March 1, 1744

1744 March 1 (Thursday).  Preach’d my Lecture my Self.  Repeated on Jude 10.21.  Stop’d the Church to See what their minds were respecting Grafton Members communicating with us — having been ask’d Several Times by John Bradish to grant this Privilege, and they (Several of them, viz. Mr. Miller,[1] Mr. Whipple, Deacon Newton,[2] as I remember all that Spake) manifested that they could not consent to have any Members of that Church come to Communion here whilst they were in Such Divisions, and were (as at that very Time) agitating and ripening their affairs on for a Council.  After meeting Lieutenant Forbush and I admonish’d Brother Jonathan Bellows for his late Conduct and call’d him to Repentence.  Continuance in the Evening with Brother Seth Rice about his Sister Thankful who had Some Time agoe deliver’d me a Confession which I esteem’d Lame and unsound.  He took a Note from me to her.

[1]James Miller.

[2]Josiah Newton.

March 5, 1744

1744 March 5 (Monday).  Town Meeting.  I pray’d with them.  Sent in a Letter to the Town concerning their making so Slender a provision for my Support this Year, and sent a writing to the Moderator praying him in my name to notifie the people of the Communion next Lords Day, and a Sermon to be tomorrow to young people on the north side of the Town.  N.B. I Sent another Letter (which I prepar’d last week) to Reverend Mr. Prentice of Grafton per Mr. Benjamin Winchester.  Mr. Jonathan Burnap here and din’d with us.  N.B. Reckon’d with Captain Maynard — fell in his Debt £9 old Tenor.  N.B. The Middle of the Town so much the Lead at this Meeting as that the Select Men were Captain Warrin,[1] Captain Baker,[2] Deacon Newton, Captain Maynard,[3] Lieutenant Forbush.[4]  N.B. Thomas Winchester here at Evening but no agreement yet.

[1]Daniel Warrin, an original settler.

[2]Edward Baker, an original settler.

[3]John Maynard.

[4]Thomas Forbush, Jr.

March 7, 1744

1744 March 7 (Wednesday).  Surpriz’d with an unaccountable Letter from Mr. Prentice of Grafton, who tells me that he read my Letter complaining that they did not call Wheeler to account in presence of People of their Church and that they were all of the Mind to prosecute the Affair and he was so desir’d to write to me to Come up to their Church meeting tomorrow and produce my Witnesses, etc.  To which I return’d an Answer manifesting my Astonishment that he had Expos’d my Private Letter and friendly Communication with him as my Brother and that I Should not attend Said meeting.  The Bearer of Each Letter was Thomas Winchester.  P.M. Deacon Newton here, reckon’d with him and paid all except for his line.  Mr. Richard Salter[1] from Mansfield here and lodg’d with us.

[1]Richard Salter (HC 1739) was ordained minister at Mansfield, Conn., June 27, 1744.  SHG 10:404-09.

March 8, 1744

1744 March 8 (Thursday).  Mr. Matthew Rice here acquainting me with the Good Effect of the Sermon at Nathaniel Oakes the Day before Yesterday; and that they earnestly desire the Copy of it for the press, and will Satisfie me for my pains in preparing it for them.  P.M. I rode over to Neighbour Seth Rice’s to discourse with him about his sister Thankfulls Confession and what success he had had in his Endeavours with her.  Thence I rode up to Colonel Nahum Wards[1] and conferr’d with him upon what the Law had provided in the Case of Secret Letters disclos’d, and whether the Author or the receiver is Chargeable with the Mischief arising from such Divulging?  Return’d again the Same Evening.  Mr. Salter left us, for Boston uncertain yet whether he shall settle at Mansfield.

[1]The prominent citizen of Shrewsbury.

March 9, 1744

1744 March 9 (Friday).  A.M. Aaron Hardy and Simon Tainter of Grafton both here, concerned lest I had brought myself into a snare by sending such a Letter to Mr. Prentice for that it was much fear’d that the witnesses which I depended upon to Support my Charge, would fail me.  They Staid and din’d with me.  P.M. Mrs. Thankfull Rice here — and had no Difficulty with her about Altering her Confession.  I was exceeding uneasy at Evening what might be the Event of my Letter to Mr. Prentice — because if I should escape Trouble in the Law, yet Should fall under much Blame and reproach for my Credulousness and Abounding charity towards the New Lights, who in many Instances have (Its said commonly) been found too forgetfull where they ought to remember both words and Facts.  N.B. The proposals of a Council at Grafton thrown up for the present and a Fast is now appointed instead thereof but the aggriev’d resolve to have a Council.

March 10, 1744

1744 March 10 (Saturday).  I rose very Early and Committing my Case to God I went (as I was able) in his Fear and trusting in his goodness to Phinehas Hardys of Grafton and thence to Deacon Miriams,[1] He being one of the witnesses etc. as above.  He and his wife treated me with great Civility and Courteousness and generousness, of their own accord providing an Handsome Breakfast of Chocolat etc. etc. for me — and Deacon freely Said that what he remember’d of the Conversation we had with Wheeler he would faithfully relate and would Stand by Steadfastly.  He affirm’d that though he could not remember the particular words yet he did that the Drift and Substance of it imply’d his acknowledging that he was Guilty of Fornication with Lydia Pratt etc.  He said moreover that he had not refus’d to testify — but had refus’d to Complain of Wheeler, because he had privately forgiven him — But when lawfully call’d was able and was willing to say much more.  I ask’d him whether I could take minutes of what he said and he freely consented and Signed it.  He having repeatedly assur’d me that he would not fail me, I took leave, and return’d by Simon Tainters and Phinehas Hardy.  At Mr. Hardys I din’d.  He told me that His wife and He had heard Deacon Miriam say that Wheeler had heretofore deny’d, and then had confess’d his Guiltiness etc. — and they had both of them heard Mr. Harwood affirm the Same Concerning Himself, that Wheeler had deny’d it and then confess’d it to Him.  But James Harrington (they Said) was but just gone from their House who was positive that Wheeler had first ly’d and then owned etc.  Mr. Harrington was right in my road, so I took therefor a pen and Ink and Hardy and I went to him, who freely related the whole, was willing I should take minutes of it, and freely sign’d it before us who sign’d it as witnesses.  Hardy was so kind as to ride with me to Winchesters who took of me my letter of the 7th to Mr. Prentice, in order to Convey it — and he affirm’d before Mr. Hardy that the Letter he took of me was well seal’d; and that he deliver’d it So to John Cooper of Grafton to Convey as directed.  Having thus clear’d my way, I return’d Home about 3 p.m. to finish what preparations I could for the Sabbath, having look’d upon Myself as call’d and bound in Duty to look after this affair with what thoroughness I could, even though I Should be oblig’d to omitt making a fresh sermon for the afternoon tomorrow.  But having had such success in my Endeavours to secure my Innocence I was both thankful to God and Calm in my own Breast.  I would have visited Mr. Prentice if it had been another season — but as to his Injury done me in disclosing my Letter I look’d upon it as rather owing to his Inadvertence than wickedness and was ready to forgive it.

[1]Joseph Miriam, a pioneer of Grafton, who served as deacon for fifty-five years.  Pierce, Grafton, 532-533.

March 11, 1744

1744 March 11 (Sunday).  Lieutenant Tainter came to me in the Morning before Exercises and Spake to me of Mr. Coollidges[1] Communicating, but I immediately put an Effectual stop to it and told him I would not hear one word about it.  Mr. Coollidge himself came to me but I would in no wise give way, but utterly refus’d.  I preach’d on 1 Cor. 11.26 and Celebrated the Communion.  O might it prove for the Divine Glory and our highest Comfort!  Mr. Coollidge din’d with me, as did Deacon Fay, Deacon Newton and wife and Jonathan Tainter.  P.M. preach’d on John 15.9 latter part repeating Sermon 2 on Jude 4.21.  Propounded Paul Fay[2] in order to his being Baptiz’d and took the Churches Consent to my Baptizing on the North side of the Town, and particularly Mr. McAllisters[3] Child.

[1]Samuel Coolidge.

[2]The son of Gershom Fay of the north part of Westborough.  Orlin P. Fay, Fay Genealogy (Cleveland, 1898), 331-33.

[3]John McAllister or McCollister.

March 12, 1744

1744 March 12 (Monday).  I rode down to Colonel Wards[1] at Southborough that I might Consult Dalton[2] and other Lawyers, upon Letters Sent for one friend to another in a private and Secret Manner upon Witnesses etc.  Return’d without much Success, the Colonel being from home.  I call’d at his son Elisha’s, Dalton being there.

[1]William Ward, a justice of the peace.

[2]A work of Michael Dalton (1584-1648?), the English lawyer.  Perhaps The Countrey Justice, Conteyning the Practice of the Justices of the Peace out of Their Sessions (London, 1618).  It also appeared in later editions.

March 13, 1744

1744 March 13 (Tuesday).  Deacon Newton, Brother Whipple and I rode to Upton.  Arriv’d at Mr. Welds[1] House but a little after 10.  Found Mr. Bucknam[2] and Peabody there, but understood to our grief that the Council were to be entertain’d at Separate Houses each Party their own churchs; nor was it possible to alter it.  We waited till 3 p.m. before the rest came that we might form into a Council.  Mr. Peabody having been more peculiarly chose by both sides than either of us, who were the Senior Ministers, he was thought the fittest for Moderator from that Circumstance as well as his Superior Powers and Abilitys.  It was So late that we could do little more than receive their Papers and number them and hear a few Debates.  I think we made some Overtures to the Contending Partys touching mutual Condescentions and Compromising matters — but they were in Vain.  Rachel Wheeler of Grafton, heretofore Woods of Upton, had reveal’d some of the Conduct of Reverend Mr. Weld who heretofore Courted her to her Husband — and her Evidence was given in by the Adverse party to Support one of their Charges — but it was given in such strong Terms that Mr. Weld had obtain’d a Warrant for her, and Mr. Bruce[3] the Sheriff was dedie in Diem at Mr. Welds all the Time of the Council.  By means of this Affair all accommodations of Differences were clogg’d.  Adjourn’d to the Meeting House Tomorrow.

[1]Rev. Thomas Weld.

[2]Rev. Nathan Bucknam of East Medway.

[3]No Sheriff Bruce is recorded by William H. Whitmore, The Massachusetts Civil List (Albany, 1870).

March 14, 1744

1744 March 14 (Wednesday).  See the Minutes of the Council.  N.B. Justice Taft[1] Swore Rachel Wheeler at her Fathers House — which was a great obstruction to all Hopes of accommodation.  N.B. The Councils affairs greatly delay’d by the other part of the Councils not attending in season.  But we could not obtain to dine or Supp together — not alternately nor any Way what ever.  At the Meeting House a.m.  At Mr. Welds p.m. and Evening.

[1]Daniel Taft, justice of the peace.

March 15, 1744

1744 March 15 (Thursday).  Often weary and despairing to bring any Thing to issue — but We attended publickly both a. and p.m., to hear etc.  See the minutes.  Three Things dampt the opposing Brethren.  One, the confusion they were thrown into in trying to pick up their Reasons for Separating from 3 different papers — and the Immethodicalness of their paper of Complaints.  2. They were disappointed much in what they expected from Mrs. Matchetts Testimony — as they were in some others.  3. The great Acceptance that Mr. Welds Sermons met with in the Council and assembly instead of being condemn’d and despis’d, as they who had separated from him pretended they had reason to.  In the Evening offers again made respecting accommodations but to little purpose — though the adverse Brethren were much more dispos’d to it than heretofore.  They were now heartily sorrowful for the Wheeler witness.  The Council were to draw up something against the Morning for the Brethren them [sic] to Consider on.

March 16, 1744

1744 March 16 (Friday).  Mr. Peabody, Bucknam and I had partly drawn up Something which when Mr. Hall[1] came to us conceiv’d to Contain More than the Separating Brethren would conform to so that he sat down to draw anew But when the Council met, neither would his Draught be accepted.  Mr. Weld declar’d his utter and positive determination to have Nothing done respecting Rachel Wheeler till he had taken Advice; notwithstanding that Ensign Woods and his Wife, Daughter, Friends etc. were all of them very Desirous to throw all that Matter up and acknowledge both their folly and their sin.  P.M. at Eve, though we adjourn’d yet since it rain’d and storm’d we tarried and rested ourselves as well as we Could.

[1]Rev. David Hall of Sutton.

March 17, 1744

1744 March 17 (Saturday).  Clear and Comfortable.  We return’d home but on our way visited Deacon Newtons Daughter Warrin[1] and their Brother Jonas’s Family, and din’d at Neighbour Thurstons.  Found my Family Well, through the Goodness of God.  At Eve came Mr. Josiah Brown to Change with me tomorrow.  N.B. a most sorrowful piece of News at my Return.  One Daniel Campbell who in Years past used to keep Maylems Stables at Boston, was lately murther’d at Rutland by (as tis Suspected) Edward Fitzpatrick who is apprehended accordingly and Imprison’d at Worcester.[2]

[1]Elizabeth, daughter of Josiah Newton, had married Sials (Silas) Warrin, Dec. 6, 1742.

[2]“On Friday Night last, one Daniel Campbell of Rutland, was found barbarously murder’d in his own Land, at a small Distance from his House: it appear’d by all probable Circumstances that he was strangled.  A Person who liv’d in the House with him is committed to Goal on a strong suspicion of his perpetrating the Murder.”  Boston Gazette, Mar. 20, 1744, p. 2.

March 20, 1744

1744 March 20 (Tuesday).  My Wife and I rode to Grafton Fast.  Mr. Prentice pray’d and Mr. Haven[1] preach’d on Hosea 11.4.  I drew therewith the Bands of Love.  We went and refresh’d at Mr. Prentice’s — and there were also Mr. Halls and Mr. Havens wives.  N.B. Mr. Goddard[2] a.m. but went to Leicester p.m.  At Eve Mr. Prentice sollicited me to Stay and assist them in their Church Meeting which was to be upon their sad Differences and Divisions among them — but I utterly declin’d — however the Church sent a Committee to me, Deacon Whipple,[3] Deacon Miriam and Lieutenant Drury[4] to desire me, with the other ministers to go into Meeting.  I comply’d for a few minutes — but could not tarry, my wife being in the cold, and a Young Child at home, the ways dirty and like to be Dark.  I took leave and we rode to Winchesters and thence home.

[1]Rev. Elias Haven of Franklin.

[2]Rev. David Goddard of Leicester.

[3]James Whipple of Grafton.

[4]Thomas Drury of Grafton.

March 29, 1744

1744 March 29 (Thursday).  A.M. at Mr. Tainters to hasten his making up the Cloths he had in Hand for Me and for Ebenezer, viz. Leather Breeches for Each of us and a Coat of light grey Broad Cloth for him.  We din’d at Mr. Smiths and p.m. rode to Southborough and made a visit to Mr. Stones.  At night return’d through God’s Mercy in safety.

March 31, 1744

1744 March 31 (Saturday).  Mr. Ebenzer Wheeler of Grafton here.  Treated him with kindness.  Discover’d to him what Testimony I was able to give Concerning him and how it was Strengthen’d by Three others — but I did not perceive that he was inclin’d to make acknowledgement to the Church except he was forc’d to it, yet left me in a friendly manner.