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Monologue with Dead David Parsons

– ’cause it can’t be a dialogue


Researched / Written / Narrated 

By Baltimore Writer  Richard Baldwin Cook

(Publisher’s Note: Narration can be found lower down.)

(Footnotes should not be read before the monologue. Footnotes are boring and sometimes they make the writer out to be a liar even though the writer also wrote the footnotes.)


Footnote #1:

David Parsons was of the 3nd American generation of his family. His tragic story will be told after a brief description of the lives of his parents and grandparents.

Elizabeth Strong (1648-1736)

Joseph Parsons (1647-1729)

David was the son of Elizabeth Strong and Joseph Parsons Jr. Joseph Parsons Jr was an early lawyer in western Massachusetts, serving as Justice of the Peace for Northampton and for 23 years a Judge of the Hampton County Court. He also served as a deputy of the General Court (legislature) for 14 years (1693-1707) and in 1696 and again in 1718, was “Commissioner of Oyer and Terminer.” In 1711, he was commissioned captain of a company of foot soldiers in the New Hampshire regiment (command by Colonel Samuel Partridge (1645-1740); Partridge was a seventh great grandfather of this contributor.

The wife of Joseph Parsons Jr was Elizabeth Strong, born Feb 24, 1648. She was a daughter of Elder John Strong. John Strong had come to Massachusetts on the ship Mary & John in 1630, the same vessel which brought others of this contributors ancestors, including John Maverick (1578-1635/6) and Mary Gye Maverick (1580-aft 1666).

Elizabeth Strong and Joseph Parsons were married for more than fifty years. Joseph died at age 82; Elizabeth, at 88, on May 12, 1736.

The headstones of Joseph Parsons Jr and Elizabeth Strong Parsons read:

Here lyeth the body of Joseph Parsons, Esqr. Who deceased November yr 29 A.D. 1729 aged 83 years

Here lyeth the body of Mrs Elizabeth Parsons reliet of Joseph Parsons, Esq, who died May ye. 11 A.D. 1736 aged 89 years

The ten children of Joseph and Elizabeth Strong Parsons were: Joseph III, John, Ebenezer, Elizabeth, David (memorialized here), Josiah, Daniel, Moses, Abigail, Noah. 

The Rev. David Parsons (1679/80-1743) and his wife Sarah Stebbens (1686-1758) are in the ancestral line of this contributor.

Joseph Parsons was the son of immigrant Joseph Parsons Sr (1620-1683) and Mary Bliss (?-?), among the founders of Springfield and Northampton, MA.

DAVID PARSONS (1680-1743)

David Parsons (1680-1743) was born at Northhampton, MA Feb 3, 1680. He graduated from Harvard College in 1705 and was minister of the Congregational Church at Malden, MA. After twelve years he was asked to become the first minister at the church at Leicester, MA, where he died Oct 12, 1743.

David was married to Sarah Stebbins (1686-1759). They were the parents of:

  1. Sarah (?-1709)
  2. Sarah (1710-?) unmarried
  3. David (1712-1781), the Rev., married Eunice Wells (- 1796)
  4. Israel (1714-b/f 1715)
  5. Israel (1715-b/f 1723)
  6. Nathan (1721-1806) married (1) Catherine (Amy?) Gould, (2) Susannah Graves (1787)
  7. Israel (1723-1767) married Hannah Waite (1751), (2) Lois Wiley (1761)
  8. Solomon (1726-1807) married (1) Elizabeth Taylor (1752), (2) Elizabeth Sweetser (1781)
  9. Lucy (?-?) married the Rev. Edward Billings

David Parsons’ pastoral interlude at Leicester, begun with great promise in 1722, collapsed into acrimony and bitterness. In 1727, the newly founded, cash-strapped small town became arrears in paying his salary and undertook efforts to relieve themselves of their minister’s salary. H

The Reverend Parsons was asked to accept a delayed payment and to relocate. In his mid-40’s, having been at Leicester for some five years, under an agreement that he was settled there for life, David Parsons refused to consider any great modification in the terms of his call. There followed meetings, litigation, factions and divisions within the congregation. Finally, in 1835, there was agreement that David Parsons would no longer be church minister and therefore, no longer paid. 

However, David Parsons remained in the town.

Town records indicate efforts were taken to keep the former minister away from the property of the church. 

Apparently, the dismissed pastor who would-not / could-not leave Leicester, disputed the laying of town roads on property he claimed was his; he would secure firewood from forests titled to the church. The lingering dispute caused church attendance to decline and the church building to fall into decay and neglect.

David Parsons “carried to the grave the feelings of bitterness which had been engendered in his controversy with the town; and was buried by his special direction, on his own land, apart from the graves of his people. He was unwilling that his ashes should repose by the side of those with whom he had worshipped in the sanctuary, and to whom he had broken the consecrated bread. His grave, once visible on a mowing-field, about thirty rods north of the present (1863) meeting-house, has been leveled by the plow share; and the headstone, with his name inscribed upon it, no longer serves, as it did for more than a century, as a monument to human frailty.” (Judd, History of Hadley, 1863, pp. 87-88, see also note, p. 414)

Judd, what became of the headstone? 

It was used in the building of a chimney, inside of which the inscription could be read: “In memory of Rev. Mr. David Parsons, who, after many years of hard labor and suffering, was laid here, Oct. 1, 1743, aged sixty-three.” And also, “Sarah Parsons died June ye 17, 1759, aged seventy-three.”

Washburn, what ch’u got? “Meekness does not seem to have been a distinguishing trait in his character” (Washburn, History of Leicester 1860 p. 387).



David, for Christ’s sakes man, you threw it all away over firewood? Firewood! Now I know firewood was a big deal back in the day, 1730 or thereabouts. But come on David! 

You a Harvard man, Dave, took the church to court? The church that called you to be their shepherd, their Parson? Now what congregation is going to hire you after a stunt like that?

All this within a generation of the witch trials over in Salem? After that, the repute of the Congregational Church was in tatters, David. Never recovered. And you want to make your divine calling all about, gimme my firewood?

David, couldn’t you have hired a boy to cut and bring you firewood? If the congregation overstated their ability to make your big salary, what’s the smart thing to do, Harvard man, David? If they don’t have the money, Dave, taking them to court isn’t going to print you more money.

Keep your peace, look around for another church. Move on! Like half the White population was already doing David, from New England South, Pennsylvanians into Virginia, North Carolina. Folks there, getting ready to jump into Kentucky, Tennessee.

But no . . . you gonna make your big point: they can’t treat me this way. 

David, what about Sarah? 

You could have fixed it for her, David. You could have given her the kind of life she expected and she deserved. But no. She chose you and she chose an ass, didn’t she? Now that’s an Epitaph that belongs on lots of women’s headstones.


Dave, here’s my sonnet to you:



Richard Baldwin Cook

(© 2010)

Our David raised in privilege and hopes high.

Both parents well respected all around.

A Harvard grad in 1705,

Dave Parsons was ordained a cleric sound.


A Malden, Mass. tenure had proved his keep.

The elders in Leicester had taken note.

He was then called to pastor there the sheep.

He went expecting to enlarge his scope.


The sheep, wolves proved, around his lonely manse.

The promised large support was just a game.

Into the local court the parties danced.

Dave lost his salary and his good name.


If from his grave Dave us advise, he should:

Don’t Insist: the church give promised firewood.



Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
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