1. Roxbury First Church. First building on Dudley and Highland Street facing 2.4 acre town common. Date of construction unknown. Gathered by Rev Thomas Weld in July 1632. Rev John Eliot pastor* in Nov., 1632. 36 X 20. 12 feet high. Wooden boards thatch roof, Plain benches. No galleries and no pews. End walls clapboarded in 1656 and galleries added. Bell and pinnacle added in 1659. Second church building built in 1674 on site of the outmoded first one * Paid 60 lbs annually in corn or cattle.
  2. ca 1643. Greyhound Tavern. First innkeeper Joshua Hewes. Washington St opposite Vernon St. :next to importance to the church as a center of town life was the public house” (Drake. p 161 ). Destroyed together with most other houses and buildings on the neck and Roxbury main street for defensive purposes in 1775
  3. 3/ Free School at Roxbury. Founded in 1642 under the will of Samuel Hagbourne. Gov Dudley gave land on Guild Street for the first school house built of wood. Rebuilt of brick in 1742 with a first floor market. Part of the school yard taken for turnpike in 18o4.Supported by gifts of land which the school leased out for rental income. Largest gift was from the London merchant Thomas Bell of 166 acres in 1643 largely along forest hills Street, Walnut Ave and 47 acres on Walk Hill Street. Lands leased out for long periods; last leases executed in mid 18th c expired in 1916.


Roxbury burial ground on Washington and Eustis Streets. First burial was in 1633.

Established by order of the town. On Feb 23, 1648, Constable John Woody was hired for 6 pounds to fence in the burial ground with stone wall and 6-8 foot wide gate.

In 1651 Thomas Alcock- whose land was given for the burial ground – built a new fenced and gate.

First recorded gravedigger was in June 1656; William Hopkins was hired to dig graves at 2 shillings adult and 12 pence child. In 1686 the 6 month old son of Rev Samuel Danforth was buried.

Grounds enlarged in 1725 by a ¼ acre gift made by Col Joseph Lamb.

Center of the ground was the minister’s tomb; the first occupants were remains of Rev John Eliot and his wife Anne (who predeceased him). This became known as the Parish Tomb when it was rebuilt in 1858.

First instance of prayer at a burial was that for Rev William Adams in 1685.Customof giving gloves to mourners at burials was discontinued because of expense in 1764.

Wine drinking at funerals was outlawed by the General Court in 1742.


1631 Ship ‘Lyon’ arrived with Roxbury settlers among them John Eliot and Gov John Winthrop’s wife.

1632 Ship “Lyon” returns with more settlers among them William Heath.

1635. Large number arrive on the”Hopewell” among them John Ruggles and john Cheney.

Immigration ceases after 1640.

Roxbury settlers mostly from London, a few from the west of England and most from Nazing in Essex County 20 miles east of London. This was the birthplace of the 2 + 4th groups.

First child both was John Crafts, son of Griffin Crafts on July 10, 1630.

Population in 1632 was 120 (?)

Population in 1654 was 80 households

Largest landowners in 1640 numbered 68.

Thomas Dudley 356 a

Thomas Weld 338a

Philip Eliot (brother of John) 305 a

John Weld 278 (incl 15 homesteads)

Elder Isaac Heath 256 a


Brick and salt manufacturing factories were built on the Neck in the marshes and upland. The first recorded brick manufacturing business was in 1644.

Joshua Lamb built his dam (site of Northampton Street) about 1720 to protect his salt marsh and make basin for his salt pans. The tides slowed and ice formed in winter thus makings alt extraction easier. General Joseph Putnam established a salt works on the Neck about 1783.

Edward Johnson ‘s Wonder Working Providence of 1654 states that Roxbury was lush with fruit trees planting fields and had 350 cattle and oxen.

The first grist mill in Roxbury was granted in 1633 to Richard Dummer who built the first dam over Stony brook and erected a mill. He was evicted to Newburyport because of his divergent religious views and the mill was bought by John Pierpont.

On Jan 19, 1656 John Pierpont was granted permission to build a fulling mill on Stoney Brook provided that he also improve the road over the river. This road became an extension of Roxbury Street. The location of the mill dam and pond explained the sharp curve that Roxbury Street took before connecting to Tremont until Roxbury Street was discontinued at this junction in 1980. The mill dam – built in a different location by new owners David and Samuel Waitt in 1795- was removed in 1870.


Settled in July 1630 by members of John Winthrop’s company led by William Pynchon. Others who joined Pynchon were Thomas Lamb, Robert Cole, William Chase, George Alcock and Thomas Rawlings. Pynchon chose a spot midway between Dorchester and Boston-2 miles from Boston that they called Rocksborough

On Dec 6, 1630 the Governor and Assistants met and approved a second town with a fort on the neck between Boston and Roxbury as a precaution against attack but built the fortified town instead at Cambridge because of the lack of fresh water on the Neck and because it would mean keeping two homes for those who lived at the neck town.

It was the sixth town incorporated in Massachusetts. The first official notice of the new town was on Sept 28, 1630 when the 3rd Court of Assistants assessed Roxbury 50 pounds as its share of the general tax.

The general Court ordered monthly training for militia and Capt John Underhill was Roxbury’s first captain. A 7 acre training field at Dudley, Grenville and Eustis streets

Was laid out for the militia

In 1635 an ordinance was passed that said no person could live beyond ½ mile from the meeting house as a protection against Indian attacks.

The first mention in the town records concerning the appointment of selectmen was on Dec 21, 1647 when three men were chosen “to order the town affairs”

Pynchon returned to England about 1651 in disgust with the intolerant politics of the Commonwealth

On Jan 19, 1656 the general town meeting ordered

That turkeys and cattle were forbidden in the cornfields.

No ducks were permitted on any town river or pond from March to October

On Feb 19, 1656 the town ordered that all men were encouraged to kill wolves and would be paid 30 shillings for each.

On May 6, 1689 Lt Samuel Ruggles and Nathaniel Holmes were authorized to meet at Boston on May 9 to settle and reestablish a government after the Mass Bay colony Charter was annulled and the first Royal governor took over.

When the old charter was annulled by the king in 1686, land owners of Roxbury were afraid that their land titles would by nullified too, so they turned to legitimize the Indian titles to the land. on March 9, 1686 Charles Josiah Wompatuck, son of Kutchamakin signed over the territory of Roxbury to his legal guardians Joseph Dudley and William Stoughton for 10 pounds. The royal governor refused to accept anything signed by an Indian and new titles had to be drawn up- with fees going to the royal governor.

The power vacuum of 1686 - 1691 was broken after 3 years negotiation with King William by Increase Mather of Dorchester who witnessed the king’s signature on a new charter on Oct 7, 1691 in which Massachusetts Bay was united with Plymouth under a royal governor ending corporate government. The 3rd royal governor was the highly unpopular Joseph Dudley or Roxbury.


On Nov 9, 1651 50 pounds was levied on Roxbury inhabitants to build a house for Rev Davenport, pastor of First Church.

In 1673 permission was given to church members living in remote corners to build nooning or Sabbath day houses near the church for Sabbath and other public holidays. These were one room houses with a fireplace at the end used by families for day. These were probably dotted around the 2 acre common. (One still stands in Billerica)

In 1640 there were about 17 houses stretched out along present day Washington Street from Dudley to Ball Street (at the end of a tidal stream). One was the 2 story woodframe gambrel roof home of Rev Eliot a Washington and Dudley streets; his neighbor Rev Weld lived in a similar home.

In 1654 there were 120 homes according to Edward Johnson in Wonder Working Providence.


On May 14, 1686 Mr. Edmund Chamberlain was given unanimous approval to open and operate 2 houses of “publique entertainment’ one of which may have been the famous Greyhound Tavern located about where Washington and Warren streets converge.


For 220 (ie.1630 1851) years the limits of Roxbury remained the same: 8 miles from east to west; 2 miles from north to south, 10,686 acres. The boundary line between Roxbury and Boston was established by the general court in 1636.

Land was apportioned that each person who came over at his own cost would receive 50 acres. Those who brought over servants would receive 50 acres for each servant. Those who invested 50 pounds would receive 20 acres. Each settler received a piece of salt marsh and land for salt hay; one acre of salt marsh + 10 acres of wood.

In Jan 1661 7 men appointed to survey appraise and measure al the common land of the town out of concern over “ loss of timber”.

Jan 17, 1662 Town meeting voted that 20 acres of common land be given to the ministry.10 acres to be measured for Rev Eliot and 10 acres for Samuel Danforth. Voted that 10 acres be given for the use of the schoolmaster

Voted that no more land be given away but to be kept perpetually. One man was chosen to superintend those common lands.


Nov 17, 1652 Philip Eliot .John weld and john Pierpont appointed to lay out the highway between Roxbury and Cambridge.

Jan 17, 1663 - Four men appointed to lay out the highways belonging to the town.

Nineteen highways.

Voted that very man should have a highway to his farmland in the town where it would be most convenient.