GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2000-07 > 0963866618
Subject: [GM-L] WARNING OUT - Records at Chelmsford, MA and List of Names
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000 16:43:38 EDT
INHABITANCY AND WARNING OUT.
The Town government in Massachusetts was based upon
English law and custom. The early settlers believed that a
corporation, established by free consent, and embodying their
place of residence, belonged to them, and that no man had a right,
to come in and be one of them without their consent. New
inhabitants in a Town could become such only by vote of the
freemen of that place, or the selectmen. "All strangers of what
quality soever, above the age of sixteen years, arriving
in this jurisdiction, shall immediately be brought before the
Governor ....................to give an account of their business in
country." (Law of 1651.) No stranger was allowed to be
entertained, except friends from other parts of this country, for
more than three weeks. In 1722, Chelmsford imposed a fine for
keeping strangers in Town more than 30 days. Inhabitancy, or
the right to live in a Town, did not always give the right to vote,
nor did the owning of property. In 1631, the Colony restricted
the right to vote to inhabitants in full communion with the
church, which meant a minority of the male population. Any
person not excepted against within three months was reputed an
inhabitant. Towns were responsible for the proper conduct of
their inhabitants, and for the support of such as became incapable
of their own support, and they felt they had the right to exclude
those for whom they did not wish to become responsible. Thus
arose the liability for property destroyed by riots, and the expres-
sion, "the freedom of the city," or the right to dwell therein, and
the right to take the estate of any inhabitant in execution on a
judgment against the Town. The right to exclude from inhabit-
ancy was sometimes used to keep out persons whose religious or
political opinions were objectionable. This right of exclusion , was
generally used with discrimination, but in some Towns practically
all newcomers, regardless of their character or standing, were
warned to depart, thus avoiding any possibility of liability on
the Town's part, though, in many cases, it was not expected that
they would depart. The right of inhabitancy generally included
the right of owning land in the Town, and of commonage, and
also carried riparian rights. "Every Inhabitant who is an House
holder, shall have free Fishing and Fowling in any great Ponds,
Coves and Rivers, so far as the Sea Ebbes and Flows within the
precincts of the Town where they dwell, unless the Freemen of
the same Town or the General Court have otherwise appropriated
them;" &c. [1641, 7.]
The basis of land titles in New England was a grant from the
English Crown, i. e., the King. Purchases of land from Indians
without license from the Colony were void. Whatever land the
Indians had possessed and improved, they held by right. Lands
or houses could not be sold or let to strangers without the consent
of the Town. This was also necessary for the exchange of land
The General Court, in its early sessions, gave much time to
making grants of land, establishing bounds of Towns and estates,
and making highways and bridges. The first Town meetings did
Most of the early bounds are now impossible to locate. For
example: in Chelmsford, in 1670, "a parsill of land" was granted
to henry Bowtell bounded on the north by a hole in the ground,
east by a white oak tree, south by the brook, west by the highway
leading to the merrimack. Other bounds were as uncertain,
such as a stump in a swamp, or a marked pine, or a heap of stones,
which, of course, were not many years in disappearing.
In 1656, an order was passed by the Town that no person
should own land until he had been approved and admitted as an
inhabitant by a majority vote at a public Town meeting.
Only such persons as could contribute to the prosperity of
the Town or the well-being of the inhabitants were desired.
Trades were among the recommendations of the newcomers.
In 1659, an order was passed by the General Court providing
that, in cases in which the Town was not willing that certain
persons should remain, notice should be given them, and if they
still remained, the selectmen should petition the next County
Court and prosecute the same to effect.
The Articles of Confederation of the Massachusetts,
Plymouth, and Connecticut Colonies in 1672 recognized the right
of Towns to warn strangers to depart to the place of former abode.
Three years later the danger from the Indians obliged many
to forsake their homes for other places. They did not thus
become "reputed inhabitants thereof," but, if necessary, were
to be so employed or disposed of that public charge might be
As population increased and people moved about more, the
Article of 1672 was to some extent disregarded, and in 1692, an
act was passed for warning persons out of Town, and the custom
was practiced until the Act of Settlement of 1793, or for more than
one hundred and thirty years.
["Warning Out in N. E.," Benton.]
The following items are a few from the Chelmsford Town
Records, which will illustrate the subject:
June 3 1696 paid out of the Town Rate for mending
the pound and entring 2 Caviats at Conkerd Court
Against persons warned out of the Towne L01-01.00
When there was danger of newcomers becoming burdensome
to the Town, they were warned out and a Caution was entered
with the Court of Sessions.
1700 To Joseph Parkhurst for warning Ann Dickerman
out of ye Town .................0:1:0:0
In 1707, the following items appear, for warnings the previous
To Constable Swalo for warning the widow Coper out of
To Constable Swalo for warning Sam Davis out of Town EO:1:0:0
"By a warrant from the Town Clerk by order of ye selectmen
bearing Date the: 11: Day of July 1720 Mary Man was warned
out of the Town of Chelmsford to Depart to the Town of Scituate
where of Righ[t] she did belong as appears by the Retron on sd
warrant viz. Chelmsford the: 12: Day: 1720 Notified the Person
within mentioned forthwith out of Town."
Dec. 16 John Partison was warned to depart out of the Town
of Chelmsford with his family to the Town of Billericae.
"There was a warrant for the warning Mary Blanchard out
of Town entered at the general sessions of the peice at
Concord the last Tuesday of August 1722."
To Richard Stevens for conveying Mary Blanchard to
March 12 172Y2 The selectmen apointed Mr Joseph
Underwood to give in Reasons to the Genll Court Why Mary
Lambert should not be setled as an inhabitant upon Chelmsford.
June the: 4: 1722 The selectmen Ordered that Lt. Benja-
min Adams in there behalf Should agree with the Selectmen of
Concord Concerning Mary Lambert on these following terms.
viz: That if Concord will remit there Cost which was sett upon
Chelmsford at the last Inferiour Court at Concord holden by
adjournment on the second Tuesday of April last that then they
will receive her as an Inhabitant.
To Mr Joseph underwood for his going to Concord
Court'as agent for the select-men to Defend the Town
from Mary Lambert being settled as an Inhabitant
with his time, expenses, and seeing a Lawyer 01.18-04
Feb. 5, 172Y4 the widow Ana Golusha and her children
and John Duncan were warned out of town. Wm. Langley was
paid 2 shillings for entering a Warrant at Court.
1726 Jerimy Miller was warned out of town.
1735 To Edward Spaulding Constable for warning
several persons out of town .....00~03.00
1755 To Olever Peirce Constable for Warning persons
out of Town in the year 1753 five shilling 00.05.00
1756 To Zebadiah Keyes Constable for warning out
Jeremiah Ferington and family and Samuel Fasset and
family two shillings ............00.02.00
1758 To Mr. Jonas Adams for warning Persons out of
town and for money paid for Entring Cautions in the
year 1756 six shillings .........00.06.00
1759 To Eleazer Richardson for warning Robert
Hildretch and family,out of town and for money paid
for entring Causion .............00-03-04
1759 To Sergt Samuel Perham for Removing Timothy
Farley and family out of town four shillings 900.04.00
In 1795, 211 persons were warned to depart out of Town
within fifteen days. These included:
Phinehas Whiting, Elisha Ford, John Farmer and wife, Henry
Coburn and wife, Dr. Timothy Harrington and wife, Samuel
Pitts, Joanna, his wife, and their children, Thomas, John, Sarah
and Mary, and a person by the name of Mary Philips from
Boston; Jeremiah Abbott, wife and daughter, Jonathan and
Timothy Manning and their wives, Israel and David Putnam.
Books F, G, I, P and V of the Town Records name hundreds
of people warned out during the Eighteenth Century.