First Baptist Church

From the 75th Anniversary edition

Hampton Union

July 23, 1975

First Baptist Church

Hampton, New Hampshire

From 1638 to 1792 there was only one church in town. The town wanted a certain minister but the church members did not. Five-ninths of the town declared themselves Presbyterians while the others remained Congregationalists, and therefore there were two churches with two ministers. By 1808 neither church had a pastor. In the spring of 1808, the Presbyterian and Congregational churches united and restored the latter church to its former position as the church of Hampton, the town holding the property and exercising control.

There were a few citizens who either from jealousy, prejudice, or principle declined to be a party to this union. They had become interested in the doctrines of Elder Elias Smith who had been holding meetings in Portsmouth and surrounding towns.

A group of these people asked Smith to preach in Hampton. Some of his teachings did not harmonize with the belief and doctrine of the home church and when they heard that Mr. Smith was going to preach in Hampton, they were afraid that harm was going to be done to the Congregational minister.

Whereupon a group of 50 or 60 people rioted against them, thus breaking up the meeting. After this had subsided, the old church recognized the right of freedom of this new denomination who had called themselves Christians. It was not until 1814 that they became strong enough to colonize.

A building on Lobb’s Hole Road, given by Dimon Garland, was the first meeting house. This was later moved and used by Methodists and Adventists and is now located near the present Methodist Church and is used as a private home.

In 1817 the New Hampshire legislature passed an act incorporating the First Baptist Society in the town of Hampton. The incorporators were John Dearborn, Philip Towle, Abraham Marston, Amos Towle Jr., Theodore Coffin, Joshua Lane, Samuel L. Brown, Joseph Mace, Samuel Nudd, Samuel Brown Jr., Willard Emery, and James Tuxbury.

The first legal meeting was held on July 21, 1817, and Joshua Lane was chosen clerk. On October 16, 1819, the Society met at the Lane home and subscribed to a church constitution. Samuel Garland was chosen clerk, while Samuel Batchelder of North Hampton, David Garland, and Joshua Lane were chosen for the committee of the church. Elder Timothy Cole was chosen first pastor soon afterward. The records of the Society are meager during its early years. Before the year ended, Elder John Harriman was apparently called as pastor and served for three years.

In 1834 a new building site was purchased by a committee consisting of Samuel Drake, Samuel Dearborn, David Towle Jr., and Samuel Garland and the Society proceeded to erect a house of worship 40 foot by 48 foot, completed by October. A church of 24 members was organized. The Constitution adopted at this time began thus,

"Believing that the cause of God requires the establishment of better order than has been usual with the people called Baptists, in Hampton, and that the time has now arrived in which we should set in order those things that are wanting among us: we therefore, whose names are hereunto annexed, agree to form ourselves into a church to be called the CHURCH OF CHRIST WITHIN THE FIRST BAPTIST SOCIETY IN HAMPTON."

In 1839 the church was enlarged with a tower added to the edifice. Free pews were then installed, where previously they were awarded to the highest bidder, ranging in price from $15 to $40 depending on location.

In 1840 the church joined the Rockingham Quarterly Meeting and the name of the group was changed from Christian to Free Will Baptist.

In 1852 one half acre of land was bought and later a two-story house 24 foot by 34 foot, which is the present parsonage, and a stable were built. Until 1854 all pastors had lived in rented houses. Elder William Rogers was the first to occupy the new parsonage along with his wife and nine daughters.

In 1867, due to hard times, a new addition was postponed; but by 1878 the horse sheds were moved to the rear of the lot, the meeting house moved back 45 feet, the building raised, and a vestry erected, which represents the present structure.

In 1886, according to Dow’s History of Hampton, a sum of $3,100 was spent for major renovations and the First Baptist meeting house was rededicated.

In 1090, on the motion of Howard G. Lane, it was voted to allow ladies to become members of the Society.

A Baptistry was built and a baptism was held in the church building for the first time on June 6, 1915.

In 1947 an effort was made to dissolve the society and incorporate the church, but this was not done until 1962 when it became the First Baptist Church of Hampton. So, after 145 years, the First Baptist Society passed out of existence.

The present church body has recently built a new Christian Education wing which should be ready for use before fall. This will be a fitting memorial indeed to all who have so diligently and courageously strived to be witnesses for Jesus Christ in this Seacoast area. The present church body is striving to look ahead with the same measure of faith as those who formed the church back in 1817.

The present pastor is David Richardson Garland who, with his wife Marion and their family, resides in the original parsonage.

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