Parkman, Ebenezer. Papers

Collection History

Rev. Ebenezer Parkman (1703-1782) of Boston and Westborough, Mass. is most historically notable for the detailed diaries which he kept throughout his life. He graduated from Harvard in 1721 and received a Masters degree in 1724, going on to become the first minister of the Congregational Church in Westborough. He was ordained in 1724 when the church was organized. Shortly before his installation he married Mary Champney, who died in 1736. His second wife, whom he married in 1737, was Hannah Breck, the daughter of the late Rev. Robert and Elizabeth Breck of Marlborough, Mass. Rev. Parkman continued his ministry in Westborough until his death in 1782, in the 80th year of his age and the 58th of his ministry. Two of his sermons were published during his lifetime.

Rev. Parkman's ministry encompassed both the Great Awakening and the American Revolution. He was a moderate New Light, associating with the Rev. George Whitefield during the famous evangelist's first missionary journey to New England. He also refused to condemn Whitefield despite pressure to do so by his local clerical association. In contrast, he was troubled by the increase in uneducated itinerant preachers, and discouraged his parishioners from crying out with evangelical fervor during church services.

Rev. Parkman was initially skeptical of the Revolution and characterized the Stamp Act riots of 1765 as "a melancholy occurrence." After the Battle of Lexington and Concord he signed a manifesto "for peace sake and to avoid a rupture among us." However, he increasingly warmed to the idea of Independence, especially when his eldest son, Ebenezer Jr., joined the Continental Army. Another son, Samuel Parkman, became a wealthy merchant in Boston. Samuel was the father of George Parkman, who was murdered by Harvard professor John White Webster in Boston's infamous Parkman-Webster murder case of 1849.

The collections below include manuscript versions of a number of Rev. Parkman's sermons, preached largely in his home parish of Westborough, as well as assorted sermon fragments. There are also a number of loose records relating to Rev. Parkman's personal, financial, legal, and ecclesiastical concerns. Included in these is a whimsical school workbook ("Juvenalia") penned by Parkman in 1717 when he was 14 years of age. These records are provided in partnership with the Westborough Public Library, which holds the majority of the original documents.


Digital Materials


at the Congregational Library and Archives

Sermons, 1724-1778

These four sermons by Rev. Parkman were all initially preached in his home parish of Westborough, with later dates and locations specified in the headers.

  • 2 Timothy 2:19 – "...let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity..."
       first preached at Westborough, 27 September 1724

  • Isaiah 1:5 – "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint..."
       first preached at Westborough, 10 March 1727/8

  • Romans 6:13 – "but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God..."
       first preached at Westborough, 15 December 1745

  • Mark 9:24 – "I believe; help thou mine unbelief..."
       first preached at Westborough, 27 December 1778


from the Westborough Public Library

Sermons, 1724-1781

This array of sermons written by Rev. Parkman were largely preached in Westborough, as well as some neighboring locales. The dates and preaching locations are recorded in the headers, with the exception of four fragmentary records in which the headings have been lost.

  • 1 Peter 3:15 – "and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 December 1724

  • Psalms 86:9-10 – "All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name..."
       first preached at Westborough, 19 December 1725

  • Hebrews 10:22 – "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..."
       first preached 26 June 1726

  • 2 John 1:8 – "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward..."
       first preached at Westborough, 12 February 1726

  • Hebrews 12:11 – "...seemeth to be joyous, but grievous"...
       first preached at Watertown, 11 February 1738/9

  • Luke 12:21 – "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God..."
       first preached at Westborough, 10 August 1740

  • Jeremiah 8:5 – "they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return..."
       first preached at Westborough, 15 May 1743

  • Matthew 22:37-38 - "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 November 1748

  • Habakkuk 3:17-18 – "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines..."
       first preached at "the North Side," 18 June 1749

  • Revelations 1:8 – "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord..."
       first preached at Westborough, 3 March 1750/1

  • Isaiah 55:6 – "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 May 1753

  • John 10:11 – "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep..."
       first preached at Westborough, 6 June 1756

  • Proverbs 2:1 – "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee..."
       first preached 25 March 1784

  • Deuteronomy 2:7 – "these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing..."
       first preached at Westborough, 4 November 1764

  • Titus 3:4-6 – "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared..."
       first preached at Westborough, 9 March 1766

  • fragment

  • fragment

  • Letter to Daniel Adams
       read at Westborough, 15 February 1781

  • Psalms 10:4 – "...God is not in all his thoughts..."

Sermon fragments, 1728-1780

This assortment of loose records comprises fragmentary sermon notes by Rev. Parkman; the headings generally having been lost.

Loose records, 1717-1782

This assortment of loose documents spans a large swathe of Rev. Parkman's life, beginning with his 1717 school workbook and ending with a payment order for his funeral expenses on 1782. The records also include financial agreements related to salary and upkeep, personal financial transactions, land transfers, a copy of the church covenant, a reply to a disgruntled parishioner, and a brief essay on morality.

1717 by Rev. Parkman   school workbook ("Juvenalia") including poems and tables of reference
1723 December by John Hay (town treasurer)   receipt for the supply of the pulpit
1724 October 28     covenant of the Westborough Church
1752 July 30 from Rev. Parkman to Mr. Champney receipt for tableware, flour and cotton
1753 December 27 from Abijah Bruce to Rev. Parkman deed granting money and land in the southern precinct of Westborough
1767 May 25     survey of 1.5 acres of land granted to Rev. Parkman
1768-1771     loosely bound notebook of medical recipes and remedies
1776 April 4 from Rev. Parkman to John Fessanden receipt for £
1780 November 9 by Rev. Parkman to the Church and Mr. Daniel Adams reply to Mr. Adams's paper in response to his disciplinary case verdict
1782 December 30 from Westborough selectmen to George Andros (town treasurer) order of payment from town funds to Breck Parkman for Rev. Parkman's funeral expenses
undated     note agreeing to pay £55 for Rev. Parkman's salary
undated     short essay on the word "morall"


Related Materials

Westborough, Mass. Church of Christ records, 1724-1787


Special Thanks

These digital resources have 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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