The Meetinghouses of Old Hampton

By Rev. Roland W. Sawyer

"Views and Reviews of Old Rockingham"

Hampton Union, [Dates of Newspapers Vary]

Rev. Timothy Dalton came from Boston to Hampton thru the influence of the Massachusetts General Court (and Mr. Winthrop) to become TEACHER in the church of Rev. Stephen Bachiler, formed in England, 1630, and which came to New England in 1632, and after various domiciles at Saugus (then Lynn), Ipswich and Newbury, staked out land on Oct. 14 of 1638 for its final and permanent home, thus settling on the Indians' "Winnacunnet."

The following year Mr. Dalton appears, and to him was given a house-lot at the right-of-the-road, as going into Hampton from Hampton Falls Hill we go down to [Meeting House] Memorial Green but turn this side toward the Landing.

The site is marked in the 1857 map, just who now lives in the house which stands on the site I do not know.

Here was built by the town its first house for a minister. Mr. Bachiler's own house, built by himself, burned before 1647.

The 1639 Parsonage home of Mr. Dalton was a house of some size and with 90 acres of land attached was of some value and was the subject of long lawsuits of which I will write next week.

However Rev. Ebenezer Thayer of Cambridge on, July 18, 1766, wrote to Hampton to accept the call to become pastor, he having preached as supply part of the time for nearly two years.

To aid the mother church the parish of North Hampton released all its claims to the parsonage property, and in 1767 the larger old house was taken down and its timbers used, with probably some of the boards, to make a new parsonage for Mr. Thayer and which house stood till 1878.

I have not attempted to locate how many of the Hampton pastors lived in it, some at least provided their own homes of a larger type, but it always stood as "The Old Parsonage", and was so known down to 1878 when it burned, though seven years before, 1871, the Parish had sold it to a private family, who were living there when the picture was taken, from which Miss Barnum of Haverhill has again come to our aid to sketch a faded picture into an ink sketch that would make the cut.

When it burned, there perished lumber used for a minister's home from 1639, the year that Hampton held its first town meeting, though some homes were there in 1638.

The picture taken from a side view does not indicate how large the building was, it was a 1½ story affair, four rooms below, but the width giving room for the two chambers above.

This was a favorite type of house in old Hampton and its daughter towns. In Kensington two homes of this type, built 1636 and 1745, were rebuilt or taken down. (The Fred Blake place and the John Potter place).

Here lived Mr. Thayer till 1792 when on the first Sabbath in September of that year, he ate a too hearty evening meal and died of indigestion, at the age of 58. The Hampton Falls pastor, Rev. Samuel Langdon, D.D., and the Rev. Samuel Webster, D.D., of the Rocky Hill Church in Salisbury-Amesbury, preached the funeral sermons.

Following his death there came five years of a squabble over whether the church should continue as Congregational or become Presbyterian.

It ended when in the October Session of the General Court of New Hampshire the Congregationalists were given the standing of a Congregational Society and Congregationalism took up again its position as the "Orthodox" church in Hampton, and Rev. Jesse Appleton moved into the old parsonage.

He became an active man, led in building the 1798 Meeting House later moved away to become the Hampton Town Hall which burned recently {1949}.

In September 1807, Mr. Appleton announced he was chosen president of Bowdoin College in Maine, and in December he had been released by Council from the Hampton pastorate and was installed as president of the college. He died young, 1819 at the age of 47.

The Hampton Parsonage, built 1767 and burned in 1878, was not an important looking building but it was one where more litigation took place than any other parsonage in America.

In 1920 when I was in the Massachusetts legislature I was one of the committee who during recess between sessions codified the laws of the state, and being a minister I was given the Ecclesiastical laws as my work. We had an expert pair of lawyers, I got much interested and the lawyer showed me how to run down court decisions etc., and thus I became probably better informed on the legal standing of ecclesiastical organization than any other minister in the state, perhaps in New England.

The vision of the Puritans who settled New England was of a church in the new World, where as they put it, "Anti-Christ shall have no part".

Every voter must be a Christian and member of the church. The whole town was a parish, and town meetings would call the minister, raise his salary by taxes, and also pay ail expenses of keeping up the church building, etc.

Then as newer, and non Congregational groups came, the status was changed, and here was opportunity for litigation over the visible church property.

Rev. John Cotton, grandson of the celebrated Rev. John Cotton of Boston was the Hampton pastor from 1686 to March 27, 1710 when he died.

April 26 a special town meeting was held and a committee appointed to immediately hire another minister. The Committee at once secured Mr. Nathaniel Gookin who would come for 70 pounds a year, quarterly payments of 10 pounds at each quarter and the rest in wood and provisions. The town unanimously approved the choice, Mr. Gookin came and was ordained Nov. 15, 1710. Mr. Gookin died Aug. 25, 1734 at the age of 48. His slate slab can be seen in the old graveyard {Pine Grove Cemetery on Winnacunnet Road}.

The town raised 100 pounds, from which would come expenses of the funeral and the rest be used for clothing etc., for the widow and children of which there had been 13 but two died of the Throat distemper (Diptheria) a few days before their father died.

The second child, a son, named Nathaniel, became a minister and was ordained pastor of the North Hampton parish Oct. 31, 1739.

North Hampton when it became a separate parish assumed its share of the pension the town paid to the widow of the first Rev. Nathaniel.

Widow Gookin finally moved to East Kingston and the parsonage with its lands were sold, North Hampton claimed a share but was, refused and litigation started.

The case was tried and retried thru the years with finally a judgment given North Hampton. 1766 Hampton appealed the decision but Feb. 26, 1767 the case was settled by agreement out of court.

The case was complicated, part of the parsonage lands were in the North Parish (North Hampton) twenty acres, and 90 acres in Hampton.

North Hampton took 40 pounds in money and quit-claimed its title to the lands.

Thus the old parsonage was a building much discussed and its fame well established thru the years, and thus became one of Hampton's historic buildings.

Forty years or so ago the old parsonage marks of Rev. Stephen Bachiler's home were clear, it stood 150 feet the other side of the road from where the present large boulders mark the daughter towns of the Green Common and its small stones for many families.

Earlier a man writing an article had a picture snapped of the parsonage itself and used it in a magazine article.

My picture herewith was a snapshot of that magazine picture. Inspection will show the original, thus taken was of the deserted home -- the windows are broken but the pumps were still there and we can get a good idea of the parsonage built in 1638 or 1639 for Hampton's first pastor, Rev. Stephen Bachiler.

Some came and built in 1638 and Mr. Bachiler waited till 1639 before he built.

One today in Hampton or one of its daughter towns may look upon the small house which held the minister of the Gospel who led his flock to lay out the town of Hampton, and 150 yards away saw the house in which to worship God built.

In that house were married; many of the couples who helped build for us the town of Hampton, a town of which nine other towns grew as the population increased.

Perhaps the most interesting of the Lost Houses of Hampton, and the one that Rev. Mr. Jones in 1925 was anxious to get funds to rebuild on Memorial Green land, was the "Old Parsonage." Of this building we, this week, give the picture.

It was not the home of Rev. Stephen Bachilor, the first pastor, but was the home of Rev. Timothy Dalton, the first teacher and associate of Mr. Bachiler, and who came to Hampton only a few months following Mr. Bachiler, in 1639.

Mr. Dalton was a man of some means, warmly, endorsed by the Boston group, and for him the parsonage was built at the right end of Memorial Green and across the new road.

There was bad feeling from the first between Mr. Bachiler and Mr. Dalton.

Mr. Dalton was born in England in 1577, graduated from Cambridge College there, came to New England, was made pastor at Dedham, Mass. in 1637. His parsonage was built in 1639 and was a fine house for the time and was occupied later by his successors.

However, it had not been used as a parsonage for some time in 1767 and when Mr. Thayer was coming as pastor it was rebuilt and stood as the picture shows it, and was used till 1871 though in its latter days as a dwelling house and rented by the town.

January, 1767, a Parish meeting vote to rebuild the parsonage into a house 40 feet long and 32 feet wide. The price was set by vote and it was also voted that the men working upon it, should have one gallon of rum per day.

The rebuilding committee was Thomas Nudd, Anthony Emery, Esq., John Lamprey, Jere Towle, Capt. Jere Marston, Samuel Drake, William Lane, James Johnson, Morris Hobbs, Josiah Dearborn and John Taylor, Jr.

As much of the lumber in the old parsonage that was good was to be used. Thus the 1767 parsonage had in it some of the lumber of the Dalton Parsonage of 1639. The frame was of heavy hewed oak, and it was built to stay.

It was standing when Mr. Dow wrote his history, but later burned. It was described as a "Convenient Home for Mr. Thayer".

Rev. Timothy Dalton was the younger brother of Philemon Dalton.

His one child, little Timothy, died at the age of 12 in the Dalton Parsonage, and Jasper Blake, who had married the sister of the Dalton brothers, named a son "Timothy" after little Timothy and Mr. Dalton gave to Mr. Blake 100 acres of his 300 acre farm.

Edmund Willoughby Toppan, Hampton's earliest historian, born, 1808 and dying in the old Toppan House in 1845, wrote out sketches of the 125 earliest settlers, the two Daltons among them.

The old parsonage, seen in the cut, housed Rev. Ebenezer Thayer, pastor 1765 to 1792; Rev. Josiah Webster and others with their families.