History of Lynn Massachusetts
History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts: Including Lynnfield, Saugus,
Swampscot, and Nahant, by Alonzo Lewis and James R. Newhall. Published at
Boston by John L. Shorey in 1865.
When the collection of the facts composing this work was commenced, very
little was known of the early history of Lynn. It had not even been
ascertained in what year the town was settled — the records for the first
sixty-two years were wholly wanting — and the names of the early settlers were
unknown. It has been said that the Town Records were burnt, about the year
1690; but that they were in existence long after that period, is evident from
an order respecting them, on the seventh of March, 1715, when the inhabitants
voted that — "Whereas, some of the old Town Records are much shattered,
therefore, so much shall be transcribed out of one or more of them, into
another book as the selectmen shall think best .... and the selectmen having
perused two of the old Town Books, and find that the second book is most
shattered, and that the oldest book may be kept fare to reed severall years,
think it best and order, that soe much shall be transcribed." A few pages were
thus copied, and the books were afterward destroyed or lost.
[In 1686, Oliver Purchis was elected Town Clerk. And probably he kept the
records in a careless manner, as subsequently this passage appears: "At a Town
Meeting held in Lyn, May 16th, 1704, the town being informed that there was
considerable concerns of the town lay in loose papers that was acted when
Capt. Purchis was Town Clark — therefore Voated, that the present selectmen,
with Capt. Theo. Burrill, should be a committee to sort all them papers and
such of them as they thought fit the Towne Clark to record in ye Towne Booke.]
The papers were accordingly sorted and some recorded. But though among the
rejected ones there were doubtless many containing matters that would be
highly interesting to the people of this day, yet it is hardly probable that
anything of real value escaped.
It is well to bear in mind, however, that divers matters which are now
Considered entirely within the jurisdiction of the towns themselves, were
anciently taken cognizance of by the General and Quarterly Courts. Town
records were hence deemed of comparatively small importance, and often kept
with little care; far too little, when it is considered what mischief might
arise, for instance, from uncertainty respecting land allotments. But the
living witnesses were then at hand, and the necessities of the great future
could not be anticipated. Yet it is not believed that Lynn has greatly
suffered from the loss of her early records.
Table of Contents:
Chapter I., Beginning On Page 9:
Embraces Introductory Remarks - Notices of the Early Voyages and
Discoveries in and about our territory - An account of the Indians found
here, with brief Biographical Sketches of some of the more prominent -
Topographical and general Descriptions, with notices of Natural History and
Phenomena - Facts concerning the Business Enterprises and Employments of the
Settlers, and their Religious Character, Manners, and peculiar Customs.
Chapter II., Beginning On Page 111:
Carries forward our History, year by year, in the form of Annals, giving
all important events under the appropriate dates, from the time of the first
settlement, in 1629, to the year 1865 interspersed with brief notices of
prominent individuals, and other matters deemed pertinent.
Chapter III. Beginning On Page 479:
Contains Biographical Sketches of various Natives of Lynn who from
position, endowments or acts seemed entitled to some special notice.
Chapter IV., Beginning On Page 575:
Embraces various Tables - Lists of Public Officers, Names of Early
Settlers, Religious Societies and Ministers, Newspapers and Editors, etc.
together with Statistical Summaries.
Chapter V., Beginning On Page 590:
Contains brief Concluding Remarks, alluding especially to (vii) the
progress of Lynn during the last twenty years and closing with
acknowledgments for the friendly assistance received during the progress of
The Index, Beginning On Page 593:
Contains all the Surnames in the book, alphabetically arranged in
connection with the subjects.
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At the time the Massachusetts emigration commenced
there were many decided Puritans in the Church, some of the more sanguine
of whom had probably once hoped to Puritanize her, and who were yet fond
of calling her their " dear mother." Many of these came over with the
"rigid separatists." And were it not in accordance with the recognized
tendency of the human mind to proceed to extremes when it recedes from an
established order, we might well be astonished at the apparent delight
some of them took, when safely here, in heaping indignities upon the very
name of their " dear mother."
It will be instructive to those who have
never given this subject much attention, to present an illustration or two
of their seeming disposition to proceed, as far as they decently could in
raising and fostering prejudices against the Church.
The Church had always observed Christmas as the most noteworthy
festival of the year — it was the anniversary of the natal day of the
great founder of our faith — the anniversary of an event which the very
angels of heaven came down to celebrate— those sinless spirits whose
majestic anthem rang over the starlit plains of Judea, and being taken up
by the Church had been continued on through all the centuries. But her
"children" here in these western wilds thought fit to turn their backs
upon her holy example. They went to the extent of forbidding, by law, the
observance of Christmas. Whoever abstained from his ordinary labor on that
day, subjected himself to the liability of being punished for a
The Church regarded matrimony as a religious rite. They did not elevate
it to the position of a sacrament but invested it with a peculiar
sanctity. But in Massachusetts, from an early date, ministers were not
allowed to perform the wedding ceremony. Magistrates and special
appointees alone could discharge the agreeable duty. It was not till 1686
that the present custom of authorizing ministers to solemnize marriages
became established. Reducing it to the incidents of a mere civil contract
was no doubt the occasion of divers evils. And it is not remarkable that
the effect was so long felt that even in 1719 the Boston ministers
testified that weddings were times of "riotous irregularities."