Braintree, Mass. First Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Braintree, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1697-1871, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

The first congregation to settle in the Braintree area in 1634 was known as "Mount Wollaston", named after the founder of a trading post in 1624. The Mount Wollaston Parish Meeting House was established in 1639 in the present-day Quincy Area, and by 1640 the town was renamed Braintree. The town originally included present-day Braintree, Quincy, Randolph, and Holbrook. The Parish Meeting House was the site of the original church, which first gathered in 1707. The next year, the town was divided into the North Precinct (Quincy) and the South Precinct (Braintree). At the time, Braintree was sometimes referred to as "Monatiquot" after the Massachusett Indian village and home of Chief Wompatuck. When Quincy became an official town in 1792, the 1707 church was designated as the First Church in Braintree. Over the years, the church has been known as the First Congregational Church and Christ Church. Today it continues as First Congregational Church of Braintree, UCC.

The digital collections below include a volume of 1762-1824 church records with administrative information and birth, marriage, and death records. There is also a separate volume of financial records spanning 1708-1796, as well as a journal kept by the church's minister Rev. Samuel Niles in which he records details of ministerial and personal life.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Church records, 1707-1871

This bound volume comprises the earliest church records, with some apparently copied from a previous version. It contains meeting minutes, lists of members, baptisms, marriages, deaths, a copy of the church covenant, and copies of official correspondence.

Church records, 1762-1824

Two sets of records were kept within this volume, and are presented here consecutively for ease of use. The first set of records includes lists of the church's minsters and members, covenants, and meeting minutes. The second set of records contains lists of baptisms, marriages, deaths, and admissions to the church.

Samuel Niles's journal, 1697-1777

The entries in this journal date from 1697 to 1777, and were continued by Rev. Samuel Niles of Abington, grandson to Rev. Niles of Braintree, after the latter's death in 1762. The content consists of Rev. Niles's theological essays and general reportage on current events, as well as organizational and membership history of the First Church in Braintree. Topical entries include the Covenant of Redemption, the Episcopacy, the Godhead of the Christ, the Protestant Power, the Papal Power, the 1665 plague in London, and the pastor's work, "A Prospect of Death - A Pindarique Essay", written on March 19, 1721. Rev. Niles also includes an autobiographical account (page 48), and details about his wives, children, marriages, and ordination. Ecclesiastical records include marriages, baptisms, membership rolls, a copy of the Abington church covenant, records of burials in the Braintree church grounds, financial accounts relating to the church, and a list of Churches of Christ extant in 1777.

A full transcription of this volume is available.

Financial records, 1708-1796

The records in this volume document the financial and organizational history of the Braintree Precinct from 1708 to 1796. Meeting minutes include discussion to build the new meetinghouse, a list of pew ownerships, and a report of the precinct’s boundaries being drawn. The different names used to refer to the precinct within the records also reflect the evolution of the region's geography. As time passed the area was referred to as "South Precinct", "the South or Middle precinct", "Middle Precinct", "First Precinct", and "Braintree Precinct".


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.

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.