Beacon Street Diary blog

New NEHH collection available - Thomas Weld's common-place book

The latest addition to our New England's Hidden Histories program is the common-place book of Thomas Weld (1702-1757), a pastor in New England from 1727 until his death in 1757/8.

This notebook from his time at Harvard University contains notes on various subjects and topics, mostly of a religious nature. Of note is that different handwriting appears in the latter half of the book, but it is presumed that the first half is Weld's. It is unknown who else has written in this book, but sometime after 1723 the book was gifted to politician John Fairfield (1797-1847) who gifted it to his nephew, J. Wingate Thornton (1818-1878) who was attending Harvard, two inscriptions on the inner cover document these events.

Thomas Weld was born November, 1702 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Weld graduated from Harvard University in 1723, and with his degree taught at Roxbury Latin School until he went to preach at Southborough, and the frontier. In 1735 he became the minister at the newly formed town of Upton. Difference in theology as well as rumors of an illicit relationship with Weld's landlord's daughter, Ms. Wheeler, forced Weld to leave Upton in 1744. After suing for his wages, and defamation against Ms. Wheeler, Weld became one of two ministers in Middleborough. When the other minister, Conant, was ordained in 1745, the church split with Weld remaining in Middleborough preaching to a small group of New-Lights. By 1749/50 Weld's congregation had grown tired of his ministry, and elected to rejoin the other church. After disputing the wages owed to him, Weld returned to Roxbury before going back to the frontier to preach. During the French and Indian War (1754-1763) he joined army as a chaplain before dying in 1757 or 1758.

You can learn more about the history of this collection by viewing the finding aid, or go directly to the NEHH collection page and start reading.

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