list below (scroll down!) is restricted to towns founded before 1649
(Winthrop's death). This may seem arbitrary, but I wanted to
concentrate on the very first settlements. More attention will be
devoted to towns settled by people coming directly from England, as
opposed to towns founded by people relocating from another town.
of Massachusetts Counties )
Useful Reference (from BigTreeBooks):
PIONEERS OF MASSACHUSETTS, A Descriptive List, Drawn from Records of
the Colonies, Towns, and Churches, and Other Contemporaneous
Documents - Charles Henry Pope (1900) reprint, paper,
index, 550 pp [HB5347] $40.00 Attempts to identify all
the men who came to Massachusetts between 1620 and 1650, a period of
enormous influx, and to follow them down to the time of their death
with a genealogical sketch.
- MAGenWeb Project
at RootsWeb (MA
Resources at RootsWeb ; Massachusetts
at RootsWeb: State-specific resources hosted at RootsWeb.)
Room: Massachusetts Counties, United States
Northeast Region (Boston)
Vital Records Information
Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (Obtaining
Copies of Vital Records ; Research )
Registries of Deeds (clickable map, by county)
County Registry of Deeds ~ Salem
Mailing List: For those with a genealogical/historical interest
in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1630-1700.
--> Other Mailing
Lists and Newsgroups (from Cyndi's List, a great great site:
make sure to check the Massachusetts
Historical Sites & Societies
Get Local...Massachusetts Counties and Regions or Cities
City Web Sites for the State of Massachusetts
City and Town Clerk Directory
for the Study of New England History - Boston
Massachusetts Historical Society - Boston
New England Historic Genealogical Society - Boston
Great Migration Begins - Immigrants
to New England
see notes at bottom of this page, on early town records, vital
records and church records. [go there]
List of town from the map in
R. Dunn and L. Yeandle's edition of Winthrop's Journal, 1996, p.170
Abreviations: MF = Microfilm; MS = Manuscripts; TR = Town Records;
PL = Public Library; EIHC = Essex Institute Historical Collections; MoA
= Memory of America; PEM = Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; BL = British
Library; CPL = Cambridge Public Library; BPL = Boston Public Library
Public Library - Genealogy
and Family History Resources - Rare
Books & Manuscripts
City Records (Rare Books & Manuscripts, x4432; Research Library
This material includes tax assessorís
records from 1789, Paul Revereís tax bills, City Clerk files starting
in 1629 and early manuscript records of Brighton, Charlestown,
Dorchester, Hyde Park, and West Roxbury. Records before 1822 are
accessed through Rare Books; records after 1822 are accessed through the
Book Delivery Desk of the Research Library Stacks. The records cover the
period 1896-1967 with street listings available up to 1942.
|Boston TR 1634-1661
(1887), British Library
Records Relating to the Early History
of Boston, 27 vols. (vol. 2 = TR, vol. 3 = Charlestown TR, Vol. 4 =
Dorchester TR, vol. 6 = Roxbury TR), Boston PL.
A note on
F. Adams, Three Episodes of Mass. History, 1892.
of Boston 1630-1856 (246p, 1856)
Quincy, 468p. (MoA)
Braintree Historical Society
Records of Braintree, Massachusetts 1640-1793
||Braintree Records 1640 -
1793 edited by Samuel A.Bates,
pub.1886, 938 pages:
1 - 625
- 313 G4 TIFF images 2 pages per image.
of Old Braintree, 1879, 660p
Cambridge Historical Society (if you really need to contact them -
no email) Try this contact.
Public Library - New
England Local History Collection
|Cambridge City Clerk's
Hall Room 103, 795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
A note on Church Records
of the town of Cambridge (formerly Newtowne), Massachusetts, 1630-1703 :
the records of the town meetings, and of the selectmen, comprising all
of the first volume of records, and being volume II of the printed
records of the town, printed by order of the City Council under the
direction of the City Clerk, Reprint. Originally published:
Cambridge, 1901, 397p.
Available from Bigtreebooks
and Heritage Books.
Available at BL, CPL, Watertown Free PL,
Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris 3), Boston PL
A history of Cambridge, Massachusetts,
1630-1913 / by Samuel Atkins Eliot ; together with biographies of
Cambridge people. Cambridge, Mass. : Cambridge Tribune, 1913. 308 p
History of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1630-1877. With a genealogical register. By Lucius R. Paige. Boston,
H. O. Houghton and company; New York, Hurd and Houghton, 1877. 731p. (BPL;
CPL; Heritage Books for $63, 860p edition)
of the First Church, 579p, 1903-06, CPL
Register Book of Lands and Houses (CPL)
Copied in 1660, so
corrupt. See below.
A note on Church Records
Free Public Library (good links) - Special
|Concord Town Archives (+Micorfilm);
Concord Free PL
||16 volumes, with Selectmen,
Town Meetings etc.)
||The early records of the
town of Dedham Massachusetts, 1636-1659. A
Complete Transcript of Book One of the General Records of the Town,
Together with the Selectmen's Day Book. Volume 3. Edited by Dedham
Historical Society, 1892..... Hard Bound reprint, 239 pages illustrated.
$22 from the Dedham Hist. Soc. (available at the BL)
Volume 4 covers 1659-1673, available from
Heritage Books for $26.67
K. Lockridge, A New England Town, The
First Hundred Years, New Haven, 1970
Historical Society (good only for contact list)
and John 1630, (the Passengers who came aboard that ship)
| A note
on the first (missing) leaves
A note on Church Records
TOWN RECORDS (MASSACHUSETTS) - [HB8297] $26.50
The Record Commissioners of the City of Boston. Comprises
the first volume of public records for the town of Dorchester,dated as
early as the 1630's and extending to the end of the 17th century.
(1632-1687), 1897. (bigtreebooks
and Heritage Books)
History of the town of Dorchester,
Massachusetts. By a committee of the Dorchester antiquarian and
historical society. Boston, E. Clapp, jr., 1859, 672p [MoA; contains
records in the form of annals]
Records of the First Church at
Dorchester, in New England, 1636-1734. Boston, Mass. : G.H. Ellis,
Ann Historical Museum
|Available at the City
History of the Town of Gloucester,
Cape Ann, including the Town of Rockport. (1860) by John J. Babson
(check "early families")
|| TR of Haverhill
(17th and 18th C.), 1405p, 1930 (not chronological) Available at
A New England City Haverhill
Massachusetts, Patricia Trainor O'Malley & Paul H. Tedesco,
Windsor Pub. Inc., 1987
The History of Haverhill, Massachusetts, by George Wingate Chase,
1861, reprinted 1997
| A note
on Church Records
Historical Society or here
|Ipswich Town Records
[Microfilm] @ Ipswich Public Library
||TR of Ipswich,
Reprinted from Essex Institute Historical Collections, Oct. 1961; S.l. :
Newcomb & Gauss, 1961
George A. Schofield, The
Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich 1634-1650, Ipswich, 1890.
D. G. Allen, In English Ways,
Chapel Hill, 1981
of Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton, Joseph B. Felt, pub. 1834 (304p)
Good list of settlers, emigrants to and from Ipswich.
Vital Recs. at BPL
Church at AAS
records have been lost. See below.
No church records before
1792!!! See below
of Lynn, Mass., by
Alonzo Lewis and James R.Newhall, 1829; 1890, also at MoA
Lynn & Surroundings By
Clarence W. Hobbs. 161p. (Lewis & Winship; 1886) 1996
Centenial Memorial of Lynn,
Embracing an Historical Sketch, 1629-1876. By James R. Newhall.
203p. (Thos. R. Breare; 1876) 1996
by-the-Sea Public Library - Archives
||TR of Manchester, 1636-1736,
Salem, 1889, 2V, at CPL.
||William H. Bowden, comp.,
"Marblehead Town Records, 1648-1683", EIHC 69 (1933) 207-329
and Traditions of Marblehead Mass. by Samuel Roads pub 1880
|Medford City Clerk, Room
City Hall, 85
George P. Hassett Drive, Medford, MA 02155
Society of Old Newbury - Newburyport
D. G. Allen, In English Ways,
Chapel Hill, 1981
History of Newbury, Newburyport and
West Newbury, Joshua Coffin, 1845 Higginson
"Ould Newbury" Historical and Biographical Sketches, by
James J. Currier, 1896. republished by Essex
Genealogical History of the Town of
Reading, Mass including the present towns of Wakefield,Reading and North
Reading with Chronological and Historical Sketches from 1639
to 1874 by Hon Lilley Eaton Boston, Alfred Mudge &
Son, Printers 34 School Street. 1874
||Benjamin Mighill and G. B.
Blodgette, eds., The Early Records of the Town of Rowley Mass.,
1639-1672, Rowley, 1894
D. G. Allen, In English Ways,
Chapel Hill, 1981
Rowley Early Settlers of Rowley,
Massachusetts by Blodgette and Jewett, published 1933 from earlier
articles by Blodgette, and reprinted in 1981 by the New England History
Press. distributed by Essex
Rowley Massachusetts Records--Town, Church & Cemetery, by
||A note on Church
||Roxbury TR, 1647-1730 (1997)
TOWN RECORDS OF ROXBURY, MASSACHUSETTS, Volume 1, 1647 to 1730
- Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart 1997, cloth, index, 488 pp
[NE2556] $35.00 (BigTreeBooks)
A transcription of volume one of the orginial town records, previouisly
only available on microfilm. The Roxbury Book of Possessions was
destroyed in 1654, and the existing records were recreated by Edward
Dennison. Although the orginal land grants were lost to fire, the
existing records provide information to piece together the original
landholders of this important early Puritan town.
Ma - The City Guide
Essex Museum ~ Salem - The
Formerly known as the Essex Institute
|A note on Church
1638-1683", EIHC 9-83 (1868-1947)
TR of Salem, 1634-1659, Salem,
1868, W. P Upham (at BL); 1659-1680 at CPL.
The Records of the First Church in Salem Massachusetts 1629-1736.
printed by the Essex Institute, Salem, Ma. 1974, It has an index of
persons and of subjects. 421 pgs
histories at PEM and CPL
and Files of the Quarterly Court of Essex, 8v., 1636-1692 (Essex
Institute, 1911-1921), at CPL
Records, 1849, 6v., at Concord.
searchable database includes approximately 15,000 records dating from
1639 to 1850 from the Town Clerk's Office of Sudbury, the Goodnow
Library, Longfellow's Wayside Inn, the Sudbury Historical Society, and
the Wayland Historical Society. Each record is searchable by title,
date, subject, personal name, location of original, document category
and record number, and many include editorial or historical annotations.
Many records also contain scanned images or transcriptions of the
Sumner Chilton Powell, Puritan Village,
Middleton, Conn. 1962
Free Public Library
Free Public Library, 123 Main Street,
Watertown, MA 02172
|Watertown Records, 7
Vols., Watertown Free Public Library and BPL
A note on Church
D. G. Allen, In English Ways,
Chapel Hill, 1981;
Roger Thompson, Divided We stand,
Settlers of Watertown, by Henry Bond pub. 1860 [partially
||W. P. Upham, comp., Wenham
TR, 1642-1706, Wenham, 1930
of Weymouth, 4 vols.
(Savage and Probate Records)
||No Woburn Town Records
found on the Minutemen Catalog (Municipal Libraries in
Massachusetts, including Woburn PL)
history of Woburn, Middlesex County, Mass., from the grant of its
territory to Charlestown, in 1640, to the year 1860, Sewall,
Samuel, 1785-1868, 2 p.l., iv, [iii]-x, -677 p. front. (port.) 25 cm.
Wiggin and Lunt,
1868 [MoA], available from Heritage Books, 1990.
few passages taken from the "Great
Migration Begins Project" (NEHGS):
passages are here quoted in full, as they are extremely useful and
The earliest towns of New England apparently did not begin to
keep records of their meetings from the day of settlement.
This was probably because Winthrop and other leaders believed in
1630 that the dispersal around the Bay was only temporary, and that they
would eventually be gathering the whole population together in one place
This of course never came to
pass, partly because of personality differences between men such as
Winthrop and Dudley, and partly because of the greatly increased
population of Massachusetts Bay in 1633, making it impossible to bring
everyone together in one settlement.
This may be
a partial explanation for the fact that most of the records for the
earliest towns begin in 1633 or 1634 (although in some
cases the first few leaves of the volume may have been lost).
The records for most of these towns have been published, and are
used here in that form. (See
BTR, CaTR, ChTR, DTR, PTR, RTR, STR and WaTR in the Key to Titles.)
As with so many other record
categories the early Lynn town records are lost, and our only
evidence for this town in the early years comes from colony records,
private correspondence and a very few items of town records that were
later recorded in the Essex Court records.
records of two towns require some additional comments.
The Dorchester town records as published begin early in 1633,
but clearly the first two leaves of the volume have been lost.
An old index to this volume gives some entries from the lost
pages, and these were published in a footnote on the family of John
Greenway of Dorchester [NEHGR 32:58].
Charlestown town records are a special problem because, like the
church records of that town, they were recopied in the 1660s.
The copyist omitted some of the early records, added a lengthy
historical narrative at the beginning and inserted documents pertaining
to Charlestown from colony records and elsewhere.
In addition he misread many of the names, especially given names.
The user of the Charlestown town records needs to be very
cautious. A careful,
annotated edition of the town records of Charlestown would be an
excellent addition to the literature.
Most New England towns began the
recording of vital records from the earliest days, and a great majority
of these record books have come down to us intact.
The records for many of the Massachusetts towns were published in
the systematic series a century ago, with the events being arranged in
alphabetic order. For other
towns throughout New England vital records have been published in many
formats, citations to which may be found in the Key to Titles.
There is an unusual volume
of vital records that was generated in the early days of Massachusetts
Bay Colony which deserves special attention.
When published in the Register, beginning with the first issue of
the second volumes they were referred to as the "Early Records of
Boston," but they have only a limited connection with Boston.
The document in question is in
fact a compilation of those vital records submitted to the county court
by the towns of Suffolk County, beginning in 1644.
Massachusetts Bay Colony established counties in 1643, two of
them being Suffolk and Middlesex, but Middlesex did not take on an
independent existence until 1649. Thus for the years prior to 1649
this book of records includes submissions from the towns of Boston,
Roxbury, Dorchester, Braintree, Weymouth and Dedham (which then made up
Suffolk County), and Cambridge, Charlestown, Watertown, Concord, Woburn
and Sudbury (then Middlesex). Hingham,
which should have begun sending in its records in 1644, did not
in fact do so until 1649. Even
then, it did not include items retrospectively, as did the other towns.
Also in 1649, Springfield sent in some vital records; it was for
the moment part of Middlesex County, prior to the establishment of
The probable reason for
calling these the "Early Records of Boston" is that
they are now, and have long been, in the custody of the Boston City
Registrar. They are
properly records of Suffolk County and should be returned to that
jurisdiction. This volume
was transcribed in the last century by David Pulsifer, and, as noted
above, published in the Register.
For several of the towns the
record tells us that the register of births and deaths runs "until
the first of the first month 1644."
Given the problems with the calendar at this time, we want to
know just what is meant by this limit on the first group of records,
which supposedly includes everything back to the "first founding of
their towns." Examination of
several of the towns shows that in this record the year began on the
first of March, and not on the 25th, as in many other records.
One specific example which helps in this determination comes from
the entries from Dedham, in which Mary Aldridge, daughter of Henry and
Mary, was born on the tenth of the first month (March) 1643, and died on
the 24th of the second month (April) 1643.
This sequence is possible only if the first of March is New
Year's Day. Thus, the
announced terminus for this first set of records, in the notation of
double-dating, would be 1 March 1643/4.
The clerks of the writs for
the towns did not report all births and deaths which had occurred in
each town prior to 1 March 1643/4, but only those for families which
still resided in the town at that later date.
And for those families, only events which had taken place while
the family actually resided there were recorded.
The records in this volume are
beset by another problem as well. Since
they were obtained from the town clerks by the county clerk, they have
been copied over a number of times, which has allowed many errors to
creep in. In the best of
circumstances, the county clerk might have copied directly from the
original record prepared by the town clerk.
But more frequently it is likely that the town clerk made a copy
of his records, which was then carried to Boston to be copied again by
the county clerk into the single volume for the whole county.
And there may have been other steps of which we are unaware.
The opportunities for scribal errors were abundant.
In general, then, the county
copy, as represented by the misnamed "Early Records of
Boston," is much inferior to the copy retained by the town.
Savage makes this point frequently in his Genealogical Dictionary
of New England, when comparing this county copy (which is all that
exists for Boston of civil vital records at this date) with the record
of church baptisms. If
there is an existing alternative to the county copy for this period down
to 1644, and a discrepancy appears, the first thing to do is to check
the originals. If the
discrepancy persists, the alternative source should be preferred to the
Because religious conviction was the
primary motivation for migration for most of those who came to New
England during the Great Migration, establishing a church in each new
settlement was one of the first matters attended to.
Although the survival of records from these churches is spotty,
what does survive provides some of the most important evidence we have
for the immigrants to New England during this period.
Boston records begin with the foundation of the church in 1630 and
are continuous for the period of interest to us.
There is a listing of admissions to church membership, which for
the first few years does not have the date of admission.
This list was however maintained in chronological order, and by
correlating the list with our knowledge of other events, such as deaths
or the dates of arrival of immigrants, we can roughly date an admission
from this period. By 1633
the admissions are dated, and soon this part of the church records also
contains much disciplinary matter, and records of letters of dismissal
and recommendation. There
is also a separate listing of baptisms. (See BChR in Key to Titles, and
GMN 3:4-6, 7:3-6.)
The Salem church
records before December 1636 consist only of a rough list of church
members, which includes only those persons who were members in later
1636; all those who had joined at an earlier date, but had died or moved
away, are omitted from this list. There
are also some who were still resident in Salem in 1636 and were known to
be church members who were omitted.
From late 1636 there is a continuous record for several years of
baptisms and admissions. (See
SChR in Key to Titles, and GMN 2:19-21).
church records of Lynn do not exist prior to 1792.
A few facts about the early church may be gleaned from such
sources as Winthrop's writings and the lists of freemen [GMN 1:20].
church records survive from the founding of the church in 1631, and
include both admissions to membership and baptisms.
As with other Charlestown records, the church book was recopied
about 1660, and much of the data was corrupted.
(See ChChR in Key to Titles, and GMN 2:4.)
ordinary church records of Cambridge do not survive for the ministries
of Thomas Hooker or Thomas Shepard, there are copies of some of the
so-called "confessions" made by church members upon admission
to membership [GMN 5:9], and these frequently provide information about
the church members found nowhere else.
Watertown church records prior to 1686 have been lost, but, as with
Lynn, some information can be obtained from other sources, again
including Winthrop's writings and the lists of freemen.
church was founded in 1632, and Rev. John Eliot maintained a set of
records that are a hybrid of proper church records and a private diary.
The list of admissions frequently goes beyond the basic data of
the admission, and gives the spouse and children of the member, as well
as other biographical detail. There
are also separate lists of baptisms and of deaths and burials (one is
not always sure which was intended).
(See RChR in Key to Titles, and GMN 2:12-13, 6:19-25.)
first Dorchester church removed to Windsor when Warham and most of his
flock left for that town. All
that remains for Dorchester is what was kept by Rev. Richard Mather for
the second church which he founded.
This has both a list of admissions and a list of baptisms, the
latter being annotated in a later hand, giving the fate decades later of
some of those baptized in Dorchester.
(See DChR in Key to Titles, and GMN 1:29.)
Plymouth did not have a
minister for most of its early history, and lay leaders such as William
Brewster carried out many of the pastoral duties.
The earliest Plymouth church records include a history of the
early church, written many decades later; death records for a few of the
early immigrants appear here, but it is otherwise not very helpful for
the years of the Great Migration. (See
PChR in Key to Titles.)
When Rev. John Lathrop arrived
at Scituate, he organized a church, and kept records of that church
during its few years at Scituate, and then for many more years after he
and the church removed to Barnstable [NEHGR 9:279-87, 10:37-43; GMN
Rev. Peter Hobart maintained a record of births, baptisms, marriages,
deaths and burials at Hingham during the years when he was
minister there; as with the journals kept by Eliot and Lathrop, this was
not strictly speaking a church record [GMN 7:28-29].
Projet Albion© 2000-2002
Contact technique: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mise ŗ jour: 16/04/2002