Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Pastors Gookin and Ward Cotton -- New Parishes, 1710-1837 / Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, 1710-1734

Back to previous section -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents

Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, 1710-1734

Hardly had the late pastor rested from his labors and gone to his reward, before the enquiry was earnestly made, Who shall supply his place? People at that day were not, in general, as fastidious on this subject, as they are now. The more important qualifications for the ministry, they did not overlook. They expected their minister to be a consistent christian, deeply imbued, not only with the love of souls, but also with a love for the ministerial work. They believed he should be a man of respectable abilities, both natural and acquired; but thought quite as much of diligence in his calling, and devotedness to his appropriate work. Pulpit talents of a high order were not despised; but they were not considered of paramount importance, nor indispensable to a minister's usefulness. Still, it was not always easy to find a minister such as was needed. Candidates for the sacred office were less numerous then, than now, and the qualifications demanded were much more rare than mere literary attainments.

But the efforts made on this occasion proved abundantly successful, and a man was found, in every way meeting the expectations of the people. Scarcely a month had elapsed after their late beloved pastor had been so suddenly stricken down in death, when we find them in town meeting assembled, not only to make some provision for his afflicted family, as was shown in the last chapter, but also to adopt measures for obtaining another minister. It was voted (April 26, 1710), "that the town is of unanimous mind to hire a minister for the town." But though the vote was put in this form, it was not, in fact, unanimous. The people living at the "Falls," had before this time built a meeting-house in that part of the town for their own accommodation, and were actually paying for the support of a minister, as will be shown in its proper place. These people, therefore dissented from the vote to hire a minister "for the town." They desired that there should be two distinct parishes in the town, and that the people of each parish should be responsible for the support of their own minister. But a majority were opposed to such an arrangement. They therefore appointed a committee, consisting of Deacon Shaw, Deacon Elkins and Mr. John Tuck, to see if they could procure a minister for the town.

The committee appear to have engaged a man immediately, for, on the 19th of June, less than two months from the time of their appointment, there was a meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants to consider whether they should invite him to become their pastor. It was then voted, "that the town is of unanimous mind, that Mr. Nathaniel Gookin shall be called to the work of the ministry in the town." The action of the church does not appear from the records.

The town proposed as a compensation to Mr. Gookin £70 a year, to be paid "in the species att the prises that Mr. Cotton's sallery was paid in," except that the price of barley was now to be 3s. instead of 4s. a bushel, as was stipulated with Mr. Cotton; and liberty was given for any man to pay his rate in money, if he chose. The town also offered 20 cords of wood a year, and a quarterly contribution, and the use of the parsonage during his ministry (after that summer), the town to maintain the outside fences as formerly. Coupled with this offer, was the condition, that as long as he should have the parsonage in possession, the town would "expect a Lecture monthly, and that the town should be at no more charge about the glass than they were in Mr. Cotton's time."

Mr. Gookin asked for a month's time in which to give an answer. Maj. Joseph Smith, Deacon Elkins and Sergt. John Tuck were chosen a committee to receive his answer and lay it before the town. A meeting for this purpose was held on the 25th of July. It was voted, probably in accordance with the wishes of Mr. Gookin, that the four contributions should be made £10 apiece in money, but that whoever should enter his dissent against this vote should be exempt from paying any part of it.

Mr. Gookin seems still to have been dissatisfied with the terms offered him; and the town, probably a little piqued at his course, to have been disinclined to offer more favorable terms. It was therefore voted that a rate should be made forthwith for the payment of £1 in money to Mr. Gookin for the time that he had been here, and for some other charges that might arise. John Dearborn (son of John Dearborn, Sen.) was chosen to join with Deacon Elkins and John Tuck, "for to look out to see if they can procuer a minister for the Towne." The meeting was then adjourned to "Monday come fortnight," when "every man was to bring his money to Constable Hobbs at his house to pay his rate made for paying Mr. Gookin for the time he had spent here."

At the adjourned meeting, Sergt. Abraham Drake was chosen to go to Mr. Gookin along with John Dearborn, to know his lowest terms. The committee probably attended to the duty assigned them, and made their report at the same meeting, whereupon the town voted that one half of the £70 previously offered to Mr. Gookin should be paid in money yearly, so long as he should continue here in the work of the ministry, and whenever he should have a family, his £70 should be made £80. This vote appears to have been satisfactory to Mr. Gookin, though his answer, accepting the call, is not on record.

The ordination took place on the 15th of November, 1710. The charge was given by Rev. Nathaniel Rogers, of Portsmouth, and the right-hand fellowship, by Rev. John Emerson, of New Castle. The next month Mr. Gookin was married.

At a church meeting in January, 1711, Samuel Dow and Philemon Dalton were chosen deacons, to be added to the two in office before. At this time was made the first provision on record for meeting the expenses of the communion. It was voted, that for providing for the Lord's Supper, every communicant should then pay one shilling, and the same sum annually for the future.

[View a list of the books in Nathaniel Gookin's personal library]

The Falls Church Organized

Previous to this there had also been another minister ordained in Hampton. The design of forming a new parish in the south part of the town, which has already been mentioned, though it met with opposition at first, was never given up. At length, an amicable arrangement having been made with the people living at the town, a new church was organized at the Falls, forty-nine members of the old church (including one of the deacons) having been dismissed for this purpose, and seven other persons having united with them. On the 30th of December, 1711, the other deacons -- Elkins, Dow, and Dalton-were chosen messengers of the old church to attend the ordination of a pastor for the new one, which took place three days afterward.

At a church meeting at the close of the year 1712 (thirty-one communicants being present), several important votes were passed:

First. That there be a Church Record kept by Deacon Dalton.

Second. That this church will not oblige any person to make a Relation in order to his being of our communion.

Third. That all persons who desire to join in full communion with this church, shall be first propounded to the church, and that whensoever any person makes a relation, it shall be read only to the church, and at his first propounding.

Fourth. That in any case that may hereafter happen in which this church shall want counsel, application shall be made by the church to the Elders of the churches of this Province, when assembled together, and that all matters shall be determined by their advice.

Fifth. That when any member of this church is aggrieved, or does suppose himself to be aggrieved by this church, he shall apply himself to the Elders of the churches of this Province, and be determined by their advice.

Sixth. That whensoever we shall by the Providence of God be destitute of a Pastor, we will not proceed to the settling [of] another, without the advice of the Elders of the churches of this Province when assembled together.

Back to previous chapter -- Forward to next section -- Return to Table of Contents