be taken 
away, in the winter season, for the purpose, said stoves to be set up 
under the direction of the Parish Committee." 

The Parish, atthe same meeting, voted to supply fuel and to employ 
a person to attend to the fires ; subsequently, coal stoves were 
substituted for those first in use in which wood was used for fuel, and 
they remained until the extensive repairs were made in 1869, when 
the mode of heating by furnaces in the basement, was adopted. 


TOWN MEETINGS. All the Town meetings were held in the 
present Meeting-house from 1682, when it was first opened for public 
use, until October, 1780. After that date, to accommodate the voters 
residing in the south part of the Town, some of the meetings were 
held in the Meeting-house of the Second Parish. 

In 1827, March 13, the Parish voted, "that no more Town 
meetings shall be held in the Meeting-house of the First Parish, 
from and after the last day of February next." After that date, 
meetings were held in the Hall of Derby Academy, or in the 
Meeting-house of the Second Parish, until the erection of a Town 
House, in 1844. A Town meeting was first held in the Town House, 
November 11, 1844. It will thus be seen, that the Town meetings 
for about one century were held exclusively in this ancient edifice. 
It was erected in the reign of Charles II and stood where it now 
stands, during the remaining reigns of all the sovereigns of the 
House of Stuart and the House of Hanover. 

The Society, which has worshipped in it, has literally been " the 
mother of many people." 

Cohasset now contains four religious societies ; and the Second 
Parish has two societies within its original limits. And within the 
present century, there have been formed, within the present territorial 
limits, of the First Parish, five other societies, viz : the Third 
Congregational, Universalist, Baptist, Methodist and Evangelical 
Orthodox Societies, while the venerable old Meeting-house, in which 
both Puritans and Pilgrims assembled for public worship, still gathers 
around its altar a large and harmonious congregation of their 

repeatedly stated, that this is the oldest house of public worship in 
New England. We mean by that, the oldest edifice erected for that 
purpose, and which has been preserved with reverential care to this 
day. Fragments and relics of other ancient Meeting-houses may 
have been preserved elsewhere, which are claimed to have existed 
before the erection of this Meeting-house. It should be borne in 
mind, that parts of the first, or '' old house," as it was called, were, as 
we learn by tradition, used in the construction of this house. 

We have examined with care. Bishop Meade's highly interesting 
volumes on the " Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia" 
published in 1857, and from that and other sources of information, 
we learn, that nothing remains but the ruins of any of those ancient 


Episcopal Churches, which were erected in Virginia, before 1681; so 
that we assert, with entire confidence, that no house for public 
worship exists within the original limits of the United States, which 
continues to be used for the purpose for which it was erected, and 
remaining on the same site where it was built, which is so old as the 
Meeting-house of the First Parish in Hingham. 

We shall be pardoned for introducing here brief extracts from a 
discourse delivered in our ancient Meeting-house, September 8, 1850, 
by Rev. Alonzo Hill, D. D., of Worcester. The thoughts were 
striking then, and appropriate now. Alluding to his invitation to 
preach in this House, he remarks as follows : 

" It seemed to me something to be permitted to worship with you 
in an edifice which has survived the casualties and changes of an 
hundred and sixty-eight years : — an edifice which dates back to the 
days of Charles II, and in which strength was obtained to resist his 
infringement of New England's charter ; — an edifice whose beams 
were laid in New England's darkest days, by men who were fresh 
from the desolating wars of Philip, aided by women whose sons had 
been butchered at their own doors by Indian tomahawks. It is 
something to stand in the pulpit under which men who had shared 
in the perils of the winter's passage of the " Mayflower " may have 
sat and worshipped ; where Eliot may have stood in his old age, and 
bent himself in prayer ; and where Gay, for nearly seventy years, 
with strength unabated and eye undimmed, ministered. Associations 
of this kind must be familiar to you, and must endear this venerable 
church as no modern edifice, however beautiful and adorned with art, 
can be endeared. To you, this antique structure must be all written 
over with the memories of the past ; this pulpit, these walls and 
pews, must bear to your hearts the history of the men and women 
who are gone, — the venerated and loved, whose names are recorded 
in your village annals and on the tombstones of your grave-yards. 
# # * * * 

" You have done well reverently to preserve, repair, and prop your 
old venerated Meeting-house. Let it stand a thousand years ; for it 
must speak as no modern edifice can speak to the hearts of a people. 
It has its story of bygone days, and communes with you of the 
invisible and distant. Images arise before you which cannot be seen 
in our recent structures; and impressions you must receive here, 
which, if you cherish them as you ought, will sanctify and bless. 
Your fathers worshipped in this mountain, and it should be holy unto 
the Lord in the heart of their children. 


" The very year in which this church was completed, William Penn 
made his memorable treaty with the natives, so sacredly observed for 
more than seventy years. Since then their tribes have all wasted 
away. Since then have come the French wars, and the vast empire 
of France on this continent has been lost ; the war of the Revolution, 
and the empire of England has been dismembered. Since then our 
free confederacy has been formed and grown to greatness ; extending 
the shield of its protection, from ocean to ocean, over more than twenty 
millions of people. Under what varied circumstances have prayers 
been offered, and sermons been preached, from this pulpit ! Under 
what emotions of fear and hope have the congregations come here to 
worship ! The story of New England's joys and woes have all 
here been recorded ; these silent walls have echoed to the tale of 
New England's glory and shame ; they have witnessed her mournings 
for her losses, her fastings and wrestlings in prayer for success, her 
thanksgivings for her triumphs. 

. "Look also at our intellectual, social, and religious condition. 
When this church was erected, Newton was living ; but his immortal 
discoveries had not put to flight the apprehensions which the return 
of a comet spread among the terror-stricken nations. Locke was 
then living; but his revelations of the powers of the human mind had 
not dispelled the delusions which filled New England with mourning, 
and stained her annals with crime. Milton had been dead seven 
years ; but it was for the men of another century to comprehend the 
power of this transcendent genius, and to acknowledge his influence 
on the popular mind. Then Cook had not circumnavigated the globe, 
nor had Polynesia and Australia been discovered and reclaimed. 
The vast possessions of England in the East Indies were then con- 
fined to a solitary trading-house ; and the vast regions of the West, 
now the seat of learning, arts, and religion, had but just been trodden 
by the foot of the solitary traveller. Mahometan arms had penetra- 
ted Europe, and were then besieging the gates of her central cities. 
Popery had been aroused by the energies of Luther, and was now 
making her last fruitless struggle for the annihilation of Protestantism. 
The year after this church was erected, the heads of Russell and 
Algernon Sidney rolled upon the scaffold in defence of spiritual 
freedom ; and, five years later, James II and his creature Jeffries 
were pouring out the vials of their wrath, and attempting to break the 
best spirit of England and her colonies, and to trample their bravest 
and best men in the dust." 


PARISH OFFICERS. For convenient reference in connection 
with the history of the Meeting-house, we give the list of the Clerks 
and Treasurers of the Parish from its organization, after the act to 
incorporate the Second Precinct took eflPect. The years of their 
election are prefixed. 


1721. John Norton, 

1721. Benjamin Lincoln, 

1726. Benjamin Lincoln, Jr., 

1757. Benjamin Lincoln, Jr., 

1776. Samuel Norton, 

1778. Benjamin Gushing, 

1806. Solomon Jones, 

1820. Fearing Loring, 

1821, Solomon Jones, 
1823. Jotham Lincoln, Jr., 
1829. Solomon Lincoln, Jr., 
1834. David Harding, 
1837. James S. Lewis, 
1862. Henry C. Harding. 



Thomas Andrews, 


Caleb Thaxter, 


John Thaxter, 


Solomon Jones, - 


Joseph Andrews, 


Thomas Andrews, 


John Thaxter, 


Solomon Lincoln, 


Thomas Loring, 


Jotham Lincoln, Jr., 


John Fearing, 


Jedediah Lincoln, 


Jostuia Leavitt, 


Peter Ripley, 


Samuel Norton, 


Ebed Ripley, 


Joshua Leavitt, 


Wm. Fearing, 2d, 


John Thaxter, 


Sidney Spragne. 


Heman Lincoln, 


In printing original papers and extracts from the records in the 
Appendix, the spelling of words has not been changed. The 
names of persons stand as they were written. 

It is stated, (page 41,) that a committee recommended that the 
pews in front of the pulpit should be removed. The Deacons' seat 
was not specially mentioned ; but was removed at the same time 
with the pew or Elders' seat. The persons who occupied the 
Deacons' seat for the last time, were Deacon Caleb Hobart, Senior, 
and Deacon Nehemiah Ripley. 

Errata.— On page 38, 8th line, for " David " read " Daniel." 

On page 43, 10th line, for " Eighteen" read "Thirteen." 



This narrative of details pertaining to the venerable edifice, so 
fondly loved and cherished by generation after generation of 
worshippers, cannot, perhaps, be brought to a more fitting close, 
than by the insertion of the subjoined lines, virritten thirty years 
ago, by Mr. James Humphrey Wilder, a native of Hingham. He 
was, for many years, a constant attendant upon the services within 
its walls, — a member of the Choir and a teacher in its Sunday 
School. Although he has ceased to be a resident of Hingham, he 
still cherishes the same aifectionate regard for the old pile shown 
in this composition of his early days. It has been sung by the 
Choir, on more than one occasion ; and the hope has been 
expressed, that it may be sung in this sacred House of our Fathers, 


Tune — "America." 

Old church ! a song to thee, 
Child of antiquity, 

To thee we sing ! 
Around thine aged form 
Sweet recollections swai'm, 
And with affection warm 

To thee they cling. 

Qf ages past we learn, 
As to thy face we turn, 

Thou reverend pile ! 
Thy form and features tell 
How wisely and how well 
Our fathers sought to dwell 

Beneath Heaven's smile. 

Those stout old beams of oak, 
XJnscarred by Time's hard stroke. 

As years have flown — 
Thy builders' hope declare, 
"Whose toil it was and prayer 
That we, their sons, might share 

Blessings their own. 

Their monument art thou, 
Before whose years we bow 

With love sincere : 
House, that our fathers made 
Church, in whose sacred shade 
Their forms to rest are laid. 

Thee we revere ! 

There, firm and fast, thou'st stood. 
Through all vicissitude. 

For long gone years — 
In faith and hope begun. 
The pride of sire and son, 
A triumph hast thou won 

O'er all thy peers. 

And there long may'st thou stand. 
Unharmed by human hand, 

By age unbent — 
While generations more 
Than yet have gone before. 
Shall seek thy hallowed door. 

On Heaven intent ! 


On a careful examination of these pages, a few errors liave been 
discovered, which being corrected, the}"" will read as follows : — 
On pages 42, 58, 70, '• Ebed L. Ripley," instead of " Ebed S." 
On page 45, " Hinghani Journal of September .'h-d," 1869, instead 

of " July 7." 
On page 47, eighth line from the bottom, "tread" instead of 

*' thread." 
On page 52, '' George H. Ilepworth." instead of •' (Jeorg<! W." 
On page 54, Few No. 32, "Minister" instead of "Singers." 
On page 56, in the last line nnder the title of "Lighting the 

House," "May 1st," instead of ".July 1st." 
On page 6o. Mrs. Richardson died " 1872," instead of '• I^iTo." 




This book is due on the last date stamped below, or 
This book ^s a^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ renewed. 

Renewed books are subject to immed^ate^e^ 



LD 21A-50m-3,'62 

General Library . 
University of California 


■-:'' v?-''r 



ii '.