Ipswich, Massachusetts. First Church of Christ records, 1653-1835.
The town of Ipswich was originally known as Agawam, after the resident tribe of Algonquian-speaking Native people. Masconomet, sagamore of the Agawams, sold “all land lying and being in the Bay of Agawam” to John Winthrop for the sum of 20 pounds on June 28, 1638. New settlers in the area found the hillside at the center of Agawam to be clear and well-sited and soon constructed a church there. The First Church in Ipswich was gathered on August 5, 1634, and Rev. John Wilson was called as the first Pastor. The first meeting house was constructed the same year.
Construction on the second meeting house was completed in 1647. In 1699 the third meeting house of the First Church was built on the north green. Members left to form new churches in 1681, 1714, 1747, and 1749. In 1749 the fourth meeting house was constructed. David T. Kimball was ordained as the fourteenth minister of the First Church in Ipswich on October 3, 1806. Construction on the fifth meeting house was completed by 1847. The South Church in Ipswich voted to reunite with the First Church in Ipswich in 1922. In 1965 the fifth meeting house was destroyed by a fire and the sixth meeting house was completed in 1971. Now a member of the United Church of Christ, the First Church in Ipswich continues to serve the local community today.
This collection consists of items physically held by both the Congregational Library & Archives as well as the American Antiquarian Society.
The Congregational Library material includes one bound volume of church records dating from 1739-1806 and two bound parish record books dating from 1724-1756 and 1757-1830 respectively.
The American Antiquarian Society material consists of a volume of church records from 1692 to 1743. It includes notes on church meetings recorded by Rev. John Rogers (1666-1745), including the controversy over the resignation of Rev. Jabez Fitch (1672-1746), who resigned in 1723 in order to take a position at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, against the wishes of the Ipswich congregation. Rev. Nathaniel Rogers (1702-1775), son of John Rogers, replaced Fitch in 1726. Also included in the church records are notes on women expelled from the church for fornication, a list of proposals for church administration, etc. There is also a commentary on a Latin treatise by the Spanish Jesuit, Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), entitled "Disputationes Metaphysicas....". Further information about this volume can be found in the AAS catalog.