Monday, March 15, 2010

1713 North Parish Established

Also known as Second Parish or North Precinct.

Actual settlement progressed slowly and none of the original recipients of the land ever went north of the Ipswich River to live. It is not certain who was the first to settle this area, although tradition suggests that Sergeant George Flint had a sturdy house there about 1677. By 1685 there were nine known families living in the wilderness of North Reading.

The people in this isolated area faced great hardship to attend church. They had to cross the Ipswich River and Bear Meadow Swamp and had little more than a bridle path to travel. They had to make their way over five miles to the mother church in what is now Wakefield. Because the church was so far and the hardships were so great, they inspired a town vote in 1696 that “as soon as there was a suitable and competent number of inhabitants (north of the Ipswich River) they might call, settle, and maintain a godly, learned and orthodox minister of their own”.

In 1711 there were less than fifty families living in this northern section, making it difficult to maintain and support its own minister. In that year a petition to make the area a distinct parish was denied. However, on October 14, 1713 the petition was granted and it was voted to set off the territory north of the Ipswich River, together with Saddler’s Neck as a distinct parish, known as the Second, or North Parish. It was on the 27th of November, 1713 that the first parish meeting was assembled and Sergeant George Flint elected Moderator. It was also voted that they raise thirty-five pounds for the support of a minister. Not enough, however, to entice a permanent prospective minister. They also began construction on a rudimentary first meeting house on land given by John Eaton and George Flint. The Parish hired part time preachers and offered land and other enticements to prospective permanent ministers.