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The Memorial History of Boston

Source: Justin Winsor, editor, The Memorial History of Boston, Including Suffolk County, Massachusetts, 1630-1880, Volume 2, The Provincial Period (Boston: Ticknor and Company, 1881). [WorldCat]

[page i]

INTRODUCTION.

ESTATES AND SITES.–The picturesque aspect of the town in the colonial and provincial periods has been set forth in the preceding and the present volumes.  To supplement those chapters, and to place the local traditions of the sites which the Bostonian of the provincial period inherited, and to mark the transmission of some of the more interesting land titles, the Editor offers the following study.  The Town Records, ante-dating the Book of Possessions, indicate allotments and transfers of which it is not always possible to fix the locality.  With the aid of the Book of Possessions and the contemporary records of the town, and by documents preserved in the Registry of Deeds, it is not difficult to make a nearly perfect plot of the Peninsula, as its inhabitants knew it, in home lots and neighborhoods.1 The definition of bounds in these earlier records are not sufficiently exact to make us sure of the shapes of the lots, but their positions relative to one another, and to the modern landmarks, can be made out with considerable precision; and it is to this extent only that the following descriptions go.  In this study the Editor.

1 There are none of the original deeds preserved in the Suffolk Registry of an earlier date of record than 1705, and those of the earliest years are in a very bad condition, in bundles which had not apparently been opened for many years when the Editor examined them, the papers being matted together with mould.  Among them were found some of dates in the preceding century, the documents having not been presented earlier for record.  Though the Registry is not an office of deposit, it is desirable that such early records as are left in its keeping should be better cared for.  The engrossed records for 1766 and 1768 are missing from the Suffolk Registry, not being returned from Canada, whither they were removed during the Revolution.  Up to 1862 about six thousand plans had been recorded.  The original papers in the Probate Office are admirably arranged and in good condition.  The earliest bear date about 1635-36.  in the City Clerk’s office the files of the original papers — consisting of minutes, reports, petitions, warrants, leases, and all other papers used in the meetings of the town or of the selectmen — are very imperfect before 1734, and such as remain are scrapped in two volumes.  After 1734 they are tied up in bundles, generally by years, though they are in some confusion.  There is great need of their being properly arranged and indexed.  When this is done, they will yield much that the historian of Boston must appropriate.  The Editor has made such use of them as he could.

[page ii]

has freely availed himself of work in this direction which others have done.  Mr. Uriel H. CROCKER kindly placed in his hands the map already mentioned in the first volume.  Mr. George LAMB has made, on a larger scale, a map to embody his interpretation of the Book of Possessions; and this plan was bought a year or two since by the City, and is now in the Public Library.  It is not accompanied by descriptions, as is the case with Mr. CROCKER’s, but it has references to pages of the Book of Possessions.  It is further developed than Mr. CROCKER’s in the regions of the town appropriated to pasturage and tillage; but Mr. CROCKER’s manuscripts give data for this part, and they have the further advantage of assisting to a considerable degree in tracing the transmissions of the estates.  The Editor has also availed himself of some of the late Mr. N.I. BOWDITCH’s results as given in the “Gleaner” articles, published in the Boston Transcript in 1855-56; and Mr. William H. WHITMORE has kindly favored him with advance sheets of the new issue of these papers, printed for the city.  Of the other printed sources of modern investigators he must needs mention particularly S.A. DRAKE’s Landmarks, SHURTLEFF’s Description of Boston, and the topographical notes to the SEWALL Papers, understood to be due to Mr. WHITMORE, one of the editors.1

The plan of the streets has been taken from the survey published by Bonner in 1722, with such changes and omissions as seemed to adapt it to the condition of the town at the earlier period.  For the reader’s convenience, present names have been given (in parentheses) to the streets, which are represented disproportionately wide.  A repetition of the same figures on the plan signifies the general direction of the lot’s extension.  Dotted lines indicate later continuations of streets or causeways.  Some sections from the original Bonner map of 1722 are also introduced as showing the condition in the early part of the succeeding century.

1 The Editor regrets that the printed volume of Suffolk Deeds, liber i., was not published in time to be of use to him.  Mr. John T. HASSAM, who has written a valuable introduction to it, kindly placed the proofs of that part of it in the Editor’s hands.  In this he says that nineteen record volumes had been filled up to 1700; 193 up to 1800; and to this day 1,510 volumes have been filled.  This first volume comes down to April 7, 1654.  It opens with two letters in cypher, of which the printed volume is to have a reduced fac-simile and a translation by Mr. William P. UPHAM, of Salem.  This gentleman says the system of short-hand is that of John WILLIS of London, as made known in 1602, and substantially the same with the marginal notes of LECHFORD to his Plaine Dealing, as seen in his MS. copy preserved in the Historical Society’s Library.  The first letter is about Hansard KNOLLES, from (Mr. UPHAM conjectures) Governor John UNDERHILL, of Dover, to Governor WINTHROP; and this is followed by a copy of a letter from KNOLLES, retracting certain allegations he had made against the Massachusetts Colony.  Their dates were probably 1639.  The Editor takes this occasion to acknowledge Mr. HASSAM’s courtesy in making various suggestions about the text of this Introduction.

[page iii]

Of the Book of Possessions, which is in some sort the foundation of all titles of real estate within the old town limits, an abstract or abbreviated copy was printed in the appendix to DRAKE’s History of Boston, in 1856; and it has since been printed entire in the Second Report of the Record Commissioners.  The first leaf (as at present bound) is missing; and, if it was not a part of the original cover, it probably contained the the possessions of Governor WINTHROP and of some of his family, for the third page begins with the possessions of Deane WINTHROP, his youngest son.

The record seems to give, as originally entered, a half page to each person, down to page 111.  Subsequent entries were intercalated in different ink and writing, sometimes with dates attesting time of entry.  New names were entered on pages subsequent to page 111.  The exact date of the original compilation nowhere appears.  Snow, History of Boston, p. 128, says it “seems to embrace the period 1640-50.”  Dr. SHURTLEFF, Description of Boston, places it “about the year 1643.”  Mr. WHITMORE, in his introduction to the Second Report of the Record Commissioners, gave the evidence which seemed to him then to indicate the “summer of 1652” as the date; but in his chapter in the first volume of this history he determines upon 1645 as about the date.  Chief-Justice GRAY, in Boston versus RICHARDSON (13 Allen, 146, 151), fixes it between 1639 and 1646.  Mr. Uriel H. CROCKER, in two communications in the Boston Daily Advertiser (Nov. 21, 1877, and Dec. 15, 1877), gives his reasons for fixing the date in 1643 or 1644; and relies largely upon the similarity of the accompanying signatures of the Recorder to prove that it was ASPINWALL who made the original entries, about which a doubt had been expressed, and that he continued to make entries till 1651, when he was succeeded by Edward RAWSON.

Of these signatures the first is of 1638, when he was Secretary of the Rhode Island Colony.  The second is from Suffolk Deeds, i. p. 60.  The third is from the Book of Possessions, p. 33.  Mr. HASSAM has established still more clearly ASPINWALL’s connection with this record, from the handwriting of a letter known to be his, preserved in the Massachusetts Archives, lxxxviii. 384.  ASPINWALL

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PLAN A. (NORTH END.)

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held the office from 1644 to 1651; and Mr. HASSAM considers that though the Book of Possessions may not have been begun so early as 1634, — certainly not in the existing copy of it, — it was most likely in pursuance of an order of the General Court of April 1 of that year that it was compiled.  (Suffolk Deeds, lib. i, Introduction.)

NOTE.– In the following notes a few abbreviations have been used: a., for acre; g., for garden; h., for house; l., for lot; and y., for yard.

[page xii]

60. John MYLOM, cooper, h., g., and shop; sold to John PHILLIPS, biscuit-maker, in 1648.  It was upon this lot that one of the oldest buildings in Boston existed, half way up Cross Street, to our day.

[Facsimile of the signature of John Mylom]

PHILLIPS, who had come from Dorchester, became a deacon of the Second Church in 1650, added to his estate adjacent lands, and built the stone house; which, when it was torn down in 1864, was considered the oldest building in Boston.  It has been described by Mr. BYNNER in Vol. I.  PHILLIPS died in 1682.  SHURTLEFF, Description of Boston, p. 667, has traced its history to our day.  PHILLIPS, before he died, sold the part of his lot next the water-side to Captain Christopher CLARKE.  61. William WERDALL, h. and g.  This lot afterwards passed to John TURRELL and his heirs.

62. This lane was laid out in 1636, from the water-side “up the balke or meare that goes up from the end of John MYLOM’s house, next William ASPINWALL’s ground, and to goe along to the Mylne Cove, a rod and a halfe broade.”  MYLOM was allowed, in 1647, to wharf before the eastern end of it.  At the beginning of the next century it was called Coney’s Lane.  Sewall Papers, ii. 211.

63. Valentine HILL.  64. Valentine HILL; sold to Barnabas FAWER, in 1646, who was to maintain a cart-way by the wharf before his door, and whose will, 1654, is in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., July, 1851, p. 305.   65. Valentine HILL; sold to James MATTOCK in 1646, whose will, 1666, is in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., Oct. 1861, p. 325.  David PHIPPENY had a house and lot in this neighborhood.  See his will in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., July, 1853, p. 233.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of James MATTOCKE and David PHIPPENY]

66. Valentine HILL; sold to Arthur PERRY.  67. Valentine HILL; sold to Richard STRAINE, in 1648; then passed to Paul ALLISTRE, with a wharf in front; then to Robert NANNEY, in 1650.

[Facsimile of the signature of Robert NANNEY]

His autograph is from his will, 1663, printed in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., April, 1858, p. 155.  Near the bridge over the creek, HILL sold, in 1651, a lot to William AUBREY, “for the use of the undertakers of the iron works in New England.”  A lane which later passed through this lot and 70 (the present North Centre Street) was called Paddy’s Lane, from Captain William PADDY, a citizen of prominence, who lived upon it, and died in 1658.  His will is in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., Oct. 1854, p. 355; also see 1877, p. 321.  68. John PEIRCE.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of William PADDY and John PEIRCE]

69. John OLIVER.  If this was the son of Thomas OLIVER, see his will, 1641, in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., July, 1849, p. 266.

[Facsimile of signature of John OLIVER]

70. John KNIGHT.  71. Thomas MARSHALL.  72. Joshua SCOTTOW was allowed, in 1651, to wharf at the northeast end of the mill bridge.  He had bought the marsh at that time of James NASH, of Weymouth, to whom John MYLOM had sold it.

73. John MYLOM; sold to Thomas MARSHALL, 1648.  74. John MYLOM, h.; sold in part in 1650 to Robert NASH, the butcher.  75. John MYLOM; sold to Governor LEVERETT.

[page xxv]

PLAN C. (WASHINGTON STREET, ETC.)

[page xxvi]

25. Richard COOKE, g.; sold to Edmund JACKLIN; who in 1647 sold to Francis SMITH; he to Amos RICHARDSON the same year; and later it was owned by Anthony STODDARD, the rich linen-draper.

26. See 32.  27. Jane, widow of Richard PARKER, h. and g.; and, intending to marry, she deeded it, in 1646, to her children, — Margaret, John, Thomas, and Noah […]

[page xxvii]

30. Edmund DENNIS, h. and g.  31. Ephraim POPE, h. and g.  32. Extending to 26, about on the line of Bromfield Street, Richard FAIRBANKS, g.; later owned by William DAVIS the apothecary.  FAIRBANKS, however, retained a lot in the rear of those on School Street […] 33. Thomas GRUBB, h. and g.

[page xxviii]

35. Walter BLACKBORNE, h., g., and shop, which Elizabeth BLACKBORNE (Walter having gone to England) sold in 1641 to Francis LYLE the barber, who united the service of a surgeon, after the fashion of his day, and in this capacity served later in the Parliamentary army in England.  Henry BRIDGHAM owned part of the lot, which he sold in 1648 to Richard TAPPING and John SPOORE.

36. Atherton HOUGH, h. and g.  It was well up School Street that the little French church was built, about 1714.

[Facsimile of the signature of Atherton HAUGHE]

They had bought the lot of James MEERS, hatter, ten years earlier.  Next door to them, in 1747, Richard CRANCH, card-maker, had his shop, — the father of Judge CRANCH.  37. Arthur PERRY, tailor and drummer, h. and g.  He died Oct. 9, 1652, and left a son, Seth, to keep up his trade.

38. John LUGGE, h. and g.  39. Richard COOKE, h. and g.  Here also lived his son, Dr. Elisha COOKE, a citizen who figured largely in the Inter-Charter period.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of Richard COOKE and Elisha COOKE]

It was in this house that Governor BURNET lived while the Province House was making ready.

40. John SYNDERLAND.

[Facsimile of the signature of John SYNDERLAND]

41. Zaccheus BOSWORTH, h. and g., with barns, cow-house, orchard; sold in 1652 to Thomas WOODWARD.  BOSWORTH’s will, 1655, is in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., October, 1851, p. 443.  On this lot there were erected, early in the next century, the brick house which became the residence of Jacob WENDELL, a wealthy merchant and prominent citizen of his day.

42. Governor WINTHROP.  His house stood nearly opposite the foot of School Street.  His “green” is now occupied by the Old South Church.  Before his death he deeded the property to his son Stephen, reserving the right of occupancy of one half for his own and his wife’s life.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of Jo: WINTHROP and Stephen WINTHROP]

The property came into the possession of John NORTON, the minister of the First Church, whose will is given in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., October, 1857, p. 342; and his widow gave it to the Third Church, and upon it their first edifice was built, in 1670, — a wooden structure, which gave place in 1729 to the present building.

[Facsimile of the signature of John NORTON]

43. Atherton HOUGH, h.  This is the point at which James BOUTINEAU, in the pro-

[Facsimiles of the signatures of Ja. BOUTINEAU and Richard SHERMAN]

[page xxix]

vincial period, had his mansion.  He married a sister of Peter FANEUIL.  44. Richard SHERMAN, h.  The annexed signature is from his will, in 1660, which is printed in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., July, 1855, p. 227.  See Ibid., April, 1864, p. 157, for the will of the widow ROBINSON, formerly wife of Richard SHEARMAN.

45. William HIBBINS, gentleman, h., g., and stable.  Somewhere between 45 and 46 on the Water Street side, Major John WALLEY had his mansion-house in the early part of the next century, with wharf belonging, and land stretching through to Milk Street.  Upon his death, in 1711, it descended to his son John; and on his death in, in 1755, it was advertised as containing “upwards of twenty rooms.”

[Facsimiles of the signatures of William HIBBINS and John JOYLIFFE]

The present Devonshire Street runs through lot 45, and was early known as Joyliffe’s Lane, from John JOYLIFFE, a prominent citizen, who lived upon it, and died in 1701.  Drake’s Boston, 509.

46. John SPOORE, h. and g.  SPOORE was called of Clapton, Somersetshire, when he bought, in 1638, Mr. WILKE’s house and ground, — perhaps this lot.  Somewhere hereabout on the Creek the leather-dressers, in 1643, were granted a place to water their leather.  SPOORE mortgaged this property in 1648, and by some means we find Deacon Henry BRIDGHAM in possession in 16[??], who built in 1670 a mansion on the ground, and had his tan-pits near by.

[Facsimile of the signature of Henry BRIDGHAM]

He did not live, however, to move into the new house, but died in the old one in March, 1670-71; and on the death of his widow, in 1672, the property passed to the sons, and in 1680 was divided, the new house falling to Dr. John BRIDGHAM, of Ipswich.  The Doctor died in 1721, and this house fell to his nephew Joseph BRIDGHAM, a recent graduate of Harvard, but now an apothecary in Boston.  BRIDGHAM sold it in February, 1734-35, to Francis BORLAND for £1,200.  Joseph CALEF was a tenant of the house, and plied his trade with the tan-pits.  It was while CALEF was here that Congress Street was laid out from Milk to Water Street.  There was a petition in 1757 to continue Water Street over the old tan heaps and to pave it.  CALEF died in September, 1763, and the house and grounds fell to Francis Lindall BORLAND, but afterwards came in joint possession to John BORLAND, a brother of Francis LINDALL, and to the children of Wait Still WINTHROP, who had married a daughter of Francis BORLAND.  The remaining history of the house falls later than the provincial times.  It became the famous Julien House, and its descent is traced at length by Shurtleff, Boston, 659.

47. John SPOORE, g.  48. William PELL, tallow chandler, h. and g.  49. Robert RICE, h. and g.  50. William DINSDALE, h. and g.  51. John KENRICK, h. and g.  52. James PENN, h. and g.; granted in 1637.  53. Nicholas PARKER, h. and g.  54. Nathaniel BISHOP, h. and g.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of James PENN and Nathaniell BISHOPP]

A lane was laid out (Oct. 15, 1645; March 23, 1646) west of this lot, running through to Summer Street, nearly the present Hawley Street, and known early as Bishop’s Alley.

55. John STEVENSON, h. and g.  His widow married William BLACKSTONE, and the lot passed in 1646 to Abraham PAGE; and then, same year, to John HANSETT of Roxbury; but the spot got its chief glory sixty years later, when Benjamin FRANKLIN was born here.

[page xxxii]

109. Elder Thomas OLIVER, h. and g.  Here he practised the healing art, — the physician of the young town, as well as ruler in its church.  See his relationship to the other OLIVERs in N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., April, 1865, p. 100.

[page xxxiii]

110. Richard FAIRBANKS, h. and g.; sold in 1652 to Robert TURNER, who later built a new house on the lot, which is mentioned in his will (N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., Jan., 1859, p. 11).  Here at a later day The Blue Anchor was kept by George MONCK, whom Dunton celebrates in his Letters, and who extended his career into the provincial days.  (See Whitmore’s note to Record Commssioners’ edition of Gleaner Articles, p. 12.)  A petition from Joseph WILLSON for a license shows that this or another tavern of the same name was called “Near OLIVER’s Dock” in 1755, and that it had been known as such for forty years, — a lesser period than is true, certainly, if it was not another hostlery.  It was the same tavern which Thomas BAYLEY petitioned for the privilege of keeping in 1752.  111. Richard WOODHOUSE, h. and l.

[page xxxv]

124. Robert TURNER’s pasture; sold 6 a. in 1652 to Richard FAIRBANKS.  Long Lane (Federal Street) was later cut through the westerly part of this lot, and upon it the meeting-house was built in 1744, in which CHANNING subsequently ministered.  There was a petition for widening Long Lane in 1716, and the annexed autographs (the OLIVERs, SHEAFE, and ADAMS) show some of the principal residents in this neighborhood at that time.

[Facsimiles of the signatures of Nathanl OLIVER, Peter OLIVER, Jacob SHEAFES, and Saml ADAMS]

140. Richard FAIRBANKS.  Marsh along the creek.

[page xl]

PLAN E. (FORT HILL.)

[page xl]

17. The present bend on Batterymarch Street, which was laid out in 1673.  On the marsh to the northwest, on the corner of what is now Batterymarch Street and Liberty Square, stood a well-known ordinary.  The marsh had been let by the town in 1636 to Captain James JOHNSON, and this site was conveyed by him to Thomas HULL; and in 1673 Nathaniel BISHOP lived here, and the house was known as “The Blue Bell,” and was jointly tenanted the next year by Deacon Henry ALLINE and Hugh DRURY.  In 1692 it is called “The Castle Tavern,” and Mr. Hassam thinks (N.E. Hist. and Geneal. Reg., 1877, p. 329) it ceased to be an inn after 1707.

19. Cart-bridge, mentioned 1658, as over the creek, by Peter OLIVER’s, and leading to Benjamin GILLOM’s.  20. Richard FAIRBANKS’s pasture, 6 a.  It was this pasture, east of the present Pearl Street, which Theodore ATKINSON, not long after 1700, sold to Edward GRAY, who built rope-walks on it in 1712.  They are seen in Bonner’s map in 1722.  In 1732 a lane running parallel to the building was called Hutchinson Street, changed in 1800 to Pearl.  A son, John GRAY, succeeded to the business.  Gleaner Articles, No. 16, traces the history of these rope-walk lots.

21. Robert TURNER’s pasture.

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