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.
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.
The basic data is from the "Historical Data" publication series with additions from various sources.
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.
|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].|
Town HistoriesWorks written on the town include:[[Image:
- James Blake, Annals of the Town of Dorchester by James Blake. 1750 (Boston, 1846), being pages 7-95 of the Collections of the Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society, no. 2.
Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 929.273 C53d or film 897269 Item 3.
- Ebenezer Clapp Jr. et al., History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts (Boston, 1851-1859; rep. Boston, 1859), xii, 672 pp.
Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book at Logan Regional Family History Center.
- Dorchester Antiquarian and Historical Society collection, 1635-1874 (bulk: 1720-1870), a manuscript collection at the New England Historic Genealogical Society that includes town records, marriage intentions, church records (First Church and Second Parish), other original and published material, 8.5 linear ft.
- David Clapp, The Ancient Proprietors of Jones's Hill: including brief sketches of the Jones, Stoughton, Tailer, Wiswall, Moseley, Capen and Holden families, the location and boundaries of their estates, etc. (Boston, 1883), vi, 68 pp.
Digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, Hathi Trust, and Ancestry ($).
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46/D1 D3c or film 873530 Item 4 (with digital link).
- Maude Pinney Kuhns, The "Mary and John;" a story of the founding of Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1630 (Rutland, Vt., ; rep. Rutland, Vt., 1971), xii, 254 pp.
Contains the passenger list of the "Mary and John," a brief account of the passengers, and genealogical tables of their descendants.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974 W2k.
- Rodney L. Clark, "Dorchester: An English Plantation 1630-1640. A report on the first English inhabitants of Dorchester Plantation" (S.l., 2004).
Manuscript at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.
WorldCat (Other Libraries).
- Dorchester Wikipedia page.
The town's vital records are available in many locations:
- Boston Registry Division
1 City Hall Square Room 213
Boston MA 02201
- Microfilm of the originals created by the Family History Library, Vital Records and Indexes (1631-1869), FHL film 751200 (first of 4).
- Microfiche of the originals created by Archive Publishing covering town vital records, 1631-1869, and First Church of Dorchester, 1729-1845, on 72 fiche. Part of Massachusetts, Town Vital Collections, 1620–1988 at Ancestry ($); Index.
- Official state copy of vital records starting in 1841:
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston MA 02125
Hours and Directions
See the online guide for more information.
- A Report of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, containing Dorchester Births, Marriages, and Deaths to the end of 1825 (Boston, 1891), iv, 392 pp., being volume 21 of the series.
This volume was microfiched by the Family History Library, FHL fiche 6014402-6014406 and in digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Ancestry ($). In a database at American Ancestors ($) [for both volumes].
WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not in book format at FHL.
- Sanford Charles Gladden, An index to the Vital Records of Dorchester, Massachusetts through 1825 (Boulder, Colo., 1970), ii, 148 pp.
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46/D1 V2g.
- Vital Records of the Town of Dorchester from 1826 to 1849 (Boston, 1905), , 288 pp., being volume 36 of the Boston Record Commissioners' series.
This volume was microfiched by the Family History Library, FHL fiche 6014407-6014410 and in digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Ancestry ($). In a database at American Ancestors ($) [for both volumes].
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.46/D1 V2v (with digital link).
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