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Barrington--Rev. Theodore Wells (must have been written by him)

The Town of Barrington formerly included what is now Barrington and Strafford. It was owned by proprietors in Portsmouth. The town was incorporated in 1722. One condition of the charter was that a house of worship should be erected within seven years, that two hundred acres of land be appropriated for a parsonage, and two hundred acres for the first minister. The house was raised near the center of Barrington, and was subsequently removed to within about two miles of the lower line of the town.

Several appropriations were made by the proprietors of the town towards completing the house of worship. The Congregational Church was organized by a council of ten regular churches, June 18, 1755, consisted of seven male members. At the same time Rev. Joseph Prince was ordained pastor. He was dismissed in 1768. He was blind. He was noted for his religious fervor. Twelve or fourteen years after leaving Barrington, he was settled in Candia.

Rev. David Tenney was ordained over the church in Barrington Sept. 18, 1771, and was dismissed, at his own request on account of ill health, Oct. 26, 1778. Having taken his final leave of Barrington, as he was proceeding to his friends in Massachusetts, he was suddenly attacked with illness at Durham and died immediately. The people were supplied with preaching a part of the time during the year, for several succeeding years, by different individuals.

August 25, 1784, Rev. Benjamin Balch who had been previously settled in Dedham, Ms., was installed pastor here. Efforts appear to have been made to maintain strict discipline in the church in the early part of Mr. Balch's ministry. His connection with the church and society continued till his death, which occurred May 4th, 1815 at the age of 74 years.

He supplied the desk till about the time of his decease, though his mind had become so broken, and his health so infirm, that the parish seems to have assumed the oversight of his affairs for several years. Finally, deeming it inexpedient that he and his family should continue at the parsonage, the parish voted to engage some suitable person to take the best possible care of Mr. Balch and his family for one year. An arrangement to this effect was made with his son-in-law who resided in town. After taking his last leave of the old parsonage, he set out on foot, (preferring to walk) for the residence of his daughter, about two miles distant. He had nearly reached there, when he was seen to walk unsteadily and to sit down by the roadside. He died on the spot.

 The church now continued without a pastor thirteen years. A strong leaven of Unitarianism was developed in the society soon after Mr. Balch's death, and it seemed doubtful, for a time, what influence would preponderate.



The desk was supplied with Unitarianpreachers a part of the time, one or two of whom were employed as candidates for settlement. The scale was finally turned by one or two of the Unitarians, who preferred to have an Orthodox society and an Orthodox minister rather than division.

Rev. Cephas Kent was ordained over the church and society Oct. 22, 1828. He was a native of Benson, VT, and a graduate of the Middlebury in 1824. While Mr. Kent was pastor the church took pretty decided action in the Temperance reform. He preached the word faithfully. He was dismissed May 3, 1830.

Rev. Samuel H. Merrill was ordained Feb. 23, 1831. During the few years of Mr. Merrill's ministry, there was considerable religious interest and fifty-two persons were admitted to the church on profession of faith. He was dismissed at his own request Aug. 18, 1835. The people were now supplied a year and a half by the venerable  Father Ward.

Rev. Samuel Nichols was installed Sept. 20, 1837. A council was called on the 26th of Oct. 1842, to dismiss Mr. Nichols at the request of the church and society, on account of an alleged inability to meet the current expenses, and pay off a debt which had been accumulating for several years. It was with reluctance decided that the dissolution should take place unless an arrangement could be made before the first of December. Mr. Nichols died a little more than a year after his dismission, at South Reading, MA.

The present pastor, Rev. Theodore Wells, commenced preaching here in July 1843, and was ordained June 11th, 1845. The Congregational parish in Barrington was incorporated by the State Legislature, in 1818. It has a fund of about $2,300, principally in bank stock, aparsonage, and twenty-five acres of land. The fund was obtained in the following way: About 1790, a town collector becoming a defaulter, the town came into possession of his far. A larger part of the claims were relinquished to the parish. The rights of the remaining part were purchased by the parish, and by the liberality of individuals. This farm was sold and the money invested as a permanent fund. A new and commodious hours of worship was erected in 1840, at a cost of about $2,400--having forty-six pews on the floor. It has since been furnished with a bell. The congregation varies in pleasant weather from 100 to 150. The church numbers 45. The salary of the pastor is $450.

Hope this helps someone with some background information!

Transcribed and donated by:
Karen Heath Penman








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