Brunswick, Maine. First Parish Church

Collection History

The township of Brunswick was incorporated on May 3, 1717. The Massachusetts General Court voted to allocate funds for the dispatching of missionaries to convert the native Abenaki who remained in the area, an act which established the First Parish Church in Brunswick. The first missionary to visit was Rev. Joseph Baxter. He was followed by Rev. James Woodslide, a Brunswick local, who was deemed not puritanical enough to continue preaching. The first permanently settled minister of the First Parish Church was Rev. Robert Dunlap, a Presbyterian, who served as the pastor of the church from 1747 to 1760.

Funding for the first meeting house was first authorized on January 9, 1717, but the building was not completed until 1735. This meeting house, in the western part of the town, was largely Presbyterian. A second meeting house was constructed in the eastern part of the town in 1756 and was largely Congregational. The minister of the First Parish served as pastor of both churches. In 1772, the two church populations agreed to officially follow Congregational polity. In 1790 some parishioners withdrew from the church in order to form a Baptist Society, in part because they did not wish to pay taxes to the town to support the Congregational minister.

Construction on the third meeting house began in 1806 and was completed in 1808. At that point, the two church communities largely combined and met jointly in the third meeting house. The first meeting house became property of Brunswick until it was destroyed by fire in 1834. The second meeting house was largely abandoned after 1808 and was demolished by 1835. The fourth, and final, meeting house, designed by Richard Upjohn, was dedicated on March 18, 1846. Harriet Beecher Stowe sat in pew 23 in this building in 1851 when she was inspired to write "Uncle Tom's Cabin".

The First Parish Church had a close relationship with Bowdoin College during the 19th and 20th century. The college provided some of the funds needed for the construction of the third and fourth meeting houses and Baccalaureate Services and Commencement Exercises were held annually at the church building until 1966. In 1960, the First Parish Church in Brunswick voted to join the United Church of Christ. The church continues to serve the community today.

The digital collections below include the early administrative and vital membership records of the church including church and parish meeting minutes, vital statistics of members, and ministerial records for Rev. Asa Mead.

For additional information please see the finding aid.

 

Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Parish records, 1735-1822

This volume contains the early administrative records of the parish. These records are copies of originals which were collected and expanded upon at a later unknown date. The volume also contains historical information about the early church.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Church records, 1762-1794

This volume contains a membership list and meeting minutes. Only a portion of the volume is filled. Loose materials were removed from the volume for scanning purposes and are ennumerated below.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Loose materials, 1762-1794

These materials comprise an assortment of loose records found interleaved in the Church's record book of 1762-1794. They comprise vital statistics of members including baptism, admission, and death records, as well as a document of reconciliation signed by former seperatists.

1760 reconciliation document
1763-1767 baptisms
1763-1783 admissions
1763-1768 deaths
1762-1769 baptisms
1763-1767 meeting minutes
circa 1800 historical account
1790-1794 baptisms


Church records, 1793-1822

This volume contains meeting minutes, covenants, baptisms, marriages, member lists, and lists of member deaths. The volume also contains a great deal of loose papers interleaved within the bound volume. These loose pages are paginated so as to indicate they should be read as part of the whole. Digitization has presevered this arrangement.

Constitution change, circa 1770

This single document records the church's vote to change from a Presbyterian-based governance system to a Congregational one.

Baptist Society formation document, 1799

This item documents the formation of a Baptist society in Brunswick, Maine in 1799.

Church records (loose), 1806-1829, undated

These loose records pertain to the operation of the church, and include letters of transfer, correspondence, and sermons. Of particular note are a single relation (a standardized personal conversion narrative usually required for admission) and votes to form a program for religious instruction of children and a church library.

circa 1822 from the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick to the Cumberland Association correspondence regarding the settlement of Rev. Asa Mead
1829 by the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick   disciplinary case regarding Henry Allen's request for dismission due to change in belief
1829 by the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick   dismission of Henry Allen
1819 September by Rufus Anderson to the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick request for dismission 
circa 1820 from Rev. Asa Mead to the committee of the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick meeting minutes recording vote to establish religious instruction for children and a church library
1806 November 7 from Abiel Wood to Peter Alden Esq. general correspondence  
undated by Peter Alden Esq. to the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick testimony in his own defense
1807, 1816 by President Appleton of Bowdoin College   remarks to members of the church
1817 by Joshua Edwards to the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick relation of faith, with additional annotations ennumerating church members

Historical summaries, 1810-1814

These three documents summarize the history of First Parish and Maquoit Baptist Church. The first two documents contain notes on the history of First Parish and Maquoit Baptist and cover the years 1738-1810. The third, prepared by Rev. Winthrop Bailey (pastor at First Parish, Brunswick from 1811-1814) covers the many pastors who served the church, starting in 1735.

circa 1786   historical notes
circa 1810   historical account of First Parish and Maquoit Baptist beginning in 1738
circa 1814 by Rev. Winthrop Bailey history of the church's ministers from 1735-1814

Asa Mead papers, 1822-1827

This folder contains documents related to the call, ordination, and pastorate of Rev. Asa Mead, including salary receipts, correspondence, and transfer letters.

1822 November 14 by the committee of the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick   meeting minutes with vote to invite Asa Mead to settle in Brunswick
1822 November 18 from Rev. Asa Mead to John Perry Esq. letter with preliminary acceptance of the call to settle in Brunswick
1822 November 26 from Rev. Asa Mead to the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick letter with final acceptance of the call to settle in Brunswick
1822 December 2 from Rev. Asa Mead to John Perry Esq. correspondence with details of ordination at Brunswick
1822 from the Congregational Church of Christ in Brunswick to the First Church of Christ in North Yarmouth invitation to ecclesiastical council for Asa Mead's ordination
1822 by Asa Cummings (scribe)   results of ecclesiastical council
1822 December 18     note with receipt of dismission document for Rev. Asa Mead from his former church near Dartmouth College
1826 September 5 from Rev. Asa Mead to the president and trustees of Bowdoin College letter regarding salary
1822 December 19 from Dartmouth College to Rev. Asa Mead letter of transfer of Asa Mead
1825 November 20 from the Church of Christ in Gorham   letter of transfer of Jane Mead
1831 February 24 from Rev. Asa Mead to "Rev. Mr. Adams" request for Jane Mead's dismission
1824 May 29   to Rev. Asa Mead receipt for monies paid 
1825 June 16   to Rev. Asa Mead receipt for monies paid 
1827 January 4   to Rev. Asa Mead reciept for monies paid 
1827 May 8   to Rev. Asa Mead receipt for salary paid 
undated from "B. Titecomb" to Rev. Asa Mead correspondence regarding a charge against him

 

Special Thanks

This digital resource has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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