According to the first volume of the Reports of the Boston Record Commissioners, published in 1898, deficiencies in Boston’s official records may reflect a shortfall of recorded 18th-century births and deaths of as much as seventy-five percent. Based upon a nineteenth-century manuscript on deposit in the Boston City Hall entitled “New North Church Boston, A Genealogical Register . . . compiled by Thomas Bellows Wyman, containing records of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths, 1714-1799,” the work at hand goes a considerable way towards rectifying this problem inasmuch as it makes available to the genealogist thousands of records of baptism, marriage, and death, as well as records of admission and covenanter from a heretofore unpublished source. It should be pointed out that the actual New North Church records upon which Wyman’s transcription was based are no longer extant!
The resurrection of the Wyman’s New North Church manuscript is the handiwork of Robert J. Dunkle, who transcribed the original, and Ann S. Lainhart, who edited the transcription and compared it against the city’s published official records for the period 1700-1809. Dunkle and Lainhart have arranged the church’s vital records alphabetically by surname and thereunder by record category–admission and covenanter, and then baptism, marriage, and death. The baptisms yield the names of the infant and parents and the date of baptism; the marriages, the names of the bride and groom and the date of the marriage; and the deaths (which are vastly in the minority), the name of the deceased, his/her age at death, and the date. In all, this work rescues from obscurity the identities of more than 10,000 18th-century Bostonians.
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