Friday, January 18, 2019

Were Your Ancestors Founding Members of the First Church of Salem?

First Church,
Salem, Massachusetts

On 6 August 1629 the following thirty men in Salem, Massachusetts signed the covenant to establish the First Church.  The Records of the First Church in Salem states “A Catalogue of the names of those person that are joined in full Comunyon.”  At the bottom of this post I’ve transcribed the spellings exactly as spelled in the book. 

According to the website for the First Church in Salem (now a Unitarian Universalist Congregation) "thirty of the newly arrived Puritan settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony gathered together to form a church on August 6, 1629.  Among the members present were Roger Conant, the founder of Salem, and John Endicott, the first Governor of the Colony.  On that day, the church called two Puritan ministers who had made the voyage from England with the other colonists.  The Rev. Samuel Skelton became the church's first Pastor and the Rev. Francis Higginson was called as the church's first Teacher.  it was Rev. Higginson who composed the now famou Salem Covenant at its founding, the very same covenant that has been used by each generation of church members down through the centuries and is recited even today during the weekly Sunday services:

We Covenat with the Lord and one with another,
And doe bynd our selves together in the presence of God,
To walke to gether in all His waies,
According as he is pleased to reveale him self unto us,
In his Blessed worth of truth."

I was surprised to see how many ancestors I had in this list, as well as Rev. Samuel Skelton (1593 - 1634), who is my 10th great grandfather.   I’ve highlighted the names that are my ancestors. You might want to see how many you have on this list, too! 

   1.     Samuell Sharp
   2.     John Endecott
   3.     Phillip Veren
   4.     Hugh Laskin
   5.     Roger Connant
   6.     Laurance Leach
   7.     William Auger
   8.     Francis Johnson
   9.     Thomas Eborne
  10. George Williams
  11. George Norton
  12. Henry Herricke
  13. Peeter Palfye
  14. Roger Maurye
  15. Thomas Gardner
  16. John Sibly
  17. John Baulch
  18. Samuell Moore
  19. John Holgrove
  20. Ralph Fogge
  21. John Horne
  22. John Woodberye
  23. William Traske
  24. Townsend Bishop
  25. Thomas Read
  26. Richard Rayment
  27. Jeffry Massy
  28. Edmond Batter
  29. Elias Sileman
  30. Edmond Giles

The book The Records of the First Church in Salem also lists the names of the men and women who signed the covenant up until 1659.  I found many, many ancestors and relatives on these lists.  You might want to check these lists, too.

Click here to see the book The Records of the First Church in Salem, pages 1 – 41 (including baptisms up to 1692):

For the truly curious:
The Records of the First Church in Salem Massachusetts 1629 - 1736, edited by Richard D. Pierce, 1974

The First Church, Salem, Massachusetts website:


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Were Your Ancestors Founding Members of the First Church of Salem?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted January 18, 2019, ( accessed [access date]).


  1. Heather, I wanted to thank you for all that you've done so far. You deserve a break, for sure. Also, how in the world did you highlight those names?? I've been trying to do that forever.

    1. Hi Dan! I use blogger, and in the editor the highlighter is between the text color and the "link" button. I wouldn't know how it is done in other blog formats because I've only used blogger (by Google) for ten years!

  2. Ancestors on that list:Endecott, Laskin, Conant, Leach, Herrick, Woodbury.

  3. Thank you for posting. Very interesting, but what I find most interesting is the names that are not on the list above. My family came there with Endicott, and were active in the church at one point, but pulled away to move to Gloucester. They were the Gotts. They are listed in the baptism, but the information that I read said that they had pulled away because they did not agree with Endicott and his ways. Eventually, they were granted land of what is now Mt. Desert Island in Maine as a way to secure the land against the French settlements. They were mostly businessmen and readily agreed. Thank you again for posting.

  4. It looks like only Leach and Woodbury for me.

  5. I am also a descendant of the Rev. Samuel Skelton through his daughter Mary Skelton who married Nathaniel Felton, Sr. I attended the 375 anniversary of the founding of the church a few years ago.