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The Stinted Common

by Charles D. Elliot.
The early settlers of Charlestown built their homes not far from the present City square, and then lotted out the remainder of the peninsula into corn fields and planting lots.

Farming and stock raising were among their chief employments, and as the peninsula was too small for tillage and pasturage both, they ‘agreed and concluded’ that their cattle should be pastured outside the neck upon the main land, and they chose for grazing grounds lands which are now a large part of the city of Somerville. This territory belonged to the town. It is variously spoken of in the old records as ‘the main,’ the ‘Cow commones,’ ‘the Stinted Pasture,’ ‘the Stinted Common,’ and ‘the land without the neck,’ meaning the land beyond the neck. This tract embraced what is now East Somerville, Prospect, Central, and Spring hills, the southerly slope of Winter hill, and a considerable portion of West Somerville, its boundaries not being very clearly defined at that time.

The dividing of this common ground among the citizens, or stinting of the pasture, as they termed it, received attention as early as 1635—a committee being then appointed to consider the matter. At a town meeting held February 6, 1636 (27th 1637 n. s.) four of the inhabitants, viz., ‘William Brackenbury, Ezekial Richeson, Thomas Ewar, and Ralph Sprague,’ were chosen to assist the selectmen in ‘Stinting the common and considering of the great Lotts according to portion.’ They were to meet monthly for that purpose. In making their apportionment of rights in the common pasturage, the committee at this time (1627) decided ‘to value a person at three cows,’ and in their records of later years, the size of a common or stint of land for one cow was one and one-half acres, so that it would seem from these records that each settler was entitled in this division

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