Knowing which church your ancestor belonged to is critical to finding early baptism, marriage, and burial dates.
When the Puritans arrived in Boston, they wanted to create their own Kingdom of God on the hill. Early on, they banished and even executed people who had different (as in non-Puritan) beliefs. But the Quakers returned and the Baptists came, setting up their own places of worship. By 1669, a major division within the Puritan church (Congregational) over the issue of baptism caused the Third Church to be formed. But the hardest blow to the Puritans was Royal Governor Andros building King’s Chapel in 1686, bringing the Church of England (Anglican/Episcopal) to the New World.
Below, you’ll find a list of the pre-Revolutionary War churches in the order of their founding (date in parentheses):
Brattle Square Church (1698) Congregational: also known as Fourth Church; Brattle Street Church; and Manifesto Church.
New North Church (1714) Congregational: also known as Fifth Church.
New South Church (1719) Congregational: also known as Sixth Church.
New Brick Church (1722) Congregational: also known as Seventh Church and Cockerel Church.
Christ Church (1722) Anglican: also known as Christ Church Episcopal and Old North (from 19th century on).
First Presbyterian Church (1729): also known as Presbyterian Church in Long Lane; Long Lane Meeting House; Church of the Presbyterian Strangers (Scotch-Irish); Federal Street Church; and Arlington Street Church.
Hollis Street Church (1732) Congregational: also known as Eighth Church.
West Church (1737) Congregational: also known as Ninth Church; Lynde Street Church; and West Boston Society.
Tenth Church (1742) Congregational: also known as Samuel Mather's Church.
Second Baptist Church (1743).
Eleventh Congregational Society (1748) Congregational: also known as School Street Church and Rev. Andrew Croswell’s Church.
Over the years, some of the the church congregations have moved, merged, or disbanded. Some have been founded again. For instance, the First Church of Boston (rebuilt in 1868) is now a Unitarian Universalist church.
To find out which church your ancestors went to, create a timeline of when churches were founded in the area and map out where they lived in relation to the buildings.