Rowley, Mass. First Congregational Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Rowley, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1664-1835, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

The town of Rowley and its First Congregational Church were established in 1639. The land that made up the town of Rowley was purchased from Newbury and Ipswich, and encompassed the lands that later became Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford, and Bradford. Many of the original inhabitants were cloth-makers from Rowley, Yorkshire, England who adhered to puritanical values under the guidance of their pastor, Rev. Ezekiel Rogers.

Over the years, the congregation of First Church has built a succession of meetinghouses, and now resides in its fourth building. The First Congregational Church of Rowley continues to serve the community today and is a member of the United Church of Christ.

The digital collections below include several volumes of church, parish, and financial records, beginning with the earliest in 1664. There is also a double volume containing news and philisophical writings copied by the Rev. Jedidiah Jewett along with a listing of marriages.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Church records, 1664-1784

This volume, also known as "The Phillips Diary", contains early records of both the church and the community in Rowley. It begins with the usual meeting minutes, church covenants, and baptisms, marriages, and death lists recorded by Rev. Samuel Phillips. Further records include disciplinary matters, ecclesiastical councils, and other details of seventeenth-century life in the area.

Church records 1742-1782, and Parish records 1728-1763

This volume largely consists of church meeting minutes concerning the selection of new ministers – Jedidiah Jewett in 1728 and Jonathan Allin in 1780 – and records regarding their salaries. In this case, the Parish was clearly delineated as being responsible for the congregation's material holdings, both monetary and real estate. The Church, on the other hand, cared for the members' spiritual well-being.

Church records, 1782-1835

These records are primarily vital statistics and membership records, including admissions, dismissions, baptisms, marriages, and deaths. They also contain a number of disciplinary cases, mostly for intemperance or poor attendance on the Sabbath.

Parish records, 1733-1782

As noted above, the Parish records are primarily financial and administrative. This volume contains church meeting minutes, particularly those pertaining to officers' salaries and other expenditures.

Parish records, 1781-1822

This volume continues the previous records, and also includes an ecclesiastical council convened to resolve a dispute between the pastor at the time and a parishioner.

Financial records, 1743-1832

These records were kept by the church treasurers and include salaries for ministers and other church officers, pew rents, taxes, and other incomes and expenses relating to the running of the church.

Jedidiah Jewett Extract and Marriage book, 1730-1783

This bound book contains two volumes, each starting at opposite covers and using the righthand pages in its respective orientation.

The "extract" portion contains Rev. Jedidiah Jewett's transcribed excerpts from philosophical and historical texts and local newspapers. The "marriage book" records marriages performed in the church, most involving at least one member of Rowley First.


Related Materials

Bradford, Mass. First Church of Christ records, 1682-1915

Phillips, Samuel. Papers, 1670-1746