Dedham (Mass.).

An alphabetical abstract of the record of births, in the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, 1844-1890 online

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3 1833 01396 4637







1844— I 8qq.


Compiled by


Office of the Dedham Transcript.

Published Under the Vote of the Town,
'Passed April 8, 1893.



AT the last Annual Town Meeting the town voted to print in the next
annual town report an alphabetical abstract of the Births recorded in
Dedham from the time the first volume of printed records (published 1886)
ends, to 1890, in form similar to the methods adopted in Providence, R. I.,
and in Woburn, Mass., where they were published in the annual town reports.
Prior to 1844 the Town Clerk was simply required to keep a record of
births of all persons within his town coming to his knowledge, and to specify
in such record the date of each birth and the names of the parents. Parents
were required to give notice to the clerks of all births of their children, and
the same was required of every householder, but no other provision was
made for collecting the facts. The first law passed which provided for anything
approaching a complete system of registration was Chap. 159, of the Acts of
1844. This Act provided that the Record of Births should state in separate
columns the date and place of birth, the name of the child (if it have any), the
sex, name and surname of the parents, occupation of the father, residence of
the parents, and date of record, and the School Committee were required to
collect all these facts and make return to the Town Clerk, and the Secretary
of the Commonwealth was required to furnish blank books of suitable
quality and size to be used as Books of Record, and also suitable blank
forms for returns.

Under Chapter 202 of the Acts of 1849, Town Clerks were authorized
and required to obtain, record, and index the information concerning births,
etc., now required by law. The General Statutes 1860 re-enacted these laws
and also required that the Record of Births should contain the color of the
child and parents' birthplace, and provided that parents and householders
who neglected to give the Clerk such notice for the space of six months after
the birth "shall forfeit a sum not exceeding five dollars," and this law is in



force to-day. By a Statute passed in 1880, physicians and midwives were
required annually on or before the fifth day of each month to report to the
Clerk a correct list of all children born in town during the month next pre-
ceding, at the birth of which they were present, stating place and date of
birth and parents' names, and for neglecting to report such lists, a penalty
was provided by the Act. This Statute was amended in 1883, requiring the
physician's list to state all the facts required for a complete registration, and
a fee of twenty -five cents for each birth so reported was provided for by
the Act.

The first record book provided under the law of 1844 by the State was
in three parts, blanks for births at the beginning or first section, marriages
in the second, and deaths in the third. Since 1852, the Records of
Births, Marriages and Deaths, have been kept in separate books. This
first book was commenced by Richard Ellis at the close of his term of
office as Town Clerk, and only the first ten births recorded therein appear
in his hand.

Jonathan Holmes Cobb was elected Town Clerk in March, 1845, and
held the office for thirty years, declining a re-election in 1875. During
this period the Records appear in the hand of Mr, Cobb or in that of
one of his sons. Mr. Cobb was born in Sharon, July 8, 1799, was graduated
at Harvard 1817, a lawyer by profession, was editor for a time of the
"Village Register," was one of the founders of the Dedham Institution for
Savings, of which he was the first Secretary and Treasurer. He held the
office of Register of Probate for Norfolk County from 1833 to 1879, and
also acted for many years as a magistrate of the County. He died March

(3/v^^^^5:^^fe^ ,^^^9u^

About 1S50.

March, 1875, Charles H. Farrington was elected Town Clerk, and held
the office until 1880, when he declined a re-election, and the Record of
Births beginning with January, 1875, through 1879, is in his handwriting, a
clear record hand. Mr. Farrington was born in Dedham, Sept. 21, 1831.
He was employed for a short time in the Registry of Probate, and for
about twenty years in the Registry of Deeds, where he made the classified
index of grantees from 1793 to 1855, and also prepared indexes of the
County Commissioners' Records, and while he held the office of Town Clerk


he made an elaborate index in two folio volumes of the General Records
•of the town, and another of the Town Grants. He also held the ofifice of


About 1878.

In 1880 the present incumbent was elected Town Clerk, and
again in 1881, but declined a re-election in 1882, and Mr. Farrington was
again, at the March meeting, elected Town Clerk, but held the office only a
few weeks, having died very suddenly, April 27, 1882, and I was appointed
at first Clerk pro tem, and then re-elected by the Town, and have held the
-office from that time to the present. Mr. Farrington recorded no births
during 1882, so that the entire record of births from 1880 to the
present time has been made by the present Clerk. All the Records during
my term have been made by careful copyists, and only the round record
hand so easily read has been used upon the Records.

Many errors appear upon the Records, especially in the matter of names.
A considerable number were brought to my notice by discrepancies which
appeared in the record of different members of the same fami]3\ Parents
and others giving the information do not seem to realize the impor-
tance of accuracy, and give only a portion of their name, giving it in different
forms at different times. The name of one mother was found to have been
entered in eight different ways. The spelling of foreign names has been a
source of great trouble. As a general rule the different spellings, as they
appear upon the Record, have been printed, except that the names and birth-
places of the same parents have sometimes been printed uniform, but no
-changes have been made upon the original Records, except under the pro-
visions of Chap. 305 of the Acts of 1892, which provided that —

" Whenever the records of any city or town do not contain the facts re-
lating to a birth, death or marriage which occurred therein, or whenever
such facts are not fully or correctly stated on such records, the clerk or
registrar of such city or town may receive a deposition, under oath, contain-
ing such facts as are desired for record, and shall then file said deposition
,and record said facts in a book to be kept for that purpose, stating in addi-
tion thereto the name and residence of the deponent and the date of such


When this work was begun it was found that there were about four
hundred children who did not have any christian name upon the record. I
took special pains to obtain as many of these names as possible, and have
obtained the christian name in about one hundred and sixty cases.

Under the provisions of the above statute, I prepared a deposition
blank in the following form : —



Pursuant to the provisions of Chap. 305, of the Acts of 1892, 1

of in the County of

in said Commonwealth on oath depose and say that the christian name of the child of

who was born in Dedhara . . . . , 18 ,

is Said christian name not having been

entered in the record of the birth of said child on the Town Clerk's Register; ....

And I further testify that I am* of said child.

189 . Subscribed and sworn to: Before me,
, Justice of the Peace,

*State relationship to child.

This was used also to correct any other errors, either in dates or names,
and 365 depositions have been procured, filed and recorded, and this has been
done without any expense to the parties making the depositions. These
have been obtained by personal application and by correspondence, and I
caused a notice to be published three weeks in the Dedham Transcript, as
follows: —


An Alphabetical Abstract of the Records of Births in Dedham, from 1844, when the printed
volume ends, to and including 1890, has been made under the vote of the Town, and is now in the
hands of the printer, to be published in the next Town Report. It is very desirable that all errors
which appear in these Records should be properly corrected. Chapter 305 of the Acts of 1892 pro-
vides for the making and recording of depositions to correct errors, and the Clerk is prohibited
from correcting the original Records except through these depositions. Several hundred such de-
positions have already been obtained by the Town Clerk. No fees will be charged for the making,
filing or recording of these depositions. The Records can be seen at the Historical Building, on
Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons, and all persons who are interested in any Birth
Records from 1844 to 1890 are earnestly requested to call there at once and examine these Records-
before they are printed, that corrections may be properly made.

Dedham, Nov. 24, 1893.


It was my desire so far as possible, that the errors which existed should
be carefully corrected before this report was printed. I have taken pains to
have all depositions made by those who would be best authorities in the mat-
ter. Appended to this introduction will be found a list of the names of those
children the record of whose birth has been corrected by depositions, and
the file number of these depositions (which number also shows the page of
the record thereof). Other errors will be found printed, which might have
been corrected if parties interested had responded to the invitation to ex-
amine the Records before they were printed. Some errors might have been
corrected by me, but for the fact that the law of 1892 above mentioned
prohibits me from amending or correcting the records. All errors which
have not been corrected should be corrected in the manner prescribed by
law. I can make no promises for my successors, but so long as I hold the
office I shall be very glad to prepare and record all such depositions for the
sake of accuracy in our Records, and without expense to the parties

A word as to the matter of names. The whole community should be
educated in this matter of accuracy in writing names. Let it begin in the
schools. Children should be impressed throughout their whole school course
with the importance of always writing their names correctly, and if they have
more than one christian name they should write in full the name by which
they are called, with the initial of the other christian name; that is, if the
child's name is John G. Brown, it should be so written always, and never
(even in the Kindergarten) Johnnie Brown. School Rules and Regulations
should provide that all teachers should write the children's names in full
upon all registers and reports, and require the children to sign their names
in the same manner to all examination or other papers written by them.

During my term of office I have caused each year an Abstract of the
Record of Births, Marriages and Deaths to be printed in the Town Report,
and I have repeatedly called attention to these abstracts and requested that
errors should be corrected.

It will be noticed that in a number of instances a child's birth is re-
corded in two successive years. When we were able to determine that both
records were intended for the same child, and could ascertain which date
was correct, we have printed only the correct record and omitted the other,
but when the correct date was uncertain both records have been printed.
Children who appeared to be illigitimate or stillborn have been omitted from
the printed record. As the result of the laws passed since 1844, more pains
than before that date has been taken in the collection of births. I have


obtained and recorded returns of the births of forty-seven children whose
names did not appear upon our records, a list of which is appended to this
Introduction, and I am confident that others still have never been recorded.
If parents and physicians would make the returns which the law requires,
(which returns I am sorry to say are seldom made), there would be fewer
omissions and a less number of mistakes in our records.

A few statistics have been compiled which will be found interesting, and
I hope not out of place in this report. It will be remembered that the record,
the abstract of which is here printed, covers a period of nearly half a century,
beginning in the middle of 1844 and ending with the close of 1890.

From the valuation of Dedham, 1844.

Number of poll tax payers born in United States (estimated), 913^

"out of " " 2.5

Whole number of poll tax payers in this valuation, 938

From the voting list, ISTovember election, 1844.

Number of voters born in United States, (estimated), 70.5

" outof " " 12

Whole number of voters on this list, 717

From tlie voting Register, November election, 1890.

Number of voters born in United States, (not in Dedham), 570

" Dedham, 420

" " " " out of United States, 369

Whole number of voters on this list 1359

From the Record of Births here printed, the following table is construct-
ed, relating to the birthplace of parents : —

Number. Per Cent.

Both parents born out of United States 3309 4.5—

" " " in United States,(neither in Dedham), 1649 22+

" " U. S. (one in Dedham), 1061 15—

One parent born in U. S.(not in Dedham),the other out of U. S. 600 8+

Both parents born in Dedham, 324 4+

One parent born in Dedham, the other out of U. S 234 3+

Birthplace of one or both parents unknown 191 3—

7368 100

The estimates from the Valuation and Voting lists of 1844 may not be
strictly accurate, but they are the best estimates that I could get from those
familiar with the names, and I think they cannot be far out of the way. In my
report to the town last year, I recommended that the births only be printed


this year, and the marriages and deaths be printed in subsequent years. I
recommend that an abstract of the Record of Deaths for the same period
be prepared and published in the Report next year, with extra copies for
sale, and that additions and corrections which may be made to the Record
of Births here printed be appended thereto.

The original records of births appear in table form, each entry reaching
across two pages. This abstract has been made so as to condense as much
as possible and give the most matter in the least space, and, if possible, to
make each entry occupy only one line. The figure at the left indicates the
number of that birth in the record of the year in which it appears ; the
words son of, or daughter of, did not seem necessary and were omitted ; after
the parents' names appear, if recorded, the maiden name of the mother in
parenthesis, then the birth-place of the father and mother and the date, first
the month expressed in figures, and as all are in this century, the 18 is
omitted in the year.

The copy for the printer has been made by Miss Martha A. Smith, who
has also assisted the Town Clerk in reading proof.

Respectfully submitted.

^^ 2j2LCt^Lnt /l^

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