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to state more particularly than I have done, its past and present condition. The continued peace and prosperity of this society is a fact which will excite in the mind of every man in it, a desire to be still distinguished, as their fathers have been, by their exemption from church quarrels.
The third parish was not harmonious in its origin. Those who were discontented with Mr. Dexter, were settled in that part of the town. Some considerable difficulty existed in the separation. The reverend Josiah Dwight of Woodstock, a descendant of the family of that name in this town, was the first clergyman settled in that parish. He was ordained June, 1735, and was dismissed on account of dissensions between him and the parish, in November, 1742. In November, 1743, the reverend Andrew Tyler was ordained as his successor. Mr. Thatcher said in a public discourse, that this gentleman was well spoken of by all parties, as one possessed of respectable professional gifts, as very amiable and polite in his manners, and much respected by his people for the first twenty years of his ministry. From 1764 to 1772, to the time of his dismission, great and severe disputes existed between him and the parish. Repeated but fruitless attempts were made during this time, by parish meetings, church meetings, and ecclesiastical councils, to restore peace.
Finally, in 1772, the parish determined to withhold his salary, and inserted their reasons therefor in the parish records. This record discloses pretty fully the temper of the parties, and is a good precedent to show what may be expected from the attempt of a settled minister to remain in his parish after the majority desire his dismission. The record proceeds thus : “ The laws of the province require that a minister should be learned, orthodox, able, pious, and of good conversation, but your committee is humbly of the opinion that the minister of this parish is very deficient in some of these qualifications. As to his learning, the committee, not being judges in that matter, can only say
that some men of learning have given intimations that he was reckoned at college a very indifferent scholar, and ministers in general are looked upon to be much his superiors in that respect. As to his orthodoxy, the parish have never made any complaint, nor do the committee. As to his ability, which we take not to imply the same thing as learning, but is understood by us to mean the same thing as an able minister of the new testament, that is, one apt to teach, who always feeds his flock, one able to convince gain-sayers, who can comfort as well as reprove, one who can govern his own temper and bear with the infirmities of others. In all these particulars, we consider Mr. Tyler deficient. But what is most exceptionable, Mr. Tyler does not appear to be a man of piety and good conversation. He is frequently guilty of rash and unguarded expressions, of a disregard to truth. He has handled the word of God deceitfully, in order to level his artillery against those with whom he has been offended. He has been noisy, boisterous and turbulent. In administering the discipline of the church, he has been partial through prejudice.” When the whole parish had thus indicted their minister, guilty or innocent, we must suppose he would gladly retire from it. But this charge seems to have much support, from the cir'cumstance that Mr. Tyler remained so long, until the parish was wrought up into the state of feeling, indicated by the charges. Yet we must recollect that we hear not Mr. Tyler's defence, if he had any.
In December, 1772, seven referees mutually chosen, determined on what condition Mr. Tyler should be dismissed. These conditions were complied with by both parties. Mr. Tyler after his dismission, retired to Boston with his family.
June 7, 1780. The reverend Thomas Thatcher was ordained over the parish. In the settlement and salary granted him, a provision was made for avoiding “the awful and deplorable consequences” of former disputes with their minister. Mr. Thatcher continued their minister until his .death, in October, 1812. Mr. Thatcher maintained a high reputation for abilities. He was invited to preach many occasional sermons, twenty of which were published. He was a member of the American academy of arts and sciences. In 1788, he was chosen a delegate with the Hon. Fisher Ames for this town, to the convention for ratifying the federal constitution, and made a speech in favour of its ratification. His connexion with his church was upon the whole beneficial and happy, although he gently hinted at his afflictions, and the severe criticisms on his manners. If a minister is frugal, then says he, they tax him with avarice; if he is public spirited, then they call him a prodigal. In these afflictions of the gospel, blessed be God, I can boast no uncommon share! He had strong feelings, and they would burst out on many occasions, without much controul. He had oddities and peculiarity of manners. He was never married; the members of his society have said " what a pity it is our parson has no wife to check his excentric sallies, and soften his blunt manners.” It is honorable to the parish, that they duly appreciated the solid worth of Mr. Thatcher, and overlooked his little foibles, and this further proves that the people there were not inclined to contention. Mr. Thatcher's ancestors, for four generations before him, were respectable and useful men. His father was the late Oxenbridge Thatcher, Esq., of Boston, a respectable lawyer and political writer. Dr. Peter Thatcher, of Boston, was his brother.
The reverend John White was ordained over this parish in April, 1814, and uninterrupted harmony has existed therein ever since.
Some disputes arose in the third parish, in the year 1809, respecting the location of a new meeting house, but disputes about the repairs and building of meeting houses, are almost a matter of course, every where. It would require much time to describe the contentions on that subject in this town, particularly in the first parish. I have noticed eight different votes passed in the course of fifteen years previous to 1808, in the records of the first parish, resolving to repair the first parish meeting house, and as many subsequent votes rescinding the former ones, at the same time when the meeting house had stood since the year 1763, and was not large enough to accommodate one half of the parish at that time. If any use is to be made of history on this subject, it is to inculcate this admonition,“ Guard against disputes in building a new meeting house."
1760. The episcopal church in Dedham, commenced. In the'year 1768, it came under the direction of the Rev. Wm. Clark. A small church was then built by a few persons in Dedham and the neighbouring towns. It has already been stated what treatment this gentleman met with here, during the revolutionary war. After he had obtained a small pension from the British government, he resided sometime in New Brunswick, but he afterwards came to Quincy, where he spent the remainder of his days. From Mr. Clark's departure, to 1791, there was occasionally preaching in the society, through the exertion of bishop Parker. In 1791, the reverend William Montague came into this church and became its rector, and continued in that office until June, 1819, when he was dismissed by the bishop. In June, 1818, the episcopal church was regularly organised as a religfous society, after much opposition. November, 1921. The reverend Isaac Boyle, was at the unanimous request of the members, instituted rector over the church. For reasons which need not be mentioned, the former afAictions of this society cannot be stated in this place.
Those persons who left the first parish in 1818, built a new meeting house in the summer of 1819, and in February, 1822, became incorporated under the name of the “proprietors of the new meeting house in Dedham.” The reverend Ebenezer Burgess was ordained over that society March 14, 1821. In the same month, his church adopted a new creed and covenant, which is published under the title of “A brief summary of christian doctrines, and form of covenant." Four different forms of church covenant had previous to this, been adopted in the first church at different times. The members of the baptist society in this town, who seceded from the third parish in June, 1811, became incorporated with the first baptist society in Medfield, over which society, the reverend William Gamel was the ordained minister.
Petition for grant of land for a township. List of freemen admitted townsmen
previous to 1647. Succession in the ministry. School page. Parish funds and benefactors. Town and parish expenses. Divisions of the land, and descriptions of property. Notices of manufactories. Tables of mortality and comparalive longevity. Memoranda for natural history. Local customs. Suggested improvements. Rural appearances. Conclusion.
Petition for the grant of Dedham Township.—May it please the honoured Court, to ratify unto your humble petitioners (your grant,) formerly made of a plantation above the Falls, that we may possess all that land, which is left out of former grants, upon that side of Charles river, and upon the other side five miles square. To have and enjoy all those lands, meadows, woods and other grounds, together with all the waters and other benefits whatsoever, now being or that may be in the compass of the aforesaid limits, to us with our associates, heirs and assigns forever. First to be freed from all country charges for four years. Secondly to be free from military exercises in our said town for four years, except some extraordinary occasion require them.
Thirdly, that such distribution or allotments of land as are due and performed, be confirmed by the grantors or their successors.
Fourthly, that we may have countenance from this honoured court for the well ordering the non-age of our society, according to the best rule : and to that purpose to assign unto us a constable that may regard peace and truth.
Fifthly, to distinguish our town by the name of Contentment, or otherwise as you shall please.
Sixthly, we entreat such other helps, as your wisdom shall know best in favor to grant unto us, for our well improving of what we are intrusted withal, unto us in particular, but especially to the general good of this weal public, in succeeding times, subscribed by all who are in covenant at present, 10 day 7 month, 1636. Signed by nineteen persons.