Avery, David. The Case of the Pastor in Wrentham, 1794

Collection History

Rev. David Avery (1746-1817) was born in Franklin, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1769, studied theology at Dartmouth College, and was ordained as a missionary to the Native Americans in 1771. After serving as an army chaplain during the Revolutionary War, he was installed as the pastor in Bennington, Vermont in 1780. He moved to Wrentham, Massachusetts in 1783 to replace the minister of the First Church in Wrentham, who had died in office. Rev. Avery had an increasing number of difficulties with his parishioners, which are described in the digitized volume below, and he was eventually dismissed from his service in Wrentham in 1794. From there he moved back to Connecticut and served the church in Union for a few years before resuming his missionary work. He died of typhus fever at age 71.

More information about Avery's life and ministerial service can be found in Emerson Davis's Biographical Sketches of the Congregational Pastors of New England (vol. 1),  and Mortimer Blake's A Centurial History of the Mendon Association of Congregational Ministers. He was a member of the Mendon Association during his time in Massachusetts.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

The Case of the Pastor in Wrentham, 1794

This manuscript was prepared by Rev. David Avery and sent to David Howell, Esq. "for his judgment & advice" about the strife that had grown between Avery and his congregation. The base of their disagreement was how matters of church discipline should be addressed. While Avery adhered strictly to the procedure set out in the book of Matthew, a group of members wanted a more flexible system. In this book, Avery details a series of conversations and interventions that the led to his eventual break with the church.


Special Thanks

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.