3. Years of Thomas Shepard
In October, Mr. Thomas Shepard, whose name holds a conspicuous place in the annals of New England, arrived at Boston, together with the people who were to form his pastoral charges. On the first of February 1635, [1636 new style] the first permanent church was gathered at Newtown. Mr. Shepard, and “divers other good christians,” intending to form a church, communicated their design to the magistrates, who gave their approbation. Application was also made to all the neighbouring churches, “for their elders to give their assistance at a certain day at Newtown, where they should constitute their body.” A great assembly accordingly convened, and the church was organized in a public and solemn manner. (25) The ordination of Mr. Shepard probably took place soon after this organization of the church; but the precise time cannot now be ascertained “It was deferred,” says Dr. Mather, “until another day, wherein there was more time to go through the other solemnities proper to such an occasion.”
Early in the summer of 1636, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Stone, and about a hundred men, women, and children, composing the whole of Mr. Hooker’s church and congregation, left Newtown; and travelled above a hundred miles, through a hideous and trackless wilderness, to Connecticut. “They had no guide but their compass; made their way over mountains, through swamps, thickets and rivers, which were not passable but with great difficulty. They had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but those which simple nature afforded them.” (26)
They drave with them 160 cattle; and subsisted on the milk of their cows, during the journey. Mrs. Hooker was carried in a litter. This little company laid the foundation of Hartford, now a very flourishing city in Connecticut.
Their removal was very opportune for Mr. Shepard and his company, who purchased the dwelling-houses and lands, which they had owned at Newtown; and thus enjoyed the advantage (which fell to the lot of few of the early colonists) of entering a settlement already cultivated, and furnished with comfortable accommodations.
This year (1636) the General Court contemplated the erection of a Public School at Newtown, and appropriated four hundred pounds for that purpose; which laid the foundation of Harvard College. (27)
Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, a very extraordinary woman, commencing a religious teacher, about this time, and holding lectures for the propagation of her peculiar tenets, attracted a numerous audience, and gained many adherents. “The whole colony was soon divided into two parties, different in sentiment, and still more alienated in affection. They stiled each other Antinomians and Legalists.” (28) Such was the warmth of the controversy, that it was judged advisable to call a Synod to give their opinion on the controverted points. A Synod was accordingly holden at Newtown on the 30th of August, 1637, at which “all the teaching elders through the country,” and messengers of the several churches, were present. The magistrates, too, attended as hearers, and spake occasionally, as they saw fit. Of this Synod Mr. Shepard, who opened it with prayer, “was no small part.” (29) After a session of three weeks, the Synod condemned eighty-two erroneous opinions, which had become disseminated in New England. The proceedings of this Synod appear to have been conducted with fairness and ability. “Liberty was given to any man to dispute pro or con, and none to be charged to be of that opinion he disputed for, unless he should declare himselfe so to be.The clearing of the true sense and meaning of any place of scripture, it was done by scripture.” An historian, who lived at that period, says: “Foure sorts of persons I could with a good will have paid their passage out, and home againe to England, that they might have been present at this Synod, so that they would have reported the truth of all the passages thereof to their own Colledges at their return.” These were “the Prelates” ; “the godly and reverend Presbyterian party” ; “those who with their few stratagems have brought in so much old error” ; and “those who derided all sorts of scholarship.” (30)
The vigilance of Mr. Shepard was blest for the preservation of his own church, and of the other new-England churches, from the Antinomian and Familistical errors, which began at this time to prevail: “And,” according to Dr. Mather, “it was with respect to this vigilancy, and the enlightening and powerful ministry of Mr. Shepard, that when the foundation of a College was to be laid, Cambridge, rather than any other place, was pitched upon to be the seat of that happy seminary.” (31)
A contemporary historian closes “the dismall yeare of sixteene hundred thirty-six,” with the following story, illustrative, at once, of Mr. Shepard’s preaching talents, and of the spirit of his times. A person, who had come to New-England, “hoping to finde the powerful presence of Christ in the preaching of the word,” was encountered, at his first landing, by some of Mrs. Hutchinson’s disciples, who were zealous to proselyte him to their doctrine. Finding that “hee could not skill in that new light, which was the common theame of every man’s discourse,” he betooke himself to a narrow Indian path, which soon led him “where none but sencelesse trees and echoing rocks make answer to his heart-easeing monologue. After a perplexed and pathetic soliloquy, in this deep recess, he formed a resolution “to hear some one of these able ministers preach, whom report had so valued,” before he would “make choice of one principle,” or “cross the broade seas back againe. Then turning his face to the sun, he steered his course toward the next town, and after some small travell hee came to a large plaine. No sooner was hee entred thereon, but hearing the sound of a drum, he was directed toward it by a broade beaten way.” Following this road, he enquired of the first person he met, what the signal of the drum meant. The answer was, “they had as yet no bell to call men to meeting, and therefore made use of a drum.” (32) Who lectures, said he, at this town? “I see you are a stranger, new come over,” replied the other, “since you know not the man. It is one Mr. Shepard.” “I am new come over,” said the stranger, “and have been told since I came, that most of your ministers are legall preachers, onely if I mistake not they told me this man preached a finer covenant of works than the other. However, I shall make what haste I can to hear him. Fare you well.” Hastening to the place, he pressed through the thickest crowd into the church, “where having stayed while the glasse was turned up twice, the man was metamorphosed.” He was frequently melted into tears, during the service, and overwhelmed with gratitude to God, whose “blessed spirit caused the speech of a poore weake pale complectioned man to take such impression in his soul.” The preacher “applied to the word so aptly, as if hee had been his privy counseller; cleering Christs worke of grace in the soule from all those false doctrines, which the erronious party had afrighted him withall.” Finding that there was here not only a zeal “for the truth of the discipline, but also of the doctrine,” of the gospel, “he now resolves (the Lord willing) to live and die with the ministers of New England.” (33)
The Reverend John Harvard, of Charlestown, in 1638, added to the sum, appropriated by the Legislature to the public school at Newtown, about eight hundred pounds. Thus endowed, the school was exalted to a college, and assumed the name of its principal Benefactor: and Newtown, in compliment to the college, and in memory of the place where many of our fathers received their education, was now denominated CAMBRIDGE.
In 1639, the first printing press, erected in New-England, was set up at Cambridge, “by one Daye at the charge of Mr. Glover,” who died on his passage to America. (34) The first thing which was printed was the freeman’s oath; the next was an almanack made for New-England by Mr. Pierce, the mariner; the next was the Psalms newly turned into metre. (35)
The ecclesiastical fathers of New-England, dissatisfied with Sternhold and Hopkins’ version of the Psalms, then in common use, resolved on a new version. Some of the principal Divines in the country, among whom were Mr. Welde and Mr. Eliot, of Roxbury, and Mr. Mather of Dorchester, undertook the work. Aiming, as they well expressed it, to have “a plain translation, rather than to smooth their verses with sweetness of any paraphrase;” and regarding “conscience rather than elegance, fidelity rather than poetry,” their version, it seems, was too crude to satisfy the taste of an age, neither highly refined, nor remarkably critical. Hence, Mr. Shepard, of Cambridge, addressed them with this monitory verse:
“Ye Roxbury poets, keep clear of the crime
Of missing to give us very good rhyme:
And you of Dorchester your verses lengthen,
But with the texts own words you will them strengthen.”
This Version was printed at Cambridge in 1640: but requiring, as it was judged, “a little more art,” it was committed to President Dunster, a great master of the oriental languages, who, with some assistance, revised and refined it, and brought it into that state in which the churches of New-England used it for many subsequent years. (36)
In 1639, the town ordered, that some person, chosen for the purpose, should register every birth, marriage, and burial, and, “according to the order of the Court, in that case provided, give it in once evrie yeare to be delivered by the deputies to the Recorder.”
In 1641, (Dec. 13) the town chose two men, whom they directed to “take care for the making of the towne spring, against Mr. Dunster’s house, a sufficient well, with timber and stone fit for the use of man, wattering of cattel.” (37)
In 1642, according to an order of the last General Court, “for the townsmen to see to the educating children,” the town was divided into six parts, and a person appointed for each division, “to take care of all the families” it contained.
The first Commencement was holden at Cambridge in 1642, at which time nine Students took the degree of Bachelor of Arts. (38) “They were young men of good hope, and performed their acts so as gave good proof of their proficiency in tongues and arts.” (39) Most of the members of the General Court were now present; “and dined at the college with the scholars ordinary commons; which was done on purpose for the students encouragement—and it gave good content to all.” (40)
In 1643, the General Court,—which had previously committed the government of the College to all the magistrates, and the ministers of the three nearest churches, with the president,— passed an act for the well ordering and managing of Harvard College, by which all the magistrates, and the teaching elders of the six nearest towns, [Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester] and the president for the time being, were appointed to be forever governors of this Seminary. They met at Cambridge, for the first time, by virtue of this Act, on the 27th of December, 1643, “considered of the officers of the college, and chose a treasurer.” (41)
How early the Grammar School was established at Cambridge does not appear: but it seems to have been nearly coeval with the town, and to have been an object of great care and attention. As early as 1643, a writer observes: “By the side of the Colledge is a faire Grammar Schoole, for the training up of young schollars, and fitting of them for Academical learning, that still as they are judged ripe, they may be received, into the Colledge of this schoole: Master Corlet is the Mr. who hath very well approved himself for his abilities, dexterity and painfulnesse in teaching and education of the youths under him.” (42)
This school, some years after, received a liberal donation from Edward Hopkins, (43) Esquire, Governor of Connecticut, who died in England, in 1657. This charitable pious man gave, by his last will, the principal part of his estate to his father-in-law, Theophilus Eaton, Esquire, and others, “in full assurance of their trust and faithfulness in disposing of it, according to” his “true intent and purpose.” This purpose is declared to be, “to give some encouragement in those Foreign Plantations, for the breeding up of hopeful Youth in a way of learning both at the Grammar School and College, for the public service of the Country in future times.” Five hundred pounds of his estate in England, appropriated to the college and grammar school in Cambridge, were laid out in real estate in the town of Hopkinton, and now constitute a respectable fund. Three fourths of the income of this estate are applied, according to the instruction of the will of the donor, to the maintenance of the five resident Bachelors of arts, at Harvard College, and the other fourth “to the Master of Cambridge Grammar School, in consideration of his instructing in Grammar Learning five boys, (44) nominated by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, and the Minister of Cambridge for the time being, who are, by the Will, constituted “Visitors of the said School.” They make an annual visitation, the week before the commencement, “to see that so many children are taught,” and that they “give proof of their proficiency in learning.” Two shillings on the pound, or a tenth part as much as each Bachelor receives, is applied to “buy books and reward the industry of such under-graduates, as distinguish themselves by their application to their studies.”
In 1644, Mr. Daniel Gookin removed from Virginia, with his family, and settled at Cambridge; “being drawn hither by having his affection strongly set on the truths of Christ and his pure ordinances.” (45) His arrival was very opportune for the Reverend Mr. Eliot, the Indian apostle, who was now preparing himself for his great work of evangelizing the Indians. Mr. Gookin, animated with an apostolical zeal for the promotion of this pious design, vigorously co-operated with Mr. Eliot, in its execution. He himself informs us, (46) that Mr. Eliot “was his neighbour, and intimate friend, at the time when he first attempted this enterprize,” and communicated to him his design. In Mr. Eliot’s evangelizing visits to the Indians, Mr. Gookin so often accompanied him, that he is said to have been “his constant, pious and persevering companion.” (47) In 1646, Mr. Eliot, having acquired a knowledge of the Indian language, began to preach to the Indians at Nonantum, then lying within the limits of Cambridge. From this time, for many years afterward, great pains were taken, and large sums expended, to educate Indian youth for the ministry. Several were maintained, a number of years, at the grammar school, with a view to the completion of their education at the college in Cambridge. Such, at this early period, was the zeal of our pious ancestors for the christianization of the Indians, and so sanguine were their hopes of rendering the Indian youth auxiliary to the design, that, in 1665, a brick edifice, 30 feet long, and 20 feet broad, was erected at Cambridge, for an Indian College. Several Indians entered college, of whom, however, one (48) only ever attained the academical honours. “The design,” says Mr. Gookin, “was prudent, noble, and good; but it proved ineffectual.. The awful providences of God, in frustrating the hopeful expectations concerning the learned Indian youth, who were designed to be for teachers unto their countrymen,” are noticed, with great sensibility, by this historian, (49) who, amidst all discouragements, retained his zeal for the promotion of this pious design, till the very close of his life.
A Bill having been preferred to the General Court in 1646, for the calling of a Synod, for the purpose of composing and publishing a platform of church-discipline, a “motion” was made by the Court to the churches, to assemble such a synod. It was, accordingly, convened at Cambridge that year, and protracted its session, by adjournments, till 1648. This synod composed and adopted the Platform of Church-Discipline, called, “The Cambridge Platform,” which, together with the Westminster Confession of Faith, it recommended to the General Court, and to the churches. The churches of New-England, in general, acceded to this platform for more than thirty years: and it was recognized and confirmed by a synod at Boston, in 1679. (50)
The thriving state of the herds, (51) belonging to this town, together with the confidence reposed in Waban (52) (an influential Indian, recently converted to christianity by the apostolic Eliot) appear in the following compact, dated April 12, 1647:
“Bargained with Waban, the Indian, for to keepe about six score heade of dry cattle on the south side of the Charles River, and he is to have the full some of eight pound, to be paid as followeth, viz. 30s to James Cutler, and the rest in Indian corne at 3 sh. bushel, after micheltide next. He is to bargain to take care of them the 21 day of this present month, and to keepe them untill 3 weeks after michelmas: and if any be lost or ill, he is to send word unto the towne, and if any shall be lost through his carelessness he is to pay according to the value of the beast for his defect. His Mark Waban”
In 1648, “it was agreed, at a generall meeting, when the whole towne had special warneing to meete for the disposeing of Shawshine, that there should be a farme layde out, of a thousand acres, to be for a publick stocke, and improved for the good of the Church, and that part of the Church that shall continue; and every person of persons, that shall from time to time remove from the Church doe hereby resigne up theire interest therein to the remaineing part of the Church of Cambridge.” (53)
The same year, it was ordered, “That there shall be an eight peny ordnary provided for the Townsmen [Selectmen] every second munday of the month upon there meeteing day; and that whosoever of the Townsmen faile to be present within half an houre of the ringing of the bell (which shall be half an houre after eleven of the clocke) he shall both lose his dinner, and pay a pint of sacke, or that value, to the present Townsmen.”
Among the town-officers for the following year, three commissioners were chosen, “to end small causes under forty shillings.”
Mr. Shepard died in 1649, and was succeeded in the ministry by the Reverend Jonathan Mitchel. In the interval between Mr. Shepard’s death, and Mr. Mitchel’s ordination, the pulpit was supplied by President Dunster, and Mr. Richard Lyon, who lived at the President’s in the capacity of a private tutor to an English student.
A vote of the town to repair the old church “with a 4 square roofe, and covered with shingle,” passed February 18, 1650, was rescinded, in March; and the committee, now ordered to “desist from repairing” the old house, was instructed to “agree with workmen of the building of a new house, about forty foot square, and covered as was formerly agreed for the other. It was also then voted, and generally agreed, that the new meeting-house shall stand on the Watch house hill.” This is believed to be the hill on which the present congregational church stands. The second church was, doubtless, erected about this time; for, in February, 1651, the town voted, “That the Townsmen shall make sale of the land whereon the old meeting house stood.”
25 ^ For the form of the organization of this church, and the religious exercises on the occasion, see Winthrop’s Journal, 95, 96. This was the eleventh church, gathered in Massachusetts. The order of the churches was as follows:
|The first church was gathered||at Salem,||In The year 1629|
|The second —||at Charlestown —||1631|
|The third —||at Dorchester, —||1631|
|The fourth —||at Boston, —||1631|
|The fifth —||at Roxbury, —||1631|
|The sixth —||at Linn, —||1631|
|The seventh —||at Watertown, —||1631|
|The eighth (Mr. Hooker’s) —||at Newtown, [Cambridge]||1633|
|The ninth —||at Ipswich||1634|
|The tenth —||at Newbury||1634|
|The eleventh (Mr. Shepard’s) —||at Newtown, [Cambridge]||1636|
26 ^ Trumbull, I.55. Winthrop’s Journal, 100
27 ^ “After God had carried us safe to New-England, and wee had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear’d convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the civil government. One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity: dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust.” New England’s First Fruits, published in 1643.
28 ^ Adam’s History of New-England.
29 ^ C. Mather.
30 ^ Wonder-working Providence.
31 ^ Magnalia, III. 87. Wonder-working Providence, 164.
32 ^ The town records confirm Mr. Prince’s account, that the church had a bell at first; for they shew that the town meetings were then called by the ringing of a bell. A drum, for what reason does not now appear, was afterwards substituted in its place; for I find an order of the townsmen, in 1646, for the payment of fifty shillings to a man “for his service to the towne, in beating the drum.”
33 ^ Wonder-working Providence. C.XLIII.
34 ^ “The Reverend and judicious Mr. Jos. Glover, being able both in person and estates for the work, provided, for further compleating the colonies, in church and commonwealth, a printer,” dec. Wonder-working Providence, X. — Mrs. Glover (probably the relict of this gentleman) bought Gov. Haines’ house and estate, situated at Market Place, in Cambridge, in 1639.
Nothing of Daye’s printing is to be found. The press was very early in the possession of Mr. Samuel Greene, who was an inhabitant of Cambridge, in 1639, and who is considered as the first printer in America. His descendants, in every succession to this day, have maintained the honour of the typographic art. The present printers, of that name, at New-London, and New-Haven, in Connecticut, are of his posterity. The first press was in use at Cambridge, about half a century. The last thing I can find, which was issued from it, is the second edition of Eliot’s Indian Bible, in 1685. Some reliques of this press, I am informed, are still in use, in the printing office at Windsor, in Vermont.
Mr. Samuel Hall, printer to the Historical Society, printed the New-England Chronicle at Cambridge, from the commencement of the revolutionary war, in 1775, to the removal of the American army from Cambridge. A new printing press was set up in this town, the present year, by Mr. William Hilliard, a son of my worthy predecessor in the ministry.
35 ^ Winthrop’s Journal.
36 ^ The Rev. Mr. Prince, of Boston, observed, that, when he was last in England, in 1717, he found this Version “was by some eminent congregations there preferred to all others in their public worship.” I find the eighteenth edition of this Version printed with the Bible at Edinburgh, in 1741; and the twenty-third (I suppose New-England) edition printed at Boston, in 1730. The Rev. Mr. Prince revised and improved this New-England Version, in 1758.
37 ^ May not this be the town well, still in use, a little southwesterly of the first church?
38 ^ There are now one hundred and ninety-one Students in this ancient and very respectable Seminary; and, for several preceding years there have been upwards of two hundred.
|Since the year 1642, there have graduated at this College||3674|
|Of whom have died||2113|
|Of whom have died||1561|
|The whole number of ministers who have graduated here, is||1158|
|Of which number have died||787|
The observations of Mr. Oakes are worthy of perpetual regard: “Think not that the Commonwealth of Learning may languish, and yet our Civil and Ecclesiastical State be maintained in good plight and condition. The wisdom and foresight, and care for future times, of our first Leaders was in nothing more conspicuous and admirable, than in the planting of that Nursery: and New-England is enjoying the sweet fruit of it. It becomes all our faithful and worthy Patriots that tread in their steps, to water what they have planted.” Address to the General Court, in his Election Sermon, 1673.
39 ^ Winthrop’s Journal.
40 ^ Ibid.
41 ^ Ibid.
42 ^ New England’s First Fruits. See Coll. of Hist. Soc. I. 243. Mr. Corlet appears to have been a man of learning, of piety, and respectability; and it is to the honour of Cambridge, that, in the infancy of the town, great exertions were made for his steady and permanent support. He was master of the Grammar School, in this town, between 40 and 50 years. He had the tuition of the Indian scholars, who were designed for the College, and, “for his extraordinary paines in teaching” them, received compensation from the Society for propagating the Gospel. In the accounts, transmitted from New-England to that Society, he is repeatedly, and very honourably, mentioned. [See Hazard’s Hist. Coll. II.] Dr. C. Mather (who has inserted in his Magnalia a biographical sketch of the Rev. Mr. Hooker, drawn by Mr. Corlet) styles him “that memorable old School-master in Cambridge; from whose education,” he adds, “our College and Country has received so many of its worthy men, that he is himself worthy to have his name celebrated in our Church History.”
43 ^ See his. character in Trumbull’s Hist. Connect. I. 241.
44 ^ The Legislature of Massachusetts has made such an addition to this very useful fund, that six bachelors may now reside at the College, and seven boys be instructed at the Grammar School.
45 ^ Wonder-working Providence. Magnal. III. 120.
46 ^ Hist. Collect. of the Indians in New-England.
47 ^ Homer’s Hist. of Newtown, in Coll. of Hist. Soc. vol. V. 253. — Soon after Mr. Gookin’s arrival, he was appointed captain of the military company in Cambridge; and a member of the house of deputies. In 1652, he was elected assistant; and, four years after, was appointed by the General Court superintendant of all the Indians, who had submitted to the government of Massachusetts; in which office he appears to have continued, with little interruption, till his death. In 1662, he was appointed, in conjunction with the Rev. Mr. Mitchel, one of the licensers of the printing-press in Cambridge. In 1681, he was appointed major general of the Colony. He is characterized by the writers who mention his name, as a man of good understanding, rigid in his religious and political principles, but zealous and active, of inflexible integrity, and exemplary piety, disinterested and benevolent, a firm patriot, and, above all, uniformly friendly to the Indians, who lamented his death with unfeigned sorrow. He died in 1687 — a poor man. But, such was the estimation of his character and services, that a decent monument was erected over his grave. It stands on the south-east side of the burying-ground in Cambridge, and has this inscription:
Here lyeth intered
the body of Major Gen.
Daniel Gookins aged 75 yeares
who departed this life ye 19 of March
Mr. Eliot’s apostolical labours among the Indians are justly celebrated in Europe and America. His Indian bible will remain a perpetual monument of his patient diligence, and pious zeal. “The whole translation,” Dr. C. Mather says, “he writ with but one pen.” the first edition of it was published as early, at least, as the year 1668, and a second in 1685. Both editions were printed at Cambridge. The title of this bible is:
The Lord’s Prayer is as follows:
Nooshun kesukqut, quttianatamunach koowesdonk. Peyaumooutch kukketassootamóonk nen nach ohkeit neane kesukqut. Nummeetfuongash asekêsukokish assarnainneau yenyeu kesukok. Kah ahquoantamaiinnean nummatchefeongash neane matchenehukqueagig nutahquontamounnonog. Ahque fagkompagunaiinnean en qutchhuaongaint webe pohquohwuffinnean wutch matchitut. Newutche kutahtaunn ketassóotamoonk, kah menuhkesuonk, kah sohsumóonk micheme. Amen.
48 ^ Caleb Cheescaumuck, (anciently written Cheeshahteaumuck) in 1665.
49 ^ Gookin’s Historical Collections, chap. V.
50 ^ Adams’s Hist. of N. England. Neal’s Hist. of N. England, II. 33.
51 ^ By an estimate of the number of persons, and of the estate, in Cambridge, taken by the Townsmen, [Selectmen] by order of the General Court, in 1647, it appears, that there were then in town,
|Cows (valued at L.9 pr. head)||208|
|Oxen, (at L.6 pr. head)||131|
|Total head of cattle||568|
|Horses, (at L.7 pr. head)||20|
|Sheep, (at L.1 10 pr. head)||37|
|Swine, (at L .1 pe. head)||62|
|Goats, (at 8s. pr. head)||58|
52 ^ Waban lived at Nonantum, a part of Cambridge Village, now Newton. When Mr. Eliot made his first evangelizing visit, Oct. 28,1646 “Waban met him at a small distance from the settlement, and welcomed him to a large wigwam on the hill Nonantum;” and became one of the first fruits of his mission. Homer’s Hist. of Newton.
53 ^ Town Records.