GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2008-11 > 1226411955
From: "Don Krieger" <>
Subject: Re: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] "General Court" of 1600's / "Insanity" in1700's
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2008 08:59:15 -0500
Here in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh, PA), civil records of this type are
indexed by the Recorder in the Will index books. There are also some "weak
mind" papers index in the Ejectment books held by the Prothonotary. These
latter are specific to property transfers.
All of these records commence in the late 18th century.
Keep in mind that the witch trials were criminal, not civil matters. And
they occurred prior to the existence of the United States so records, if
any, would have been kept according to the colonial British system.
Eve and Don Krieger
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[mailto:] On Behalf Of Betty
Sent: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 7:42 AM
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] "General Court" of 1600's / "Insanity" in 1700's
Someone on a RI List has brought up a subject which I don't know how to
answer. I offered my thoughts, but I wondered if someone on this List
could explain it better.
In the 1700's, if a person was found to be "insane" (or whatever term you
wish to use), was any "official record" made of that fact? And, would
there have been a "Court case" which someone could refer to - in order to
find out if a person in the 1700's was called "insane?"
I am remembering the famous "Salem Witch Trials" of 1692. But would these
events have continued right through the 1700's and into the 1800's ?
In particular, if a researcher wanted to find out if an ancestor would have
been "declared" insane in the 1700's, would there be a Gov't. record
someplace showing that?
I think it was the 1600's when residents of a town decided that they would
take care of any resident -- who was not able to take care of his or her
self. And the families would take turns - taking in "needy people." Or
was it both the 1600's and 1700's?
Then at some point "poor farms" were created, where a farmer (m or f) would
decide to make their farm into a "poor farm." Perhaps they needed money
themselves and the Town would help the people care for the needy people.
I believe a brother of my KIDDER ancestor in early Chelmsford was forced to
live on a "poor farm," and I think it was the 1700's.
And it was about 2 yrs. ago when a Westford researcher found an old record
of a birth in their "Poor Farm" records -- had never been recorded at Town
Hall. That was a KIDDER man's record, and his parents had separated, and
as a child he went to different families in NH. He became a soldier and
ended up living in another part of the country. His descendants in that
area could never find out who his parents were. When I posted this "find"
on the Lists and Boards, the descendants were able to find out.
A more general question would be about the history of Middlesex County.
In the 1600's, I've read in books that all the residents of the MA Bay
Colony had to travel (walk / ride) to then Newtowne (now Cambridge), the
mother-town, to take care of any "legal action" or "Court action," etc.
The term, "Records of the General Court" can be found in "town histories."
I just was reminded that Middlesex County was founded in 1643, and that was
before many of the towns were founded in the 1650's. So, was their a
fuzzy line between "Records of the General Court" and "Records of the
Courthouses in Middlesex County?"
Betty (near Lowell, MA)
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