Parkman, Ebenezer. Papers

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Ebenezer Parkman papers, 1717-1782, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Rev. Ebenezer Parkman (1703-1782) of Boston and Westborough, Mass. is most historically notable for the detailed diaries which he kept throughout his life. He graduated from Harvard in 1721 and received a Masters degree in 1724, going on to become the first minister of the Congregational Church in Westborough. He was ordained in 1724 when the church was organized. Shortly before his installation he married Mary Champney, who died in 1736. His second wife, whom he married in 1737, was Hannah Breck, the daughter of the late Rev. Robert and Elizabeth Breck of Marlborough, Mass. Rev. Parkman continued his ministry in Westborough until his death in 1782, in the 80th year of his age and the 58th of his ministry. Two of his sermons were published during his lifetime.

Rev. Parkman's ministry encompassed both the Great Awakening and the American Revolution. He was a moderate New Light, associating with the Rev. George Whitefield during the famous evangelist's first missionary journey to New England. He also refused to condemn Whitefield despite pressure to do so by his local clerical association. In contrast, he was troubled by the increase in uneducated itinerant preachers, and discouraged his parishioners from crying out with evangelical fervor during church services.

Rev. Parkman was initially skeptical of the Revolution and characterized the Stamp Act riots of 1765 as "a melancholy occurrence." After the Battle of Lexington and Concord he signed a manifesto "for peace sake and to avoid a rupture among us." However, he increasingly warmed to the idea of Independence, especially when his eldest son, Ebenezer Jr., joined the Continental Army. Another son, Samuel Parkman, became a wealthy merchant in Boston. Samuel was the father of George Parkman, who was murdered by Harvard professor John White Webster in Boston's infamous Parkman-Webster murder case of 1849.

The collections below include manuscript versions of a number of Rev. Parkman's sermons, preached largely in his home parish of Westborough, as well as assorted sermon fragments. There are also a number of loose records relating to Rev. Parkman's personal, financial, legal, and ecclesiastical concerns. Included in these is a whimsical school workbook ("Juvenalia") penned by Parkman in 1717 when he was 14 years of age. There are also a number of relations of faith from parishioners seeking membership to a church, likely drawn from Rev. Parkman's own congregation at Westborough, Mass. These records are provided in partnership with the Westborough Public Library and the American Antiquarian Society, who jointly hold the majority of the original documents.


Digital Materials


at the Congregational Library and Archives

Sermons, 1724-1778

These four sermons by Rev. Parkman were all initially preached in his home parish of Westborough, with later dates and locations specified in the headers.

  • 2 Timothy 2:19 – "...let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity..."
       first preached at Westborough, 27 September 1724

  • Isaiah 1:5 – "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint..."
       first preached at Westborough, 10 March 1727/8

  • Romans 6:13 – "but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God..."
       first preached at Westborough, 15 December 1745

  • Mark 9:24 – "I believe; help thou mine unbelief..."
       first preached at Westborough, 27 December 1778


from the Westborough Public Library

Sermons, 1724-1781

This array of sermons written by Rev. Parkman were largely preached in Westborough, as well as some neighboring locales. The dates and preaching locations are recorded in the headers, with the exception of four fragmentary records in which the headings have been lost.

  • 1 Peter 3:15 – "and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 December 1724

  • Psalms 86:9-10 – "All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name..."
       first preached at Westborough, 19 December 1725

  • Hebrews 10:22 – "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..."
       first preached 26 June 1726

  • 2 John 1:8 – "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward..."
       first preached at Westborough, 12 February 1726

  • Hebrews 12:11 – "...seemeth to be joyous, but grievous"...
       first preached at Watertown, 11 February 1738/9

  • Luke 12:21 – "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God..."
       first preached at Westborough, 10 August 1740

  • Jeremiah 8:5 – "they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return..."
       first preached at Westborough, 15 May 1743

  • Matthew 22:37-38 - "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 November 1748

  • Habakkuk 3:17-18 – "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines..."
       first preached at "the North Side," 18 June 1749

  • Revelations 1:8 – "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord..."
       first preached at Westborough, 3 March 1750/1

  • Isaiah 55:6 – "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near..."
       first preached at Westborough, 13 May 1753

  • John 10:11 – "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep..."
       first preached at Westborough, 6 June 1756

  • Proverbs 2:1 – "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee..."
       first preached 25 March 1784

  • Deuteronomy 2:7 – "these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing..."
       first preached at Westborough, 4 November 1764

  • Titus 3:4-6 – "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared..."
       first preached at Westborough, 9 March 1766

  • fragment

  • fragment

  • Letter to Daniel Adams
       read at Westborough, 15 February 1781

  • Psalms 10:4 – "...God is not in all his thoughts..."

Sermon fragments, 1728-1780

This assortment of loose records comprises fragmentary sermon notes by Rev. Parkman; the headings generally having been lost.

Loose records, 1717-1782

This assortment of loose documents spans a large swathe of Rev. Parkman's life, beginning with his 1717 school workbook and ending with a payment order for his funeral expenses on 1782. The records also include financial agreements related to salary and upkeep, personal financial transactions, land transfers, a copy of the church covenant, a reply to a disgruntled parishioner, and a brief essay on morality.

1717 by Rev. Parkman   school workbook ("Juvenalia") including poems and tables of reference
1723 December by John Hay (town treasurer)   receipt for the supply of the pulpit
1724 October 28     covenant of the Westborough Church
1752 July 30 from Rev. Parkman to Mr. Champney receipt for tableware, flour and cotton
1753 December 27 from Abijah Bruce to Rev. Parkman deed granting money and land in the southern precinct of Westborough
1767 May 25     survey of 1.5 acres of land granted to Rev. Parkman
1768-1771     loosely bound notebook of medical recipes and remedies
1776 April 4 from Rev. Parkman to John Fessanden receipt for £
1780 November 9 by Rev. Parkman to the Church and Mr. Daniel Adams reply to Mr. Adams's paper in response to his disciplinary case verdict
1782 December 30 from Westborough selectmen to George Andros (town treasurer) order of payment from town funds to Breck Parkman for Rev. Parkman's funeral expenses
undated     note agreeing to pay £55 for Rev. Parkman's salary
undated     short essay on the word "morall"



from the American Antiquarian Society

Ministerial records, 1742-1774

These varied loose records consist of copies of the covenant, sermons, member lists, disciplinary case materials, items relating to discord within the church, and a number of church meeting minutes. Although the church in question is not always identified, it is likely that all the records relate to Rev. Parkman's home parish of Westborough, Mass.

1751 December 29   "A Proclamation For a Publick Thanksgiving" (recto) and manuscript essay "concerning this church’s disquiet" (verso)
1742 May 22   partial sermon or lecture
1766 October 17   church meeting minutes
1735 September 28   copy of church covenant intended for use during confirmation
1766 November 6   church meeting minutes
1768 January 11   church meeting minutes
1770 December 12 by Jonathan Bond and others meeting request to consider the case of Levi and Deborah Warrin
1770 December 18   meeting minutes regarding case of Levi and Deborah Warrin
undated   committee report on temporary admission of Mrs. Andrews
1774 November 18   treatise "concerning the petition of the bretheren"
undated   testimony and vote "concerning Mrs. R. W.’s evidence"
undated   request for thanks and prayers from Caleb and Sarrah Harrington (verso); notes on 1 Corinthians 6:20 (recto)
undated   list of male church members
undated   notes regarding the deposition of an elder
undated   member list for "the private society of young women" in Westborough


Relations and confessions, 1736-1774, undated

These records mainly comprise relations of faith, personal but formalized testimonials written or dictated by parishioners seeking to be admitted as full church members. They were likely kept by Rev. Parkman as part of his ministry at the Church of Christ Westborough, Mass. The records are organized alphabetically by last name.

Bathrick, Abigail relation  
Bathrick, Jonathan relation  
Bathrick, Lydia relation  
Beals, Elizabeth relation 1764 March 9
Beeman, Eleazar relation  
Bellus, James confession 1761 May 3
Bellows, Judith confession 1761 March 25
Bond, Lydia relation  
Bond, Thomas relation  
Bowman, Joseph relation  
Bradish, Mary confession  
Bradish, Ruth relation  
Brigham, Charles relation  
Brigham, Levi relation  
Brigham, Mehitabel relation  
Brigham, Susana relation  
Chamberlain, Edmund relation 1768 May 1
Chamberlain, Ruth relation 1768 May 1
Chase, Mary relation 1760 June
Cook, Mary and Jonathan confession  
Crosby, Hephzibah relation  
Fay, Benjamin relation  
Fay, Deliverance relation  
Forbes, Susanna confession 1765 May
Forbes, John confession 1765 May
Forbush, Hannah Jr. relation  
Forbush, Lucy relation  
Forbush, Persy confession  
Gale, Abigail relation  
Gale, Abijah relation  
Goodenow, David and Dinah confession 1741 June 23
Grout, Hannah relation  
Grout, Jonathan relation  
Hardy, Constantine relation 1763 November 27
Hardy, Jemima relation  
Harrington, Elizabeth relation  
Harrington, Joseph relation  
Harrington, Ruth relation  
How, Martha relation  
Mainard, Hannah relation  
Medcalf, Pelatia relation  
Miller, Elizabeth relation  
Miller, Isaac relation  
Miller, Mary relation  
Parker, Isaac and Margery confession  
Rice, Adam relation  
Rice, Anna relation 1736 August
Rice, Hannah relation  
Rice, Lois relation  
Rice, Eunice relation  
Rice, Priscilla relation  
Rice, Prudence relation  
Rice, Zebulun relation 1743 May 2
Sever, Lucy relation  
Smith, Ezekiel relation  
Smith, Ruth relation  
Snow, Hannah relation 1769 July 16
Snow, Jabez Jr. relation 1769 July 16
Tainter, Benjamin relation 1748 November
Warrin, Persis relation  
Warrin, Moses relation  
Worrin, Abigail confession  
Worrin, Thaddius confession  
Worrin, Mary relation  
Whipple, Francis Jr. relation  
Whipple, Francis Jr. confession  
Wood, John relation 1765 February 3
Wood, Martha relation 1765 February 3
Whitney, Eli relation 1767 December 6
Whiteny, Elizabeth relation 1767 December 6
Kenney, Abigail relation 1774 February 20
McAllester, Mary relation 1770 April 29


Ecclesiastical council records, 1736-1779

These records kept by Rev. Parkman primarily relate to local ecclesiastical councils convened to vote on ministerial matters and disputes.

1736 July 13 from Rev. Thomas Frink (pastor of the Church in Rutland) to the ecclesiastical council in Rutland letter requesting dismission
1736 February 26 by the committee of the Church in Rutland   church meeting minutes
1736 March 11  from Rev. Thomas Frink to the Rutland Church committee Rev. Frinks’ request for dismission
1758 January 30 from "Mr. Pemberton" to "the brethren" epilogue to the council’s second decision
1744 December 4  by the ecclesiastical council convened at Upton   second results of a council at Upton
1762 September 15 from Rev. Thomas Frink to the Church in Westminster letter denying ministerial call
1771 June 11 by the ecclesiastical council in Bolton   council minutes
1771 August 8 by the Congregational Church in Bolton   Bolton church meeting minutes regarding the case of Rev. Thomas Goss
1771 August 20 by the ecclesiastical council in Westborough   decision denying discharge of Rev. Thomas Goss (copy)
1771 August 20 by the ecclesiastical council in Westborough   decision denying discharge of Rev. Thomas Goss (original)
1771 October 15 "by local ministers"   commentary regarding the proceedings of the ecclesiastical council at Bolton
1772 August 26 by Rev. Thomas Goss   certificate with membership numbers
1773 May 27 by the Massachusetts Convention of Ministers   proceedings of the convention
1779 April 6     results of an ecclesiastical council acknowledging the creation of the South Church in Bolton
undated     printed list of Yale theses (recto) with draft letter to Rev. Adams at Roxbury regarding the Church in Bolton, and several memoranda relating to payments, notes, boards, and books (verso)


Manuscripts, 1723-1771, undated

The items ennumerated below consist of personal writings of Rev. Parkman, which include sermons and other ministerial writings but also creative works such as poetry and personal prayers and essays. There are also two relations penned by Rev. Parkman for admission to the Old North and New North Churches in Boston.

undated by Rev. Parkman   draft copy of lecture "Of the Nature of the Humane Mind"
1723 February 1 by Rev. Parkman   lecture "Of the Nature of the Humane Mind"
undated by Rev. Parkman   theological notes
undated from Rev. Parkman to the Old North Church of Christ in Boston relation of faith
undated by Rev. Parkman   ‘soliloquy’ on Psalm 99:5-9
1730 February 19  by Rev. Parkman   meditation on Hebrews 12:5 while ill at Cambridge
1749 January  by Rev. Parkman   notes on a sermon preached on 1 Nehemiah 9:6
1772 January 15  by Rev. Parkman   Rev. Parkman’s charge to Elijah Fitch at Fitch’s ordination as minister of Hopkinton, Mass.
circa 1728  by Rev. Parkman   draft of a letter, and biographical sketches
1723 March 31 from Rev. Parkman to the New North Church of Christ in Boston relation of faith 
1719 August-September by Rev. Parkman   bound notebook with relation, articles of faith, "Rules of Behaviour", and relation draft
circa 1723 by Rev. Parkman   theological essay
1724 August 18 by Rev. Parkman   poem about Daphnis
circa 1718 by Rev. Parkman   various prayers
1713-1718 by Rev. Parkman and Leonard Dowding   "Book for Sundry Collections"


Memoir of Mrs. Pierpont, 1756

This voluminous manuscript records the biography of Sarah Pierpont, wife to Congregational minister Rev. James Pierpont Jr. (1699-1776) of New Haven, Connecticut. While the memoir has been attributed to Rev. Parkman, it was most likely written by Rev. Jacob Johnson of the Second Church in Groton, Conn. On October 24, 1756, Rev. Pierpont visited Parkman, bringing his wife’s private papers and a draft of the memoir written by Jacob Johnson “in order to publication but imperfect.”  However, there is no direct evidence that Parkman ever revised the draft.


Personal papers, 1712-1772, undated

This large folder of personal papers includes sermons, notes on sermons and publications, copies of various publications, a booklet of medical recipes for various ailments, and a bibliography of historical and religious works. The publications from which Rev. Parkman copied text are largely historical, religious, or concerned with travel and exploration.

1712 December 21 by Rev. Parkman sermon on Hebrews 5:9
1717 November 2 by Rev. Parkman sermon on Psalm 103:10
1718 March 12  by Rev. Parkman copied extract from "The Entertainer No. XIX"
1708 by Rev. Parkman copy of Thomas Weld's latin theological essay
1719 July 1 by Rev. Parkman copied excerpts from "An Account of the Voyages and Adventures of Toillin Gayer from the East Indies" by William Gayer
1721 August 20 by Rev. Parkman notes on a sermon by "Mr. Welsteed" on Matthew 16:26
undated by Rev. Parkman notes on a sermon by "Mr. Cotton" on Samuel 3:29
1720 November 29 by Rev. Parkman manuscript writings: "Sundry Collections from Dryden’s Virgil"
1722 by Edward Wigglesworth manuscript writings: "Oratio Habita in Ausa Academica Cantabrigiensi"
1722 January 17 by Rev. Parkman "Sundry Collections from Mary Mollineux"
1722 November by Rev. Parkman notes on a sermon by "Mr. Appleton" on Psalm 115:1
1731 by Rev. Parkman copied excerpts from "Memoirs of Capt. Roger Clap"
1735 January by Rev. Parkman notes on "Grounds & Reasons of the Christian Religion"
1751 by Rev. Parkman copied extracts from "The Earthquake at St. Domingo", as published in the New Universal Magazine
1754 January 3 by Timothy Bryant "Prescription to Cure the Throat Distemper"
1736 October 10 by Rev. Parkman sermon on Exodus 20:15 - "Thou shalt not steal..."
1739 March 11 by Rev. Parkman sermon on 1 Timothy 4:7 - "and exercise thyself rather unto God himself..."
1761 by Rev. Parkman manuscript writings: "Political Extracts"
1766 January by Rev. Parkman notes on "The Court Miscellany"
circa 1772   notebook of various medical recipes
undated   recipe for throat distemper
undated by Rev. Parkman manuscript writings: "Miscellaneous Collections and Observations"
undated by Rev. Parkman copy of parody work "The last will and testament of Old England"
undated by Rev. Parkman notes on Hutchinson’s "History of Massachusetts Bay"
undated by Rev. Parkman notes on Hutchinson’s "History of Massachusetts Bay"
undated by Rev. Parkman notes on "The World Display’d Vol. IX: Mr. Grose’s Voyages to the East Indies"
undated by Rev. Parkman copied preface and contents to "New England Memorial"
undated by Rev. Parkman copied instructions for casting lead bullets
undated by Rev. Parkman notes on "State of Vermont", Cotton Mather’s "History of the War with the Indian Savages in 1698", and "writings of Abraham (Isaac)".
undated by Rev. Parkman copied extract from "Whigs vindicated" by Mr. John Withers
undated by Rev. Parkman copied extracts from "the World display’d Vol. XIX: Misson’s Travels into Germany and Italy"
undated by Rev. Parkman copied extract from "Continued Corruption" by Mr. Bollan
undated by Rev. Parkman copied extracts from "Cold Bathing" by John Floyer
undated by Rev. Parkman bibliography of religious and historical works
undated by Rev. Parkman copy of "on Sin the Occasion of Great Good" from Romans 3:5-8 by Mr. Samuel Hopkins
undated by Rev. Parkman copy of "A Prayer for Sincerity Towards God and Man" by Mr. Nelson
undated by Rev. Parkman manuscript sermon on Romans 9


Related Materials

Westborough, Mass. Church of Christ records, 1724-1787


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.


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.