Barnstable, Mass. West Parish Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Barnstable, Massachusetts. West Parish Church records, 1639-1853, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

The history of the West Parish Congregational church begins with the gathering of a small nonconformist church in Southwark, London, 1616. In 1632 during the pastorate of Rev. John Lothrop, he and members of his congregation were arrested for their non-conformist beliefs. Upon their release in 1634, Rev. Lothrop and approximately 30 members of the Southwark Church emigrated to Scituate, a small settlement in the Plymouth Colony. Discord between the members of the Southwark Church and the other Plymouth Colony settlers quickly developed over the distribution of land and the issue of baptism. Rev. Lothrop petitioned the General Court for resettlement and in June of 1638 the Court offered the church land in the recently settled town of Mattakeese, now Barnstable. They arrived in October of 1639, a month after the town of Barnstable was officially incorporated. Construction of the first meeting house was completed in 1644. This building continues to stand today and is a part of the Sturgis Library in Barnstable.

By 1712 Barnstable had grown significantly and some members of the parish began to push for a division of Barnstable into an East and West Parish, and in 1715 the town voted for the division and an Ecclesiastical Council made permanent the town vote. The Parish Church in Barnstable became the West Parish Church in 1717 while the East Parish Church officially was gathered as a new church in 1723. Construction on the second meeting house began in 1717 and was completed in 1719. The Meetinghouse was extensively restored in the 1950s, and is the oldest continually used Congregational meetinghouse. The current church, West Parish of Barnstable, is a member of the United Church of Christ.

The single digital volume below consists of the church's earliest record book, dating from 1639 to 1853. For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Record book, 1639-1853

This volume contains the early records of the first church founded in Barnstable, Mass., now known as West Parish Church in the village of West Barnstable. Included in the records are copies of correspondence, proceedings of ecclesiastical councils, meeting minutes, baptismal records, and dismissions and admissions. Of particular note are records pertaining to an early controversy over singing.

A full transcription of this volume is available.


Related Materials

Barnstable, Mass. East Parish Church, 1717-1816


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.