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of records of

See § 13.

ments of the ancient proprietors of townships or of common lands, Town or city when they have ceased to be a body corporate, shall, unless they have custody of recmade other legal disposition thereof, be vested in the clerk of the city ords when, &c. or town in which such lands or the larger portion of them are situated; 1851, 101, $ 5. who, if such records and documents are in the possession of any other See § 13. person, shall demand the same, and may make and certify copies thereof in the same manner as the clerk of the proprietors might have done.

SECT. 12. When any church or religious society ceases to have a legal existence, and the care of its records and registries is not other- church ceasing wise provided for by law, the person having possession of the same shall 1851, 161

, $ 8. deliver them to the clerk of the city or town in which such church or society was situated, who may certify copies thereof.

SECT. 13. Every county, city, and town, for each month it neglects Penalties. or refuses to perform any duty required by this chapter, shall forfeit 1,8. twenty dollars; a register or clerk who neglects or refuses to perform 1857, 97, $ 2. any duty required of him shall forfeit for each offence ten dollars; whoever takes and carries away any book of record, paper, or written document, belonging to the records or files of any county, city, or town, except as is provided in section nine, or defaces, alters, or mutilates, by mark, erasure, cutting, or otherwise, any such record, paper, or written document, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding fifty dollars; and whoever, after demand made by the clerk of the city or town entitled by law to have possession of the books of record and other documents mentioned in sections eleven and twelve, wrongfully detains the same, shall forfeit fifty dollars.

1851, 161, $$ 4,5.

TITLE X.

OF PARISHES AND RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES; AND OF RELIGIOUS,
CHARITABLE, AND EDUCATIONAL FUNDS AND ASSOCIATIONS.

CHAPTER 30. — Of Parishes and Religious Societies.
CHAPTER' 31.– Of Donations and Conveyances for Pious and Charitable Uses.
CHAPTER 32. –Of Associations for Religious, Charitable, and Educational Pur-

poses.
CHAPTER 33.- Of Public Libraries.

CHAPTER 30.

OF PARISHES AND RELIGIOUS SOCIETIES.

SECTION

SECTION 1. Religious societies to be bodies corporate. rant. Contents of warrant and proceed

Powers of taxation conferred by special act ings thereon. not affected. Existing rights of property 6. Membership of religious societies to be not impaired.

voluntary. * 2. Rights, &c., of religious societies.

7. Societies may regulate admissions by by3. Churches to have accustomed privileges, laws. &c.

8. Members alone may vote. 4. Societies may organize themselves, &c. 9. Annual meeting in March or April, or at Powers, &c. Subject to revocation.

times prescribed by by-laws, &c. Choice 5. First meeting to be called by justice's war- of officers.

SECTION

SECTION 10. Moderator, &c., elected by ballot. Clerks, 29. Clerk to leave copy of record of organiza &c., to be sworn. Other elections.

tion with town clerk, &c., or organization 11. Prudential affairs, by whom managed.

to be void. 12. If assessors refuse, &c., & justice of the 30. Proprietors of churches, &c., may assess peace may call, &c.

for alterations, repairs, &c. 13. Warrant to contain matters desired by five 31. How proprietors' meetings may be called.

or more voters. Action on matters not in 32. Assessment and collection of money. warrant void.

33. Notice when pews are sold by treasurer. 14. Meetings, how warned.

34. Affidavit of notice of sales made evidence. 15. Who to preside till moderator is chosen. 35. Proprietors may take down pews to alter Choice of clerk. Officers, how sworn.

churches, &c. Proceedings in such case. 16. Moderator's powers, &c. Penalties for dis- | 36. Parishes and societies may take down pews orderly conduct.

or sell their house,
17. Collector to be sworn. If not present, to be 37. No compensation when church is unfit for

Bummoned. Upon refusal or neglect, new use.
election.

38. Pews personal estate. Dower, &c.
18. Vacancies in offices, how filled.

39. Pews in churches erected since March 25, 19. Officers of Protestant Episcopal Societies. 1845, may be assessed for support of public 20. Objects for which a socioty may raise worship. money.

40. and in churches erected before that time, 21. Taxes to be assessed on property.

by consent or vote of two-thirds. 22. Corporations not to be taxed, nor trus- 41. Pews to be purchased in such case at an tees, &c.

appraisal. 23. Societies may appoint treasurers collect- 42. Societies complying with preceding sec

ors, who shall have power of town collect- tions to have powers, &c.

ors ; may abate upon prompt payment. 43. Trustees of Methodist Episcopal Societies 24. Unincorporated societies may hold, &c., do- may organize and become corporations. nations.

44. Powers of trustees. Annual income not to 25. Trustees may be appointed; term of office, exceed $4000. regulations for their government.

45. First meeting, how called. Organization. 26. “ Religious society,” &c., includes parish. Secretary to be sworn. 27. Proprietors of churches, &c., may organize 46. Copy of record of organization to be left and have corporate powers.

with town clerk, or organization to be 28. Amount of estate which may be held.

void.

21.

of.

Churches to

Religious socie SECTION 1. Every religious society established or organized by virties to be bodies tue of any statute shall be and continue a body corporate with the pow

existing pow- ers given to corporations by chapter sixty-eight, and the powers, priviR. 5. 20, 191, 19. leges, liabilities, and duties, set forth in this chapter; but this chapter

shall not enlarge nor diminish the powers of taxation enjoyed by any religious society by virtue of a special law or act of incorporation, nor

impair existing rights of property of any territorial parish. rights, &c., SECT. 2. Religious societies, whether corporate or unincorporate,

shall continue to have and enjoy their existing rights, privileges, and R. S. 20, 82.

immunities, except so far as the same may be limited or modified by the provisions of this chapter.

Sect. 3. The respective churches connected and associated in public bare privileges, worship with such religious societies shall continue to have, exercise

, and enjoy, all their accustomed privileges and liberties respecting divine worship, church order, and discipline, and shall be encouraged in the peaceable and regular enjoyment and practice thereof.

SECT. 4. A religious society that is not incorporated, or which may corporated may be unable to assemble in the usual manner, if it contains ten or more powers may qualified voters, may organize and become a corporation with the pow.

ers, privileges, duties, liabilities, and requirements of such societies, and may hold so much estate, real or personal, as may be necessary for the objects of such organization, and no more; but all the powers derived

from such organization may be revoked by the legislature. First meeting, Sect. 5. Any justice of the peace for the county in which such sociR. 3. 20, 5$ 21, ety may be, upon application in writing by five or more of the qualified

voters thereof, may issue his warrant directed to some one of the applicants, stating the objects, and requiring him to warn the qualified voters of the society to meet at a time and place appointed in the warrant; and the same may be served by posting an attested copy thereof on the principal outer door of the meeting-house, or leaving such copy with or at the last and usual place of abode of such voters, seven days at least

R. S. 20, $3. 16 Mass. 488. 10 Pick. 172. 5 Cush. 412.

Societies not in

be revoked.
R. S. 20, $$ 26,
29.
6 Met. 448.

&c., called.

28. 6 Met. 448. See $$ 13, 31.

13 Pick. 111. 21 Pick. 148.

8 Cush. 207.

before such meeting; and, upon due return thereof, the same justice or any other justice of the peace for the county may preside at the meeting for the choice and qualification of a clerk, who shall enter at large upon the records of the society the proceedings had in the organization thereof; and the society may thereupon proceed to choose a moderator and do such other things as parishes are by law authorized to do at their annual meetings : provided the subject matter thereof is inserted in the warrant.

SECT. 6. Persons belonging to a religious society shall be held to be Membership. members until they file with the clerk a written notice declaring the RS. 20, 13 dissolution of their membership, and they shall not be liable for any 6 Pick. 498. grant or contract thereafter made or entered into by such society. No person shall be made a member of such society without his consent in 5 Met; 73. writing

SECT. 7. Every religious society may make by-laws not repugnant Societies may to the laws of the commonwealth, and therein prescribe the manner in Figudate admiswhich persons may become members.

R. S. 20, $ 5. SECT. 8. No person shall have a right to vote in the affairs of such Who may vote. society unless he is a member thereof.

R. S. 20, $ 6. Sect. 9. The qualified voters of every parish and incorporated reli- Annual meetgious society, and of every society organized according to the provisions in Choice of of this chapter, shall hold an annual meeting in the month of March or k. 5. 20, $7; April, or at such other time as they may prescribe by their by-laws, and 1 Cush. 149. if the by-laws do not otherwise determine at a time and place appointed by their assessors or standing committee; and at such meeting shall choose a moderator, clerk, two or more assessors, a treasurer and collector, and such other officers as they think necessary, all of whom, except the moderator, shall continue in office till the next annual meeting and till others are chosen and qualified in their stead.

SECT. 10. Moderators of meetings held for the choice of officers Moderator, shall be elected by written ballots. Clerks, assessors, treasurers, and chosen LOW collectors, shall be elected by written ballot and shall be sworn. Other R. S. 20, $7. officers may be elected in such mode as the society may determine.

SECT. 11. The prudential affairs of such societies shall be managed Prudential afby their assessors or a standing committee specially appointed for that faisaba Wliom purpose; and the assessors or committees shall have like authority for R. S. 20, $ 14. calling meetings as selectmen have for calling town meetings.

SECT. 12. If there are no assesssors or committee, or if they unrea- When justice sonably refuse to call a meeting, any justice of the peace for the county, ingy upon the application of not less than five qualified voters, may call one Rs: 20,9 17. in the manner provided in section five.

Sect. 13. The assessors or committee, shall insert in the next warrant they issue for calling a meeting any matter which not less than five Warrant, what qualified voters of the society in writing request. Nothing acted upon to contain, de. shall have any legal operation, unless the subject matter thereof was 9 Pick. 979 inserted in the warrant.

SECT. 14. Meetings shall be warned in the manner provided by any Meetings, how by-law or vote of the society, and when no provision is made, in such kos.20, $8. manner as the assessors or standing committee in their warrant for such 7 Greenl. 426. meeting direct.

SECT. 15. The clerk, or if there is no clerk or he is absent, the assess- Who to preside. ors or the standing committee, or any one of them, shall preside in the Officers, how choice of a moderator; and a clerk may then be chosen, either pro for 120,8$9,10. tempore or to fill the vacancy, as the case may require. The moderator 5 Mass. 122 may administer the oath of office to the clerk; and the clerk to the 6 Greenl. 448. assessors and collector; or said oaths may be administered by a justice of the peace; and they shall be substantially the same as are required to be taken by the clerk, assessors, and collectors, of towns. SECT. 16. The moderator shall have the same power as the modera- powers, &c.

1838, 46.
1 Cush. 149.

may call meet

3 Pick. 2-2.
6 Met. 48.
8 Met. 301.
4 Cush. 476.

Moderator's

duct.

16 Mass. 385.

Collector.

Vacancies in of

R. S. 20, $ 15.
Officers of Prot-

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money.

Disorderly con- tor of a town meeting; and persons guilty of disorderly behavior at a R. S. 20, $11.

meeting shall be subject to the penalties and punishments provided for like offences in town meetings.

Sect. 17. If the person chosen collector is present and accepts the R. S. 20, $$ 12, office, he shall forthwith be sworn, If not present, he shall be sum

moned to take the oath by a constable or any person whom the clerk or assessors may appoint for the purpose. Upon the refusal or neglect of a person present to accept the office at the time, and upon the neglect of a person so summoned, for the space of seven days, to appear and take the oath, the society shall proceed to a new choice; and so from time to time until some person accepts and is sworn.

Sect. 18. Vacancies in any of the annual offices, occurring after the fices, how filled. annual meeting, may be filled at any other legal meeting.

Sect. 19. The rector or one of the wardens of religious societies estant Episco- belonging to the body of christians known as the Protestant Episcopal 1858, 116. Church, organized under the laws of the commonwealth, may, unless it

is otherwise provided in some by-law, preside at their meetings with all the powers of a moderator; and the wardens or wardens and vestry may exercise all the powers of a standing committee in accordance with the usage and discipline of said. church. Unless they assess or collect a tax on the polls, estates, or pews, of the members thereof, such societies need not choose a collector or assessors; and they may in their by-laws provide, that the duties of assessors shall be performed by the wardens. But the officers upon whom the duties of standing committee

or assessors may devolve shall in all cases be elected by ballot. Objects for Sect. 20. The qualified voters of each religious society, at the annual which a society meeting or at any other meeting regularly notified seven days at least

before the holding thereof, may grant and vote such sums of money as R. S. 20, $ 18. they judge necessary for the settlement, maintenance, and support

, of ministers or public teachers of religion; for the building or repairing of houses of public worship; for sacred music; for the purchase and preservation of burial grounds; and for all other necessary parish charges ; which sums shall be assessed on the polls and estates of all the members of the society, in the same manner and proportion as town taxes are by law assessed.

SECT. 21. The assessors shall assess the taxes upon the property (not bessed on prop- exempted by law from taxation) of all the members of the society, R.S. 20, $30. including their real estate within the state, in whatever part thereof it

may be situated, and their personal estate wherever the same may be; and no citizen shall be liable to pay a tax for the support of public worship or other parish charges, to a society other than that of which

he is a member. Corporations,

Sect. 22. No corporation shall be taxed for any parochial purpose.

Nor shall any person be taxed in a parish or religious society for property R. S. 20, $ 20. held by him as guardian or trustee.

SECT. 23. Every society may appoint its treasurer collector of taxes; appoint treasu- who shall have like powers and proceed in like manner, in enforcing the rers collectors. collection of such taxes after the expiration of the time fixed by the upon prompt society for the payment thereof, as provided in chapter twelve for the B. H. 20, $$ 23, collection of taxes by collectors of towns; and any society may

authorize its treasurer and collector to make an abatement of such sum as it may agree upon at its annual meeting, to those who make voluntary payment

of their taxes within such periods as may be determined by the society. Unincorporated SECT. 24. Unincorporated religious societies shall have like power hold, &c., dóna- to manage, use, and employ, any donation, gift, or grant, made to them,

according to its terms and conditions, as incorporated societies have, by law; may elect suitable trustees, agents, or officers therefor; and sue for any right which may vest in them in consequence of such donation, gift, or grant; for which purposes they shall be corporations.

1 Mass. 181.
5 Mass. 5+7.
10 Pick. 500.
5 Met. 73.
8 Cush. 207.

Ta

to be ag

1 Cush. 149.

&c.,

not to be taxed, &c.

1848, 164, $ 1.

may abate

24.

tions. R. S. 20, $ 25. 5 Met. 160. 8 Met. 16.

their govern

churches, &c.,

.

SECT. 25. Incorporated and unincorporated religious societies may Trustees may appoint trustees, not exceeding five in number, to hold and manage trust term polotice funds for their benefit, who shall hold their offices five years and until regulations“for others are appointed in their stead, with power to fill vacancies for an ment. unexpired term occurring in their board." Such societies at or before 1853, 389, § 1. the time of the first appointment of the trustees may establish rules and regulations for their government, which shall be considered as of the nature of a contract, and not subject to alteration or amendment except by all the trustees in office at the time and by a two-thirds vote of the society interested therein.

SECT. 26. The terms “religious society” and “society” in the pre- "Religious so ceding sections shall include parishes.

cludes parish. SECT. 27. Persons owning or proposing to build a house of public Proprietors of worship may organize themselves in the same manner as religious

may organize societies are authorized to do by the provisions of this chapter; and and have corshall thereupon become a corporation with the powers, privileges, duties, 1840, 62, 691, 2. restrictions, and liabilities, set forth in chapter sixty-eight, and in the See ğ 20. following sections; but all the powers derived from such organization may be revoked by the legislature.

SECT. 28. Every such corporation may hold so much real and per- Amount of essonal estate, in addition to its meeting-house, as may be necessary for its tat ferdich may objects, and as has been agreed and determined on at the meeting held 1840, 02, $ 3. for the purpose of organization; and the annual income thereof shall be applied to parochial purposes.

SECT. 29. The clerk of every such corporation shall, within ten days Clerk to leave of such meeting, leave with the clerk of the town or city in which such copy of record house of worship is situated, or is about to be built, a true copy of the checker

1810, 02, 4. record of the proceedings. If he fails so to do, the organization shall be void. The copy shall be recorded by the clerk receiving it in a book kept for the purpose, for which he shall receive the fee of the register of deeds for like services.

SECT. 30. When the proprietors deem it expedient to alter, enlarge, Proprietors repair, rebuild, or remove their house, or build a new one, they may, at a alterations, relegal meeting called for that purpose, raise such sums of money as they pairs, &c.

R.S. 20, $ 31. may judge necessary for the purpose, and to purchase land necessary therefor. SECT. 31. A meeting of the proprietors for any of the purposes How proprie

tors' meetings aforesaid, may be called in the manner prescribed in the by-laws or votes of the corporation, or by a warrant granted by a justice of the R..20, 35. peace on application in writing by any five of said proprietors, which • Cush. 508. warrant shall be directed to one of the applicants; or such meeting may be called by a notification by the clerk of the proprietors, who shall warn a meeting on a like application to him; and in either case the meeting may be warned by notification served as provided in section five.

SECT. 32. Money raised may be assessed on the pews in such house, Assessment and the assessment may be committed to the treasurer of the proprie- of money. tors, who shall forthwith give notice by posting up an advertisement at R.S: 20, 32.

See 39. the principal outer door of the house, stating the completion of such assessment and the day of delivery thereof to him; and if any part of said taxes remains unpaid for three months afterwards, the treasurer shall collect the same forthwith by sales at public auction of the pews whereon the same remains unpaid, in the manner provided in the following sections.

SECT. 33. The treasurer shall post up a notification of the intended Notice when sale of a pew for taxes at the principal outer door of such house, at pe wercase sola least three weeks before the time of sale, setting forth the number of K..S: 20, $ 33.

. the pew, if any, the name of the owner or occupant, if known, and the amount of the tax due thereon; and if any part of said tax remains un

may be called.

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