The town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, is now part of the city of Boston. In 1880 the city fathers authorized the publication of some of the oldest records of the old town of Dorchester, spanning the period 1632-1686. That publication was revised in 1883, forming the basis for this Clearfield Company reprint. Town records, not unlike county order books, are a miscellany of colonial antiquity. For example, the oldest record in the volume (dated January 1632) authorizes the granting of lots to various settlers. In April of the same year, the town commissioners specified how fences were to be constructed along the town marsh and how many feet of fencing each settler was responsible for. Other entries list the town’s freemen with an indication of their acreage and livestock, announce the election of the town’s selectmen, award payments to residents for services rendered to the town, set the minister’s salary, proscribe various acts of misconduct, authorize road construction, order the construction of schools or the hiring of teachers, and so on. In all, these town records place thousands of persons in Dorchester during its first half-century of existence, and the reader can easily find them thanks to the detailed index at the back of the volume.
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