Medford records.The oldest town-records extant are in a book fifteen inches long, six wide, and one thick. It is bound in parchment, and was tied together by leathern strings. Its first twenty-five or thirty pages are gone; and the first thirty pages of the present volume are all loose and detached from their place, and may very easily be lost. The first record is as follows:--“The first Monday of February, in the year of our Lord, 1674. At a meeting of the inhabitants of Meadford, Mr. Nathaniel Wade was chosen constable for the year ensuing.” The chirography is very good, the sentences properly constructed, and the spelling without error. There are Latin quotations in them. Only six pages of Mr. Jonathan Wade's records remain. As it was customary to keep the town-records in the same hands as long as possible, it is fairly presumed that this gentleman was the second, perhaps the first, town-clerk. His successor was Mr. Stephen Willis, who remained in office thirty-six years, exercising a fidelity which entitles him to the name of veteran. The first volume of records is wholly of his writing, save the little above-mentioned and the seven years of Mr. John Bradstreet. When he had finished the volume, he resigned his office; and we regret that the book closes without showing any vote of thanks for his long and valuable services.  At the end of this first volume of records, there is a catalogue of births, marriages, and deaths, mixed up with county rates, &c. The last item in the volume is dated Aug. 20, 1718, and is the receipt of Rev. Aaron Porter for his salary. His signature is in that round and manly style, which, as it stands, seems to be a fit guarantee for the truth of all the preceding records. The second volume is a small folio, bound in parchment. It is twelve inches and a half long, eight wide, and one inch and a half thick. It begins Feb. 12, 1718, and ends June 23, 1735. From 1674 to the present time, the town-records are unbroken. The third volume is a large folio, but sadly torn and injured. A proper index of the records is greatly needed. The first volume of church records is bound in parchment. It is eight inches long, six and a half wide, and half an inch thick. It begins May 19, 1712, and ends April 13, 1774. It contains all the records during the ministry of Rev. Mr. Porter, and that of Rev. Mr. Turell. It records births, baptisms, and marriages, the doings of the church, the admissions to the Lord's supper, &c.; but it does not notice any deaths. The second volume of church records is bound in rough leather, and is of the same form and size as the first. It contains all the facts belonging to the ministry of Dr. Osgood. It begins Sept. 14, 1774, and ends with his last entry, Dec. 2, 1822, made twelve days before his death. Of the later records in town and church (all unbroken and accurate), it is not necessary to speak. They are well secured in strong books; but those above mentioned should be copied by a careful hand, and bound in uniformity. The iron or stone safe, where old manuscripts are kept, should be emptied, aired, and well heated once in every six months. In early times, one page was sufficient to contain a full record of a town-meeting; but, in our day, the record of a March meeting is spread over fifteen or twenty pages. The earliest records of the town-treasurer, which are preserved, are those of Capt. Samuel Brooks. For many years, this gentleman was placed on the most important committees. On the Sunday after his death, July 10, 1768, Mr. Turell preached two funeral sermons from Phil. i. 21. The first person in Medford who seemed to have any true regard for posterity, in making his records, was Mr. Thomas Seccomb, who, for twenty-two years, recorded with admirable particularity the facts most important for the historian.
First settlement.To show properly the first coming of our ancestors to this region, it will be necessary to trace their last movements in England. This can be done most briefly and satisfactorily by giving extracts from the truthful and interesting letter of Governor Dudley, dated March 28, 1631, to the Countess of Lincoln. The extracts are as follows:--
 “The five undertakers were Governor Winthrop, Deputy Governor Dudley, Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Esq., and Mr. Revil.” “The settlement of the patent in New England” meant the establishment of the government here. Hutchinson says: “It is evident from the charter, that the original design of it was to constitute a corporation in England, like to that of the East India Company, with powers to settle plantations within the limits of the territory, under such forms of government and magistracy as should be fit and necessary.” The decision of the Court respecting the occupancy of land, after their arrival, was known to our fathers. At the meeting in London, March 10, 1628-9, the Court say:--
This day being appointed to take into consideration touching the division of the lands in New England, where our first plantation shall be, it was, after much debate, thought fit to refer this business to the Governor (Cradock), and a Committee to be chosen to that purpose to assist him; and whatsoever they shall do therein, that to stand for good.May 28, 1629: In the “second general letter,” the Court say:--
We have further taken into our consideration the fitness and conveniency, or rather necessity, of making a divident of land, and allotting a proportion to each adventurer; and, to this purpose, have made and confirmed an Act, and sealed the same with our common seal.In the