On Sep 1, 2023, at 10:42 AM, Sudbury Weekly
wrote: Sudbury, like so many other communities, was changed in 2001. Yet some very precious things stayed the same. Sudbury's first Town Meeting happened in the First Parish Meeting House, which was built in 1797. Today Town Meeting has digital clickers for voting, tablets for checking voters in, and live broadcasts on Sudbury TV. Those are certainly changes, but Sudbury still has Town Meeting, and it has persisted through every national, state and local tragedy.
While the first Town Meeting was NOT held in the Meetinghouse known as First Parish, it is true that decades of Town Meetings were held there. When it was built in 1797, it was just known as the Sudbury Meetinghouse as there were no other parishes. It was built by the us, the inhabitants of both the town and parish for the cost of $6,025.93. Town Meetings continued to be held there after Sudbury's separation of church and state happened in 1836. The meetings moved to the first Town House upon its completion in 1846.
Before 1797, Town Meetings were held in the West Side Meetinghouse in exactly the same spot. The West Side Meetinghouse was built in 1723 due to the hardship of crossing the Sudbury river for compulsory church and town meetings in the original Sudbury Town Center. In 1725, the East Side Meetinghouse was moved about a mile south to the present location of the First Parish of Wayland. From 1723 until the split of East Sudbury in 1780, Town Meetings would alternate between the East Side and West Side Meetinghouses. East Sudbury became Wayland in 1735.
There was at least one Town Meeting on the west side of the river before the West Side Meetinghouse was built. It was in the New House of the Rocky Plain, which still stands at the intersection of Concord and Goodmans's Hill roads. That meeting has held on May 15th, 1722.
Before that, Town Meetings were help in the first, second and third Sudbury Meetinghouses in the first town center located in what is now Wayland's North Cemetery. That is the location of the "Puritan Village", which was documented in a 1963 book of that title. However, since the first meetinghouse was not built until 1643, the First Town Meeting was most likely held in the house of one of the town founders.
I believe the first Sudbury Town Meeting was in 1639, but, I am not certain. The earliest town records show that meetings occurred before much land was granted to the inhabitants, which came later in 1639. The first record merely states "It is ordered..." without specifying who made the order. It might have been those who were charged with "ordering and managing" the town (Select Board). The first meeting that is clearly a Town Meeting was on April 18, 1640, as the record reads: "It ls ordered and agreed by the inhabitants of the towne...". I think it depends on who could vote and when.
I would love feedback! Especially from any of you who suffer from Sudbury is NOT the original Sudbury Syndrome (SINOSS). As Town Historian, I will work tirelessly to to find a cure and spread it far & wide.
2023-09-06 jch.com/history/SudburyTownMeeting.html YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh