Imagens das páginas

Minister's salary and grant of wood . . . . . . . $500.00 Poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,225.46 Paid Charlestown for paupers .........

241.00 Roads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 507.63 Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

740.00 Abatement of taxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 258.47 Town-officers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

150.00 Collecting taxes . . .

270.00 Expenses for opposing a new road . . . . . . . .

150.00 Interest on town-debt . . . . . . . . . . . .

141.00 For injury of horse on drawbridge . . . .

50.00 Sexton, $25.00; Miscellaneous expenses, $94.56 ... 119.56


The expenses from Feb. 15, 1854, to Feb. 15, 1855, were as follows:

Public schools . . . . . . . .
Highways . . . . . . . . .
Bridges . . . . . . . . . .
Street lamps . . . . . . . .
Poor -alms-house . . . . . .
Fire department . . . . . . .
Salaries and fees . . . . . . .
Miscellaneous expenses . . . . .
Notes payable and interest paid . .

. . . . . . $7,138.82
. . . . . . 2,031.10
. . . . . . 37.71
. . . . . .
. . . . . . 3,571.86
. . . . . . 2,046.04
. . . . . . 1,482.67
. . . . . . 3,123.09
. . . . . . 5,284.00

Amount of town and county taxes for 1854 . . . . $28,726.40 Receipts and income . . . . . . . . . . . 2,284.43 Balance in treasury . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,909.23 Town debt - 1855 . . . . . . . . . . . 34,100.00


Mr. Frothingham, in his excellent History of Charlestown, 1846 (p. 92), says : -“ Medford was not a town: it was rather a manor, owned by one of the leading inhabitants of Charlestown.”

We shall very good-naturedly dissent from this statement, and show cause.

We have every reason to suppose that the town-officers in Medford were like those in the adjoining plantations. Our first records speak of Selectmen, sometimes called “ Sevenmen,” because these seven inen acted as governors of the town, assessors, and referees. They were also called “ Towns

men,” because they represented the whole town, and acted for the inhabitants. There was a Town-clerk, who recorded the doings of the Selectmen and the town, and also granted attachments in civil actions. There were Surveyors of highways, whose duty it was not only to direct the laborers, but to see that every one did his share. There was the Constable, who warned public meetings, and collected the taxes.

In the town-meetings, which were always opened with prayer by a deacon or some aged member of the church, a moderator presided. Fines were imposed for non-attendance. Each one had an equal right to speak. The Court ordered, in 1641, that “every man, whether inhabitant or foreigner, free or not free, shall have liberty to prefer a petition, bring forward a motion, or make a complaint, so it be done in convenient time, due order, and respectful manner.”

The voting related mainly to making of fences, laying out of roads, regulating the pasturage of cattle, ringing the swine, killing of wolves, bears, and foxes, and assessing rates. All these acts of the assembled inhabitants imply the possession of legal, civil, and political rights; just the rights which constitute a regularly organized body-politic.

When Deputy-Governor Dudley, and those with him, came to this neighborhood, they visited several places: they named one Boston, another Charlestown, another Meadford, another Roxbury, another Watertown, and another Dorchester. On Wood's map of 1635, Medford is designated by the same mark as all other towns. Each of these places above named became towns; and each in the same way, by becoming settlements; and each claimed, and each as a town possessed, the same legal, civil, political, and municipal rights. In proof that each of them was a town, separate and distinct, and was so considered and so treated by the General Court, each one of them was taxed by the General Court as early as September 28, 1630, and each one continued to be so taxed. The Court put each one of them on the list of towns, and passed separate laws relating to each. If this does not constitute legal township, we know not what can. In these several towns, there must have been municipal laws and regulations for levying and gathering the amounts assessed. If either of these towns had been only an appendage to its neighbor, it would have been so considered by its inhabitants, so organized in its municipal government, and so treated by the General Court. But this was not the case

with either of them. At this early period, not a foot of land in Medford was owned by any inhabitant of Charlestown. We have elsewhere shown who were the several purchasers after the death of Mr. Cradock. There is, therefore, no just warrant for considering Medford as “a manor," any more than Roxbury or Watertown. The early owners in these towns were few. Medford was never called “a manor” till 1846. In all the old histories it is called a “town,” in precisely the same way as Boston and Dorchester. If it was not a town after the passing of the “ act” of the General Court, it is not a town now; for it has never been incorporated since. And if it was not a town then, Boston, Roxbury, Charlestown, Dorchester, and Watertown are not towns now; for they have never been incorporated since.

It was called a “plantation,” as other places were, because this was a common name adopted by the Company in London, and very naturally transferred here. The name expressed the actual condition and incipient history of each town. It was sometimes, in the books, called Mistick, after he name of its river. It was sometimes called “ Mr. Cradock's Farm,” because that gentleman had introduced farmrs to cultivate its lands, had impaled a park, had erected ouses, built ships, and carried on an extensive fishery. He med so large a part of the tract, and was so rich and disinguished, that it would have been strange if his name had not attached to it. We have wondered why it has not always been called by his name.

The "celebrated Rev. James Noyes” became the pastor nd teacher of the inhabitants of Medford in 1634. If having a Christian minister, resident and laboring in a town, completed the idea of township in those days, then Medford

ely had every thing required in the definition. Let us now look at the earliest records of Medford, and see hat they prove. The first twenty-five or thirty pages of the

st book of records are unfortunately lost, probably from carelessness about loose and decayed sheets. The next thirty pages are broken out of their places, and may be soon lost.

e find the first records, which are preserved, noting down methodically, after the manner of those days, the usual oings of a legal town-meeting. No one can examine the

book, and not see that there was uniformity in the Townerk's records. It is most clear that the earliest records which are preserved are the regular continuation of the

[ocr errors]

earlier ones which are lost. And what do we find in the oldest records? We find the Selectmen calling the annual town-meeting, in His Majesty's name, to choose the usual officers for the regulation of town-affairs, &c. The town speaks of itself as a town, taxes itself as a town, petitions the General Court as a town, and makes its laws like other towns; and never is there the slightest hint that Medford is “not a town, but rather a manor.” In the early and tedious controversy about the Mystic Bridge, its neighbors treated with it as a town; its inhabitants took the oath of fidelity, and its municipal organization conformed, to the laws of the Colony.

The author of the History of Charlestown says of Medford, that “the town, in 1638, commenced a suit, &c.” Here Medford is called a town, in 1638, by Mr. F. himself, and is represented by him as acting in its corporate capacity in a legal process before the Quarter Court. If it had been only a “manor,” its lord or owner would have been its sovereign; and all its town-action, above described, could never have taken place.

The same inference follows if we turn to the acts of the General Court. From 1630, the Court considered Medford a town, and treated it accordingly; and, when the inhabitants petitioned for an 'act of incorporation, the Legislature sent them the following reply: that “the town had been incorporated, along with the other towns of the Province, by a general “ act,” passed in 1630; and, under this act, it had at any time a right to organize itself and choose a representative without further legislation.” Here the highest authority of the Colony solemnly and emphatically declares Medford to be a town, a regularly incorporated town, by the same “act” as that for Boston, Charlestown, Watertown, Roxbury, and Dorchester. Thus Medford had been, from 1630, an incorporated town, possessing all the civil, political, and municipal rights consequent on that " act.”

Mr. Frothingham says: “All printed authorities speak of Medford as a town, and date its incorporation in 1630; but this appears to be an error.” We are content to follow, in this matter, “all printed authorities," and the decision of the Legisature, and leave the novel supposition of 1846 to stand alone.

Medford was called a peculiar town, but its peculiarity did not consist in being stripped of its political rights and corporate organizations; for, in the very enactment which calls it “peculiar," the General Court say it shall “ have power, as

anoneral "acy, with theply: thorporationWhen 11

time a vie passed in other ton the town

“Als incorporatio 10 follow, in eris

other towns, as to prudentials.". If it had rights “ as other towns,” and was treated by the Legislature “as other towns," in what did its peculiarity consist? This question is easily answered. Its peculiarity consisted in having the major part of its territory owned by one gentleman, and he a resident in London. Mr. Cradock, the strongest and wealthiest friend of the Colony, had this grant of land in partial remuneration for his great outlays for the Company. He was sometimes excused from taxes. Here was another peculiarity, but no withdrawal or relinquishment of vested rights. This fact rendered town-laws more important. It required very strong and peculiar laws to regulate the fishermen, coopers, shipcarpenters, and farmers, whom Mr. Cradock had established here. Such laws could not be enforced except by a proper civil authority; and such authority every thing proves to have existed.

Mr. Cradock's grants were not made till 1634-5; but Medford was taxed, “as other towns,” in 1630. Here, therefore, were four or five years in which it acted as an incorporated town before Mr. Cradock came into possession of his grant. During those four or five years, it could not have been a “manor ;” but, at that time, it became a town; which character it has possessed to this day unbroken, and which character was stamped upon it, “by a general act” of the government in 1630, and now remains in force.


After the English Parliament had assembled in 1640, the persecutions of the Puritans were stopped. Deep policy suggested this change of affairs in England; and a consequence was, that emigration to New England ceased, and was not renewed with any spirit till 1773. New England, therefore, was peopled by the descendants of those who emigrated between 1620 and 1610; and this fact we would mention as the first cause of prosperity. God sifted the kingdoms of the Old World that he might find wheat sufficiently good to plant in the virgin soil of the New; and, when planted, he kept it to himself, a chosen seed, till it should spread, and fill the land.

Another cause of prosperity to New England was found in the institution of families. Each family was a unit, a

« AnteriorContinuar »