Weld, Thomas. Commonplace book

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Thomas Weld commonplace book, 1723, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Thomas Weld was born in November, 1702, in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1723. Weld first became a teacher at the Roxbury Latin School before moving to Southborough to preach. In 1735 he was invited to preach at the newly gathered Congregational Church in Upton, Massachusetts and he was ordained as the first minister of the church on January 4, 1738. He was dismissed from his position in December, 1743 due to theological differences between himself and his parish. In addition, there were rumors that Rev. Weld had had an extramarital relationship with the daughter of his landlord, Ms. Wheeler.

In 1744, Weld was called to preach in Middleboro, Massachusetts following the death of Rev. Peter Thatcher, Jr. His appointment as the minister in 1745 followed a split in the church, between revivalists and traditionalist, with the majority of the congregation staying with Rev. Weld and the minority forming a break-away church with Rev. Sylvanus Conant as their minister. During Rev. Weld’s ministry, the congregation shrank significantly, with most leaving to join Rev. Conant’s church. In 1749 Weld was dismissed; following Weld’s dismissal the church reformed with Conant’s.

Weld returned to Roxbury and pursued a suit against Middleboro for salary. He evidentially won that suit. In the following years Ward likely became an itinerant preacher before joining the British Army as a chaplain during the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He died during the war, probably in the range of 1756-1758.

The digital volume below consists of a single commonplace book, used as a general notebook, kept by Rev. Weld during his time at Harvard. Another hand besides Weld's is also included later in the volume. The notes are largely written in English but also includes occasional passages of Greek.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Commonplace book, 1723

This is a commonplace book, from Rev. Weld's time at Harvard (1723). The front half of the book contains notes on various subjects and topics, mostly of a religious nature; while the back half is a small glossary of terms in alphabetical order. Of note is that different handwriting appears in the latter half of the book, but it is presumed that the first half is Rev. Weld's. It is unknown who else has written in this book, but sometime after 1723 the book was gifted to John Fairfield (1797-1847, U.S. House of Representatives 1835-1838, Governor of Maine, 1839-1841, 1842-1843, U.S. Senator, 1843-1847) who gifted it to his nephew, J. Wingate Thornton (1818-1878) who was attending Harvard, two inscriptions on the inner cover document these events. The book is primarily written in English, but contains some Greek text, and numbers to reference some other text.