Browse the First Church records in Newbury, Massachusetts
The town of Newbury, Massachusetts, was first settled in 1635. The early European colonists settled along the Wessacuçon River, also transcribed as Quascacunquen; the river is now known as the Parker River. The First Church in Newbury was formally gathered in 1635 and was the twelfth church to be established in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first meeting house was also constructed in 1635. As the Newbury settlement began to expand north towards the Merrimac River the Parish decided to build a more central church. This second meeting house was constructed in 1647. In 1661 the third meeting house was constructed across from the second to accommodate a larger parish. The fourth meeting house was erected in 1699.
Three distinct population centers formed in Newbury during the late seventeenth-century. In 1694 the western portion of Newbury was partitioned into the West Parish and the Second Church in Newbury was formed. Another partition took place in 1722 with the creation of the Newburyport Parish and gathering of the Third Church in Newbury. Both parishes were eventually incorporated as the towns of West Newbury and Newburyport.
In 1743 a group of parishioners, unhappy with Rev. Christopher Toppan and eager to more closely follow the teachings of George Whitefield, withdrew from the First Church. They later formed the First Episcopal Church along with a group of parishioners who had also withdrawn from the Third Church to better follow George Whitefield’s teachings.
The fifth meeting house was constructed in 1806 and dedicated on September 17, 1806. During the nineteenth-century the parish community participated in numerous reform movements. In 1818 a Sunday school was opened. The following year the Female Reading Society was formed. The fifth meeting house was destroyed in a fire on January 26, 1868. Construction on the sixth, and final, meeting house was completed in 1869.
In 1961 the church voted to join the United Church of Christ. In 1967 the parish and church organizations were merged and the name of the church was changed to First Parish Church of Newbury. The First Parish Church continues to serve the Newbury community today.