Table of Contents
A Guide to the collection at the Connecticut Historical Society
James Terry, born in Terryville, Connecticut, was the oldest son of James Terry, the founder of the Eagle Lock Company. His great-grandfather was Eli Terry, the founder of the clock industry in Connecticut. James Terry was a man of many interests. After working in his father’s factory, he entertained more intellectual pursuits. He collected books and manuscripts, researched and excavated sites of prehistoric humans in the West, and conducted a study of early libraries in the thirteen colonies. He led the anthropology department of the American Museum of Natural History from 1891-1894, after which he moved to New Haven, Connecticut. He was a life member of the Connecticut Historical Society.
The collection was donated to the Historical Society on December 4, 1894. In 1903 they were bound into two volumes. With another volume of material from a different donor, the collections were known as the Separate Church Papers. At a later date the documents were disbound and their page numbers from their respective volumes were noted in the upper left hand corner. The documents retain their page number order, which is roughly chronological.
In various scholarly works, the Separate Church Papers were cited as the James Terry Collection. Confusion over the inconsistent citations and catalog records, plus the discovery of the second collection, led to reprocessing and recataloging.
The records primarily represent activities of the Separate, or Strict Congregational Church in Canterbury, Connecticut, the first of its kind formed in the state. The Separate Church developed from schisms within the Congregational Church, namely about infant baptism, paying taxes to support the established church and calling pastors.
The small group of Separate Churches in the state kept in close contact for support. Churches in other parts of the state wrote to Canterbury to invite their members or a delegation to attend days of fasting and prayer or the ordination of a new minister. Or they consulted the Canterbury church on matters of doctrine and practice, the very issues that had created the schism originally.
Records of the church itself include minutes of meetings and a copy of the covenant. Among the most interesting minutes are those in which members are accused, examined and then either censured or excommunicated for inappropriate behavior. There are also minutes for meeting in which delegations from the Congregational Church and the Separate Church attempt reconciliation.
Other items of interest in the collection are a petition to the Connecticut General Assembly regarding Liberty of Conscience, a copy of “Ye Burden of Dissatisfaction by Hezekiah Spencer of Somers, a minister’s response to questions posed by the church in the process of finding a new minister, and proposals to, minutes of, and the Articles of Confederation for the Convention of Strict Congregational Churches in Connecticut.
There are no restrictions on access to the collection.
Use of the material requires compliance with the Connecticut Historical Society's Research Center regulations.
Terry, James, 1844-1912.
Canterbury (Conn. : Town) --Church history --18th century
Dissenters, Religious --Connecticut.
First Congregational Church (Canterbury, Conn.)
Strict Congregational Church (Canterbury, Conn.)
Item, Collection Title, Collection number (Box #, Folder #). Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.
Collection was processed by Barbara Austen in 2004.
EAD Finding Aid created June 2011.