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“ Master Joseph Rowlandson," the first minister of Lancaster, commenced bachelor at Cambridge in 1652, with all the honors of his class, as he appears to have constituted the whole of the class of that year. Of his ancestry* or the time or place of bis birth, I know nothing. Cotton Mather calls him an author of " lesser composures." What these were, I venture to say, after diligent inquiry, is not to he discovered. Mr. Rowlandson began to preach in Lancaster as early as the summer or fall of 1654. In February following, (12, 12 mo. 1654, he subscribed the town covenant, which I have before mentioned, and received his allotment of land. The commissioners, at their meeting, April 25, 1656, directed the town to pay Mr. Rowlandson “fily pounds by the year,” taking “ wheat at six pence per bushel,” under the usual price, " and as God shall enlarge their estates, so shall they enlarge therein answerably," &c. Io September, 1657, the Commissioners ordered the selectmen “ to take care for the due encouragement of Master Rowlandson, and also for the erecting a meeting house,” &c. In compliance with these orders, a house for worship was erected soon after. A town meeting was held in it in June, 1658. It was situated on the north east side of what is now the new burying ground, on the brow of the hill, opposite to Mr. Rowlandson's house, and about one third of a mile a little to the west of south of the present church. In August, 1657, the town conveyed to Mr. Rowlandson “ by deed of gift," the house and land that had been set apart for the use of the ministry. After preaching in town nearly four years, he probably became discouraged as to the prospect of being invited to settle, and gave out his intention of removing from town. Whether this was done in sober earnest, or was merely to bring the town to terms, is only a matter of conjecture at this late day. The following extract from the records has some point, and perhaps will bear being quoted.
6 Monday 3, 3 mo. 1658. On the certain intelligence of Master
* I may qualify this remark in a measure. Thomas Rowlandson, who, I think, was his father, died in Lancaster, Nov. 17, 1657. At the County Court in Middlesex, April, 1658, “ Mr. Joseph Rowlandson brought into Court the inventory of his father's estate, and had Administration granted to him.” By another entry in April Term, 1659, it appears that “the return of Mr. Rowlandson and his brethren concerning their father's estate, was accepted.” His brother Thomas was killed, as we have seen, when the town was destroyed.
t« Not only have we had a Danforth, a Nathaniel Mather, a Hoar, a Rowlandson, &c. the authors of lesser composures out of their modest studies, even as with a Cæsarean section, forced into light; but also we have had an Hlubbard, an Isaac Chauncey, a Willard, a Stoddard, the authors of larger composures." Magnalia, book 4, part I.
Rowlandson's removing from us, the selectmen treated with him te know what his mind was, and his answer was, his apprebepsions were clearer for his going than for staying. They replied they feared his apprehensions were not well grounded, but desired to know his resolution. He said his resolutions were according to his apprehensions, for ought he knew. Then the selectmen, considering it was a case of necessity for the town to look out for other supply, told Master Rowlandson, that now they did look upon themselves as destitute of a minister, and should be forced to endeavor after some other; so discharging bim.
“ Friday 14, 3 mo. 1658.* A messenger came from Billerica to fetch Master Rowlandson away ;t upon which, the town having notice given them, came together with intent to desire him to stay and settle amongst us : and, after some debate, it was voted as follows :
"1. Whether it were the mind of the town to invite Master Rowlandson to abide and settle amongst them in the work of the ministry. The vote was affirmative by the hands of all held up.
66 2. Whether it was their mind to allow bim for maintenance fifty pounds a year, one half in wheat, six pence in the bushel under the current prices at Boston and Charlestown, and the rest in other good current pay, in like proportions; or, otherwise, fifty five pounds a year taking his pay at such rates as the prices of corn are set every year by the Court. The vote was affirmative by the hands of all held up.
“3. Whether they were willing that Master Rowlandson should have the dwelling house which he lived in as his own proper right according to the deed made by the town and confirmed by the committee; with the point of land westward, and some land west, and some north, of his house, for an orchard, garden, yards, pasture and the like.
“ This was put to the vote and granted by the major part, (and opposed by none but old Goodman Kerley,f only there was a neuler
Mr. Harrington says this was April 14, 1658. This is a mistake: the original record, in Ralph Houghton's band writing, is distinct, 14, 3 mo. (May) 1658.
+ The meaning is, that he was invited to preach in Billerica. Afterwards, in the same year, Rev. Samuel Whiting began to preach there, and was ordained in April, 1663. “ Hist. Memoir of Billerica," by John Farmer Esq. pp. 8–9.
I Goodman Kerley (William Kerley, senior,) seems to have continued in a wrathful state of mind for some time; for though one of the number appointed to manage the municipal concerns of the town, he did not attend the meetings of his brethren; it being a usual entry in the records that the Selectmen met at such a time and place, all excepting Goodman Kerley.
or two) with this proviso, that it hindered not the burying place, the highway, convenient space to pass to the river, and the land* intended to be for the next minister, &c.
“ Aod upon this, Master Rowlandson accepted of the towns invitation, and gave them thanks for their grant, and agreed to the motion, concerning his maintenance, and promised to abide with us in the best manner the Lord should enable him to improve his gifts in the work of the ministry.”
Mr. Rowlandson was, there is reason to believe, a man of good talents and a faithful minister.t Cotton Mather and all traditions are in his favor. I can gather no particulars relative to bis ministry: the early records of the town being lost, and those of the church probably consumed, when the town was destroyed. Nothing can be found relative to his ordination.
Mr. Harrington supposes that Mr. Rowlandson was ordained the same year
that he accepted the invitation of the town. But there is reason to believe that this did not take place till September, 1660, more than two years after. The church, it seems, was not organized till that time. This is a fair ivference from the entry in the records of Dorchester, that on the 6 26th August, 1660, Roger Sumner was dismissed" from the church in Dorchester, “bat with other christians, at Lancaster, a church might be formed there."| Church is here spoken of as distinct from congregation. At that period, the law of 1641 was in force, wbich first established the right to gather churches, vesting in them the power of electing the pastor, &c.-and according to the Cambridge platform, chap. ix. s. 3, 4, 5, Ordination, which was by imposition of hands, was to be performed by the elders of the church; and if there were no elders, then by some of the brethren selected for that purpose, or, if the church desire it, by the elders of other churches.
No instance under the law of 1641 occurs to me, in which a minister was ordained without the intervention of the church ; the strictness that was then introduced continued many years, and was kept in full vigor by an explanatory statute in 1668. It is then a reasonable supposition in the absence of all opposing testimony,
* This probably was the land opposite to the residence of the late Samvel Ward Esq. and extending towards the north east, and next to John Prescott's estate.
t Mary Gates, daughter of Stephen Gates, of Lancaster, “ for bold and unbecoming speeches used in the public assemblies, and especially against Mr. Rowlandson, the minister of God's word there," upon evidence of John Pregcott and others, was convicted. She acknowledged the offence and was discharged on paying for the attendance of the witnesses. Middlesex County Court Records, 1658
$1 Mass. Hist. Col. ix. 192
that the ordination did not take place earlier than September, 1660.
Mr. Rowlandson was the minister of the town till it was destroyed in Philip's war, as bas been already related. His wife, after being a prisoner eleven weeks and five days, was ransomed early in May, 1676, and lived in Charlestown and Boston, with her husband about a year. Probably in May, 1677, they moved to Weathersfield, iv Connecticut. Mr. Rowlandson preached there a while, and died before Lancaster was resettled.* The name of Rowlandson is not common; and I am not able to say whether there are any descendents of the worthy minister living.
After the town was re-settled, and for seven years, the pulpit was supplied by Mr. Carter (probably Samuel Carter, Harvard University, 1660) William Woodrop, and Mr. Oakes. Mr. Woodrop was one of the two thousand ministers turned out of their benefices under the act of conformity, on St. Bartholemew's day, 1662. He came over to New England, says Cotton Mather, “ after the persecution which then hurricanoed such as were non-conformists." He was never settled in this town, although from Mather and Neal, it would seem otherwise.
In Feb. 1688, Mr. John Whiting was invited to preach as a capdidate; he continued to supply the pulpit till Nov. 1690, when he was invited to settle, and undoubtedly was ordained soon after.I * The following is a list of his children, as far as I can ascertain.
I cannot assert that it is complete. Mary, born 15, 11, 1657, (Jan. 1658) died 20, 11, 1660, (Jan. 1661.)
Mary born 12, 6 mo. (August) 1665. She was taken captive, at the same time with her mother, and made her escape in May, 1676.
Joseph, born 7, 1, (March) 1661. In a deed of his, July 1, 1686, to John Wilder, ancestor of the present Mr. Jonathan Wilder, he calls bimself “ of Lancaster yeoman.". This proves nothing. He is not mentioned in any of the rates at that period, and I doubt whether he resided here, after the reso toration in the spring of 1680. It appears by Whitney that he was one of :he original purchasers of Rutland, 220 December, 1686. That town, however, was not settled till thirty years, or more, afterwards.
Sarah, born Sept. 15, 1669. Wounded by the Indians when ber mother was taken captive, she died at New Braintree, on the ninth day afterwards.
+ One of the name bit off a man's ear last June in Belfast, Maine. I trust, however, that no one from the stock of Master Joseph Rowlandson, could be so mordacious.
Magnalia B. III. Neal's New England, Chap. VIII. Harrington spells the name, Wooddroffe.
This may have been Edward Oakes, Harvard University, 1679.
|| It was not usual during the first age of the New England Church, or indeed through the seventeenth century, to have a discourse preached at ordination. And when the practice was introduced, the minister elect preached it himself.
The town voted, in Feb. 1688, to build a house for their minister, payment to be made 6 one eighth in money; the rest, one balf in work, and one half in corn, viz. Indian, one third, and English two thirds, at country price, or other merchantable pay.” When the building was finished, the town gave Mr. Whiting possession in this way, viz. “ at a town meeting Jan 3, 1690, agreed to make conveyance to Mr. Whiting of the house and land formerly granted by the town. And the town the same time went out of the house, and gave Mr. John Whiting possession thereof in behalf of the whole above written, formerly granted by the town.'* Alter serving faithfully more than nine years, he was killed as has been before related, by the Indians, Sept. 11, 1697, aged thirty three. I can give no particulars touching bis ministry; the records of town, church and propriety, being wanting during this period.f
Mr. Whiting was the second son of Rev. Samuel Whiting, of Billerica, and was born in that town, August or Sept. 1, 1664, and graduated at Harvard University, 1685. He probably received bis name from that of his grandmother, Elizabeth St. John, wife of Rev. Samuel Whiting of Lynn. It was necessary to sink the St. lest it should seem an'acknowledgment of the authority of the Pope and bis power
of canonization. Our fathers even when they spake of the Apostles, and the holy fathers of the early church, did not use the adition of “ Saint.”I
On the death of Mr. Whiting, the pulpit was supplied by Messrs. Robinson, Jones and Whitman, till the year 1701. The first of these, Mr. John Robinson, was afterwards settled at Duxbury, in Nov. 1702, and continued there till his death, in 1731.9
66 Mr. Jones," says Mr. Harrington, “ was invited to settle,ll but, difficulties arising, his ordination was prevented and he removed.” Mr. Samuel Whitman was of the class of 1696, Harvard University, and
* This house was pleasantly situated opposite to the house of the late Samuel Ward, Esq. It was taken down a few years ago. Those who paid the highest rates towards this building, were John Moore, Jr. John Houghton, Henry Kerley, Thomas Wilder, Deac. Roger Sumner, Josiah Whitcomb, Ephraim Roper, &c.
+ Oliver Whiting, Esq. his brother, in January, 1717, petitioned the proprietors to have a record made of Rev. Mr. Whiting's land at Rock Meadow, and, also, to do what further was necessary for ratifying the bargain between his sister Alice and the town: A committee was chosen who gave him a deed in February following.
| Hutchinson, and J. Farmer.
1. Mass. Hist. Col. IX. 183.
|| May not this have been John Jones, Harvard University, 1690 ? What the difficulties were, is not known.