The Puritan Church of Sandwich 1847
By Kaethe Maguire
How many of you are sharp eyed enough to have noticed the sign on the front right side of Beth’s Teas and Bakery? It reads, “Puritan Church 1847”. The correct name of this new church was the Puritan Congregational Church.
Although the break off church from the then Calvinist Congregational church was short lived, dissolving in 1856, the history and reason for its rise in the first place reflects a less conservative view of religion on the part of many Sandwich residents.
Remember the Unitarian Church was built in 1833, a reflection of a more liberal form of worship.
Some of you may recall reading about the schism of 1811 whereby the unpopular Jonathan Burr, yes related to you know who, Aaron Burr, who killed Alexander Hamilton, tried to bring in a more conservative form of Calvinism to Sandwich. Many residents protested with their feet and left to join other more liberal churches. (To give some credit to Burr, who lived at 23 Water St. and probably planted the famous Linden Trees, he did start the first Sandwich Academy in 1804 on the land now vacant in front of the Smith Hoxie House.)
At any rate, the church that remained was called the Calvinist Congregational Church. The further you went out from Boston, the more liberal the religions were, for the most part. Boston and Plymouth were deeply Puritan/Calvinist places.
Of course, the Council of Congregational Churches did not approve of this breakaway so called Puritan Church. They had to recognize their right to exist, but they did not have to approve of their belief system. Any form of liberalizing Calvinism was considered without merit. The Council referred to this new church as ‘disorderly’. When the Sandwich Observer asked for some evidence of this so called ‘disorder’ they never received a reply.
By 1848 the well-regarded Reverend Giles Pease was installed as Pastor of the new Puritan Congregational Church. Strangely, this Rev. Pease was often the ‘keynote’ speaker at the semi-annual Congregational Council meeting. Although the population was not large, Sandwich supported various Churches in Town and of course the Quakers dominated East Sandwich.
By 1847 a Methodist Church was built on the corner of Main and Liberty St. which is now a Mason’s hall.
One reason many people clung to the more conservative religious forms was the influence of the Temperance Movement sweeping the country. Although the idea of abstaining from all alcohol would have left the earlier Sandwich Settlers rolling in their graves! Intoxicating drinks were found to be “inconsistent with a Christian Profession.”
Unlike some ministers in Sandwich, Rev. Pease did not discourage or impede the discussion surrounding slavery. He delivered anti-slavery addresses in many places including Centerville’s Liberty Hall as part of the July 4th celebration of 1847. Pease also spoke against slavery at the Barnstable Church Council held in Barnstable on Dec. 30, 1853.
By 1854 The Puritan Church had two ministers, Giles Pease and E. Hallett, both of whom attended a Church Council Conference in Edgartown on June 13, 1854.
This Greek Revival style building was once the Pilgrim Congregational Church.
Also in attendance were Rev. P Headley and Watson F. Tobey of the Calvinist Church in Sandwich.
Rev. Pease provided a vital role at this conference on the subject of slavery. As a whole, this gathering came out against the hated 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, which passed with the support of Dan’l Webster of whom it was said that he sold his soul to the devil when he endorsed this law. He claimed he did it to save the Union, but at what cost?
In 1854 The Barnstable Patriot reported on the charitable donations of churches. The Puritan Church was able to contribute $220.75 whereas the Calvinist Congregational (First Church) was only able to contribute $173. Again, at the 1854 Council of Churches gathering, Pease was the Speaker.
So what brought about the demise of this break off Church in 1856? I have not been able to find out exactly what happened except that the Rev. Pease requested a more remunerative posting.
We should discuss the movement of this building. It seems it was first located where the Belfry Inn is now at 10 Jarves St. Later that space became the George Drew home and still later the Rectory of the Catholic Priests once the Catholic Church moved to Jarves St. as Christ the King Parish.
The current location of Puritan Church as Beth’s Teas and Bakery is 16 Jarves.