Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Last Years Of The Town Ministry, 1807-1839

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The Union of 1808

The two churches being now without pastors, the inquiry was made whether they might not be reunited, as there appeared to be no good reason for keeping up two separate organizations, and supporting two ministers, when the people might as well he accommodated by one organization; especially as there was no such diversity of doctrinal views, as need prevent their attendance upon the same ministry; and if a union was desirable, no future time would probably be more favorable for its consummation.

With which church or society the suggestion of a reunion originated, we do not know. At an adjourned meeting of the Congregational society on the 27th of November, 1807, a week or two after the dismission of Mr. Appleton, it was voted, that the selectmen (wardens) of the society be authorized to meet the selectmen of the town for the purpose of employing some minister to preach at one of the meeting-houses on the first two Sabbaths in December, with a view to the union of the two churches. They were also to decide at which of the meeting houses the services should he held, and, if possible, to agree upon articles to be inserted in a notification for a town meeting to be held as soon as it seemed proper. The Congregational society also passed the following vote, viz. "That this Society consent to unite with the other Society in the public worship of God, until they have reason in their opinion to [revoke], and do revoke this vote."

A town meeting was held about two weeks afterward, to take preparatory steps for uniting the two religious societies. A committee of ten persons, five from each society, was chosen, authorized to procure a preacher and to determine at which house the meeting should be held. The committee were instructed to report their doings at an adjourned meeting, together with such articles as they might think necessary for the town to adopt. Col. Jonathan Garland, Col. Benjamin Shaw, Jonathan Marston. Jun., Josiah Dow, Capt. Thomas Ward, John Perkins, Jeremiah Hobbs, Joshua Lane, Ens. Amos Towle and Edmund Toppan, Esq., were chosen to constitute the committee. The meeting was then adjourned two weeks, and at that time, two weeks longer.

The town met according to adjournment on the 25th of January, 1808. The committee presented their report, of which the following abstract is given:

The committee considered a union of the two societies as "exceedingly desirable in every point of view." They were aware of the difficulties to be encountered in reflecting such a union and while they believed the more important ones would be obviated by the plan they were about to propose, many trivial objections they had been obliged to pass unnoticed, considering that in a spirit of conciliation, these should he overlooked by both parties. The great object of the committee had been "to place the two societies on equal footing, and to do equal justice to both." They hoped that the adoption of the measures proposed by them would insure to the present, and perpetuate to the future inhabitants of the town, "the inestimable blessings of peace, harmony and union."

They therefore recommended that the two religious societies be permanently united. To effect such a union, they proposed that the new meeting-house should be appraised at the sum of four thousand dollars, and that this sum should be paid to the Congregational society and divided among the individuals of the society in proportion to the sums which they severally contributed towards building it, and in consideration of this payment, that the pew-holders should relinquish all claim to their respective pews that the pews should be sold by public auction under the direction of the selectmen (wardens) of the Congregational society, so that the members of the two societies should have equal privileges in the purchase of the pews "and that said meeting-house be thereafter considered in the same manner as if it had been built by the town of Hampton."

The committee further proposed that one-half of the aforementioned sum of four thousand dollars should be payable in one year from the first day of March following and the other half in one year afterward; that the notes of individuals purchasing pews should be made payable on these conditions to the Congregational society and placed in the hands of the selectmen thereof, to the amount of four thousand dollars, and if the pews should sell for a larger sum, then the notes for the remaining sum should be given to the town; but if they should not sell for so large a sum as four thousand dollars, the deficiency should be made up by the whole town.

The committee also recommended that the town should choose a committee to appraise the pews in the old meeting-house, and that the owners of the pews should be entitled to receive of the selectmen the sums at which their pews should severally be appraised; one-half thereof in one year, and the other half in two years from the first day of March following.

The committee also recommended that the further sum of two hundred dollars should be paid by the town to the Congregational society, in consideration of said society's relinquishing any exclusive interest claimed in some of the parsonage buildings, which were built by Rev. Mr. Thayer, and which the society had purchased of his widow; and also discharging the town from all demands for repairs made on the parsonage buildings and fences.

The next recommendation of the committee was in relation to the ways and means of supporting a minister. They proposed that in future, whoever might preach should he paid therefor out of the interest of the funds and rents of parsonage possessed by the town and society equally; and on the settlement of any minister in future, the use and income of the whole parsonage and personal or other property in the possession of the town and Congregational society for the support of a minister, should first be appropriated for the payment of his salary; and if any further sum should be needed, it should be paid by the whole town.

The committee conclude their report by recommending that the two religious societies in the town attend public worship together at the new meeting-house, until some other arrangement be made by consent of the societies.

After an ineffectual attempt to amend the report of the committee, it was adopted by the town, Jonathan Philbrick and Josiah Sanborn being the only persons who entered their dissent at the time though forty others concurred with them afterwards. The committee that made the report were constituted a committee for supplying the desk; and received from the town the following instruction "That this committee shall consult Messrs. Buckminster, Dana and Holt previous to their supplying the desk with a candidate."

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