Presbyterians of Londonderry
did not find themselves in the enjoyment of the freedom to which they conceived themselves entitled.
They were dissenters from the established church.
Their pastors were not recognized by the law as clergymen, nor their places of worship as churches.
Tithes were exacted for the support of the Episcopal
They were not proprietors of the soil, but held their lands as tenants of the crown.
They were hated alike, and equally, by the Irish Catholics
and the English Episcopalians
When, therefore, in 1617, a son of one of the leading clergyman returned from New England
with glowing accounts of that “plantation,” a furor of emigration arose in the town and county of Londonderry, and portions of four Presbyterian congregations, with their four pastors, united in a scheme for a simultaneous removal across the seas.
One of the clergymen was first despatched to Boston
to make the needful inquiries and arrangements.
He was the bearer of an address to ‘His Excellency
, the Right Honorable Colonel Samuel Smith
of New England
,’ which assured his Excellency
of ‘our sincere and hearty inclination to transport ourselves to that very excellent and renowned plantation, upon our obtaining from his Excellency
To this address, the original of which still exists, two hundred and seven names were appended, and all but seven in the hand-writing of the individuals signing—a fact which proves the superiority of the emigrants to the majority of their countrymen, both in position and intelligence.
One of the subscribers was a baronet, nine were clergymen, and three others were graduates of the University of Edinburgh
On the fourth of August, 1718, the advance party of Scotch-Irish emigrants arrived in five ships at Boston
Some of them remained in that city and founded the church in Federal street, of which Dr. Channing
was afterwards pastor.
Others attempted to settle in Worcester
; but as they were Irish and
Presbyterians, such a storm of prejudice against them arose among the enlightened Congregationalists of that place, that they were obliged to flee before it, and seek refuge in the less populous places of Massachusetts
. Sixteen families, after many months of tribulation and wandering, selected for their permanent abode a tract twelve miles square, called Nutfield, which now embraces the townships of Londonderry