Marblehead, Massachusetts. First Church of Christ ("Old North"). Records, 1684-1886

Collection Information

First Church of Christ in Marblehead. Records, 1684-1866


First Church of Christ (Marblehead, Mass.)
"Old North" Church (Marblehead, Mass.)




1 box (0.79 cubic feet)
2133 unique page images: archival TIFF, derivative JPEG & PDF

Collection ID #:


Conditions Governing Access:

Physical ledgers are restricted and unavailable for researcher access. Digital duplicates are open and available for researcher use.

Technical Access:

To access digital user’s copies via online-interface, a java-enabled web browser is required. Internet Explorer 8.x and later, Firefox 5.x and later, Opera 12 and later, Safari 5.x and later, or any version of Google Chrome are recommended.

Copyright: Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item], in the First Church of Christ (Marblehead, Mass.) records, RG5043. The Congregational Library and Archive, Boston, MA.

Additional Resources:

Item-level metadata available for digital duplicates. Please contact the library for more information.



Processing information:

Collection processed by Jessica Steytler, October 2012

Revision History:

Redescribed by Sari Mauro in November 2013 in accordance with DACS 2nd edition.


Marblehead was originally settled as a plantation of Salem in 1629, and incorporated as a town in 1649. The First Church in Marblehead was formally established in 1684, although pastors had been preaching in the plantation as early as 1637. The collection contains records of the First Church of Christ (also referred to as Old North Church) in Marblehead. These comprise the earliest records, including annual and regular meeting minutes, membership records, baptisms, marriages, pew taxes, expenses, contributions, and historical notes.

Acquisition Information:

Placed on permanent loan by the First Church of Christ in Marblehead, Massachusetts (also known as Old North Church) in September 2012.


Accruals are expected for this collection in the form of full-text transcription of digital duplicates. There is no projected date for these accruals.


Historical Note

Marblehead was originally settled as a plantation of Salem in 1629, and incorporated as a town in 1649. The First Church in Marblehead was formally established in 1684, although pastors had been preaching in the plantation as early as 1637. Samuel Cheever, who had begun his tenure in Marblehead in 1668, was called as pastor.

The meetinghouse used by First Church predated the founding of the church by 25 years, with a tax for the building of the meetinghouse being raised in 1648 and built in 1659 on Old Burial Hill. Various additions were made to expand the building and its capacity. Sometime shortly before 1716 the building was moved a new location. In 1824 a new building was built after the original was lost in a fire.

The Second Congregational Church (est. 1715, later Unitarian) and Third "South" Congregational Church (est. 1858) both split off from First Church following disputes over incoming ministers. Many members of Third Church rejoined First Church in 1877 when their building was lost in a fire.


List of Ministers, 1635-2007

The collection here is limited from the 1680s-1860s, but the list of ministers is complete up to the creation of this guide.

John Avery 1635 (died at sea)   Eric M. Ricard, Jr. 1956-1960  
William Walton 1638-1668   George M. Hooten, Jr. 1961-1978  
Samuel Cheever 1668-1724   Randall H. Niehoff 1979-1991  
John Barnard 1716-1770   Edwin S. Vaeni 1989-1991 (Interim)
William Whitwell 1762-1781   Tom Boates 1991-1992 (Interim)
Ebenezer Hubbard 1783-1800   John P. Potter 1992-2001  
Samuel Dana 1801-1837   Fredrick W. Atwood-Lyon 2001-2002 (Interim)
Samuel Cozzens 1832-1837   James W. Christensen 2002-2007 (Co-Pastor)
Mark A. H. Niles 1837-1844   Patricia A. Long 2002-2007 (Co-Pastor)
Edward A. Lawrence 1845-1854   Raymond D. Patch 2004-2007 (Interim)
Benjamin Allen 1854-1872   Dennis B Calhoun 2007-  
John H. Williams 1873-1883        
S. Linton Bell 1884-1902   Assistant and Associate Ministers
Nicholas Van de Pyl 1903-1907   Kendall Link 1958-1961 (Assistant)
John W. Barnett 1907-1910   Ralph E. Short 1962-1965 (Assistant)
Leslie C. Greeley 1910-1924   Charles F. Hood 1965-1978 (Associate)
Harris G. Hale 1925-1930       Emeritus, 1992-2002
Dwight L. Cart 1930-1936   Eugene R. Arnould 1971-1975 (Assistant)
Oliver F. Wiese 1937-1941   Howard H. MacMullen, Jr. 1975-1978 (Assistant)
Thomas A. Goodwin 1942-1949   Patricia A. Long 1994-2002  
Robert S. Balfe 1950-1956   Jill E. Olds 2011-  


Scope of Collection

This collection contains the early records of First Church of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Records include church records, which primarily relate to the spiritual life of the congregation, and society records which encompass the bulk of the finances and administration of the parish as a legal entity. Included in the collection are meeting minutes, membership lists, baptismal records, maintenance and plans for church buildings, records of pew taxes, expenses, and contributions. Of particular note are separate lists of full and half-way members. There are a total of 9 bound books, the earliest records of the church. The Congregation maintains the later records.


Further Searches

Subject Headings

Marblehead (Mass.) - History.

Marblehead (Mass.) -- Church history.

Marblehead, Mass. First Congregational Church

Old North Church (Marblehead, Mass.)

Baptismal records.

Church membership.


Local government - Massachusetts.


Church discipline.

Ecclesiastical Council - Massachusetts.

Marriage records - Massachusetts

Registers of births, etc. - Massachusetts - Marblehead.

Installation (Clergy)



Related Materials

Marblehead, MA: Old North Church 17.11.1 M32.75 OldNC

Marblehead, MA: Third Congregational Church 17.11.1 M32.75 THICC



Collection items are housed in nine (9) volumes. These volumes are arranged into two series. Within each series the volumes are arranged chronologically. Digital arrangement reflects the two-series order and the order in which the pages are organized in each volume.



Series I: Church records

  Date: 1684-1857
  Extent: 4 volumes
  Scope of Series: This series documents the religious life and decisions of the church. Records include meeting minutes, covenant records, vital statistics, membership lists, and some financial records documenting wills and "donations and collections."
  Date Location
Church records 1684-1800 Volume 1
      Online interface
  This volume contains the church's official declaration of separation from Salem, its covenant, and early membership records. It also includes church meeting minutes and financial records.
Church records 1740-1837 Volume 2
  Online interface
  The second volume continues the membership records and church meeting minutes.  The original manuscript pages were in delicate condition, but we have captured as much of the information as possible.
Church records 1837-1857 Volume 3
  Online interface
  The third volume continues the membership records and church meeting minutes.  It also contains the wills of William and Hannah Reed.
"Meeting house book" 1695-1785 Volume 4
  Online interface
  This volume contains records pertaining to the construction, maintenance, and administration of the first church building.

Series II: Society records

  Date: 1684-1866
  Extent: 5 volumes
  Scope of Series: This series focuses on the administrative activities of the church body, including building and grounds maintenance, pew ownership, town activities, and taxes. Two volumes in the series specifically document financial matters of the society.
  Date Location
Society records 1755-179 Volume 5
  Online interface
  This volume collects the financial records of the parish society, including pew owners and related taxes. The book itself consists of several groups of pages bound at a later date.
Society records 1795-1825, 1852, 1857 Volume 6
  Online interface
  This volume contains the financial records of the parish society, including meeting minutes, pew taxes, and a copy of the Act of Incorporation put in place following official disestablishment by the Massachusetts General Court.
Society records 1825-1866 Volume 7
  Online interface
  Concerns the parish, financial matters, and the building. Records regular committee, quarterly, and annual meetings.
Financial records 1717-1836 Volume 8
  Online interface
  Primarily lists expenses for bread and wine, referred to as "Church Stock". Also indicated are amounts gained "By Collection". Church historian's notes indicate that the collection would have been for Sabbath School.
Financial records 1783-1803 Volume 9
  Online interface
  Lists individual member contributions, pew taxes, expenses, and maintenance.


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