Archives Guide ~ Town of Boston (1000)

Historical note

The settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Company on the peninsula formed at the mouth of the Charles River, known as Shawmut by the Indians and Trimountain by the inhabitants of Charlestown was established as Boston by an order of the General Court passed on September 7, 1630 (old style). The General Court during the four or five years after the settlement included in the boundaries of Boston the islands in the harbor, Muddy River (now Brookline), Winnisimet (now Chelsea), Mount Wollaston and the lands east of the Neponset River later incorporated as the Town of Braintree and now constituting the towns of Braintree, Randolph and Quincy.

The name of “selectmen” first appears in the records in 1643. Boston operated as a town with a Board of Selectmen until 1822. On February 23, 1822, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an “Act Establishing the City of Boston.” The act was accepted by the inhabitants on March 4, 1822.



1000.001 Records 1634-1821 42 volumes, 1 document case, 1 flat box and 2 microfilm reels

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Town of Boston prior to 1822. The majority of the Town of Boston records are currently stored in the Boston Public Library, Rare Books & Manuscripts Division. Records in the City Archives include the first volume of the Town Records, 1634-1660; miscellaneous tax records, 1785–1820; financial records; By-laws and Town Orders from 1786, 1801, and 1818; record of permits to build timber buildings, 1707-1729; lists of sales of cattle and horses, 1693; lists of immigrants, 1763-1769; and Port Receipts. Also includes a small number of manuscripts of the selectmen including petitions, orders and correspondence signed by John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, and Robert Treat Paine, as well as, a marriage return signed by Cotton Mather.

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