When the Europeans took possession of North America
, by the right of discovery, their entry of lands, countries, and continents was deemed by them as legal ownership for their sovereign.
The discoveries of John and Sebastian Cabot
, Bartholomew Gosnold
, and others, were understood to give to James I., of England
, the coasts and country of New England
The king accordingly claimed, in the eighteenth year of his reign, the entire continent between the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans.
In that same year, he granted to “the Council of Plymouth, in the county of Devon
, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing of New England
,” “all that part of America
lying and being in breadth from forty degrees to forty-eight degrees of north latitude, and in length of and within all the breadth aforesaid throughout the mainland, from sea to sea,” --“to be holden of him, his heirs, and successors, as of his manor of East Greenwich
, in the county of Kent
, in free and common sockage, and not in capite, nor by knight's service;” the grantees “yielding and paying therefor the fifth part of the ore of gold
which should happen to be found in any of the said lands.”
was included in the territory granted, Dec. 30, 1622, by the Plymouth Company to Robert Gorges
It was the tract “commonly called or known by the name of the Messachusiack,” lying “upon the north-east side of the bay, called or known by the name of the Messachusett.”
It extended “ten English miles towards the north-east, and thirty English miles unto the main land, through all the breadth aforesaid.”
says that this grant, being loose and uncertain, was never used.
March 19, 1628: The Council of Plymouth, under their common seal, by a deed indented, granted and sold to Sir Henry Roswell
and five others “all that part of New England
, in America, which lies and extends between a great river there, commonly called Monomack (Merrimack), and a certain other river there, called Charles; being in the bottom of a certain bay there, commonly called Massachusetts
These are the first grants, under legal authority, of the territory within which Medford
The Council also sold “all the lands being within the space of three English miles on the south of Charles River
and Massachusetts Bay
, and within the same space on the north of the river Monomack
, and of all parts of said rivers and bay, and from the Atlantic Ocean
on the east to the Pacific Ocean
on the west.”
“Upon the petition of said Henry Roswell
and five others, and their associates, twenty in number, to have and to hold to them, &c., by the same tenure, and incorporated them by the name of ‘ The Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England
Holding under these grants and by these titles, the Governor
and Company of Massachusetts Bay made grants of lands to companies and individuals for towns and plantations, usually annexing certain conditions to their grants; such as,
that a certain number of settlers or families should, within a stated time, build and settle upon the same; or that the gospel should be regularly preached, or a church gathered upon the granted premises.
In this manner, forty-four towns were constituted and established within the Plymouth
Colonies before the year 1655, without any more formal act of incorporation.
Among the oldest are the following: Plymouth
, 1620; Salem
, 1629 ; Charlestown
, 1629; Boston
, 1630; Medford
, 1630; Watertown
, 1630; Roxbury
, 1630; Dorchester
, 1630 ; Cambridge
, 1633; Ipswich
, 1634; Concord
, 1635; Hingham
, 1635; Newbury
, 1635; Scituate
, 1636; Springfield
, 1636; Duxbury
, 1637; Lynn
, 1637; Barnstable
, 1639; Taunton
, 1639; Woburn
, 1642; Malden
, May 22, 1629: On this day “the orders for establishing a government and officers in Massachusetts Bay
passed, and said orders were sent to New England
Although, in the first settlement of New England
, different sections of country were owned and controlled by “Companies” in England
, yet the people here claimed and exercised a corporate power in the elections of their rulers and magistrates.
This was the case with Medford
To show what form of government our ancestors in Medford
recognized and supported, we subjoin the following records:--
Oct. 19, 1630: First General Court of Massachusetts Colony, and this at Boston: Present, the Governor, Deputy-Governor, Sir Richard Saltonstall, Mr. Ludlow, Capt. Endicott, Mr. Nowell, Pynchon, Bradstreet.
Since their arrival here, the first form of their government was that of Governor, Deputy-Governor, and Assistants; the Patentees with their heirs, assigns, and associates, being freemen.
But now, in this General Court, they agree on a second form, as follows; proposed as the best course: For the freemen to have the power of choosing Assistants, when they are to be chosen; and the Assistants, from among themselves, to choose the Governor and Deputy-Governor, who, with the Assistants, to have the power of making laws, and choosing officers to execute the same.
This was fully assented to by the general vote of the people and the erection of hands.
May 25, 1636: Mr. Bishop
, as magistrate, appointed to keep the county court at Salem
Colony had thirty towns, and was
divided into four counties,--Middlesex
, and Essex
1646: Selectmen were empowered to try causes in a town where the magistrate could not, or where he was a party.
The first mention of Medford
in the public records of the Province is the following:--
At a Court of Assistants at Charlestown, 28th Sept., 1630.
It is ordered that there shall be collected and raised by distress out of the several plantations, for the maintenance of Mr. Patrick and Mr. Underhill, the sum of £ 50, viz.: out of Charlton, £ 7; Boston, £ 11; Dorchester, £ 7; Rockbury, £ 5; Watertown, £ 11; Meadford, £ 3 ; Salem, £ 3; Wessaguscus, £ 2 ; Nantascett, £ 1.
It appears from the records that the inhabitants of Medford
did not receive legal notice of their incorporation as a town till fifty years after the event.
Wishing to be represented in the General Court, they petitioned for an act of incorporation, and were answered, 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.”
was an incorporated town in 1630.
The first representative was Stephen Willis
, elected Feb. 25, 1684.
The annual meeting was always held in February.
In the absence of early records, we are left to conjecture, from what afterwards appeared, what existed in the earliest times.
We therefore presume that the first settlers of