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The old Royall house, Medford

By Charles D. Elliot
The celebration of the 275th anniversary of the founding of Medford brought with it the organization of a society for the purchase and restoration of the ancient Royall mansion, now the headquarters of the Medford Daughters of the Revolution; its four and one-third acres having been lotted and placed on sale by its owner.

The old house was built some two centuries ago. Isaac Royall, a merchant from Antigua, afterwards bought it, probably about 1737, and remodeled it after an English mansion in Antigua, from whence he brought with him twenty-seven slaves, whose old brick quarters, with its huge fireplace, is probably the last existing vestige of slavery in Massachusetts.

Colonel Isaac Royall, Jr., son of the merchant, was a Loyal-1st, and at the breaking out of the Revolution went to England, leaving for disposal by his agents, among other ‘chattels,’ his slaves Stephen, George, Hagar, Mira, Betsey, and Nancy, probably among the last owned or kept in these parts.

Colonel Royall endowed Harvard College with 2,000 acres of land, founding thereby the ‘Royall’ professorship of law, which was the beginning of the present Harvard Law School. This ancient Royall estate was once part of Governor Winthrop's Ten Hills Farm, and was then part of Charlestown. In the Revolution the old mansion was for a time the headquarters of General Charles Lee, who afterwards moved to the old Oliver Tufts house; while Lee had the Royall mansion, it was facetiously named Hobgoblin Hall.

It is a relic all are interested in preserving, and it is believed and hoped that this society will succeed in purchasing and restoring this historic place, which was during the last century considered one of the ‘grandest mansions in Massachusetts.’

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