Source Problems in English History


World History


Boston Town Records.

Page 2.

[Oct. 6, 1634.] At a general meeting upon public notice given the 5th day of the last week, it was ordered and agreed as followeth: imprimis, Rich. Bellingham, Esq., and J. Cogan, merchant, were chosen in the place of Giles Firmin, deceased, and Robt. Harding, now in Virginia, to make up the 10 to manage the affairs of the town. [Selectmen.]

Item: Jo. Coggeshall, [and four others], together with Wm. Cheeseborrowe, the constable, are deputed to make a rate for the levying of £40 assessed upon the town as the first payment of a greater sum by order of the last General Court.1

Page 3.

[Dec. 18, 1634. Town meeting.] Imprimis, it is agreed that Mr. Winthrop [and six others] shall have power to divide and dispose of all such lands belonging to the town (as are not yet in the lawful possession of any particular persons) to the inhabitants of the town according to the orders of the Court, leaving such portions in common for the use of new-comers, and the further benefit of the town, as in their best discretions they shall think fit: the islands hired by the town to be also included in this order.

Page 4.

[March 23, 1635. Town meeting.] Imprimis: it is agreed, by general consent, that the overseers of the fences of the several fields shall see to the making of such stiles and gates as may be needful for every field . . . the stiles and gates for common highways to be made out of public charge, forth of the constables’ hand. . . .

Page 5.

[April 13, 1635. Town-meeting.] . . . Likewise it was then generally agreed upon, that our brother, Philemon Pormont, shall be intreated to become school-master, for the teaching and nurturing of children with us.

Page 5.

[Nov. 30, 1635. Town meeting.] Imprimis: It is agreed that no further allotments shall be granted unto any new-comers, but such as may be likely to be received members of the Congregation.

Item: That none shall sell their houses or allotments to any new-comers, but with the consent and allowance of those that are appointed allotters.

Item: That none of the members of this congregation or inhabitants among us shall sue one another at the law before that Mr. Henry Vane and the two elders, Mr. Thomas Oliver and Thomas Leveritt, have had the hearing and deciding of the cause if they can.

Pages 7, 8.

[Jan. 23, 1636. Town meeting.] Imprimis: At this meeting, Thomas Marshall, is by general consent, chosen for the keeping of a ferry from the mill point unto Charl[es]town.

Item: It was likewise agreed that for the raising of a new work of fortification upon the Forthill, about that which is there already begun, the whole town would bestow fourteen days work by equal proportion. . . . [Commissioners for the work appointed, to apportion money and work from each.]

Page 8.

[Feb. 27, 1636.] At a meeting upon private warning it was agreed that there shall be a watch taken up and gone around with from the 1st of 2d month next, for the Summertime, from sunset an hour after the beating of the drum, upon penalty for every one wanting therein 12d. for every night.

Page 10.

[May 9, 1636. Meeting of the Selectmen.] It was ordered that no townsmen shah entertain any strangers into their houses for above 14 days, without leave from those that are appointed to order the town’s businesses.

Item: It is ordered that none shall keep any victualing houses for the selling of wine, beer, cakes or any other kind of victuals within this town, but only such as are allowed thereunto as innkeepers.

Page 10.

[May 13, 1636. Town meeting.] At this assembly Mr. William Hutchinson, Mr. John Coggeshall, and Mr. William Brenton are chosen for deputies or committees for the service of this next General Court.

Page 10.

[June 6, 1636. Selectmen.] Item: We find that Richard Fairbank hath sold unto two strangers the two houses in Sudbury end that were William Balstone’s, contrary to a former order, and therefore the sale to be void, and the said Richard Fairbank to forfeit for his breaking thereof, xls.

Page 11.

[Aug. 15, 1636. Selectmen.] It was ordered that John Sampford and William Hudson shall be water baylies, to see that no annoying things, . . . be left or laid about the seashore. . . .

Page 11.

[Sept. 16, 1636. Town meeting.] At this assembly Mr. Thomas Oliver [and nine others] are, with general consent, chosen [as Selectmen] for these next six months to oversee and set order for all allotments belonging to this town, and for all other occasions and businesses of the same (excepting matters of election for the General Court) from time to time, to be agreed upon and ordered by them or the greater part of them.

Page 12.

[Oct. 4, 1636. Selectmen.] At a meeting . . . it was agreed and ordered that from this day there shall no house at all be built in this town near unto any of the streets or lanes therein, but with the advice and consent of the overseers of the town’s occasions . . . .

Page 13.

[Nov. 15, 1636. Selectmen.] . . . Also at this meeting Richard Fairbank is chosen for our hog reeve, according to order of Court.

Page 18.

[May 13, 1637. Selectmen.] . . . Item: It is agreed that Richard Fairbank shall be the fold-keeper for the residue of this our half year time.

Page 20.

[Oct. 16, 1637. Town meeting.] [Eleven men chosen as selectmen.] Also at this meeting Mr. Ralph Hudson and Edward Bendall are chosen constables of this town for this next year.

Page 35.

[Nov. 2, 1638. Selectmen.] . . . Leave is granted to Richard Rawlings, a plasterer, to buy Peter Johnson’s, the Dutchman’s house, and to become an inhabitant of this town.

Page 36.

[Dec. 10, 1638. Selectmen.] It is agreed that Arthur Perry shall have yearly allowed for his drumming to the Company upon all occasions, the sum of £2, to be paid by the town.

Page 39.

[March 25, 1639.] . . . Also it is agreed that our brother Robert Walker shall be the cow-keep[er] for this year. . . .

Page 44.

[Dec. 16, 1639. Town meeting.] At this meeting the orders of the last General Court were openly read.

Page 55.

[Sept. 28, 1640. Town meeting.] [Deputies, to the General Court, Selectmen and Surveyors of the Highways were elected] . . . and for town-crier, William Courser.

Page 56.

[Oct. 26, 1640. Selectmen.] There is at this meeting a bridge appointed to be made at Muddy River; Mr. Coleburne, our brother Eliott, and our brother Peter Oliver are appointed to see the same done. . . . Evan Thomas is to be taken into consideration for becoming a townsman with us.

Page 58.

[Jan. 25, 1641. Selectmen.] . . . Evan Thomas is accepted for a townsman at this meeting.

Page 62.

[July 26, 1641. Selectmen.] . . . Our brother John Oliver is chosen treasurer for the town, and to keep the town’s book. [Recorder.]

Page 65.

[Jan. 10, 1642. Town meeting.] At a general town meeting upon warning from house to house.

It’s ordered that Deer-Island shall be improved for the maintenance of a free school for the town; and such other occasions as the Townsmen [Selectmen] for the time being shall think meet, the said School being sufficiently provided for.

It’s ordered that there shall be no more lands granted unto any inhabitants that shall hereafter be admitted into the town, unless it be at a general town meeting.

It’s ordered that the 9 men [Selectmen] shall, according to the present need of the town, appoint the sum and the particular assessments of a town rate.

Page 71.

[Dec. 26, 1642. Selectmen.] It’s ordered that parents shall give in a note of the names of their children, and the time of their birth, unto the clerk of the writs (both of such as have been born in this town, and shall be born), within one week after their birth, under the penalty of 6 pence for every defect, and he that hath the care of the bury-ing-place, shall give notice unto the said clerk, of the names of such as are buried, and that the constable shall signify this order unto every family in the town.

Page 80.

[July 29, 1644. Selectmen.] . . . Zache Bozworth is appointed poundkeeper. . . . Charity White is allowed 26s. for thirteen weeks’ keeping of John Berry, to be paid by the constables.

Page 82.

[Dec. 2, 1644. Selectmen.] It’s ordered that the constables shall pay unto Deacon Eliott for the use of Mr. Woodbridge eight pounds due to him for keeping the school the last year.

Page 83.

[Jan. 27, 1645. Town meeting.] Valentine Hill, deacon, together with one of the present constables, are appointed auditors of Anthony Stodder, late constable, his accounts, and to make report thereof unto the Selectmen at their next meeting.

Page 85.

[Sept. 29, 1645. Selectmen.] . . . Whereas, the several grants of house lots, and other lands recorded in this town-book, are entered only as granted to the parties themselves, without mention of their heirs, it hath been thought fit to be hereby declared and ordered that all such grants were, and shall be intended to be estates in fee simple, with all due and usual privileges and appurtenances, and are so to be construed, and taken to all intents, except in such cases wherein any particular estate for a term of years is specially expressed.

Page 86.

[Feb. 33, 1646. Selectmen.] . . . Thos. Scotto is appointed to see that the graves be digged five foot deep, and to see the gates be fast and the fence up, and to have some allowance.

Page 87.

[March 30, 1646. Selectmen.] John Berry is put an apprentice to Edward Keyly for seven years.

Page 88.

[May 18, 1646. Town meeting.] . . . It is granted that all the inhabitants shall have equal right of commonage in the town; those who are admitted by the townsmen, to be inhabitants.

Page 90.

[March 18, 1647. Town meeting.] [Besides electing the usual officers—Selectmen, deputies, constables, etc.] . . . For sealers of leather: Bro[ther] Copp, Evan Thomas, Will Courser, John Stevenson.

Page 91.

[July 26, 1647. Selectmen.] Martin Stebbin is fined 20s. for brewing beer to sell without order. Martin Stebbin is allowed to brew beer at a penny a quart, and two quarts ["small beer"] a penny and not to exceed upon penalty of 20l. fine.

Page 92.

[March 13, 1648. Town meeting.] It is ordered that no constables shah be discharged of their place till they have given up their accounts of the rates that is committed to them.

Page 94.

[March 12, 1649. Town meeting.] The usual officers elected.] . . . For clerks of the market, Jerimy Howchin, James Penn. . . . Mr. Thos. Clarke is fined 20s. for refusing to serve his constable’s place.

Page 95.

[April 9, 1649. Selectmen.] Mr. Bowin and Peter Oliver is chosen for perambulation at Muddy River.

Page 96.

[June 26, 1649. Selectmen.] Rich. Taylor is to ring the bell at 9 of the clock at night and half an hour after four in the morning, and is to have for his recompense 4l. a year. . . .

Page 100.

[March 25, 1650. Selectmen.] . . . Mr. Jerimy Howchin is chosen sealer of the weights and measures this year till another be chosen.

Page 106.

[Aug. 11, 1651. Town meeting.] . . . Also it was ordered that the Selectmen shall take care from time to time for the prevention of danger of fire by defective chimneys, and upon complaints to view them, and to order their repair upon penalty if not repaired.

Page 108.

[Feb. 23, 1652. Selectmen.] . . . John Vyall hath liberty to keep a house of common entertainment if the County Court consent, provided he keep it near the new meeting-house or northward of it.

Pages 113, 114.

[March 14, 1653. Town meeting.] [Usual officers elected, also.] . . . For packer of flesh and fish: Sarjt. John Barrell. . . . It is ordered that there shall be a ladder or ladders to every house within this town that shall reach to the ridge of the house [also a pole, 12 feet long, with a "swob" on the end of it which every householder shall provide for his house by the last day of the third month next, on penalty of six shillings, eight pence.] . . . It is ordered that the Selectmen shall forthwith provide six good and long ladders for the town’s use, which shall hang at the outside of the meeting-house, there to be ready in case of fire, these ladders to be branded with the town mark.

Pages 121, 122.

[Jan. 29, 1655. Selectmen.] The treasurer is to pay to [these] several persons [their names following] the sum of seventeen pounds, fifteen shillings, for the billeting of 32 soldiers, being impressed for the expedition against Ninicraft.

Pages 122, 123.

[March 12, 1655. Town meeting.] [The usual officers elected] . . . for corders of wood: Thos. Leader [and three others].

Page 127.

[Nov. 27, 1655. Selectmen.] Robert Wyatt and Wm. Lane are appointed to sweep chimneys and to cry about streets that they may be known.

Page 129.

[1656. Town meeting.] . . . [Chosen as] gaugers of cask, Wm. Dinsdale, John Cunny.

Page 129.

[March 14, 1656. Town meeting.] It is ordered that the Selectmen shall have liberty to lay out a piece of ground out of the town’s land, which they give to the building of a house for instruction of the youth of the town.

Page 131.

[July 28, 1656. Selectmen.] . . . If any young person or others be found without either meet-ing-house, idling or playing during the time of public exercise on the Lord’s day, it is ordered that the constables or others appointed for that end shall take hold of them and bring them before authority.

Pages 136, 137.

[April 27, 1657. Selectmen.] Richard Way admitted into the Town provided that Aaron Way do become bound in the sum of twenty pounds sterling to free the town from any charge that may accrue to the town by the said Richard or his family.

I, Aaron Way, do hereby engage myself, my heirs, executors, etc., unto the Selectmen of the town of Boston and their successors in the sum of twenty pounds sterling in behalf of my brother, Richard Way, and his family, that they shall not be chargeable to the town, and hereunto set my hand.

Aaron X Way.

his mark.

Page 140.

[Nov. 30, 1657. Selectmen.] It is ordered that Philip Curtis be paid twenty shillings for killing a wolf at Muddy River the last winter.1

Page 142.

[Jan. 25, 1658. Selectmen.] It is ordered that measures of brass be provided as standards for the town and reserved for that use.

Page 148.

[Nov. 29, 1658. Selectmen.] Whereas fifteen pounds were given by Mr. Paddy as a legacy to the poor of the town, it is ordered that the town treasurer dispose of the same according to order.

Page 151.

[March 28, 1659. Selectmen.] John Dawes is ordered to oversee the youth at the new meetinghouse, that they behave themselves reverently in the time of divine worship, and to act according to his instructions herein.

1 The General Court was the Colonial Legislature.

1 Regular bounties were provided by law at Plymouth for killing wild beasts, as was done in earlier times in England for the "destruction of noisome fowl or vermin."


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Chicago: "Boston Town Records.," Source Problems in English History in Source Problems in English History, ed. Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915), 264–277. Original Sources, accessed July 23, 2024,

MLA: . "Boston Town Records." Source Problems in English History, in Source Problems in English History, edited by Albert Beebe White and Wallace Notestein, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1915, pp. 264–277. Original Sources. 23 Jul. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Boston Town Records.' in Source Problems in English History. cited in 1915, Source Problems in English History, ed. , Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York, pp.264–277. Original Sources, retrieved 23 July 2024, from