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.
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
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
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
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.
Nichols died a little more than a year after his dismission, at
South Reading, MA.
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
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
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