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was entered.

In 1655, a bounty of 30 shillings was given for a
wolfs head. 1666, ten shillings were paid to John
Crafts and Shubael Seaver for a wolf killing.

The town passed license laws quite early. In
1653, leave was " given John Gorton and Robert
Pepper to brew and sell penny beare and cakes and
white bread." In 1678, the town voted "that no
wine nor liquors shall be sold at any ordinary in
Roxbury," and that they would have but one ordina-
ry in town. In 1725, a fine was remitted to Widow
Sarah Pierpont for selling drink without license. In
1730, Mr. Manser "prayed ye towne to forgive him
ye fine laid on him for selling strong drink without li-
cense and voted in ye negative." In 1734, it was
earnestly recommended to the selectmen to have no
more taverns or retailers in the town than is abso-
lutely necessary.

The town often passed laws regulating the prices
at which grains "should pass current." Thus in
1667, they voted that men should pay and receive,
Indian at 3 sh. a bushel, peas at 3 sh. 8 pence.
Barley and Malt at 4 shillings and 6 pence. Rye at
4 shillings. In 1672, Rye and Barley were 4 shil-
lings. Peas 4 sh. 6d., Indian 3 shil. In 1689, Wheat
was 5 sh., Barley and Malt 3, 6. Indian 3 sh., Rye


3 sh., Peas 4 sh. Thej were generally received for

The town was cautious to prevent being charged
with any stragglers, and early made a law that "if
any person admit or receive any person or inmate in-
to his house and keepe them over one weeke with-
out leave of the selectmen, he shall be fined 20 shil-
lings, and the selectmen are appointed to speak with
some who have transgressed." And such warnings
were much more frequent than they now are.

In 1733, a by-law was made "against running or
galloping horses in calash, chaise, chair, cart, slay, or
sled in ye town from Boston line to William Jervis,
or in ye road to ye lower county bridge by ye mills
or round ye square by Saml. Williams," with a pen-
alty of 10 shillings, and one half to the use of the
town's poor.


Titles to Estates.

At a Court of Assistants, on Thursday, May 21, 1629 —

"The Court, taking into due and mature consideration how
necessary it will be that a dividend be forthwith made of land in
the London Plantation in New England both for the present ac-
commodation of the people lately gone thither, as well to build
them houses, as to enclose and manure, and to feed their cattle
on, have thought fit and ordered, that the Governor, Deputy and
Council there shall make a dividend accordingly and allot unto
ihe several adventurers and others, as followeth, viz :

That two hundred acres of land be by them allotted to each
adventurer for £50 adventure in the common stock, and so after
that rate, and according to that proportion, for more or less, as
the adventure is, to the intent they may build their houses and
improve their labors thereon.

That every adventurer in the common stock, or his servant for
him or on his behalf, shall make request or demand to the Gover-
nor or Deputy and council, to have a proportion of land allotted
unto him accordingly, and if, within ten days after such request
or demand made, the same be not set out and allotted unto him
then such person or persons are, by virtue of this act, permitted
and authorized to seat him or themselves, and build his or their
houses, and enclose and manure ground in any convenient place
or places not formerly built upon or manured : provided that the
land so made choice of by any such person or persons do not ex-
ceed in quantity the one half of the land which is to be allotted
unto him or them by dividend, according to the order above writ-
ten ; with liberty also, when the first dividend shall be made, to


take his or their allotment of land as others do, in lieu of this, if
in the mean time the first choice shall be disliked by them, or
any of them.

And for further explanation of thi? act, it is thought fit, that if
the plot of ground whereon the town is to be built be set out, and
that it be publicly known that it be intended for that purpose, that
then no man shall presume to build his house in any other place,
unless it be in the Mattachuselis Bay, and then according to such
direction as shall be thought meet for that place. And in case
his allotment for building his house within the plot of ground .set
out for building of the town be not appointed unto him within tery
days after demand or request to the Governor or the Deputy and
Council for the same, it shall be free for any, being an adventurer
in the common stock, or his servant for him or on his behalf to
build his house in any place within the said plot set out for the
town, and to impale to the quantity of half an acre for each £50
adventure in the common slock : unless a greater or lesser pro-
portion be formerly determined by the Governor and Council, by
which each builder is to be guided and directed.

It is further thought fit and ordered, that all such as go over in
person, or send over others at their own charge, and are adven-
turers in the common stock, shall have lands allotted unto them
for each person they transport to inhabit the Plantation, as well
servants as all others : which fifty acres of land, so allotted to
servants and others is hereby ordered to be set to and for the use
of his master or setter forth, being an adventurer in the common
stock to dispose of at his discretion in regard the master, &c. is
at the charge of the said servant and others their transportation,
wages and otherwise. But for such as being no adventurers in
the common slock shall transport themselves and their families, it
is ordered that fifty acres of land shall be allotted and set out for
the master of the family, and such a proportion of the land more,
if there be cause, as, according to their charge and quality the
Governor and Council of the Plantation there shall think neces-
sary for them, whereby their charge may be fully and amply sup-
ported : unless it be to any with whom the company in London
have or shall make any other particular agreement, to which re-
laiion is lo be had in such case.

Fart 1.] history of roxburt. 67

And to the end every adventurer may the more safely and
peaceably enjoy their said lands allotted unto them or chosen by
them, and the houses they build thereupon, as abovesaid, it is
thought fit and ordered by this court, that conveyances shall be
made thereof unto each particular man for the land he possesseth,
in the Company's name, and the common seal of the Company to
be thereunto afHxed by the Governor and Council there, at the
charge of the Company, which common seal is by this court
thought fit and ordered to be committed to the charge and keep-
ing of the Governor for the time being and in his absence to his
deputy there."

This was the law for the division of lands in the
colony. But titles in the early times of the colony
were not granted, transferred or evidenced with the
same formality as now. Although it is questionable
whether a mere note of a proprietary, or the body of
the town, without any deed or location in pursuance
of such vote, would pass lands to an individual at this
day, "it is well known that almost all the titles which
have been derived from proprietors of townships have
nothing better to depend upon than a vote recorded
in the proprietor's books : and where possession was
taken in conformity to the vote, and transmitted by
the grantee to his heirs or assigns, titles so acquired
have been respected and maintained in our courts of

Such is the language of the Supreme Court of this
State. And, considering the many causes to render
the records of this town for the first few years imper-
fect, they could not reasonably be expected to be more
complete than we find them. It is doubtful whether
any town has more perfect ones, in respect to titles.

By the colony act of 1634, it was provided that
the constables and four more of the chief inhabitants


of every town, to be chosen by all the freemen there,
with the advice of the next assistants, shall make a
surveying of the houses, backsides, cornfields, mowing
grounds, &c. &c. of every free inhabitant, and shall
enter the same in a book with the several bounds, and
deliver a transcript thereof into the court within six
months, and the same so entered and recorded, shall
be a sufficient assurance, &c. &c. and the like course
shall be taken for all such as shall be hereafter en-
franchised, &c.

The practice in division of land seems to have been,
either for the court to grant land for individuals, or,
what was more common, for the settlers themselves
to take up lands for the first few years, till the incor-
poration or grant of a town, and after that time for
all grants to be made by the towns.

The following extracts from the colony records con-
tain the earliest matters concerning the grant to the

1636. Ordered, that all the rest of the ground lying betwixt
Dorchester bounds and Boston bounds shall belonge to the
towne of Roxbury easterly of Charles River except the property
of the aforesaid townes which they have purchased of particular
persons, Roxbury not to extend above eight miles in length
from their meeting house.

1637. Four thousand acres were granted to Roxbury.

1640. The four thousand acres to be set out in four places at
the most.

16th of 3d m. 1638. Report of men appointed to certify bounds
between Roxbury and Dedham, (together with the lands pur-
chased by Dedham.)

Drew •' an equal line of division by marked trees and stakes
from S. E. side of Roxbury bounds by a straight N. W. line run-
ning until it touch upon Charles River. Furthermore, in consid-

Part I.] history of roxbury. 69

eration of some streightness at ihe Wesimosl end of Ko.xbiiry
bounds by reason of the course of the River it is mutually agreed
that a portion of meadow shall belong unto Roxbury which join-
eih towards the northeast upon Roxbury and bounded to the S.E.
by certain marked trees from the line of division aforesaid, (com-
prehending a narrow strip of upland) unto a point of upland on
the bound of the marsh and from thence by the Nmost point of a
little hillock of upland in the marsh straight on to the River.

Edw. Alleyn,
Geo. Alcock,
John Oliver.

The houudai y of Roxbury and Dedham was long
unsettled. In 1650, a committee was chosen to ne-
gotiate about it. But it was not finally adjusted till

1639, 11th mo. " A committee having full authority from the
Town to end all controversee concerning ye line of partition be-
tween Boston and Roxbury, at Muddy River, concerning which
some doubt hath been made, have agreed that the trees marked,"
&c. "be the bounds."

Will. Colbron, ) John Gore, x

Will. Tynge, > Boston. Joseph Weld, ( t.„,. „,,,

iiT-'i- V TUTU } i^oxbury.

Jacob Eliot, ) John Johnson; I •'

WiUm. Parke, ^

To the Honor'd Court assembled at Boston.
1643, S mo. Whereas it pleased this honored court some three
years since to grant unto (obsaire) certain farmes and the place
appointed where they should lye, which was between Sudbury,
Dedham and Watertown, but soe that the bounds of Dedham
were not layed out therefore it pleased this court to grant them
a tyme to lay out their bounds, which being past, ye humble pe-
tition is that this court will now be pleased to appoint men to lay
out ye farmes according to the former grant, &c.

Tho. Dudley 416

William Tomson 200

Rich. Browne 200

Isaac Heath 256


On ihe foregoing is this

Joseph Weld



Richard Parker


" Dedham has 3 wks. for to

John Johnson


set their bounds. Then Rox-

Joshua Hues


bury to have the residue of

Isaac Morrill


their 4000 acres between

William Park


Watertown, Sudbury and

Thos. Bell


Dedham," &c. &;c.

Mr. Thomas Weld


Philip Eliot


Samuel Hugh.*


Gorg Holmes


John Gore


Gorg Alcock


William Denison


John Stow


William Kane


* This is doubtless contracted for Hugburne.

The earliest trace met with, of any thing relative
to the town grants, is in a deposition of William
Curtis, aged 73, taken in 1666, which states he " was
appojnted by ye towne to be a measurer to lay out
severall parcels of land that was granted to sundry in-
habitants and amongst them a piece of meadow grant-
ed to John Compton, then an inhabitant of Roxbury.
It was bounded south and east all along by the brooke
and north by land of John Freeborne." These names
are early ones. Compton was a freeman in 1634.
The fact that the deposition of an old man was re-
quired to be taken shows that the allotment was an
ancient one. Probably the lots surveyed were among
the earliest town grants. On the first page of Town
Records (almost illegible) is a vote to allot to those
who pay town rates out of the town lands not dis-
posed of. (1647.)

Part I.] ' history of roxbury. 71

The town continued, for many years, to make
grants to individuals, without compensation, and on
these many titles in the town depend. They are
generally entered with little formality, often giving
merely the number of acres, without any boundary.
In several instances conditions are annexed to the
grants, so that on breach of those conditions the land
will revert to the town.

In 1648, a grant of six acres was made to William
Lyon, afterward six to George Brown, six to John
Stebbin, and so on to others, forming, when all col-
lected together, a long list, extending over nearly a
hundred years, which is too long to be here inserted.
In soQie, the locations can be traced, but not in many.

In 1655, a grant was made to Tobias Davis of six
or seven acres for a corn mill and fulling mill.

In 1675, the clay pitts were granted to Ralph

The grant to John Grosvenor at the bridge and
old mill was "for liming leather, in fee, and not to
sell but for said use and to be forfeit if it damage the
water for cattle or man."

Joseph Peak had a grant at Hog's Bridge "for
dressing wash leather."

A grant was made to Moses Draper near Stony
River bridge, by Dedham road, for a blacksmith's
shop, to him and his successors, for this use and no

Some of these grants are on condition that the lots
be built on within a certain period.

Quite a list of those who lived on the street can
be formed from the grants of lands "back of their


houses to the brooke," Smelt Brook or Town

The town vote for all the inhabitants to render in
an account of their lands to be recorded and a tran-
script of the record to be returned into court, which
was the origin of "The Ancient Transcript," written
by Goodman Denison and certified by the five men,
has been already given.

This transcript would probably be deemed sufficient
evidence of title. The only difficulty in tracing titles
by it is the want of courses and distances, the mere
names of abuttors being given, because of the lands
having been divided in several allotments, each per-
son owning many lots in various parts of the town.
The homesteads, however, may be traced, and with
sufficient pains, probably most of the lots.

In 1662, the town voted that no more land be
given away, but that it be kept for the town's use.
This vote, however, was not observed.

In 1692-3, the selectmen were directed to consult
authority and obtain their judgment concerning the
right proprietors of the common lands. Some claim-
ed that they belonged to the first proprietors and not
to the body at large.

The Town had various grants of land made to it
by the Legislature. Some have been named.

In 1733, there was a vote of the town to get the
general court to lay out "the balance of the 4000
acres because Dedham shortens us."

In 1736, the records were inspected and directions
given to the representative concerning that grant.

In 1715, on petition of Stephen Williams and oth-

Part I.] history of roxburt. 73

ers, 500 acres were c:ranted to the town towards sup-
port of the free school.

1683. was 2;ranted from Massachusetts a tract seven
miles square at Quatosset, called also " the grant of
land in the Nipmuck country," from the Indian tribe
of that name. This was afterwards called New Rox-
bury, and is now Woodstock in Connecticut. It was
at lirst supposed to be in Massachusetts. The grant
was on condition of settling within two years, and
" maintainino; amongst them an able and orthodox
godly minister."

The selectmen first sent out three men, (John Rug-
gles, John Curtis and Isaac Morris, as appears by the
bills paid them,) who reported that " at Sencksuk and
Wapagusset the lands afforde encouragement for set-
tlers," and then the town provided a field and allo^v-
ed any men to go to view the lands, at their own
charge. In 1685, the town " voted cleare to treat
with Mr. Stoughton and Mr. Dudley, guardians to
Josiah, grandson of Chickatabut, the well known sa-
chem, to obtain the Indian or natives right." In
1687-8, the town paid Jos. Dudley £10 for the pur-
chase of the natives right to the township.

In order to settle this place, the town voted that
" if thirty men should hand in their names to the se-
lectmen to settle them, they shall have one half of
the whole tract in one square at their selection, the
town to assist said planters and settlers with £100, to
be paid in small sums in five years, and to be laid out
in public buildings as the old town ot Roxbury shall
determine, the rest of the inhabitants to have the re-



maining half, and the settlers to be free from the rate
to raise the £100."

The affairs of this place fill the records for quite a
number of years. The lands were finally divided in
proportion to each man's head and estate, the castle
soldiers and troopers being added, and all such as
were over sixteen years of age. The allotments and
divisions are given at .length in the Roxbury records,
which contain the first history of the town. Very
many ol the inhabitants of Woodstock are descended
from the first settlers of Roxbury.

This copy of a letter from the selectmen of Wood-
stock to those of Roxbury, may be worth preserving.
" 1694, Dec. 18. Gentlemen, we understand by
" Capt. Chapen that you are dissatisfied upon a re-
" port that ye town had preferred a petition to ye
" Hartford Court, designing to wrong you. As you
" desire to be informed whether it was a town's act
" or particular men's act, we can assure you it was
" by no town voate or act, nor yet by order of the
" selectmen. It was done by some particular per-
" sons. And we do not know that they intended you
'* any harm.

" This with our love and service to you is from
" your loving friends,

Benj. Sabins,
John Butcher,
John Carpenter,
Edvvd. Morris,
John Holmes."



1636. The Roxbury people worked on the forti-
fication at Cornhill. (Boston.)

1646. "This year, about the end of the 5th
month, we had a very strong hand of God upon us,
for upon a suddaine, innumerable armys of catterpil-
lars filled the country all over all the English planta-
tions, which devoured some whole meadows of
grasse, and greatly devoured barley, being the most
grown, and tender come, eating off all the blades
and beards, but left the corne, only many ears they
quite eat off by eating the green straw asunder below
the eare, so that barley was generally half spoiled ;
likewise they much hurtwheate, by eating the blades
off, but wheate had the lesse hurte because it was a
little forwarder than barley, or harder and dryer, and
they lesse meddled with it. As for rye, it was so
hard and near ripe, that they touched it not. But
above all grains they devoured oats. And in some
places they fell upon indian corne and quite devoured
it, in other places they touched it not. They would
crosse highways by 1000.

Much prayer there was made to God about it, and
fasting in divers places, and the Lord heard, and on a


suddaine took them all away again in all parts of the
country, to the wonderment of all men. It was the
Lord, for it was done suddainely."

1646. "This winter was one of the mildest we
ever had ; no snow all winter long ; nor sharp weath-
er. We never had a bad day to goe preach to the
Indians all this winter, praised be the Lord."

1647. The same yeare "a greate sicknesse epi-
demical did the Lord lay upon us, so that the great-
est part of the towne was sick at once, whole fami-
lies ,sick, young and old, none escaping, English or

" The nature was a cold, &c. •

" God's colds are teaching. This epidemicall sick-
nesse of cold doth rightly, by a divine hand, tell the
churches what their epidemical spirit disease is. —
God help us to see it: and to have such colds in the
height of the heat of summer, shows us that, in the
height of the means of grace^ peace, liberty of ordi-
nances, &c., yet may we then fall into malignant
colds, apostacys, and coolings. And this is remarka-
ble that, tho few died, yet some died, and those were
the choycest flowers and most gracious saints."

1661-2. "A synod at Boston. The questions dis-
cussed were —

1. Who are the subjects of Baptism. •

2. Who according to Scripture ought to be a con-
sociation of churches and what is the name of it."

1662. "It pleased God this spring to exercise the
country with a severe drought, but some were so rash
as to impute it to the sitting of the Synod. But God
was pleased to bear witness against their rashness.

Part I.] history of roxijurit. 77

For no sooner was the Synod met, June 10, but they
agreed to set the next day apart to ask God's favora-
ble presence and to ask rain ; and the day following,
God sent raine from heaven."

1663. Jan. 26, an earthquake occurred.

1664. Nov. 17, a comet was seen and its position
is described. March 11, another comet was seen.

1665. Another earthquake is spoken of.

1666. The town paid for diet and attendance of
a lame Indian £1:6 sh.

The same year, they paid "for match and bullets
for the town, also for bisket and the Indian's bed,"
&c., and further "for ringing ye bell, expenses about
a lame Indian and for soldiers that were pressed to
the castle."

1 667. "1 1 th month 4th day. T^ere were strange
noises in the air, like guns, drums, vollies of greate
shotte," &c.

1667. "12th month 29th, appeared a coma, or
blazing stream, which extended to a small star in the
river Eridamus, but the star was hid by reason of its
proximity to the sun."

1668. The town paid for "carriage of the Greate
Gunne and for warders on election."

This year the inhabitants were prohibited digging
any more clay at Boston Gate. The reason was that
the town was indicted that year for digging up the
highway at the gate and paid for it.

There was the shock of an earthquake felt this
year. And in the 3d month, 16th day, prodigies
were seen in the heavens the night before the Lord's


1678. The small pox raged terribly.

1688. The town chose Samuel Ruggles and Na-
thaniel Hohnes representatives, and instructed them
to do "what they can to establish a government for
the present as the general assembly shall think for
public good." But afterwards they voted that "they
desire the Governor, deputy and assistants sworn in
1686 to remain."

1691. "The old Watch House" is named "in the
towne street," and provision was made for a new one
on the meeting-house hill, and another at the plain,
and the town granted to John Howard "the old
Watch House, &c., fifty foot back towards the brook,
for that he will build the new one, he to dig for foun-
dations, &c., and to lay a good substantial w^all of
stone two feet thjck, in clay, and pointed within and
without, walls to be six feet high by thirteen feet
long by eleven feet wide inside and a brick chimney
at one end, and cover the roof with deal boards and
shingles, and to provide a stout door and lock and
key." But the tovi^n did not build this. A new one
was built on the town street and another at the plain,
a few years after.

1693. Edward Weld was chosen clerk of the

1696. The Representatives to general court were
paid 18 pence a day in money or corn at the rate.

1681. The town paid Ensign Davis four shillings

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