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cient estate to the selectmen to save the town harmless from any charge that should come thereby.”
They further provided that any violation of this order should be punished by a fine of nineteen shillings sixpence for each week's residence of the stranger, to be paid to the town.*
The records of Wenham show numerous instances of warning out, mostly soon after the Revolutionary War. One return upon a warrant reads: “I have warned said Margaret Poland, widow, to depart and leave the town, and Samuel Patch that he dont entertain her.”+
In Canton the town warned out all new-comers, and made it the duty of all heads of families to inform the selectmen immediately of the name, age, occupation, and previous residence of the new-comer. One of these notifications in 1734 said of the newcomer,
The Selectmen are informed that he has several hundred acres of land in Connecticut, but that a glass of good liquor stands a very narrow chance when it lies in his way. I
In Dudley there is this record:
TO EITHER OF THE CONSTABLES OF THE TOWN OF DUDLEY IN THE COUNTY OF WORCESTER, Greeting:
Whereas, Martha MacKentiah of and belonging to Reading North precinct in the County of Essex has lately come into the sd town of Dudley with a child about two years old and the sd Martha being poor and in indigent circumstances may, if she be allowed to continue in sd town, become a charge to it-you are therefore hereby directed forthwith to warn the sd Martha MacKentiah, to depart with her child in the space of fourteen days, as she will answer the neglect at the peril of the law in that cause made and provided given under our hands at Dudley the second day of August, Anno Domini, 1735.*
* Hudson, History of Sudbury, pp. 138, 139. † Allen, History of Wenham, p. 61. | Huntoon, History of Canton, pp. 251, 252.
In Newbury the colony law with regard to the entertainment of strangers in towns was enforced by warning out and the imposition of penalties. Warrants were granted and served, warning new-comers out of town, and as late as 1734 the records of the selectmen show the payment to them of fines of forty shillings in each case for taking in “a tenant and not informing the Town's Clerk nor Selectmen of the Town of his so doing.”+
In Lynn the practice prevailed for many years of warning out of the town by a warrant issued by the selectmen to every individual, rich or poor, who came into it. An amusing incident is related in the history of the town, arising under these orders. One elderly gentleman who had just arrived in town was served with an order to depart, and took it for a real intimation that they did not desire him to remain, and he said to his wife: “Come, wife, we must pack up. But there we have one consolation for it, it is not so desirable a place. "I
In Tewksbury there was a case where a person, presumably a constable, appears to have warned himself out of town. The record shows this entry:
To Daniel Pryor 18/, it being for warning himself and family and Mrs. Mahoney and her child, out of town.
The returns of warnings out from the different towns in Worcester County from 1737 to 1788, on the records of the Court, show that 6,764 persons were thus warned
* The Settlement of Dudley. By Samuel Morris Conant. Quinabaug Historical Society leaflets, No. 8, p. 105.
† Currier, History of Newbury, Mass., pp. 216, 217.
out from forty different towns during that period. In some of the towns, it is said, a large proportion of the inhabitants appear in the list of persons warned, and many of them became prominent citizens in the towns.
The wording of the returns of the warrants, as recorded, is not uniform. The following are given as examples merely :
Sturbridge Caution-against Sam' Child, an old man now dwelling at the house of Moses Marcy Esq. Warrant dated Oct. 7.
The Selectmen of the Town of Sutton in said County are allowed to Enter their Caution against Kezia man the Selectmen refusing to admit her Inhabitant of said Town she having been duely warned thereout as by a Warrant under the Hands & Seal of the said Selectmen. Dated ye 23rd of December Last & Constables return thereon on file appears. *
In Haverhill it was customary to warn nearly all the new-comers to depart out of the town.†
In Lexington new-comers were warned out as early as 1714. The learned historian of the town, Charles Hudson, states the practice as follows:
When any family or single person, even to a domestic in a family, came into town, the head of the family, or person owning the premises, was required to give notice to the selectmen of the names and numbers of the new comers, the place whence they came, the date of their coming into town, and their pecuniary condition. If the selectmen thought there was danger of their becoming a public charge, they caused them to be warned to leave the town, and to have a caution, as it was termed, entered with the Court of Sessions. This matter appears on our records as early as 1714, when “Capt. Joseph Estabrook was authorized to request the Honorable Court of Sessions in June next, to enter cautions against Daniel Cutting and his wife, Sarah Cook, and Johanna Snow, that they might not be burthensome to Lexington.” In 1722, Daniel Roff with his family were ordered to depart out of Lexington. We will add a few specimens of these notices:
* Blake, Worcester County Warnings, 1899. † History of Haverhill, p. 229.
LEXINGTON, Jan. 6, 1761. To the Selectmen. Gentlemen: These are to inform you that on the 19th of December last past, I took widow Elizabeth Sampson, as a housekeeper, from Harvard, that being her last place of residence; she being under good circumstances.
JOHN BRIDGE. To the Selectment of the Town of Lexington.
Gent: These are to inform you that I have received into my house to reside with me, Abigail Stone, on or about ye 12th of May. Her last place of residence, Woburn. Her circumstances I believe are low.
JAMES ROBBINS. May 29, 1762.
At December Court, 1760, Caution was entered against Edmand Dix, Hannah Stockbridge, Ann Hodge, and Hannah Ross, as the law directs.
Widow Abigail Whittemore informs — that on the 26th day of December, 1755, she took into her house as inmates her sonin-law, Nathaniel Whittemore, with his wife and child, under poor circumstances. They came from Lincoln. She informed, Jan. 5, 1756.
At a meeting of the Selectmen, Aug. 27, 1744, Allowed Constable Daniel Brown, 3 shillings for warning Richard Hutchinson out of town.
Also ordered the Clerk to draw a warrant and give it to the Constable to warn Archable Mackintosh and his family, forthwith to depart out of Lexington.
These examples, which are taken promiscuously from the records, show the manner in which business was done at that time, and the general supervision which the authorities took of public, or as some might say, private affairs. It seems by the examples that a gentleman could not hire a man to live with him, or a girl to work in his family, or allow a tenant to occupy his house, or a house under his care, without giving notice thereof to the selectmen. And it is worthy of remark that these notices have been given of the incoming of certain individuals, who have afterwards become some of the most respectable and in
fluential men in the town. Some of the young women whose ingress into town was thus publicly heralded, won the hearts of some of the permanent residents, and became the mothers of some of Lexington's most honored citizens. And when the calls of our country required the services of her patriotic sons, several of the very men who had been “warned out of town,” were among the first to obey the call.*
In Bridgewater it was the custom much in use to warn out all persons moving into town. The notice was served by a constable, usually in the following form:
By virtue of a warrant from the Selectmen of the town of Bridgewater you are requested to depart the limits of said town within fifteen days, you never having obtained leave of inhabiting the same.f November 25, 1789.
In Oxford, beginning in 1789, when the town had become poor and the number of indigent persons had increased in consequence of the Revolution, the custom of warning out was adopted with reference to all newcomers. In December, 1789, a man and his family and “a spinster” from other towns were warned to leave town, “they having come for the purpose of abiding therein not having obtained the town's consent therefor.”
In February, 1792,78 persons were warned out of town; in the following June, 23; and December, 1793, 42. I
In Greenfield, beginning about 1790, warning out was quite generally practised, and the town records show that the ancestors of very well-known families at present time were warned to depart, but remained.
The same practice was followed in Bernardston, where in 1790 eight men “coming from Greenfield" were warned to depart out of town.
* Hudson, History of Lexington, p. 80.