Church History

Marblehead was originally settled as a plantation of Salem in 1629, and incorporated as a town in 1649. The First Church in Marblehead, also sometimes referred to as Old North Church, 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.

The church records primarily relate to the spiritual life of the congregation, whereas the society records encompass the bulk of the finances and administration of the parish as a legal entity.

For more detail about this collection, see the archival finding guide.


Digital Materials

"Meeting house book," 1695-1785

This volume contains records pertaining to the construction, maintenance, and administration of the first church building.