1736 Josiah Dennis Manse Museum


Who is Josiah Dennis?


Dennis Historical Society

Very little is known about the man for whom the town of Dennis was named when it was incorporated in 1793. Born in 1694 in Wenham and Harvard graduate, Reverend Josiah Dennis was ordained as the first minister of the Second Parish of Yarmouth on June 22, 1727.

His church was a small wooden meeting house on the edge of what would eventually become Dennis Village Cemetery.

His home was a c.1693 house refurbished by his parish, now known as the 1736 Josiah Dennis Manse Museum because of a later addition. Josiah married twice, burying his first wife, Bathsheba, in 1745.

He married Phebe, who outlived him by 10 years. He had nine children, two sons and five daughters. Six children died before Josiah, leaving three daughters, one of whom would marry. His granddaughter was born a month after he died in 1763. In the War of 1812 his only two great grandsons died.

He left a hand written will and a household inventory. In Yarmouth church records, there is an acceptance to preach letter, a record of his being received by the church and bits of sermons. There are no sketches or paintings or descriptions of his likeness. At the Manse there is a desk he may have made as he was an apprenticed carpenter. At his death his will notes the value of his books at 30 pounds and the value of his wearing apparel at 16.94 pounds.

It seems Reverend Josiah Dennis was kind, caring, dedicated to his parish and able to offer his parishioners a wry sense of humor. He considered himself a “friend and servant”. Reverend Dennis is buried in Dennis Village Cemetery and the town is fortunate to have been named in his honor.