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building committee. In January, 1816, it was voted, that the new church should contain not more than 4,400, nor less than 4,200 square feet, and that there should be a porch and portico, of such size as the committee should approve.
After the spot for the new church was selected, difficulties occurred in deciding whether the front of the building should be towards the west, or south. After much discussion, and various votes on the subject, at a number of different meetings, the parties agreed to abide by the decision of certain gentlemen from other towns mutually selected for the purpose.
The opinion of these gentlemen was in favor of a south entrance, and their decision being final, was acquiesced in after a short time.
The corner stone was laid July 9, 1816. A silver plate with this inscription was deposited beneath—6 Fourth house built in Lancaster for the worship of God. Corner stone laid, July 9, 1816. May God make our ways prosperous, and give us good success. Rev. Nathaniel Thayer, pastor of our Church.” A previous address was made by the pastor : 87th psalm, Belknap's collection, was sung, and prayer by the pastor concluded the exercises. The building was dedicated on the first day of January, A. D. 1817. Introductory prayer by Rev. Mr. Capen, of Sterling, “who also read the prayer of Solomon at :he dedication of the temple.” Dedicatory prayer, by Rev. Dr. Bancroft, of Worcester. Sermon, by the pastor of the Society, from Ephesians, ii. 19, 20, 21, 22. Concluding prayer, by Rev. Mr. Allen, of Bolton.
From a description of the building pubiished at the time, I extract the following:
The design of the edifice was by Charles Bulfinch, Esq.* of Boston. The body of the building is 74 by 66 feet, with a porch, portico, tower and cupola. The portico is 48 by 17 feet, of square brick columns, arched with pilasters, entablature, and pediment of the Doric order; the vestibule, or porch, is 48 by 19 feet and contains the gallery stairs; the tower is 21 feet square; the cupola is circular, and of singular beauty ;-it is surrounded with a colonade of 12 fluted pillars, with entablature, and cornice, of the Ionic order; above which is an Attic encircled with a festoon drapery, the whole surmounted by a dome, balls, and vane. The height from the ground is about 120 feet. Inside, the front of the gallery is of ballustrade work, and is supported by ten fluted pillars of the Doric order, and has a clock in front, presented by a gentle.
Now National Architect at Washington.
man of the society.* The pulpit rests on eight fluted columns, and four pilasters of the lonic order: the upper section is supported by six Corinthian columns also fluted, and is lighted by a circular head. ed window, ornamented with double pilasters fluted; entablature and cornice of the Corinthian order; this is decorated with a curtain and drapery from a Parisian model, which, with the materials, were presented by a friend ;t they are of rich green figured satin. A handsome Pulpit Bible was presented also by a friend, f and a bell, weigbing 1300 lbs. was given by gentlemen of the town.
The following is a complete list of baptisms and admissions to full communion from March 29, 1703, to the present time. Baptisms during Rev. Mr. Prentice's ministry,
1593 From his death, Jan. 1748, to settlement of Rev. Mr.
38 Harrington, Nov. 16, 1748. During Rev. Mr. Harrington's ministry,
From the ordination of Rev. Dr. Thayer, to the pre
Admissions during Rev. Mr. Prentice's ministry,
Rev. Mr. Harrington's, “
331 478 307
Total, 1116 The town of Lancaster has ever enjoyed singular peace and harmony in its religious affairs. No Ecclesiastical council, so often the cause of bitterness at the present day, has ever been held within our limits, except for the purpose of assisting at ordinations. Within the present bounds of the town, there is, and never has been but one regular and incorporated religious society, and that of the Congregational denomination.
Individuals here, as well as in other towns, make use of the facilities which the law affords them and join themselves to other persuasions. In many instances, it is not to be doubted, this is done from conscientious motives in others, a certificate proves a cheap and expeditious riddance of the expense of supporting the institutions of our holy faith, and a general indifference to their prosperity may be concealed under the appearance of scruples of conscience.
* Jacob Fisher, Esq.
MEMOIR OF JUDGE SPRAGUE. The Hon. John Sprague was a citizen of Lancaster from Sept. 1, 1770, to the 21st of Sept. 1800, the time of his death. The town was much indebted to him for the correctness of their municipal proceedings, and the unanimity with wbich their affairs were conducted. He was born at Rochester, in the county of Plymouth, then Province of the Massachusetts Bay, on the 21st of June A. D. 1740, O. S. corresponding to the 2d of July, N. S. He was the son of Noah Sprague, Esq. by Sarah, his wife, who was a lineal descendant of Elizabeth Penn, the sister of Sir William Penn, who was an Admiral under Cromwell, and the father of William Penn, the proprietor of Pennsylvania ; her husband was William Hammond, of London. Benjamin Hammond, their son, removed from London to Sandwich, in the colony of Plymouth, married there in 1650, and thence removed to Rochester. John Hammond the second son by this marriage, married Mary Arnold, daughter of the Rev. Samuel Arnold, the first minister of Rochester, and Sarah, a daughter, by this marriage was Mr. Sprague's inother. Judge Sprague began to prepare for College in Dec. 1760, and entered therein at Cambridge at the end of the summer vacation after, viz. A. D. 1761. Having pursued his collegiate studies with reputation, he graduated in 1765, and soon after took charge of the grammar school in Roxbury; commenced the study of physic there, and pursued it under the instruction of the late Doct. Thomas Williams for a short time, viz. until May, 1766. In that month he removed to Worcester, abandoned the study of physic, and entered as a clerk in the office of Col. James Putnam, an eminent Barrister at Law, and kept a private grammar school there. At the May term of the Court of Common Pleas, 1768, he was admitted an Attorney of that Court, removed from thence to Rhode Island, and in the following Sept. was admitted an Attorney in the Superior Court in the county of Providence, colony of Rhode Island, &c. and opened his office in Newport; there he remained without the prospect of much business, in the diligent pursuit of his professional studies, until May, 1769, when he removed to Keene, in the county of Cheshire, then province of New Hampshire, where he pursued the practice of Law until Sept. 1, 1770, made himself acquainted with the people, and the business of the Courts there, and by his talents, industry and fidelity, acquired a reputation which long afterward afforded him extensive professional employment in the interior counties of that province. Inclined to take up his permanent abode in his na
tive province, he then removed from Keene to Lancaster, in the county of Worcester, and opened an office in partnership with Abel Willard, Esq. a respectable Counsellor at Law, for the term of ten years, beginning the 21st of the same month. This partnership was interrupted by the war with Great Britain. Mr. Willard adhering to the King, left Lancaster in March, 1775, and never returned. In April, 1772, be was admitted an Attorney of the Superior Court at Worcester. In Dec. 1772, he married Catherine Foster, of Charlestown, the twelfth child and ninth daughter of Richard Foster, Esq. Sheriff of Middlesex; by this marriage, he had one son and two daughters. He was occupied in extensive professional employment, till arms silenced the laws; then he shared in the burdeos and privations common to his neighbors and fellow citizens in the eventful period of the revolution. Having purchased a small farm in the centre of the town, he labored upon it as a farmer; dismantled himself of his linen and ruffles and other appropriate habiliments, and assumed the garments of labor, which were then the checkered shirt and trowsers. He was resorted to for counsel in all cases of difficulty which occurred, and toward the close of the revolution, when our government was formed, and business revived, he was one of the principal counsellors and advocates in our Courts of Justice. His legal learning was so well combined with and aided by common sense, and a sound discretion, that he was considered one of the most safe, discerning and upright counsellors in the Commonwealth. As an advocate, he was not the most eloquent, but such was the fairness of his statements and force of his arguments, that conviction seemed their natural result. He was cotemporary with the two Strongs, the late Governor, and the late Judge, both of the county of Hampshire, and the late Hon. Levi Lincoln, of Worcester, and divided with them the multiplied business of advocating causes and collecting debts in the counties of Hampshire, Worcester and Middlesex, and in the counties of Hillsborough and Cheshire, in New Hampshire. Io May, 1782, he was elected a representative of the town to the General Court, and in the January session following, a vacancy in the Senate occurring, being a candidate, voted for by the people, was elected by the Legislature to fill that vacancy, and was again elected to the Senate by the people in 1785. In February, 1783, he was first commissioned a Justice of the Peace and quorum, for the county of Worcester. So high was he held in the estimation of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court, as a Lawyer, that at the February term of that
Court in Suffolk, 1784, he was made a Barrister at Law, and was called to that distinction by the first writ that issued for Barrister in the Commonwealth ; the mode of admission preceding the refolution having been without writ. He was to have been admitted before the revolution, but the tumults in the country interrupted the Courts. He was elected to represent the town in the General Court in 1784 and 1785.
In 1786, Mr. Sprague was selected by the Government as the law adviser of Maj. Gen. Lincoln, to attend him in his expedition against Daniel Shays and his adherents, who had excited a rebellion in the Commonwealth,
May 5, 1787, he was bereaved of his wife, and in the latter part of the same year, he married Mary Ivers, the widow of Thomas Ivers, Esq. late Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and eldest child of Mr. John Cutler and Mary, his wife, of Boston, who survised him. In 1788, he was elected a member of the convention for ratifying the Constitution of the United States. The town was opposed to the ratification, and by a committee of seven gave him instructions to vote against it. Having confidence, however, in the intelligence and rectitude of their delegate, they so qualified the instructions as to leave him to vote as he should think proper. He was one of seven out of fisty members from the county, who voted in the affirmative. In the winter of the same year, he was appointed Sheriff of the county of Worcester, in the place of William Greenleaf, Esq. who was removed from that office. He was punctual and faithful in the performance of his official duties, reduced the former irregularities in the administration of the office to order and system, and resigned it in 1792.
He returned to the practice of law, and continued in it until 1798. He represented the town in the General Court from the year 1795 to 1799 inclusive. In 1793, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Worcester. It was a new and valuable acquisition to have a learned lawyer at the head of the Judicial administration of the County, whose integrity and talents fitted bim for the station, and whose justice and impartiality would ensure the confidence of all engaged in the business of the Court. In this office he continued until his death. His historical and legal koowl. edge, the accuracy of his mind, and its adaptation in the choice of language to express it on all subjects, rendered him a very useful member of the legislature, and he was looked to as a safe adviser and guide in the political and local concerns of the Commonwealth.