An inclination to change religions or to split from a denomination because of disagreements over doctrine seems to be a common thread in the lives of many of my ancestors, and many of Tim’s ancestors as well. One example would be my 6th-great-grandfather.
Rev. Joshua Nickerson, son of Samuel and Hannah (Hall) Nickerson, was born 16 June 1719 in Harwich (Barnstable) Massachusetts, and died in August 1791 in Tamworth (Carroll) New Hampshire. He married 30 July 1745 at Harwich, Thankful Eldridge, who was born 29 March 1728 in Harwich and died October 1813 in Ossipee (Carroll) New Hampshire, daughter of William and Thankful (Crowell) Eldridge.
On 23 May 1750, Joshua, age 30 and already the father of three children, was ordained as a preacher to the “New Lights.” In the 1740s a religious movement among Protestants, the Great Awakening, spread to New England, where Congregationalists became divided between the “New Lights,” who supported the evangelical revival and the “Old Lights,” who opposed what they viewed as excessive emotionalism in the preaching. These preachers traveled from one congregation to another and criticized the local clergy. Perhaps we can imagine Joshua imitating the style of the English open air preacher, George Whitefield, who was known for gesturing dramatically, “sometimes weeping openly or thundering out threats of hellfire-and-brimstone,” and for turning a “sermon into a gripping theatrical performance.”
Joshua & Thankful were the parents of fourteen children, remarkably, all of them survived into adulthood:
1. Rebecca Nickerson, born 3 June 1746 in Harwich, died 10 November 1842 in Searsport (Waldo) Maine. She married in 1766 at Exeter (Rockingham) New Hampshire, Maj. Winthrop Smart, who was born 22 October 1742 in Epping (Rockingham) New Hampshire and died in 1814 in Prospect (Waldo) Maine, son of Joseph and Mary (—) Smart.
2. Elisabeth Nickerson, born 22 July 1747 in Harwich, died 21 August 1828. She married 31 October 1765 in Harwich, Lt. Thomas Burgess, who was born in 1748 and died 11 February 1816, son of Thomas and Mary (Covell) Burgess.
3. Reuben Nickerson, born 24 January 1749 in Harwich, died 1828 in Ohio. He married 31 December 1767 in Harwich, Anna Eldridge, who was born 3 March 1747 in Harwich and died 18 July 1860 in Swanville (Waldo) Maine, daughter of Reuben and Jerusha (O’Kelley) Eldridge.
4. Thankful Nickerson (my 5th-great-grandmother), born 17 November 1751 in Harwich, died in 1838. She married 25 December 1773 in Harwich, Isaac Weekes, who was born there 11 April 1747 and died 12 July 1792 in New Hampshire, son of Ammiel and Phebe (Small) Weekes. Thankful & Isaac were the parents of four children.
5. Jemima Nickerson, born 11 September 1753 in Harwich, died there in 1780. She married 29 January 1773 in Harwich, Jonathan Burgess, who was born 15 February 1748 in Harwich, and died there 25 October 1826, son of Thomas and Mary (Covell) Burgess.
6. Joshua Nickerson, born 15 November 1755 in Harwich, died 25 December 1842 in Washington (Allen) Indiana.
7. Mehitable Nickerson, born 20 September 1757 in Harwich, died 10 November 1822. She married 22 July 1775 in Chatham (Barnstable) Massachusetts, Ammiel Weekes, who was born 11 January 1754 in Harwich and died there 7 October 1787, son of Ammiel and Phebe (Small) Weekes.
8. Sheber Nickerson, born about 1759, died about 1873 in Maine. He married 27 February 1783 in Harwich, Esther Ellis, who was born 21 December 1763 in Harwich.
9. Miriam Nickerson, born 15 February 1764 in Harwich, died 19 August 1812 in Swanville. She married (as her first husband) 16 June 1782 in New Hampshire, Josiah Parsons, who was born 15 June 1769 in Northampton (Hampshire) Massachusetts. Miriam married (as her second husband and as his second wife) 23 February 1802 in New Hampshire, Jacob Eames, who was born 10 March 1754 in Wilmington (Middlesex) Massachusetts and died 7 November 1851 in Swanville.
10. Drusilla Nickerson, born about 1765 in Harwich, died 28 March 1857 in Albany (Carroll) New Hampshire. She married Dea. Daniel Head, who was born 11 August 1762 in Canterbury (Merrimack) New Hampshire and died 20 July 1836 in Tamworth.
11. Hannah Nickerson, born about 1765 in Harwich. She married 9 October 1788 in Tamworth, Enoch Ellis, who was born 29 April 1766 in Harwich.
12. Aaron Nickerson, born about 1766, died 27 December 1818 in Maine. He married Mehitable Nickerson, who was born about 1770.
13. Deborah Nickerson, born about 1766. She married Jeremiah Eldridge, who was born about 1760, son of Reuben and Jerusha (O’Kelley) Eldridge.
14. Jonathan Nickerson, born 31 December 1771 in Harwich, died 2 June 1858 in Tamworth. He married 10 January 1793 in Tamworth, Judith Blaisdell, who was born 15 August 1765 in Salisbury (Merrimack) New Hampshire and died 28 October 1857 in Albany.