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BOWDOIN COLLEGE STUDIES IN HISTORY
Early Days of Church and Stafe
By ROBERT HALE
PUBLISHED BY THE COLLEGE
BOWDOIN COLLEGE STUDIES IN HISTORY
Early Days of Church and State
By ROBERT HALE
PUBLISHED BY THE COLLEGE
EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH AND
STATE IN MAINE'
IN his history of the United States, Mr. Channing
makes the statement that that famous though
somewhat indefinable commodity " tlie New England
conscience " came over in the Mayflower ; and Pro-
fessor Miinsterberg of Harv^ard, not many years ago,
made the rather surprising announcement that even
to-day the Puritan rules New England. However
that may be, our early New England history, from
the standpoint of its church, is unique ; and Puritan
characteristics have cropped out at intervals for nearly
three hundred years.
The story of the New England theocracies of the
seventeenth century is the most familiar in American
ecclesiastical history. The voyagers on the May-
flower, and the Massachusetts Bay colonists, voting
that the "Scriptures are a sufficient guide in all
affairs of Life," have left traditions which are cher-
ished by all true New Englanders. These men, how-
ever, did not sever their relation with the mother
church of England to found a broad-minded and tol-
erant community on the new continent. Some are
apt to forget that these emigrants to the New England
' By Maine is meant, throughout this paper, that territory now com-
prised within the limits of the present State of Maine.
4 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
shores were quite as intolerant as any of their torturers
in the old country.
The history of the New England Church-State has
been written only in a fragmentary way. It has been
observed that "American Church History is virgin
soil. Up to the present time the surface has only
been scratched, mainly over the graves of the Puritan
ancestors."' This statement is particularly true of
that part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay which
now lies in the State of Maine. The stories of the
"Bible Commonwealths," of Roger Williams, and of
Anne Hutchinson, of grim orthodoxy, and of fatal
heresy are unfamiliar to no one. To a certain extent
the story of the eighteenth century in Massachusetts
(proper) has also been told. That vehement apostle
of religious toleration, Isaac Backus, has given us a
monumental work descriptive of the struggle of the
Baptists of New England for religious liberty ; and
scattered volumes of town history and the like, give
more of the story of the evolution of toleration.
In that part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay
now known as the State of Maine, the theme has,
however, been a well-nigh neglected one. iVnd yet
it has an importance for several reasons. It supple-
ments and runs parallel to the story of the same period
in Massachusetts proper, while it throws a new light
on the colonization and settlement of new areas.
In the first place, it will be well to look somewhat
into the progress of Puritan sentiment in this era.
When the eighteenth century dawned in New Eng-
land, it came upon minds still fresh from the Salem
» Larned's Literature of American History, p. 337.
AND STATE IN MAINE 5
persecutions for witchcraft; for hardly a decade had
elapsed since these superstitious usages had been at
their height. In many ways public sentiment was
not greatly removed from the ideas that had been
prevalent in the da3's of Governor Winthrop. Yet
eighty-eight years later, in 1788, when the discussion
of the new Federal Constitution was going on in the
Massachusetts Convention, and the matter of a relig-
ious test for office-holding came up, the idea was
frowned upon by the clergy. Rev. Philip Payson of
Chelsea said : " Human tribunals for the consciences
of men are impious encroachments upon the preroga-
tives of God. A religious test, as a qualification for
office, would have been a great blemish." And Isaac
Backus of Middleborough declared: "Religion is
ever a matter between God and the individual ; the
imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest
engine of tyranny in the world." ' Three years later
was ratified the first amendment to the Federal Con-
stitution : " Congress shall make no law respecting
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
Four years after this, in 1795, Governor James
Sullivan wrote, in a passage which sounds singularly
modern : "In the present day, the public mind seems
steadily fixed to the principle of government, that no
man is to be persecuted or punished for his religious
opinions or sentiments, however wrong or absurd the
same ma}^ be, provided he does not disturb others in
their religion ; but for those actions only which are
open breaches of the laws, are men to be called in
I Fiske's Critical Period of American History, p. 322.
O EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
question before the civil authority. While we felici-
tate ourselves upon this progress in the art of govern-
ment, we ought not rashly, or suddenly, to condemn
the conduct of the rulers, who had the management
of the infancy of the New England colonies."' Were
we to form a judgment here, we would say that at
least as early as the year 1788, the boundaries be-
tween Church and State, which existed so dimly at
the dawn of the eighteenth century, had become very
clearly defined. This is the natural inference from a
general consideration of the subject. How far it is
borne out by more detailed examination, remains to
I History of ihe District of Maine, p. 231.
AND STATE IN MAINE 7
CHURCH AND STATE IN THE PEJEPSCOT PROPRIETY
A town fairly typical of Maine in this period is
Brunswick. It offers exceptional advantages for
study on account of the abundance of authoritative
documents pertaining to its history. When the new
owners of the Pejepscot tract (which included the
territory of the present towns of Brunswick, Topsham,
and Bowdoinham, and much of Harpswell and Phipps-
burg) first took possession of their land, they issued
on February i8, 1714 (O. S.), certain " Proposalls
to the Comittee appointed by the Generall Court."
It will be worth while to quote these and comment
"To the Honourable Comittee appointed for re-
ceiving of Claims to Lands in the Late Province of
Maine and Proposalls for regular Settlements there.
The Proposalls of us the Subscribers humbly
That whereas we have purchased a considerable
Tract of Land in the aforesaid Province, Running
[etc. defines boundaries;] We are desirous to have
same settled in such good and defensible manner as
may make a Strong Fronteir to the Eastern Parts,
which we humbly conceive our Selves able to accom-
plish, if the Generall Court will please to give the
following encouragements :
I : For Satisfaction of such as are willing to settle
themselves on Said Lands, and that we may be the
8 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
better able to encourage Substantial Farmers to
remove with their stocks from England to us ; that
the Gen" Court would please to give their Confirma-
tion to our Purchase and thereby to such grants as
we shall make out of it.
2 : To enable us to settle a fishing Town near
Small Point, which lyes conveniently situate therefor,
That the Generall Court would please to grant us, the
unappropriated Land (which is not much) lying be-
tween Small point Harbour and Small Point to be
laid out in Allotment for accomodating the Settle-
3 : That when Twelve Persons or more offer for
any new Settlement, That they may be covered with
such a Force and for such a time as to the Generall
Court shall seem needt'ull.
4 : That such as shall settle in the Limits afores''.,
may for the first Seven years have some Assistance
from the Publick toward the Maintenance of the Min-
istry and be exempted from any Tax to the Province,
by which time 'tis hoped they may be in a Capacity
to ease the rest of the Country in Publick Charges
by bearing their proportion with them.
If the Generall Court shall think fit to give the
above mentioned Encouragements, we will on our
parts enter into the following Engagements :
1. That we will lay out three, or, if the Land
afford convenience for it. Four Plotts for Towns and
have them surveyed and plotted out this Summer at
our own cost and Charge.
2. That in Seven years time, if Peace continue
with the Indians, we will settle each of Said Towns
AND STATE IN MAINE 9
with Fifty Families or more in a defensible manner,
having already offers of very considerable Numbers
both in this country and from England, and in order
thereunto we will grant them in Fee such House Lots
and accomodations of Lands as may induce them to
3. That in each Town we will take care to lay out
a convenient Portion of Lands for the Subsistence of
the First Minister, the Ministry and a School.
4. Being desirous that the people may not live
like Heathen without the worship of God, as has been
too frequent in new settlements ; We engage that for
the more speedy procuring of a Gospell Ministry and
for the Ease of the Inhabitants at their first sitting
down, as soon as there shall be to the Number of
Twenty Householders in each of S*^ Towns ; The said
Inhabitants providing a Frame for a Meeting House
and raising of it ; We will at our own Expence furn-
ish for the meeting house in each Town, Glass, Lead,
Nails, Iron work and other Materials and finish it
for them, and likewise pay towards the Maintenance
of an Orthodox Gospell Minister in each of Said
Towns, Fourty Pounds per annum for the first Five
Years, by which time it may be hoped, by the Bless-
ing of God they will be able with some small Assist-
ance from the Publick to maintain him comfortably
In short, the four concessions from the General
Court which the proprietors deemed necessary to the
success of this wilderness manorial estate are : Con-
firmation of their title ; land to make a fishing port ;
» Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, pp. 34-37.
lO EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
military protection ; and assistance in maintaining the
In return for these concessions they are willing : to
make provision for towns ; to assure the settlement of
their lands ; to make provision for a ministry and a
school ; and to contribute largely to the building of a
The Committee petitioned was "humbly of Opinion
that it will much conduce to the Publick Weal and
Safety That the Afores*^ Proposall Be Accept-
ed and the Towns mentioned be allowed and Settled
as soon as may be." The General Court then pro-
ceeded to confirm the purchase.
The next step on the part of the proprietors was to
issue the following advertisement :'
"Whereas the Generall Court have lately Allowed
Two Towns, viz. Brunswick and Topsham, lying
within the Late Province of Maine to be forthwith
laid out and Settled in a defensible manner; — [de-
fines position of towns] — And have been pleased to
grant the following Encouragements for the speedy
Peopling of Said Towns.
I St. That the Stone Fort near Pejepscot Falls in
Brunswick Town be repaired and maintained with
Fifteen men for the covering and assistance of said
2nd. That such as shall settle there shall be
exempted from any Tax to the Province for five
Over and above which the Proprietors of Said Lands
will give these further and great encouragements.
' Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, pp. 44, 45. Under date June 23, 1715.
AND STATE IN MAINE II
1. That each Person, who shall build a Suitable
Dwelling House in either of Said Towns (untill the
Number of Fifty Families for each Town be com-
pleted) and by himself, or a good Tenant, occupy
and inhabit the same for the Space of Three Years,
shall have granted him Gratis in Fee, One hundred
Acres of Land, Twenty whereof in Homestead, the
other eighty at some convenient Distance, as the Land
will allow a Proportion whereof to be Marish or
2. That a Saw Mill shall be speedily erected for
the facilitating the building of Houses there.
3. That the Said Proprietors will have a Vessell
ready the Latter end of next Month, to go from
Boston thither and transport such Persons as they
shall agree with to go thither, with their effects, free
4. That a Proportion of Land shall be set out for
the First Minister, the Ministry and a School.
5. That for the speedy procuring and Settling the
Gospell Ministry and for the Ease of the Inhabitants,
as soon as there shall be to the Number of Twenty
Families in each Town, the Said Inhabitants prepar-
ing and raising the Frame for a Meeting House the
Proprietors will provide Glass, Nails, and and
finish it at their own charge : And likewise pay towards
the Subsistence of such Orthodox Gospell Minister as
the Said Inhabitants shall procure to settle with them
Fourty Pounds per Annum, for the First Five Years.
These are there fore to give Notice, that all Persons
desirous to Remove thither may apply themselves to
Mr. Adam Winthrop, Oliver Noyes, and Stephen
12 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
Minot at Boston, or John Wentworth Esq'', at Ports-
mouth ; with whom they may agree."
Thus, thanks to the energy of the proprietors, the
Town was duly settled. As early as 17 15, they dis-
cussed the site of the meeting house ; and the erec-
tion of this building was almost the first question that
the town's inhabitants brought up in Town Meeting.
"Att a Leaguel Town Meeting," it was voted :•
"That the Timber for a Meeting House Be Prepared
Raised & under pin^^ as soon as may bee. That
whereas To methodize oversee and finish the work
Capt. Gyles, Elder Cochron, John Cochron, James
Starrat and Joseph Heath are chosen, This is Their
Authority for their proceedings in the S'^ work. And
the Towns obligations to Discharge ye Debt Con-
tracted by S^ Committee for ye Compleating ye
above S^ work. Voted That whereas it may be an
ease to Sum if they may Discharge part of their dues
toward ye work by their own labor therein as acca-
tion may Serve, The master workman observing Each
mans ability and Labour Shall state their wages in
proportion there unto y' So no injustice be Done."
It was voted in 1721 : - " That the former Projec-
tions of raising a meeting house be revived. That
thirty pounds money be raised by rate to carry on ye
S'' work with a proviso that each Inhabitant may be
imploy^' in the work so far as his ability and propor-
tion of ye S'^ rate will allow Ye value of each mans
Daily labour to be Stated by the master workman
and return to ye Committee for over Seeing S"^ Work.
" Pejepscot Papers, Vol. III. p. 8. Under date January 9, 1719.
2 Quoted from Pejepscot Papers in Wheeler's History, p. 638.
AND STATE IN MAINE I3
Such part of the S*^ rate only to be Collected in money
as shall be soficient to pay the said master Workman
his wages, and also the arrearages which Capt. Gyles
and Heath Stand obliged to pay on ye Towns Ac-
count. The work formerly Done in preparing Tim-
ber for ye S^ House to be redivised out of the rate of
those who Did it." A committee was appointed to
" methodize ye work."
Here it is to be noted that the whole town, appar-
ently without dissent, is giving money, or its equiva-
lent in labor, to the support of the church. A minis-
ter, Rev. Mr. James Woodside, was at tirst procured
to preach, the expense of his coming from Falmouth
to Brunswick being met equally by the inhabitants,
and a house in town being prepared for him. But
when it came about that the townspeople were not
" Well Sattished with his Conversation" (/. <?., char-
acter) he was sent away. Later on, twelve pounds
were assessed upon the inhabitants for the support of
Rev. Isaac Taylor, who had agreed with the proprie-
tors to preach for one year in Brunswick and Tops-
A letter of instructions from the Proprietors to their
attorney, Benjamin Larrabee, runs as follows: "As
fast as you can receive money for the Deeds you exe-
cute, we would have you apply it to discharge the
Debts of the Propriety, viz. : Mr. Pearce, the Car-
penter, and Mr. Wakefield, the Glazier, for Bruns-
wick Meeting House." ' Thus the proprietors " in
their paternal Care for the [our] Spiritual Good,"
were fulfilling their promise in good faith, and
" Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, p. 122. This letter was written in 1737.
14 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
raising the money on their lands for the meeting
As their settlement began to thrive, the inhabitants
of Brunswick desired to be incorporated as a town.
On what basis do they make their appeal to the Gen-
eral Court and what reasons do they assign for desir-
ing to be set apart as a town ? Their petition reads
as follows: "To his Excellency Jonathan Belcher,
Esq"". Captain General & Governour in Chief,
The Honourable his Majesties Councill, and the
Honourable House of Representatives of his
Majesties Province of the Massachusetts Bay In
New England In General Court Assembled May
"The Petition of us the Subscribers, Inhabitants
of the Town of Brunswick in the County of York —
" That your Petitioners being arrived to a compe-
tent Number to transact Town affairs and in expecta-
tion of having others very soon added to us, having
now a Commodious Meeting house cheifly ei"ected at
the charge of the Proprietors & having also obtained
a pious and orthodox Minister to settle with us, we
now find it necessary to be vested with power to lay a
Tax Assessment in order to raise money for his
"Therefore your petitioners humbly pray your
Excellency and Honours that you will please to erect
us into a Towaiship & vest us with the Powers and
Authoritys belonging to other Towns, excepting only
the Power of Granting and Disposing of Land which
we acknowledge to be in the Proprietors who placed
AND STATE IN MAINE I5
US here — and your Petitioners as in Duty bound
shall ever pray " ' &c.
In 1739, this petition was granted and the Town of
Brunswick was duly incorporated.
Here is a tremendously significant feature in early
New England town history. Towns once having
obtained a minister and a meeting house of their own
are desirous to have the right to tax their inhabitants
for the support of the gospel. A further examination
shows that this motive animated a great many of the
New England towns of this time.
The growing spirit of independence of the town
must eventually clash with the proprietary interests.
It is an old story, familiar in Roman history with its
patricians and plebeians, and reenacted two thousand
years later on the shores of the new world. The
petition made some years after by the town of North
Yarmouth to tax waste land voices this natural feeling
of independence. These lands "Your Pet"^* humbly
conceive ought in Reason & Equity to be taxed for
the Support of the Town in proportion to the Proffit
that our Improvements yeild to the Owners of them,
especially since our Lives and Estates are daily
exposed in a remote de/enceless Frontier to guard
and enrich those ivastes, that can only serve as a
Covert for an Enemy to ambush us in time 0/ ivar,
while the Proprietors of 7nost of them live securely
in the heart of the Province making Estates by our
Toils and Hazards without any Expense of their
• Pejepscot Records, Vol. Ill, p. 57.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. VI, p. 334. Not italicised in the original.
1 6 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
From this it is easy to see how the interests of lord
and tenant clashed, however beneficent might be the
proprietor. The settlers were naturally jealous of
their own rights, and no matter how much at one the
interests of the two parties may have been, long co-
operation was difficult. And this lack of harmony
appears in ecclesiastical matters.
It would be hard to prove that the Pejepscot pro-
prietors were tyrannical. In 1741, they voted the
laying out of a ministry lot near the meeting house.
Meantime the town was providing for order on the
Sabbath by voting a fine of twelve-pence for anyone
who suffered " his Dog to com to the meeten-hose on
the Lord's Day." Civil legislation in such matters
seems now the height of absurdity. In those days it
was quite differently regarded ; and no matter con-
nected with church affairs seemed trivial to the town.
A few years after the town's incorporation, it was
voted in the proprietors' meeting that " Whereas the
Town of Brunswick is at present destitute of a minis-
ter, and is in quest of another minister," " Lott Num-
ber Eij^ht " be o;i-anted to the first "Learned and
Orthodox Minister who shall be Ordained and Settle
there and shall continue in the Ministry there for the
space of seven years." ' It was also voted at the same
meeting : ^ " That Lott Number Seven on the South-
easterly side of the Road be and hereby is granted to
the Town of Brunswick for a ministry Lott, contain-
ing one hundred acres, to be and continue for said
I Quoted from Pejepscot Papers in Wheeler's History, p. 357.
Dated September 20, 1742.
* Quoted in Wheeler's History, p. 357.
AND STATE IN MAINE Ij
use forever. . . . Both the above granted Lotts lying
near and commodious to the meeting house." Again,
two years later, the proprietors took care to provide
that "No particular inhabitant or inhabitants should
pretend to claim the meeting house for their own use
or try to exclude other inhabitants from the use of the
house Provided 'Notwithstanding that the Pew on the
Right Side of the Front Door be and remain for the
use of the Proprietors their Heirs and Assigns and
wholly at our disposal." '
The proprietors were indeed solicitous for the
spiritual welfare of their tenants, and laid quite as
much stress as the town upon the value of a settled
Once incorporated as a town, the inhabitants of
Brunswick managed their church affairs much to
their own liking. It appears from the records that
the town was somewhat aided in the support of its
minister by voluntary contributions from its parish-
ioners, for on December 22, 1746, it was voted in
town meeting " To containoue a Contrabution every
Sabbeth for to help to pay the Minister's Sallery." ^ It
is evident, however, that the money obtained from this
source was wholly incidental. The regular taxes for
the support of the minister continued with as much reg-
ularity as they would have one hundred years earlier.
In a town meeting, three years later, it was " Voted to
Raise four Hundred pounds old tenor this present }'ear
two Hundred pounds to pay the Rev. Mr. Robert Dun-
lap's Sallery one Hundred pounds to be paid towards
" Quoted in Wheeler's History, p. 358.
» Brunswick Town Records, Vol. I, p. 34.
l8 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
his Setelment . . . " ' It is noticeable here that three-
fourths of the entire sum raised by the town goes to
the support of the minister. And if money was not
always available, the minister's salary was often paid
in some staple commodity, as happened in 1752
when he received his salary in lumber.
Not only did the town bear the charges of a minis-
ter and help build and repair the meeting house, but
it also sustained even the minor expenses of the
church, such as hiring a man " for sweeping the
meeting house, locking doors, and taking care of the
In 1752, the selectmen were instructed to petition
the General Court to have Topsham annexed to
Brunswick in order to assist in maintaining the gos-
pel "unless the inhabitants of Topsham will bind
themselves to the satisfaction of our selectmen to pay
the Reverend Mr. Dunlap eighty pounds old tenour,
this year." Such a course was justified by the Pro-
vince Laws of the time which allowed the taxing of
an adjacent community without a minister and whose
people attended preaching in the taxing town.^
Evidently, however, there was still a dearth of
money for the town's purposes. So the town took
recourse to a method, which, as has been hinted, is
common in our town history. In March, 1753, it
was "Voted to Send a Petition to the Generall Court
for Power to tax the non-resident Proprietors Lands
in this town Except S'^ Proprietors Speedily grants
< Brunswick Town Records, under year 1749.
» Wheeler's History, p. 117.
3 Wheeler's History, p. 359.
AND STATE IN MAINE I9
US some assistance (to the satisfaction of the Town)
to finish our Meeting House and Setleing our Min-
ister, and other Publick Charges." '
In the year 1760 came the first hint of dissension
among the townspeople ; and once again it is notable
that incidents occurring here in this little frontier
settlement are vastly suggestive of broader move-
ments. For it was on this rock of dissension that the
ship of Church-and-State was eventually to founder.
Rev. Robert Dunlap had come to Brunswick in 1747
from Antrim, Ireland. ^ He was a Presbyterian ; and
for this reason there were some who were reluctant
to pay the taxes for his support. This was natural
enough ; yet it destroyed the unanimity of the town.
Evidently in reply to some complaints, Mr. Dunlap
wrote to the town saying in part, "And Such as pre-
tend aney Scruple of Conscience In Joineing with us :
I Lord not over their Consciences they may use their
Christian liberty : their monney Shall be at their own
Disposal ; I have always tho't this was the Best way
to pace ; tho't I would Rather quit my title to part of a
town tax : or Rate than have a han^ in Divisions ;
In this letter Mr. Dunlap shows himself to be
marvelously in advance of his time. The doctrine
of " Christian liberty" was not yet well known, — in
Brunswick, at any rate; and the inhabitants of that
town took the almost inevitable course in such a crisis.
Mr. Dunlap was asked to leave. The whole thing is
' Town Records, Vol. I, p. 49.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, p. 273.
3 Wheeler's History, p. 361. The letter is dated June 30, 1760.
20 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
only an episode, but very decidedly it is a suggestive
The difficulty, however, did not cease with the
departure of Mr. Dunlap. The body of the church
was still divided on the question of Congregational-
ist and Presbyterian forms of government. From
1762, when Rev. John Miller first came, to 1769,
this difference existed. Mr. Miller finally declared
himself a Congregationalist, and the former difficulties
seemed to have subsided. For a while, however, in
the first years of Mr. Miller's preaching, there was,
apparently, some compromise between the two per-
suasions. Such a compromise may indeed have been
possible between sects so nearly allied. It is easy to
see that such a compromise was not possible between
denominations so widely divergent as were the Con-
gregationalists and the Baptists.
Meantime the proprietors seem to have been bend-
ing their energies to the less populous town of Tops-
ham, which had not yet been incorporated. A letter
from Belcher Noyes, one of the Pejepscot proprietors,
to his agent in Falmouth, E. Freeman, says : "I was
in hopes you would have called before you went
out of Town, that I might have communicated some
idea of the Original Settlement at Topsham & the
Articles the Original Proprietors entred into with
the General Court on their Confirmation of our pur-
chase, it would be very tedious to do this by way of
a letter. The Principall thing at present, is the
building a Meeting-house it was agreed on the
Inhabitants providing and raising a Frame, the Pro-
prietors were to finish the other part at their own
AND STATE IN MAINE 21
charge; in Conseq : of this, they have lately erected
the Frame ; our Proprietors here are averse to doing
anything towards that Charge except it can be done
out of the Land ; Now there are Lotts taken up not
paid for, more than sufficient to pay that Charge, but
the Settlers refuse to pay for them. If you think
you are fully acquainted with our Title, and what
the Proprietors have done in conseq : of the Con-
firmation from the General Court, it would be of
singular service to go to Topsham if it were only to
assert our Rights, & Tide, and to Converse w'' the
Inhabitants, who are generally possessed in their
minds against our Title, & do all they can in Opposi-
tion thereto ; the Ringleaders of this Faction are
Capt. Adam Hunter and Capt. Thomas Willson, but,
if you are not capable to answer every objection they
have to offer I cannot advise you to undertake it. I
am endeavouring to procure some People to purchase
that will be on the Spott, & Dwell there, to be a
Check on those pyrates that have gott their Living
out of the proprietors by destroying the lumber." '
From the tone of this letter we get some idea of the
difficulties under which the proprietors labored in
thus working at long range. The whole spirit of
Belcher Noyes' letters to Freeman is one of violent
reproach. He says very freely in one place : "Your
actions are neither those of a gentleman nor a Chris-
tian ;" and he is continually berating him in no mild
terms. The proprietors were doing the best they
could for the establishment of the church in Topsham,
yet their labors were constantly set at naught by the
> Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, pp. 1-4. Dated Boston, July 30, 1760.
22 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
obstinacy of those who refused to pay for their lands.
Belcher Noyes writes thus to Freeman from Boston,
the following year: "Herewith is enclosed a List of
the Settlers in Topsham, have noted those not paid
for No. 56 & 59 Wincholl and Merrill are to give the
deeds, & the Money to be applyed towards their part
of the Charge of the Meeting-house I take it that No
Agreement can be made with those that have not yet
paid for their Lotts, it will make a Difficulty to pre-
tend to do it, because we have not always been able
to execute Deeds when they offered to pay us, . . .
I expect the meeting-house will be covered before
winter, he (John Patten) wrote to me for 15M Shin-
gle Nails which are sent to Stanwood I expect him
in Boston next trip, shall advise & direct him what to
do, Nothing further is intended at present than to
secure the Frame." '
In the records of the proprietary meetings at this
time we find that meeting after meeting was adjourned
with nothing accomplished. It was voted in the
proprietors' meeting of September 16, 1761, "That
Messrs. Belcher Noyes, Enoch Freeman, and John
Patten, or any Two of them, be the Committee
especially appointed to take care of and finish the
Meeting House at Topsham, at the Charge of this
Propriety ; and all the accounts of Charge, arising
on the same, be laid before the standing Committee
already appointed buy the Proprietors, who are also
impowered to discharge the same, according to the
above power given to them."*
> Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, pp. 5-8.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, p. 213.
AND STATE IN MAINE 23
Again about a month later, it was voted: "That
Messrs. Enoch Freeman and Belcher Noyes be and
are hereby empowered to dispose of the setling Lotts
not yet disposed of in Topsham, and the money aris-
ing by the Sale of said Lotts to be applied towards
the finishing the meetinghouse in said Topsham, and
the said Belcher Noyes be, and is hereby empowered
to execute the Deeds of the same, to the respective
Setlers, and the said Committee to account with the
By the next summer things had apparently come
to a deadlock and the proprietors voted in their meet-
ing of June 3, 1762, "That Belcher Noyes be desired
and impowered to go down to the Eastern Settle-
ments, Brunswick and Topsham this Summer if his
business will allow and to Overlook the Affairs of the
Propriety, in particular the Meeting House in said
Topsham, and an}' Other Matter or Thing relating
to the Interest the expence to be born by this Pro-
About a year later. Belcher Noyes writes: "By
repeated Complaints from the People, I do not find
that John Patten takes any Care about the Meeting-
House, that the window-frames have lain exposed to
the Weather, the Shingle Nails wasted & I cant per-
suade him to act in this Service as I expected him.
The men that undertook to shingle the Roof have not
yet compleated it, I now write them & hope they will
do it, but can place no Dependence on any One in
I Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, p. 214.
» Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, p. 216.
24 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
this Affair."' The last words of this letter seem the
despairing cry of a conscientious man.
Three years later, on the representation of a com-
mittee appointed by the proprietors for finishing the
meeting-house in Topsham, that there was " a defi-
ciency in the money expected to be raised out of the
sale of land " and that the inhabitants had extended an
invitation to a minister to settle among them, the
sale of five more lots of land was authorized.^ John
Patten, who was empowered to make the sales, was
rewarded for his services by a grant of land ; and the
proprietors in 1768 further encouraged the ministry
in Topsham by laying out a ministry lot.^ Further-
more one hundred acres were granted to the "First
Learned and Orthodox Minister" who should be
ordained and settle there. Enough has been said to
show that the proprietors of this Pejepscot tract
regarded the church as of supreme importance in the
settling of their new lands.
In 1764, the inhabitants of Topsham had also peti-
tioned for incorporation as a town. It is interesting
to note the similarity between this and the Brunswick
petition. That of Topsham reads in part, "And there
are at this time to the number of thirty-five families
who are desirous of being incorporated that so they
may be enabled to have the Gospell setle^ among
them having already erected a frame for the Meeting
house in said Place."'* We are beginning to see the
1 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, pp. 49, 50.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. I, p. 243.
3 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. II, pp. 18, 19.
4 Quoted in Wheeler's History, p. 181.
AND STATE IN MAINE 2$
importance of the Church in the separation and
incorporation of new communities.
The next settlement which received the attention
of the Pejepscot proprietors was the Township of
Royalsborough.' This was laid out as early as 1765
with the usual provision made for the ministry lot.
On June 24, 1771, Belcher Noyes in Boston wrote to
Freeman: "There are 21 deeds executed and ready
to be delivered to the Settlers in Royalsborough on
their giving Security for the payment, but what
retards this at present is, there are 7 or 8 Qiiakers
who are not Willing to have their Lotts Subject to be
taxed for the Support of the Gospell, this makes a
difficulty & we are at a loss, as they are otherwise
good Sellers." -
This letter is perhaps one of the most significant
passages in all of the Pejepscot papers, for here is
the first mention of the Qiiakers. And here, in the
refusal of the Qiiakers to be taxed for the support of
the gospel, the Established Order meets with a dan-
gerous obstacle. As Belcher Noyes very tersely
expresses it "This makes a difficulty;" for, as he
says, the men were otherwise good settlers.
If the seeds of dissent are manifest here, there is
yet no real break-down of the power of the Estab-
lished Order. All through the years of the American
Revolution, historians tell us that the pulpit was a
great power in the cause of freedom, and in State
affairs generally. At the very beginning of the
war, only one week after the famous " eighteenth of
1 Now Durham.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, p. 96.
26 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
April, Seventy-Five," the constables of Brunswick are
required to warn all the inhabitants of the town who
are qualified to bear arms "To meet, at the West
Meeting House in said Brunswick, on Thursday, the
27th inst. at ten o'clock in the forenoon, with their
guns and what ammunition they have in order that it
may be known the state of the Town for defense." '
We observe here that the meeting house is not only a
place for religious exercises and the headquarters of
the town meeting, but the natural rallying place of a
defending company, and that too, by no force of
arms, but by the natural progress of events.
For twelve years the attention of the country was
pretty much occupied by the war for freedom. After
the Revolution the movement for separation of Church
of and State goes on much more rapidly. By the last
the eighties the church and its problems again figure
in town records. At a meeting of the town of Harps-
well in 1787, " it was voted that those persons who
did not intend to pay ihe minister's tax should give in
their names to the committee chosen for the purpose,
and should give their reasons to this committee in
writing. The committee were to report at a subse-
quent meeting, but no such report is in the records."*
Here is a frank recognition of the fact of dissent.
Two years earlier the unanimity of sentiment which
had hitherto prevailed and which is necessary to the
existence of church and state as an identity, had been
disturbed by the foundation of a Baptist Church. 3
I Wheeler's History, p. 677.
» Wheeler's History, p. 441.
3 Wheeler's History, p. 446.
AND STATE IN MAINE 2*]
This church was treated with obvious coohiess on the
part of the Established Order. It is not, perhaps,
unjust to infer that the committee here mentioned
wilfully refrained from making any report.
Meantime a similar state of affairs existed in the
neighboring towns. In the Brunswick town meet-
ing, in 1779, it was "Voted not to add anything to
the Rev. Mr. Miller's Sallery but to leave it to the
Generosity of the people and that Mr. Miller keep a
exact account of what he Receives and from who and
Lay S'^ account before the town at their next meet-
ing." ' This vote seems to imply that the practice of
supporting the ministry by a general tax upon the
townspeople had been discontinued ; and yet we are
not to infer that the town was giving up control of the
church ; town meetings were still held in the meeting
house, and in 1784 the town voted to repair the meet-
ing house. On May 12, 1783, too, it was "Voted to
accept the report of a Committee that was chose to
settle with the ReV^' Mr. Miller." The report was
"That we find by Mr. Miller's Receipts that the town
has paid him all up to the 3"* of Nov"^ 1783 except
25-7-2 that Remains due from Several persons that
did not pay up their tax for 1780 which we think
ought to be added in their next Rate bill to those
persons who have not paid their proportion for S'^ year
and also the year 1779 we think the town ought to
pay agreeable to the Bill made for that purpose Mr.
Miller to allow to ever}'- person the full value for any-
thing that he Rec'd toward his Sallery for that year
and we find that his Sallery is voted and assessed to
I Brunswick Town Records, Vol. I, p. 99.
28 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
Nov 3 1785 and that Mr. Miller allow the town for
nine Sabbaths that he has been absent." • This vote
seems somewhat inconsistent with that of 1779 j^^^^
quoted. It is probable, however, that the earlier vote
was made necessary by the exigencies of the war.
In the course of time many became dissatisfied with
Mr. Miller. A council was called to hear the griev-
ances of the dissatisfied parties, and the result was
that Mr. Miller was dismissed.
About this time, the petition of one Samuel Wood-
ward and others concerning paying ministerial taxes
was presented to the town meeting but consideration
was deferred until the following month ; yet the war-
rant for this meeting makes no mention of any con-
sideration of this petition, and in the records of the
meeting we cannot find that the matter was brought
up. It will be remembered that much the same thing
occurred in the Harpswell meeting. Three months
after this, however, in August, 1791, Samuel Wood-
ward's petition was probably granted. -
It was voted during the next year, 1792, " That
the Baptists in this town who can produce a certifi-
cate that they belong to a Baptist Society shall have
a right to draw the money that was last assessed as a
ministerial tax to be appropriated to pay their own
preacher and that they be no longer taxed in the
ministerial tax." 3 The first Baptist preaching in
Brunswick had been in private houses and in barns
in 1783. A Baptist church had been organized in
' Brunswick Town Records, Vol. I, p. Ii6.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. X, pp. 509-512.
3 Wheeler's History, p. 364. Under date of 1792.
EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH 2g
1789 or 1790, As early as May, 1790, "Joseph
Morse entered in the Town record his protest against
ever paying anything to any Congregationalist or
At a meeting of the town of Topsham held on May
20, 1794, it was voted " Not to oppose the petition of
John Merrill, Esquire, and others, praying the Gen-
eral Court for an Act of Incorporation as a Baptist
Society, provided they would withdraw their suit at
law, of Job Macomber vs. The Town of Topsham, in
which case the town agrees that the execution against
Abraham Cummings [probably for non-payment of
minister's tax] should not be put in force, and that all
future taxes for the minister's salary of members of
the Baptist Society, might be drawn by them from
the treasury or the constable, they producing certifi-
cate that they have paid an equal sum for the Baptist
Society provided they obtain an act of incorporation
within one year." • After this date, town and parish
held their meetings separately; the downfall of the
Church-State in the town of Topsham was impending.
In the records of the town of Bath there is this item
for the year 1795 : " Motion to exempt the disaffected
from paying Mr. Wallis, if not repugnant to the Con-
stitution not put by Moderator. Motion to exempt
such as produce evidence that they attend public
worship somewhere else, Moderator refused to put
this."= Here again it is very apparent that the dis-
senters were hardly getting just consideration. The
Established Order was naturally reluctant to see its
' Wheeler's History, p. 41 1.
2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, p. 439.
30 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
power thus taken from it. Five months afterwards,
in October, the "Council advised a compromise that
all opposed to Mr. Wallis should draw out of the
Treasury what they pay for purpose of paying any
preacher of good character and liberal education
whom they shall employ during the term of his public
service." And the October town meeting voted to
ratify this compromise. In 1796, it was "Voted not
to raise any salary for Mr. Wallis. . . . Voted to
exempt those opposed to his settlement for taxes for
his support. . . . Voted that those opposed to Mr.
Wallis have the use of the Meeting House every other
Sabbath beginning Sabbath after next." ' When the
break came, it is interesting to see how fast things
went to their culmination.
In Brunswick, in 1798, the town voted " To Chose a
Committee of three to Settle all Difficulties between the
Congregational and Baptist Societyes in this town."^
In the year 1797, "Some difficulty appears to have
arisen," says Wheeler, " in regard to the jurisdiction
over and responsibilit}^ for the meeting house, as in
March, the Town passed several rather contradictory
votes in regard to the matter. In the first place it
was voted that the Town had no right to repair the
west meeting house, and that it ought to be repaired
by the owners of pews (The Baptists had withdrawn).
Then it was decided by vote that the whole tozvn
should have all the privileges in the meeting house
that had been heretofore enjoyed. Third : That if
there was any vacant space for pews, the proprietors
' Pejepscot Papers, Vol. V, p. 440.
2 Brunswick Town Records, Vol. I, p. 160.
AND STATE IN MAINE 3I
had a right to sell it and to use the proceeds for
repairing the meeting house. Finally it was voted
that the owners of the pews were not the sole owners
of the meeting house." '
So with the end of the eighteenth century comes
the end of the connection between church and state
in the lands that originally comprised the Pejepscot
tract. This independence of the Church from the
State was not achieved, however, until some time
after the ratification of the amendments to the Federal
Constitution, and the publication of Governor James
Sullivan's History of the District of Maine. Some
years were to pass before the words uttered in that
history were to become strictly true in the lands of
which he wrote.
I Wheeler's History, p. 640.
32 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
CHURCH AND STATE IN OTHER MAINE TOWNS
The conditions which prevailed in the lands of the
Pejepscot propriety have already been investigated
with some little detail. It remains to be shown how
typical this settlement was of the other towns in the
territory which now makes up the State of Maine.
Religious difficulties had caused trouble early in
the history of York county. At a County Court at
York, July 6, 1675, among other "presentments"
by the Grand Jury is the following : " We present
William Scrivine for not frequenting the public meet-
ing according to law on the Lord's Days." "This
person presented is remitted because per evidence it
appears that he usually attends Mr. Moody's meet-
ings on the Lord's Days." '
This Screven (as his name is elsewhere spelled)
was a resident of Kittery. He had married Bridget
Cutts, second daughter of Robert Cutts, member of
an honorable and influential family. As a citizen,
Screven was esteemed and honored with high offices.
He was on the Grand Jury in 1678 and 1680, and
deputy from Kittery to the General Assembly in 1681,
and this in spite of his religious divergencies. On
January nth, 1682 (New Style) Screven, having
received a license from Baptists in Boston to preach
to a following in Kittery, went to Boston to be
I Early Records of the Province of Maine (lion. J. P. Baxter's MS.
copy), pp. 296, 315.
AND STATE IN MAINE 33
ordained. Under date of January 25, 1682 (New
Style) we find however a letter from Mr. Humph-
rey Churchwood, one of Screven's flock, to friends in
Boston. " I thought good to inform you" he writes,
" that since our beloved brother Screven went from us,
who I trust is, by God's mercy, now with you, by his
long absence from us has given great advantage to our
adversaries to triumph and endeavor to beat down
that good beginning which God by his poor instru-
ment hath begun amongst us ; and our magistrate,
Mr. Hucke, is almost every day summoning and
threatening the people by fines and other penalties,
if ever they come to our meeting any more, five shill-
ings lor every such offense." '
On Screven's return he was torced to bear the
brunt of the rising oposition. After a short time he
was summoned to appear before the provincial
authorities, x^lter a hearing he was sent to jail.
On April 12, 16S2, he was sentenced by the Court at
York to pay a fine of ten pounds for blasphemy.
Screven paid no attention to this and was brought
before a General Assembly of the Province held in
York on June 28th of the same year. He was re-
leased again on promise of good behavior and depar-
ture from the Province "within a very short time."
But two years passed and he was still there. After
further threats, however, he was obliged to depart.
He finally settled in South Carolina.
This is a significant episode of church history. It
(^ives us the first foretaste of the trouble which the
' (Quoted from original letter in Barrage's History of the Baptists in
Maine, p. 16.
34 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
Baptists and other dissenters were to cause in Maine
as they had caused in Massachusetts. And the treat-
ment of the case is quite consistent with the opinion
enunciated some ten years earlier by President Oakes
of Harvard when he said : "I look upon unbounded
toleration as the First-born of all abominations." '
It is well to return now to the eighteenth century
and see what was passing in towns near Brunswick.
A committee for settling and laying out the town of
North Yarmouth made provision first of all "that
forty rods square of plain land be laid out for
the accommodation of thd meeting house, burial
place, minister's house lot, market and school. "='
Here, as in Brunswick, the ministr}' lot and a lot for
the first minister's house were duly provided for, and
a good Orthodox minister was secured to reside in
the town. The town of Biddeford, incorporated in
17 iS, voted in the very year of its incorporation to
build a meeting house.
One of the interesting things about Sullivan's inter-
esting history is that he always identifies a town by
the name of its pastor, as infallibly as we identify
Stratford-on-Avon with Shakespeare, or Rome with
The local " History of Ancient Sheepscot and
Newcastle''^ records the interesting vote passed nine
months after the organization of the town of George-
town in 1754, " That there be forty pounds raised
for supporting the Gospel, and to pay the charge of
> Rise of Religious Liberty in America, by Sanford H. Cobb, p. 68.
2 Sullivan's History, p. 183.
3 By David Quiniby Cushman, 1882, p. 251.
AND STATE IN MAINE 35
the Rev. Presbytery in order to have the Gospel
preached among us, and to lay in a proper stock of
ammunition." This settlement was originally Pres-
byterian in sentiment but, before long, there were
dissensions between the Presbyterians and the Con-
gregationalists. Apparently, as elsewhere, the dis-
sensions between these two sects had little definite
result. They are always interesting as showing the
beginnings of division. In Falmouth the Presbyterians
were more than usually aggressive, and actually
sent this petition to the General Court as early as
1740, with what result is not known :
" The humble Petition of William M'^Lenechan
Clerk in behalfe of himselfe & his hearers of the
Denom" of Presbyterians in the Town of Falmouth in
the County of York —
Sheweth That your Pef being regularly initiated into
the Ministery of the Gospile according to the Kirk of
Scotland and haveing been Installed to preach to a
Number of People of the denom" of Presbiterians in
s*^ Town of Falmouth, Who have hitiierto Endeav^ to
Support your Pet"^ in his said Ministry and who not-
withstanding are obliged to pay Taxes towards the
Support & Maintenance of the Congregational Min-
isters of s"" Town which your Pef & his hearers of
the denom" of Presbyterians apprehend to be a great
hardship in their present infant Settlements —
"Your Pef further shews that by the Roj-all
Charter granted to this Province Toleration is granted
to all denom"^ of Christians Except Paptists and this
Honble Court pursuant thereto has made sev" Acts
for the relief of Sev" denom^ of Christians to Ease
^6 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
them from paying towards the Support of any other
clergy but Their own to Which your pef humbly
Apprehends his hearers of the Denom"^ of Presby-
terians are Equally Intitled —
" May it therefore please your Excellency &
Honors to take the Case into 3^our Consideration &
to make such Law for the Ease and reliefe of those
of t!ie Denom" of Presbyterians inhabiting s'' Town
as has been heretofore done for the reliefe of other
denom'' of Christians or to appoint a day at the Next
Meeting of this Great & Generall Court for your Pef
& his hears of the Denom" afcjres'' to be heard upon
the Merritts of their Case — *' '
In Falmouth, too, there was trouble caused by the
presence of some Episcopalians. On March 27,
1765, Parson Smith records that it was voted to dis-
miss the " article to see whether the parish will
excuse the people who belong to the Church of Eng-
land from paying towards the Settlement and Salary
of the Rev. Mr. Deane.'"- There was truly little
excuse for dissent in a town where the pastor could
faithfully- say "I sweat much a preaching," and "I
almost killed myself in praying.''
The town of Machias well illustrates another point
of which we have spoken — the feeling which ani-
mated the inhabitants of settlements desiring incor-
poration. The petition of the Machias people for
town government runs as follows :
" Your Petitioners would represent to the Honor-
• Baxter Manuscripts in Maine Historical Society's Documentary
Series, Vol. XI, p. 2 to.
2 Smitli's Journal, p. 2S6.
AND STATE IN MAINE 37
able Court that they are about 74 in number, and are
without the common privileges other people within
this Province enjoy, having no Gospel Minister,
Schoolmaster or any civic officers whatsoever, which
is absolutely necessary for the Peace and good order
of any people etc." The petition was granted, on
condition that the petitioners " cause a plan of the
township to be taken by a surveyor;" "obtain his
majesty's approbation of the grant;" "settle the
township with 80 good Protestant families ; " build
80 houses of specified maximum dimensions ; clear
and cultivate five acres of land on each share fit tor
tillage or mowing ; and " build a suitable meeting
house for the Public worship of God, and settle a
learned Protestant minister and make provisions for
his comfortable and honorable support." '
The towns of Wells and York early in the eight-
eenth century afford good examples of the importance
in which the church was held in those towns. They
make repeated petitions to the General Court tor the
remission of taxes on account of the difficulty of sup-
porting the ministry.
The attitude of the town of Wells in 1700, is well
shown by "The Petition of James Gouge on behalf
of the Towne of Wells " which
" humbly Shew^'^
"That the s^ Towne hath suffered much in the
late warr w''' the Indians, having their meeting house
and most of their dwelling houses burnt & demolished
by the Indians, w''' hath very much reduced them,
that of themselves they cannot build another meeting
' Quoted in the History of Machias by George W. Drisko, p. 21.
38 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
house, nor give Sufficient Mentenance to a Minister
to Reside among them.
"The premisses considered it is humbly pray'd
That the Sume of Thirty pounds be allowed towards
y'^ compleating a Meeting house now erecting and
the Sume of Twenty pounds for their Minister, who
else will be forced to leave said Towne, not having a
Competency"' (dated July 25, 1700).
The General Court voted a portion of the sums
asked for. During the next four years similar peti-
tions were frequent from the towns of Wells and York.
The petition of the town of Wells dated October 24.,
1704, is particularly interesting:
" The Humble Petition of 3^e : Town of Wells in 3'e
County of Yorke (Sets forth troubles from
savages) Our straights are every way inlarged ;
What we did formerly allow to our Minister w^'^ at
best was but a slender maintainance, we are not able
now to make good & if Country rates be exacted, we
have reason to fear, that do what we can, our Min-
ister will be constrained to leave us ; he having all-
ready removed his family for want of a convenient
dwelling place ; his house being only raised and
partly inclosed before y"" present warr began ; which
to finish, will be impossible for us, if that little w'^'*
(thanks be to God) is left us, should be taken from
us ; while we hold our lives in our hands, w''' vv'^'^ we
should labour in improving our lands ; which also,
excepting what are near adjoing to our Garrisons, lye
waste : in so much that what we do or can improve
will come far short of finding us Bread corn ; Afore-
I Maine Historical Society; Documentary Series, Vol. IX, p. 103.
AND STATE IN MAINE 39
over , instead of adding to that little w^'' y former
warr had left us: zee did, in y' short time of peace-
able intermission lay out tvhat anight be spared from
our backs and mouths, in building a meeting House,
and rebuilding old wast places and selling new ones,
as also in erecting mills, w'^'^ are now before they
could in any measure repay our disbursements, use-
less and unprofitable " '
There could be no surer proof of the importance
in which the meeting house and all that it stood for
was held than there is in this petition, which tells us
that the inhabitants of a frontier town gave it their
first thought in the intermission of peace that followed
the desolations of an Indian war.
The Maine Historical Society's collection of docu-
ments is full, also, of petitions for incorporation of
different communities, and of petitions of certain com-
munities to be set off along with certain other com-
munities. There are also the inevitable petitions to
be allowed to tax unimproved land for the benefit of
the church. Good examples of such documents are
the petitions of St. George, Damariscotta and Wis-
casset for incorporation, that of Harpswell to be
joined to Brunswick, and that of Falmouth to tax
As has been seen, there were Baptists in Maine in
1681. They hardly became an important factor in
Maine history, however, until 1767, when the Rev.
Hezekiah Smith of Haverhill, preached in Berwick
and other places. In 1768, a Baptist Church was
" Maine Historical Society Documentary Series, Vol. IX. pp. 202,
40 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
organized in Gorham, Maine. The members of this
new church immediately declined to pay the min-
isterial tax for the support of the town minister-
Bitter opposition followed and coercive suits were
undertaken. " Tlie Massachusetts law at that time
was that no Baptists were to be exempted from min-
isterial taxes in the places where they lived, ' but such
whose names shall be contained in a list or lists to be
taken and exhibited on or before the 20th of Jnly
annually, to the assessors of such town, district, pre-
cinct or parish, and signed by three principal members
of the Anabaptist Church to which he or the}^ belong,
and the minister thereof, if any there be : who shall
therein certify that the persons whose names are in-
serted in the list or lists are reall}^ belonging thereto,
that they verily believe them to be conscientiously of
their persuasion, and that they frequently and usually
attend public worship in said church on the Lords
days.' Joseph Moody a member of the Gorham
Church, living in Scarborough, presented to the
parish assessors in Gorham the certiticate required
by law. Says Backus : ' Yet distress was still made
upon him for taxes for parish worship. For such a
tax of about six dollars, a good riding beast was
taken from him in 1771 ; he therefore presented
proper vouchers for this tax to the Assembly at Bos-
ton, January 26, 1774, with a petition, that, like the
Good Samaritan, they would again set him upon his
own beast. A committee was sent out upon it, whose
report was to dismiss the petition, which was done.'"'
» History of the Baptists in Maine, by Henry S. Biirrage, 1904, pp.
AND STATE IN MAINE 4I
The Baptist faith spread rapidly, in spite of perse-
cutions. In 1790, there were in Maine eleven Bap-
tist churches with five hundred members. By i799»
the New Hampshire Association numbered fourteen
hundred and twenty members, and in the same year
the Bowdoinham Association numbered fifteen hun-
dred and sixty-eight.'
The growth was equally rapid elsewhere. Yet the
attitude of the Established Order, as we have seeu,
remained unchanged. "In the records of a regular
meetincr of the leual voters of New Gloucester, held
August 22, 1782, occurs the following : ' Motioned
and brought to vote to see if the town would make
good to Mr. John Woodman the damages he has sus-
tained by having a cow takeu from him for what he
was assessed with the two years past in a tax made
for the minister's salary. It passed in the negative.' " ^
In New Gloucester, the following article was inserted
in the warrant for a town meeting, February 10,
1786: "Art. 2. To see if they will pass a vote
not to oppose those persons who call themselves
Baptists, if they will petition the General Court to be
exempt from taxation in any future tax that shall be
made for the support of a minister in this town while
they continue in that principle." But the meeting
dropped this article. In the warrant for the meeting
March 3, 1786, is this article : " 'Art. 3. To see if the
town will free the Baptists from paying taxes to Mr.
Wilder,' the ConfTrefvational minister. The vote was
19 to 17, but at the next meeting, in April following
' Burrage's History, pp. 85, 105.
2 Burrage's History of the Baptists in Maine, p. 99.
42 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
the vote was reconsidered and the Baptists were
required to pay taxes as before."' Here again, the
Dissenters were not getting anything like fair con-
Such was the growth of the sect which more than
any other brought about the ultimate downfall of the
supremacy of the Established Order, and cut the final
knots which bound the Church to the State.
' Facts taken from Burrage's History of the Baptists in Maine, pp.
99, I GO.
AND STATE IN MAINE 43
Enough has been said of the events which occurred
in Maine towns between the years 1681 and 1800.
The same general tendencies have been seen at work
in different communities. It is impossible not to
mark the progress of dissent, and the wresting of
ecclesiastical power from the hands of the temporal
government which accompanied the downfall of
religious unanimity. It only remains now to take a
general view of the period by way of summary.
In the first place it is well to emphasize the full
force of the term " meeting house." For it is by this
term, and by no other that the church building was
known throufrhout the century. In these words there
is wrapped up a deal of New England history. The
meeting house was all that its name implied. Not
only was it the seat of town and parish meetings, but
it was the center of the social life. In it, in many
cases, were held the schools, and on the land which
surrounded it were likely to be the town stocks and
whipping post. In the early days the meeting house
was a military post, and in some places ammunition
was stored in the meeting house attic. In Brunswick,
as has been seen, as late as the war of the P.evolu-
tion, it was the recognized place for a military muster.
In short, for two hundred years, the meeting house
was the center of New England town life. Its appeal
44 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
to the people was on numberless sides. From it
come many of our peculiar New England institutions,
— much of New England democracy.
In speaking of the year 1702, Williamson says in
his History of Maine:' "Common schools and an
orthodox ministr}', which had gone hand in hand
since the first settlement of the country, were still
high in poj)ular estimation and legislative support.
Time and change had rather increased than abated
the ardor. Besides sharpening the penalties against
towns, remiss and negligent, in support of schools as
required by law, they were rendered liable to be
indicted by the grand jury ; and in such towns as
failed to raise the monies requisite for the support of
tlie ministry, the Courts of Qiiarter Sessions were
empowered to appoint assessors for that purpose. In
the zeal of the times for the purity of morals, — lot-
teries were denounced as pernicious to the public ;
and in 17 12, a memorable act was passed, which for-
bade all singing and dancing at taverns or in the
streets after dark ; all walking abroad during public
worship on the Sabbath ; and all sporting in the
evening of that da_y."
Again, in speaking of the year 1727, Williamson
sa3^s : "In laying the foundation of a rising com-
munity, the men of this age are entitled to the highest
considerations for the interest at all times taken by
them in the settlement of a pious ministry, and the
support of common schools. These they placed in
the same grade with liberty, safety and the supports
of life Even the Province itself, contributed
' Vol. II, p. 73.
AND STATE IN MAINE 45
towards the salary of two or three ministers ; and
once the inhabitants of Kittery received from the
public treasiuy four hundred pounds to assist them in
rebuildintr their meeting house ; the former beinp; laid
in ashes by lightning." ' The weight of Williamson's
authority is here added to all that more detailed
examinations have discovered. It seems certain,
indeed, that the Puritan sentiment survived through-
out the first quarter of the eighteenth cenlurv in Maine
in almost unimpaired vitality.
In his "Rise of Religious Liberty in America"'
Mr. Cobb says : " In Massachusetts, the beautiful
dream of a Slate which should be as a city of God —
an ideal so ardently loved and tenaciously held b}'
the Puritans — had vanished out of mind more than
one hundred years before the struggle for independ-
ence, while the form of the church establisliment
remained, and civil law made provision for its sup-
port, all bars to dissenting worship were down, and
all dissenters could direct their rates to the church
of their choice." Whatever may be the truth of this
statement as regards Massachusetts, and it appears
questionable, it is most assuredly not true of Maine.
Mr. L. W. Bacon describes the case more justly
when he speaks of the situation in these words : -
" Two rules had with these colonists the force of
axioms: first, that it was the dut}' of ever}' town, as
a Christian community, to sustain the town church ;
secondly, that it was the duty of every citizen of the
town to contribute to this end according to his ability.
• Williamson, Vol. II, p. 158.
2 American Church History Series, Vol. 13, p. 12S.
46 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
The breaking up of the town church by schisms and
the shirking of individual duty on the ground of
dissent were alike discountenanced, sometimes by
severely intolerant measures."
Before the first quarter of the eighteenth century
had elapsed, the General Court found itself obliged to
face the fact of dissent. As early as 1728, a law was
enacted providing that the polls of Anabaptists and
Quakers be not taxed in support of ministers. The
Quakers were to subscribe a declaration of fidelity
and prot'ess their belief in God, the Trinity, and the
inspiration of the Bible. Lists of Anabaptists and
Qiiakers were to be returned to the Court of General
Sessions, and the Assessors were to omit these in
making up the ministerial rate, but such people might
not vote in ministerial affairs.'
Acts like this, referring to Anabaptists and Qiiak-
ers, are renewed every five years for the remainder
of the century, and yet Mr. Bacon says truthfully of
the year 1730, " So solid and vital, at the point of
time which we have assumed, seemed the cohesion
of the ' standing order' in New England that only two
inconsiderable defections are visible to the historian."
These two came from the Baptists and Episcopalians.
The Quakers were generally of a less influential
class. This is probably the reason that Mr. Bacon
fails to mention them, and yet they should be
reckoned with. As has been seen, laws had been
made in behalf of the Anabaptists, but they were not
at all satisfactory to the Baptist sect. The Baptists
' Acts and Resolves of Province of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. II,
pp. 494, 496-
AND STATE IN MAINE 47
could not call themselves Anabaptists without sacri-
fice to conscience and faith ; and many of them pre-
ferred to pay the ministerial tax rather than to allow
themselves to be listed as " Anabaptists," which was
a designation of reproach. Not until 1742, are those
"usually and frequently attending the Church of
England" exempted from taxation for the ministry.'
In 1733, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in
its incorporation of the town of Lebanon established
a precedent which has been noticed, requiring towns
when incorporated to set apart three lots : one for the
ministry, one for schools, and one for the first settled
To judge from the Massachusetts laws, religious
toleration was fairly established at the end of the first
half of the eighteenth century. This was true only
in the most theoretical sense. Such laws for tolera-
tion were systematically evaded, and the struggle of
the dissenters comes into prominence only in the last
fifty years of this century. The ultimate collision of
the fundamental "orthodox" principles with the
stubbornness of various forms of dissent was inevi-
table. "It came when the ' standinfj order' en-
countered tiie Baptist and Qiiaker conscience. It
came again when the missionaries of the English
established church, with singular unconsciousness of
the humor of the situation, pleaded the sacred right
of dissenting and the essential injustice of compelling
dissenters to support the parish church." ' There was
scarcely a countryside that did not feel this shock of
' Acts and Resolves, Province of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. Ill, p. 25.
2 History of American Christianity, p. 129.
48 EARLY DAYS OF CHURCH
conflict some time or other in the course of the eight-
eenth century. Weakening little by little, the village
theocracies at length yielded to the pressure of dis-
sent. Gradually, it came to be sutiicient for a man
to contribute to the congregation which his religious
S3'mpathy preferred. F'rom that point, the way to
complete religious liberty was open.
As the last years of the eighteenth century wore
on, there was more and more religious dissatisfaction,
more and more dogmatic disputation, more and more
peremptory refusal to comply with what was deemed
the tyrann}^ of the Established Order. Maine, like
all the New England states, except Rhode Island,
compelled the payment of parish taxes. In the days
of the Revolution, "When Samuel Adams was
declaiming that taxation without representation was
tyranny. Rev. Mr. Backus, chairman of the Baptist
Committee on Grievances in Massachusetts, wrote to
him with characteristic keenness, ' I full}' concur
with your grand maxim, and further, I am bold in it
that taxes laid by the British P^arliament upon Amer-
ica are not more contrar}^ to civil freedom than these
taxes are to the very nature of liberty of conscience.'"
But the ultimate divorce of Church and State in
Maine was not 3"et. Not until the Constitutional
Convention of 1819 was it complete. Then it came
with a struggle. Clauses were again and again sug-
gested to provide for the enforcement of the public
worship, and the observance of the Sabbath. But
public opinion was against them, and they were
defeated in the Convention.
Establishment thus came to an end. The Puritan
AND STATE IN MAINE 49
notion of a Church-State had fallen to the ground.
The Scriptures had not proved a sufficient guide in
the affairs of life ; for the reason that men would not
agree upon what these Scriptures meant. The
Church-State lived in comparative tranquillit}^ one
hundred and thirty years after the Mayflower dropped
anchor in the sandy harbor of Provincetown. In the
first fifty years of the eighteenth century, it met with
opposition, but this opposition was trivial. In the
remaining half of the century, dissent accomplished
the practical downfall of the Church-State. In the
nineteenth century, the victories of dissent were em-
bodied in a new constitution, and Church and State
in Maine were severed, never again to be joined.
The books consulted upon this subject fall naturally
under three heads : contemporary documents and
volumes, modern authorities, and those local histories,
which, though of recent date, contain much matter
directly quoted from original sources. We follow this
classification below :
The Pejepscot Papers, ten volumes of proprietarj' papers
and records, contained in the library of the Maine Historical
The Town Records of Brunswick, preserved in entirety
from the date of the town's incorporation in 1739, though in
places so dim as to be hardly legible.
History of the District of Maine, by James Sullivan.
The Baxter Manuscripts in the Maine Historical Society
Smith's and Deane's Journals.
Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
History of New England with particular reference to the
denomination of Christians called Baptists, by Isaac Backus.
The Critical Period of American History, by John Fiske.
History of the Baptists in Maine, by Henry S. Burrage.
The Rise of Religious Liberty in America, by Sanford H.
History of American Christianity, by Leonard W. Bacon.
History of the Baptists in Maine, by Joshua Millet.
History of the State of Maine, by William D. Williamson.
History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, by G. A.
and H. W. Wheeler.
History of Ancient Sheepscot and Newcastle, by David
History of Machias, by George W. Drisko.
A History of Turner, Maine, by W. Riley French.
History of the City of Belfast, by Joseph Williamson.
History of Thomaston, Rockland, and South Thomaston,
by Cyrus Eaton.
Annals of the Town of Warren, by Cyrus Eaton.
History of Boothbay, Southport, and Boothbay Harbor,
by Francis Byron Greene.
History of Bethel, by William B. Lapham.
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