Edward Hall

EDWARD HALL (1607–1680), the first person whose profession of faith Thomas Shepard recorded, lived at Heddon, Northumberland, before coming to Cambridge, probably sailing on the Hercules sometime in 1636. He and his first wife, Margaret, also a member of the Cambridge church, lived on North Avenue and owned land in the Cambridge area, granted to him in 1652 at Shawshine, some cattle, and an orchard. Margaret died in the winter of 1666, and Hall married Mary Rayner in June of 1667. He became a freeman on 2 May 1638 and periodically performed duties for the town, such as mending fences or tending sheep on the Cambridge common. And in 1663 the town elected him to be one of their three constables. Hall died in 1680, aged seventy-three, which would place him about twenty-nine at the time of his confession. At his death, Hall left the entirety of his £205–16–04 estate to his wife.

James Savage, Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, 4 vols. (Boston, 1860–1862), 2:332. Records of the Town of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1703 (Cambridge, 1901), 97 (hereafter cited as Town Book). Mary Isabella Gozzaldi, Supplement and Index to Paige’s History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1877 (Cambridge, 1930), 335. Records of the Church of Christ at Cambridge in New England, 1632–1830, ed. Stephen Sharpies (Boston, 1906), 21 (hereafter cited as Church Records). Middlesex County Wills no. 10111. In addition to the specific citations at the end of each biographical sketch, information on the distinguished members of Shepard’s congregation has been obtained from several well-known reference works: Dictionary of American Biography, eds. Thomas Allen and Dumas Malone, 20 vols. (New York, 1928–1937); John Langdon Sibley, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 1873–1885); The Dictionary of National Biography, eds. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 21 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press ed., 1917); and James G. Wilson and John Fiske, Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biography, 6 vols. (New York, 1887–1889). Samuel Eliot Morison’s “English University Men Who Emigrated to New England before 1645,” Appendix B of his The Founding of Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass., 1935) and Robert E. Wall’s “The Membership of the Massachusetts General Court, 1634–1686” (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1965) have also provided valuable information on the educated and politically active members of the Cambridge church.

Of course, it was much harder to locate biographical data on the more obscure people under Shepard’s pastoral care. Paige’s History of Cambridge is the best place to begin the search, for the volume’s “Genealogical Register” focuses exclusively on Cambridge’s residents and contains a substantial amount of information on them. To supplement Paige’s compilation, we consulted Charles Henry Pope’s The Pioneers of Massachusetts (Boston, 1900). His book is the most complete and reliable secondary source of biographical information on the inhabitants of Massachusetts before 1650, especially its forgotten citizens. The volume, however, is not flawless and its facts had to be verified by other works: John Farmer, A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England (Lancaster, Mass., 1829); Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England; and the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 134 vols. (Boston, 1847–to date). Charles E. Banks’s Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England 1620–1650 (Baltimore, 1957) sometimes provided the English shire or county from which many of the Cambridge residents originated. And all secondary and genealogical work had to be supplemented by the bits and pieces of biographical information extracted from various primary documents. The Records of the Town of Cambridge is the most valuable source—often revealing a resident’s occupation, official appointments, election to a town office, or criminal offenses. Similar information, especially on freemanship and an individual’s dealings with the Massachusetts General Court, appears in Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, ed. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, 5 vols. in 6 (Boston, 1853–1854). The property owned by Shepard’s parishioners can be estimated from The Registere Book of the Lands and Houses in theNew Towne” Their birth, death, and marriage dates can sometimes be determined by consulting Thomas W. Baldwin’s edition of the Vital Records of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to the year 1850, 2 vols. (Boston, 1914–1915). Besides the information gleaned from the Confessions and the financial memoranda Paige published in his History of Cambridge, nothing is known of the early ecclesiastical activities of Shepard’s parishioners; Jonathan Mitchell’s records, however, reveal some post-1650 information on both their church membership and official church duties. Sharpies published Mitchell’s records in his Records of the Church at Cambridge.


The first means of his good was Mr. Glover’s52 ministry whereby he saw his misery from Jeremiah 7—the temple of the Lord53—and that he was without Christ. But he went from thence to another place under the sense of an undone condition. But in that place he was deprived of the ordinances of God and hence the Scripture came oft to mind—what if a man win the world and lose his soul?54 Hence he desired to come to that place again but the minister was gone. But Mr. Jenner55 came and by him he saw more evil in himself. But Mr. S[hepard]56 came and then the Lord did more clearly manifest Himself to him from John 3 concerning the new birth. And here he saw more of his misery and that he had followed examples and duties and made them his Christ and lived without Christ. Hereby the Lord let him see he was Christless and built upon false foundations and by this text he saw himself no new creature but only a mended man. Now when the Lord did humble him under this, he saw the want of Christ and that without Him he must perish. And afterward John 5:40 was opened—you will not come to me to have life. And here he saw how freely Christ was offered and hereby the Lord did stay and comfort his spirit and so was stirred up with more vehemency to seek Christ. And then that promise was opened—the son of man came to seek that which was lost.57 And he did not know but the Lord might seek him. And out of that text Peter 2:8 that unto you that believe he is precious,58 and here he saw his unbelief in cleaving to Christ by fits and starts. And since the Lord brought him to this place, he found his worldliness and this bred many fears whether ever any work of Christ in him was in truth, and that he was one that might fall short of Christ and that he was humbled. But his heart was not deep enough and hence he was put to more search whether ever he was humbled. Yet the Lord made it more clear from Ephraim’s condition, Jeremiah 31:18, that the Lord had made him loathe himself and this made him loathe him. And here he hath found more enmity of his heart against the Lord than ever before. But hearing the Lord was willing to take away his enmity, he by Revelation 22:17 was brought nearer to the Lord.

Francis Moore

FRANCIS MOORE, SR. (1586–1671), and Katherine, his first wife, left England in the 1630’s and brought their two children to Cambridge. They lived on the corner of Holyoke and Mt. Auburn streets, where Katherine bore two more children before she died in 1648. Moore married again in 1653, taking Elizabeth Periman for his wife. Moore apparently operated a small tannery but never prospered, and he may have worked as a cooper since in 1663 the selectmen granted him an “ash for his trade.” Becoming a freeman on 22 May 1638, at about fifty years of age, Moore participated in local government. The townsmen appointed him in 1648 to “see to the order about leather sealing,” in 1655 and 1657 he surveyed the fences of the West Field, and in 1659 he became one of Cambridge’s three constables. Moore’s share in the division of land at Shawshine was a scant fifty acres, which placed him below average in economic status. At his death in 1671 he possessed barely fifty-seven pounds. Nevertheless, this modest settler rated highly as a visible saint, serving as an elder during Jonathan Mitchell’s pastorate.

Savage, 3:227. Town Book, 98, 101. Church Records, 11. Middlesex County Wills no. 153467.


The Lord revealed his estate to him that he was miserable. And then he found the flesh resisting and contradicting the Lord, and the Lord showed him that without repentance none could be saved and that there must be sorrow for and hatred of sin. Now when the Lord had gone thus far with him, he questioned whether his repentance was right or no or whether no farther than the repentance of Cain and Judas.59 But seeing that he did not only leave the evil but cleave to the contrary good, hence he concluded it was no feigned work. But having many doubts afterward, the Lord did show him that Christ came to save those that were lost,60 and so him, not only in general sinners, but himself. And hereby the Lord wrought further humiliation and sorrow for sin past. And then applying that promise, those that mourn and hunger shall be comforted and satisfied,61 here arose that question whether he did mourn under his misery truly or no. Now here the spirit of God did seal to his soul that he was truly humbled, not only broken for, but from, sin with detestation of it; and hence was a new creature and hence was received to mercy. Since that time the Lord hath made his estate more clear, yet many sins committed and so hath questioned whether ever this work was wrought or no. That after such infinite love he should depart from God. Yet the Lord set on that word, though he had such a heart to abase His grace. Yet that the Lord was unchangeable in Himself and so in His love, and that Christ being come to seek and save that which is lost.62 Yet after his relapse he conceived though it was not possible the Lord should pity. Yet hearing—to him that believes all things are possible63—and that, though he had backslid, yet returning to the Lord, here was rich love. This drew his heart to the Lord again because His love was unchangeable. His relapse was thus: (1) the Lord forsook him and then fell from Him to loose company and so to drunkenness. And then he broke his soul the more for what he had done. But before the Lord forsook him he fell to security to profane the Sabbath. Other relapses he finds as security and sloth and sleepiness, and contenting himself in ordinances without the God of them. Yet the Lord recalling him usually back again, he said he knew his mourning after his relapse to be genuine because it did more endear his heart to the Lord and to walk more humbly.

Elizabeth Olbon

ELIZABETH OLBON (died before 1668) emigrated from Derby, Derbyshire, before 1636. In Cambridge she met James Luxford, a herdsman; they were married prior to 1637 and lived on Holyoke Street. In 1639 or 1640, Elizabeth had one child and a baby, Reuben, on the way before she, or at least the Cambridge authorities, discovered James had another wife in England. The matter came before the General Court, and, on 3 December 1639, the court decided that “James Luxford being presented for having two wives, his last marriage was declared void or a nullity thereof, and to be divorced, not to come to the sight of her whom he last took, and he to be sent away for England by the first opportunity; all that he hath is appointed to her whom he last married, for her and her children. He is also fined £100, for to be set in the stocks an hour upon a market day, after the lecture the next lecture day if the weather permit; or else the next lecture day after.” But Luxford’s troubles, and Elizabeth’s embarrassment, did not cease with his conviction for bigamy. On 13 May 1640 the court found him guilty of “forgery, lying, and other foul offences,” and sentenced him to be “bound to the whipping post till the lecture from the first bell, and after the lecture to have his ears cut off.” He then had the “liberty to depart” from the area, which he seems to have taken. Elizabeth weathered the scandal, remained in Cambridge, and married a Mr. Cole sometime after 1645.

Through all this predicament, her own church membership remained unquestioned, and both her children were baptized in the church. Hers is one of the first confessions recorded by Shepard, which would place it in 1636 or 1637, when she was probably in her mid-twenties. She died before 1668, being mentioned as deceased in the Reverend Jonathan Mitchell’s records.

Lucius R. Paige, History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630–1877 (Boston, 1877), 600. The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 93:42 (1939) (hereafter cited as NEHGR). Savage, 3:132. Demographic information used to derive ages by means of marriage dates or births of children may be found in John Demos, A Little Commonwealth (New York, 1970), Table IV, 193. See also Robert V. Wells, “Quaker Marriage Patterns in a Colonial Perspective,” William & Mary Quarterly, 3d Ser., 29:415–42 (1972).


From a speech of a sister who said she was going to means and I going from it was stirred. And by her conversation, mine was condemned and hence she desired to live from her and to go to another place. And there she was troubled and desired to go and live again with her whereby she saw more of her sin. And living under a minister at Bury where the Lord, 2 Thessalonians 1:10, that Christ would come in fire to render vengeance to all that knew Him not,64 hence she saw her own condition. She knew Him not and so sin was heavy and she saw no possibility how to get out of it. And he showing what sin a man must see before [a] person could be humbled, and here did show many sins, especially the sin of pride. Yet burdened and speaking with her, he pressed her rather to be fitted for comfort than to seek for comfort. And when the Lord had wrought upon one or two of her friends she saw so few to be saved, two of a family, that she thought she should not. Then hearing with God all things are possible,65 this stayed her but yet she went under many scoffs and scorns which tempted her to look back. But thinking of that place—he that puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God66—and out of the place of the Proverbs—the prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself67—and there she saw what she never found before, which was the bitterness of sin we brought into the world. And then he showed how we should see it. And then he showed what that hiding place was. But seeing her evil, she saw she had no right to it, which hiding place was Christ. But hearing that a soul might be contented to lie under the punishment of his sin and there he showed how all discontent did arise from pride. And then he preached, to him I look that is poor and humble and that [4] trembles at my word.68 But she felt so much evil in her own heart she thought it impossible so poor a creature should be saved or received to mercy and so fell down in discouragements. And then hearing—arise and be doing and the Lord will be with you69—and this quickened her again. And then she saw the Lord could but knew not whether the Lord would help her or no. Hence the Lord gave her a heart earnestly to seek after Him, and hearing they that mourn should be comforted,70 she felt she could not mourn. And then she saw how duties could not help her because a man in prison must be always paying his debts. And hearing from 2nd Corinthians 5:20—I beseech you be reconciled unto God—yet she felt her will contrary to this. But yet it stayed her heart for a time and some comfort it gave but it stayed not long. And then she heard—whoever is athirst come and buy without money.71 Now she saw she had no money, yet hearing they that come to Christ might have comfort, then she felt fain she would have somewhat of Christ and something of her own. And that teaching—blessed are those that hunger and thirst after Christ72—she saw she longed after Christ to save and sanctify. And then she saw no unclean thing should enter into heaven, yet she saw she must come to a naked Christ and that she found the hardest thing in the world to do. Yet by this Scripture out of Isaiah and Matthew He let her feel His love. Since she came hither she hath found her heart more dead and dull etc. and, being in much sickness when she came first into the land, she saw how vain a thing it was to put confidence in any creature. But yet it wrought some discontent in her own spirit but hath since witnessed the Lord’s love to her. Sometime a heart to run and sometime to sit still in the Lord’s way.

George Willows

GEORGE WILLOWS (sometimes Willis or Willdoes) arrived in New England about 1630, finally settling on Garden Street in Cambridge by about 1636. He married Jane Palfrey, a widow with two children, who bore him the first of their two sons in 1638, the year in which he became a freeman. Jonathan Mitchell’s church list, kept and amended from 1658 to 1668, notes George and Jane Willows as members in full communion. Jane’s death came some time thereafter; George married a second wife, Sarah, sometime before his own death in September 1690. One may only guess at Jane’s age. Judging from 1638 as the birth of her first child, it is reasonable to estimate Jane at twenty-two to twenty-five in that year. She may have been somewhat older, however, as George was thirty-six the same year. As far as economic status is concerned, George Willows seems never to have risen to any substance. His grant of sixty acres at Shawshine in 1652 places him in the lower ranks of the middling group. The inventory of his estate in 1690 amounted to a scant £54–08–08. It is possible, though not likely, that in his old age he had already granted to his sons much of their inheritance.

Paige, 694. NEHGR, 114:22 (1960). John Farmer, Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England (Lancaster, Mass., 1829), 321. Church Records, 12. Town Book, 98. Middlesex County Wills no. 25059.


It pleased the Lord to carry him on in a civil course a long time, but going to a friend’s house he broke the Sabbath. And coming to hear a minister preach against that sin, he was terrified by it and so lay under the anger of God and sense of it and so saw nothing but hell due to him; but saw not all this while the evil of sin. But under sense of wrath was sick after Christ and longed after Him and so, after this, was brought under more powerful ordinances. And that he rested in his duties and ordinances and now he was as much terrified with corruption as before with wrath. And now he saw the deadness of his heart under ordinances and the more he did strive against corruption, the more he was overcome by corruption. And then thought, oh if I could but mourn under sin then I should be happy. But he could not, but hearing Isaiah 40 ult.—he gives strength to them that have no strength73—and this gave him peace and support and farther heard Isaiah 30:6–7—then strength is to sit still in his ordinances. And then hearing that Christ came to seek them that are lost,74 then why may not the Lord save me? I thought if He would look upon me, a lost creature, how should I admire the Lord. And this promise did stay his heart. If He comes to seek the lost, why then not me? And so he was carried to long after Christ Jesus and heard those are blessed that did hunger and thirst.75 Yet he had no power to lay hold upon me, unless the Lord did draw His love to himself. Since this the Lord hath revealed Himself and drawn Himself to him by His ordinances. Since I came hither that hath been my grief that I walked no more closely with God in the place where I came. The Lord revealed Christ unto me by revealing the fullness of the riches of grace and help in Christ.76

John Sill

JOHN SILL (died circa 1652), his wife, Joanna, and their two children lived in Newcastle, Northumberland, among other places, before coming to Cambridge in about 1637. After they arrived certain difficulties arose, and John complained that “somethings coming in my way that troubled my mind for my place of settling.” But, by 2 May 1638, he attained freemanship, and the following year purchased a house, with a garden and a “backside,” on the southeast corner of Eliot and Winthrop streets.

The division at Shawshine finds Widow Sill being granted forty acres, so John Sill was deceased by 1652. The size of the grant gives no clear indication of his former status because widows received a significantly decreased allotment.

Savage, 4:97. Charles Edward Banks, Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England 1620–1650 (1937; rev. ed., Baltimore, 1957), 130. Gozzaldi, 676. Town Book, 98. Church Records, 19. NEHGR, 38:79 (1884). NEHGR, 59:242 (1905).


He was brought up in an ignorant place yet God took away those that maintained him. Hence he went to some other place and here he saw an alteration both in place, people and means and he thought that it was better with him here than elsewhere. So, approving of their ways, he fell to imitate them and so by the ministry, 1 James 23, 24—be ye doers not hearers only77—it pleased the Lord to point him out that he was the man to whom the minister did then speak. He had lived under means and been a hearer and not a doer and so he saw himself lying under the wrath due to such and this did work sadly upon him and the more by keeping it secret. He saw no hope of help in that condition but must look out for another. Those directions and means in the ministry the Lord did help him in some measure to use them and now came in this temptation: such and such people whose example you imitate you think are God’s people, but if they were the Lord’s people He would prosper and love them and let others know that they were the Lord’s. And so [he] was staggered but helped by Jeremiah 12:1 a little and having got some help against that another temptation followed. Those that are the Lord’s people they are people of parts and gifts and so and so qualified but for his own part he did not find it so. And hence thought the Lord had no thoughts of him and hence was cut off almost from looking for mercy from the Lord because he found himself not like them. And remaining thus it pleased the Lord to give him Scriptures against this from Matthew 11:25—I thank thee that thou hast hid these things from wise and prudent ones—and hence he thought the Lord might help him. Then after this came another temptation viz. whether Christ was the son of God or no. For then the Lord helped me to look after Him and this sat sadly; it was fearful to doubt and yet he could not make it out that it was indeed so. [7] Hence the Lord helped him with Matthew 17:5, 8—they heard a voice for he thought if there was a Christ there might be some else but they saw none but Jesus. Then arose a 4th temptation, how could I prove this was Scripture which said He was the son of God? And this was a long season before he could do this. Yet the Lord brought 2 Peter 1—you have a sure word of prophecy whereto you should attend till you be, etc.78 And he thought (1) they were holy men, (2) they speak more from the Holy Ghost and those were undeniable evidences to prove that those were Scriptures and so came out of those temptations. Now going on in the use of means, he thought that when any duty was performed he thought something in the duty was amiss and so thought that all he did was to no purpose. And being in conference with a young man he said means he did use: He had no comfort because something he saw amiss. Then he said wherefore serves Christ if we could serve God perfectly, i John 2:1–2—if any sin we have an advocate with the Father. This did melt his heart and the Lord made him to look not upon him so. And then the Lord helped him to look toward Him by that means, Isaiah 50:12—he that heareth and obeyeth let him trust in the Lord and stay himself upon God.79 This stayed him and here he found much hardness, deadness and seeing many promises made but conditionally made, his heart stood here. But at last he saw the Lord had promised to work the condition and hence in the sense of the want of the condition to go to the Lord to work it. And here he found the Lord silent long, Exodus 6:4–5. He saw being Jehovah that He would do it and from Habbakuk 2:3—the vision is for a certain time and it will come and not lie. And so the Lord made him see that the promise is for an appointed time and then it shall speak. There by one minister preaching out of his fullness one received grace80 [8] for grace. There he answered all his objections against closing with the Lord and so having continued in this place. And then in those times the heart was much taken up in secret meditation and being so. And then when sin or Satan came to draw his heart from God, the Lord helped him to see it before it came as to be delivered from it. And hence he found much sweet communion with the Lord in meditation. And here the heart was not much taken off from the Lord and this was then presented, that if he took that course he should not only expose himself to melancholy but to a consumption, and so was beaten down again. And looking upon this frame it cost him something in sorrow for it. Then the Lord stirred up men that neither sought God’s honor nor his good to put him forth to suffer for the cause of God. And being glued to the place he considered whether it was not better to suffer than to cast himself upon dangers in flying. Many ministers and others took his case to heart and sought God and could not tell what to say. And it pleased God then to bring Mr. Glover81 to him coming out of Lancashire and I and he should think of it, and the counsel was that he should not stir till he saw the Lord leading him and be contented to be where He will have him. But in this interim the case was clear and was brought to Northumberland. Some told him of Mr. S[hepard]82 but he thought things could not be so as reports went. Men might admire but it was not so. I was desired to go to hear him, going with a prejudicial opinion. The word had not yet efficacy upon him and teaching of the branch, John 1515 and Revelation 22:17—take water of life freely. After sermons were done some asked how I liked. I spoke very freely but next [9] day, I having conference with some, I wished them to take heed upon what grounds they believed what I [Shepard] taught. And my heart was against him [Shepard], so diverse people came to him [Sill] to hear the notes. So he read over the notes and reading them over to them, the Lord let him see there was more in them than I [Sill] apprehended. And so night in prayer, he was convinced of that sin in being set against him [Shepard] and from something that he [Shepard] taught next day and before he was put to a plunge and so to question what was formerly done. And sometime he could not what to say concerning his condition and desired others to keep them away. But it pleased God to help him, John 3 and from Romans 5:6 how far he might be enlightened, wounded, terrified that from those things he was much troubled. But he could not conclude all to be naught but blessed God he did hear those things. And by how much the more his heart was against him, by so much the more afterward was his heart knit to him [Shepard]. So for some of the promises that did stay me formerly and then; there was more than I can now remember or call to mind but sometimes come to me all that are weary.83 And at that time being troubled from Romans 5, then something a child of God went beyond a hypocrite and so in examining those things he found. And so to clear up himself in that estate of poverty of spirit so Romans 6—sin shall not gain dominion,84 and Ezekiel 36—I will take away the stony heart.85 Since this time I came hither. Upon my first coming I thought that then my heart was in a pretty frame. But being here some little time and some things coming in my way that troubled my mind for my place of settling, my heart began to be troubled and so lost that frame I had. And sometimes the world did [10] trouble me and take up my mind with some opposition. And striving against it, yet there was not that against it which I desired. Then upon an occasion at a lecture, Colossians 3—if risen seek things above,86 I saw the thing more fully and by this means I had some power against them. I have found much deadness and security and then the Lord out of John 13:4–5 that when a Christian is to reflect upon his own glory, he was made to look upon that it should not be so with one that professed. And so the Lord helped him out of that. So from Matthew 25 the Lord let me see the truth and provocations and how it comes. By degrees the Lord hath let him see something. Question. How came you to see your sin? Answer. Seeing myself only a bare hearer, I saw my vileness.

Joanna Sill

JOANNA SILL (died circa 1671) came to Cambridge with her husband, John, from Newcastle, Northumberland, about 1637. She joined the church about 1639. In 1653 she was made attorney for one of her old friends, Susan Blackiston, a widow, also of Newcastle, to recover debts owed to Blackiston by Anne Errington, a widow, Andrew Stevenson, a cobbler, John Trumble, a cooper, and Deacon Thomas Cheseholm, a tailor, which they had incurred while living at Newcastle. Joanna never remarried after her husband died. Instead, she maintained the family estate and received a land grant in 1652.

Joanna’s will was probated in October 1671, but her date of death and age are as unknown as her husband’s. Marriage dates for the two Sill children, born in England, are known, however. Elizabeth married in October 1652, her brother Joseph in December 1660. If we place her age about twenty and her brother’s about twenty-six, this would make them young children at the time the family emigrated and indicates a probability that their father was around thirty to thirty-five in 1637 and their mother some years younger.

See note for husband, John Sill.


It pleased the Lord to help him [sic] to attend upon the Lord and Mr. Hieron87 falling88 Dr. Jenison89 had this text Matthew 11—woe to these Chorazin and woe to the Capernaum90—and here was much troubled. And I was much troubled and then the Lord laid a sad affliction upon me where I saw all my sins in order and apprehended nothing but death and wrath. And diverse ministers came to apply [the] promise but she could apply none. Yet when almost ready to sink, from 139 Psalm seeing that the Lord knew her91 and that she could not fly from Him and here stayed. Then she heard Mr. Glover,92 Psalm 136. The Lord hath done great things for us and we rejoice and reproving them that came not affected with great things. And from 15 Jeremiah—thou hast forsaken me for I am weary of repenting93—and so she thought God would destroy her. And so she desiring to live under his ministry and so she did and every sermon and word ready to sink. And the Lord stayed her sometime by seeking them that were lost94 and not [11] to call righteous but sinners.95 Then she stayed yet in a doubting condition she was, he being gone, and she could not but be quiet but followed him and lived under his ministry four years. And though he applied promises, yet she could apply none till at pit’s brink nearly to sink. And from Zachariah 13:1 she saw she was unclean. Then coming to North[umberland] hearing from Matthew 25—Lord, Lord96—she saw there one maid[’s] need of Christ. Yet she could not apply Him and [had] many afflictions. She had never tripped out of way but inward terrors or miseries without, and then she saw sin she had committed. Oft troubled since she came hither, her heart went after the world and vanities and the Lord absented Himself from her so that she thought God had brought her hither on purpose to discover her. And though she did not neglect97 duties, yet she found no presence of God there as at other times. Then hearing out of Matthew 25—them that had false principles, she had no oil in her vessel.98 And she thought she was not so good as a hypocrite for she never came so far. And so God hid Himself and [she] fell into a sinking condition and could not lay hold on a promise nor call God Father. But Hosea 14:4 supported her in the fatherless find mercy99 and so she saw her nature how vile it. She knew many see this and that sin and then see not their nature. Then there saw her nature and so she was discouraged. And being desired to lay under the Lord, she thought it could not [12] stand with God’s honor to show mercy to one professor so long. And so seeing more and more of their vileness but hearing in a day of humiliation that if she sought the Lord with whole heart find. She found not that heart but resolved to try the Lord whether He would help. And then hearing Isaiah 28—he that believeth makes not haste100—she resolved not to hasten the Lord. Let Him do what He would with her, and that of Lamentations—why should a living man complain for his sin?101 She thought she was living but found it hard if the Lord should damn her and never show mercy yet to be content. But Lord in some measure subdued his [sic] cursed will to lie at feet of mercy. Let Him do what He would. Not long after having a day of fast the Lord helped her to seek Him. And the day after when at her calling she had much joy and consolation from Luke 1—blessed is he that believeth.102 But she could not believe indeed and she knew not where she was. Then she questioned whether it was true joy. But going some she saw not and hearing that a deluding spirit drew heart nearer to God and e contra. But after this, joy was gone, and then there were questions what her grounds were. And she could not believe, but she found a will that would not believe though she did pray that the Lord would. But hearing all that Father given shall come, John 6.103 So she thought I’ll go to the Lord but could not. Then thought [13] Lord if thou hast elected me. But in deep distress, Zachariah 12:10—they shall look and mourn—there she saw she could not believe in that blood which was shed for her. And hence considering God commanded her and condemned her for not believing. And this brought her to long for Christ. Then Revelation 22:17—let whoever will drink—there she thought she drank of that promise, so Isaiah 55:1 [and] Matthew 5—I blessed hunger104 and Canticles 1—because of savour of holiness of Christ the virgins love thee.105

Nathaniel Eaton

NATHANIEL EATON (circa 1609–1674), first head of Harvard College, took his early education in England; he studied at Westminster School, and in 1629 at Trinity College, Cambridge. He did not remain at Trinity long enough to earn his degree, and in 1632 he went to London to reside with his brother, Theophilus Eaton, afterwards the governor of New Haven colony. The next year he was in Franeker, Holland, studying under William Ames, a renowned Puritan minister, and there published a Latin pamphlet on Sabbatarian doctrines in 1633. Eaton returned to England and taught school at two different places before emigrating to New England in 1637. At Cambridge, he was admitted to the church, granted freemanship on 9 June 1638, and appointed head of Harvard. He was soon in trouble, however, turning out to be avaricious and cruel to his students. He punished his pupils with “between twenty and thirty stripes at a time” and embezzled college funds. Eaton, in 1639, went too far when he beat his usher, Nathaniel Briscoe, with “a walnut-tree plant big enough to have killed a horse and a yard in length” for “about the space of two hours.” The Boston court removed him from office, revoked his right to teach in the colony, and fined him.106 Eaton quickly fled to New Hampshire and then to Virginia, where he became assistant rector of Hungar’s parish, Northampton County. His wife and children were lost at sea the next year en route to Virginia. Eaton returned to England in 1646, took the degrees of Ph.D. and M.D. from the University of Padua in 1647, and became vicar of Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, in 1661, and rector of Biddeford, Devon, in 1668. He died, a prisoner for debt, in King’s Bench prison, Southwark, in 1674.

Born about 1609, he would have been some thirty years of age at the time of his convincing religious profession before the church at Cambridge.

Dictionary of National Biography, 6:337b–338b. Savage, 2:96.


My education was in a religious manner from a cradle that I was trained up to read Scripture. And frequenting means and in the appearance of some made a progress. But coming from under the wings of parents to Westminster and Cambridge, the hidden corruption of my own heart came to discover it (1) in open sins in Sabbath breaking and company keeping. Yet in all this time I was not left without a testimony within. My conscience was convinced that my ways were of death, which did etc. And the Lord did still hedge in my ways with thorns.107 But from sin to sin the Lord followed me with frowns from friends, but those could do nothing for me. But coming from University to London, I heard a sermon from Amos 4—prepare to meet thy God.108 The coherence of it was from 2nd verse—he would catch them by hooks, and God had smit them yet they returned not.109 And the issue was as I will do this unto thee. The Lord was come to this last warning, if not, the Lord would do this unto them. And God set on thus in a sad manner to apply the particulars to my condition and that now perhaps the Lord was come to the last warning. The word did not sit upon me much at first, yet always when I went to my company this chapter and verse was before my eye and I carried the Lord’s terrors. And at last when I could stand it out no longer, then I laid down my sin and set some days apart. And pressing the Lord for mercy yet I did not seek the Lord to answer me but I spoke words in the air and so I thought the time of visitation was past and that it was with me as with Esau.110 It was very sad to me for the present and cast down by it, but the temptation grew upon me why should I seek the Lord any more? And seeing I should have no portion but in this world, better not to take this than to lose the Lord also. And temptation so far strengthened as that I neglected all. Satan having found the house swept111 and I was worse, yet I never went on with peace in my sin. And Lord at last brought this place to my thoughts of Simon Magus, who though in gall of bitterness, yet he was advised if perhaps by praying Lord might forgive him [?].112 [15] The Lord blessed this unto me yet I became resolved to seek and wait on the Lord and to resolve to perish at hands of God. Then the Lord put it in the hearts of my friends to go beyond the sea to Mr. Ames.113 And there I might have used prayer and frequented means but I received no comfort nor did not meet with the Lord in any duty. But yet I went on in the duty till Dr. Ames expounded divinity that God must be the first and last in every service and that it was an idolatry for a man to exalt a man’s self above the Lord. And this made me see why my duties were empty because men performed out of love to the Lord. And this I could not because I could not see any evidence of the Lord’s love to me. Hence to neglect duties I durst not, and to do out of love I could not, and hence I begged the Lord would manifest something unto me that I might love Him else all my duties would not be sweet. And when I considered common mercy that I was alive and that many were in hell, and that there was Scripture on this side the pit; and (2) I saw I had not only time but I had a light to know how to use it. And there some work of God upon my spirit. It was not for nothing that God had spent so much pains upon me and this gave me glimmering hope that the Lord that had gone so far as that there might be more behind. And sure I was that the Lord had given me cause to see that I should love Him though I saw no more. Hence I went to prayer that the Lord would work my heart to a love to Himself. And I did find my heart not so come off so deadly as before. I could not see I did love the Lord as I should and I saw more unwillingly in me then to stand with love. I did not see my heart closing with the Lord, yet the Lord revealed more unto me the fineness of his love in Christ and that it could not stand with the Lord’s nature and glory to depend [on] His decree on anything I did. And hence I did think the Lord might reveal his love to me in time, and that by Christ. And hence the Lord did draw my heart to close with Christ. I saw an emptiness in myself, there was no grace nor peace there nor nothing in the creature. They were empty and hence I saw there was life revealed and bound up in Christ. And here I went to the Lord that since none could come to Christ, only the Father did draw him,114 and here I did seek he would draw my heart. And hereupon I found I did not live without Christ in the word in Sabbath and prayer especially if any open the door [16] I will come to him115 if any love me I and my father will love him and will manifest myself unto him.116 And hereupon I saw I was come to Him and that the promise did belong to me that I should be eased and that the Lord would dwell with me. And so I stayed upon the Lord and rested there. And then I went to England and the Lord betrusted me with the care of bringing up of children. I labored to keep a good conscience, though with danger, and to seek to keep my scholars in the observation of the Sabbath Day and so to leave the issue unto Him. And from this place I was called to another place, but the place was profane and but one sermon and people haters of the truth. Yet being encouraged by religious friends, thither I went but I found I lost much of God’s presence and the temptations were too strong for me. They invited me; I must do the like for them. And if I was familiar with any that were godly they would dissuade. And hence strung to them and this cost me many prayers and at last I saw if I would keep a good conscience I must leave it. So I was in many thoughts to leave the place but I left fall my thoughts against and so I began to settle. But when things were in this agitation they intimated to me their resolutions to come hither and they spent some time in reasoning about a common prayer book and church government. And before they had done I saw the truth and was persuaded to close with it and so I resolved to come along with them. And hence before I came I did manifest and witness against that place and their manners and proceedings. And afterward I saw what cause to be humbled for losing my first love117 and hence I questioned with me whether the Lord had not a controversy against me for losing my first love and closing with his enemies. And I lost my self-assurance and at last that of Samuel 12 came to him—the Lord would not cast off his people because he had chosen me to be his people.118 And since that time the Lord [17] hath cleared his love to me to give me greater experience of it. Only since I came hither, I have not found my heart to walk so closely with God as I should; and when my heart hath been ready to cast off all, the Lord hath awakened me and hath not suffered me to relapse but to rise again, etc., and persuaded me that the seeds cast upon me shall last unto eternal life.119

Christopher Cane

CHRISTOPHER CANE (died 1653) or Kene, husbandman, was in Cambridge as early as 1634. He and his wife, Margary, had five children, all of whom were baptized in the Cambridge church. Cane probably became a member of the church sometime in 1638, and Margary was in full communion prior to 1658. They lived first on Dunster Street in a house which Cane sold in 1638, and then on the southeast corner of Brighton and Winthrop streets. Cane’s grant of eighty acres at Shawshine in 1652 indicates a position of average means. Cane died in December 1653, and the inventory of his estate taken in March of the next year reveals a total worth of £90–08–08. It is possible that this represents an undervaluation because the house and barn listed as worth twenty pounds were bought in 1642 for twenty-four pounds. In any event, he must be counted as a common farmer, a man significantly removed in status from the community’s leadership. Margary survived her husband by thirty-five years and died in 1687, aged seventy. She did not remarry and received land grants in 1662 and 1665.

William T. Harris, Epitaphs from the Old Burying-Ground in Cambridge (Cambridge, 1845), 24. Town Book, 9, 98. NEHGR, 106:20 (1952). Church Records, 20. Middlesex County Wills no. 3916.


The minister120 showed God would work a new heart.121 I saw I was unable and then Mr. Wilson122 preaching of signs of them that love Christ and I found none of them. And hearing signs of God’s departing, I resolved to follow the Lord wherever I went; and hither I came where I grew secure. And hearing four sorts of hypocrisy laid down, I began to enquire where I was and then I thought God would not hear when we cried. Yet hearing people of God might be forsaken out of Psalms 119 but not finally. And hearing that if it was good to persist in use of means, that I resolved to do. And hearing that Christ foresaw all elects’ sins past and to come and that they were all charged on Him.123 Hearing this I thought unless this was for me I was undone. And hearing that of Ephraim bemoaning himself124 there revived.

Robert Daniel

ROBERT DANIEL (circa 1592–1655), a husbandman, made the voyage from England in 1631 and settled with his wife in Watertown but moved to Cambridge in 1636, purchasing a few years later a house with land and a garden. By his first wife, Elizabeth, who died in 1643, be had one girl born in 1642. He married Reanna, widow of William Andrew, a little over a year before his death, adding five stepchildren to his family. Daniel became a freeman on 14 March 1639, and was chosen as a surveyor and mender of highways in 1640, 1641, and 1647.

Daniel’s will provided a yearly income of two pounds for his widow and divided most of his property equally among his five children. An inventory of his estate taken after his death in July 1655 came to £359–19–11 or that of a substantial yeoman.

Savage, 2:9–10. Gozzaldi, 209. Town Book, 43. NEHGR, 91:309–310 (1937). NEHGR, 88:384–385 (1934). NEHGR, 30:457–458 (1876). Middlesex County Wills no. 5939.


The best and choicest of my time was spent in a civil course of life, friends and others restrained, not questioning my estate. But yet the Lord made me see my case to be miserable and so carried many years under a spirit of bondage and fear of God’s wrath.125 Yet when my soul was at lowest the Lord held forth some testimony of love, but yet I did depend upon Him without assurance. And after this I had some assurance for whenever I did delight in my pleasures after I felt I did not. And in former times it was from fear of punishment but now all my trouble is because I want a heart to honor God. And now the chiefest desire is that I may live to honor Him though I find myself barren and fruitless. This generally. Particular questions asked; thus he answered, (1) How did the Lord bring you out of that estate of security into a state of fear and spirit of bondage? Answer. I sinned against God after light. Others did not and hence I [was] the greatest of sinners. This was by attending to the word, so fearing the wrath of God. And hence I sought to God for mercy and resolution of heart against sin. I was convinced of sin against Sabbath yet that sin against resolution overcame it again and I found my will exceeding contrary to the will of God, though I have seen more of my own enmity than before. The wrath of God I apprehended to be the casting of soul from presence of God. (2) How hath the Lord brought you out of this estate unto the Lord Jesus? Answer. In this estate I saw how just it was for the Lord to destroy me yet the Lord brought me to rest and rely upon His mercy. Question. Did you find it hard to lie down and yield to mercy? Answer. By seeing the equity of it for my own vileness. Question. How did the Lord draw you to mercy? Answer. Seeing His love to me, 2. seeing the freeness of His mercy. He saw some likelihood in Christ which yet I would seek though I did perish. (3) Question. How came you to assurance? Answer. By feeling a qualification as mourning not only for wrath but because of my sins to sin against such a God. [20] (4) How have you walked with God and what effect have you found of mercy in this land? Answer. Faith hath been wrought more and Christ more revealed more savingly unto me. I fall short in that obedience that should be, which is my burden when I see how the Lord hath led me.

Nathaniel Sparrowhawk

NATHANIEL SPARROWHAWK or Sparhawk (1598–1647) came to Cambridge with his son and first wife, Mary, from Dedham, Essex, settling by 1636. They lived on Brighton Street but owned several other houses and considerable land in the area—at his death a thousand acres were sold from Nathaniel’s estate. He became a freeman on 23 May 1639 and in the same year was “permitted to draw wine and strong water for Cambridge.” For a time he was a deacon in the Cambridge church. Mary gave birth to five more children before she died in January 1644. He had two more children by his second wife, Katherine.

He died at Cambridge in June 1647. Because his second wife and a servant died within days of Nathaniel, one suspects a communicable disease. Mitchell notes that Sparrowhawk and both his wives were full members of the church. Nathaniel, Jr., was deacon and often selectman; his daughter married the Reverend Michael Wiggles worth.

NEHGR, 50:400–401 (1896). Gozzaldi, 689. Savage, 4:144. NEHGR, 8:175–176 (1853). Church Records, 4. Town Book, 72.


In my childhood his mother took much pain with him. The Lord inclined his heart toward Himself when he came to some understanding and then the Lord let me see my estate was such and not to be trusted unto. And seeing the people of God changed in another condition and the means appointed for that end hence in ordinary and extraordinary means he sought the Lord. And here he abode in his own strength, striving for a better condition, looking to means and the best means which was precious in many places; yet all could not help. Sometimes he had some warnings of heart and convictions under means as brought him to look to the Lord and His people with a loving heart, not only rich but poor also. And sometime it pleased the Lord to let in Himself in a gracious manner in the meditation of those things which Lord made known. That I could walk up and down the room rejoicing in Him and hitting those out of the window that were otherwise employed. Sometimes the Lord, especially in a fast day morning, refreshed my heart at Dedham and so God inclined my heart to close with the Lord most. But on the fast day morning, desiring to be alone and to bewail my condition and there entreating reconciliation, the Lord revealed Himself so as never before with abundance of the sweetness of Himself, which rejoicing made me to break out to weeping and hardly could I refrain from speaking to others to let them see what Lord had done. [22] But that day he found least of God and heart locked up most when he thought to find Lord nearest. And so the Lord after this made me see more and more my follies. Though my life had been ever fair yet I saw my natural disposition to other ways; and yet the Lord stood behind me with His voice saying—this is way, walk in it.126 Now coming to deal in the world and seeing others distrusting of God’s providence, he was full of carking cares till a servant of His spake to me to walk with God. And saying that the liberal man shall have plenty127 and that God was able to provide. And this counsel I took and the Lord helped me over it. But when the Lord cast in blessings in my calling, I let out my heart too eagerly after them when it should have been drawn nearer to Him, yet the Lord did not let me go on so but to attend on the means and to carry me in a course and form of worshipping Him. And the means I thought had been sufficient to work that which yet I see my soul aworking in. And thus I did lie long in this condition and sometime thought I was cast out of favor of God and yet the Lord made me plead with Him and to remember His covenant. And finding daily the fruit that prayer gave, I kept and held. [23] But the Lord let me see that I looked to men too much and that the old score was not crossed. And hence I had no rest but desired to come to New England to enjoy them in purity and helped me to be contented though in a prosperous way. Yet I thought the superstitions clouded God in ordinances and had thought to find power and thought to prize means here; but the Lord hath helped me to see my own heart reaching after things of this world. But the Lord hath let me see the insufficiency of means; and the Lord hath let me see I must look to the Lord Jesus in it and in all means. But the assurance of Lord’s love I have not found. In sad times of temptation I have had great support from what I have had in coming. Since I came hither I have sensed a spirit of enmity and looking after great things, but the Lord hath much abated them and lately hath let me see my enmity. When I saw others filled with spiritual good, my soul could not bear it but the Lord hath let me see it: Is thy eye evil because mine is good and may I not do with mine own as I list?128 And the Lord hath lately let me hear His voice in His hand in my family. I cannot remember many things which I cannot now express myself. [24] And the Lord brought to mind the story of withered hand129 that it was in His power, and I have entreated the Lord to help my unbelief and other things whereby I found my heart enlarged.

Mary Angier

MARY ANGIER (died 1644), wife of Nathaniel Sparrowhawk or Sparhawk, lived at Dedham, Essex, with her husband and child before coming to Cambridge prior to 1636. She was sister of Edmund Angier, another representative of the local gentry who had emigrated from Dedham. They lived on Brighton Street, where she had five more children before her death in January 1644. Mary probably joined the church at the same time her husband did or, at least, in the same year of 1639.

See note for husband, Nathaniel Sparhawk, page 62.


She had parents that kept her from gross sins, yet living under a powerful ministry of Mr. Rogers130 of Dedham she was convinced that her estate was miserable. Yet these convictions did often wear off. And when God changed her estate, she went to a place of more ignorance and so rested more quietly, yet under powerful means had often stirrings. But finding no good she thought better sit still than go. Yet considering that it was the means appointed to go, she went. And hearing of New England, she thought if any good here it was. But when her husband was resolved to come, she feared if God should not help all would rise to greater condemnation. Yet one she spoke to of this said though sure to go to hell yet go under means. And I thought there I should be kept from many sins and even to betray people of God but thought this temptation would not be if here. Yet unwilling to come from this fear of no blessing, yet thinking that her children might get good it would be worth my journey. And Mr. Wilson131 in praying said it—maybe the Lord thou dost deny to do good to till come thither—and this gave her more cheerfulness of spirit. [26] And so she came to the ship thinking to get good. But there she found her heart more hard and sensible; but hoped to be better here than worse than ever before. Every sermon made her worse and sat like a block under all means and thought God had left her to a hard heart and that her fears were come upon her. Hence I thought if we were there where I proposed to abide, then I might find and hence I could not desire to be here. But hence continuing under means the Lord made me more and more sensible of my condition and so my condition very sad. Yet she durst not neglect any public means and thought that the Lord might speak something now, yet saw herself far from humiliation and thought it was a shame to discover her condition, but hearing better to begin twice than to go to hell once. And so she thought that none would think bad enough of her but she could not speak to anybody and thought also that they would not be plain with her. And sometime keeping her condition close, though sometime sinking, the Lord carried to [27] Roxbury. And hearing of fears if they carried to Lord they were good etc. And speaking of them that kept their conditions that some were in hell lamenting it, hereupon she resolved to make her condition known. But speaking with one which did encourage her which was odious to her she continued under means and grew worse and worse and so thought it was in vain to use any more means and began to neglect Lord in private. Yet one of our neighbors speaking of her condition, coming to her and wishing her to leave the Lord to His own ways, telling her that it may be the Lord would let her see her blindness and hardness and God that way work and that she was God’s clay.132 And asking if she sought God in private, she confessed no for some weeks. And then she set upon it again but continued worse and worse; but hearing sermon of the woman that had the bloody issue,133 saw it was her condition and worse and that she had a heart to seek after Christ, she had none. And she saw she had no faith at all and there were many encouragements to such though all means made them worse. And the Lord did incline her heart hereby to seek help in Him and had some encouragement from that sermon and so sought the Lord. [28]

And so had encouragements from other Scripture, Hosea, as He that had brought her to a wilderness would speak comfortably134 and that the Lord would have mercy on them that had no mercy.135 By which I pleaded with God. And that of Isaiah—I will gather others beside them that be gathered136—and hence Lord might help me. But in this furthering the Lord showed her sin more and more; but hearing what an enmity there was in the will against God, she saw it so clearly from Matthew 23, you would not.137 There she saw that and this did lie sad upon her and thought did I think I could take Christ on any terms. And yet had a will to resist Him. And being in that sermon exhorted to go to Him, to plead with God to subdue her will, which she did, yet saw her rebellion still exceedingly. Sometime after these first thoughts in a morning could I eat and drink and sleep and no part in Christ? Yet sometime after what she heard came to mind, Lord is more merciful than I to myself and the Lord stayed my heart by that. Sometime after she went on in this condition and in as bad a condition as ever, and some Scriptures brought me in to submit to the Lord. [29] Being hard to submit to the condemning will of God, Isaiah 30—the Egyptians help in vain but thy strength is to sit still.138 I saw I had nothing by quarreling but by being contented and that she was the clay and Lord her potter.139 And so Lord calmed her heart and so in same chapter—in returning and rest shall be your rest.140 By leaving her soul with the Lord, let Him do what He will, and thus the Lord gave her a contentedness of spirit and she saw more sin she never saw. Yet something that did support her, Isaiah 44—thou hast made Me weary with thy sins yet I will blot out thy sins.141 And hence I pleaded with the Lord for His Name’s sake and so look unto Me and be saved all ends of earth.142 And she thought she was one of them all and seeing her insufficiency to look she entreated Him that commanded her to look, would enable her and that the Lord would lead the blind in a way they went not in;143 and the stout hearted ones to hearken to Him.144 She hence wondered at God that He should speak thus to such a one. And after this a question made whether she had closed with person of Christ, yet she saw if she had not, yet she saw the fault was in her. And then that place fury is not in me, let Him take hold of my strength,145 and she saw that strength was Christ. And she [saw] there was but two ways either to stand out or take hold, and saw the promise and her [30] own insufficiency so to do. And that other Scripture He had laid salvation on Christ146 and she thought now she closed. And hearing how know whether united to Christ and mentioning a Scripture, was asked whether she had assurance. She said no but some hope. Yet hearing other Scriptures—in thee the fatherless find mercy147—and so many as received him.148 And hence feared her estate again, hearing nothing for or against her condition and hence resolved to look out those Scriptures where person of Christ was set forth as first of John, full of grace and truth.149 And she saw her own emptiness and Christ’s fullness. And such a suitableness between Christ and me and Chapter 7—if any thirst let him come to Me and drink.150 And hearing the Lord called to any, she thought she was one of those any and seeing nothing would satisfy her but the Lord, and nothing in heaven or earth she desired nothing like Him. She thought the Lord called her to Himself.

Mr. Sanders

THIS CONFESSION may have been given by Robert Sanders (died circa 1683), who lived in Cambridge on the southeast corner of Mount Auburn and Dunster streets and eventually held considerable acreage in the Cambridge area. He became a freeman on 23 May 1639, and in the fall the town appointed him with two others to survey lands and “to meet every second Monday in every month to enter the several grants and allienations of lands according to order in that case provided.” In 1645 he was in partnership with Hezekiah Usher, the first bookseller in the English colonies. There is, however, no evidence in the town book or elsewhere to indicate that he rated the title of “Mr.” at the time of his confession.

Perhaps the confession was related by Daniel Sanders or Saunders, who refuses to emerge from the shadows. Savage’s genealogy claims he died in February 1640. Nevertheless, he owned a residence in Cambridge in 1642 and is last noted in the town book in 1645. While he might have rated the title of gentleman, his age, origins, or any other information remain unknown.

Savage, 4:20. Gozzaldi, 661. Town Book, 67. For Robert Saunders see Savage, 4:22.


It pleased the Lord when I was tender to give me some liking of religion and countenance others that were so, being religiously brought up. And so was by my father put to prentice where I had liberty to hear but had many bad examples and so thought the Lord made me by want of former means to prize what I lost. And the Lord exercising me with weaknesses, I saw the Lord’s end was to wean me from the world. And so I resolved to walk in a Christian course, but did it in my own strength and so I was by Satan put out of my bias and found Lord forsaking of me, thinking while I walked with God He would with me. And after found many sins and I prayed to the Lord to subdue them and He set my soul at liberty. And after this I grew careless and watchless and there came sickness, as I thought to death. Then I thought what was in me and examined my heart of what evidence I had. Thus I was when I was young. But particularly the Lord convinced me of the profanation of the Lord’s Day and also love to the world. Hearing that place opened—love not the world151—and so I saw my evil heart and evil of sin and so a need of Christ to take Him both to take away the filth and guilt of sin and to make me more holy. And much ado I had to live by faith, but hearing those Scriptures—look to me all ends of the earth;152 and whoever will let him drink of the water of life freely;153 [32] and so come to Me you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest;154 and so blessed are the poor in spirit155 where I saw my emptiness and fullness in Christ to depend on Him. And so by this we know we are translated etc.156 And I thought I loved them only for the image of God in them, and the Lord hath let me find in the course of my life some power of mortification and sanctification. Since I came here I have seen more of the corruption and deceits of my own heart and hath given some strength against it and to rely on Christ to continue it and to help me to walk with Him. And [I] have seen all fullness in Christ to supply spiritual needs and necessities.

John Stedman

JOHN STEDMAN (1601–1693) is one of those men who rose from “rags to riches.” He and his wife, Alice, arrived in Cambridge in 1638, at which time John was steward to the Reverend and Mrs. Jose Glover. However, the Reverend Mr. Glover died on the voyage, in his will calling Stedman “my ancient, faithful servant” and leaving him “the sum of fifty pounds.” On 13 May 1640 Stedman became a freeman and, thereafter, repeatedly served the town in various capacities. He frequently surveyed highways, supervised the distribution of land, collected fines, arbitrated local disputes, superintended bridge construction, and helped with the catechism of children. The town elected him constable twice, selectman sixteen times between 1640 and 1676, and the treasurer of the county continuously from 1658 to 1683. He also served in the militia: the General Court recorded in 1648 that “John Stedman, having been ensign of the company at Cambridge about six years, is freed from serving as a common soldier there.” Later he was in Captain Davis’s troop, as cornet, in the 1654 expedition against Ninigret; and he may be the John who sat in 1677, as quartermaster, on the Committee of the Militia for Cambridge. He and Alice resided on the northeast corner of Mount Auburn Street and Brattle Square, where they also ran a store for many years. In addition, John gained a monopoly on the fur trade for Cambridge and owned a considerable amount of land in the area. His share in the division of land at Shawshine field in 1652 came to an appreciable three hundred acres.

At his death in 1693, Stedman left an estate of £711–10–00 in addition to the £23–15–00 expended for what must have been a suitably elaborate funeral. Inventory of his estate indicates a six-room house containing such amenities as a couch and a clock. When he died, John Stedman was in his ninety-third year, which would place his birth about 1601. He was, then, about thirty-seven when Shepard recorded his profession of faith. His wife, Alice, was born about 1610, making her some twenty-eight years old at the time of her confession. She bore John Stedman three children and died shortly before her husband in 1690. Jonathan Mitchell’s church list finds the entire Stedman family in full communion.

Savage, 4:178. Gozzaldi, 703. Town Book, 43, 98. Church Records, 6. Middlesex County Wills no. 21358.


It pleased God about fifteen years since to move my heart to hearken to God. And the first thing that convinced my conscience was a funeral sermon of my uncle’s which showed me out of 2 Thessalonians 1—flaming fire157—showing the woeful estate of men. It brought me to consider of former courses and sadness of spirit for former courses. Another time hearing that place 1 Thessalonians 5—be not drunk with wine.158 Where he showed the greatness of the sin of drunkenness, and being found guilty of that fearful sin, I was much affected with the sermon. And when it was done, it appeared in my countenance to my vain and idle companions who, asking me what ailed me, I said there was cause enough to see them walk so idly after such means. And so I labored to pray and hence got a book, but I entreated the Lord to help me to pray and so was cast off gross sin and was affected with hardness of heart. And hearing 1 Peter 5—God resists the proud159—and here I saw a great worth in humility and saw more of vileness of my hard unsubdued heart. And so seeking to the Lord and I went to others to help me against a hard heart. And they told me if I was obedient to the Lord it was enough. And that I found and so I was admitted to private societies of saints where I found much sweetness. [34] And so I sought for pardon of sin and hearing Galatians 2:19 from Mr. Langly160—where Christ was, sin was subdued. And so I saw the Lord had pardoned by those signs. After this I came to have many fears and doubts about my estate and condition and I heard that God did let after faith Satan loose to try men by.161 And so I followed the Lord and found communion with God and His people so sweet that I resolved against ill company and hence [was] hated. And after this I saw that sad sin of unbelief and hence entreated Lord to humble me for it and persuade my heart of Lord’s love. After I was troubled for want of growth that saints are like willows and palm trees162 and hence feared I wanted grace. But I felt my heart longing after grace and want that grace and that was poverty yet, and this supported. After this I questioned my estate and came to New England and hearing Mr. C[otton]163 speaking how far a man might go under a covenant of works.164 And so had great fears that was my condition and not sleeping quietly that I had received Christ nor could find no sense of my need of Christ. And after many weeks I came by providence to this place and heard 2 Corinthians 5:20 treating about justification and calling. God spoke to me as if I had told Him and so found my hardness of heart subdued in some measure. And since [I] have been carried through many fears and doubts.

Jane Holmes

JANE HOLMES (died 1653) lived in England before coming to Cambridge in the 1630’s. She soon married Robert Holmes, and they resided on Brattle Street. Jane bore the first of their nine children in 1638. At this time, the same period in which she made her church confession, she was probably slightly under twenty-five years of age. She died in 1653, quite possibly as the result of the birth of her ninth child.

Savage, 2:453. Church Records, 7. Paige, 588. Town Book, 84, 97, 121, 139. Middlesex County Wills no. 11766.

[35]   [14.] GOODWIFE HOLMES

It pleased the Lord to take my mother and give a mother-in-law165 who had many children which was an affliction to me. And [I] thought it good to make use of it. Hence began to read the word and began to think it good to follow the Lord. And I would do what I could to walk in His way because they that did should be happy and others damned. So I thought I could not live holily in father’s house and hence thought to live in a minister’s house better. So went to vicar of town, an opposer of the truth, yet I thought he did not live holily enough, [he was] an Arminian, one that taught free will and opposing openly Puritans. I thought the word taught us to be pure and he was not. Yet I thought my condition happy, praying morning and evening and not doubting and though Puritans spoke against, yet I took their parts and to enquire after that way. And so they told my father. One told me of a new birth and she spake of her misery and what a life we lived when at school; and she charging others in her letter to hear but one and not the vicar, and she did write of necessity of new birth and that all righteousness out of Christ was nothing. And so I thought I would enquire after that way but Lord followed me but with sore afflictions.

[36] And God denied me comforts I sought for after. And I resolved to go to hear a sermon, and my heart was so endeared to that man to live with him and so desired my father to live there and resolved to come away whatever came of me. But other minister said ministers were turned into an angel of light and so I thought of them. And so I came away to my father’s who entertained me yet content to go to service to anywhere I might live under that ministry. And I wondered at God to carry me to such a house where ministers met and there—I that found no rebellion—now I found my heart rebel against the Lord and every word and so wounded out of belief, which melted my heart and thought though to hell yet mercy to acquaint with misery. Yet my heart cross to command as I rebelled and I sought the Lord and could not rest and thought it impossible to have mercy for me that so rebelled against light. And hence Satan set against me that I durst not go to prayer and I found I was not humbled, yet feared night and day to hell because not humbled. Yet sought the Lord not to cast me down with false fears nor lift me up with vain hopes. And hearing in ministry those that were in love with brethren and trying it if they loved a poor saint as well as a rich saint, some support. And though some support, yet hearing of some much humbled, then I feared. And when I heard a threatening I could embrace that and promise durst not. [37] And so thought I saw the damned in hell, and being very sad. God brought in a servant of His that held forth a promise but could not lay hold on it. And coming to house of God again and hearing thou thinkest there is no grace because no love to the brethren etc. but thou art like one in a consumption if neglect means at first past remedy then return betimes. And so I resolved to follow the Lord for the same graces again and did find love to saints and had little support. Yet hearing a sermon that feeling follows faith of saints and I labored to feel it and Lord making way for New England I thought I should find feelings. And coming to London hearing that Paul when before for himself now what wilt have me do,166 I thought I could do so and leave all. Now coming to the sea coast by providence in that ship where that wretch was, and he expounding in ship and hearing he did not teach true doctrine hence I resolved not to hear him and wished others not to hear. But he said he held nothing but what Mr. Cotton167 held. Yet he began to insinuate himself into my company and said of all others he could not get our companies and hence I thought why should I judge. And then I heard him, but woefully neglected God before and I was taken with joy with his delusions that I knew not how to renounce it. Yet looking on former evidences and considering if I was driven from [38] sanctification, I knew not what to do. Yet he told me Lord would come with a first. Yet reading Psalms, which comforted me, I thought I would not deny those truths. Yet when I came to hear him I thought what he said true, in private e contra. And then when I thought of other Christians, that this was their way, he told me they were no better than Paul before his conversion. But I thought them more holy than he. He said he was as sore against them as I, but he was forced to it, so with me. For he said he was suffered to fall into a foul sin and he was tempted to lie with another wife and fled to another place to free[?] but at last got his desire. And she thought she was damned but being that place in me is fruit found,168 and so quiet. So himself was Lord’s and no sin could separate. And he heard another’s confession that she never came to be driven from her own righteousness but by a gross act so God would do so to me. I asked if he was ever taken from her but he said no but could enjoy her three or four times a day. And I laid open diverse places bad women le[w]d with lusts169 but he said it was his bitterness. But I said he would leave it yet he said he knew whom he had believed170 [39] and how it was betwixt God and him and take heed how He judged him. So I thought shall I leave this way for him? So I would seek, yet he by insinuation got within me and I would not leave him which I speak it to horror of that which it left me. I had been the vilest wretch. So some friends coming to me when I came hither, I desired to be at Boston and I desired to know right way and I told them. I did find my heart drawing after that way yet they entreated me to refrain his company. And so being at Roxbury, Mr. Wells171 being on that text—return you backsliding children.172 No sooner text named but I thought I was a backsliding wretch and so, my condition being discovered, I went and told him my condition and to cleave spirit water blood whether spirit was first. He said that water was before blood173 and so I acquainted him with my ship entanglements yet by him I was encouraged to go to the Lord and considered once how precious God and His ordinances once were to me. Yet troubled so I followed God in days of humiliation yet long I could not get my heart in any good frame. But my heart at last was struck with admiration at God’s mercy to deliver one from such a wretch and errors. And when I saw others afflicted with pox I thought I wished I were so, if not left to errors. And so my heart was saddened to the Lord, and thought it [40] mercy if I might find least glimpse of favor at last. And seeking the Lord, to submit in anything to His will that if never show mercy yet I might submit and not blaspheme. And thus following the Lord, the Lord in His ordinances gave me some support. Yet I fearing I was a hypocrite and that appeared the more because I was ready to take comfort. So going to hear Mr. Wells—thou art Lord Our God—and showed a false reliance and true that nothing could content soul that truly relied but the Lord. And that I found, and they had tokens as Tamar’s ring174 and will not the Lord own those tokens and are these nothing? So I. And finding a rebellious heart, by many trials I found Lord in me and I found Lord. I loved Him and I found that my grief was that sin parted between me and God. And on Sabbath Day morning i Mark—I will be thou clean Lord if wilt175—and in prayer I found Lord persuaded my heart of His love. And was endeared to Lord and thought if it might ever be thus yet since fears, seeing greatness of the sin I am turned from.

Edward Collins

EDWARD COLLINS (circa 1603–1689), born in Bramford, County Suffolk, lived in several English towns—among them Wethersfield, London, and Dedham—before coming to Cambridge with his wife, Martha, and four children in the 1630’s. Collins’s father had been a Salter in London, where his brother Daniel was also a merchant. He became a freeman on 13 May 1640, and the following year the town elected him to be one of their constables. While serving as constable, the General Court appointed him the “Clerk of the Writs” for Cambridge, authorizing him to “grant summons and attachments in all civil actions.” He subsequently served as a representative or deputy to the General Court from 1654 to 1670. Collins was a deacon in the Cambridge church by 1638 and was later to be one of the executors of Shepard’s will. Still holding the position of deacon in 1658, Collins was eminently qualified to accept his appointment, in 1670, to catechize a portion of the Cambridge children. He and his family lived on Holyoke Street and owned a substantial amount of land; the townsmen in April of 1649 granted Collins “in lieu of his small farm within the town bounds, with some addition in respect of his place in the deacon’s office,” five hundred acres of land in the Shawshine region of Cambridge, this in addition to other acreage and the large plantation of Governor Cradock which he bought at a later date.

Paige, 512. Church Records, 3. Banks, 48. NEHGR, 89:77–79, 148–149 (1935); 100:218 (1946). Town Book, 75. Savage, 1:434. Middlesex County Wills no. 4831.


The Lord gave me that privilege to be brought up of godly parents. Hence I received some restraint from them who, seeing an evil nature in me, were more careful to restrain me. Next to this He gave me a ministry, where I was capable of God, where my father lived and died. And somewhat God did by his catechizing dropped somewhat unto me about fundamentals. But God taking away my father, I was cast into a gentleman’s house, a profane house, where I contracted much guilt to my soul as undoing what I had had before. Yet such was God’s care to remove me from thence more speedily than was expected. And my mother going to Wethersfield, and they there hearing of the ill family where I was, I was removed from thence under old Mr. Rogers176 of Wethersfield, where I stayed a year and got some good. After this, my friends put me prentice to a godly family, where by their care I met with restraint from youthful vanities. And during that time I held forth a profession of religion for sinister ends and I did increase in some external gifts and God gave me my ends, repute in the family, whereby I had many advantages. When I was at liberty at my own disposing, I began to think of my carriage, aims and ends and I saw I had done all out of base ends and so had no peace upon good grounds. Hence I looked after further means and helps and so attended on the means in the city. And some more knowledge and gifts I got which added to former peace; but I rested not here but searched after more searching means. And so hearing by letters that there was a lecture in Colne, hence I visited my friends and so hearing doctrine of man’s misery, the Lord discovered myself more and more than before which I desired to see and hear. And he from Luke 12, seek this righteousness,177 which God set upon my soul and to strike a terror and amazement on myself of my own estate. [42] And by a private meeting of private conference I heard diverse questions propounded and answered. And question being made when a man rested in duties, I was convinced I was the man. And the grace I saw in Christians did ashame me before the Lord, that Christians so young should manifest so much, I having had means so long. Hence I endeavored to get into private Christian meetings at London and after, by other notes, I saw I was never all off the old stock. So I prayed to see the evil sin and saw it and entreated the Lord to discover the remedy Christ. And I saw no way but to take Christ upon His own terms, for I saw I had taken Christ but not upon His own terms but had love to some secret lust. And here I found a difficult work how to take Him and so live to Him. And I thought if Christ was to be had upon no other terms but to part with every lust, then I thought I should never have Him it was so hard. And so came to my own place, where though an orthodox minister, yet by going to Dedham and Mr. Greenhill178 and others and there God carried on His work by Himself and wrought peace. And there I took notice of covenant that it was free and saw promises made to such dispositions to lost to meek and hungry and thirsty179 and to such as were confessors and forsakers of sin and hence I thought Jesus Christ was mine. And so stayed my heart and in searching my heart, seeing sin die and growing in grace and I thought God would carry on His own work. And all this time I saw how God would be worshipped, I could not find God’s presence in ordinances, being full of mixtures. Hence I sought Lord to bring me to enjoy those liberties because I had some little light as not to join in those ordinances. And so the Lord in His time, though not in mine, to make way for. And since the Lord hath brought me hither, several providences: at the first coming seeing the great change from this and that place did much transport my heart. [43] Yet after this his frame was quickly lost by distractions and thoughts and cares which deadened my spirits which God seasonably took care to cure by a heavy hand of God. And then I saw and was convinced of unthankfulness and discontent and so by a servant of His I was brought upon my knees. And I blessed God that He would not let me lie still but to show me my unthankfulness. And so at last I came to see need of all God’s ordinances, watchfulness that I might answer the end for which He sent me. And I saw His hand to bring me to the same ministry that first Lord did me good by and to beget me to Himself.

John Stansby

JOHN STANSBY (dates unknown) does not even appear in most standard works on New England genealogy. He left England, judging its religious “ordinances polluted,” in the spring of 1636. The only extant record of his having lived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony is his inclusion in Shepard’s book of religious experiences and the fact that he owned land in “the Neck” in 1638. While we still know little of his life in New England and what became of him, he can be identified as the nephew of Robert Stansby, rector of Westthorpe, Suffolk. His uncle sent John to New England carrying a letter to his old friend John Winthrop. Robert Stansby’s missive, dated 17 March 1636, cites the bearer as his eldest brother’s second son and tells something of him. Robert Stansby (a man given to ease of church membership if we are to believe his 1637 letter to John Wilson) was cautious about identifying his nephew as a visible saint as follows: “I hope the Lord have wrought in hym a great change; outwardly yt seameth so, tyme (especially in New England) will tell us more. Oh how joyful shall I be to hear yt to be in truth.” He joined the Cambridge church sometime before 1641. In England, John farmed and—just before coming to New England—worked as a clothier. He probably pursued both occupations at Cambridge.

Gozzaldi, 696. Alumni Cantabrigiensis, eds. John Venn and J. A. Venn, 10 vols. (Cambridge, 1922), 4:149. Robert Stansby to John Winthrop, 17 March 1636, 8–9, and Robert Stansby to John Wilson, 17 April 1637, 10–11, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, 4th series, 7:8–9, 10–11 (1865).


Tis a mercy I have long begged and waited for and then[?] I bless God for this. I know I came in the world a child of hell and if ever any a child of devil, I. I had a father that brought me up to eleven years. He gone as I grew in years, I sought a match for my lust; and herein I have been like the devil not only to hell myself but enticing and haling others to sin, rejoicing when I could make others drink and sin. And for ought I know others in hell for them and the Lord might have given me my portion but when I lay in my blood,180 love came to me in Cambridge. And hearing that no adulterers, drinkers should enter into the Kingdom of God181 and so I knew my condition naught yet my heart was so naught that I would have my haunts. Yet I have been greatly affected in ordinances and I have had many resolutions then in my base rotten heart. And spirit many a time would have come into my heart and proffering blood and mercy. Yet I would have my lusts and haunts that I would have them dearer than God and Christ and mercy and heaven. And just it had been with God to give me up. But the Lord let me not alone but followed Lord in use of means and there I saw my hellish, devilish nature opposite to God and goodness, between light and darkness. And I saw how I lay at the brink of hell and, had not the Lord supported me, I had sunk. And here I found [45] mercy of the Lord breaking my heart. And here I saw how the evil of sin how it separated me and God, greatest God, and that nothing provoked the Lord nor grieved Him more than sin. And I saw as soon as ever I committed sin I was condemned, and that if pardoned it must cost the heart blood of Christ, and that I did as much as in me lie to drag Christ to the cross. And hereby, by seeing my vileness, I was drawn to hunger and thirst after Christ and made me feel my need of Christ. And hearing those promises—come to Me ye that be weary182—though I knew not whether Christ died for me yet I saw myself laden and hence begged of the Lord that I might run after Him. And in this promise I found the Lord let in a sight of His beauty and glory and excellency,183 and hereupon I went with boldness to throne of grace184 and was an earnest suitor for pardon and power from Christ. And I found Christ’s death destroying sin and, though to hell, yet I feared to sin because to grieve the Lord. And hence I have an evidence my nature is changed because when my sin ariseth I go to the fount opened.185 And hence, though sin be in me, yet I find the growing nature of it cut off. And in old England, seeing ordinances polluted, my soul desired to be there where Christ is feeding of His flock in this place. But saw many stumbling blocks yet prized, yet since I came hither my heart hath been straightened for God. I have been under vines and fig trees186 but Lord has been as a stranger to my soul. [46] And I have forsaken the Lord. And of all sins in the world, I thought my heart would never run after the world. Yet sin growing in season, I found my heart set upon the pinnacle showing me glory of this and that.187 And not seeing that I could have here in death’s place but I could not tell how to go away from hence. God shot arrows in my heart,188 for though I found the word greatly working upon my heart Lord’s Day and week day, yet other days my heart was carried after the creature. I answered I am alone but temptation said—you may. I could not go from hence for then I must go with God’s arrows in my heart. And temptation said if stayed from friends then provided for, but here you must sit down. And hence I found temptation by degrees eat sup and savour of goodness out of my heart that ordinances came to be hell to me. And hence I found in hearing word I thought two hours too long and wished myself not in a meeting house. Hence my heart hath been shut up that I could not pray at all. But finding a heart for God and devil I found the Lord gone and could not tell cause till heard out of Matthew 25—full of self. And hence the Lord let me see I sought myself and so I have seen hellish frame of my heart. [47] When the Lord has been gone, then I found no life but dead and sluggish and found Lord as a wayfaring man and chariot’s wheels off.189 And hence faintings, droppings and unbelief and thought I did well to cast away faith. But if Lord let in some beams of Himself, how ready my heart was to rest upon heartbreakings and to be puffed up with them. Though I have nothing to be proud, many devilish ends. I think I have been as devilish a hypocrite as ever lived. Yet Lord hath brought me to judge myself and loathe myself and to wonder at the boundless mercy of the Lord at His feet. And Revelation 3—because poor190—hath much supported. And when I could not go to Christ yet to gaze for Him and hence have gone to Christ for evidence.

Barbary Cutter

BARBARY CUTTER (circa 1622–circa 1707) or Barbara Cutter came to New England with her father, William Cutter, her mother, Elizabeth, and her brother, Richard, from Newcastle, Northumberland. Her confession of faith was made before her marriage to Elijah Corlet, who arrived in 1641 to become Latin schoolmaster in Cambridge, until his death in 1687. Corlet, a gentleman by profession, whom the inimitable Cotton Mather celebrated as “that memorable old schoolmaster in Cambridge, from whose education our college and country has received so many of its worthy men,” never prospered extraordinarily. The town never laid out large sums for his pay although he was granted one hundred acres at Shawshine in 1652. They lived on Dunster Street, where Barbara raised three children, all baptized at the Cambridge church, and cared for her husband and mother—the latter living with them some twenty years. Barbara survived her husband by many years, dying in 1707 or shortly thereafter.

Paige, 518. Church Records, 5. Savage, 1:458, 496. Town Book, 77, 97, 106, 138. Gozzaldi, 172.


The Lord let me see my condition by nature out of 16 of Ezekiel and by seeing the holiness of the carriage of others about, her friends, and the more she looked on them the more she thought ill of herself. She embraced the motion to New England. Though she went through with many miseries and stumbling blocks at last removed and sad passages by sea. And after I came hither I saw my condition more miserable than ever. [I] knew not what to do, and spoke to none as knowing none like me, yet hearing 2 Corinthians 5:19—the Lord was in Christ. And there hearing what need there was of coming to Christ and what need it stood of Christ and that need of Him to take away iniquity of holy things and to wash robes.191 Thereby I saw my vileness. Hence being desirous to seek Lord saw vileness, hence discouraged but heard again that soul was not farther off when stripped of excellencies and that when soul comes for reconciliation must see nothing but: (1) condemned for best desires, (2) to look on Christ on pole, (3) soul should not find a reason why Lord should pity it for if so God would unbottom. But hence to hang on good pleasure of will which God made precious to me if He would pity me and honor Himself in me. And hearing preciousness of Lord’s will and seeing my own will, those [were] dear. And hearing the excellency of person of Christ in five particulars Lord much affected her heart with it as first was: it was full of beauty and glory, 1 John—full of grace,192 (2) that grace was poured out on His lips, Psalms.193 (3) His heart was full of love and pity,194 (4) mind full of wisdom.195 God broke her heart at those things. And hearing price was paid, redemption finished, God [the] Father satisfied 2. more particularly, for ought knew for vilest. Then God and Christ did tender themselves and hearing what a sin it was to sin against Gospel against remedy and that it stirred up a twofold anger in God if [the soul had] not accepted the Lord by that time. Lord inclined my heart to some secret strife and question in secret whether I would go on and anger Lord or no. And hearing Lord would supply wants,196 cleaved to Him, then questioned whether grace or no. And hearing manner of every saint’s washing John 13197 and by certain notes I found that the saints sometimes took Satan’s part if found affection and at other times not. [49] And hearing because it felt not what it would, denied what it had yet discouraged. Yet hearing sin of unbelief to bring heart to strait, either to receive or reject Him, and so heard as Balaam then stopped in a strait198 so found sweetness. But I lost that which I found in the Lord. Sweetness lost and on a sacrament day John 21 some affection—Lord bear to Christ to all.199 And hearing elder brother and what respect he bear his, I sought nothing yet to end giving two notes: (1) when a soul had seen Lord falls and went running to Lord; (2) it looked on promises and begging and saying as many be it to the[e] as will. Hence had some hopes again. And hearing John 13—now I tell before come200—and hearing when Satan did most assault, Christ preferred it. And being then under some temptation which I knew not what to do and speaking not of them but sunk. But when I heard doctrine, it gave me some hopes. And being laid down in some particulars as (1) in removing stumbling blocks [(2)] as a cover head in day of battle.201 And hearing where earth could not go to rain,202 it opened to receive it and that there was faith when saw nothing but vileness. And could say nothing but—Lord I am vile. And cleaving God’s justice and hearing there was faith, I had some support under some trials then on my spirit. And then hearing Matthew 25, Christ would come as a glorious bridegroom to church203 and hearing thought at these: (1) because not their will, because (2) tarried so long, (3) because not love, there was my objection answered; Q[uestion]. And there know Lord means me, yet though their name not in the promise, yet in meaning of it and more sure than if named there because Lord by His Spirit would boote204 to soul. And hearing four cautions in laying hold: (1) not to go to Lord in own strength, (2) look not at own wants but look at Lord gave Himself to cleanse not because they are clean. Lord then stayed her heart, yet lost that. And Mr. Eaton205 showing what a sin of unbelief, that mercy and justice, was questioned. Hence I had it set on sadly on my soul and so had some resolution to speak of what Lord had done. And hearing at Roxbury that many went on and smother their doubts, hence the Lord broke snare206 and so I discovered my estate to some. And so they spake to me as that it [50] was a mercy. Lord let me see my unbelief and where never such unbelief. I was recovered 1st Sabbath, Mark ult.—tell my disciples and Peter.207 Why Peter? Because Peter’s faith was more weak than others. Hence Lord meant him hearing hence Lord pitied them and so was stayed. And so wished to beware of sin and so hearing saints apt to cast away faith was want of feelings and providences crossing promises and seeing reminder of corruption and so spiritual agonies and false fears. I saw and was convinced of my sin especially the last out of 35 Isaiah—say to them that be fearful be strong your God comes.208 God set in it and overpowered my heart at that time. And hearing soul should come to Lord in the promise and stay and wait and lie under Lord if He would show mercy. If not, do what He would. And since, Lord hath let me see more of Himself as in doubtings. That Lord did leave saints doubting as to remove lightness and frothiness, hence doubtings, and to cause for fresh evidence and by this means kept them from falling. Lord made these suitable to Lord and to draw my heart nearer to Himself. And so answered all doubts from Christ I saw; somewhat more: and this day in forenoon.

William Manning

WILLIAM MANNING (circa 1592–circa 1666) left Essex, England, with his wife and child, William, and came to New England with Thomas Hooker’s flock in 1634. They lived in Roxbury for several weeks before deciding to settle in Cambridge. William joined Shepard’s congregation sometime before he became a freeman on 13 May 1640. He subsequently lost his wife and married a second, Susanna, who died in the fall of 1650. In 1664 Manning moved to Boston with his third wife, mentioned in his will of 1665 written about a year before his death. He seems, however, only to have had the one boy, William, who became a prominent merchant, raised a family of five, and, with his wife, Dorothy, entered into full communion with the Cambridge church before 1658.

J. Gardner Bartlett, “The English Ancestral Homes of the Founders of Cambridge,” Cambridge Historical Society, Publications, 14:91 (1919). Savage, 3:147. Town Book, 98, 105, 163, 167, 175. NEHGR, 106:47 (1952); 92:194 (1938); 15:23 (1861).


In time past when I was very young, going to prentice about fifteen years of age, I being unfit for that or any other thing I took in hand, living in a place where there was bad examples. [I] was drawn aside whereas I might have got good. But being a prentice with him four years I did grow very loose and vain and would not be ruled nor governed by my dame. I was left with all. Now delighting in vain company and vain books and hearing this word—neither circumcision nor un-circumcision avails anything but a new creature209—and laying open fruits of old and new creatures, I concluded my condition was lamentable. Yet though sensible of my condition, was ashamed to make it known. Yet looking on them that lived more restrainedly and civilly than I did, I thought I would leave off my bad company and join myself to such as they were. Yet I saw their condition was not as it ought, knowing the tree by the fruit.210 Now being acquainted with them that were godly, I might have had a heart to get good by them. At length I looked upon them that I was persuaded were upright. I began to cleave to them and it was one of the best evidences I had. And here that I saw I did love those who love Christ. Yet I hearing by the word that there might be hypocrisy in that form by deeds, yet I examined myself whether I did love them by loving them that did excel in virtue as some ministers. The more I saw grace in them, the more I did cleave to them. Q[uestion]: [52] Though most contemptible, yet I did cleave to them. I went on thus a good while living where there was plenty in regard of other places. Afterward I took a business lawful and commendable in hand, yet going on in it without any wisdom I afterward coming to a minister’s house where meeting with two or three of my friends, they hearing what I went about fell to examine me. And they told me, being a kind of professor though a weak one, they told me I went about that which would scandalize the Gospel so that I had much grief and trouble and so was beaten off from it. And coming home being troubled I could not hide it. Hence my dame perceived it and she being a carnal woman did rather reprove me for falling off and counseled me to go on. And hence the more I was persuaded, the less I regarded her. Yet afterward I felt my heart too much inclining to, but I being acquainting them that were godly and they speaking to me against it so that I would wish all that desired communion with God to make their wants known to ministers. So I did hearken to their counsel and thanking them and the Lord [that I] was stopped in it. So opening to an honest man in prayer, speaking of the fall of man and the misery man was fallen into, before he made an end of prayer I was much stricken and in amazement. And I [53] thought that was my condition, fallen in Adam and other sins [and] vile corruptions that I was privy to. Hence I was troubled whether it was right, because it was not wrought by the word, and I continued three or four days so as I had no heart to prayer. Yet seeking the Lord, I remember this one I did rather desire the Lord to be humbled under it thoroughly than be delivered for the burden of my sin did lie heavy upon me. Now though I thought something was wrought by the word, yet never so sensible as by this means. But the Lord brought me out of this condition. I had some comfort by thinking how the Lord wrought upon some in Scripture as Manasseh.211 And upon this I had some peace and comfort that, whereas I had before a heart to no good, now me thought if Lord should call me out to do or suffer I could. And this passed away and then I had a double temptation: (1) whether there was a God or [(2)] the Scripture true or no. And being gross I was loathe and ashamed to make my condition known, yet the minister showing out of Psalms 14:1 that there was a God by Scripture and by reason; but fain would I put off these temptations. Now I found hardness, unbelief, deadness to lie very heavy upon my soul. And another minister handling the affections of the soul, he met with my corruptions. [54] I was burdened with them in a confused manner and did strive against them with my own strength and not the Lord’s, or else I believe I might have had help before now. He showed how one should get strength against corruption, seek against one at once for a sixfold cord would not break but if untwisted they might break them severally. And hence seeking the Lord for time to come, I did find the Lord helped me against those sins. Being once overcome of them upon several occasions, yet the Lord did help me over some of them. Yet two things did burden me much: (1) corruptions breaking out, (2) wants and weaknesses. Three things kept me down. (1) My heart was exceedingly clogged with world, with business and awe that when I went to my business the world came in thick and threefold. (2) I had such ado to get up my heart to the Lord, being in a wood, in the midst of a wood, and hearing a minister bring all thoughts to three heads works[—]worldy vain and wicked[—]and I saw these kept me under and loaded my spirit and no sooner out of ordinance but all good was gone. (3) That when I had got up my heart it was gone of a sudden and much ado I had to get my heart in any frame and temper. [55] And hearing a minister press to buy the truth and not to sell it, and hearing all corruptions and sins must be cast and sold away. And sound motives to the sale settled upon my spirit as the excellency of the truth of the word; (2) to consider the necessity to buy this truth a matter of life and death; (3) the profit and gain which would come by it, no profit to be compared with it; (4) the great danger in not looking after it. Hearing another sermon of seven marks of repentance, and I found one great cause why I could not find such signs. I thought it was for want of care in regard of self, family and all others with whom he did converse. The sin of unbelief still sticks with me. I thought of some promises and, being in doubt whether I should lay hold on a promise or not, I thought hence there was some faith but yet fainted. Yet I thought if the Lord would assist me I would go on in the work of the Lord. And I knew no work more necessary than it, because whatever is not of faith is sin.212 And so I was set to seek Lord in use of means, not only to work faith to rely upon Him for mercy, but to live by that faith. Hearing Mr. Culverwell213 showing two things in faith: (1) that ’tis not enough for the soul to lay hold upon Christ but faith (2) must lay hold upon the soul, faith purifying the soul. And hence I had many occasions to examine my soul yet I found that my heart was exceeding corrupted. And some sins remained and came fresh in my mind and much did burden me as pride and vain glory which, poor creature, I had as little cause to be troubled with them as with any in the world. [56] Now continuing thus, helps I had to come out of this condition, yet having at last thoughts of this place in New England, my wife and I hearing some certainty of things here, I desired to come hither. Though I was weak, yet the Lord in mercy made a way ready for me. When the Lord brought me to sea, I was overcome with a discontented mind, meeting there with hard and sad trials as fear of loss of my wife. Then I thought I had not done well in doing this [which] I had done. Though they were but carnal thoughts and would, if possible, returned again, yet the Lord in some measure let me see it was a sin so to wish or think, and thought the Lord would at last bring me hither. Hence in ship, meeting with new occasions and new troubles, I had these thoughts. Though the troubles I had were great, yet I thought some of the saints had far greater, looking back upon the condition of my friends. And I thought if I was the Lord’s, these troubles would come in, within that promise—all things shall work together.214 And thinking of that calling upon me in day of trouble and thou shall glorify me.215 Now this discontent I found was more burdensome than all crosses and sorrows before. At last the Lord brought me hither, and I lived at Roxbury nine or ten weeks. There meeting with some straits. At length, Mr. Hooker216 being here, my wife and I desired to come to this place. Yet still had a discontented mind not quite got over it. But hearing [57] Mr. Shepard speaking upon a text to encourage them that newly came to land, that it may be had that which I expected not (though troubled) viz. the life of my wife and child. It began to revive me and then I considered I had forgotten the mercies of old much more those new mercies. And showing the great means I had there for the present which the whole world had not, which all saints, though with straits and wants, yet might support their hearts and strength. Afterward hearing Mr. Cotton217 Acts 3 concerning the healing of the cripple, he leapt and praised the Lord,218 showed goodness of God which had not only healed bodies but souls, which I have had thoughts of since. And I wish all to think of that one thing for it’s wonderful and admirable that such a poor creature should be provided for as I am that was so unthankful, and he showing there were crippled and lame thanksgivings to little purpose. And this lies upon my spirit, the great means as public and private, though that not in private that others have which my sin has deprived me of, which if Lord now gives, I hope I shall never admire the Lord sufficiently for.


KATHERINE was undoubtedly the maid of John and Elizabeth Russell, early Cambridge residents. He may have been the same John Russell who, in 1634, released a Robert Fibbins from servitude. Russell was prominent enough; he was a landowner and church member, attaining freemanship on 3 March 1636 and being appointed to various offices by both the Cambridge selectmen and the General Court.

Savage, 3:590–91.


First I went on in ignorance and had no means of light. So I went to an aunt who did, and where I was made by her to seek the means, praying with us before we went to the word. And she speaking of misery out of Christ, and so I saw many sins and so saw more, and knew not whether the Lord would pardon them. Yet I knew the Lord could, but yet I question would He? And hence I sought the Lord in public and private and I looked upon Manasseh219 and upon the scarlet sins of Isaiah made was white as snow.220 And so looking into the word, and finding some particular promises as—come to Me you that be laden.221 But yet I was under terror and I followed the word and loved saints dearly, yet I was doubtful of what would become of me. But to go back, I would not. So I sought that ministry which came nearest to my soul and loved it most and so continued two years, sometime thinking I might have mercy sometime not. And afterward I heard Mr. Rogers222 speaking—the just shall live by faith.223 And so I had abundance of comfort from the word and I blessed the Lord for that condition. But afterward I questioned whether it was possible the Lord should have mercy upon me, and so I heard a poor creature may question his condition. And so I doubted whether I was humbled or no. [59] And hearing if so much as to drive soul out of the self and Christ, and knowing I sought nothing but Christ to give me satisfaction, I thought I was humbled enough. Then I fell into a temptation of blasphemous thoughts of slighting the Lord and hence prayed that He would put His fear into my heart. But I searched for the word to oppose Satan, and so I remembered out of Zechariah—the Lord rebuke thee.224 And by this I know Thou dost favor me because Thou hast not given me enemies.225 So lost my life and then thought to come to this place. And so I sought the Lord in a way of humiliation, the name of the Lord is a strong tower.226 And thought here the Lord might be found, and doubtful whether I had a call to come because I was to leave my friends. Hence I remembered that Scripture—I’ll be with thee in the first waters227—and I knew I should be armed like Jacob in all straits to have a promise. And in our way when ready to be cast away, stand still and see salvation of God,228 then heard Lord is my portion.229 So I came hither and heard Mr. Shepard out of the 25 of Matthew. Hearing the sin of sloth,230 I saw that was my sin and so I thought whether I might hear any more. But I did not nourish it, and I had a day of humiliation where Mr. Shepard showing sins of saints were sicknesses. And seeing them to be the greatest grief, I was much comforted by that. And then speaking of a man that might have a good [60] will to Christ, and Christ to him, yet never closed with Christ in a promise; hence I was troubled because I never could remember that and so questioned all. And hence sought to find that work in use of all means. And so I saw sin was very strong and could not get victory over it. And hearing of coming to Christ and Christ will not cast away,231 which was a great lifting up of my heart to the Lord. And I heard though Judas forsook all, yet he had not Christ for his last end and that there I took my rest. As the rich man said—soul take thy rest232—so I found Christ to me.

Alice Stedman

ALICE STEDMAN (circa 1610–1690) came to Cambridge sometime in the 1630’s and married John before 1640. She undoubtedly helped him run the store, located in their home near Brattle Square, besides caring for their three girls born in the 1640’s. Alice probably joined the Cambridge church in 1640, at about age twenty-eight.

See note for husband, John Stedman, pages 72–73.


It pleased God when I was very young to counsel me by a godly minister which estate, if I had died in it, had been woeful. Many hindrances I had to His ways, but I was encouraged by the word to go on. And afterward I had many sad fears about my estate whether it was right because not so humbled as others and because I could not keep my heart always to the Lord. And in this condition of fear I went on a pretty while. But afterward I went to London and to a minister who wished me to declare my condition. And he found I had rested on my duties and that I was not so deeply humbled. And he labored to convince me not to build my faith on duties but on freeness of God’s love in Christ, which I saw I could not. Afterward I was in the country in that condition, finding myself unable to believe and to walk as I should. And so by hearing the word, I heard what a sin it was to refuse mercy because it was not so far humbled. And so he set forth great mercy of God, that when the Lord did not do it by a greater he would do it by a lesser measure. And afterward by 50 Isaiah ult.—who is he that walks in darkness and sees no light?233 [62] I was stayed by this word to stay upon God, so by Habakkuk 2:3—the vision is for an appointed time. And so I was stayed and carried in means. But after by John 3:16—that whoever believes—the Lord was pleased by that word to overcome my heart and to show me the freeness of His love, not only to them that be in greater, but in a lesser measure humbled. And the Lord helped me by this, especially if I felt myself lost and undone without Christ. And after this the Lord exercised me with many outward and inward troubles. And at last the Lord by Job—if thou dost evil or good234 what canst add to me. And here I found no rest. And by Romans 7, by considering that what I did, I did not allow and ’tis no more I.235 And 1 John 2:1—if any sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And afterward the Lord gave some strength and power over those sins. And after this I was exercised with many outward afflictions, wherein the Lord did support my heart. And the Lord stirred up my heart to come to this place and He made way by unexpected hand in a spiritual manner. When I came to the ship by straitness and troubles, I exceedingly lost my heart which God set on upon my conscience, that though I had not place, yet I was not so careful as I should and might have been. And many afflictions I [63] met with, yet my heart remained the same. And at land the Lord exercised me with many afflictions and I found great strangeness from the Lord. And when I came to the means, I felt not what I looked for which was very sad. Hence some friends put me on to go to the elder, and he asking me what grounds I had of closing with Christ, I felt often as if I never had anything. And Mr. Weld236 taught here upon this rock.237 There he showed how people build upon wrong foundation to close and catch at promise and missed Christ, which I thought was my condition which was very sad. And [I had] many temptations, especially to hinder me from secret prayer. Seeing I never had Christ nor faith, and whatever is not of faith is sin.238 And indeed I have not had a word sometime to speak. At last the Lord brought me to a day of humiliation to which I had much backwardness upon the same grounds. And in the end of the day, desiring my condition might be remembered me, and at latter part of day speaking 56 Isaiah 6—son of a stranger that is a dry tree yet his prayers shall be accepted.239 The Lord did much encourage me by it that Lord should hear and some refreshings by it. But quickly after I was out of it and lost again. And when a neighbor came to me and asking what such a one should do that did think they had grace but since they came here could not see it. [64] He said there is much pride with a professor so many years and thought well of it. Hard to doubt, yet said he—’tis a great mercy He will do it. And by this means I saw my own heart for that was my stick, for I was ashamed to open my condition to any. And at that time I considered of Abram that the Lord did not need to know what was in his heart but that he [Abram] might know it.240 So I had need to know what was in my own heart. And afterward I went on depending on means when He would speak. Yet I saw much emptiness in ordinances. And though I saw it was thus and thus with me, yet I could not believe. And when Mr. Buckley241 taught here out of the 17 of Genesis that great God should enter into a covenant with him [Abram], I was content the Lord should make what covenant He would, especially: Abram then falling upon his face.242 Yet I could not believe. And was along under the means without faith and I saw the Lord might justly deprive me and ever withdraw Himself. Yet Mr. Shepard speaking what an honor it was to the Lord to believe—we will love them and seek to please them—which encouraged my soul to believe and desired the Lord to help me. And hearing Mr. Cotton243 out of Revelation—Christ with a rainbow on his head, Revelation 10244—I thought there was nothing for me. I thought I was like the poor man at the pool.245 So I [65] thought if Lord came not with an almighty power to believe. And in midst of that sermon hearing if ever Lord came in the promise that the Lord was Jehovah and never changed, and then afresh I had John 3:16 that the Lord had begun to humble and subdue and quicken and sanctify. And so by this power of His word I knew he was Jehovah that did never change.246 And next day coming to one of the elders, he asked me what stuck upon my spirit. I said, I was afraid it was not righteousness. And he encouraged me not to give way to those fears. And hearing John 13:20—he that receives him that sent me—the Lord came in much by those words. And so was much confirmed, and many times since the Lord hath spoken to me to help me.

John Trumbull

JOHN TRUMBULL or Trundle or Turnbull (1606–circa 1687), a mariner and owner of a small trading vessel, emigrated from Newcastle, Northumberland, sometime before 1637 and settled at Cambridge. He began his New England adventure with a twenty-pound fine from the 1637 General Court. By the next year all but one pound had been forgiven, so his offence may not have been all that serious. His church confession was made around 1637, when he was some thirty years old. He soon married Elizabeth; they lived on South Street and owned several acres of land in the Cambridge vicinity. John became a freeman on 13 May 1640. He apparently liquidated his assets in Cambridge in 1652, when the town book questions whether he really held as much as the eighty acres he had sold. Although some sources suggest his removal to Charlestown as early as 1643, a date soon after 1652 seems more likely, especially as that is the last mention of him in the town book.

Savage, 4:336. Farmer, 292. Town Book, 95. Gozzaldi, 751. NEHGR, 49:149, 151 (1895).


I lived in sin without contradiction in a town without means, not only abusing God but His people, [I] used to take God’s name to grieve the spirits of the people of God, though I knew them not, regarding nothing but back and belly and fulfilling my own lusts. In riper times by a schoolmaster I saw swearing a grievous sin, but fell from swearing by God [to] by the creature. Afterward coming to the sea by some men checking me there for them I left those sins. And having by sea lost all time I thought I would learn to read it again. And reading Poor Maris Pathway247 they told me the more I read the more I would delight in it but I read in it only to learn to read. And at last I heard he that read that book over and it should be a witness against him. And though [I] thought it a serious book, then reading book of repentance,248 learning some sins yet I lived in, so saw my misery. Yet this broke me that I saw wrath and sin and was yet alive. After this I was moved to seek after some other means. And so resorting to a place where the means were twice, my spirit being oppressed for God’s wrath and sin, the Lord preached by one of His servants: How much are you better than they? And so showed the Lord had more respect to one sinful than unto many others beside. And the Lord rejoiced more in one lost creature than in many others.249 And hence I thought yet there might be mercy. And handling another text—Thy glory is above the heavens250—hearing excellency of God’s attributes, I saw the Lord’s excellency. [67] And so I saw the evil of sin, that it should separate from His glory as the creature could not desire God again. So I resolved no more to sin, but then many friends set themselves against me that I would go mad as other ministers with study. And others would disgrace me in streets and threaten me, but I thought hath not Christ suffered more and long enough by thy sins? So I was carried on with desires to know Christ and the Lord supported me many ways. And the Lord opening that of Peter—no redemption but by blood of Christ and no price but in Christ’s blood251—hence saw the price of blood. Hence desired it that it might purge me from sin and sickliness. And hence hearing—Thy name is a precious ointment poured out252—hence I found a heart to desire Christ but could not believe hearing of election in world should be found out. Hence waited upon God in means. Yet wanting company of saints and means I went not much forward hearing many reproaches on saints. And after this I came to acquaint with saints and had many temptations to lay down all again. Yet hearing shall I begin in spirit and end in the flesh, so I went to prayer after much means for Christ. Hearing one out of Isaiah 11—Christ would bring leopards and lions, men of subtle and bloody dispositions by His scepter and righteousness.253 And pondering these things how this could be it made my spirit to be swallowed up how Christ could be this miserable. I thought He that had subdued death and hell, He could subdue the pride of my heart. And it made me wonder that men should scramble for world and wonder that I should sin. Nay ready to leave off works of my calling yet I remembered six days I might labor254 and desired to the Lord to help me against works. [68] And being in a stand and being fair weather, I was loathe to go to prayer where others were at. But walking on the deck took a book To Live Well and to Die Well255 which affected me. But in the evening there being a sore storm and our mast lost, thinking what would become of me if peace [not] made with God and desiring the Lord to clear up my condition, Satan told me: thou hast no interest in Christ because I had broken the Sabbath and that I must die in misery. But then I thought no duties can save soul, but only Christ. But how should I know how Christ was mine? Hence I considered what Lord had done, but could find nothing but that he that sins hath an advocate, Jesus Christ.256 But how know you He is an advocate? Then seeing keeping His commands was an evidence,257 then I remembered though I was vile yet I did love Sabbaths and saints and so prayed. And the Lord, we looking for death, at last brought us safe. So when we came to London I heard Mr. Sedgwick258 showing four signs of repentance: (1) universal respect to all commands which a hypocrite had respect to some of them; (2) there was a retiredness in saints. Saints went most in private between God and their souls, and there I saw somewhat which did help me; (3) durableness in service, a hypocrite went on till his ends were accomplished; (4) growth in grace and there I thought I had falsely applied all because I had more love to saints’ zeal against sin than ever. And hence thought rather than hear my condemnation read to go out. And then staying, the objections were answered as Peter, though had no such affections at last as when he denied his.259 Another time, hearing that the last shall be first260 and how a hypocrite might outstrip a saint and hearing of the different actions. And hearing a new creature opened (1) there was a concept of itself, [69] and hearing out of 12 Proverbs right way261 how far a hypocrite might go. He never see sin greatest evil and wrath of God the greatest curse and then I could not tell whether I had seen sin or no.

William Andrews

WILLIAM ANDREWS (before 1600–1652), shipmaster, rated the gentlemanly title of “Mister.” His first wife, Mary, came over after William had somewhat established himself, probably when he was still at Charlestown. He was living on the northeast corner of Dunster and Winthrop streets in Cambridge by December 1634, at which time he was master of the ship Elizabeth, a vessel making numerous voyages between England and Massachusetts Bay. He became a freeman on 4 March 1634 and the following year was chosen to be a selectman, entrusted with ordering the “business of the whole town for the year.” In November 1635, and again in 1640, he was chosen to fill the position of constable at Cambridge.

It was around 1640 that William delivered his confession to the church, although he undoubtedly joined the congregation much earlier, prior to 1634, when Thomas Hooker was pastor there. Hooker required no explicit relation of faith for church membership; a candidate qualified, he wrote in 1645, if he either lived “in the commission of any known duty” or could give “a reason of his hope in God.” For some reason, Andrews decided to remedy his earlier failure to relate a confession and thus declared the path he took to grace. Mary died in the winter of 1640; she was the mother of Samuel, born in 1621, William’s only child. Samuel married Reanna James, of Watertown, the following summer. William’s share in the proportional division of the great Shawshine field in 1652 came to one hundred fifty acres, a grant reserved for one of the town’s more prominent citizens. The inventory of his estate reveals a total worth of £419–03–08.

In 1626 William had been one of the heirs of his uncle Lancelot, Bishop of Winchester. The perhaps reduced value of William’s estate may be partially accounted for by the loss of the ship Diligence, of which he was part owner, to two French warships in 1646.

Paige, 480. Town Book, 10, 14, 43, 98. NEHGR, 88:386 (1934); 46:418 (1892). Middlesex County Wills no. 429. Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (New York, 1963), 107.


I was brought up of godly parents with whom I remained till seventeen years of age, instructed in the principles of religion. After that bound prentice in Ipswich in a religious family and had not much knowledge living out. But I came into godly men’s company so that I grew to some knowledge and thought my estate very good and had some comfort in it, performing duties. Yet by sermons of worthy men as Mr. Carter of Bramford,262 if righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly appear. Upon the burial of a very godly man, where he showed the difficulty of being saved and so how that good men came to heaven, one could come at no time to him but reading or praying or hearing or living in his calling. And if such a man hardly to heaven as if an eel should go through a hole and leave her skin behind her. Now this did mightily strike me, although before I thought my estate good and old Mr. Rogers263 preaching on 5 Deuteronomy how they promised264 yet they broke all. So out of 22 of Genesis 1 of Abram gave up Isaac his only son, of a promise,265 and hence showed a man ought to slay his dearest sins though as dear as his only son. Now I knew I was guilty of some sins and hence it did lay hold on me. So Matthew 5—except your righteousness exceed righteousness of scribes and pharisees266—and if such so strict not saved, what would become of others whose hearts were vile and lives too? Hence cast down by this, I was laid up under great torment of conscience. And a long time going to sea, yet being persuaded that those promises Matthew 5 did belong to me—blessed be them that mourn and thirst.267 And indeed I had oft temptation to kill myself hence durst not carry a knife about me nor go near water. [71] And after some comfort, fell from it again as out of 57 of Isaiah preached by Mr. Phillips268—[verse] 15: I dwell with contrite spirit. This stayed my heart and made me resolve against every known sin. Yet I lay long under trouble and loathe to eat much as unworthy of them. And at sea I got books, searching between a true believer and a temporary, as Dike269 and Rogers’s Seven Treatises. And I sought to God to give peace and searched after promises that He would take away stony heart. And270 lying long thus and bring some promise to light to give me comfort. And at last the Lord sent me thus such a measure of comfort that I could not contain, which did cast me down more than any other things that the Lord should manifest such mercy to me. And it did much astonish me that the Lord should look upon me at that time. Afterward I doubted whether these comforts were right because men might taste of heavenly gift and hence afraid of unpardonable sin. And by another book I saw difference between comfort of hypocrites and others. The one did cast them down which stayed me. And after this in Spain I fell very sick and sought the Lord but could find no comfort. And some of my men read Psalms 16—my lines are fallen in a pleasant place271—which gave me much joy and so I desired my men to carry me and cast me into sea if I died because I thought papists would dig me up or no. And so I bless God for what I have found here. Temptation—I built a new ship and my mind much upon it even upon the Sabbath. And I desired to deliver me from this whatever He did with me. But [72] that ship was split and all drowned but a few, four of my men myself naked upon the main topsail in very cold weather and on a morning some on the shore came with a boat. And glad I was that I lost my ship and so lost my sin. After that I heard of New England. I came hither, God making way, and when I saw the people my heart was knit to them much and thought I should be happy if I should be joined and united to them. And when I came, God made way both in removing the minister and also in selling off all that I had. And sat down at Charlestown where I was received. Afterward my wife in my absence came hither, which I bless God for.

Richard Eccles

RICHARD ECCLES or Eagle (circa 1614–circa 1697), a weaver, lived in Yorkshire before coming to Cambridge in the 1630’s. Shepard called him Jackson’s “man,” because he arrived in Cambridge as the servant of Richard Jackson, a prominent Cambridge citizen. Moreover, Eccles married—either in England or at Cambridge—Mary, a relative of Jackson. Eccles subsequently carved out his own niche in Cambridge. He became a freeman on 18 May 1642 and by 1646 owned a home on Brattle Street and property in the surrounding area. His share in the Shawshine division of 1652 was a moderate seventy acres. In 1649 the town appointed him to keep Watertown’s cattle out of the Cambridge common and in the following year paid him to care for the “milk herd.” He was chosen constable in 1660 and 1669. And at the age of sixty-two the town made him a surveyor of the highways. By Mary he had four children, all baptized in the Cambridge church. Two years after Mary died, he married Susanna Carter in 1677.

Eccles appeared in the census of 1688; his heirs liquidated his property in 1697, so his demise occurred in this period, probably closer to 1697.

Savage, 2:98. Town Book, 80, 86, 98. Church Records, 15. Gozzaldi, 235.


For my education I was brought up in popery a good many years. Yet afterward I came to hear the word first text Christ should appear in flaming fire to them that know not God.272 God affected heart a good space. After I heard another minister, Romans 8:1—no condemnation to them that be in Christ. And in Practice of Piety273 I read torments of hell which affected my heart with my estate by Adam’s fall. And by Mr. Perkins’s Exposition of Creed274 I saw my condition bad. And so getting some light I forsook ill company and reformed diverse things and got light by reading The Burning Bush.275 I saw there was some change wrought in my life which did stay me and so I rested. Afterward I saw more of my condition and was troubled and I saw a necessity of a change indeed and that there was a necessity of better means to bring my soul to God. And hence I sought God for more means and so went to Yorkshire, where there were good means. And I was settled under a powerful ministry and I was in a perplexed condition, my friends being taken away, which conscience said was for some sins I committed secretly. And under this ministry I had more and more light to see into my lost estate every day. And out of Philippians 4:20—the saints of Caesar’s household salute you276—the Lord said he hath saints in worst places, which gave me some hopes the Lord might in time bring me to the knowledge of Himself. And preaching out of Hosea 14:1–4 where the Lord opened my heart showing me a way by confessing my sins. And Lord broke my heart in the [74] consideration of my own vileness and so I saw a necessity of Christ John 1:16. Seeing the fullness of grace in Christ, I had longing desires after Him that He would take away all my sin. And hearing of the straitness of the way which leads to life:277 (1) that soul was humbled; (2) laid down all at Christ’s foot to buy the pearl.278 This I saw I was willing to part with any sin for Christ Acts 26:13. I found eyes were opened when made sensible of sin, which I felt even of the body of death.279 And His will is your sanctification, which I felt. Being in an ill family I looked this way, and by sea I was sick and at land I did not find that delight in His company and fellowship. But out of John 13—groundless fears possessing280—and I saw although my soul did doubt, yet my soul was a ship at anchor.281 So loving the means and loathing myself.

Mrs. Greene

THE most likely candidate for “Mrs. Greene” is Ellen, wife of Percival. The 1635 ship’s register of the Susan and Ellen lists them as being thirty-two years of age. Most importantly, they were able to bring two servants, a costly status determinant and one which might well set this couple apart from others of the yeomanry. Ellen died in 1682, aged eighty-two as her tombstone claims. This would have made her some thirty-five years old on her arrival. Her confession probably came before December 1639, the date of Percival’s death. In the event of a later confession she would most likely, though not necessarily, have been referred to as “widow.” Percival probably joined the church in 1635 or 1636, as he was a freeman on 3 March 1636.

It is possible that this confession was related by Elizabeth Greene (1589–1677), though her social status did not warrant the title “Mrs.” as much as did that of Ellen Greene. Elizabeth and her husband, Bartholomew, emigrated to Cambridge sometime before 1634. They had one boy, Nathaniel, before Bartholomew died sometime prior to 1642. She remained a widow for the rest of her life. But she maintained the Greene estate, receiving a land grant in 1662, and eventually leaving it all to Nathaniel for his long care of her. Elizabeth would probably have joined the Cambridge church around 1640 and was still in full communion in 1658.

Ellen Greene: Savage, 2:304–5. NEHGR, 90:290 (1936); 15:105 (1861). For Elizabeth Greene see Savage 2:299–300.

[75]   [24.] MRS. GREENE

I was born of godly parents. My father suffered imprisonment and he was taken away when I was young. And so left without education yet thought that being born of godly parents was well. Yet I read diverse things Genesis 17. Here I was stayed a time and so I went on a long time. Testimonies carried it.

Brother Jackson’s Maid

THE next, anonymous subject was probably a maid to Richard Jackson, John Jackson, or—although a more remote possibility since he came sometime around 1643—Edward Jackson, all prominent Cambridge residents and church members. She may have been a widow, as she remarked in her confession that “Christ would be better than [an] earthly husband [because] no fear there of widowhood,” but this may have been a paraphrase of a sermon she heard, such as from Shepard’s The Parable of the Ten Virgins Unfolded. She probably joined the church around 1640.


Living near a godly minister, little benefit I got by him, yet coming to [1 John] 3:3—behold what love Father hath shown us.282 Showing the privileges of saints I was affected as if they belonged to me. But world knows us not;283 I thought I was one of world. And hearing out of 2 Zephaniah—Lord will search Jerusalem with candles.284 That place breaking Sabbath he spake against them and so I remembered this sin. And showing He had given six days to us and to take one to Himself285 I saw that sin and so saw my original corruption and I was ashamed to let any know the Lord had wrought any

change in me. And after this the Lord sent affliction and frightened me with death. And being in trouble, I knew not what to do though I had prayed and read and frequented ordinances. And so, that affliction was continued and so I prayed to God to add to my days that I might live to make my calling sure.286 And from Hezekiah’s example some report I had that I might live for that end.287 So I went to means again and the minister preaching out of 1 Peter 2—who bare our [76] sins that we being dead to sin might live unto Him.288 And here showing the sufferings of the Lord Jesus and he said if man felt sin they would not go on so merrily under it as others do. And so I began to mourn that I had put Christ to suffer for my sins whereas before I was troubled with fear of hell. So I went to pray for pardon and so Matthew 11—come to ye weary.289 But little I got and 1 Isaiah—let us reason together.290 So the same minister preaching out of Matthew—kingdom like one that sells pearls291—pearl was Christ to sell sins and lusts and I found the Lord helping me that day to part with sin and to redeem that time292 that I had formerly misspent. Stayed and setting forth pearl my heart was affected. And Psalm no—they willing (1) God’s people a willing people293—(2) by the power of the Lord Jesus. Hosea 2—I’ll betroth thee to me294—and setting out spiritual marriage of a king, making suit to a poor silly maid do but give thy consent and then care not for other things and Christ would be better than earthly husband. No fear there of widowhood so I took Christ then upon His own terms; (1) to take all Christ. So feeling many sins and hearing Jeremiah 18—is there no balm in Gilead295—showed reason why we lie in our wants because there is balm in Gilead. We go not to Christ. So I went on. I had many cases to many ministers of conscience. And so at my uncle go to New England, hearing perseverance, so could enjoy no ordinance in public nor private. And the Lord inclined my heart this way and hearing of Isaiah 64, spirit of prayer then restrained296—that comforted me. [77] And on a fast day hearing signs of godly sorrow consisting not too much in tears as brokenness within nature. This suited my condition. Coming to sea the Lord did withdraw myself being sore visited hearing—this is fruit to take away the sin297—and hence content Lord should do anything if take away sin. When I came hither first Sabbath affected but afterward left to a dead blockish frame and knew nothing. And hearing when temptation seeks to destroy faith, Christ seeks to destroy it and on a day of humiliation God had His times of visiting His people. Lord melted my heart in private and John 20—the God that is a God to Christ is a God to Christ. (1) They forsook all and followed Him.298 (2) When Christ was to depart nothing broke their heart so much as then.299

Golden Moore

GOLDEN MOORE (circa 1609–circa 1698) emigrated to Cambridge, probably in the late 1630’s. By 2 June 1641 he was a freeman and about the same time acquired considerable property in the Cambridge area. He married, at Cambridge before 1642, Joan, the widow of John Champney. She already had three children, and they added three more to their family, all baptized in the Cambridge church. He and Joan were members of the Cambridge church while Jonathan Mitchell was pastor. Probably after Mitchell’s death in 1668, the Moores moved to Billerica, where Golden died in September 1698, aged eighty-nine. While Golden Moore’s will is not extant, he seems to have been a man of some means, as displayed by his grant of one hundred acres at Shawshine in 1652.

Savage, 3:227. Church Records, 13. Gozzaldi, 515. Town Book, 98.

[78]   [26.] GOLDING MOORE

In the place where I lived before I came, in hearing the word out of the second commandment,300 I heard my misery being without the Lord Jesus and this wrought in me a heart to follow the Lord in the use of the means I had. And the Lord gave me a heart to bemoan my condition in private for my former condition. And hearing Psalm 32—taste and see how good the Lord is301—and thereby I found the Lord drawing and endearing my heart to Himself, and thought there might be mercy for me. And out of Romans 7—sin might become exceeding sinful302—where I saw the wrong sin did to God, Father and Son and Spirit and all attributes of God, hence mourned under sin and feared to commit sin. And thus the Lord carrying my heart in use of means did stay my heart and keep me from that course which I formerly was in. And so remaining a good while and being taken with occasions of world my heart grew careless. And so I feared my condition was not good or if Lord had begun yet I should backslide in time. Yet the Lord kept me in following of Him that He would humble me and enlighten me. Now means being taken away and fearing my condition and feeling my ignorance of Christ and hence I set myself to seek Christ and to get more acquainted with Christ and hence used means to come hither. Hence [I] did think to enjoy more of the Lord, and so coming hither and being in fears of my estate and that if my life was gone I had no promise to support. And I coming hither I found my heart in a worse frame than ever, not a heart so much as to desire help from the Lord. And hence called all into question whether ever enlightened or no, hence feared time was passed. But hearing that he that was truly enlightened sought to be more enlightened and here I saw more of my wretchedness than ever before, having a nature which was not changed that Lord should let out. And I saw breadth of my evil nature in pride and passion. And hence striving against them [79] and finding none and hence concluded I should get no strength. And hearing that such a soul should follow the Lord that He would clear up by His love and grace and mercy, and hearing 2 Corinthians 5:19 there I saw more fully the enmity of my heart. And hearing we might clear up justification by sanctification which, when I could not find, yet hearing that if I sought to the Lord that He would clear and work it Jeremiah 3:22 this stayed. And hearing out of Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 57 that a soul mourning under its evils, the Lord will restore comforts to it303 and thus the Lord carried me on. And the Lord taking away some special means from me I thought the Lord would withdraw Himself from me. Yet hearing Lord would lead the blind in a way that is good,304 it stayed me. Now looking upon myself as living a long time without enjoying the Lord and hearing that Scripture—the sluggard desireth and hath not305 I found my heart desirous to enjoy more of the Lord in His ordinances. And hearing how a soul might apprehend Christ by a seeming faith, etc. I fearing that condition. Yet the Lord answered my thoughts that day and next as overcoming and satisfying. And Lord constraining soul to live to Him306 which have been testimonies of the Lord’s free grace and mercy to my soul.

William Hamlet

WILLIAM HAMLET (dates unknown), a carpenter, lived in London, among other places, before coming to New England in the late 1630’s. He soon purchased land in Watertown, Charlestown, and Cambridge. Even so, Hamlet seems to have been of barely average position in the community, being granted only sixty acres at Shawshine. Although he joined the Cambridge church around 1640, he did not attain, or perhaps seek, freemanship until 7 May 1651. Earlier that year, however, the townsmen placed him in charge of the cow common, and in 1656 they appointed him to supervise the cutting of trees. William married Sarah, the widow of a Mr. Hubbard, sometime prior to 1656. She already had three children by her former marriage, and they had two more by 1658, when Jonathan Mitchell listed them as in full communion with the Cambridge church. They subsequently moved to Billerica and made a final move, in 1679, to Woburn. Since his birth date is estimated about 1614, he would have been in his early to mid-twenties at the time of his confession.

Town Book, 98. Savage, 2:394. Church Records, 17. Farmer, 134.

[80]   [27.] WILLIAM HAMLET

The manner of my life when I was young was profane and wicked, being brought up ignorantly. And the Lord brought me under ministry and there the Lord out [of] James 1 showing the spots of the world307 the Lord convinced me of my actual sins in which I walked and to affect me with my misery. And so left sins and did duties and then thought I should do well but out of James 2:15, hearing that if I failed in one thing I was guilty of all.308 And hearing of Adam’s sin that that might make me miserable and this troubled me under my misery. And after this the Lord discovered Himself in regard of His attributes, His greatness and sovereignty. And how justly He might require of all creatures power to fulfill His law and so I saw God’s attributes of justice and holiness Habbakuk 1:12 and I was persuaded the Lord would not pass by least sin without satisfaction. And after this the Lord discovered Christ and satisfaction and His person and offices and hereby did let forth the glory of Christ into my soul and did draw out my affections out in love to Christ. And I saw that loveliness in Christ that I did desire Him for Himself and that He might be united to me and so satisfy for me. And so when I thought if Lord would give me Christ it would be greatest happiness if I might have Him upon any terms. At that time my heart was not taken with delight in creatures and beauty of Christ took off the glory of Christ and thought I was willing to lose my life so that I might be found in Christ. And though I found my condition yet I endeavored to give up myself to Christ and when I sinned that the Lord would look upon me in Christ Jesus. [81] And the way whereby I came to know I was united to Christ was the fruits of it as mortification.309 One thing the Lord supported my heart by was love to the brethren and the ministry showing the difference between love of hypocrites and saints. And so I found it and thought the finger of God in them drew my heart to them in those times. Mr. Goodwin310 showed one difference between hypocrites and saints was mourning for the sins of others to whom we have no relation. And so I found that when I heard God’s name blasphemed in old England and hence though I could bear with men when I knew them not, yet when I saw them sin I could not endure them but annoyed them. And after this hearing of the glorious portion of the saints I could be content to close with a little mercy yet could not be content to close with abundance of grace in Christ. And I have sought the good of God’s people when I could not seek my own. And hearing in London the greatness of the sin of unbelief, I labored against it. And seeing the evil of ceremonies I was grieved because I was forced to stand behind. And seeing the sweet people that came hither and seeing sins and sorrows of the land, I desired to come and considering that when I was farthest from God then my heart was scared from coming. But when it was nearest to God then I did desire to come and content to be a servant. But in everything I saw I was decayed and gone and so was dejected. Yet seeing the sweet order and life of the people of God it did much rejoice me though it went ill with me. And lying thus in my own sinkings I thought I would be near to the Lord in prayer and so thought to recover. But there I found a difference, loss of expressions and affections, which made me the more [82] vile in my own eyes. But the Lord in the ministry of Mr. Buckley311—Ephraim like an untamed heifer312—and finding that frame of spirit of loathing myself I was cheered. And looking upon the great loss of God from 1 Corinthians 5:19 hearing Lord was offered to an enemy313 I was enlarged toward the Lord. But I found in every Sabbath some objection or other answered and hence thought the Lord could do for me no more and hence studied to believe. And by a way I knew not of, viz. by the command of God, the Lord much filled my heart with much love to him. And wondered at the patience and goodness of God and so gave up my soul to the Lord again but my old frame returned upon me again. But I thought life of faith was sweet and dying in my life I died in my confidence also and so grew frothy and unsavory and saw some in the world. And the ordinances of God have been unsuitable to me and then I thought the Lord would afflict me and so He did, which was light. And being the first stroke I thought it was light but if I continued in my backslidings He would come out with seven worse plagues314 and so prayed the Lord that I might be more heavenly in prayer. But after my recovery I grew to my old haunt only remembering my old evil trade of life and that it was better to walk with Him and thought the Lord would come seven times more. And the Lord seeing my pride, my hand being shot, it was seven times worse and so saw it in mercy to me. But never had such consolations as then, though brought very low but I saw the justice of God by such a stroke and so my heart was quieted, my hand and fever coming into me and thought I should [83] die. Yet I regarded not that commending my soul to Him.315 And praying for ease the Lord did mitigate my pain and after this the Lord recovered my life and desires in prayer, not regarding my hand if I might be a gainer in a spiritual way. That it is a support to my spirit that the Lord will hear those prayers I then made through Christ, waiting till the Lord will come. And I found and do find the Lord helping me to walk more in the sense of my own vileness and I can bear now what I could not bear with. But my spirit was lifted up before above man and in some things above God. I find myself also helped more in my conversation and watchfulness and finding the spirit of God helping me in my spiritual and temporal calling, what to do in this and that duty and so more love to God’s ordinances more in word and more in prayers. And so since my affliction some presence of God every Sabbath in assurance or affliction and I desire to walk under the feet of God and His people and all men, being more vile than any.316

Martha Collins

MARTHA COLLINS (circa 1609–1700) lived somewhere in Essex and later in London before coming with her husband, Edward, and four children to Cambridge in the 1630’s. They moved into a house on Holyoke Street and had four more children, all baptized in the Cambridge church, to the family during the 1640’s. She probably joined the church about 1640 and was still in full communion in 1658. Martha lived to be an elderly matriarch, as John Pike recorded in his journal: “Grandmother Collins departed this life, being very aged, and many years shaken with the palsy, yet retained her understanding wonderful well.”

See note for husband, Edward Collins, page 81.


Father being careful in catechising me, I looking on myself and comparing myself with others thought my condition very good, being civil. But about nineteen years of age I began to seek the Lord in private, only from example of others yet feeling no necessity of it. But in changing my condition I felt no need of change. But being in Essex—thou fool this night shall they take thy soul from thee317 and one paper wall between him and hell—which truths somewhat affected my heart. But I thought this was to them that were more vile than I. But going to London by plenty of means and by my husband’s speaking I saw my original corruption and miserable condition and so had a hungering after means which were most searching. Yet I had many objections against mercy and beaten off from offers of mercy by thoughts whether I was elected or no and so refused offer. When husband spake to me of free offer, I thought it was affection to me. And hearing Mr. Shaw318 that I should look after the Lord for Himself, I looked after that. And coming into the country I had no good Sabbaths nor blessing under that ministry. But hearing of soul’s preparation for Christ, I was stirred up to seek. But then blockish and sottish again and so questioned my election. And so my husband’s heart was inclined to come to New England, but when I came to quickening means, then I secretly [85] desired it but yet opposite I was to it by looking upon my miseries here. And yet I saw miseries there toward me and my children and very unwilling and discontent when I was at it to come. Yet I thought if the Lord should bring me here it would be a great mercy I was alive. And when I came on shore and seeing people living otherwise than I looked for, I was affected. But meeting with sorrows and feeling no life in ordinances I thought I was sealed up. Then one child was struck with me and then I struggled with God and so then pulled down. And then Lord struck my heart and I thought it was for my sin and so let the Lord do with me what He will. And afterward I thought they were too strict in examining of members and at Boston hearing the reasons why they did not receive all that came over which I forget now. And I blessed Lord that followed me and after hearing when Judas was gone out then the Lord spake319 and left sin to strike at some eminent ones. And though I did not persecute yet I persecuted God Himself and struck Him and so committed the unpardonable sin and knew not what to do. And hearing on that text—gate is shut320—and thinking that surely now gate is shut for me. And so there was my objections answered and taken off which were never before taken off and so was persuaded gate was open for me. And reading—I will forgive iniquities for thy name’s sake321—and here stay. And coming to Mr. S[hepard] (1) I was asked if I had not neglected means. (2) If no need of Christ, and so showed nothing but will between you and Christ. Meeting with another she said—let them be precious to you—and meeting with that—’tis not in man to direct His ways322—it answered my objections against inability.

Brother Moore’s Wife

BROTHER MOORE’S WIFE is most probably Joan (died 1676), wife of Golden Moore. Joan or Joanna was the widow of John Champney, who arrived at Cambridge in 1635 and was alive in the fall of 1639 but died before December of 1642, which is the latest Joan could have married Golden and given birth to a daughter in September of 1643. Therefore, if Champney died late in 1639 and Joanna married Golden within a few months, Thomas Shepard would properly have identified her as Brother Moore’s wife in his notebook of confessions. Internal evidence in the confession strangely makes no mention of recent widowhood but does indicate a woman young enough to have consulted with her father about the advisability of immigrating to New England in the early 1630’s.

Indication that the confession is that of a young woman rules out the possibility that she might have been Katherine (died 1648), the wife of Francis Moore, Sr. Then, too, none of Elder Moore’s sons would have been old enough to be married at this time, and the confession fails to mention the four children that Katherine brought with her from England.

See note for Joan’s husband, Golden Moore, page 122. For Katherine Moore see Savage, 3:227.


I thought my condition was good though I lived in a profane place from my father. And my father asking me if I would come to New England I refused, which the Lord hath made sad to me since. And hearing Romans 8:7—carnal heart is enmity against God—and there I saw I was carnal and not subject to the will of God. And so hearing out of Lynn, Romans 6, that wages of sin is death323 showing a wicked man wrought for devil as one for his wages. And hearing lest sin deserve death much more I that had committed so many. And I saw I could not satisfy wrath of God and the Lord discovered sin of nature enough forever to condemn me. And hearing Christ came to save sinners,324 my heart was somewhat quickened. And so I saw my own emptiness and poverty of spirit and hearing out of Matthew 5, poor in spirit were blessed325 which supported my heart somewhat. And Mr. Whiting326 preaching out of Mark 13:35—watch—and out of Matthew 5—hungry blessed327—I doubted whether that promise belonged to me. But I desired to wait upon God in means till He should reveal Himself more sufficiently to me. And hearing out of Isaiah 30—blessed are those that wait for Him328—He showed it was good for some to wait all their days to humble them. And out of Isaiah 55—come and buy wine and milk329—I could not but wonder at the freeness of God’s grace which did much break my heart. And out of that place—with everlasting kindness I’ll embrace thee330—which did much affect me and so I resolved to turn from my sin to the Lord. And so hearing—let unrighteous forsake his ways and turn and I’ll have mercy.331 [87] And when I came hither out of John 13:19 and of doubtings and differences between and hearing of that it stayed my heart. So when Mr. Burr332 taught out of Isaiah and hearing of spiritual pride333 and I felt I could not mourn and feared Lord had given me up to hardness of heart. And speaking to my husband how knew it viz. if not affected with hardness of heart. Being fearful of being humbled enough—out of depths I have cried to the Lord334—that it was a mercy to be free from depths. And from 30 of Exodus when the Lord had laid foundation, nothing between Christ and the soul. And so when the Lord filled the temple335 I found Lord had filled my soul with glorious apprehensions of Himself.

Mary Parish

MARY PARISH (dates unknown), probably the daughter of Nicholas Danforth, and sister of Deputy-Governor Thomas Danforth, married Thomas Parish, either a physician or clothier sometime after he came to New England on the Increase in April of 1635. They may have met at Watertown, where Thomas lived for a year, or later at Cambridge. In either case by 1638 they were married and had a daughter, Mary, who was followed by a son, Thomas, three years later and another daughter, Mary, in 1643. Although Thomas secured the status of freeman on 18 April 1637 and served as selectman in 1639 and 1640, he returned to his former home in Nayland, Suffolk, after his house burnt down, sometime prior to 1654, when Thomas Danforth, his agent, sold the Parish homestead. It is not known if Mary and the daughters returned, but the son, Thomas, graduated from Harvard College in 1659.

Savage, 2:346. Pope, 343. Gozzaldi, 559. John Langdon Sibley, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard College, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Mass., 1873–1885), 2:37–38.


Hearing out of Micah—Lord requires of thee to [be] humble336—I sought the Lord to humble me. And I thought sometime it was in vain to seek. When I came hither I felt little good, but 2 Corinthians 5 hearing all world were enemies to God.337 (1) In their minds enemies and wills and affections and so I saw and this the Lord set sadly on me. So I sought that the Lord would be reconciled to me. Yet hearing—thou hast made me serve with thy sins yet I’ll blot out338—which encouraged me to seek, that though it was so with me, yet that He would pardon my sins. And hearing oft of the offer of Christ, how willing Christ was to receive me, but I thought Lord was unwilling to receive me etc. And so I found my heart light and vain and so my heart began to sink, but Lord gives strength to them that have no strength.339 Hearing also what a sin it was not to believe, yet I heard affections might be wrought on and not the will. And I saw my heart opposite to the Lord and hence desired of Lord to change my will. And hearing a servant of Lord,340 he said Lord would be angry with me if I refused yet I could not. And hearing of the Lord’s free grace341 freely it made me seek the Lord. And hearing out of Peter—an obstinate heart yielding up himself to Christ342—but Lord will cleanse this. This stayed. And afterward hearing how a Christian might know whether it hath doffed Christ, that stayed. [89] And so hearing that the Lord Jesus made again, again believing argument for it, I found that also. And after this I found my heart going from God. And growing watchless over my heart and at a day at fast found not the Lord at all and could not speak of my condition. And so Hosea 14:3, I desired that the Lord would turn me from my sins. At our lecture I saw my heart unready for the Lord Jesus and I knew not whether the Lord ever did anything for me. And the next time I sought the Lord before I came that He would discover my sin. And there heard of three sorts, one was that so some would not use the means to seek worst of themselves and I thought that was my condition and so was sad. And speaking with one and on Exodus 39 ult.—Lord would finish His work when He began343—and there I saw Lord had begun. And so Jeremiah 38—I am oppressed,344 Lord encouraged me.

Brother Crackbone’s Wife

THE name of Gilbert Crackbone’s first wife, who made her profession of faith around 1640, is nowhere recorded. Originally from London, Gilbert, his wife, and possibly two children—one child seems to have died shortly before their emigration—had settled first at Dorchester, where Crackbone became freeman in 1636. The family moved to Cambridge soon thereafter. They owned land in the Cambridge area and lived on Garden Street until that home burned down, probably in 1640, just before Mrs. Crackbone joined Shepard’s congregation. This was about four years after her husband became a member of the Cambridge church, as he was a freeman on 7 December 1636. Gilbert actively participated in local affairs; he served at various times as a surveyor of highways and fences, constable, and selectman. The Crackbones prospered in a small way. His status is indicated by a grant of ninety acres at Shawshine in 1652 and by an inventory of £212–10–10 at his death in 1671. Mrs. Crackbone died before 1656, when Gilbert married his second wife, Elizabeth Coolidge.

Church Records, 12. Banks, 105. Savage, 1:468. Town Book, 57, 97, 163. Middlesex County Wills no. 5283. Paige, 15.


Her brother sending for her to London in a good house, there I considered my course and ways especially of one sin. And thought the Lord would never accept me more and was terrified and out of hope. And hearing 1 Isaiah—white as snow345—I had some hope. And hearing out of Mr. Smith’s book346 what Lord required viz. the heart and if heart given then eye and foot were given. And so I wished my parents knew me. And so being married and having poor means and having afflictions on my child and took from me and so troubled what became of my children. And to hell I thought it was because I had not prayed for them. And so came to New England. I forgot the Lord as the Israelites did and when I had a new house yet I thought I had no new heart. And means did not profit me and so doubted of all Lord had done, yet hearing when Lord will do good He takes away all ornaments. And so thought of seeking after the ordinances but I knew not whether I was fit. Yet heard I was under wings of Christ, one of them yet not under both. And so saw sloth and sluggishness so I prayed to the Lord to make me fit for church fellowship and Lord. And the more I prayed the more temptation I had. So I gave up and I was afraid to sing because to sing a lie, Lord teach me and I’ll follow thee347 and heard Lord will break the will of His last work. [91] And seeing house burned down, I thought it was just and mercy to save life of the child and that I saw not after again my children there. And as my spirit was fiery so to burn all I had, and hence prayed Lord would send fire of word, baptize me with fire.348 And since the Lord hath set my heart at liberty.

Hannah Brewer

HANNAH BREWER (dates unknown) was probably Anne, the wife of John Brewer. He may have been the John Brewer who came from Sussex on the Lyon in 1632. If so, they married prior to 1642, when they had their first child. Three years later Anne had their second, a girl. John received a small land grant from Cambridge in 1645, but they subsequently moved to Sudbury and then to Framingham. She probably joined the church in 1640. In March of 1647, about the time when John Brewer moved to Sudbury, a Hannah Brewer married Henry Looker, a freeman of that town. From the evidence available, therefore, two possibilities exist: one, that Hannah was John Brewer’s sister, or, two, and more probably, that Anne and Hannah are one and the same person and thus the wife of John Brewer and subsequently of Henry Looker.

Savage, 1:243. NEHGR, 63:280 (1909). Charles Henry Pope, Pioneers of Massachusetts (Boston, 1900), 67.

[92]   [32.] HANNAH BREWER

I heard what a misery it was to be without God in the world and that I was in condition. And so was saddened and sick and thought if I should die, I should die eternally. So I would not speak of my condition to any. And hearing of sin of Sabbath breaking and taking God’s name in vain, the Lord set that sad on my heart. And I heard that promise proclaimed—Lord, Lord merciful and gracious etc.349—but could apply nothing.

Robert Holmes

ROBERT HOLMES (circa 1614–1663), a husbandman, grew up in Northumberland and lived at Newcastle, Northumberland, just before coming to Cambridge early in 1636. At Cambridge he married Jane; they lived on Brattle Street and farmed their land scattered around the Cambridge area. Attaining freemanship on 2 June 1641, Holmes held several town offices. He was chosen constable in 1649, 1657, and 1662 and served as a surveyor on the highways one year. He also worked on community projects, such as repairing the meetinghouse. In 1658, Holmes was still in full communion with the Cambridge church. His share in the Shawshine division came to an appreciable one hundred fifty acres. Moreover, his position of moderate affluence is reflected in the £324–03–04 estate he left in 1663.

See note for wife, Jane Holmes, page 76.

[93]   [33.] ROBERT HOMES

In days of ignorance I contented with common prayer and homilies and sometime went to word but lived above twenty years in disobedience to parents and subject in my will to every lust. That since I have wondered the Lord cut me not off then and so I removed from my father’s house in Northumberland and there I was rude as ever before. And we heard a sermon once a month and where I heard nothing but sleep and there I fain would stay. For my spiritual estate I never looked after it. I was sick to death but took no care for my soul if I died so and sought to buy cattle when well. And at last I came to Newcastle, where I was much given to work and covetousness and at last I saw all things here were empty vanities. And I was terrified about my estate doubting of a sin I lived in doubtfully and hence at last left off that doubtful sin from a book. But could not find repentance for sin and my life past and hearing Dr. Jenison,350 Zechariah 12:10—spirit of mourning—and hence heart melted and I had joy. And though plague was great yet I went to the word. And seeing one that had the plague, I asked what promise I had to live on and Isaiah 26—stayed on thee.351 In my heart I purposed at last came to New England and found heart and all ordinances dead but saw sin of common prayer and so affected. And established by Mr. Cotton’s352 white353 horse hearing—I am oppressed undertake for me354—I prayed to help me and reveal Himself to me. And my heart was melted all sermon time and being sacrament time I went home and cried to Him. Still I am doubting but I know I shall know if I follow on and if He damn me He shall do it in His own way.

Elizabeth Cutter

ELIZABETH CUTTER (circa 1576–1663) lost her father when she was very young, and her mother placed her with a family at Newcastle, Northumberland. She remained there about six years before moving to another family; then she married. Her husband and three children—William, Jr., Richard, and Barbara—first came to New England, and Elizabeth soon joined them. “Old Goodwife” Elizabeth Cutter and her family are first recorded in Cambridge when her husband, William, helped lay out highways in 1639. The last mention of William Cutter, Sr., occurs in the town book in 1646. Barbara met and married, probably in 1643, Elijah Corlet, master of the Cambridge Grammar School. Elizabeth lived with her daughter and son-in-law until her death in 1663 or 1664, aged eighty-seven. She probably joined the church in 1640.

Savage, 1:496. Town Book, 38, 66, 98. NEHGR, 73:3 (1919).


I was born in a sinful place where no sermon preached. My parents I knew not father, mother sent me to Newcastle, where placed in a godly family as I think. And hearing—fear God, keep His commandments355—two of which third and fourth I saw I broke. And six and seven years I was convinced thus; and I went to another family where the people were carnal and there fell to a consumption and after followed with Satan and afraid he would have me away. Mr. Rodwell356 came to me and he was an instrument of much good to me. And afterward Lord’s hand was sad on me husband taken away and friends also to this place. And I desired to come this way in sickness time and Lord brought us through many sad troubles by sea and when I was here the Lord rejoiced my heart. But when come I had lost all and no comfort and hearing from foolish virgins357 those that sprinkled with Christ’s blood were unloved. So I saw I was a Christless creature and hence in all ordinances was persuaded nothing did belong to me. Durst not seek nor call God Father nor think Christ shed His blood for me. And afterward I went to T[homas] S[hepard] and found more liberty and so had less fear but hearing of foolish virgins were cast off358 so should I being a poor ignorant creature. Going to servants of the Lord I told them I could not be persuaded one lived so long. Hearing Mr. S[hepard] if I were as Abram and had such gifts,359 then Lord would accept, but if poor creature so I sought the Lord the more. And hearing in day of humiliation Lord by sundry places Lord rejoiced my heart—[95] Christ came to save sinners,360 Christ came not to save righteous but sinners,361 and to find lost and broken hearted,362 come to me weary.363 But I thought I had no repentance, yet I was encouraged to seek the Lord and to be content with His condemning will to lie at Lord’s feet. Seeing such need of Christ was not knowing whether else to go and that he that comes to me I’ll not cast away364 and so desired Lord to teach me and desired to submit.

Jane Wilkinson Winship

JANE WILKINSON WINSHIP (died before 1652) was the wife of Edward Winship, who came from Newcastle, Northumberland, in the early 1630’s. Edward, a freeman on 4 March 1635, was surely one of the most respected citizens of Cambridge, serving often as selectman, artillery officer, and in a variety of other trusted capacities. Winship’s prominent position is attested to by his grant of two hundred acres at Shawshine. When he died in 1688 he possessed a comfortable 345 pounds.

In contrast to her husband, all that is known of Jane is that she was the mother of four children, all baptized in the Cambridge church, where her husband was also a member. Her confession suggests that she sat under the ministry of Thomas Hooker before he went to Connecticut, but it was probably under Thomas Shepard’s care that she attained church membership around 1640. Jane died sometime between 1648, when a child died at birth, and about 1650, because Winship’s second wife gave birth in the winter of 1651/1652.

Harris, 15. Savage, 4:597. Town Book, 98. Middlesex County Wills no. 25278. Church Records, 22. Gozzaldi, 828.


Hearing 2 Jeremiah 14—two evils broken cisterns365—I was often convinced by Mr. Hooker366 my condition was miserable and took all threatenings to myself. I heard by T[homas] S[hepard] the evil of sin that separated from Christ though so much pity and hence I was convinced of evil of sin. And was afraid to die and should forever lie under wrath of God and I heard He that had smitten He could heal Hosea 6.367 And hearing T[homas] S[hepard]—terror to all that were out of Christ—wondered how they could eat, sleep that had no assurance of Christ. Hence troubled yet prayed Lord takes outcast of Israel.368 Hearing one say one thinks I have no Christ, I heard of David if any pleasure held bring me back again. And hearing Mr. Eaton369 out of 80 Psalms—sickness in every family yet no peace made—and so went under many sad fears. Hearing Mr. Rogers370 speak every sermon account and Mr. Rogers371 of Rowley—woman great is thy faith.372 And hearing Mr. Wells373 caused by want of confession I went I opened my heart about sin against Holy Ghost. I thought it impossible to have my heart changed 2 Jeremiah—is there anything too hard for me374—I was comforted. Hearing of doubts of saints, one was waverings of the minds, other of wills and minds. The one drew them from God, the other near to God. I saw it was not so with me. Hearing—say to them that be fearful in heart, behold He comes375—Mr. Wells—pull off thy soles [i.e., shoes] off thy feet for ground is holy.376 And hearing Exodus 34, forgiving [97] iniquity,377 I thought Lord could will, was He willing. But I saw how rich to forgive and hearing John 13 hearing in use offer of Christ to offer will lowered lose glory by me that have been so vile? Yes, there is hope for God hath recovered His glory378 and that nothing is required but to accept. But I cannot. Lord will draw379 but how know that if take Lord to free from misery and wrath and as king. And hearing of lecture sermon use, if content with Christ alone Lord will visit. Hearing whether ready for Christ at His appearing had fears,380 city of refuge.381 Hearing had not Lord done that as if I could say there is no God like this, I found that by hearing—in Him fatherless find mercy.382 Hearing—oppressed undertake for me383—eased. Hearing whether Christ was accepted (1) whether content with Him alone, (2) when absent mourns under it. Hearing many apprehended Christ and Christ had not apprehended them and one was if overcoming love of Christ had been upon their hearts. Doubting by reason of passion whether any grace, I desired in a day of humiliation Lord would meet. Hearing humble yourself under God’s hand384 comforted. Hearing of Thomas’ unbelief,385 he showed trust in Lord forever for there is everlasting strength and stayed.

Jane Palfrey

JANE PALFREY (dates unknown) lived periodically at Newcastle and at Heddon, both in Northumberland. Her husband died, and shortly afterwards she brought her two children to New England in the 1630’s. At Cambridge she met and married George Willis or Willows or Willdoes prior to 1638; they lived on Garden Street and had two boys. She probably joined the church in 1640 and was still in full communion in 1658. Jane died sometime before her husband’s death in 1690.

See note for husband, George Willows, page 42.


It pleased the Lord to let me see sin of ignorance. I used a form of prayer and came to Newcastle, where I used a form. And there being a great sickness and all to go from their families, I was cast in a place where Mr. Glover386 lived at Heddon. And there was cast down and brought low inwardly. Neither can I speak any particulars but I was convinced of such sins as I durst not commit afterward. And I came again to Newcastle but I could not live there but rather desired to go to a more private family where I had more liberty. And went under many doubts and fears and was sometime encouraged and sometime cast down. And when husband gone, I thought all I had was but a form and I went to Mr. Morton387 and desired he would tell me how it was with me. He told me if I hated that form it was a sign I had more than a form. But I could not be quiet but to him and asked: when so far humbled as to be accepted in Christ Jesus? He said they would not think they had enough but that they would hunger after Him the more. And Dr. Jenison388 and Mr. Morton encouraged me. And then I had a mind for New England and I thought I should know more of my own heart. So I came and thought I saw more than ever I could have believed that I wondered earth swallowed me not up. And 25 Matthew 5—foolish virgins saw themselves void of all grace. I thought I was so and was gone no farther. And questioned all that ever the Lord had wrought, I’ll never leave thee.389 I could now apprehend that yet [99] desired the Lord not to leave me nor forsake me and afterward I thought I was now discovered. Yet hearing He would not hide His face forever,390 was encouraged to seek. But I felt my heart rebellious and loathe to submit unto Him and was long under it. And that Romans 9—hath not potter power over the clay to make me a vessel of honor391—etc., was quieted. But could not resolve to speak to any. At last I was left to a discontented frame and I considered with a woeful frame I had distrusting God’s providence and so was in a confusion in my spirit and could not speak to my husband. So I went sadly loathing myself. I should rise against any providence of His and durst not lift up my eyes to the Lord being so great yet 25 Psalm—be merciful because my sin is great.392 And this encouraged me to go but then I thought I should dishonor Lord the more in going to Him. But seeing Lord’s command in obedience to it I was encouraged to go to the Lord, Matthew 8 when centurion said: speak word I shall live393—that enough. And when heard—I will have mercy on whom I will394—but I was made by that word to lie down. And entrusted Lord to keep down my spirit and hearing Christ had received gifts for the rebellious I was made willing and wondered I was out of hell. Afterward I felt no hungerings and so far from loving as that I hated the Lord, yet I entrusted Lord though I had let my hold go. Yet He would not let His hold go of me and this stayed. And I went to the elder and then to a friend and asked if any had such a heart and such temptations. And they said, yes. When I came home again Lord came to me and showed me need of Lord’s strength and support every moment and was afraid to fall to the same condition again. [100] Yet I lost it again yet heard Lord would give strength to them that have no strength.395 And went to Elder Frost396 and he asked me a question which I could not answer, whether I saw a willingness and readiness in Lord to show mercy to me. And hearing Psalm 42, still hope in God397 was encouraged and hearing what a sin it was to resist the Lord, I entrusted the Lord to help me against it. And hearing greatest misery to be under sin and I had a fellow feeling of Christ’s sufferings and so had many objections and doubts answered which I forget.

Brother Greenee’s Wife

BROTHER GREENE’S WIFE was probably Jane, née Banbridge, the wife of Samuel Greene, New England’s first printer. Prominent as he became later in life, Samuel Greene was, at the time of the Cambridge confessions recorded by Shepard, a young man in his mid-twenties. His active career lay ahead of him, and about 1640, when his wife made her relation of faith, there was no reason to dignify him, or through him his wife, with the status of gentry. Elizabeth Greene, mother of Samuel, may be ruled out, although she was definitely a member of the church, because she was widowed long before the time of this confession. And Shepard, therefore, would have called Elizabeth “Widow Greene.” Jane Greene, Samuel’s first wife, bore their seven children beginning in 1640. At this point she was probably a woman in her early twenties. She died in November 1657. Samuel eventually remarried, had six more children, maintained an active press until his retirement in 1692, and died in 1702 at the age of eighty-seven.

Pope, 30. NEHGR, 104:81–83 (1950). Church Records, 10. For Elizabeth Greene see Savage, 2:299–300.


I was convinced of my disobedience hence mourned and prayed but thought this would do the deed. But was in fears of my estate because so long under means and yet my sins continued. And I begged to spare my life when ill that I might honor Him whom I had dishonored. But when I was well I was discouraged and saw at last Lord came to seek sinners398 and so intended to seek Christ. And hearing John 20—if take Christ on His own terms you may have Him now—and as none loved so as receive Him, so none hated so much as reject Him. And now God may set His seal on thee. So I went home in a hopeless condition by reason of sin. And then I heard—though sins like scarlet I’ll make them as white as snow.399 And one preaching here—on this rock I’ll build church400—showed how many ways a hypocrite might go and fall short and not build, where sunk because I had built on my affection. Yet hearing whether (1) freed from darling sins (2) whether cut off from own ends, which I saw. And being in a sunk estate Isaiah 41—seek water401—and being in a dead frame out of Matthew 25 spake as if known my condition. And hearing—He gives strength to them that have no strength,402 thou hast words of life403—I was supported.

Henry Dunster

HENRY DUNSTER (1609–1659) was the son of Henry Dunster of Balehoult, Bury, Lancashire, and was baptized in the Bury parish church on 26 November 1609. Dunster received a university education at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he earned both his B.A. (1630) and M.A. (1634) degrees. Returning to Bury, he taught school and was the curate of the church there. But, being dissatisfied with Laud’s administration of the Church of England, he decided to join fellow Nonconformists in Massachusetts, settling in Cambridge, where he joined the church in 1640 and became a freeman on 2 June 1641. The contents of his confession of faith are perfectly in line with tenets of Puritan orthodoxy at Massachusetts Bay, there being no hint of his later Anabaptist persuasion.

On 27 August 1640 ten magistrates and sixteen ministers of the Bay selected Dunster to replace Nathaniel Eaton as president of Harvard College. Immediately after Shepard’s death in August 1649 Dunster filled in as interim pastor until the congregation could agree on Jonathan Mitchell. Between that year and 1654 Dunster was developing his heterodox views on infant baptism and church membership of children, which he found most unappreciated at Cambridge. Bay officials, however, did not banish him to Rhode Island, the fate of most Baptists, because of his prestige and service to the community. Dunster attempted to resign his presidency in June 1654. Widely respected for his work in developing the college, he was persuaded to remain. On Sunday, 30 July, however, an incident took place during services which made his leaving more inevitable than ever. Without permission to speak, Dunster voiced his complaints about infant baptism to the congregation before the elder could silence him. Finally, on 24 October 1654, Dunster tendered his resignation to the Overseers of Harvard College, which they promptly accepted. Early in April of 1655, the county court at Cambridge tried Dunster “for disturbance of the ordinances of Christ” during the 30 July services and, finding him guilty, sentenced him to public admonition on the next lecture day. Before the end of spring in 1655, Dunster moved to Scituate, where he served as a minister until his death.

Rated “Mister” in the confessions, Henry Dunster was clearly of the gentry. In 1641 he married the wealthy widow of the Reverend Jose Glover. Four hundred acres were granted him by the town of Cambridge in 1649. At his death in 1659, the net value of his estate came to £897–17–05, with 24 pounds going for the physician’s fee and a properly elaborate funeral. The financial picture may not have been all that bright, however. In 1660 the town sought to settle all claim on the former Dunster house and land in Cambridge for 30 pounds, “considering the case as it is now circumstanced and especially the condition of his relict widow and children.”

Savage, 2:82. NEHGR, 80:94–95 (1926). Bartlett, 101. Jeremiah Chaplin, Life of Henry Dunster (Boston, 1872), 108, 114, 125, 130, 135. NEHGR, 106:20 (1952). Middlesex County Wills no. 6524. Town Book, 82, 132.

[102]   [38.] MR. DUNSTER

Dear brethren and sisters in Christ I account it no small mercy that the Lord hath called me to give an account to [you] of that faith and love I bear to Christ and His church and people. (1) Concerning faith: (1) the sum of Christian religion contains faith and obedience as you are daily taught. (1) Concerning faith I hold no faith which is not grounded on the revealed will of God in the word, the only rule of faith and manners so that they are not to be heard though they come as angels from heaven. It teacheth (1) God and (2) ourselves. (1) Concerning God, we come to know Him (1) in His essence and persons. (1) Concerning His essence I believe there is one God the only maker of all things who is in Himself full, wise and holy and gracious, every way perfect and sufficient ground of happiness and main pillar of happiness to His people so that our spirit can find no adequate object of happiness but God only who only can satisfy the spirit and who has a world to command. This God so sufficient yet made a world in time by the word of His power by His holy word, Christ, and by His spirit moving on the waters to bring them to form;404 wherein He hath shown His endless power and bounty. I also believe He governs the whole world by His providence so that no bird or hare falls but by it.405 The spiritual creatures are angels and men. Angels, some are good and some are bad. Man also by the first suggestion of Satan man fell from God and fell from that blessed image that God created in holiness and righteousness and believing Satan did receive the character and image of Satan on his soul. So in our natural estate [103] they have communion with the devil cannot be subject unto the law. Man thus falling, God in His mercy comes to seek man. And when man appears before His creator though first convinced of his guilt yet He printeth out of His mercy the Gospel that the woman’s seed shall break the serpent’s head.406 So that God pitying our estate hath sent us a savior having two natures, one divine, begotten of Father before all worlds, the other manly nature, because He took body and soul; one so are united in an individual person, God, else He could not satisfy nor be a sufficient head for the church to shed His spirit for the building [His] up, and man because man had sinned and that in that sin must die and suffer. Hence hath sanctified our nature in the manhood and in this person hath perfectly fulfilled law of God and satisfied wrath and so hath wrought for us full salvation. I need not speak of His judgment all which I believe as ’tis in Gospel concerning our union to Christ how we come to Christ, (1) Every man is not partaker of Christ in the visible way in churches. Many perish, all have not lively faith. Many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able though they pretend Christ and faith,407 though I hope better in such churches where we are made partakers of Christ by faith only. Which faith is not feigned. Every persuasion is not Christ but lively sticking to God and Christ for life and is ordinarily wrought by the word of faith. And hence let those that do not believe attend on word of faith. This faith which God works in men’s hearts, He doth daily strengthen by those ordinances in His church especially by word hence not as some erring ones cast off the word of faith to receive suggestions and revelations without the word [104] which is provoking God to take away all the spirit. The spirit breathing only ordinarily in God’s ordinances, hence give not ear to them that look only to be fed by heaven, casting off ordinances.408 As word, so prayer is another means to confirm faith. Pray to the Lord and when you pray believe409 and so this will strengthen faith. As prayer so the Lord has given two sacraments: (1) baptism by which we have our initiation and concerning it I believe that only believers and their seed ought to be received into the church by that sacrament. Hence profane unbelievers are not to be received unto the church and that their seed are [not] to be received. That of Paul is clear—else your children were unholy.410 Hence if holy let them be offered to God—let children come to me.411 And as children so those that come to mature age ought to be received into the church by baptism and concerning the outward elements something there is concerning sprinkling in the Scripture. Hence [God] not offended when is used. You that have been baptized and have made a covenant in baptism to forsake devil, away then with pride, world and lusts of flesh. Hence live not in licentiousness etc. and your covenant is to believe in Christ for life, hence give up yourselves to Christ so for obedience. (2) The other sacrament is the Lord’s Supper, the outward elements bread and wine, and ’tis not the quantity of the elements which our souls need but faith in which we receive.412 Outward elements may be given when Christ is not and grace may be given when sacraments are not. For though we [105] have not sacrament every day, yet we may have communion with Christ. Hence let those that be kept out humble themselves so that it be not contemned and here let me protest against the wickedness of papists who think Christ is bodily present. Faith only makes present. Now altars and tables have no faith but we receive Christ spiritually. (3) Holy conferences. (4) Daily reading the Scriptures. (5) The private ordinances as soliloquies and meditations. (6) Discipline in the church. Lord hath commanded there should be a difference between precious and the vile hence two sorts should be held out: (1) unbelievers, (2) disobedient; for all Christian religion containing faith and obedience the soul and body of the church. Hence if he saith he hath faith and hath no obedience,413 ought to be kept out. If obedient without faith, walks civilly only, he ought to be kept out. And hence this keeping faith is holy, just and good and [I] shall labor to my power to maintain. Nay if those that do believe and obey yet if they walk ill are to be admonished. If they reform, bless God; but if they do not reform, then two or three more and so at last cast out414 and afterward to be received if repent. Hence I bless God to see this. (7) There are also extraordinary helps to help their faith and obedience and for their sins as fasting and prayer in case of great calamity. And so when any special thanksgiving to feast in God’s presence with all moderation. And if the Lord do pursue our spirits with some special benefits, a Christian may vow part of his substance or endeavor to God which ought to be performed. (2) Obedience to God which flows from faith, for faith being in the heart is not connixt415 but it’s effectual to cleanse heart from sin. [106] And to adorn his soul with grace so that he desires to be holy as Christ is holy.416 Now here they fall from faith who hold they believe but they may live dissolutely. These err worse than the papists for a Christian takes Christ’s righteousness and holiness to kill the old man,417 sanctification as well as justification to save them from the guilt of sin in their consciences and power of sin in their hearts. Papists e contra think to be saved by their own doings and labor for sanctification. With this last I hope we shall not be pestered because Lord is bruising His power but let us in this country look to the other. The guide of this holiness or the touchstone by which ’tis tried is generally by word, particularly by law which law we receive not from Moses out of Christ but from Christ writing those laws on our hearts by the finger of the Holy Ghost.418 Now this law is administered either in the letter and so convinces of gross sins and in the spirit and so he is convicted of idolatry when he loves the creature. He is convicted of Sabbath [breaking] and disobedience to parents and when he hath any rebellious thoughts and so for six and seven commandments the thoughts are against the commandments.419 A Christian having led his life in Christian obedience, I believe the Lord at death will take him to Himself at death and judgment when all Christ’s enemies shall be trod under His feet,420 when go—ye cursed.421 And when He comes, our bodies and souls shall be made like unto Him.422 [107] Concerning the Lord’s personal dealing with my soul, David sayeth—I will declare Thy truth to the great congregation423—hence I’ll speak. There was a servant of God, Mr. Hubbard,424 powerful. I was not past four or five years old I heard many scoff at his preaching at this great flocking after him. And I asked why men did so, they said—to hear the word. And I said then—if it be the word why do men speak against it? If it be not, why do men hear it? But I went no farther. But about twelve years old, Lord gave us a minister and the Lord gave me an attentive ear and heart to understand. And preaching out of Revelation, repent else they could not be saved.425 And whereof they should repent of their sins shown out of the law, this word was more sweet to me than anything in the world. And hence some took notice of me and labored to set on the word. By conference the Lord showed me my sins and recovery by Christ and to believe and when I heard and to obey. But with many failings in the school I remember not this work well. After this I went to Cambridge, where growing more careless I lost my comfort. But I came to Trinity to hear Dr. Preston426 by which I was quickened and repaired so that the word did follow. But especially Mr. Goodwin427 out of Psalm 85. I was convinced I had departed from God by folly428 in dissolute living and hence I thought if I lived unto God, Lord would speak peace. If not, e contra. A month after, my heart did fall off to folly and the greatest thing which separated my soul from God was inordinate love of human learning. Take heed of this lest desiring to be as gods we become as devils.429 When I came from University to teach school, the Lord wounded my soul with temptations for five years together. One in this country seeing me fall in such weakness spoke peaceably, but in every [108] thing the Lord showed me my failing. So that reading Romans 1 and Galatians 5 I saw all the abominations of Gentiles,430 even to kill parents. I showed I did steal in stealing from parents so that the Lord showed me how I did live in every sin. And I saw I did leave a stain on every ordinance of God. And the more I did strive to keep the law, the more vile I felt myself and here I thought, thou has returned to folly, and hence I speak everlasting wrath to thee. I saw nothing but doleful horror in conscience and looked when lightning should kill me, earth open and mind apt to all errors. Memory could retain no good and so in affections and heart unthinkably and inconceivably hard. And at last the Lord showed me where the fault was, that is, that I sought righteousness by the law. In my judgment I sought salvation by Christ but in deed did not. But Romans 10 beginning—The Lord showed the Jews fell on that stumbling stone431 and here the Lord: (1) informed, (2) persuaded my mind that I could never have any reconciliation and cleansing but by righteousness and spirit of His Son. But here I found another obstacle, will Lord have mercy on such an enemy? Hence the Lord, Romans 5:8, 9, 10, the Lord showed that when enemies, Christ died for the ungodly. And hence I saw there was not only righteousness in Christ but even for those that were sinners and saw themselves enemies. And in fears here I read the Psalms 40 where every verse took an impression on my soul. I waited patiently to do so and I in miry pit and set me on rock.432 So I saw Lord could do so for me. And when I saw no offering was required but baring the ear433 I saw the Lord must enable me to hear. And when said I come434 as Christ and of David and so might be verified of every member of Christ. [109] And I desired Lord would write His laws435 and I saw innumerable evils had compassed me about.436 And yet, as David thought, now is a first time I was enabled to gather fruit, ’tis a time for me to call upon the Lord. And herein the Lord made me look up to the Lord to be reconciled and change my nature. I believed word, Lord would receive an enemy, but I did not discourse am I such an enemy as feels it because I did really feel it. Hence I thought he that is such an enemy Lord might receive. Hence I cast myself on Lord’s grace and then I bid adieu to all [self-]righteousness when thus I let go my hold of all things and took hold on Christ. Lord said I did believe and hence loved Lord. A man must not only see he is a sinner and so think Christ will receive such a one but here may be a deceit for a man must hold on waiting till Lord speak peace. Hence in such cases stay and wait on the Lord and though you do believe the promise, stay for the Spirit till he seals the promise etc. Lord hath made me bid adieu all worldly treasures. And as corruptions in the church came, (1) I began to suspect them, then to hate them. But here was my falseness that I was loath to read such books as might make me see such truths. But the Lord helped me against all. So after ten years troubles I came hither and the Lord gives much peace to see the order of His people. And I bless God for keeping me out but I desire you to be careful what scholars enter to your churches and pray for humility of spirit.

Mr. Haynes

ONE would be impressed indeed if John Haynes, wealthy gentleman of Essex and governor of Connecticut, were to make his profession of faith at Thomas Shepard’s church during his governorship. The “Mr. Haynes” of the Shepard document, however, is probably not John but his son, Roger. Internal evidence in the manuscript seems to reveal a young man still under the instruction and influence of parents while living at Hartford. Roger, the only one of Governor Haynes’s sons who had come to New England and was old enough to have made an appearance before the Cambridge congregation, soon afterwards returned to England and died, perhaps even on the return voyage. Therefore, we are apparently left with the confession of a young adult whose family and position already dignified him with the title of gentleman.

Savage, 2:389. Mary Jeanne Anderson Jones, Congregational Commonwealth: Connecticut, 1636–1662 (Middletown, Conn., 1968), 34.


Being young, God stirred my spirit somewhat under Mr. Dodd’s437 ministry. Several saints would meet with me; it was God’s great mercy to myself and others of us to be under such factors to restrain us from such sins which others were running to and [not] to blemish our lives with sins of that country, others were addicted to. In Essex under Mr. Rogers438 of Messing there were many overflowings of affections yet that truth was by my sins extinguished so that all those years in England I can make out no distinct work. It was God’s goodness to bring us to these parts. We had some sad expressions of God’s providences in our passage hither when, if we had perished in storms, I thought I should to hell. But after the storms I went on as I did before. And not being long here in this place, Mr. Hooker439 out of Mark 9 speaking of the sin of offending brethren440 that they should go where the worm never dies out.441 And most terrible expressions of wrath came from him. And knowing they did belong to myself, and by this means I was a long while in most grievous horror of spirit. And speaking of Isaac’s meditation, he showed a man should pray morning and evening442 which I knew not before which suited well with me in that condition under wrath. And so I intended to set upon prayer. And by this means I did find ease in my carnal way in the very slubbering of duties over and, when my conscience was pacified, this was all I looked for. And so being calmed and casting off the word, going from one sermon to another and never troubled, yet sometime the word would be stirring of me especially 55 Isaiah—seek while He may be found443—which set the more upon me. And then I went to prayer and there had I ease. But hereafter in this place hearing that—all the world was at enmity with God444—my heart was shaken and this increased my sorrow, especially being continued one Sabbath after another when it was pressed. And so my spirit was more wounded than before and I could not see any way of recovery out of this. And here my spirit was much stirred. Thoughts I had to tell others of my heart but I was kept off from it by one means or other. Yet one time, occasionally speaking with one in our house, she was sensible of what I found and careful she was to get out what she could and she counseled me to go to speak to others. But I was awkward to it but she counseled me to attend on the means and so I had a heart to attend more attentively. These troubles were worn out by little and little again and I began to be calmed again. Yet when the word came home I would quench the motions of it by this thought, if God would do me good He would set it out. Yet conscience did check me often and that Scripture appeared—remember thy creator in the days of thy youth445—and thus I was carried on in much perplexity. Scarce able [111] to hide it from others and yet I comforted myself I was not so bad because I was under covenant of godly parents. Yet I was beat off from this and many promises I applied as he that confesses shall find mercy.446 And here continued some time by false applying the promises never secure, whether I had the conditions indeed but a hoverly447 testing of them. At Hartford I heard by Mr. H[ooker]—he that never saw need of Christ should never have Christ—which I could not see. And so I thought to begin again but they were so tedious and cutting to my heart that I could not think by considering what must these sorrows be renewed again. At last Mr. Hooker preaching—old England sermons they were pricked at their hearts448—and doctrine he raised that there must be a true sight of sin before the heart be affected with it. And I could not find I had showing how this was, viz. by the law, and how they must see them (1) in respect of God as those that did oppose the God of heaven and those they did nullify the deity of God. And showed as wicked men did hate the very being of God Himself and now whether I would or not I must be cast into new sorrows; and in respect of man that it made them separate from God and made them incapable of receiving good. And I saw I saw not sin. And hereupon the Lord pressed in upon me and all former truths came in to aggravate my misery. And hereupon many slavish fears of the devil and going to bed lest before morning I should fall to eternal sorrow. And I was now fearful of doing, speaking lest all should aggravate misery which I thought was as sure to be inflicted as I had a being. And so would not eat and to lay violent hands upon myself, hell not being greater I thought than what I felt. And loath I was to speak, or others to me, and yet I listened to some counsel but thought my sins greater than others because it was against manifest light, and that I was another Francis Spira449 and so was afraid to pray. And after this, also on a fast, Mr. Stone450—the Lord’s hand is not shortened, He cannot save but sin doth it.451 But out of Romans 7, penult, he preaching law of members rebelling and showing the body of death.452 Here also I came to see more light into my misery. The Lord seeing me in this case I made use of daily family instructions from my father, mother which did somewhat stay my spirit. And would speak something to encourage me when I was ready to forsake the Lord and a little encouragement then was a great deal of God’s goodness. And several times Mr. Hooker spoke something to them that were wounded yet could not get off my fears by all my hopes. And desiring to come down to those parts again which my friends wanted and being here long, the Lord encouraged my spirit something yet many fears I had though I desired to make the best of it and through his goodness out of Isaiah 38:9—I am oppressed undertake for me.453 I found I might say the same words but I knew not whether the Lord would. Then that doctrine came—he that would get deliverance from soul pressure must to Christ—this was means from heaven [112] as a surety (1) interceding and promising to discharge all debts, and pursuing and answering all accusers. Now I thought with myself, this was God’s great goodness being almost discouraged still waiting upon Him showing His remedy my spirit was much affected and fresh hopes of mercy were let into my soul and that such a one must be sensible of his oppressed condition and not that in his judgment do it but heart. Here the Lord stayed my heart yet not without fears. Yet hope the Lord might be a surety for me and also by considering Zechariah 13—a fountain opened for Judah454—and that brazen serpent455 and still desiring to walk closely the Lord bore up my spirit and Lord went on to give me more. The Lord in meditation of it the Lord let in some glory of Himself from heaven and I could not deny but these things were in. And being in prayer I saw a great deal of the glory of God but it soon departed but left me with many sweet meditations of the vanity of the world. Yet I often hearing how God had met with God in means and hearing I had not and there through my own remissness which wounded me. And then I fell to discouragement but Lord stayed my heart by considering—why should clay rise up against potter?456 Yet had many proud thoughts when Lord made me sensible of yet subjecting my heart to His will and no sooner did I ever subject my heart to His will but had some answer of prayer. And Lord usually let in new thoughts of mercy which stayed my heart, Isaiah 55:1—all that thirst come and live. The Lord when I was seeking of His face to subject myself to His will and afraid I was to stay my heart on any promise. Then I examined had I that thirsting frame, which I found I had in some measure. And then considering why shall I spend money for that which is not bread457 and so I considered what need I had of Christ. And the Lord witnessed I did thirst and so the Lord did draw my heart to Himself and then I had manifest light of my estate. And this was the sweetness because I thought I wanted this and that yet because Lord said—buy without money458—the Lord also affected my heart. And thinking how did I know whether the Lord would stir these waters again459 hence I thought He would make an everlasting covenant with such souls. This added to my hope. And now considering what Lord had done for myself what should I do for Christ, finding many times a dead frame and sluggish heart and opposite to His will. Yet I find the Lord somewhat weakening body of death460 which cleaves to me and hence I was moved to seek the Lord in this way. I had many carnal thoughts. I thought it would be restraining of my liberty but it lasted not long, thinking the church to be no bondage. And my heart was troubled for this and I thought if liberty was restrained it was in carnal respects hence Psalm 27:4—one thing I desire to dwell all days of my life.

Goodman Shepard

ONE MIGHT well expect that Goodman Shepard would be Thomas Shepard’s younger half-brother, who came with him aboard the Defence. This, however, is not the case. The confession in question can be dated about the year 1640. The Reverend Mr. Thomas Shepard’s brother, Samuel, became freeman in 1636 and was soon chosen selectman and town representative. Having the grant of a 400-acre farm, he was titled “Mr. Samuel Shepard” and therefore could have been entered as “Brother” but never “Goodman.” Also, internal evidence calls for an older man, already long married before his coming to New England. Having brought a wife and four children from England, Edward Shepard (no relation to Thomas and Samuel) better fits the prescribed mold.

Edward Shepard (before 1606–circa 1680), a mariner and farmer, his wife, Violet, and their three daughters emigrated from Yorkshire and settled at Cambridge prior to 1639, when Shepard purchased a home on South Street and five acres of farmland on the Charles River. Edward, a church member before 1641 and still in full communion in 1658, became a freeman on 10 May 1643 and eventually took an active part in town government. He served in 1656 as constable, in 1663 as a surveyor for a new road to Roxbury, and two years later as a Cambridge selectman. Violet never lived to see Edward accept any of his appointments, dying in the winter of 1649. She did have at least a fourth child; her son, John, and his wife, the mother of four, were in full communion with the Cambridge church in 1658. Edward married, about 1650, Mary, the widow of Robert Pond, of Dorchester, gaining an eleven-year-old daughter from the marriage. They probably had one more child, a girl, Elizabeth, in 1660. Edward lived a full life—his will, written 1 October 1674, described him as “having arrived unto old age.”

Savage, 4:71, 75. Town Book, 98.


The Lord brought me into a family where I saw what a vile creature I was. And going to hear Mr. Rogers,461 and hearing him speak against Sabbath breaking which I was guilty of, the Lord set on upon me. It wrought so with me that I had not only thought my own thoughts but by acts and hearing from Exodus—they that break Sabbath should die the death462—hence I was much troubled. And my dame would question my condition that the Lord would take away my sin, and being in a weary condition,463 Matthew 11:27, this the Lord made some stay. But being sent out to sea I could not continue at means and there I was laughed at because I would not drink and break Sabbath as they used to do. And the Lord in this condition I thought—blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you464 and the Lord kept me with a heart desiring to follow Him in the use of the means. But when I came here and not seeing that need and necessity of the Lord I thought myself miserable. And hearing Psalm 119—I’ll never forget thy precepts465—and I thought it thus never did quicken me. And hearing of Thomas’s weaknesses466 and hearing of Nehemiah that desires to fear Thy name,467 I found a discontented proud heart and that God resists the proud468 and that of Jeremiah—you have done worse than your fathers but proud.469 This was set on yet hearing out of Genesis 17 God’s all sufficiency,470 hearing when a poor creature was in a lost condition and knew not what to do yet that the Lord was sufficient. The Lord could give a heart and a humble heart. And hence I thought there might be some hope but I knew not what to do. I saw there was enough in the Lord but He was a great way off. Yet one morning considering things, James 4 came to mind—draw near to me and I will draw near to you471—me thought the Lord spoke graciously. But I could not come and I thought—open thy mouth wide I’ll fill it472 but I could not do it but Exodus—stand still and see salvation of God.473 But Lord was pleased in this poor condition to let me hear—Gospel was preached to the poor474 and though sin were as crimson yet He would make them as white as snow.475 But I could not tell what to do and so I remained.

John Fessenden

JOHN FESSENDEN or Fessington (died 1666), a glover, and his wife, Jane, came from Chilham, Kent, and settled in Cambridge in the 1630’s. They purchased a home on Eliot Street and owned land in the Cambridge vicinity. He attained freemanship on 2 June 1641 and within two decades achieved some prominence in Cambridge affairs. A constable in 1650 and 1662, a surveyor of highways in 1654, and a selectman nine years between 1656 and 1666, Fessenden still had time to perform less glamorous tasks—such as building fences, marking out land boundaries, or selling timber—for the Cambridge community. He and his wife had no children but by 1658 took Reuben Olbon, the son of Elizabeth Olbon, into their home.

Since no inventory of Fessenden’s estate has survived, his economic position cannot be estimated, although the town certainly considered him a more than respectable citizen. Nor is his age known. Fessenden died intestate. Shortly thereafter, Thomas Danforth, a prominent local gentleman, a twenty-year-old woman, and fifteen-year-old Samuel Mather testified in court as to the deceased’s wishes. Concerning his estate it was Fessenden’s desire “that his wife as she had been helpful to him in the getting of it, so she should have the comfort of it.” Jane outlived John by sixteen years, dying at the age of eighty.

Gozzaldi, 252. Bartlett, 101. Church Records, 9. Town Book, 87–163, passim. Savage, 2:155. Middlesex County Wills no. 7476.

[114]   [41.] 8 JANUARY 1640/41 GOODMAN FESSINGTON

In the days of my youth living in my father’s house I lived in sin and lying and excused one lie by telling another. And hearing a minister show that he that was a liar was of the devil476 and I considered of commands of robbing orchards in commandment 8477 and I was helped against it. I was in a great strait in my soul and minister speaking how Pharaoh inflicted most evils when they began to come out478 and Matthew 10—he that will be Christ’s disciple must deny himself.479 After this I had some joys and had a desire to depart the world but upon this Satan cast in filthy notions into my heart and so I thought I had committed the unpardonable sin and I durst not make known my condition to any lest they should be troubled for those things. After I heard from the word if they could look up to the brazen serpent,480 I thought I could not do so nor look up to me481 and I was cast down because I was not humbled. And hearing how those are drawn to Christ: (1) by word, (2) then by motions of Spirit, (3) examples of saints, (4) sacraments; and so I went in use of means. And I hearing—seek the Lord482—I sought. Then I was removed from my father’s house and I was tempted to sell on the Sabbath day and so I resolved not to sell on that day and the Lord kept me from it. And then I heard sin of using many words in bargaining. So Hebrews 9 came—to die and then to judgment.483 And to buy as cheap as I could and sell as dear as I could was my sin. And having no assurance, I hearing a man might ask for a sign. And being sick I asked to give my wife recovery if He loved me but I durst not think well of it etc. And hearing forgiving Lord would forgive484 and one sign was to speak. After this when the book of liberty485 came forth and being afraid I should not stand in trials, hence I looked this way. So I came and my father was willing. And when I came here hearing of foolish virgins,486 complained of want of grace, no sign of want of grace. And hearing of the freeness of the love of the bridegroom and speaking that all things were ready in Christ, the Lord affected myself with it. And Lord made me willing to take the Lord Jesus. But after this I was in a benumbed condition hence I sought the Lord clear up my condition. And hearing Mr. Phillips487—Lord gives us all things by His divine power—which pertain to life and godliness. [115] And I thought all repentance would not satisfy justice. And Lord brought that to mind—come all ye weary and heavy laden and I’ll refresh488—hence I came to Him for justification and sanctification. And hearing Matthew 25, many thought their penny good silver489 which would prove but tin at last and all their work was yet to do. And hence grew sadness of heart and hence was encouraged to go and come to the light, etc. And hearing of His word Isaiah 38 of Hezekiah[’s] pressure490 hence heard pressures of a son and a slave, the one in regard of a son. I saw sin was it which did oppress491 and have found some mercy and strength against sin. And after this at Boston out of 14 Revelation—these are they that keep commands of God492—and so speaking of the covenant which they make one with another: Isaiah 62—as young man marries a bride so shall thy sons marry thee493 and Psalm 147—broken in heart494—I thought I was so; sin and want of God’s love.

Richard Cutter

RICHARD CUTTER (1621–1693) left England with his mother, Elizabeth, his brother, William, and his sister, Barbara, sometime in the 1630’s. He settled permanently at Cambridge and occasionally received land grants from the town. Richard became a freeman on 2 June 1641 and served the community some thirty years later by caring for the fences around the Menotine field. But his greatest service to Cambridge was as a cooper. The town frequently granted him permission to fell “trees for his trade,” enabling him to construct such items as cart wheels or fence rails. And, although twice fined for the “felling of wood and timber on the common with out liberty,” the selectmen, in 1673, appointed him and James Hubbard to enforce an order prohibiting “the cutting down any green oak or walnut or lopping any tree upon the common with out liberty from the selectmen.” He was also a member of the artillery company of Boston. His first wife, Elizabeth, had six children, the first in July 1645, all baptized in the Cambridge church, before she died in 1662. Cutter then married the widow Embsden, eventually adding five more children to his family.

Jonathan Mitchell’s list of church members records him as “readmitted,” a possible sign of his backsliding. At his death in 1683, aged seventy-two, Richard Cutter’s estate was valued at £228–17–04.

Savage, 1:495. NEHGR, 91:82 (1937). Paige, 521. Town Book, 76. Church Records, 22–23. Middlesex County Wills no. 5648.

[116]   [42.] RICHARD CUTTER

The Lord was pleased for to give my parents hearts to bring me up in the fear of the Lord though I had much opposition of heart against my parents and those that were over me. And so I came to this place and coming by sea and having a hard voyage my heart was dead and senseless and I found my heart as stubborn as before. And though I had some affection yet stuck nothing by me. Yet hearing—thou shall never wash my feet495—and hearing one sin continued in with obstinacy and hardness will separate forever from Christ, and I considered if one would what would many which affected much for the present but not much. And from ninth verse—if I wash thee not496—and having way to subdue a rebellious heart was to bring it to a strait but nothing stuck till he came to the 30th verse of the same chapter. And hearing those that were ready went immediate communion of it. And at the naming of the doctrine I thought I was not ready for Christ. And one reason because all were naturally unready but in use of terrors then—thou that art not prepared shall not enjoy Him—and very sad it was. And my heart did slight it but if I be separated from Christ ’tis that which makes angels stand amazed at it and I stood behind the meeting house. And from Judas went immediately out497 and observed that one sin whereby some men pursue their perdition ’tis opposing of His members. And so by this sin many other sins were brought to mind and so could not speak to any. I could apply nothing but what was against the evil. Yet supported by some Scripture one from Jeremiah 3:4—will He retain His anger forever498—I saw I had done as much evil as I could. And Jeremiah 8:4—shall they fall and not arise, the Lord turn away and not return—and another was Hosea 6:1–2 verses. I considered the Lord had wounded me and we shall know if we go on and so was encouraged. And Matthew 25, hearing of many differences499 one was to live to God and I thought it would be greatest mercy if ever the Lord would help me to live to God. I knew not which way to go and I thought I did sin in eating and I considered I had sins enough and hence needed not neglect my body. And hence on lecture day a friend coming to ask how it was with me, he said—take heed you do not keep the devil’s counsel—and next day he came again and spoke to me and hence I considered of the bitterness of sin. And in private [117] I began to consider of bitterness of sin. And hearing out of Mark 14, Christ was sorrowful to death500 and there were four causes: (1) Christ saw all the sins of them, (2) he saw the wrath due to them, (3) felt the intolerable[ness] of wrath, (4) he had felt the presence of the Father. And by thinking thus sin became bitter unto me. And thus after consideration of my condition I complained I was ignorant of His people’s ways; and hearing Mr. Phil[lips]501 about calling. And from Mr. Wells502 saw how sin of nature did ungod God. And thus going on in 25 of Matthew 11, 12, observed it’s a sad misery not to be known of Christ. And saw evil of this not to have one thought, word, shed blood, do for Him nor accept anything from Him nor to accept anything. This was very sad to me and Joel 1:8 [and] Lamentations 1:16 both set on my heart and I considered bitterness of being parted from Christ, and being on Mark if one did not mourn from ignorance of Christ. And Mr. Mather503—I account all things loss504—and so I had stirring up of desires after Christ. I was counseled to believe in Christ but I could not believe in Christ and hearing Matthew 25 to labor to accept of Christ when offered, showed offer was universal hence personal, (2) real, (3) vehement. And Revelation 3—I counsel thee to blind and poor505—and if Lord counsel them that felt not much more, a soul that mourns after the Lord Jesus. And Revelation 22 ult.—freely take it506—and the Lord thus clearing the offer He would have me receive it only one objection[—]I was humbled [but wondered] if so much humbled as to come to Christ enough and when I was come home I considered what shall I do. But then objection but may presume but looking on 2 Corinthians 19 if I took Christ.507 And after this the Lord clear up Christ more fully.

Frances Usher

FRANCES USHER (died 1652) was the wife of Hezekiah Usher, the first bookseller in the English colonies. Frances may have married him in England or, possibly, met him at Cambridge sometime after their immigration in the 1630’s. In either case, they were wed before 1639, when she had their first boy. That same year Hezekiah became a freeman and two years later was chosen to survey the Cambridge town lands. Meanwhile, Frances joined the Cambridge church, probably in 1641, and had another boy before the family moved to Boston in 1645. At Boston, she had two more children but died in April 1652 while they were still young. Hezekiah lived until 1676, becoming a Boston selectman, an agent for the Society for Propagating the Gospel, one of the founders of the Old South Church, and a deputy to General Court from Billerica. He grew to considerable wealth as a merchant, leaving an estate of some 14,000 pounds net value at his death.

Savage, 2:362–63. Gozzaldi, 756. Paige, 673.

[118]   [43.] GOODWIFE USHER

The Lord first convinced me of the breach of the Sabbath and how I had done nothing else but dishonor Him. And I wondered the Lord had not cast me to hell and hearing of Jonah—do well to be angry508—and I was affected. I could do nothing else but sin against God and I thought the Lord would cut me off. And I heard—come to me you that be weary509—and Lord turn me and I shall be turned510—and so when I desired to come hither and found a discontented heart and mother dead and my heart overwhelmed. And I heard of a promise—fear not I’ll be with thee.511 And in this town I could not understand anything was said, I was so blind, and heart estranged from people of people. And in one sermon of Mr. Hooker512—those that would be peevish, etc.—and afterward I heard reason why that men profited, because they came to seek a man not God in man. And out of Matthew 25 difference between virgins513 and John 13—if I wash thee not, no part.514 Sins of obstinacy shut out not sins of ignorance but obstinacy, etc. hearing Mr. Weld515—look on him whom pierced Christ.516 My sins do it and hereupon the Lord set it on upon thy heart, would a man that had an enemy let out his heart blood to cure. Yes, some blood but not his heart blood, Matthew 25.517 And one asked me whether I could submit to condemning will of God and I considered of Christ—not my will but thine.518 And I heard also that all God’s work was electing work, etc., and hearing of human nature of Christ, there I saw much ignorance.

Ann Errington

ANN ERRINGTON (1576–1653), having lost her husband some years earlier, left Newcastle, Northumberland, and settled at Cambridge with her two children, Abraham and Rebecca. Once established, she became a member of Shepard’s congregation in the early 1640’s. Both her children grew up to enter into full communion with the Cambridge church: Rebecca prior to 1658 and Abraham, who became the town blacksmith, in 1663. She died in December 1653, aged seventy-six. Hers is the oldest remaining gravestone in the Cambridge burying ground.

Banks, 130. Paige, 540. Savage, 2:126. Church Records, 17.

[119]   [44.] WIDOW ARRINGTON

She living in ignorance till she came to Newcastle to a godly family and it was harsh to her spirit being bound seven years. And I resolved if ever loose I would be vile. But yet she was restrained and afterward the Lord provided a godly husband who thought me so, but I was not. And hearing Dr. Jenison,519 Lamentations 3—let us search and turn to the Lord520—which struck my heart as an arrow.521 And it came as a light into me and the more the text was opened more I saw my heart. And hearing that something was lost when God came for searching. And when I came I durst not tell my husband fearing he would loath me if he knew me. And I resolved none should know nor I would tell and so I kept it two months. But he pressing upon me I told him if he would not tell Mr. Ador.522 Yet he told his wife and, being in that family where he was, he began to speak to me and then I thought I was discovered but he showed me the blessed estate of them that have their sins pardoned. But I cast all off because I thought having lived under means Lord would never pity me. But husband died and then I was troubled and somewhat confuted out of a Psalm. And hearing Dr. Jenison out of Acts 2:37, I saw my heart had been so vile and hearing John 1:12, Lord helped me marvellously to attend. There I thought I had rejected Christ and the Lord gave me a heart as I thought to close with Christ as best good and to stoop to His will. And afterward—he that is in Christ is a new creature523—I saw my heart changed. And feeling not the means work hence I desired hither to come thinking one sermon might do me more good than a hundred there. And hearing children would curse parents for not getting them to means but I found not what I came for hither and found no rest my heart was so dead. But after a while when lecture sermons came after sickness, I was very sad in my spirit but there was something spoke that came near to me. I saw I had rejected the Lord Jesus and I was very sorrowful and I was very sad. And going home I resolved I would use means for help and was very much cast down. And on Sabbath day on sacrament day Hezekiah was humbled524 and I thought I was not humbled. And in latter end that sermon there was obedience of sons and servants then I thought—would I know? And I thought Lord gave me a willing heart, etc. [120] And they that have sons can cry—Abba—Father,525 and so have some stay and I wished I had a place in wilderness to mourn. I heard the Lord had apprehended me: (1) that He that overcame and drawn my heart and there was a Scripture—I have loved thee with everlasting love526—and so Lord supported me. So I heard of Christ’s little ones begot by promise527 and so I feared I was [not] one. And last lecture day Lord let me see something.

Mary Griswald

MARY GRISWALD or Griswold, also Greshold (dates unknown), came to New England alone, meeting Francis, her first husband, after settling at Cambridge in 1637. Francis was a drummer, and in 1636 the town granted him two acres of land for “his service amongst the soldiers upon all occasions.” In 1639 Mary had her first child, a daughter. By 1642 they purchased a home and, a few years later, some additional land in the Cambridge area. Francis became a freeman in May of 1645, the year in which they moved to Charlestown. Mary, meanwhile, bore two more children. Then, in October of 1652, Francis died. Mary took a second husband, a William Bullard of Dedham, prior to 1658, when they were both in full communion with the Cambridge church. Since Bullard moved to Charlestown in 1658 and left again in 1677 to live with one of his daughters, one may posit this as the term of his marriage to Mary Griswold and estimate her death around 1677.

Farmer, 130. Town Book, 24. Savage, 2:316–17; 1:295. Gozzaldi, 331. Paige, 570.


In my vanities I thought how happy I if I might ever live so, but I thought again the Lord Jesus should come to judge the quick and the dead.528 But I had no fear wrought of sin but had some sad thoughts of that condition. And hearing my mother speaking—I must be born again529—I was sad but was cheered. But thinking I must be born again, I thought how I must be so. But being without means, I thought God had ever left me and so I desired to learn things and I saw I had nothing but opposition against the Lord. And I heard God was all sufficient and so might support me but yet I knew I was vile. I saw neither His power nor saving working and hearing prayer of wicked abominable530 I thought it would be as bad to leave seeking. But wanting means I desired to go from thence but hearing on the word, there I was straightened and dead. Then as bad as ever and my heart not receiving the truth in love.531 So I thought I was given up and hearing—are not your ways unequal are not yours so532—so I thought it was because of my inequality and I heard of beauty of holiness.533 But I saw none and so I thought of treasuring wrath against day of wrath.534 And so I was troubled but Lord bringing one to preach—blessed are they that mourn and hunger535—but I thought this was not for me. And showing what ’tis to mourn and I found though vile yet at last I did hunger. But after, I thought I must be filthy still and afterward I heard the deliverer shall come from Sion and shall turn iniquity from Jacob.536 I wished I had a part in it [121] and I heard of fruitful desert as a fruitful field.537 And the Lord gave me power that day to see that minister at end of the day. And there the covenant Ezra 9—let’s put away the strange gods538 and heard, etc. And hearing Mr. Davenport539 on sea—he that hardened himself against the Lord could not prosper540—and I thought I had done so. But then he showed it was continuing in it and I considered though I had a principle against faith yet a kingdom divided cannot stand.541

Goodwife Champney

WHILE there were two families of Champneys living in Cambridge during Thomas Shepard’s pastorate, it seems most likely that “Goodwife Champney” was Jane, wife of Richard Champney, ruling elder of the church. Jane and Richard Champney came to New England along with Shepard on the Defence in 1635. They brought a six-year-old daughter with them. Richard quickly rose to some prominence, owning three houses in 1636 and eventually accumulating an estate appraised at over fifteen hundred pounds. Joining the church in 1635, he became an elder and a freeman the following year. While Richard participated in the church and community, Jane was kept busy having babies—eight in all between 1633 and 1645.

There is a remote chance that Joanna Champney gave this confession. But it is only possible if her husband, John, died after she gave her confession, sometime after 8 January 1641, and yet before December of 1642, the latest she could have married Golden Moore and had a child on 15 September 1643.

Jane Champney’s husband survived her, dying in 1669. The subsequent inventory of his estate reveals him to have been a man of great wealth among local gentry, having an estate of £1449–16–00 in Cambridge and property worth £410–12–00 in Billerica.

Savage, 1:356. Paige, 506–7. Church Records, 2. Middlesex County Wills no. 4240.


The Lord brought one to teach with us that I saw the Lord’s people were the most happy in the world. And I stood convicted of neglect of prayer so I went to borrow a book to pray and was convinced of sin. And hearing Mr. S[hepard] I thought time was past because when I heard—you have rejected my word and I you.542 And still time was past and reasons were because of my will opposite to Christ and I read that Scripture—I will work who will let Him543—so I thought the Lord might help me. And again I thought time was past. I thought the Lord had not prepared me nor given me a heart [to] Christ on His terms and I thought no condition was wrought, hence none did belong. Yet I heard there was hid and healing, and overcoming mercy in Christ and so I thought there might be mercy for me. So all my objections were taken away in public and private and me thought I saw the heavens and earth in a new manner.544 But then I thought this was too good news and I cast it off. And then I thought eye had not seen.545 And then I thought I never such cause to loathe myself as then and was willing to cast away. One sin I was loathe to part with. But then I did but I was at last brought hither and I thought I should be drawn. When I was brought hither I was in some sadness and would not speak and hence in straits and discontent with my married condition but I was quieted. But I thought to go back but I considered—is my spirit and straitened and so I fell upon myself and justified God in what He had done or should. And I saw a vexing in all I did and my life was a death and when I knew not to do my eyes were to Him and I considered though hope fail yet Lord undertook for me. [122] And I thought I was lost and unsupported and I thought Lord had left me to be so.

Nicholas Wyeth

NICHOLAS WYETH or With (circa 1595–1680), a mason, lived at Mellis in Suffolk before emigrating to Massachusetts Bay around 1638 with his wife and their two children. Their son died at sea during their emigration to New England. In 1645 they purchased a house in Cambridge, with “out-houses” and a few acres of arable land, periodically enlarging the acreage of their farm. Nicholas seems not to have sought freemanship. Nevertheless, the Cambridge selectmen occasionally called on him to survey fences for the town. His first wife died—probably after having a third child who died about the time Nicholas gave his confession—sometime between 1645 and 1648. After her death, he married Rebecca, widow of Thomas Andrew and mother of three. They were in full communion with the Cambridge church in 1658 and by that time had five children.

Savage, 4:663. Gozzaldi, 856. Bartlett, 94. Town Book, 55. Church Records, 11. Middlesex County Wills no. 25824.

[47.] 7 JANUARY 1644/45 GOODMAN WITH

It pleased the Lord acting first out of His free mercy He let me see the evil of not keeping the Sabbath. About sixteen years of age being a prentice,546 wherein I went to that company that drew to idleness and Lord helped me out of 16 of Ezekiel. When I was in my blood and when no eye pitied,547 I saw He was the refuge for pity for I had profaned the Sabbath much. But I saw through Lord’s help I was not in my way and I was much troubled that I had so spent the Sabbath. And hence I went out to hear the word and having none at home I desired to hear them that were most suitable to my condition to stir up my heart. And going to hear one Mr. Salby548 I did much affect his ministry and I did somewhat profit by it and so I had much love to the word for I saw that I was lost and that it was the means of help. And preaching out of Canticles showing—my beloved is mine and I His549—and he showed they that loved Christ He loved them as His own. And the Lord kept me and encouraged me hereby much still to go and hear other good men. And every Sabbath day I went four miles to hear him about a year but I went on very poorly as I have done ever since. And I took every opportunity I could and could get liberty of my master to go out to hear but yet, though I went on poorly, yet had much love to the word and loved society of them and God’s people. And so I lived twelve years and Lord brought Mr. Burrows550 some sixteen miles off and I was then able-bodied then and went often to hear him. And by Brother Danforth551 went out and having means in the town. But I heard Mr. Burrows out of Galatians. He said—as a man sows so shall he reap552—he showed a natural man did [not] sow anything that was good, everything was evil. And I saw I was in my natural condition yet I went out to hear and went twenty miles off to Mr. Rogers553 out of Colossians—if risen seek things which are above554—but though I did hear much yet I could not see my heart was brought so near as I did desire, for I had been very careless in remembering what I heard and for sixteen years went on so in old England. Hence I came to New England being persecuted and courted for going from the place where we lived and hence I used means to come hither where we might enjoy more freedom. And I had much joy in going about this work though I had lived very foul yet my heart much convinced me and that I should live under means most powerful. And so I was much opposed by my friends, and enemies of God discouraging of me, and the Lord helped me to withstand them that did oppose me, for I could not be content to live where I did and I went through many difficulties before and when I came to sea. Yet I went on and God took away my son, some telling me the Lord was displeased for going on, but discouragements of natural friends I regarded not and I did not care though the Lord took away all I had. [123] Yet I had many things to call me back, my wife all the time going through many afflictions. And then I thought of what others said—the Lord would meet with me—but I did not look as coming to New England was the cause but did believe if the Lord should bring my child and self hither the Lord would recompense me by means. When we came here the Lord raised up my wife and I did much rejoice to see the place and see the people and hear God’s servants. Only troubled me to see death of Mr. Danforth yet I thought God’s people were a loving people. So the Lord stirred up some friends here and having friends at Long Island yet I would not go thither. And yet God’s hand hath been much against me since I came hither and I know not but it hath been for my carelessness in not watching over my child in regard of the sin of the family555 which God sit on. Though I have been much drawn away unto new plantations though I could never see a clear way to go away for I saw so much of love of God’s people here that I thought I should bring much evil on me if I did remove. But for that sin which broke out it had been good for me if I had never come hither to this place. The Lord’s hand hath been much out against me and is so still. He gave me a child after my own heart and God hath taken it from me and ’tis so just for I have gone on so formally and coldly since I came here. Though I have enjoyed much in public yet I have been very unfruitful and unchristianlike. E:556 Question. Do you remember nothing about your misery and way of mercy? Answer. Yet I have since been much affected out of 25 Matthew and 14 John but I am shallow. Question. Do you remember nothing how God hath tendered Christ to you? Answer. In Ephesians 2 I heard when far off then made near557 and Lord let me see no way to be saved but by His own free grace. Question. What effects did it work? Answer. I saw it was His free grace to encourage me to go on. The Lord let me see I had nothing in myself. Question. Did the Lord ever give you any assurance of His love in Christ? Answer. The Lord let me see if not born again I could not enter into Kingdom of God.558 Question. What supports your heart with hope? Answer. Nothing but free grace in Christ. I did fear I should not be able to speak the truth but I have been very unprofitable and so it appears yet I desired to enjoy society of God’s people. S:559 Question. What ground of assurance? Answer. Because love began. Question. How know that? Answer. Because of that good I see in them and would get from them and I think myself unfit to come into their society. Question. Have you no fears? Answer. Yes, of death in regard of unprofitableness, unsensibleness of my condition and want of assurance. C:C:560 You complain of unsensibleness what is cause? You said: drowsiness. Question. Is there no other evil but that? Answer. Yes, I have a wandering eye not attending upon the word but helped; since I saw it again I have not made use of God’s people to get into their societies. Question. Are you not one unfruitful tree to be hewn down?561 Answer. I am convinced by this that my unfitness unfit to partake sacraments. Question. You rejoiced much when Sabbath came? Answer. Though this be and yet sleepy. Answer. I have had when Sabbath comes great hopes to see [124] what I have not seen for I and hence joyed yet it hath been with a great deal of deadness. And I labor against it and have striven against it and have hoped the Lord would then meet with me. E.F.562 Question. What did you mean when you said you comfort yourself with vain hopes? Answer. Because I have heard of unprofitably after hearing as before though I went with much expectation. Question. What have you read or heard that might make you hope the Lord might meet with you? Answer. I did believe that that was the means viz. hearing word and prayer and so I knew I was in way because draw near to me and I’ll to you.563 Question. Would Lord deny? Answer. No want in Him but in myself yet I have comforted myself in waiting upon the Lord. Question. Are you privy to any guile in your way? Answer. Question. Whether if your course be too tall or no or sense of that makes you lie down? Answer. I have had continual strivings against it according to light but I have been of a very forward, hasty nature. Question. Have you had some profit in God’s ways? Answer. Yes. Instance? Answer. I have seen more of the love of the Lord Jesus by such truths I heard not in old as how to observe Sabbath and prepare for it and others which I cannot speak. I have here much of Christ’s love but cannot remember and been much supported and heard of love hath brought me into awe of His will. Question. Have you not seen more into your heart and life? Answer. Yes out of commandments. E.F.564 Then there is something of fruitfulness? Question. What use make you of Christ in regard of sin? Answer. I knew out of John—without me you can do nothing565—I have seen by many of. Question. What is your chiefest desire in secret when no other? Answer. That the Lord would manifest Himself more to my soul in Christ and power of ordinances. Question. Why do you forget things, brother? Answer. I see cause enough in my own heart why Lord should deny me. I know many things in my practice. I have not so meditated on the word.

Sr Jones

SHEPARD’S entry “Sr Jones” could be read “Sister,” but internal evidence designates this as a man. “Sr” was also the abbreviation for sizar (scholarship student); thus a case can be made for the identity of John Jones, who was in the Harvard class of 1643. John Jones (circa 1624–circa 1670) was the son of John Jones, the pastor at Concord, Massachusetts, from 1635 until 1644, and at Fairfield, Connecticut, from 1644 until his death in 1665. Young John, who was about eleven years old when his family moved to New England, came to the Bay Colony in October of 1635. Having made the trip on board the Defence, John probably met Thomas Shepard as a fellow-passenger. Shepard certainly remembered John’s father, writing in his Autobiography of the edifying faith, prayers, and preaching of “Mr. Jones.” After a few years of residency at Concord, John moved to Cambridge and attended Harvard, where as one of the “first fruits” of the college he earned his M.A. in 1643. He became a full member of Shepard’s congregation sometime between 7 January 1645, when Nicholas Wyeth gave his confession, and May of 1645, when Jones became a freeman. Probably shortly thereafter, and definitely no later than 1650, Jones went to preach at Nevis in the West Indies, where he died about twenty years later.

Savage, 2:562. Sibley, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, 1:77.

[48.] SR566 JONES

After the Lord brought me out of native country with my parents into this country. After I had spent some time with parents and begun to grow up to years of direction, my parents as formerly, so then more especially after my father was raised up from sickness the Lord was pleased in an extraordinary manner to stir him up to exhort his whole family to seek after God. But took more than ordinary pains with me to show me my estate by nature unless the Lord brought me into another than he doubted then I was in but the Lord did not make me then to attend to anything about myself till sometime after, he preaching out of 90 Psalm—thou settest secret sins in light of thy countenance.567 Where he preached many sermons on that text [125] which was first time that I remember God set home anything unto me. And at that time, hearing those things, it pleased God to help me to look into my condition. For then hearing it was not so much gross and open sins, especially in times of light and in these places especially, but it was secret sins laid close to the heart under plentiful means. But secret sins, then something was set home although I could not apprehend any work of God upon the soul. But then I lay under many troubles and much confusion of spirit and I knew not what should be cause of trouble. I thought it melancholy and that labored to rid myself of it. Hence went to company which did me much hurt. And in that state I contented myself for some time till I came to hear what was spoken by Mr. B[ulkeley]568 preaching about the covenant where he showed that everyone by nature was a prisoner in a pit and dungeon with no comfort to be found.569 And there showed state of every natural man as in a dungeon sticking in his sins to be kept by Satan. And wherein greatest part of world should lie unless a little number but greatest part of world must so remain. And this the Lord made me to consider of and to open my eyes to see I was a prisoner and kept by Satan. And no hope did appear of deliverance out of it at which time as I found myself in a sad and miserable condition. So had many fears and perplexities of spirit seeing my end and considering what was the cause of those fears I saw no other cause but this which was cause enough to drive me to utter despair, though I had thought myself far better than many. Yet I saw my condition was such that if any heart provoked the Lord more I was he in regard of those sins the Lord manifested to me which, though God left not to gross sins, yet when I considered again what means mercy counsel of parents which I did partake of daily and hourly, I thought the Lord could not do more for me. And yet I take such liberty in secret to commit those sins and then I could not see how God in justice could give me mercy that had so sinned. And I saw it was just for the Lord to deny mercy to me that had refused instruction so often. It was a pretty while that I was bound up in these fears and though I did seek to get remedy of these fears, yet I saw not the way. I saw no way but to humble myself before God, the person offended, but the Lord left me so to my [126] own blindness that the more I strove against sin the more I found it to increase upon me. And a great distance from God that when I came to seek I found such molestation that the more I sought the more I provoked the Lord against me in so much as that I resolved rather give over all seeking of God and leave myself to sins. But living daily under word and being convinced of my misery and that there was a remedy, I was persuaded to attend upon those means wherein I might find Him; so that I was resolved to manifest my desires though no hope of helping myself out of my condition. And loath I was to make my state known to any that might have helped me until hearing Mr. B[ulkeley] farther, that though man was misery yet there was a means of delivery and that the Lord would find out such though long time. And he showed that this means was laying hold on Christ. He had made a covenant with all His and the condition was faith. And showing the several degrees of faith best was when a man saw himself in his misery and not knowing what way to go but to fly to God. And if he went to God it was fury and wrath yet best when a man could see nothing in himself nor favor in God to draw him to Him. Yet [he] could with infant though it could not cry, yet could cast an eye upon the nurse. So when he heard the free grace and mercy of God could cast an eye after Christ, though could not cry after, I considered of this. I thought it was a happy thing for them that could do so, but I could not see any such invitation to me who had despised grace yet it wrought this much that so long as means did last and my life not cut off there was some hope. And so I was helped to seek after Him and to make my desires known, though in a weak manner. And I thought to make known my estate known to some but I did not make my mind known to my parents for I have had many sad fears and fears of death that when I did lie down I should not rise again and take away my life as it were insensibly. But going to the fields to recreate myself there being a youth used to keep cattle and finding him often weeping [127] of catechism570 the Lord doth break off soul from sin by contrition and self by humiliation and here showed how the Lord leaves the soul to be wearied in itself and end was to bring off soul from self. And here I had some hope the Lord might bring me off self unto the Lord Jesus. And thus the Lord helped me to wait on Him and to come to Him and give me strength against my temptations. And when I was shut up under fears and unbelief, I took up by that promise—by blood of thy covenant I have sent out prisoners from the pit571—and saw if ever any was a prisoner I was. And hence turn to Him and wait upon Him. Thus waiting on Him the Lord gave me more and more strength and spirit to wait upon Him though impossibility in myself to be carried to anything which is good. And when I was there waiting and looking full of fears I had no faith and grace and it was answered the question was; how may it know it had true faith? Answer. Though the soul might have many fears, if faith was so built upon Christ as to save it from greatest evil, wrath of God and sin. And this last was when the soul did strive against sin and was at war with sin and Christ delivered soul from wrath when it made it prize favor of God. This did give me some hopes I might have true faith for I saw word was ground of faith and not word but Christ in that word and had delivered my soul from sin and set my soul at enmity from it, not only one but all sin. And so Lord helped me to hope and so desire to hope still.

John Furnell

JOHN FURNELL or Funnell or Fownell (1608–1673), a carpenter and miller, and his wife, Mary, came from Hartford, Hertfordshire, to New England in the 1630’s and settled in Cambridge in 1638, the same year that their first child, Sarah, was born. Furnell began operating a mill at Charlestown near the border of Cambridge in 1642. His share in the division at Shawshine ten years later was a tidy one hundred acres. In 1645 John became a church member and a freeman. Three years later he sold his home and subsequently moved to Charlestown. In 1652, however, Furnell still owned his hundred acres of land in Cambridge. He also continued his membership in the Cambridge church even after he had moved to Charlestown. John composed his will a full decade before his death, leaving his estate to Mary, who survived him by twenty-three years.

Savage, 2:195. Banks, 68. Pope, 179. Town Book, 97. Gozzaldi, 269. NEHGR, 54:236 (1902).


The Lord took away my parents when young and left me to the care of a father-in-law. And not being so friendly to us, I desired to go to prentice being twelve years old and so was. But he was one that was one as required no more than labor and when my time was out I went to another brother. And there I was a space but, seeing it was not a place for my calling, so I went into Hartford Town and dwelled with a carpenter, where I was a mere stranger and had none to counsel me. And there I acquainted myself with young and rude and wicked and none to restrain or prevent until such time as the longer I continued there, the more given to company that I could not go up and down streets but some or other would be calling upon me. And continuing so some time, I thought it was not best [to have] a wife for I should not then get clothes. And here [128] I thought of marriage for my own ends and so I pitched my affections on my wife. And there being in that town three ministers the Lord brought to one Mr. Archer572 who, when he came first, preached out of Ephesians showing every man’s estate by nature to be dead in trespasses and sins.573 So that at that time I had some convictions and I thought I was such a one but it presently died and I continued in the same frame and went not to marriage suddenly. And so I married and was destitute of a house. And in one place there was a godly minister, one Mr. Goodwin,574 and in his parish I might have a house but I was loath to live there because there was not such liberty to sin. But I was forced to live there and I went to hear him. I sometime [was] never affected, but at last preaching out of Matthew 22—saith, friend, how earnest hither? And man was speechless.575 So he showed the Lord would one day search all that had not on the wedding garment. And there he showed what many might plead if the Lord came to reckon what many places could say. And what could Hartford say? And I considered if Hartford, I was one, and so considered I must to hell if I die in that condition. And he showing how Christ at first would.


THE narrator of this confession is unknown because the first part of the relation of faith is missing from Shepard’s book.

[129]576   [50.]

and after acquainting myself with him and finding him to be one that was weak, yet dear to Christ because of his reading and mourning for his kindred. And he would tell me what a mercy it was that I had such parents as would instruct me. And so growing into more acquaintance with me, I did that to him which I did not to any other. And so I did acquaint him with my estate and fears, especially when I sought God in prayer and other things which were causes of much sadness. And I took much delight in his company, especially when more than ordinarily sad and perplexed. But afterward he fell sick of an infectious disease and so was suddenly taken away, which much troubled me that there should be but one in whom I could joy. And I looked on it as a great frown of God and that the Lord would let me lie in my sins or fall into more out of which I should never recover. But remembering his wants to make use of my parents, yet I omitted many opportunities of speech with them. But alone being meditating upon my condition how vain and transitory life was and how soon I might be gone, my mother finding me alone began to speak as at other times. But asked me this question—whether I thought I should always have parents present or must not there be a perishing? I said: Yes. She asked—[What] if after life if the Lord should separate me from parents never to see their faces more in this or another life? I knew not why she said so, but I thought it was God’s determinate counsel against me. Though I might have good parents, yet I thought it was God’s determinate purpose to separate me that forever from God’s presence and his people. And so I continued. Not feeling those terrors as once I did, I began to comfort myself with vain hopes that if God would leave me, no man nor angel could change the decree of God. And reading vain poets I began to think hell not to be so great as they were nor sin so great but considered—let their way be dark and [illegible] if Lord detest them.577 I saw I must seek God or else if any sinners perished greater than others578 I that had such means should have it. At which time God suffered Satan to assault me with many temptations as from speaking to others so from opening my mind to God. But mother asking father whether this might not be the estate of one to be afraid to speak to man and God and that upon this ground lest Satan should take occasion to set on sin. [Father] answered—It is true Satan had many wiles to keep his prisoners in awe and bondage; yet, it was a weakness for one in prison if proclamation of pardon to forbear and cry lest jailor use them more hardly, a soul should make it known to God else would be under more slavery and bondage. And hence made more readiness make my mind known and also I found my scruples. And one was about Gods predestination of one’s state that it would be a vain thing [page damaged here]. And [130] until by means of a poor man where diverse meet together there was question how a man might come to have some comfortable persuasions God had predestined him to life. And so I lifted up my heart. And I desired light and had one from one; this was a comfortable sign when he found in his heart a readiness to forsake his sins and fly to Christ and His blood. And this was a sign of favor intended. After this, hearing Mr. Whiting579—Turn ye; why will ye die?580 He showed it was no sin should stop for Christ if he would accept of remedy. Now, from—turn ye, turn ye—but a vehement expression but Lord’s desires were very great; the Lord was unwearied in his request. And so applying that and many things the Lord helped me to make use of it. And I examined what was the greatest thing I desired. And I saw it was not any outward things which were transitory and only blood of Christ would stand him in stead when he stands naked before the tribunal of God. So by that and other things considered concerning the covenant, remembering it was nothing in us that could procure justification but only laying hold on Christ, feeling misery, and resting on Him, and so I conceived some comfort and some hopes. And I thought the Lord might in his time manifest himself to me. And I found it my desire to fly to that one remedy.

At which time the Lord removed me. First sermon here I remember this expression—that many times such was the state of one under misery that he stood between Christ and the devil, Satan pleading it is right that he had been his slave so long and pleading against justice that such a one between Christ and his sin. Yet Christ would manifest His power at last. And though soul could not answer all objections, yet Christ would answer all objections of Satan and his own heart that as he had died to conquer sin and Satan so he would do it and hence exhorted all that had seen their misery to look upon Christ and attend upon the means, which I found to be spoken seasonably to me as being in that condition. And though I found the Lord manifesting sometime His readiness on the other side, [I saw] my inability to walk in God’s ways. And at that time many other things I heard to support me. But afterward growing more remiss and the Lord leaving me to see how weak I was if He should withdraw, the Lord left me to looseness and vanity of spirit which although I was not at that time very [131] sensible of it yet some of God’s servants telling me of it, I saw such a spirit in them telling me what was amiss that I did submit to their reproof. God also by other providences more remarkable awaking me by word and especially by return of prayer that if they fell after light, they lived very long some misery would befall them. And so the Lord helped me to humble myself before God in regard of that present state and more diligently. And coming here more constantly in exposition of Habakkuk the Lord helped me to go along to examine myself by what was said. And I found the Lord had done very much for me as I did examine myself. [I] was thankful for what I did see and to be humbled for what I fall short of.

F.581 Question. When the Lord gave you some hopes of His electing favor?

William Ames

WILLIAM AMES (circa 1623–1689) was the son of the famous William Ames, a Cambridge graduate and an eminent professor and minister in Holland. Although William, the father, planned to take his family to New England, he died in 1633. Joane, nevertheless, carried out her husband’s intentions, bringing her three children, William, John, and Ruth, to Massachusetts in 1637. They received a warm welcome—the General Court “gave £40 to Mrs. Ames, the widow of Doctor Ames, of Famous memory.” After a short residence at Salem, they moved to Cambridge, where William subsequently attended Harvard College, graduating in 1645. He joined Shepard’s congregation before he became a freeman on 26 May 1647. The following year Ames went to Wrentham, Suffolk, where he and eleven others organized a Congregational church. William remained at that post, ministering with John Philip, who had married Ames’s aunt and been a member of the Westminster Assembly, until he suffered ejection from his pulpit under the Uniformity Act of 1662. He managed, however, to remain a teacher to the congregation for the rest of his life. In 1652 Ames published, in London, a sermon on the Gunpowder plot entitled The Saints Security. In his last years, according to one authority in 1684, he became senile: “Mr. Ames, the son of Dr. Ames, is yet living, but strangely disabled for work, by a weakness in head, that he cannot bear discourse, nor able to pray in his family, yet looks well, eats and sleep[s] so its said, he is a little better than he was.”

His confession of faith is the last in Shepard’s notebook; its placement upside down from the others indicates its addition as an afterthought. The last dated confession, very near the end, is from 1644, so it seems probable that Wil Ames made his confession around the time of his graduation from Harvard at age twenty-two.

Savage, 1:49. Gozzaldi, 12.

[132]   [51.] WIL AMES

The first time I took notice of anything the Lord helped me to was the consideration of misery of wicked and happy estate of saints. It was about that time Mr. Peters582 preached out of 7 Romans. I was alive without the law583 and he preached about work of law. And considering every man that had not work of law upon his soul was in a natural estate584 and I took that to myself. I never had that work of law or Gospel and hence was miserable and thus I was enlightened. Presently the Lord was pleased to let Satan come forth upon me with manifest temptations and all at once as: (1) that I was not elected and hence in vain for me to look after any salvation and (2) that it was impossible I should attain to any work of law and Gospel hence in vain to set about it. (3) That I did apprehend all the power of darkness did resist me and that I should never have any relief. (4) That I was young and if I would seek after God it would be time enough hereafter. And thus I was almost quite discouraged from seeking after God and mercy but I could not be quieted and the Lord removed that temptation I was not elected because that was a secret to be left with God and to attend upon Him in His own way. Again second I was helped by a sermon at Salem—though impossible with man yet with God all things are possible585—and hence I must wait upon Him and I must seek to Him. And again third by age the Lord did weary men [133] out that I could not be quiet with fears of eternal death and other death to young as well as old. And I saw young ones wrought up and brought home to God. When these were removed, I saw I had committed unpardonable sin and this temptation held me a while. But I made known something to one who answered me in that particular viz. that such as had committed it never feared it nor were much troubled for it. And this did fitly answer me and so I was upheld in seeking after God. But when encouragements came in that I was born of good parents in covenant yet I could not but see I might be Esau586 and hence I resolved and renewed resolution to seek after God. And when the Lord stirred up my heart to seek after Him, when Mr. Nor:587 was preaching out of Revelation—come you that thirst freely spiritual refreshings are to be had in Christ for all that thirst588—and I wondered I never heard it before. I did not think there had been such a place in the Bible yet I saw my will was the greatest hindrance. Yet the Lord comforted me when objections answered when sinful. Answer. Christ saved them that were sinful and felt themselves full of sin and that Christ came to save them that had nothing of their own.589 And I have no faith yet desires after faith are beginning of it and hereupon my soul being encouraged to seek after Him. And the Lord brought me to this place by unexpected means and here the Lord kept me full of doubts and fears, not only with temptations but inward corruptions, which though I felt yet I did labor and pray against. But sometime exceedingly discouraged and counsel was to make my complaint known to God in prayer. And if I could not do that, yet to humble myself before Him and to see His ways most just though He should always cast me. And out of 1st of John, Christ did manifest Himself by works He did on earth, should draw soul to believe on Christ how He went up and down doing good and full of compassion and much more upon such as were spiritually sick because that was His chief and principal work. And in afternoon Mr. Miller590 preached it—see ’tis for thy good—and to take counsel and to consider of fore noon which did much help and stir me up. And orphans which are helpless, heartless and strengthless and when soul felt itself thus, then Christ would not leave, which encouraged me, for if any ever were so, I was. And so I waited and so seek unto Him in means. Then showed what

[The Confessions ends here, and Shepard’s sermon notes begin on the next page.]