An American Family History

A List of Members in full Communion

A list of Members in full Communion in 1684 at Topsfield when Parson Capen was ordained


In 1643, the Massachusetts General Court allowed settlers along the Ipswich River to establish a village and in 1648 the Court named the town Topsfield. Until the Revolution, the town and Puritan church were one and the same.

The first meeting house was probably on the northeast corner of Howlett Street and Meeting House Lane. The second was located at Pine Grove Cemetery and was built about the time the church “gathered" in 1663. The third was built on the Common in 1703.


The settlement of New Meadows was incorporated as the Town of Topsfield in 1650. The church "gathered" on November 4, 1663. The third Meeting House was built in 1703 with Rev. Joseph Capen as pastor.

Understand the Puritans better:
Name Remarks  
Abbot, Nehemiah (1633-1706) and wife Mary Howe accused Elizabeth Howe of witchcraft  
Andrews, Widow    
Baker, Thomas (1636-1718)    
Bixby, Joseph, Sr. (1648-1723) and wife, Sarah Gould    
Boardman, Daniel's wife, Hannah Hutchinson    
Cummings, Isaac (1632-1712) and wife, Mary Andrews testified against Elizabeth Howe  
Cummings, John (1630) and wife, Sarah Howlett December 7, 1685 was dismissed to Dunstable  
Dorman, Ephraim (1645-1721) and wife    
Dorman, Thomas (1640-1715) and wife, Judith Wood    
Dwinnell Michael 's wife, Mary    
Estey, Isaac (1627-1712) and wife, Mary Towne (1634-1792) Mary was a victim of the witchcraft hysteria  
French, John (1634-1706) and wife, Phebe Keyes his wife drowned herself May 13, 1701  
Gould, John's wife Mary Baker    
Hovey, Daniel, Jr. (1642-1695)    
Howe, James, Sr. (1658-1702) and wife, Elizabeth Dane    
Howlett, Samuel (1646-1720)    
Howlett, William and wife, Mary Perkins    
John Gould, Sr.    
Nichols, John's wife    
Peabody, Francis (1614-1697/98)    
Peabody, John and wife    
Perkins, Thomas, Jr. (1659-1722) juror in the witchcraft trials  
Perkins, Deacon Thomas' wife, Phebe Gould    
Perley, Samuel    
Perley, Widow    
Redington, Abraham, Sr. and wife Margaret Margaret testified against Mary Towne Estey  
Redington, John    
Simon, Samuel's wife    
Smith, Robert's wife    
Smith, William's wife, Rebecca Keyes    
Stiles, Robert dead  
Towne, Jacob's wife, Catherine Symonds    
Towne, Joseph's wife, Phebe Perkins    
Towne, Mary Browning widow of Edmund Towne  
Watson, William's wife, Sarah Perley    
Wilds, John's wife, Sarah Averill victim of witchcraft hysteria  
The New England Meetinghouse was the only municipal building in a town. Both worship and civil meetings were held there. It was customary for men and women to sit separately and the town chose a committee once a year to assign seats according to what was paid, age, and dignity.
Mary Towne Estey was a victim of the Salem witch delusion on September 22, 1692.
The Salem witch trials were between February, 1692 and May, 1693.
ye is an archaic spelling of "the."
Mister ( Mr.) was derived from master and Mrs. and Miss were derived from mistress. They indicated people of superior social status in colonial America.

In 1688, during the Glorious Revolution, the Protestant king and queen,William and Mary, took the English throne from Catholic King James II. The bloodless revolution profoundly impacted the American colonies.

from Historical Manual of the Congregational Church of Topsfield, Massachusetts

Reverend Joseph Capen

In a long line of worthy men, eminent for godliness and scholarship, none has left a deeper impression upon the town of Topsfield than Rev. Joseph Capen, minister of the town from 1682 until his death, June 30, 1725.

Volume II, Sibley's Harvard Graduates is authority for the following summary. Mr. Capen was born in Dorchester December 20, 1658, the son of John Capen and his second wife, Mary (daughter of Samuel Bass of Braintree); was baptised January 2, 1659; and united with the church in Dorchester April 10, 1681.

During the following summer the people of Topsfield learned of his ability, and sought to secure him for their minister; and in town meeting September 26, 1681, voted that he might have the use of the parsonage house and land and his choice of 75£. in country pay, as corn, pork and beef, or 20 £. in silver and 45£. in country pay. He chose the latter, and was dismissed from the church in Dorchester

ye first of ye 4 82 . . .to Joyne to ye Church at Topsfield in order to his ordination of a pastor to that church.

Two months later a New Haven church tried in vain to persuade him to settle in that colony.

June 11, 1684, he was ordained as successor of Jeremiah Hobart, the town having voted at a meeting May 16, 1684,

Lliut Pebody Deacken Perkins Lliut Baker Ensigne Pebody John Hovey Corpr Townes Isacke Estey Senr & John Gould Senr are Chosen to provide for Mr Capen ordanation and the Towne and Church to pay for ye Charges thay bee out about it in such as thay Lay out Ether in Kind or eles in that as ye Law dos say is equeliant to it.

A year later the town began to fear that they were to lose their talented young pastor, and

at a lawful town meeting the fift of sapember 1685 sargen Redington Jacob towne senr and John how or ani two of them ar Chosen to acompeni mr Capen to dorchester when hee goes to viset his frendes and to bring him agane if tha Can with his frendes Consent to Contene with vs in the ministri.

Mr. Capen wisely led the minds of his people along the varied paths of knowledge, and this was appreciated, for on October 22, 1686, the town voted to request him "to prech lecters" as often as was convenient to him. By his fearless and godly wisdom the people of Topsfield were protected during the days of the witchcraft delusion; though a tradition, lingering in the annals of New England, asserts that one Sunday morning he was a little late at church because Satan was loath to depart from a maid serving in the good minister's home. But the man of God prevailed, and the demon was exorcised.

(The longest pastorate, with the exception of that of Rev. John Emerson, in the history of the church, it was also rich in influence, and resulted in 230 admissions to church membership.)

Mr. Capen married in 1684 Priscilla Appleton, daughter of John and Priscilla Glover Appleton of Ipswich. She was born December 25, 1657 and died at Topsfield, October 18, 1743.

Their children:

Priscilla, b. 1 Sept., 1685, who married 21 September, 1708, Caleb Thomas of Marshfield.

John, b. 15 June, 1687; died 26 April, 1732.

Mary, baptised 17 February, 1688-9; married 5 January, 1709-10; Thomas Baker of Topsfield.

Elizabeth, baptised 26 April, 1691 ; died 22 March, 1781; married 12 October, 1711, Simon, (b. 14 April, 1692, son of John and Sarah) Bradstreet, grandson of Gov. Bradstreet [and Anne Dudley Bradstreet].

Joseph, baptised 6 August, 1693 ; died in infancy.

Nathaniel, born 13 July, 1695 ; died 16 February, 1749-50, unmarried.

Sarah, born 2 April, 1699; married 9 May, 1717, John Bradford of Boston.

American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.
Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-1672) was the first women poet published in America and England. She was the wife of Governor Simon Bradstreet.


Colonial Maryland
Colonial New England
Colonial Virginia & West Virginia
Quakers & Mennonites
New Jersey Baptists
German Lutherans
Watauga Settlement
Pennsylvania Pioneers
Midwest Pioneers
Jewish Immigrants

©Roberta Tuller 2020
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