obtain a more accurate return the coming year, of births, marriages and i
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TnresBORouGH. â ^^ On making out my returns of births, marriages and deaths
last year, I thought I should be able to give you a complete and full return
the present year, and promised you that I would do so. I have taken unwearied
pains to obtain the names, dates, &c., contained in these returns, and, by dint of
running and racing into almost every nook and corner of the town, I have obtained
the particulars returned ; thus much I have done in order to keep my promise,
made one year ago. There has not been a single instance of full and correct re-
turn to me during the past year. I have requested, again and again, individuals
to hand in their returns to me, without effect; under these circumstances, I shall
make no further promises, but shall hereafter return such facts as are returned
Watertown. â Births and Deaths, " No returns of births fhnn the school
committee, or return of deaths from the sexton, in the town of Watertown, have
been received by me the past year, up to June 30, 1846. I therefore can make
no return to you."
West Cambridge. â Deaths. "The deficiency in the return is beyond the
control of the clerk. Recorded as received."
Westford. â Deaths. "The return is imperfect, containing but about one
half the number. Individuals, when requested, neglect to make the necessary
W OB URN. â Births. "The return of births, from the town of Woburn, for the
year ending April 30, 1846, is, in most respects, perfect." "I have used great
exertions to ascertain, and make record of all births happening in town ; eight or
ten out of this number, I have ascertained by personal inquiry. The school com-
mittee employed the assessors to attend to their duty for them ; there appears to
be a great unwillingness on the part of parents to give in the birth of their chil-
dren. I think this should not be ; parents should be interested in this matter, and
see -to it that every birth happening in their families is duly recorded, or give
such facts as may be required to those who are legally authorized to receive
them, or all our endeavors to obtain a perfect registration will be of no avail." â
Marriages. " The return of marriages from the town of Woburn for the year
ending April 30, 1846, is, T believe, full and correct, with but one exception."
" You may be assured that if the State makes liberal provisions for carrying out
the registration, your returns will be correct ; all the duties of town clerks will
be done, and, I doubt not, faithfully done; and only then. The honor of the
office, in a town like Woburn, does not pay for the work required by law. Last
year, I suggested the propriety of raising the price of certificates to one dollar,
and this, I think, would be the better way, and then the individual married would
pay all the expense ; and this he can afford to do, if he gets a decent wife, but if
not, there is no clerk who would not, out of pity, remit him the fee, and, perhaps,
make him a present in addition." "I do hope that our next Legislature will be
wise, and take this matter into consideration." "Any one conversant with the
old records of most towns, can see the necessity of the present registration law ;
there should be a perfect uniformity in records throughout the State ; in the gene-
alogy of families, heirship to property, and pauper cases, long and protracted law-
suits often occur, which might, in a great measure, be obviated, had our present
registration laws been carried into operation at the early settlement of the
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18 FIFTH REGISTRATION REPORT.
country. The whole cost of the present registration laws throughout the State,
(were a reasonable price paid,) would not be more than one per cent on five hun-
dred dollars ; it would seem but reasonable, that this small pittance should be
paid for an object of so much importance." â Deaths, " The return of deaths
from the town of Woburn, for the past year, is, in most respects, correct"
^'Family records arc a great assistance in ascertaining many of the facts required
by law, and one should be kept in every family ; the time and trouble of keeping
them is nothing, in comparison with the benefits derived from them ; all the facts
could be readily obtained, which are necessary to make the town records perfect
The disease or cause of death may not, in all cases, be recorded correctly,
although most of them are as they were returned to me." ** In some instances,
where old people have died, I have been obliged to consult the old records of the
town to ascertain their ages ; this makes a great amount of work for which we
get no pay ; this is not right" " The whole matter of registration should, in my
humble opinion, be left with town clerks, and it should be made their duty to
obtain all the necessary facts, or to employ some one to do so for them ; this is
the only way that the facts can all of them be obtained."
No Returns from Dracut and SomervUU; of births from Adon; of marriages
Yrom DwistabU ; and of births and deaths from WaUrtovm.
AuBuiiN. â Marriages. " The return is as complete as I could well obtain."
Blackstons. â Births. "I have made the return as complete as I was able
from the return made to me, which return was made, I believe, by a person who
was very diligent in obtaining all the information he could at the time. Our pop-
ulation being of a moving character, as full information in every respect as was
desired could not be obtained." â Marriages. " The clergymen who have made
returns have been very punctual, with one exception ; that one said to me, before
making his returns, he presumed he had united more couples in marriage than all
the other clergymen in town, and when he made his returns he returned only five,
saying he had loaned the certificates of two or three, and others he had mislaid
and would look them up ; such negligence ought not to be tolerated. I suppose
that clergymen usually receive from two to five dollars for uniting in marriage,
whereas the town clerk receives bis fifty cents, and not unfrequently has to travel
twelve miles, and spend half a day's time besides. I have published the inten-
tions of marriage of forty-five couples the past year, and believe that more than
thirty have been married in town." â DeaUis. " There not being any regularly
appointed sextons in our town, it is almost impossible to get any person to engage
in collecting and making a return of the deaths, the compensation allowed by the
law being much less than it should be. I am confident there have more deaths
taken place the past year, but I return all I have been able to collect"
Brookfield. â Deaths. ** There is great neglect on the part of the sextoos,
and one refuses to make any return. I have obtained, I believe, all the deaths in
town, and believe them to be correctly returned."
DuDLKT. â Births. " I wish there was a penalty to oblige, or a compensation
to induce, the school committee, or some other person or persons to obtain cor-
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rectly all the births in town. Some of the births were taken by the assessors, but
not correctly. Knowing of a number of births that were not handed in, and
wishing to have my registration more perfect, I made a circuit over the town and
obtained more than double the number that had been before handed to me, which
I think is correct"
GARDmsB. â Births. " The births were not all returned this year."
Hoij>EN. â Marriages. ^ I suppose there has been one marriage in this town
by a clergyman of Royalston, but no return of it has been made."
HuBBARosTON. â " Great effort has been used on the part of the town clerk
that the returns should be correct The return of marriages and deaths may be
regarded as substantially so. But the difficulty of obtaining correct information
in relation to births is apparent, when the fact is made known that no one takes
any interest in the subject but the town clerk alone. He has visited every neigh-
borhood in town for the purpose of collectiug information for that return, and
presumes that all, or nearly all, of the births arc included."
Lancaster. â Births, " No returns received from school committee."
Lunenburg. â ^I have, by sending written circulars and the printed cer-
tificates, been enabled to obtain pretty full and accurate returns. I wish they
were perfect, but it is certainly not for want of effort on my part that they are not
Mbndon. â " Mendon contains 1200 inhabitants ; much care has been taken in
making out the returns, which renders them perfect or nearly accurate." â
Births. "I return all the children bom during the year."
North Brookfielo. â *' To the appointed officers much credit is due for the
pains they have taken in ascertaining the particulars so necessary to carrying out
the intention of the registration act I believe the reports to be correct in all
their details, except the places of birth of two females on the list of deaths,
which could not be ascertained. The objects and results contemplated by the
registration act are of the greatest utility, and can doubtless be effected, if the
Bubordinate officers will attend to their duties as set forth in the act ; but it is at-
tended with considerable labor, requires much time and patience, and, I fear, will
not generally receive due attention until the fees are increased, as they are now
altogether inadequate to the service required."
NoRTHBOROUGH. â ^ The actual number of births in this town is probably as
many again as are recorded ; I return all that have been reported to me by 'the
school committee, and regret very much not to have a complete return as I had
Princeton. â " So far as it respects the number, I believe each list to be per-
fect The sexton and school committee have been prompt in the discharge of
their respective duties."
Westborough.â " For these last three years, I have been laboring to have
our community feel the importance of a full and correct registration ; but I find
it cannot be done by persuasion or argument, and have some doubts whether the
arm of the law would fully accomplish it Early this summer I engaged one of
the school committee, when he numbered the children, to gather up our whole
community, that a complete registration should once be made, and by giving him
half my perquisite, or rather my fees, I have added more than two hundred names
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20 FIFTH REGISTRATION REPORT.
to the records, and some parts of families back thirty years ; so that it can be
truly said, that Westborough, for 1846, has a full and complete registration.
You are aware that the new registration book receives the names promiscuously,
and not by families, and that to keep the family records together, a double record
must be made in every instance. My returns of births and deaths I think cor-
rect ; that of marriages is not so *, returns are not made by clergymen and those
authorized to solemnize marriages as they should be."
No Returns from Upton.
Amherst. â " The returns are not as full as I could wish, but are as perfect aa
I am able to make them. It is much to be regretted, that those who pretend to
furnish the town clerk with returns, are not more particular. One fact to illus-
trate : Afler the returns of births were made to me, I made some little effort to
ascertain if all had been reported, and found that fourtetn cases were not on any
of the returns ; how many more escape the school committee and myself, I am
not able to say ; but from the manner in which the returns have been made, and
the attention I have been able to give the matter, I have no doubt some are still
left off; and out of the fifly-one deaths returned, only eight were returned by
BEI.CHERTOWN. â Births. ''The school committee have made me no return ;
what I have returned are made from general observation and inquiry. I hope I
shall be able to make more full returns the present year."
EU.STHAMPTON. â BiHhs, '' The school committee have returned nine births to
the clerk, one of which took place at Northampton. By inquiry, I have made the
number thirteen, which is not far from correct" â Marriages, " The number is cor-
rectly returned." â Deaths, " We have no sexton to assist the clerk in making his
return ; neither have the inhabitants ever given themselves the least trouble in
regard to furnishing the clerk with the necessary information. I cannot see any
propriety in making the clerk subject to a fine of ten dollars for neglect of duty,
and allowing other officers whose duty it is to make returns to the clerk, to make
them or not, as is most convenient to them."
Goshen. â Births. " I feel confident that this return is correct, as the chairman
of the school committee is a physician, and well acquainted with all the families
in town." â Marriages and Deaihs. " These returns are also correct"
Plainfield. â Births, " The school committee of this town have never made
any return of births to the town clerk, for the reason, as they say, that they can-
not afford to do it at the rate of five cents a birth ; neither have they engaged any
one to do it, there being no penalty for the neglect Finding that they had not,
and would not make any return to me, I have, this year, taken the trouble to as-
certain the number of births for the year past myself, and think I herewith return
all, or nearly all, viz., twelve. There were probably as many, or more last year,
or rather year before last, although I made return of only three ; no more having
come to my knowledge." â Deaths. " Sextons have made no return of deaths to mc,
and all I have learnt of them is from our minister and physician ; the minister
keeps an account of all the deaths, that is, the date, and name, and age of the
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deceased, not noting the months and days, however, nor the place of birth, or
name of parents, &c. I believe, sir, that I herewith return you all the deaths and
marriages that have taken place in this town the year past"
Prescott. â Birihs. ''The return contains about one half the number of
children born in this town the past year. I have, by personal inquiry, found the
names and ages of those in the list, the school committee having wholly dis-
regarded the law which makes it their duty to make an annual return to the town
clerk." â Marriages. '' The return contains probably the whole number that have
taken place the past year ; it is not so full, however, as I should have been pleased
to have had it ; owing to remissness in the clerks, or persons solemnizing the mar-
riages, in regard to the various inquiries to be made, which, I think, may be obviated
by procuring the blank forms of publishments, according to your circular." â Deaths.
'' I believe I return the whole number that have occurred during the past year.
The sextons not having paid any attention to the law heretofore, I have not been
able to make a very accurate return to some of the inquiries at the head of the
columns. I have reminded the several sextons of their duty, and hope for a
better state of things hereafter, in regard to accuracy."
South Hadlet. â Marriages. " There have been probably two or three mar-
riages in town that have not been returned." â Deaths. '* The return, according
to my belief, is correct"
Ware. â Deaths. " There was no return made to me by thoso whose duty it
was to do it, consequently I have none to make."
Westhampton. â Births and Deaths. "There seems to be difficulty after all
in obtaining perfect records of all that occur in the towns. By the only compul-
sory law on the subject, within my knowledge, parents, &c., are allowed six
months to make return of these events to the clerk, and even this law is, and ever
has been, inoperative. Then we have the services of the school committee
brought into requisition, and suppose they perform the duty prescribed, they find
that births have occurred during the year, and the parents have removed from the
town, in some instances; in others, they have, 'according to law,* from one to six
months in which to make their own returns, without troubling the school com-
mittee with the business. Again, suppose the school committee decline the honor
of traversing the length and breadih of a town to obtain the record of some ten
or fifteen births, at five cents each ; how, then, shall a perfect record be made up ?
In tiiis town, we have no sexton or superintendent of burial grounds, and in
scarcely a single instance, has any due or formal notice of cither birth or death
been given to me. 1 have, however, succeeded in making out perfect records as
to the numbers and dates, and deficient only in a very few points of minor im-
WijLLiAMSBURe. â Morrioges. "My return is incomplete; sixteen couples
have been published in this town, within the time embraced in this return. It is
much more difficult to obtain a return from those soiemnizing marriages than the
oUicrs required ; and, in fact, I believe they never make them here, until solicited
to do so. I think the use of the blanks named in your circular would be of much
No Returits from Chesterfield ; and of deaths from Pelham and Ware. '
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22 FIFTH REGISTRATION REPORT.
Blandford. â Marriages. " All which have been returned to me by officiating
clergymen ; probably not all which have occurred in the place during the past
yeBLT.^âDealha. "All which have been returned to me; probably, nearly all
which have occurred."
fiaiMFiELD. â Marriages. " I believe thia return correct as to the number and
other particulara ; in many cases, the parties refused to answer the questions ; in
others, the certificates were sent for by other persons, who could not answer for
them. I know of no way to get a full return, so long as the certificate can be ob-
tained with the questions unanswered." â Deaths. " This return I believe to be
accurate, as far as we had the means of ascertaining ; the returns were made by
Chester. â Marriages. "As perfect a return as I am able to make." â Deaths.
" All that have come to my knowledge, and probably perfect"
SpRiNQFiELu. â "I can only say the same that I did last year, viz. : That the
returns of births and deaths I believe to be correct ; but that of marriages is not.
I make record, and return to you all, just as they are returned to me; should be
glad to make full and correct returns, but cannot, for those whose duty it is to
make returns to me fail to do it"
Tolland. â Births. "The school committee have neglected to make returns
to mc, and, in consequence, I am not able to give you correct returns, or at least
no further Uian what I have been able to ascertain myself. We will endeavor,
the present season, to give you correct returns."
Wales. â " It seems to me to be very necessary that thero should be some pen-
alty attached to the non-performance of the duties required by the law, or a
sufficient remuneration, so as to secure a full and correct return."
West Springfield. â Births. " Not a single one has been returned to me by
the school committee." â Marriages. " All that have been returned to this office.
Two only of the ten ministers have made returns."
No Returns from Russtll; and of deaths from Palmer.
Asufield. â Birlhs and Marriages. " The returns comprise all that have come
to my knowledge, but I suppose they are not all which have occurred. The
school committee and clergymen have not attended very punctually to their duty
in this respect" â Deaths. " I think these are all which have occurred in this
town for the time stated."
Bernardston. â Births. "The return, prepared by E. W. Carpenter most
faUhfuUyy is as correct, T believe, as it is practicable to make such a one." â Afar-
riages. " The return is, I believe, a perfect list of the marriages in this town
during the past year. We are on the boimdaries of the Stale of Vermont, and
every year some go there, where the laws and practices are more lax, to be
' united with the silken cords of hymen.' I have knowledge of but one such
case this year, though probably others have occurred. Our clergymen are all to
be commended for their effi>rts to obey and carry out the proviaioDB of the regis-
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try law, and it is now done with compaiative eaie, since your new form of pub-
lishment certificates have been used; J find them very useful, and well adapted to
the objects for which they were designed.'' â Deaihs. " I believe the return to be
accurate." '* But it is an onerous duty on town clerks ; they ought, in justice, to
have eight to ten cents for each birth, marriage and death returned by them, the
same to be paid by their respective towns. Let that be the law, and your returns
will be made nearly perfect."
BucKLAifD. â " A very meagre return ; from such data as I have been furnished
CHARLEMonT. â Morrioges. ^^ As complete as it could well be made under the
existing circumstances." â Deaths. " The duty of collecting as well as recording
the deaths, &c., devolves upon the clerk, as there is no regular or appointed sex-
ton. The return is as complete as could conveniently be made."
CoLE&AiivK. â Deaths. " The return is as correct as it could be made from the
information received by the sextons."
EaviifG. â Marriages, " All that have been returned, and, I think, all that have
taken place for the last year." â Deaths. *' None have been reported to the sex-
tons for the past year ; upon inquiry, I have ascertained the particulars of three,
which I return, and believe to be all which have occurred."
Grbenfielo. â Births and Deaths. " No return of births has been made to
me, and I believe no account has been taken. The same of the deaths. The
number of deaths from my memoranda, which is nearly, if not quite correct, is
21, in a population of from 1900 to 2000."â Jlfarricr^es. ''The actual number
of persons married, of whom one party or the other resided in this town, according
to a memorandum kept by me, was twenty-five, including the above returns.
Those not returned (eleven) were married in some of the neighboring towns in
Vermont, (in Vernon, the Gretna Green of this section of country, Brattlebor-
oug^ Halifax, or Guilford) to either of which places a two-and-a-half hours' ride
from here will carry them, and where they can put on the fetters without the
ceremony or delay of being published, as our laws require. Scarce a week
passes, but wedding parties of six to ten couple, friends of the bride and groom,
from this or towns below in Hampshire County, are to be seen hurrying on to
some one of the above named towns, resembling, or rather bringing to mind, little
flocks of birds flitting about just previous to migration."
Heath. â Marriages and Deaths. " There have been no returns the past sea-
son. I left it to the sextons to return the deaths to me ; consequently I have none
Letoeit. â Births and Deaths. " The returns are correct In order to procure
them, I have personally been throughout the town, as there has not been a single
return to this office during the year." â Marriages. " Correct, embracing every
marriage solemnized in town."
Montague. â Marriages. "None returned to me." â Deaths. "I am sorry
that the return is not more perfect ; I had intended that it should havo been, but
the man who engaged to get the facts, omitted to make a return up to the twenty-
ninth of May, and it could not then well be corrected ; but I am still of opinion,
that we shall approximate nearer to the truth the next time. I see no reason why
all the facts, that is, the material ones, may not, with ease, be obtained under the
present law, as well as under any other."
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24 FIFTH REGISTRATION REPORT.
Shblbuhnx. â Maniagei, ** I have, the past year, ased the hJattk certificates
of publishment you sent me, and find it makes a wonderful difference in the
punctuality of our clergymen and magistrates in making their returns for record.
I am very much in favor of these blank certificates, and think the returns to your
oflice this year will be much more full than heretofore, and mainly in consequence
of them. Clergymen, and oUiers, have a great reluctance to make the necessary
inquiries of the parties at the time of solemnizing the nuptials, to fill out the cer-