Wrentham, Mass. Second Church
Please note that as of January 2022, the Franklin, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church records, 1737-1877, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.
Wrentham, first known as Dedham, was established by a group of English settlers. The land was bought from King Phillip (Metacomet) in 1622. Although the town was burned down during King Phillip’s War, most of the families returned and rebuilt. Wrentham was officially incorporated as a town in 1673. Portions of the towns of Franklin, Foxboro, Norfolk, and Plainville were originally part of Wrentham. The church gathered in 1738 as the Second Church in Wrentham.
The Second Church of Wrentham was incorporated as the First Church of Franklin in 1778. In 1938, the Congregationalists merged with the local Baptist congregation who had been displaced by a hurricane which destroyed their meeting house. The two congregations together formed the Franklin Federated Church in 1941, which continues to serve the community today.
The digital collection below consists of a single document detailing the result of an Ecclesiastical Council called to arbitrate a church dispute between the congregants and their minister. The council was gathered to judge the moral character of Rev. Caleb W. Barnum, who was ordained as pastor of the Second Church in Wrentham in 1760. The document contains the recommendations of the council regarding his removal.
This document details the results of an Ecclesiastical Council held 29 October 1767, which sought to judge the character of Rev. Caleb Barnum and make recommendations for disciplinary action. The judgement came about as a result of the minister's intervention in a dispute between two parishioners about a crop of cranberries. Rev. Barnum offered to pay the injured party the damages owed if he would drop the matter, which was regarded as proof that Rev. Barnum favored the alleged guilty party. Ultimately the Council recommended his removal, and in 1768 he relocated to Taunton, Mass. and was installed at the First Parish Church of Taunton.