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No. 1 

Early Days of Church and Stafe 
in Maine 





No. \ 

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. 


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. 


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 
exercise thereof." 

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. 


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 
be shown. 

I History of ihe District of Maine, p. 231. 




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 
upon them. 

"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 


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- 
ments there. 

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 


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 
settle there. 

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 
themselves." ' 

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. 


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 
meeting house. 

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 
years time. 

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. 


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 
Meadow Land. 

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 
of charge. 

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 


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. 


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- 
ham alternately. 

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. 


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 — 

Humbly Sheweth 

" 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 


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 
own."" 2 

• Pejepscot Records, Vol. Ill, p. 57. 

2 Pejepscot Papers, Vol. VI, p. 334. Not italicised in the original. 


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. 


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. 


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 
key." =• 

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. 


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 ; 
and uneasyness."^ 

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. 


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 


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. 


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. 


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 
Proprietors." ' 

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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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 
Presbyterian preacher." 

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. 


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. 


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. 




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. 


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. 


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 C^sars. 

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. 


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 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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 
waste lands. 

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, 


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. 


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. 


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. 




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 


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. 


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. 


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- 


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. 


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 


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 
Quimby Cushman. 

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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