June 29, 1749

1749 June 29 (Thursday).  In the Morning Mr. Stone and I rode over to the Fast at Mr. Smiths[1] at Hopkinton.  He desir’d it on account of his two sons Nathaniel and Richard, and Two Daughters likewise, who had fallen into very gross, familistical Errors.  We went first to Mr. Barretts[2] — and thence to Mr. Smiths.  Some of the Children were there in the forenoon — all of them in the Afternoon.  Mr. Barrett pray’d in the first Exercise, Mr. Stone preach’d from Isa. 63.17.  And Mr. Porter[3] of Sherbourn concluded with prayer.  P.M. Mr. Bridge pray’d.  I preach’d from 2 Cor. 11.3, and Mr. Prentice[4] of Holliston concluded.  After the Exercises we had some Discourse with Nat Smith[5] but to very little purpose.  I lodg’d at Mr. Barrets.[6]  N.B. Mr. Webb[7] of Chatham there, a Candidate for the Church of England.

[1]Richard Smith.

[2]The Reverend Samuel Barrett of Hopkinton.

[3]The Reverend Samuel Porter (Harvard 1730), the minister of Sherborn, 1734-1758.  Sibley, VIII, 769-772.

[4]The Reverend Joshua Prentiss.

[5]The following indicates who Smith was and how mad he was.  Franklin B. Dexter, ed., Extracts from the Itineraries . . . of Ezra Stiles (New Haven, 1916), p. 418.  “Sept. 18, 1793, Old Nat Smith died 2 or 3 y. ago, AEt. 80 & supra.  He lived an old Bach, in Hopkinton near Edge Medfield.  He was one of Old [Shadrach] Ireland’s Men & of the Company of a doz. or 15 wild Enthusiasts who about 50 y. ago lived in and about Medfd., Sutton, Uxbridge & declared themselves IMMORTALS: of which Rev. Mr. Prentice’s Wife of Grafton was one.  She used to lie with Ireland as her spiritual Husbd.

“Formerly they walk round Hopkinton Meetinghouse sounding with Ramshorns and denouncing its Downfall, in vain.

“Nat Smith proceeded to assume & declare himself to be the Most High God & wore a Cap with the Word God inscribed on its front.  His Great Chair was a Holy Chair & none but himself must sit in it.  He had a number of Adorers and Worshippers, who continue to this day to believe he was the Great God.”

[6]The Reverend Samuel Barrett of Hopkinton.

[7]Benjamin Webb (Harvard 1743) of Eastham, was baptized in Christ Church (Episcopal), Boston in 1750.  He did not become a minister, but rather spent fifty years as an itinerant schoolmaster.  Sibley, XI, 326-327.