Mass.) Charlestown (Boston.

Charlestown land records [1638-1802] online

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JDoston. Uegl^rv %e.tft,


Record Commissioners





18 78. ii'Tr,


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[Document 39 — 1878.]




In Board of Aldermen, Dec. 3, 1877.

Ordered, That the Record Commissioners be authorized to
have transcribed the Charlestown Book of Poss2ssions, and
to have the same printed, bound, and distributed in the same
manner as their first and second reports, at an expense not
exceeding one thousand dollars; to be charged to the ap-
propriation for printing.

Sent down for concurrence.

Dec. 13, came up concurred.

Approved by the Mayor, Dec. 14, 1877.

A true copy.
Attest :


City Clerk.

To His Honor the Mayor and the City Council of Boston:

In pursuance of the above vote, the Record Commission-
ers herewith submit a volume containing the early land grants
and records of the town of Charlestown, being the documents
comprised in one bound volume of the town and city
archives as now arranged. In regard to this book the
following statement has been made by Mr. Henry H. Edes,
the gentleman who was selected by the City Government

ii City Document No. 39.

of Charlestown, prior to annexation, to arrange the rec-
ords : —

"The volume which you have caused to he printed, and
which is lettered ' Charlestown Archives 34 | Book of Posses-
sions | 1G38-1 802,' comprises, besides the record of 1(138,
and the transfers made during the succeeding twenty years,
all records relating to the laying out and conveyance of land
and the survey of streets and highways, originally dispersed
in several volumes of our public archives, which properly
could be separated from the other matter contained in the
volumes in which I found them in 186S). This breaking up
of old volumes and creating of new ones has been done by
authority and in pursuance of joint orders of the City
Council of Charlestown, passed in June, 1869, and April,
1870. directing a classification, arrangement, and binding of
all the archives of the old town from 1629 to 1847, when it
was incorporated a city. The result of these orders will be
such a consolidation and chronological arrangement of our
records under a few heads, such as (1) Town Records, (2)
Treasury Records, (3) Vital Statistics, (4) Fire Depart-
ment, (5) Poor Department, (6) Schools, (7) Voters, (8)
Jurors, etc., etc., that, when my labors are completed, the
future inquirer for information contained in our archives
will readily find within a small compass the greater part at
least of all that is extant concerning the department in which
he shall be making special inquiry.

"Referring to the editorial note on page 186 of your report,
permit me to say that it is perfectly accurate so far as the sur-
veys of 1767 and 1802 are concerned ; but, unfortunately,
the original reports of the committees which made the surveys
of 1670 and 1714 are not now extant among our archives.

"The first entry in the town records respecting the com-
pilation of the 'Book of Possessions ' occurs in volume ii.
(generally referred to as 'Greene's Transcript'), folio 35
(old pagination) , and is in these words : —

" « 1638. The first month, The 26 : day | Abra: Palmer, chosen by
the Towne for keepeing the Towne Booke, as also to Record all pprieties
of Houses, Lands, Meadow or Pasture, as any Inhabitants of ye Towne
are, or shall bee possest of accords : to an ordr of Court provided in
yt. behalfe. 1

"It is reasonable to presume that Mr. Palmer began his
labors without unnecessary delay, and that the following
entry was made on the completion of his work of engrossing
the schedules handed in to him by the major portion of the
inhabitants, since the mere clerical labor involved in exe-
cuting this important commission was by no means incon-

Third Report of the Record Commissioners. iii


" ' On the 28th day of the X month was taken A True Record of all
such houses & Lands as are Possessed by the Inhabita nts of Charlstown,
wheth r by purchase, by gift from the Towne, or by allottraents as they
were devided amongst them by A Joynt Consent aff the Gen 11 Court
had setled theire Bounds, by granting eight miles from the old Meeting
house into the Con try Northwest Northrly, &c. the bounds of the
sd Towne Lying or being bettwixt Cambridge alias New Towne, on
the West South west, & Boston Land on the East as it app rs upon Record
by the sever" grants of Gen 11 Courts to all the aflbresd Bounds.'

"Mr. Palmer recorded a large proportion of the ' Posses-
sions ' with his own hand ; but there are many pages in the
peculiar handwriting of Elder Nowell. Those persons who
are familiar with the chirography of those gentlemen need no
further confirmation of this fact than a glance at the record
itself; but, ;is if to insure to posterity the fullest possible
account of the preparation of this book, the town clerk of
that period makes this entry : —

"'28 (11) 1G38.
"'Abra: Palmer was allowed £3 for wrighting this yeare past: &
Mr. Nowell 20s. for helping in Acco : '

" Here we have a complete record of the authority under
which the volume was prepared, and of the hands to which,
its compilation and engrossment were confided.

"An order, imposing a fine upon deliquents, is here
transcribed : —

'"27 (11( 1639.
" ' It was ord rd the first of 8 ber last, y' any that have not dd in A
note of theire Lands to M r Abra: Palmer to have entered in y e booke
shall pay to the Towns use 2s. A month aft r notice given from the s d first
of the 8 month.'

"In this connection it should be remembered that Charles-
town originally embraced within its limits the territory now
contained in Woburn, Burlington, Stoneham, Maiden, Som-
erville, and parts also of Reading, Medford, Cambridge, and
West Cambridge.

"Nor was the importance of maintaining the completeness
of the record lost sight of, for in 1(J43 we rind the following
entry : —

'"1643. The 23t the Commissioners will cheerfully discharge any
duties of the above-named nature which may be assigned to
them, they beg leave to repeat their previous notice that
their main duty is still unfulfilled. The transcripts of the
Church records, to supplement and complete the records pre-
served by the City Registrar, are still to be made. They
hope, therefore, to receive instructions during the next year,
to make a beginning upon their most necessary and long-
delayed work.

The preparation of the following volume has devolved
solely upon the undersigned.

For the Record Commissioners,


Boston, December, 1878.


Note. — The pagination in brackets is that of the volume
as now bound up and interleaved. The numbers are on
the page facing the old leaves ; but the original was num-
bered by folios only.

Page 1 of the bound volume is a new printed title-page.
Page 2 (z.

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