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Subversive Nathan Parker Founded Unitarian Church in NH
Nathan_Parker_House_SignHISTORY MATTERS

The Nathan Parker House at the dead end of Livermore Street in Portsmouth is on the market for $3,750,000. Nathan who? The name no longer rings a bell, but in the 1820s Parker was the talk of the town. (Continued below)


Rev. Israel Putnam of the North Congregational Church called him an "infidel" and a "subversive" intent on destroying Christianity. Parker’s "radical" beliefs split the city’s Congregationalists and led to the building of the granite Unitarian church on State Street in 1826.

The great schism

Portsmouth’s religious battles began long before Rev. Nathan Parker arrived here in 1808. The "great schism" began in 1713 when a progressive group of Congregationalists rebelled against their harsh Puritan roots. They abandoned the strict Calvinist doctrines of the South Parish (site of the South Ward Meetinghouse today) and pushed inland to establish the North Church at what is now Market Square. Under the Rev. Samuel Haven in the late 1700s, however, it was the old South Parish that adopted more liberal views while the north-enders grew more orthodox.

When the beloved Rev. Haven died in 1806, his parish almost fell apart. That same year a massive fire spread from the city center up Daniel Street. Flames destroyed Queen’s Chapel, now St. John’s Episcopal Church. While rebuilding their church in brick, its Anglican members worshipped with the Congregationalists in the South End of town. By 1808, after two years without a minister, South Church was, according to one historian, "a feeble and distressed society, struggling for very existence." It was largely due to the expansive Haven family (Rev. Haven’s wife had 17 children) that the church survived.


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News about Portsmouth from

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 
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