York, Maine. First Parish Church

Collection History

The exact date of the establishment of the First Parish Church in York is not known, though it was likely between 1662 and 1673. A religious building used by the Church of England had existed in the town, then called Agamentius, since 1636, and was appropriated as York's residents became increasingly Puritan. In 1662, Rev. Shubael Drummer became the first Congregational minister in York. Under his leadership, a second meeting house was constructed in 1667. In 1692, during King William's War, an Abenaki raid on York resulted in the death of Rev. Drummer and the burning of much of the town. Apparently the church building survived, and in 1698 Samuel Moody was ordained as the second pastor. In 1710 the former meetinghouse was deemed unsafe and the town procured funds for a new building, which was completed in 1712. Under Rev. Moody, church membership grew to about 300. In 1732 the Second Church of York was established by Scottish immigrants, with Rev. Joseph Moody, son of Rev. Samuel Moody, installed as the first minister.

In 1744 the town voted to raise funds through subscriptions to build a fourth meetinghouse. Plans for construction were stalled until 1747, and construction completed that same year. Rev. Moody’s ministry ended with his death in 1747. He was followed by Rev. Isaac Lyman who was ordained in 1749 and likewise ended his pastorate with his death in 1810. During the 1820s the church underwent a period of instability as disagreements over religious doctrine resulted in multiple waves of members leaving to join other local congregations, such as Methodist and Universalist. However, a religious revival during the 1860s greatly restored membership numbers.

In 1882, the parish decided to move the church so that it physically faced the road, and it was subsequently lifted and placed in the church’s present location in York. In 1951 the church building underwent a major renovation project. The First Parish Church Congregational, United Church of Christ in York continues to serve the community today, and has the distinction of being the oldest continually active religious society in Maine.

This collection contains the earliest records on the administration of the First Parish Church in York, Maine. Included within the collection are church and parish records, such as meeting minutes and records of town votes, financial records, and vital records such as marriages and baptismal rolls. The parish book (1731-1739) and parish records (1731-1840) notably include a committee formed for the purchase of a slave named Andrew, who was apparently deemed unsatisfactory by the minister and sold on again soon after. Also included are some administrative documents from the Second Parish Church in York, which were apparently reabsorbed into the First Church's records after the Second Parish Church fell into decline.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Parish book, 1731-1739

This volume contains administrative records for the Parish of York, including meeting minutes, votes, and appointments of assessors and tax collectors to raise funds for the maintenence of parish lands and holdings. From 1733 they also detail votes on the purchase of a slave for the use of the parish and for the assistance of Rev. Samuel Moody. A committee of assessors was formed raise 120 pounds and procure a slave "to be Imployed in his Service during the Parish's Pleasure", identified only as "the Negro man named Andrew". In 1735, the records indicate that the committee voted to sell Andrew and hired a domestic worker instead.

Parish records, 1731-1840

This volume contains records related to the administration of the church and parish by the members of the church. Included within the parish records are meeting minutes, records of votes and actions, committee reports, certificates of membership, pew plans, and the appointments of lay positions, such as tax collector and town clerk. The Parish records contain records related to the land owned by the church and the use of that land, including the leasing of church land, votes to repair of church property, and votes to build a new meeting house. Also of note is an early record from 1732 where it was voted that the Parish purchase a slave for the church and Rev. Samuel Moody.

Church records, 1749-1829

These church records contain documents relating to both to the office of the ministry and to church membership. Included within the volume are meeting minutes, ecclesiastical council minutes and decisions, committee reports, baptismal records, marriage records, and records of deaths. Also included within the records are the Church Covenant, with a list of all members who belonged to the covenant, and the Confession of Faith.

Church records, 1836-1927

This volume contains both ministerial records and the vital records of the church's members. Included within the volume are meeting minutes, ecclesiastical council minutes and results, baptismal records, marriage records, records of deaths, and records of dismissions. Also included in the record book are multiple versions of important church governance documents such as the Articles of Faith and Church Covenant. The volume also contains some financial records related to contributions, records related to the temperance movement, and the text of the Will of John Pell.

Deacon's book, 1781-1814

This volume is an account book which documents the contributions brought in by the Deacons on the York First Parish as well as outgoing expenses. Some outgoing expenses were charity with some church funds being dispersed to specific poor members.

Baptisms and deaths, 1807-1810

This folder contains records which report the names of individuals who were baptised and individuals who died within a given year.

Isaac Lyman marriage records, 1765-1829

This volume comprises a list of all marriages officiated by Rev. Isaac Lyman, organized in chronological order.

Eliza Donnell will extract, 1894

This single-page document contains an excerpt from the will of parishioner Eliza Donnell, granting a monetary bequest to the First Church.

Second Church records, 1825-1870

This volume of church records from the Second Congregational Church in York includes governance records, such as the Confession of Faith and Covenant, meeting minutes and ecclesiastical council results, membership records, baptismal records, marriage records, records of deaths, and some financial records.


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.