Guide to the Collection

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Representative digitized documents from this collection:

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library.

Collection Summary


This collection consists of 3 volumes of sermon notes by Robert Keayne.

Biographical Sketch

Robert Keayne was born in 1595 in Windsor, England to John Keayne, a butcher. Keayne lived in London for the first half of his life, where he held memberships in the Merchant Taylors' Company and Honorable Artillery Company. In 1617 he married Anne Mansfield, and in 1619 they had one son, Benjamin.

Keayne and his family moved to Boston in 1635 when he was around 40 years old. There he worked as a tailor and ran a shop on State Street. It was while working at this establishment that Keayne famously overcharged his customers for merchandise and was tried and fined for the act in 1637. Despite this incident, Keayne retained his influence, helping to establish the Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts in 1638 and later serving as town Selectman, a Massachusetts General Court representative, and House Speaker.

After his death on 23 March 1646, Keayne left an extensively detailed will which included a large bequest meant to help Boston construct several public buildings, including a town house and a library. Keayne is buried in King's Chapel Burial Ground.

Collection Description

Throughout his life, both while living in London and as a member of the First Church congregation in Boston, Robert Keayne took notes at sermons and lectures given by prominent preachers and clergymen, as well as at court cases relating to the church.

Volume 1 of Keayne's sermon notes (1627-1628) contains notes taken by Keayne while living in London. Among the ministers represented are John Cotton, Hugh Peters, John Wilson, and John Davenport. Volume 2 (1639-1642) contains Keayne's notes on sermons preached by John Cotton at First Church in Boston. Also included are notes on the trials of Sgt. Richard Wait and Ann Hibbins, the latter of whom was executed for witchcraft in 1656. Volume 3 (1643-1646) contains Keayne's notes on sermons preached at First Church by John Cotton, John Wilson, and Thomas Cobbet.

Arrangement Note

Each volume in this collection is catalogued separately.

Volumes 1 and 3 are disbound by signatures.

Acquisition Information

Volume 1 (Sermon notes, 1627-1628) was a gift of Mrs. Frederick L. Gay, Feb. 1917.

Volume 3 (Sermon notes, 1643-1646) was acquired by purchase from the Rhode Island Historical Society, Sep. 1889.

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library.

Other Formats

The collection is also available as color digital facsimiles and on microfilm, P-85, 2 reels.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Sermon notes, 1627-1628digital content

Cataloged at Ms. N-1516.

Notes on sermons given in London, with the name of the preacher and the place and date of the meeting. Preachers include John Cotton, John Wilson, Hugh Peters, and John Davenport.

Volume 1Folder 1digitized
digitizedPages 1-30
Volume 1Folder 2digitized
digitizedPages 31-62
Volume 1Folder 3digitized
digitizedPages 63-94
Volume 1Folder 4digitized
digitizedPages 95-126
Volume 1Folder 5digitized
digitizedPages 127-158
Volume 1Folder 6digitized
digitizedPages 159-190
Volume 1Folder 7digitized
digitizedPages 191-222
Volume 1Folder 8digitized
digitizedPages 223-254
Volume 1Folder 9digitized
digitizedPages 255-286
Volume 1Folder 10digitized
digitizedPages 287-318
Volume 1Folder 11digitized
digitizedPages 319-350
Volume 1Folder 12digitized
digitizedPages 351-381
Volume 2digitized
digitizedSermon notes, 1639-1642Cataloged at Ms. N-1517.

Notes on sermons or expositions preached by Rev. John Cotton of the First Church in Boston. Also contains minutes of the cases against Sergeant Richard Wait and Mrs. Ann Hibbins.

Sermon notes, 1643-1646digital content

Cataloged at Ms. N-1518.

Notes on sermons preached by Rev. John Cotton, Rev. John Wilson, and Rev. Thomas Cobbet, of the First Church in Boston.

Volume 3Folder 1digitized
digitizedPages 1-54
Volume 3Folder 2digitized
digitizedPages 55-102
Volume 3Folder 3digitized
digitizedPages 103-150
Volume 3Folder 4digitized
digitizedPages 151-198
Volume 3Folder 5digitized
digitizedPages 199-246
Volume 3Folder 6digitized
digitizedPages 247-294
Volume 3Folder 7digitized
digitizedPages 295-342
Volume 3Folder 8digitized
digitizedPages 343-390
Volume 3Folder 9digitized
digitizedPages 391-438
Volume 3Folder 10digitized
digitizedPages 439-490

Preferred Citation

Robert Keayne sermon notes, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Cobbet, Thomas, 1608-1685.
Cotton, John, 1584-1652.
Davenport, John, 1597-1670.
Hibbins, Ann, -1656.
Peters, Hugh, 1598-1660.
Wait, Richard.
Wilson, John, 1588-1667.


Congregational churches--Clergy.