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Did an ancestor travel the Bay Road of Massachusetts? Learn about this settler migration route, its transportation history, and find related genealogy sources.
Map of the Bay Road in gold through Boston, Dedham, Taunton, and New Bedford, Massachusetts.


Background History

At least three routes in Massachusetts have been labelled the Bay Road: (A) the Old Connecticut Path from Boston to Hartford,[1] (B) the Old Roebuck Road from Boston to Providence, and (C) the route from Boston to New Bedford.[2] But this article is only about the later pathway from Boston to New Bedford.

The Bay Road stretched about 62 miles (99 kilometers) from Massachusetts Bay to Buzzard's Bay. It went from the city of Boston in Suffolk County through Norfolk County into Bristol County to the city of Taunton, and thence to the city of New Bedford in Massachusetts.[3]

Part of the Bay Road followed the exact same route as a part of the Old Roebuck Road at least as far as Norwood. Moreover, this section of the Bay Road was also used as one of several main routes of the King's Highway or lower Boston Post Road from Boston to New York City and from there on to Charleston.


The Bay Road passed through three Massachusetts counties: Suffolk, Norfolk, and Bristol on its way between Boston and New Bedford.

A partial description of the Bay Road (the northern portion) is found in Wikipedia as follows.[4] Bay Road is a 17+ mile north-south road in southeastern Massachusetts. The road is in parts a very old road, dating to colonial times, when it was known as the King's Highway. Bay Road begins at the town line of Canton and Sharon, Norfolk County just north of an intersection with Route 27 at Cobb Corner and ends in Taunton as Bay Street. The road heads south along the Sharon side of the Sharon/Stoughton town line in Norfolk County. The road enters Bristol County in the town of Easton. Bay Road runs along the east side of Borderland State Park and passes through the intersection of Routes 106 and 123 in the neighborhood of Five Corners. The road then enters into the town of Norton. There, Bay Road runs along the eastern shore of Winnecunnet Pond just before entering the Taunton neighborhood of North Taunton, where Bay Road becomes Bay Street, and intersects Interstate 495. The street runs alongside Lake Sabbatia and Watson Pond State Park. It then enters the Whittenton section and terminates at Broadway (Route 138).

Two sections of the road, a portion in Easton (Foundry Street to the Norton town line) and the entire segment in Norton, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Norton section is listed as "Old Bay Road", while that in Easton is listed as "Bay Road".

Connecting Routes. Over time the Bay Road connected with half a dozen new migration routes out its Boston end:

Modern parallels. The modern roads that roughly match the old Bay Road from Boston to New Bedford are:

  • From Boston head southwest on Washington Street bound for Dedham.
  • From Dedham go south on the Providence Highway to Norwood.
  • At Norwood transfer onto Neponsit Street bound southeast to Canton.
  • At Canton turn south onto Washington Street which shortly becomes the Bay Road or Bay Street on its way to Taunton.
  • From Taunton take Summer Street/MA-140 to the southeast. This becomes County Street or County Road bound for Clifford.
  • Near Clifford the County Road merges going south with MA-18/Acushnet Avenue/Ashley Blvd on the way into New Bedford.

Settlers and Records

Boston was founded in 1630 by Puritan immigrants from England. New Bedford was settled in 1652 by some Pilgrim families of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who had purchased their new homeland from the Indians.[5] The road between these two important ports attracted settlers who would be able to more easily get access to the markets which those ports provided. Many of the earliest settlers along the Bay Road would have been from Boston or New Bedford. Look at the earliest deeds along the Bay Road to learn the names of the first settlers. If you already know the name of a settler near the Bay Road, you have a good chance of finding his or her genealogy in sources like:

  • Lucy Mary Kellogg, et. al., Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, 23+ vols. (Plymouth, Massachusetts: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1975- ). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.4 D2mf.
  • Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, c1995). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974 W2a.

External links


  1. Boston Post Road in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 16 October 2014).
  2. Frederic J. Wood, The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland (Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), 25. Internet Archive version online.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 9th ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Pub., 1999), pages 531 and M-48. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 1999.
  4. Bay Road (Bristol County, Massachusetts) in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 3 October 2014).
  5. New Bedford, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 16 October 2014).


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  • This page was last modified on 27 October 2014, at 19:43.
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