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Manuscripts of Colonial and Revolutionary America
Records - Massachusetts

What follows is a list of Colonial and Revolutionary era records and record groups originating in Massachusetts, from the manuscript holdings in the Department of Special Collections, University Libraries of Notre Dame. Record series included here date wholly or primarily from the years before 1788.

  • SWANSEA TOWN RECORDS. 1671-1807. 49 documents. An accumulation of 49 single-sheet documents issuing from, or directed to, the various instruments of town government in Swansea, Bristol County, Massachusetts, mostly during the 18th century. More than half the documents in the collection date from the years between 1718/9 and 1757; perhaps a half-dozen can be dated earlier than this. In only a few instances does more than one document relate to the same specific town action or issue. The types of actions to which the individual records pertain are very diverse, and would include land issues; the appointment of town officers; economic regulations and taxes; church affairs; Swansea's relations with neighboring towns; Swansea's relations with the colonial government; and improvements to the town infrastructure. Most of the records pertain to one or more of the following agencies of town government: 1) the Swansea board of selectmen; 2) Swansea town meetings; 3) the Swansea town proprietors; and 4) the town treasury. Other manuscript collections at Notre Dame with items relating to Swansea are the Bristol County, Massachusetts Court Records (MSN/COL 2717) and the Luther Family Papers (MSN/COL 0502). MSN/COL 2718-1 to MSN/COL 2718-49. [Introduction & Images]

  • BRISTOL COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS COURT RECORDS. 1696/7-1816. 96 documents, 22 partly printed. An accumulation of single-sheet file documents issued by (or directed to) the judiciary of Bristol County in southeastern Massachusetts, mostly during the colonial period. Seventy-eight of the 96 records date from what has been termed the Second Charter period in Massachusetts legal history (1692-1760); 56 predate 1730. There are documents in the collection deriving from each tier of the county court system, namely 1) the one-man courts of the county's justices (for minor civil actions and petty criminal offenses); 2) the Inferior Court of Common Pleas (for more significant civil actions); and 3) the Court of General Sessions (for most significant criminal cases). More than 60 per cent of the documents in the collection relate to cases referred to or heard by the Court of General Sessions, including most of the items predating 1725. Around 25 per cent relate to cases before Common Pleas; most of the remainder document cases heard by individual county justices. The collection includes examples of at least 15 specific document types, representing various stages of judicial procedure. MSN/COL 2717-1 to MSN/COL 2717-96. [Introduction & Images]

  • CHRISTOPHER LAWSON DEED OF SALE. 1645. 1 document. A deed dated 18 November 1645, recording the sale by Christopher Lawson of Boston of a windmill and 1/2 acre of land, to George Burden, James Oliver, Thomas Dewer, John Hill, and Isaack Walker, for £100. The windmill was located on Mill Hill in Boston. MSN/COL 2700-1.

  • ENGLISH ORDNANCE OFFICE ESTIMATE, NEW ENGLAND PROPORTION. 1701. 1 document (5 pages). An English Office of Ordnance document of 16 December 1701, entitled "A Proportion of Ordnance Morterpces &c under mentioned, to be sent to New-England, for the new fortifications there." The 5-page list includes more than 100 line items, with projected costs; included are 14 24-pound guns, 36 culverins, and 2 13-inch mortars, with carriages, ammunition, and all necessary supplies, down to nails and twine. The total cost is in excess of £8700. It is possible that the ordnance here referenced was destined for the new brick fort on Castle Island in Boston harbor, built in 1701-03 by the military engineer Wolfgang William Romer. MSN/COL 2736-1.

  • BENJAMIN BURY LAND DEED. 1703. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Benjamin Bury to Joseph Benson, for the sum of £16. The land is located in Rochester, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2702-1.

  • SAMUEL DANFORTH, II COMPLAINT. 1709. 1 document. A document written and signed by Samuel Danforth, II (1666-1742), minister of the Congregational church at Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts from 1688, faulting the town selectmen for neglecting to assess a tax to raise funds for his maintenance and salary. The document is dated 26 December 1709. MSN/COL 2719-1.

  • BENJAMIN WALKER LAND DEED. 1725. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Benjamin Walker to Samuell Eames, for the sum of 40s. The land is located in Woburn, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2711-1-F1.

  • JOHN HUNT WARNING OUT OF TOWN. 1726. 1 document. A warrant issued on 8 November 1726 by the Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts board of selectmen, directing the constable to warn out John Hunt and his family, lest they "Becom Chargable" to the town. The endorsement of Samuel Pitts, constable, appears on the reverse. MSN/COL 2720-1.

  • JOHN WINSLOW LAND DEED. 1728. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of a 3/4 acre lot of land in Freetown, Bristol County, Massachusetts, from John Winslow (b. 1693/4) of Freetown to George Goulding of Newport, Rhode Island, for the sum of 40s; with endorsements of Thomas Terry, Bristol County justice of the peace, and Samuel Howland, Bristol County registrar. MSN/COL 2721-1.

  • ROBERT JONES BOND. 1729. 1 document. A document signed by Robert Jones, a fisherman of Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £8 10s 6p to Augustus Lucas and Charles Bardin, Jr., both of Newport, Rhode Island. MSN/COL 2722-1.

  • SAMUELL SNELL BOND. 1729. 1 document. A document signed by Samuell Snell, of Tiverton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £34 to John Brownell of Little Compton, on condition that if Snell pays Brownell £17 by 16 February 1729/30, the obligation will be void. MSN/COL 2723-1.

  • JOSIAH WILLCOCK PROMISSORY NOTE. 1729/30. 1 document. A document signed by Josiah Willcock, of Tiverton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, promising to pay the sum of £20 to Nathaniel Searle, Jr., deputy sheriff of Little Compton, by 8 January 1729/30. MSN/COL 2724-1.

  • GEORGE LAWRENCE LAND DEED. 1731. 1 document. A deed of gift recording the transfer of land and attached property from George Lawrence (1668-1735/6) of Watertown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, to his son John Lawrence (1703/4-1770). MSN/COL 2712-1-F1.

  • THOMAS SLACK BOND. 1731. 1 document. A document signed by Thomas Slack, of Bristol, Bristol County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £42 16s to William Turpin of Providence, Rhode Island, on condition that if Slack pays Turpin £21 8s plus interest on or before 30 July 1731, the obligation will be void. Endorsed by Robert Gibbs, Providence County justice of the peace. MSN/COL 2725-1.

  • SAMUEL LINDZEY BOND. 1731. 1 document. A document signed by Samuel Lindzey (Lyndzey), of Bristol, Bristol County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £30 to Joseph Waldron, also of Bristol, on condition that if Lindzey pays Waldron the sum of £15 13s on or before 1 December 1731, the obligation will be void. MSN/COL 2726-1.

  • RUTH DRINKER LAND DEED. 1731. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Ruth Drinker, widow of Boston, to David Stone, for the sum of £4. The land is located in Beverley, Essex County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2734-1.

  • AARON DRESSER LAND DEED. 1732. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Aaron Dresser to Rev. Moses Hale, for the sum of £32. The land is located in Rowley, Essex County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2704-1.

  • JOHN TOOGOOD BOND. 1735. 1 document. A partly printed document signed by John Toogood, a trader from Barrington, Bristol County, Massachusetts residing in Newport, Rhode Island, acknowledging an obligation of £30 to Samuel Valentine of Newport, on condition that if Toogood pays Valentine the sum of £15 by 1 December 1735, the obligation will be void. MSN/COL 2727-1.

  • ANTHONY STODDARD ET AL COMMITTEE REPORT. 1737. 1 document. A report signed by Anthony Stoddard and four other members of a committee from an unidentified Boston church, "appointed to Examine the Accounts of the Committee for Building & also of Mr Treasurer Osborn". MSN/COL 2709-1-F1.

  • CAPTAIN JAMES SMITH PROBATE RECORD. 1738. 1 document. A document written and signed by Daniel Appleton of the Essex County Court of Probate, regarding the appeal of the will of Captain James Smith of Marblehead. MSN/COL 2707-1.

  • ABIEZER PECK BOND. 1739. 1 document. A document signed by Abiezer Peck, of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £14 to Nathaniel Toogood, also of Rehoboth, on condition that if Peck pays Toogood the sum of £7 5s on or before 15 August 1740, the obligation will be void. MSN/COL 2728-1.

  • URIAH HOLT BOND. 1739. 1 document. A document signed by blacksmith Uriah Holt of Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, acknowledging an obligation of £300 to John Prescoat. The condition of the obligation is that Holt shall not "Hinder nor molest" Prescoat in "Improving and useing" Holt's interest in the Lancaster Iron Works. MSN/COL 2714-1.

  • THOMAS HIGGENS LAND DEED. 1740. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Thomas Higgens to Joshua Morse, for the sum of £600. The land is located in Ashford, Windham County, Connecticut, though the parties involved are from Suffolk County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2703-1.

  • EZEKIEL LEWIS ET AL COMMITTEE REPORT. 1745. 1 document. A draft of a report, dated May 1745 and signed by Boston town meeting members Ezekiel Lewis, James Allen, and Jeremiah Allen, requesting that Boston's four newly elected representatives to the colonial General Court use their influence to halt the lottery then in progress. In January 1744/45 the General Court had passed legislation approving a government lottery, as a means of reducing the debt resulting from the colony's involvement in King George's War (1744-1748). As the date for the drawing approached, some apparently feared that revenue from ticket sales would not be sufficient to cover the promised cash prizes. At the town meeting of 17 May the committee's report was read, and voted down, thus allowing the lottery to proceed. The Massachusetts lottery of 1745 was the first government lottery held in colonial America. MSN/COL 2710-1-F1.

  • SAMUEL SANFORD WARNING OUT OF TOWN. 1745. 1 document. A warrant issued on 5 July 1745 by the Bristol, Bristol County, Massachusetts board of selectmen, directing the constable to warn out Samuel Sanford and his family. The endorsement of Samuel Bosworth, constable, appears on the reverse. MSN/COL 2729-1.

  • JOHN KINGMAN AND THOMAS KINNICUT CHARTER-PARTY. 1750. 1 document. A document signed by John Kingman, of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and Thomas Kinnicut of Providence, Rhode Island, both merchants, contracting with John Peirce, Jr., a shipmaster from Dighton, Massachusetts, to ship passengers and cargo between Providence and New York City aboard the sloop Triol. MSN/COL 2730-1.

  • SETH HILLER INDENTURE. 1753. 1 document. An indenture binding the orphan John Keen to Seth Hiller of Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, as an apprentice servant. MSN/COL 2706-1.

  • WRIT OF ATTACHMENT AGAINST JONATHAN CLARK. 1755. 1 document. A partly printed document written and signed by justice John Hill, directing the constables of Berwick, York County, Massachusetts to attach the property of Jonathan Clark to the value of 80s, for damages resulting from a dispute with John Sullivan. With endorsements. The document includes an impression of the 2d Massachusetts embossed revenue stamp, issue of 1755 (Scott United States RM2). MSN/COL 2715-1.

  • DANIEL SITTON LAND DEED. 1755/1756. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of a tract of land from Daniel and Thankful Sitton to Luke Phelps, for the sum of £95 13s 4p. The land is located in Westfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. The document includes an impression of the 4d Massachusetts embossed revenue stamp, issue of 1755 (Scott United States RM4). MSN/COL 2733-1.

  • WRIT OF ATTACHMENT AGAINST EZRA PUTNAM AND TIMOTHY FULLER. 1756. 1 document. A partly printed document written and signed by Joseph Bowditch, clerk of the court of common pleas for Essex County, Massachusetts, directing the sheriff to attach the property of Ezra Putnam and Timothy Fuller to the value of £105, for debts owed to Epes Sargent. With endorsement. The document includes an impression of the 3d Massachusetts embossed revenue stamp, issue of 1755 (Scott United States RM3). MSN/COL 2716-1.

  • EDWARD MARRETT LAND DEED. 1774. 1 document. A deed of sale recording the transfer of land from Edward Marrett to John Borland, for the sum of £200. The land is located in Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. MSN/COL 2701-1.

  • JOHN FALES WARNING OUT OF TOWN. 1775. 1 document. A warrant issued by the Mansfield, Bristol County, Massachusetts board of selectmen, directing the constable to warn out John Fales and family, recently arrived from the District of Stoughtonham, Massachusetts. The endorsements of Benjamin White, constable of Mansfield, and Timothy Fales, clerk, appear on the reverse. MSN/COL 2732-1.

  • THOMAS WALLEY RECEIPT. 1778. 1 document. A receipt signed by Thomas Walley for Nathaniel Appleton. MSN/COL 2708-1.

  • EASTON TAX BROADSIDE. 1780. 1 broadside, partly printed, 42 cm. A printed broadside completed in manuscript, whereby the state of Massachusetts Bay directs the selectmen of the town of Easton to assess its residents the sum of £196, pursuant to an act of 31 May 1780. The document is dated, in print, 18 July 1780, and bears the signature of Henry Gardner, treasurer of Massachusetts. Most of the text is an explanation of how the tax is to be assessed.MSN/COL 2735-1-F1.

  • REHOBOTH TAX LIST. 1782. 1 vol., 23 cm., 6 leaves, with 8 pages of entries in several hands. A manuscript booklet entitled "The Seventh List of a Tax on the [illegible] Estate Belonging To the Town of Rehoboth Agreeable to the order of the general Court of the Commonwelth of the Massechusetts in March 1782. . ." The list, in tabular format, indicates the taxes levied against 87 taxpayers of Rehoboth, Bristol County, Massachusetts; included are amounts for the poll, real estate, and personal property taxes, as well as a total. This list, dated 24 May 1782, occupies five pages of the booklet, and is signed by the five assessors of Rehoboth. The table itself is in the hand of one of the assessors, Thomas Carpenter, II. Two additional pages record 42 individual amounts received, presumably tax payments. MSN/COL 2731-1.

  • EBENEZER BECKFORD RECEIPT. 1783. 1 document. A receipt for £11 paid by Benjamin Beckford to Ebenezer Beckford of Salem, Essex County, as the latter's share of a sum paid to Benjamin for "Cattle &ct taken from Island Monhiggon [Monhegan] in the year 1775". MSN/COL 2713-1.

  • WRIT OF ATTACHMENT AGAINST THADDEUS WYMAN. 1783. 1 document. A partly printed document written and signed by Thaddeus Mason, clerk of the Middlesex County, Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas, to attach the property of Thaddeus Wyman of Cambridge to the value of £20 for failing to pay a promissory note. MSN/COL 2705-1.


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