The Pastor's Salary Under A Depreciated Currency
There is no intimation in the last vote as to the occasion of the increase of the pastor's labor at that time. On turning to the church records, however, it will be seen that there was then an unusual amount of religious interest in the town. It was the period of "The Great Awakening" -- the time when Rev. George Whitefield was laboring with great success among the New England churches. The pastor of this church sympathized with Mr. Whitefield in his views and practices. As the result of the awakening in this town, ninety-three persons were received to the First Church during the year 1742. Of this number, forty-one were admitted in March, and thirty-three in April. At this time, the limits of the parish had been very much reduced, on account of the formation of the church and parish in the north part of the town, a few years before.
A contribution for Mr. Cotton was afterward taken in the month of April, annually, the town voting it from year to year, and generally without assigning any particular reason; but in 1743 it was said to be "for his great labor," and in 1745, "for ye support of ye Lecters."
As the currency depreciated, the sum voted, to make good the pastor's salary, was necessarily increased, till in 1750 his £120 had become £480 old tenor. After this, for several years, the annual salary was £360. In 1756 however, the currency still depreciating, £560 were paid. The next year, Col. John Weeks, Capt. Jonathan Moulton and Jonathan Shaw were chosen a committee to determine what sum should be allowed. In this manner or by the selectmen, the sum needed to make good the salary was determined annually, during the remainder of Mr. Cotton's ministry.