Dorchester, Massachusetts

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United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Norfolk Gotoarrow.png Dorchester

Dorchester (1630-1870)

Dorchester was a town in Norfolk County before it was annexed to Boston in Suffolk County. This guide discusses the records created by this town and includes references to material of present-day Dorchester (the neighborhood of Boston) as well. Be careful of the time period you are researching here as the records you need may be in one of two counties or one of two towns.

Brief History

Members of the Dorchester Company set sail on the Mary and John and arrived at Mattapan in 1630 where all her 140 passengers settled. The place was soon renamed Dorchester. The settlement was granted several large tracts of land that would later become the towns of Milton in 1662 and Stoughton in 1726, but the concentration of the population was always near the shore. Many notable events happened here, including the first town meeting in America in 1633 and the introduction of chocolate in 1765. The town became a place for the Boston Elite to summer in the late nineteenth century and Columbia Point was still a pasture. The town became intertwined with Boston and was annexed in pieces until it was all one with Boston. The first to go was Dorchester Heights in 1804 and then renamed South Boston. The bulk of the town was annexed in 1870 and the remaining parts that became Hyde Park were annexed in 1912. This section of the city is home to the oldest house, the James Blake House in Edward Everett Square, built around 1650.

Historical Data

The basic data is from the "Historical Data" publication series[1] with additions from various sources.

Associated names

Dorchester at one time was called Mattapan, Mennens Moone, and Squantums Neck.

Village or section names include Commercial Point, Dorchester Heights, Dorchester Neck, Harrison Square, Hyde Park, Lower Mills, Meeting House Hill, Neponset, Pine Garden, Port Norfolk, and Upper Mills.

City neighborhoods include Adams Village, Annapolis, Ashmont Hill, Cedar Grove, Clam Point, Codman Hill, Codman Square, Columbia Point, Everett Square, Fields Corner, Five Streets, Four Corners, Franklin Field, Freeport, Harbor Point, Jones Hill, Lower Mills, Mattapan, Meeting House Hill, Melville Park, Mount Bowdoin, Neponset, Peabody Square, Pope's Hill, Port Norfolk, Savin Hill, and Uphams Corner.

Border changes
Dates Events
7 Sept. 1630 The name was changed from Mattapan to Dorchester [Mass. Bay Rec., 1: 75].
4 Mar. 1635 Thompson's Island granted to Dorchester.
28 Mar. 1636 Border between Dorchester and Boston established.
17 May 1638 Border between Dorchester and Dedham established.
2 June 1641 Squantums Neck and Mennens Moone annexed.
12 Nov. 1659 Granted 1000 acres of land.
7 May 1662 Part set off to create the new town of Milton.
22 Dec. 1726 Part set off to create the new town of Stoughton.
1 Aug. 1728 Land belonging to Dorchester annexed to Lunenburg.
7 June 1739 Part of Dedham annexed.
22 Feb. 1792 Part of the section called Squantum and the farms annexed to Quincy.
6 Mar. 1804 Dorchester Heights / Neck annexed to Boston and became known as South Boston.
10 Feb. 1814 Another part of the section called Squantum and the farms annexed to Quincy.
12 Feb. 1819 Part annexed to Quincy.
21 Feb. 1820 Border between Dorchester and Quincy established and another part of Squantum annexed to Quincy.
17 June 1831 Part of Dedham annexed.
25 Mar. 1834 Thompson's Island annexed to Boston.
2 May 1855 The remaining part of Squantum annexed to Quincy.
21 May 1855 Part annexed to Boston.
22 Apr. 1868 Part included in the new town of Hyde Park.
3 Jan. 1870 Dorchester annexed to Boston by act of 4 June 1869 [Mass. Acts 1869, ch. 349, sec. 1, p. 646].
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Town Histories

Works written on the town include:[[Image:


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Vital Records

The town's vital records are available in many locations:

Original records
Published records
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  1. William Francis Galvin, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, new ed., 1997), 40-41. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2h 1997

Adjacent towns: Suffolk Co.: Boston | Hyde Park | Roxbury | West Roxbury | Norfolk Co.: Milton | Quincy | Plymouth Co.: Hull