Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Fourth Meeting-house

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The Fourth Meeting-house

In 1718 some incipient steps were taken for building a meeting-house on the "town side," to take the place of the one that had been built about forty years before. The town (except the portion belonging to the new parish) held a meeting on the subject in September, and after voting "yt a new meeting house be built for sd parrish, . . . . . . to be sett on ye meeting house green as neare ye present meeting house as shall be judged convenient," chose Capt. Jabez Dow and Dea. John Tuck to take the subject into consideration, and report at an adjourned meeting "what manner of house should be built," and give the town such information as they might, in the meantime, be able to collect. The meeting was then adjourned to the next lecture-day -- four weeks from that time.

At the adjourned meeting, it was voted to build a house of specified dimensions, with a steeple, or turret at one end thereof "from ye beame upward, of convenient & suitable bigness and height." Capt. Jabez Dow, Sergt. John Sanborn, Samuel Nudd, Hezekiah Jenness and John Dearborn (cooper) -- "they or ye major part of them" -- were chosen a building committee, and it was voted, "that when ye comitte shall give notice to ye people yt belongs to sd meeting house, they shall assist in ye Raising thereof."

It appears not to have been intended that the house should be built till the next spring. About the time when the work was to be commenced, another meeting was held, when some alterations were made in the dimensions of the house, to improve its proportions and make it "handsomer." It was voted that it should be 60 feet long, 40 feet wide, "beside the jetts," and 28 feet stud. It was also voted, that the glass of the old meeting-house should be used in glazing and the seats and other inside work, in finishing the new one.

The frame of this Meeting-house -- the fourth in the order of succession -- was raised on the 13th and 14th of May, 1719; and it was so far finished that it was occupied as a place of worship, for the first time, on the 18th of October following. Only one pew had then been built, and that for the use of the minister's family. For the rest of the congregation, seats only had been provided. Other pews were built at different times afterward.

The next spring the town chose Capt. Joshua Wingate and Samuel Nudd a committee to sell the old meeting-house, as advantageously for the town as they could, the proceeds to be "for the use & benefitt of ye Reverd Mr. Nathl. Gookin."

Not far from this time, a new bell was procured for the meeting-house, which, unfortunately, was at once so injured as to be unfit for use. The tradition concerning it is, the bell was bought in Boston and brought to Hampton by water; and while it was still on board the vessel, which was lying at the Landing, it was suspended over the deck for the purpose of making some experiment to gratify an idle curiosity. In making the experiment the bell was broken.

A meeting was called to devise means to purchase another bell. It was voted "that ye bell yt is through casualty or mishap broke, be forthwith sent to England yt it may be exchanged for another neare ye same bigness and ye selectmen are impowered to raise money to pay for yt which is broke and also for that which it is to be exchanged for, & likewise are to send ye broken bell away as soon as may be."

In 1725, nine persons were dismissed from this church to form one in Kingston.

The GREAT EARTHQUAKE of 1727 has been described in Chapter X. We now recur to it, for the purpose of relating the religious interest awakened among this people in connection with it. The day on which it occurred was the Sabbath, October 29. In the afternoon, Mr. Gookin preached from Ezekiel 7: 7: -- "The day of trouble is near." In his introductory remarks, be said: "I do not pretend to a gift of foretelling future things; but the impression that these words have made upon my mind in the week last, so that I could not bend my tho'ts to prepare a discourse on any other subject, saving that on which I discoursed in the forenoon, which was something of the same nature; I say, it being thus, I know not but there may be a particular warning designed by God, of some day of trouble near, perhaps to me, perhaps to you, perhaps to all of us."

A few hours passed away and in the stillness of the evening the earthquake came, "with a terrible noise something like thunder," and "the houses trembled as if they were falling." Consternation seized both man and beast. "The brute creation ran roaring about the fields, as in the greatest distress; and mankind were as much surprised as they, and some with a very great terror." All "saw a necessity for looking to God for his protection."

The people of the town met together the next Wednesday, November 1, and Mr. Gookin preached a solemn and impressive discourse from Deuteronomy 5: 29. Thursday of the second week after was observed here as a Public Fast, when Mr. Gookin again preached from the same text as in the afternoon before the earthquake, discoursing on his subject agreeably to the plan then laid out. His plan was fully carried out in these two discourses and a third one preached from the same text on the last Sabbath in November. The people generally were thoughtful and serious. Many were found "asking the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward." Soon after, additions were made to the church, mostly of persons in the prime of life. Before the close of the following year, more than seventy were admitted to full communion, and a considerable number of others owned the covenant.

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