INTRODUCTION

HE history of Middleboro is that of an inland town of the Old Colony, remote from any business centre, a simple story of events, not so stirring as to seriously affect the history of the commonwealth, a story of men, thrifty, intelligent, and able, who have contributed their share to the advancement of the best interests of the country.

By an act of the Colonial Legislature, June i, 1663,1 the inhabitants at Nemasket "were accounted to belong to the town of Plymouth," and continued under that jurisdiction until the year 1669, when that portion of Plymouth was incorporated under the name of the Town of Middleberry. This name may have been given on account of its location, midway between Plymouth and the residence of the Pokanoket chief, or it may have come from the town of Middleboro in North Riding of York, England. It included what had been known as Assawampsett, Nemasket, the Titicut land of the Indians, the western portion of the town of Halifax, and the whole of Lakeville. Before the later division, but after that portion of Halifax was set off, it was, excepting Plymouth, the largest town in the state, measuring from north to south over eleven miles, from east to west fourteen miles, and containing an area of more than one hundred square miles.

In 1718 the proprietors of the Sixteen Shilling Purchase, with those who were in possession of much of the land in Taunton formerly owned by Miss Poole and her associates, desired to be incorporated into a separate township. Jacob Tomson drew a map, the original of which is now in the Massachusetts

1 "1663 — t June — Prence, Gour

"It is ordered by the Court that those that are

sett downe att Namassakett to belonge to the towne of Plymouth vntill the Court shall see reason otherwise to order." Plymouth Colony Records, vol. iv, p. 41.

Archives, and a copy on the following page. This project was principally urged by those living within the bounds of Taunton, but as there were few inhabitants at this time in that portion of Middleboro, it was soon after abandoned.

In 1734 the northeasterly part of the town, included in the territory between its present boundary line on the northeast and that on the Winnetuxet River, was set off to form a portion of Halifax.

The setting off of North Middleboro was for a long time the subject of much discussion. At a meeting held December 23, 1741, "The town taking into consideration the petition of Jabez Eddy and others respecting there being set off a separate township; and after the same was fully debated, upon a question being asked the town whether they would grant their request, the vote passed in the negative." In 1743 a petition was presented to the General Court signed by thirty-six subscribers and heads of families, asking that the northern portion of the town be set off from Middleboro to become a new town with part of Bridgewater. This, however, was never acted upon. In 1744 a similar petition was presented to the General Court, which resulted in their separation as a parish distinct from that worshipping at the Green. In 1792 a petition was presented to the General Court, but this was also refused. The last petition was presented in 1821; since then there has been no further attempt at a division of this part of the town.

In 1853 the legislature incorporated as a separate town that part which was substantially included in the Sixteen Shilling Purchase, under the name of Lakeville.

By the act of incorporation, the boundaries of some portions of the town were indefinite; this gave rise to not a little controversy, which extended over many years, and in the case of the adjoining town of Bridgewater, was attended with considerable bitterness. The eastern boundary, which in the early history was the township of Plymouth, as well as the southern boundary, which adjoined Rochester, was settled by agents of that town in 1695. The dividing line between Middleboro and Bridgewater was settled by the agents of the two towns

[graphic]

PROPOSED DIVISION OF THE TOWN OF MIDDLEBORO TO FORM A NEW
TOWN WITH A PORTION OF TAUNTON
(Drawn by Jacob Thomson in 1718)

[graphic]

VIEW OF THE FOUR CORNERS IN 1832 FROM BARDEN'S HILL (From an old picture)

in 1681, and since that time the Taunton River has remained the northern boundary. The line between that portion of Taunton and Middleboro between Baiting Brook and Trout or Poquoy Brook was indefinite, the boundary having been the Indian Reservation, whose western limit was not settled until the year 1686. This has remained as then established, although the older inhabitants of the town claimed that Taunton had acquired a much larger amount of territory than the original act of the legislature authorized. That portion of the western side of Lakeville bordering upon Freetown has been changed ; in the year 1718 the boundary was a straight line. It was not until after that time that the indentation as indicated upon the present map of Lakeville was made, but when or by whom authorized, we have been unable to ascertain. On the east a small portion of the town was given to Plympton, and in 1842 a narrow strip of land at the southeastern part of the town was annexed to Carver. The Taunton River has always been the boundary line between Middleboro and Raynham.

Most of the early settlers from Plymouth and the neighbor

« PreviousContinue »