Objections to the settlement of David Parsons as minister


Parsons Settlement Objections 30 Sept 1782.pdf


Objections to the settlement of David Parsons as minister


Church controversies
Political activists
United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Influence
Amherst (Mass.)


Written communication listing the grievances of members of the First Congregational Church of Amherst to the settlement of the Rev. David Parsons, Jr. as minister for the parish. It is signed by Ebenezer Mattoon, Jr. and John Billings. One of the reasons listed is that "he is not a friend to the independence of America, and of consequence not friendly to those who are opposed to the dominion of Great Britain over the United States." This statement implies that political differences split the First Parish congregation and led to the organization of the Second Congregational Church.


Jones Library Special Collections




This digital file may be used for educational uses, as long as it is not altered in any way. Prior written permission is required for any other use of the digital files from the Jones Library.








Folder: Parsons, David, Jr. -- Settlement

Original Format



To the Rev. Parsons and delegates from the several churches of
Northampton, Hatfield, Southampton, Williamsburgh, Whately &
Westhampton in council assembled at Amherst on Monday
the 30th day of Septr A.D. 1782
In as much as it has been agreeable to your several
churches to grant our request to them expressed in our ----?
in appointing you to advise and assist us under our present [disa---?]
greeable circumstances; we beg leave to lay before you for your
consideration and advise thereon a more full and particular [account?]
of the several matters of grievance subsisting in our minds with
regard to the settlement of Mr. David Parsons as Pastor of the
Church and Congregation in this town.
And in the first place we consider ourselves as being treated
in an unchristian like, and unfair manner by a majority of
the Church, in that, they have proceeded in a hasty & unbecoming
way to procure Mr. Parsons to preach here, in the first place
Contrary to the authority of the town expressed by their vote of
May 18th, 1781 which was that the -----? be a commentary to
provide the town with a preacher, soon after which vote was passed
in town meeting, a member of the church (uneasy as we suppose
that the -----? by advice of the neighboring ministers
were about to procure another gentleman in preference to
Mr. Parsons to supply the pulpit in this town) procured a church
meeting to be called to prevent the committee appointed by [ye?]
aforesaid vote of the town from procuring any other person to
supply the pulpit except Mr. Parsons. Accordingly a church
meeting was immediately called, and the church without giving
opportunity to said committee to pursue their -instructions; by
their votes and influence procured a town meeting, which town
meeting being called on the 25th day of June 1781, the following
votes were passed, to wit, that as soon as convenient the town
will be in a way for the ------? of the gospel ordinances
among them, 2d that the town are willing to concur with
the [chh?] in all pro----? measures for the settlement of
the gospel ministry and ordinances.
And after having [spoken?] a committee of the town to join
with the committee of the chh to procure a [settlement?] of the gospel ordinances in this town. The following -----?
was ----?, to wit, that the committee be directed to
employ Mr. David Parsons to supply the pulpit for the

--page 2--

by all which votes and proceedings of the chh and town we are of [opinion?]
that it was the predeterminate resolution of the majority of the chh
to have Mr. Parsons the sole candidate for settlement in the
ministry in this town, altho' afterwards, after a general declaration
that Mr. Parsons would not consider himself as a candidate for
the ministry (which we suppose to be a feigned assertion by his
friends; It was voted by the town December 17th, 1781 that the com
mittee be directed as soon as may be to procure a candidate for the
ministry to preach in this town in preference of which direction
of the town the committee (by advice of a council of ministers
assembled for the installment of Mr. Strong of Williamsburgh)
applied to, and procured Mr. Henry Ely to supply the pulpit for
a short term, which worthy gentleman had not long laboured
in our service, before it was reported that Mr. Parsons would
offer himself as a candidate for settlement in the ministry
Whereupon a meeting was called and a majority of the town
voted to invite Mr. David Parsons to preach here on probation
for settlement.. who has supplied the pulpit ever since..by
which proceedings of the chh and town we consider ourselves
as injured in that when they knew that more than one third
part of the town were opposed to Mr. Parsons they refused
hearing any other candidate, which reasonable request if
granted might have prevented the uneasiness and troubles now
now prevailing in this town, the aforesaid request was often made &
----? for reasons hereafter to be be inserted, but always denied
with an unbecoming ----? alleging that they were
the majority, and it must be that the minority must be
bound by their proceedings
With regard to Mr. Parsons As there has been for many years
past divers disputes and controversies between parties in this
town relative to political principles in some of which his
family have taken part, and been interested, we doubt not
but the gentleman is prejudiced against many of the
inhabitants of this town, and as these parties still -----?
in town, we consider him as taking part with, and being
unreasonably influenced by particular [Parsons?] of the one
party, and prejudiced against [Parsons?] of the other party;
Whereas we suppose a minister ought to be free from all
kinds of prejudice towards the people or any part of them.
As to his political principles although we are not absolutely
acquainted with them, yet by his [reservedness?] & manner
of expression in his public performances, as well as by

--page 3--

some expressions in private conversation we are fully of opinion that
he is not a friend to the independence of America, and of consequence
not friendly to those who are opposed to the dominion of Great
Britain over the United States.
As to his principles with regard to church government
and discipline we are at a loss to determine what they are and
it appears to us by his own conversation that he hath not
determined for himself what they may be. These matters
we think, ought to be clearly understood, pointed out and agreed
upon previous to the settlement of a minister, that we may
know when we offend, and if an offence be committed, the we
may know how and in what manner the offender shall
be tried, convicted, and punished.
As to ability of body we consider him by reason of
infirmity to be incabable of [safe?] application to study, and
thereby rendered unfit to perform the duties appertaining
to the sacred office.
Furthermore we consider him more general in
his observations in public discourse than is profitable to
enlighten the mind in the doctrines of faith, repentance and
regeneration. Finally we consider him as unduly influ-
enced by interest otherwise he would have left us and gone to
some other parish where he might have settled in peace
and harmony as it is given out by himself and friends
that he hath had many such offers, and not have continued in
this town contrary to the minds of more than a third
part of it.
The foregoing and such like considerations lying with
weight on our mind hath so far alienated our affections and
esteem from Mr. Parsons as to render him an unprofitable
and disagreeable preacher to us = We therefore pray you to
take the premises into your wise consideration and grant us your advice
assistance and direction respecting the same = wishing you
that wisdom that is profitable to direct, we are in behalf
of a large number of the church and inhabitants of the
town of Amherst, your friends in the fellowship of
of the gospel

John Billing
Ebenr Mattoon Jr.

Sept 30th, 1782

a true copy

John Billing
Hezekiah Belding

--page 4--

to the settlement of Rev.
David Parsons, by the
aggreived members of
the church

Sept 30, 1782


“Objections to the settlement of David Parsons as minister,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 23, 2024, https://digitalamherst.org/items/show/912.