Watertown (Mass.).

Watertown records (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 43)
Online LibraryWatertown (Mass.)Watertown records (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

a O > »

:•: %/

. Jw* / "^^ ".^



■7 0- <




?■ * 3 « O

A >

•a/ ^

Watertown Records




















At a town meeting held on the twenty-third of March,
1891, it was "Voted to appropriate the sum of $1,000 for the
publication of the earlier town records, and that the Historical
Society of Watertown be authorized to take charge of said publi-
cation, and said sum shall be assessed upon the polls and estates
of the coming year." Acting under the authority thus given, a
committee appointed by the Society has prepared this book. In
so doing, it has been the aim of the Committee to produce a copy,
verbatim et Uteratini^ of the original records. Nothing has
been taken for granted. All doubtful passages have been placed
in brackets, and editorial comments or additions have been
enclosed in parentheses, with references to authorities where
necessary. The page-numbers of the original records, displayed
in bold-faced type, are given for purposes of reference.

In connection with the work, Mrs. Ruth A. Bradford, a mem-
ber of the Historical Society, has searched the files of original
court records now in the custody of the Clerk of Courts for Mid-
dlesex County, for Watertown items prior to the year 1700; and
a similar search of the Suffolk County files and the State
Archives, has been made by Dr. Davenport. It may not be out
of place to allude, here, to one or two matters of history pertain-
ing to the town, gleaned in part from these sources. Watertown
was the fourth town constituted in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
(State Archives, vol. 113, p. 295). Only one town in the State
of Massachusetts, however, has at this day, earlier original rec-
ords of town proceedings than Watertown. The original records
of Plymouth begin March 31, 1637; those of Salem, Dec. 26,
1636; Charlestown, Oct. i, 1634; Dorchester, Jan. 16, 1633.
Of the later towns, the records of Boston begin Sept. i, 1634,
and those of Roxburv, April 29, 1648. Some of these towns,
however, have records of land grants or of settlers a month or
two earlier than those of their general town proceedings. The
only records we have of the extinguishing of the claims of the

iv Introduction.

native Indians to the territory of the town, are found in the
Records of the General Court. By the Court of March 13,
i638-'9, "M^ Gibsons was desired to agree w**^ the Indians for
the lands w'^in the bounds of Watertown, Cambridge & Boston,"
and by the Court of May 13, 1640, "It was ordered that the
23^ 8^ 6^^ layd out by Capt. Gibons shall bee p'^ him, vid ; 13^ 8^ (A
by Watertowne, & lo-^ by Cambridge, & also Cambridge is to
give Squa Sachem a coate every winter while shee liveth." The
numerous extracts from the State Archives relating to the estab-
lishment of towns and kindred subjects which are to appear in
the volume of the Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massa-
chusetts Bay, will contain considerable matter concerning the
long-continued controversy over the location of a proposed new
meeting-house in Watertown : a dispute which brought about
the formation of the East and West precincts, and finally resulted,
on Jan. 4, 1738, in setting off the West precinct as a town, under
the name of Waltham. It should be mentioned that the earlier
records of Watertown Farms, incorporated as Weston, Jan. i,
1 71 2, have just been published by that town, edited by Miss Mary
F. Peirce, a member of the Historical Society of Watertown.

The General Proceedings of the Town of Watertown, from the
beginning until the present time, are contained in fourteen vol-
umes. The Births, Marriages and Deaths, are recorded in seven
volumes, the first of which has a short supplement. Certified
copies have been made of the first six volumes of the Proceedings,
and of the first three volumes of Births, Marriages and Deaths
and the supplement. All of these originals are in a fair state of
preservation, except the first volume of the Proceedings. The
accounts of the Treasurer begin, as a separate record, early in
1696, and occupy twelve volumes; in one of which are also
recorded the church affairs of the East Precinct from 1685 to
1792. The Proprietors' Book of Records ends in 1742. It is
printed, complete, in this volume. Besides the records already
mentioned, there are a number of unbound leaves of records run-
ning from Nov. 2, 1702 to Jan. 13, 1727, which have been
stitched together and preserved in the back part of the Third
Book of Town Proceedings; one volume of records of the Fish
Wardens between 1799 and 1826; and forty-five books of Asses-
sors' Records, beginning in 1790, previous to which time the lists

Introduction. v

were preserved in the files of original papers. These files are
quite full from 1737, the year in which Waltham was set ofi";
and they are believed to be unusually complete for a country
town. Previous to 1737, they are not so complete; and they
contain very few papers prior to the year 1700. Mr. and Mrs.
Charles A. Stearns, members of the Historical Society, are now
arranging these files in substantially bound volumes.

The oldest volume of the records contains the First and Second
Books of Proceedings, and the Lands, Grants and Possessions.
The book is bound in leather, and bears upon its side the title,
"First Watertown Records." Upon a fly leaf, some one has
written that it was " New bound in 1829." There are no title
pages in the volume. For the first twenty years, only the right
hand pages were used in entering the records. The first of these
pages is numbered 2, although the numbering does not appear to
be contemporaneous with the records. What was written on the
Tost page I, will probably be always a matter of conjecture,
though some find reason to believe that it was only a title page.
The account of the proceedings from Nov. 28, 1643 to Nov. 29,
1647, is also missing. This is probably due to carelessness in
the preservation of the book, though there are some indications
that the records for this period may never have been very com-

The practice of designating the month by number instead of by
name, which is of frequent occurrence in these records, for exam-
ple, " 21st (3rd) 1650," renders necessary the reminder that until
September, 1752, the Julian, or "Old Style" calendar was the
legal standard. The year began, therefore, on March 25th,
instead of on January ist, as it does under the Gregorian, or
"New Style" method; and March was known as the first
month, April the second month, and so on. A few instances are
found in which dates falling between January ist and March 25th
are given in both Old and New Style, as for example, on page
122 of the Proceedings " (9'*^) March, 74/75."

As no little interest is attached to the personality of the fore-
fathers whose doings these records bring within the knowledge
of a later generation, the Committee has incorporated in this
book a number of photo-electric reproductions of parts of the
original records, which serve to illustrate the styles of entry

vi Iiitrodnctio7i.

practised by the ten successive town clerks, John Eddie, Simon
Eire, John Sherman, Ephraim Child, Hugh Mason, John Whit-
ney, Thomas Hastings, Simon Stone, Jonathan Browne and
William Bond. Three maps of portions of the town have also
been added, of the dates of 16S7, 1720 and 1795. The originals
of these maps are in the State Archives, and are the oldest maps
ofWatertown now known. The destruction by fire Nov. 10,
1825, of the map made by Abram Brown in 1640 (Bond's Hist.
ofWatertown, Sec. 84), of which no copy is known to exist,
was a loss that will ever be deeply regretted by those who are
interested in ancient Watertown.

The preparation of this volume has occupied the spare time of
the Committee for three years. The indexes were undertaken
by Miss Crafts, and they w-ere well advanced at the time of her
sad death. The rest of the work, including the copying of the
entire records herein printed, has been performed, mainly, by
^Messrs. Fitz, Davenport and jSIason. It has been a labor of love,
arduous indeed, yet not without its rewards. In bringing it to a
close, the hope is expressed that its shortcomings, be they what
they may, will not materially lessen the worth of such a posses-
sion as these ancient records of W^atertown in printed form.

*Ellen M. Crafts, \

Bennett F. Davenport, / CoDwiittee
Charles F. Fitz, V of

Charles F. AIason, I Publication.

Edward A. Rand, )

* Miss Crafts died March 14, 1893. She was, for twenty-five years, a
faithful teacher in the public schools of Watertown, most of the time in
the High School. She was at the time of her death, the Recording
Secretary of the Historical Society.





cJ%/ul^. Q). ISi^C^jLztr





•'■•^ tH:^: i


First Book, Town Proceedings.]


Auguft 23, 1634. Agreed by the confent of the Freemen, that
there fhalbe Cholen three perfons to be [ ] the ordering of

the civill affaires in the Tovvne One of them to ferve as Towne
Clark, and fhall keep the Records and Acts of the Towne. The
three chofen are Williain Jennifon,
Briam Pembleton,
John Eddie.

Agreed that the Charge of the Meeting Houfe fhalbe gathered
by a Rate iuftly levied vpon every man proportionably vnto his

— emb'' 13. Agreed, by the Confent of the Freemen that Rob-
ert Seeley and Abram Browne fhall meafure and lay out all the
Lotts that are granted.

Agreed that no man fhall fell or cutt down any timber trees
vpon the Common, without the confent of Robert Seely and
Abram Browne, and otherwife to pay to the Towne for every
tree 5^.

January 3, 1635. Agreed that no man being foreigner
[ ] coming out of England, or fome other Plantation, fhall

haue liberty to fett downe amongft vs, vnles he firft have the
Confent of the Freemen of the Towne.

[Feb. 21, 1635. Eds.] Agreed by the freemen that whofo-
ever hath a Lott in a generall Inclofure fhall fence it with the reft
according to proportion, and if he fliall refufe, the Lott fhall
returne to the Towne againe.

Agreed, that there fhalbe foure Rods in breadth on each fide
of the River, and in length as far as needs fhall require laied to
the vfe of the ware fo as it may not be preiudiciall to the water
mill. Alfo One Hundred and fifty Acres of ground granted to
the ware vpon the other fide of the River to be laied out in a
convenient place.

Agreed that there fhalbe laied out to the vfe of the Water Mill
Twenty Acres of ground neare to the Mill & foure Rod in
breadth on either fide the v^^ater and in length as farre as need
fhall require, fo it be not preiudiciall to the ware.

Agreed, that the towne Clarke fhall have fix pense for every
Lott of land that he fhall LiroU in the towne Booke and bring
the Party a note vnder his hand of the fituation of it.

[3] July 30. Agreed by the Confent of the Freemen that
two Hundred Acres of vpland nere to the Mill shalbe referved as
moft convenient to make a Townefhip.

Augst. 22. Agreed that whofoever being an Inhabitant in the
Towne fhall receive any perfon, or family vpon their propriety

2 Watertown Records.

that may prove chargeable to to the Tovvne fhall malntaine the faid
perfons at their owne charges, or to fave the Towne harmeles.

Septemb^ 23. Agreed that (whereas there is a dayly abufe in
felling of Timber vpon the Common) whofoever fhall oftend in
felling any Trees w'^out leave, fhall pay for every Tree cutt
downe w*out order, 20^. to the vfe of the Towne.

— 7. Agreed that all generall Levies henceforward, fhalbe
raifed vpon what men inioy in Lands, & alfo vpon whatfoever
men inioy in an Increafing Eftate.

Agreed that the charges of the new meeting houfe being a Rate
of Solb. fhalbe levied as other generall Levies are for the Coun-

Agreed that there fhalbe fufficient fences kept in winter a
well as in Summer in all generall inclofures where Englifh graine
is lowen for the prefervation thereof, & whofoever is faulty after

3 dayes warning fhall pay 10^. to the vfe of the Towne.

[4] Novemb"^ 14. Agreed that Daniel Pattrick : Brian Pem-
bleton : Richard Bernard : Ephraim Child : Abram Browne ;
Charles Chaddock, & John Reynolds fhall devide to every man
his Propriety of Meddow, & vpland that is plowable, & the reft to
lie common.

Agreed that John Warrin & Abram Browne fhall lay out all
the Highwaies, & to fee that they be fufficiently repaired.

— emb'' 30. Agreed by the Confent of the Freemen that thefe
II freemen fhall order all the Civill Aflaires for the Towne for
this yeare following, & to divide the Lands. Richard Browne,
Abram Browne, William Jennifon, Edmund Sherman, Brian
Pembleton, Ephraim Child, John Lovarin, John Warrin, John
Batchilor, Charles Chaddock, John Eddie.

Agreed, by the Confent of the Freemen (in confideration there
be too many Inhabitants in the Towne & the Towne thereby in
danger to be ruinated) that no Foreainer comming into the Towne,
or any Family arifing among our felves fhall have any benefitt
either of Commonage, or Land vndivided but what they fhall
purchafe, except that they buy a mans right wholly in the

— emb"^ 14. Agreed that Abram Browne fhall lay out the Lots
granted by the Freemen deputed to Order the Towne Affahes,
& Robert Seely to succeafe to doe any more bufmes for the

[5] 1636, Octob"- 10. Agreed by the Confent of the Freemen
thefe 1 1 Freemen fhall difpofe of all the Civill Affaires of the
Towne for one whole yeare. Thomas Maihew, Robert Feke,
Edward How, William Jenifon, John Loveran, Simon Eire,
John Sherman, Brian Pembleton, Simon Stone, John Eddie,
Abram Browne.

— 9. Ordered that there fhalbe an Highway left fufficient at
the hither end of all the great dividents or Lotts.

Ordered that if any trefpafe be done by great Cattle the fence
fhalbe viewed, and if the fault be in the fence as two freemen
fhall iudge then the owner thereof to pay the damage, but other-

Wateriozvn Records. 3

wife the owners of the Cattle are to pay as they fhall iiidge it.
Ordered that if any Oxen or Steers be found from vnder com-
mand to goe amongft the Cowes from the time that they goe out
to grafle till the time they are houfed, it fhall be lawful for any
man to drive them to pound, & the owner for every Oxe or
Steere fhall pay for every time 5^. to the Towne.

— 3. Agreed at a generall Towne Meeting that all charges
arifing either for the Countries fervice or for the Tovs'ne fervice
shalbe levied both of Freemen & Forrainers.

Ordered that whofoever Ihall take any wood of the 40 Acres
of ground granted to the Meeting Houfe w'^^out leave shall pay
for every Cart load 10^. & for every mans burthen i^.

— 29. Ordered, that there fhalbe 8 dayes appointed every
3^eare for the repayring of the Highwaies and every man that is
Souldier or watchman to come at his appointed time w* a wheel-
barrow, mattock, fpade or fhovle, & for default hereof to pay for
every day 5^. to the Towne, & a Cart for every day to pay 19*.

[0] Decemb''. 30, 1637. Thefe 11 Freemen Chofen to Order
the civill affaires of y^ Town for this yeare to come. Thomas
Mayhew, Daniel Pattrick, John Whitney, Edmund James, John
Firmin, John Stowers, Abram Browne, Edmund Lewis, Edward
Garfield, Ephraim Child, Simon Eire.

Ordered y' about every Common field there flialbe a fufficient
fence made up againft y'^ i of Aprill next by every perfon having
ground in the faid field proportionably vpon every Acre, & for
default hereof he fhall pay 4^. for every Rod vnfenced w*in 6
dales after to y« Towne.

Ordered, that there flialbe an Highway betweene Ephraim
Childs & Thomas Rogers ground lying in Dorchefter field lead-
ing to y^ flats, & all the waft ground except John Bernards two
Acres to remaine common to y^ vfe of the Towne.

[7] January 29, 1637. Ordered that if any Goats be found
abroad w'^out a Keeper after the 10 of March next, it Ihalbe law-
full for any man to drive them to Found, & for every Goat the
owner fhall pay to y^ faid party 6"^., & if they do any harme in
any mans ground he fhall pay to the party damnified as 2 free-
men fhall iudge.

February 16, 1637. Ordered by the body of the Freemen of
Watertowne that the 1 1 men deputed this prefent yeare to order
y^ Townes civill affaires fliall have power to divide all the Towne
land vndivided.

Ordered that there be no Land granted to any perfon butting
vpon another mans Land before he have notice of it, that he
fuftaine no damage by it.

February 26, 1637. Ordered that there fhalbe two Rod of
hadland lying next to every mans particular meddow round about
it, where it is not preiudiciall to the highwaies, or former grants.

March 26, 163S. Ordered, y* all y^ Lotts both of Freemen and
Forrainers fhalbe meafured & bounded by Abram Browne & they
to bring in a note of every particular Lott to be inrolled in y'
Towne booke.

4 Watertown Records.

Aprill 9, 163S. Ordered by y« body of y= Freeman y* y^ 11
Freemen deputed this prefent yeare to order y^ Civill affaires of y^
Towne fhail have power to give out y^ land vpon y^ Town plott
to feverall pfons according to their difcretions.

Aprill 23, 1638. Ordered that thofe Freemen of the Congre-
gation fhall build & dwell vpon their Lotts at the Towne plott,
& not to alienate them by felling or exchanging them to any for-
rainer, but to Freemen of the Congregation, It being our reall
intent to fitt down there clofe togither, & therefore thefe Lotts
were granted to thofe Freemen y' inhabited moft remote from y^
meeting-houfe & dw^ell moft fcattered, (for want of a penalty fet
this Order of no force. )^

Ordered that in meafuring out the remote meddows every man
fhall take his choife according to his Lott. Abram Browne, &
Thomas Bartlet are to meafure them according to their beft iudg-
ments, or fome others (if they faile) by y^ Townes appointment.

[8] May 21, 1638. Ordered y* all the Land not granted
called Pequuffet Common bounded w''^ the great Dividents on the
weft, w'*^ Cambridge Line on the North, w'^^y® fmall Lotts on the
Eaft & South, fhall remaine for a Common for the feed of Cat-
tle to the vfe of y^ Townefmen forever, & not to be alienated
w'^^out y^ confent of every Townefman. (This Order repealed at
a Public Town meeting. )i

July 17, 163S. Ordered y' all thofe Freemen y' have no Lotts
at y^ Townefhip fhall have 1 2 Acres Lotts beyond Bever plaine, &
all other Townefmen fhall have 6 Acre Lotts in y^ faid place.

Ordered that all the Land lying beyond the Flowland, & the
Lotts granted in liew of y^ Townefhip, having y^ great Dividents
on the one fide, Charles River, & Dedham Bounds on the other
fide & the Farmelands at the further end qf it fhalbe for a Com-
mon for Cattle to the vfe of the Freemen of the Towne, & their
heires forever, & not to be alienated w''iout the confent of every
Freeman, & their heires forever. (This granted iince to the
Farmes by the Freemen.) ^

Octob^ 14, 1638. Ordered y* the Farmes granted fhall begin at
the neereft meddow to Dedham line beyond the line that runneth
at the end of ye great Dividents parralell to the line at the end of
the Towne bounds, & fo to go on fucceffively from Dedham
bounds in order as they are given out, as they w=^ are deputed to
lay them out fhall fee good & appoint, the proportion of meddow
being twenty Acres to one Hundred & Fifty Acres of vpland.

Ordered y' Daniel Pattrick, Abram Browne, John Stowers,
Edmund Lewis, & Simon Eire or the maior part of them fliall
lay out thefe Farmes as they are ordered.

Ordered y< in laying out the Plowland Abram Browne fhall
have power to include any Swampe, Rock, or Pond in any par-
ticular Lott as he fhall think meet not counting it into y^ num-
ber of Acres.

[9] Decemb^ 10, 1638. Thefe 11 Freemen chofen to order
the civill Affaires of y^ Towne for this yeare following, Thomas

(1) Written with darker ink, apparently at a later date. Eds.

Watertown Records. 5

Mayhew, Edward How, William Jennifon, Abram Browne,
Robert Feke, John Coolige, Thomas Bartlet, Hugh Mafon,
Richard Browne, Thomas Haftings, Simon Eire.

Ordered y* the Highway to y^ little Plaine beyond the Mill
fhalbe laid out as Edward How, William Jennifon, & Richard
Browne have appointed it.

Ordered y* the Highway leading to Concord fhalbe 6 rod

Ordered y' whofoever Ihall kill a wolfe in the Towne fhall
have for y^ fame 5^.

March 30, 1639. Ordered y' when any Meddowes or vplands
fhalbe laid out & meafured by the Surveior, y' warning Ihalbe
given to y^ parties y* have propriety there, & if they faile in com-
ming at y^ appointed time it fhalbe lawfull for y^ Surveior & two
of them to lott & lay them out.

Ordered y* the two Faires at Watertowne y^ one vpon the firft
Friday of y« 4 moneth, y« other vpon the firft Friday of the 7
moneth, (fhalbe kept vpon the Trayning Place.) ^

Novemb"". 27, 1639. Ordered y* whofoever fhall dead any
Trees vpon y^ Commons or Highwaies w*^in the bounds of y^
Towne, fhall pay for every Tree fo killed 19^. to y« vfe of y«

Ordered y* if the Land in view for Farmes fhall not suffice to
accommodate the reft of the Townefmen that are behind that
then they fhall haue their Farmes out of the Freemens Common
vpon the fame Condition that the reft haue theirs.

[10] Novemb^ 27, 1639. Ordered that the Highway
appointed by the Towne to be laid out by Abram Browne from
that highway w*^*^ leades from Dorchefter field to the flatts, & fo
thorough the River fhall remaine to the vfe of the Towne for ever-
Ordered that the Highway appointed by the Towne & laid out
by Abram Browne from that highway that leades
^"s'll^nd^^'fo^r from Robert Jennifons down to the River betwixt the
^nding goods Lands of John Bernard & Jeremiah Norcroffe with
a parcell of Land adioyning to the River about
halfe an Acre needfull for the Landing of Goods shall remaine
to the vfe of the Towne for ever.

[11] D. 6, (Al. 10,) 1639. Thefe 12 Freemen chofen for
this yeare to order all the Civill affaires of y'^ Towne. Thomas
Mayhew, William Jennifon, Richard Browne, Robert Feke,
Nicholas Busby, David Fifke, Abram Browne, John Coolige,
John Warrin, Thomas Haftings, Henry Bright, Simon Eire.

D. 31, (M. 10.) Ordered y' if any of y«= Freemen be abfent
from any Publick Towne meeting at the time appointed fufficient
warning being formerly given, he fhall forfett for every time to
y^ Towne 2^ 6*^.

Ordered by y^ Freemen y* the men deputed for to order the
Civill affaires shall not make any order w*out confent of 7 of
thofe Freemen chofen.

D. 28, (M. II.) Ordered y^ if any of y^ Freemen deputed to
order the Civill affaires of y^ Towne fhall abfent himfelfe from

{}) Written with darker ink, apparently at a later date. Eds. «f

6 Watertozvn Records.

the place of meeting paft 9 of the Clock in the forenoone, he
fhall forfett to them for eveiy time 2^ 6^.

Ordered that when any Rate is to be made there fhalbe
fufficient Notice given to all the Townes men before to come to
the place appointed.

D. 25, (^I. 12.) Ordered y' the T»vIeetinghoufe is appointed
for a vvatchhoufe to the vfe of the Towne.

Ordered y* Thomas Filbrick fhall fet vp an houfe at the water-
fide, provided it be for an houfe to receive ftray goods according
to y^ order of Court.

[13] D. 24, (M. I.) 1640. Ordered that there Ihallbe a
Cartway thorough William Hammonds Lott & Edmond James
his Meddow & fo thorough the Lotts of John warrin & Ifaac
Sterne to fetch hay from Rock Meddow, & the remote Med-

D. 21, (M. 2.) Ordered y* if any Perfon fhall fuffer his Dog
to come to the Meeting vpon the Lords day he fhall forfett for
every time i^.

D. 3, (M. 9.) Ordered that there fhall be sufficient Fences
kept & maintained all the yeare in all generall inclofures, & who-
foever is defective (except it be by common confent) having one
Dayes warning he fhall forfett 10^. Alfo whofoever fhall wil-
fully breake downe an) fence fhall forfett to him whom the fence
belongs 20^.

D. 15, (M. 10.) Ordered that all Hogs fhall be Ringed All
the yeare long, & if that any Hogs vnringed, & not fufficiently
yoked fhall doe any Dammage, the Owner fhall pay to the Per-

Online LibraryWatertown (Mass.)Watertown records (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 43)