Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reverend Samuel Langdon House

The Reverend Samuel Langdon House, sometimes called the John K. Pickering House, was located on the west side of Pleasant Street, the third house from the southwest corner of Court and Pleasant Streets. It stood opposite the Governor John Langdon Mansion and next door to the Old Parsonage.

Samuel Langdon House 1902
Portsmouth’s first parsonage and church, an Episcopal chapel, were built on this site around 1638. Both are thought to have been destroyed by fire in 1704. Reverend Samuel Langdon built his parsonage here around 1749.

Samuel Langdon was born in Boston in 1723 and graduated from Harvard College in 1740, along with his classmate, the patriot Samuel Adams. A few years later, he came to Portsmouth to teach grammar school while studying theology.

In 1745, during King George’s War, the third French and Indian War, Samuel Langdon became chaplain to a New Hampshire regiment. These troops besieged the fortress of Louisbourg, the capital of the French province of Île-Royale (now Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia). Their victory brought acclaim to those who had participated and a new bell to the Queen’s Chapel (now St. John’s Church).

When Langdon returned to Portsmouth in November of 1745, the North Parish asked him to assist elderly Reverend Jabez Fitch while continuing to teach grammar school. He married Elizabeth Whipple Brown in 1746, and they had eleven children between 1748 and 1762.

Reverend Langdon was ordained on February 4, 1747, after Reverend Fitch died, and became minister of the North Church. He received a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland in 1761.

He was a zealous Whig who believed the British government had forgotten the moral lessons of the Ten Commandments. His patriotic sympathies got him elected President of Harvard College. He left Portsmouth for Cambridge in October 1774; however, he resigned six years later after disagreements with students over his religious beliefs. He ministered in Hampton Falls for the rest of his life and died in 1797.

Reverend Samuel Langdon's home still existed in 1907 as seen in the above photograph from the Library of Congress. Today, the location is a driveway into the Citizens Bank of Portsmouth.


  1. The Samuel Langdon House was taken down and moved to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, where it was re-erected and serves as offices for the Village. Regrettable that Portsmouth "lost" it, but it still exists.

  2. Thank you for the information! I can verify that the building is now in Sturbridge Village and will make plans to travel down to Sturbridge for some photos.

    Ron Campbell