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RESTRAINT OF ALIENATION OF LANDS.-PROCEEDINGS IN
Towns. At first the New England towns exercised the right to exclude new-comers from inhabitancy by providing that no person should be received as an inhabitant without a vote of the town or of the “townsmen” or 'selectmen, and also by providing that no inhabitant
should receive or entertain persons who were not admitted as inhabitants, or, as they were termed, strangers. This right of exclusion from inhabitancy was still further exercised by orders providing that inhabitants should not sell or let their land or houses to strangers without the consent of the town.
In Connecticut the colony law of 1659 provided that
No inhabitant shall have power to make sale of his accommodation of house or lands until he have first propounded the sale thereof to the town where it is situate and they refuse to accept of the sale tendered. *
This restraint upon alienation by inhabitants of towns was not a new thing. Similar restraints existed in the Old World, and exist to-day in the village communities of Russia, where one may not sell to a stranger to the mir, or village, without the consent of the inhabitants.f
In addition to this right to deny admission to the town it was assumed that the right to exclude from inhabitancy included the right to admit to inhabitancy upon condition, and the towns frequently ad
* Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Vol. I, p. 351.
† Egleston, The Land System of the New England Colonies, p. 40; Maine, Early History of Institutions, p. 109.
mitted inhabitants upon conditions, in some cases, that the person admitted should set up a mill within a given time and should charge only certain prices; in others, that he should practise a trade within the town; in many cases, that the person should be of "peaceable conversation” and of “inoffensive carriage”; and, in still other cases, upon security that the person admitted should not become chargeable for support to the town at any time.
The records of Boston and of other towns in the Massachusetts and Plymouth Colonies show the action of the towns.
In Boston in November, 1634, it was ordered at a general meeting that Mr. Winthrop, then also governor, and six other persons, should have the power to divide and dispose of all lands belonging to the town, not then in the lawful possession of any particular persons, to the inhabitants of the town according to the orders of the Court, leaving such portions in common for the use of new-comers and the further benefit of the town as in their discretion they should see fit. These persons were subsequently termed “Allotters."
In November, 1635, this order was passed at a general town meeting:
It is agreed that noe further allotments shalbe graunted unto any new comers, but such as may be likely to be received members of the Congregation:
That none shall sell their houses or allotments to any new comers, but with the consent and allowance of those that are appointed Allotters.
This order against selling land to strangers was enforced. June 6, 1636, an order was made by the selectmen as follows:
Wee finde that Richard Fairebanke hath sold unto twoe straingers the twoe houses in Sudbury end that were William Balstones, contrary to a former order, and therefore the sayle to bee voyd, and the said Richard Fairbancke to forfeite for his breaking thereof, xls.
Wee finde that Isaacke Cullymore Carpenter hath sould his house unto a strainger, contrary to the same order, and therefore the sayle thereof to bee voyd, and the said Isaacke Cullymore to forfeite for his breaking thereof, xls.
On September 26, 1636, the records of the selectmen show that it was founde that William Hudson hath sould an housplott and garden unto one William Mawer, a strainger, without the consent of the appointed Allotters, contrarie to a former order. XX s.
Also that William Aspewall hath sould a housplott and a garden unto one M'. Tinge, contrarie to the same order. 2 lb.
That in like sort M'. Samuell Cole hath sold an Allotment unto one M'. Greenefield, and is to forfett for the breaking of the order iïi lb.
On August 7, 1637, the selectmen granted leave to Richard Fairbank “to sell his shopp to- Saunders, a booke-bynder.”
On the 28th of August the record of the selectmen shows that it is agreed that Richard Hull Carpenter shall have liberty to sell his house and ground neere John Galloppe unto Philip Sherman, of Roxbury.
In September, 1637, “Robert Gillam, marryner," was given leave “to buy a houseplott where he can.”
In August, 1638, there was leave granted to Francis Lyall to become an inhabitant, and leave was “graunted to Mr. Thomas Cornnell for the buying of our brother Willyam Balstone's house, and to become an inhabitant of this Towne.”
On November 2, 1638, “leave is granted to Richard Rawlings, a plasterer, to buy Peter Johnson, the Dutch
man's house, and to become an Inhabitant of this Towne."
The term “townsman” seems to have been used interchangeably with that of inhabitant. November 19, 1638, the selectmen's records show that
George Barrill, Cooper, hath for him and his heirs and assigns for £28 bought of the said Thomas Painter, his dwelling-house, with the Appurtenances, and ground Under it, in this towne, and whereto he had the Consent of the Townesmen, and soe is admitted a Townesman upon Condition of Inoffensive Carryage.
[In December) one William Teffe, a Taylor, is allowed to bee an Inhabitant, and hath this day fully agreed with Jacob Wilson of his house, and the ground under it, in this towne.
Also Esdras Reade, a Taylor, is this day allowed to bee an inhabitant, and to have a great Lot at Muddy River for 4 heads.
In January, 1638, appears the first record with regard to the liability of the town for the support of a person admitted into it. The record of the selectmen is as follows:
Richard Tuttell, our brother, hath undertaken for one Dorothie Bill, a Widowe, a Soiourner in his house to discharge the Towne of any Charge that may befall the Towne for any thing about her.
In the next month the record shows that
Richard Wright hath sold 130 Acrs of land at Mount Woollystone to one M'. Pane, of Concord, without the consent of the Towne's Allotters, contrary to a former Order, and he is therefore to pay for a Fyne to the towne's stocke, to be paid at the next Towne's Meeting the sume of £6.
On August 12, 1639, the record shows that
John Seaborne, a Taylor, having served for the space of three years within this Towne, is granted to be an Inhabitant.
Also that in the next month Mr. Richard Parker, merchant, was allowed to be an inhabitant, and Mr. Thomas Foule also allowed to be an inhabitant.
The church relations of the early settlers is shown by the form of the following entries.
On November 25, 1639, the record of the selectmen shows that
John Seaberry, a Seaman hath with leave bought our brother Water Merrye's house, and Half an Acre under it in the Mylne feild, and so is allowed for an Inhabitant.
Also Richard Storer, the Sonne of Elizabeth Hull, the Wife of our brother Roberte Hull, is Allowed to be an Inhabitant and to have a great Lott at the Mount for three heads.
Also our brother Arthure Perry hath leave to sell his house and garding to Silvester Saunders whoe (hath) long beene a servant in this towne.
The entries of permission or allowance to become an inhabitant occur with increasing frequency in 1639, 1640, and thereafter for a few years. One of them shows that the town regarded it as important that everybody should own his home.
On March 16, 1640, the record of the selectmen is that
John Palmer, Carpenter, now dwelling here, is to be allowed an Inhabitant, if he can gett an house, or land to sett an house upon (it being not proper to allowe a man an Inhabitant Withou(t) habitation),
Frequently the question of whether a person should be received as an inhabitant was taken under consideration. One of the records in 1640 shows that several persons were accepted for townsmen, but that “Edw. Arnoll is taken into Consideration until the next meeting to becom a townsman.”
Apparently, persons came into the town and there stayed, so that they were likely in fact to become inhabitants, although not admitted, for we find that on March 1, 1647, the following order was passed:
It is ordered that no Inhabitant shall entertaine man or woman from any other towne or Countrye as a sojourner or inmate with