Weston, Mass. First Parish Church

Collection History

In 1698, a "Church of Christ" was established in an area of Watertown known as the Farmers' Precinct. Construction of a meetinghouse was completed by 1700, and the first minister, Rev. Joseph Mors, was ordained in 1709. In 1713 the surrounding area was officially incorporated as the town of Weston. The church's first four ministers were considered progressive, and by the 1830s the theology of the church was beginning to shift towards Unitarianism. This transition seems to have occurred peacefully at Weston, without the schisms that plagued many Congregational churches of the era and resulted in the formation of opposing Evangelical Congregational churches. The adoption of Unitarianism was made official in the 1867 church covenant, which also renamed the church to the First Congregational (Unitarian) Church in Weston. The name was changed again in 1991 to The First Parish Church in Weston. The First Parish Church remains active today and is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The materials in our Weston collection include the earliest record books of the First Parish Church, which contain meeting minutes, administrative details, and vital records of the congregation. Other eighteenth-century records include volumes of baptisms, marriages, and necrologies. Also included is a manuscript volume written by Edmund Hamilton Sears while attending Harvard Divinity School, which includes an autobiographical sketch, personal musings, a family genealogy, and poetry (1836-1837), and a ministerial diary (1852) kept by Rev. Joseph Field.

For more detail about this collection, please see the finding aid.

Digital Materials

Church records, 1709-1744

This volume of church records contains the original church covenant, baptismal records, membership lists, and meeting minutes.

Church records, 1744-1815

This volume of church records includes membership lists, baptismal records, meeting minutes, records of votes, collection records, and lists of admitted members.

Marriages and deaths, 1751-1786

This volume of church records contains both lists of members who were married and lists of members who died.

Deaths and baptisms, 1784-1856

This volume of church records contains the names of members of the First Parish who died along with dates of their death, as well as listings of members baptised and their parents. There are numerous pages from the volume that have been ripped out, leaving gaps in the records.

Marriages, 1815-1864

This volume of records contains detailed records on the marriages of members within the church. The list of marriages contains information such as the names and dates of those involved, as well as the location of the marriage, the age of the people, the occupations of the men, and the relations of the women.

Edmund Sears's autobiography, 1836-1837

This volume contains the manuscript writings of Edmund Hamilton Sears from his time at the Harvard Divinity School. The volume contains an autobiographical sketch of Edmund Sears, a section on recollections and thoughts, poetry, some of which is pointedly political and/or anti-slavery, hymns, including a Christmas hymn, and a genealogy of the Sears family. There are portions of the manuscript which have been deliberately removed from the volume resulting in significant gaps.

Rev. Joseph Field's diary, 1852

This volume is a daily journal kept by Rev. Joseph Field. The journal contains near daily entries about the happenings in Rev. Field's life, including travel and the names of those who he visited, the topics of Sunday sermons, tax records for the church, and agricultural notes regarding Field's garden.

 

Special Thanks

The digital resource has been made possible in part by the Council on Library and Information Resources, through a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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