am convinced that this was a new and untried work, and that this is the first book of records.
I do not wish to be an iconoclast, and have a great respect for old stories, but until stronger evidence is produced of there being previous official records than I am now aware of I shall believe that we possess all that were ever kept, tradition to the contrary notwithstanding, and that the first volume is complete
, regardless of the statements of Brooks
There may possibly have been accounts of a private
nature, before the date of our first book, made out for those who owned so much of the territory of what was then Medford
and transmitted to them, but if so, such were not considered to be for public use. The ink used in writing this volume was of a permanent nature, very different from much of that which is used at the present time, and the entries of two hundred and thirty years ago are as fresh and readable as when written.
What I have spoken of as the original first page begins as follows:—
‘The first monday of [february in] the yeare of our Lord
1674 at a meeting of the Jnhabitants of meadford mr Nathanaell
wade was chosen Constable for the y[eare] ensuing,’ and then follows two or three lines relative to sheep being at large during certain months.
A large part of the early legislation consisted of votes on restraining the cattle, ringing and yoking of swine, keeping a supply of powder, and the election of the few officers.
Choosing a constable seems to have been one of the most important duties, and a fine was provided for such as were elected to this position who refused to serve.
The election of a tithing man was an annual duty, and this office seems to have been subject to more changes than almost any other—perhaps, from the one who filled it having succeeded in getting the ill will of the people.
Johns Hopkins tells us that the tithing man was ‘a kind of Sunday Constable whose special duty it was, in the old parish meeting-house, to quiet the restlessness of youth and to disturb the slumbers of age.’