First Church of Dedham.

Early History of Dedham[]

The history of Dedham, Massachusetts in Norfolk County, began with the first settlers' arrival in 1635. The Puritans who built the village on what the Indians called Tiot incorporated the plantation in 1636. They devised a form of government in which almost every freeman could participate and eventually chose selectmen to run the affairs of the town. They then formed a church and nearly every family had at least one member.

The early residents of town built the first American canal, the first tax supported public school, run by Ralph Wheelock (1600-1684), and Jonathan Fairbanks built what is today the oldest woodframe house in North America.

Dedham is one of the few towns founded during the colonial era that has preserved extensive records of its earliest years.

Dedham Compact[]

Dedham was settled in the summer of 1636 by "about thirty families excised from the broad ranks of the English middle classes"[2] traveling up the Charles River from Roxbury and Watertown traveling in rough canoes carved from felled trees.[3] These original settlers, including Edward Alleyne, John Everard, John Gay and John Ellis "paddled up the narrow, deeply flowing stream impatiently turning curve after curve around Nonantum until, emerging from the tall forest into the open, they saw in the sunset glow a golden river twisting back and forth through broad, rich meadows."[3] In search of the best land available to them they continued on but

The river took many turns, so that it was a burden the continual turning about.... West, east, and north we turned on that same meadow and progressed none, so that I, rising in the boat, saw the river flowing just across a bit of grass, in a place where I knew we had passed through nigh an hour before. "Moore," said Miles then to me, "the river is like its Master, our good King Charles, of sainted memory, it promises overmuch, but gets you nowhere."

They first landed where the river makes its 'great bend,' near what is today Ames Street, and close by the Dedham Community House and the Allin Congregational Church in Dedham Square. The site is known as "the Keye," and in 1927 a stone bench and memorial plaque were installed on the site.

The Algonquians living in the area called the place Tiot. Tiot, which means "land surrounded by water," was later used to describe the village of South Dedham, today the separate town of Norwood. In "its first years, the town was more than a place to live; it was a spiritual community."

Many of the other yeomen settling the new Dedham in the Massachusetts Bay Colony came from Suffolk, in eastern England. This group included elders Nathan Aldis, George Barber, Henry Brock, Eleazor Lusher, Samuel Morse, Robert Ware, John Thurston, Francis and Henry Chickering and Anthony, Corneileus and Joshua Fisher.

Of towns founded during the colonial era, Dedham is one of the few towns "that has preserved extensive records of its earliest years."[7] They have been described as "very full and perfect."

The first public meeting of the plantation they called Contentment was held on August 18, 1636 and the town covenant was signed; eventually 125 men would ascribe their names to the document. As the Covenant stipulated that "for the better manifestation of our true resolution herein, every man so received into the town is to subscribe hereunto his name, thereby obliging both himself and his successors after him forever."

List of Signers[]

The Covenant of Dedham, Massachusetts was first signed on August 15, 1636. Those 125 men who signed the Covenant are listed below, in the order in which they signed.

  1. Robert Feke
  2. Edward Alleyn
  3. Samuel Morse (1581-1654)
  4. Philemon Dalton
  5. John Dwight
  6. Lambert Generye
  7. Richard Euered [Everett]
  8. Ralph Shepheard
  9. John Huggin
  10. Ralph Wheelock (1600-1684)
  11. Thomas Cakebread
  12. Henry Phillips
  13. Timothie Dalton
  14. Thomas Carter
  15. Abraham Shawe
  16. John Coolidge (1604-1691)
  17. Nicholas Phillips (1611-1672)
  18. John Gaye
  19. John Kingsbery
  20. John Rogers
  21. Francis Austen
  22. Ezekiell Holleman
  23. Joseph Shawe
  24. William Bearstowe
  25. John Haward
  26. Thomas Bartlett (c1606-1654)
  27. Ferdinandoe Adams
  28. Daniell Morse
  29. Joseph Morse (1613-1652)
  30. John Ellice / Ellis
  31. Jonathan Fairbanks (1623-1712)
  32. John Eaton (1611-1658)
  33. Michaell Metcalfe
  34. John Morse
  35. John Allin
  36. Anthony Fisher
  37. Thomas Wight
  38. Eleazer Lusher
  39. Robert Hinsdell
  40. John Luson
  41. John Fisher
  42. Thomas Fisher
  43. Joseph Kingsberye
  44. John Batchelor
  45. Nathaniell Coaleburne
  46. John Roper
  47. Martin Philips
  48. Henry Smyth
  49. John Fraerye
  50. Thomas Hastings (c1605-1685)
  51. Francis Chickering
  52. Thomas Alcock
  53. William Bullard
  54. Jonas Humphery
  55. Edward Kempe
  56. John Hunting
  57. Tymothie Dwight
  58. Henry Deengaine
  59. Henry Brocke
  60. James Hering
  61. Nathan Aldus
  62. Edward Richards
  63. Michaell Powell
  64. John Elderkine
  65. Michaell Bacon
  66. Robert Onion
  67. Samuell Milles
  68. Edward Colver
  69. Thomas Bayes
  70. George Bearstowe
  71. John Bullard
  72. Thomas Leader
  73. Joseph Moyes
  74. Jeffery Mingeye
  75. James Allin
  76. Richard Barber
  77. Thomas Jordan
  78. Joshua Fisher
  79. Christopher Smith
  80. John Thurston
  81. Joseph Clarke
  82. Thomas Eames
  83. Peter Woodward
  84. Thwaits Strickland
  85. John Guild
  86. Samuell Bulleyne
  87. Robert Gowen
  88. Hugh Stacey
  89. George Barber
  90. James Jordan
  91. Nathaniell Whiteing
  92. Beniamine Smith
  93. Richard Ellice
  94. Austen Kalem
  95. Robert Ware
  96. Thomas Fuller
  97. Thomas Payne
  98. John Fayerbanke
  99. Henry Glover
  100. Thomas Hering
  101. John Plimption
  102. George Fayerbanke
  103. Tymoth Dwight
  104. Andr Duein
  105. Joseph Ellice
  106. Ralph Freeman
  107. Joh: Rice
  108. Danll Ponde
  109. John Hovghton
  110. Jonathan Fayerbank Jr.
  111. James Vales
  112. Thomas Metcalfe
  113. Robert Crossman
  114. William Avery
  115. John Aldus
  116. John Mason
  117. Isaac Bullard
  118. Cornelus Fisher
  119. John Partridge
  120. James Draper
  121. James Thorpe
  122. Samuell Fisher
  123. B. Benjamin Bullard
  124. Ellice W. Woode
  125. Thomas Fisher


1636 Dedham Compact[]

First Church of Dedham.

He was one of the signatories to the Dedham Compact, a key historical document for the creation of the new colonial town of Dedham, Massachusetts, located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. The first 35 signatures were collected in August 1636 and another 90 more soon thereafter. This document provided for the common governance and defense of the community. Dedham is known for keeping excellent historical records of its early years.