Marblehead, Mass. Second Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Marblehead, Massachusetts. Second Church records, 1714-1850, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

In 1714 the congregation of the First Parish Church of Marblehead sought a new minister to assist the aging Reverend Samuel Cheever. A conflict soon arose regarding two of the new candidates. The majority of the congregants voted to install Rev. John Barnard, but a vocal minority supported the other candidate, Rev. Edward Holyoke. Rev. Holyoke's supporters eventually broke off to form the Second Church of Marblehead.

A meetinghouse was erected on New Meetinghouse Lane (later renamed Mugford Street) in 1716. Rev. Edward Holyoke ministered to Second Church until 1737 when he become President of Harvard College. In the 1830s, the congregation adopted the new Unitarian thinking and became the Second Congregational Church (Unitarian). The meeting house was replaced in 1831 with a much larger structure, and again in 1911 due to fire damage, but its location has remained the same since the church's foundation. In the 1960s, with the merger of the two liberal religious organizations, it became the Unitaran Universalist Church of Marblehead.

The digital documents below are provided in partnership with the Marblehead Museum, who hold the original materials. They consist of an original petition calling for the expulsion of Rev. Edward Holyoke's supporters from the First Church, two bound volumes of the Second Church's records, and a notebook kept by Rev. Samuel Dana, minister of Groton, Mass.

New England’s Hidden Histories would like to thank Lauren McCormack, Executive Director of the Marblehead Museum, for her assistance in making these documents available.


Digital Materials

Petition, 1714

This four-page petition, by parishioners of the First Church in Marblehead to the Lieutenant Governor and General Court, calls for the censure of those congregants who were agitating for the installation of Rev. Edward Holyoke above that of Rev. John Barnard.

Church records, 1716-1796

This bound volume includes records of baptisms, member lists, marriages, church meeting minutes, and disciplinary records. It contains a front index, and a detailed list of communion utensils.

Church records, 1793-1838

This second bound volume of records includes a list of full members, a list of half-way members, a registry of baptisms, church meeting minutes, copies of relations and other correspondence, and records of marriages.

Rev. Dana's notebook, 1850

This unique document comprises Rev. Samuel Dana's personal ecyclopedia of various topics, both local and far afield. These include headings relating to science, history, geography, political events, famous personalities, and various other concepts. Each heading is followed by Rev. Dana's perspectives on the topic, including stories drawn from his own life, as well as relevant statistics and interspersed poetry and quotations. Some entries are more extensive in length, numbering several paragraphs, while some contain only a line of trivia or a brief observation. The entries are arranged in no particular order, but the front pages of the notebook contain a key to abbreviations and a general topical index.


Related Materials

Marblehead, Mass. Old North Church, 1684-1886

Marblehead, Mass. Third Congregational Church, 1858-1877


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.