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Oh those kids today!

 Hingham Old Ship Church built in 1681


The twentieth and twenty-first centuries do not have exclusive rights to inter-generational conflict. The same was true in 17th century Puritan New England where there was some tension between the first generation of Pilgrims and Puritans and the second generation born in the new colonies. In 17th century Puritan New England there was concern that the younger generation was not dutiful or respectful enough. One of those expressing that view was my 9th great-grandfather Reverend Samuel Arnold who was pastor of the church at Marshfield. Samuel delivered a sermon on this topic in 1674 titled “David Serving His Generation.” In this sermon, he used a metaphor of David and Solomon explaining the older generation, that is the first generation of immigrants, was the master’s family. They lay the foundation and it was the job of the second generation to support what the heroic first generation had done. He warned that the new generation was at risk of being ruled by the will of the generation rather than by the will of god (Elliott 1975).


Reverend Samuel Arnold was born about 1622 perhaps the son of Samuel Arnold. He immigrated by 1642 and may have first been in Scituate. In 1658, he was named the third pastor of the church at Marshfield, a position that he held for thirty years. Samuel married Elizabeth Biddle (1626-1705) about 1642. Elizabeth’s origins are not yet clear, but she is perhaps the daughter of Joseph and Martha (Crander) Biddle. There are just three known children for Samuel and Elizabeth including my ancestor Elizabeth Arnold (1642-1690). Samuel Arnold’s educational background is not known, but several of his letters, sermons, and other writings survive which provide some insight into Puritan thought.


Puritans interpreted most events as the workings of god. In Marshfield there were lighting strikes in 1658 and 1666 that killed members of a single family. In 1658, a son of John Phillips was struck by lightening and killed. In 1666, lightening struck the house of Mr. Phillips, and in this strike Mrs. Phillips, another son, and William Shurtleff a visitor at the home were killed. This second lightening strike occurred after a period of drought in which there had been fasting and fervent praying to relieve the drought. The relief of the drought was accompanied by the strike that killed three people. In a letter to Increase Mather related to this second event, Samuel Arnold describes the literal fire and brimstone with “God’s arrows” as a reminder of his power. As not all the people in the house were killed, this was also a demonstration of god’s mercy (Shurtleff 1850).


Samuel Arnold is also of note as he wrote a poem anticipating his death and there are also poems written by others on the occasion of his death. Here are a few verses of a poem written by Ichabod Wiswell on the occasion of the death of Samuel Arnold followed by a few verses from Samuel Arnold’s farewell (Text Creation Partnership n.d.). Each of these poems are much longer.



WHEN Lights go out, Darkness succeeds;

Is this sad Marshfield's Case?

Ah! little, little, little know

We who succeeds in Place


Of Arnold dead. This Star is set,

But where the next will rise

With Amplitude, how long his Course,

Can't Astrophil devise.


Thy Glory, Marshfield, is eclip'd,

Thy Sun hath run his Race:

Melpomene may traced be

By Tears on every Face.



I heartily unto thee bid Farewell.

My Time in thee draws near unto an End;

Jehovah to Thy Self O do Thou bend

My Soul, that it may soar and mount aloft.

With Eagle's wings, on high to thee as oft,

As I with Nature's Sinkings am attended,

My strong Desire to Thee let be extended.

Thou art my Hope, my Help, my Joy, my Rest,

My Sanctuary when with Grief opprest.

In all my Pilgrimage I have thee found

In Loving Kindness to me to abound.

In England old I first did draw my Breath,

And there I might have been a Man of Death;

But God me brought over the roaring Seas,

Into his Wilderness, where he did please

Make allure, and to him draw my Heart




Elliott, Emory. 1975. Power and the Pulpit in Puritan New England. Princeton Univeristy Press.


Shurtleff, Nathaniel Bradstreet. 1850. Thunder & Lightning; and Deaths at Marshfield in 1658 & 1666. Boston, MA: Privately printed.


Text Creation Partnership. n.d. Evans Early American Imprint Collection. Accessed June 20, 2019.

Family Group sheet for Samuel Arnold and Elizabeth Biddle:



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