Thanks to Rev. Parkman’s diary, there is more information regarding Daniel Warren’s life as a founder of the church and his involvement in the early development of Westborough than information regarding the particulars of the Warren homestead.
Daniel Warren was a second generation born in Watertown of English heritage. Daniel and his first wife, Rebecca Garfield, moved from Watertown to Chauncy Village (Marlborough) after 1712. They were among the first settlers and he was a petitioner for the establishment of the new town. He built his farm on a 200 acre parcel located “east of the plain” where the road to Boston made the turn northeasterly up the hill then past the Gale Tavern and into the south precinct of Marlborough. It was this road that Rev. Parkman traveled on his frequent journeys to Marlborough and Cambridge. (In the photo, courtesy of Linda Hunter Robinson, you can see the Daniel Warren homestead.)
Daniel’s wife, Rebecca, died in 1720 in Westborough after giving birth to the couple’s fourth child, Silas. The couple’s three older sons were: Daniel Jr., born 1712 in Watertown (he married Hannah Bond and lived in Westborough and Shrewsbury); Timothy, born 1715 in Marlborough (he eventually became the heir to the Warren property when his father died in 1748); and Jonas, born in 1717 (he moved to Upton in 1745).
Daniel Warren became a trusted friend and supporter of Rev. Parkman, building the first meetinghouse and performed any number of the more difficult tasks on the minister’s farm. Warren harvested firewood and sledded it with his oxen, plowed the fields while maintaining the orchards and helped dig a well and built stone walls.
As a founding father of the first church of Westborough, and by virtue of his outstanding character and trusted standing in the new community, Warren became a very active member in political and religious affairs. Although Warren was selected at the first town meeting in 1718 to build the first meetinghouse, it was not completed for use until 1724. Also in 1724, Daniel was appointed to the committee to select and wait upon the first ordained minister of Westborough, Ebenezer Parkman.
By statute, each community was required to have a school teacher. The town chose Warren and Edward Baker in 1726 the first school committeemen “to procure a suitable schoolmaster.” Baker brought schoolmaster Joshua Townsend of Brookfield to Westborough. The Boynton Place was chosen as the site of the first schoolhouse in November, 1726.
Warren married his second wife, Mary Witherby of Westborough, in 1727. The couple had six children. But in 1739, the couple had another baby that Parkman referred to as a “very large baby” and that birth left Mrs. Warren near death. The newborn died a month later while Mrs. Warren made a recovery.
In 1728, Warren was appointed a member of a committee to meet with area communities to establish a new county. In 1730, the first county road was identified. It went from Marlborough through the north precinct and on to Shrewsbury. It became the Bay Path and later the Boston Post Road. In 1739, Worcester County was established through the efforts of Warren.
Warren was appointed by the selectmen to fulfill a Massachusetts Provincial Law enacted in 1730 that required communities to establish “town stocks and a whipping post as a terror to sinners.” Warren also built a sufficient stone pound for the keeping of strays.
A reference to Warren by Rev. Parkman as “Captain Warren” was first noted in 1737 in numerous diary entries regarding the “trooping and training” of the local militia. Warren and other notable men of the community were selected to command volunteer military companies to prepare them for future encounters with Indian attacks or unforeseen invasions. From that point on, Warren was referred to as Captain Warren.
Several years prior to 1744, there had developed a great dissatisfaction between Rev. Parkman and the church members of the north precinct. It was primarily over the distance the parishioners had to travel to the meetinghouse for political and religious services. This was the same issue that earlier settlers of Chauncey Village had with the Town of Marlborough. Although the north parishioners shared their feelings with Parkman and the other members of the church, their issues were never resolved.
Against Parkman’s wishes, the north precinct parishioners began to meet in private homes rather than make the weekly trek to Powder Hill. Parkman was not happy with this behavior and made his objections known. After all, Parkman had a covenant, a contract with the entire town that was specific to his salary, benefits and the scope of his duties. He was not willing to accommodate the north precinct with their request that he travel to them to satisfy their religious needs.
In December of 1744, an act of the Massachusetts General Court ruled the north precinct was officially allowed to cede from Westborough, without the support of Rev. Parkman. To satisfy the parties, the Westborough selectmen in January 1745 selected Daniel Warren to act as an intermediary between the Town and Parkman until the issue was resolved. However, in anticipation of the split, Westborough selectmen in March of 1745 ordered that precinct lines be established by a surveyor and a new geographic center of town was located.
Negotiations between Parkman and the north precinct parishioners failed to reach an agreeable settlement and the minister’s contract was renegotiated to reflect the north precincts reduced salary contribution. In September of 1745, the north side was preparing to settle a new minister. After inviting several ministers to preach, the north precinct ordained its own minister in 1746. Rev. John Martyn remained the town’s religious leader until 1767. In 1766, the north precinct became the Town of Northborough.
On September 9, 1748, Parkman wrote, “I went to see Captain Daniel Warren and his wife who are very bad – and their son Jonathan likewise ill.” Then on September 12 he wrote, “Captain Warren dyed last night. A heavy loss! He was a worthy man. The Lord sanctify it to us all.” Later that day, “Went to the House of Death, Captain Warrens, pray’d with the sick there, and the sorrowing Neighbors that were there together.” On the 13th Parkman writes, “My wife and I went to Captain Warrens burying. While we were at the House of Mourning after prayer and the Corps moving out to go to the Grave…we returned and met the mourners on the Road home.”