See Also: Historical Maps of Sudbury <> <> Hudson 1889 <> History Books <> Before the English <> Sudbury Town Bounds

First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist <> 
Summer Service - July 23th, 2023 <> Video of the service with 20 minutes talk & Q&A.

YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh

The Westerly Precinct and the Shape of Sudbury

This year marks the 300th anniversary of the building of the West Side Meetinghouse. 74 years later, in 1797, the West Side Meetinghouse, at 20x40 feet, was too small and it was taken apart and the timbers were reused to build a larger 50x68 foot meetinghouse. That is what we know as First Parish of Sudbury with a few tweaks here and there.

Last Year we celebrated 300 Years on the Rocky Plain, which is the very rocky hard pack here in the center of town that was not good for farming. In 1722, Israel Loring''s delivered his first west side sermon, given in the "new house on the Rocky Plain", which still stands at 269 Concord Rd. He had been preaching for 18 years in the original town center before he was called by the Westerly Precinct. He proceeded to preach here for another 50 years.

This is mostly the story leading up to the start of the West Side Meetinghouse. That is how the Town Center came to be on the Rocky Plain. That is also the core of the story of Sudbury's current town boundaries. The middle map below shows the Rocky Plain in the middle.

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The map on the right above shows the location of the original Sudbury town center of the marked by the meetinghouse in the blue circle, the location of the Wayland town center, marked by The Wayland UU's tree logo and Sudbury Town center, marked by Deborah Kruskal's brilliant logo.

There are a number of Sudbury and Wayland residents knowledgable about our history that convey the notion that Wayland is the "real Sudbury" and that the first Town Meeting in 1639, was NOT really a Sudbury Town meeting. I hope to convince you that the original Sudbury split into two new towns. So, let's go back to the original village of the Sudbury Plantation.

The Puritan Village of the Sudbury Plantation

It is true that earliest settlers lived on the East Side of the river clustered around the meetinghouse in the "Puritan Village". Below on the right is a rought draft map. A more polished version was used in the 1963 book _A Puritan Village:: The Formation of a New England Town, by Sumner Chilton Powell. The big squiggle in the middle is the Sudbury River. For context, the left map show the area covered by the map. The meetinghouse is circled in red, which is now the North Cemetery of Wayland. The middle image shows a roadside marker on Rte 27 on the way to Wayland. It is a reconstructed map show fields, common pastures, and 50 house lots,

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The Puritan Village of the Sudbury Plantation,
with a red circle around the meetinghouse.
A 1930 Roadside Marker that the site on Rte 27.
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Walter Hayne's house of the west side.
His first house is in the upper right.
Notice Gravel Pit, too.

From the very beginning the Town was using both sides of the river as pasture and for farming. But it took several years for people to move.

Walter Haynes was one of the first, if not the first to move to the West Side. He is the perfect vehicle for a more elaborate story about Sudbury. Walter was on the Ship Confidence with so many other early Sudbury Settlers. Traveling with him was his wife, Elizabeth, 3 sons, 2 daughters and 3 servants. He was 55 years old when he made the journey to Sudbury.

Mr Haynes represented the town in the General Court for 4 years and he was a selectman for ten years. His son & grandson are part of today's story. His many descendants appear in the town's history. His great grandson Deacon Josiah Haynes marched to Concord on April 19th, 1775 to be felled by a musket ball. He is the Haynes for whom the school is named.

Walter Haynes was on the west side by 1646, when he was given permission to build a fence across the highway at his new dwelling-house, as long as it had a gate. In the right map above, the red circle in the upper LEFT corner is his new house. His original house is in the upper right corner. This map also shows the gravel pit on the west side and I will mention that later.

There is a second house on a larger version of the same map that shows all of the lots in Sudbury. See, the Common Arable Land below. There are many lots around Landam Road and there are many lots up at Pantry Brook. But, none of them are marked as house lots.

John Haynes, aka DEACON JOHN HAYNES—1621-1697 Garrison House Roadside Marker

The second house on the West Side, which I added to the top of the above right map, belongs to Walter's son, Deacon John Haynes's house. That became the Haynes Garrison, the initial focal point of the Sudbury Fight in King Philips war.

Other early settlers to move to the West Side were John and Edmund Goodnow, one of those houses was likely the Goodnow Garrison near the present day Buddy Dog on Rte 20.

By 1676, there were other garrison houses. The best documented are the Browne Garrison House was on the East Side of Nobscot Road at the Dudley Road intersection, where the Clark Blueberry farm is now. The Walker Garrison House still exists near the intersection of Peakham and Old Garrison Road.

This indicates that many people had moved to the west side of the Sudbury River by 1676. In 1682, the "county's money rate", mentioned as follows : " The part to be collected on the east side the river, five pounds, four shillings, and 5 pence(5lbs : 4s : 5d) on the west side the river, four pounds 8 shillings and zero pence. (4lbs : 8s : 0d) [d for denarius (Roman coin)] [in Shillings 104.42/88], So... The East Side was 20% more valuable than the West Side.

1707 Map & Petition

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Sudbury 1707 Brigham
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Brigham Map Zoom showing houses
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Brigham Map Overlay on Walling

In 1707, this map was created by John Brigham and used to lobby the General Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay for a meetinghouse on the West Side of the river. You can see the h's that mark houses and a few notes on the map, one saying "The river in a flood is half a mile over". It shows the houses on that side outnumbered the East by 57 to 32. [count from Emery]

The 1707 map accompanied the petition that Gail read. The 1707 Petition of the West Side people of Sudbury asked to "appoint a Committee to consider our circumstances”

It was originated by John Goodenow, John Haynes, and John Brigham and was signed by twenty-eight other inhabitants of the west side.

The petitioning John Haynes was the grandson of Walter and born in 1649. He was the son of Deacon John Haynes of the Haynes Garrison and the Deacon's wife Dorothy Noyes. His oldest son was John Jr, also signed the petition at age 23. His youngest son Josiah, which marched to Concord, was only 11 years old.

The first petition was immediately opposed by many on the east side of the river. The primary reason was the loss of tax revenue. The book, A Puritan Village Evolves about the history of Wayland, has a dense 20 page chapter devoted to the myriad of legal maneuvers. Here is one tidbit.

In 1720, a town meeting voted to petition the General Court to build a meetinghouse for the whole town on the west side of the Sudbury River at or near the Gravel pit. This was not adopted as the inhabitants of the east side would then have to cross the river.

Finally, the General Court ordered on June 9, 1721 that the west side meetinghouse be built at the place called the Poplar Swamp Gutter north of Lancaster Highway and that the old meetinghouse be put in good repair both at the charge of the whole town and that the Ministers on both sides of the river be maintained and supported by a Town Tax.

The Poplar Swamp Gutter was close to the geographic center of the West side of the river. It was about 1/2 mile to the west to our present location, near Twillingate on Hudson road.

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Note: Westerly Precinct & David haynes

Here is a copy of the minutes of first meeting of the Westerly Precinct. It was held on December 18th, 1721 at the new house one the Plain. They elected a moderator, a clerk and a committee led by David Haynes to change the proposed meetinghouse location to the Rocky Plain. This was granted in the Massachusetts Province Laws in November of 1722.

Note: Westerly Precinct and Easterly Precinct were the names of the two religious bodies.

Once there were two meetinghouses, town meetings would alternate between the East Meetinghouse and the West Meetinghouse. The fact that the Town was paying for both sides of the river meant that and exact border between the two precincts did not have to be drawn.

Evolution of Sudbury's Town Boundaries

[note, this talk inspired further research found here: Evolution of Sudbury Town Bounds]

Let's step back and look at the land grants that were involved in making Sudbury what it is today. Here are the grants as they appear in the 1987 version of Sudbury 1639-1939, a history book created as part of the Federal Writers Project. The grants are overlayed on Sudbury in 1772 map above.

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The first three grants came directly from the Mass Bay Colony in 1638, 1640 and the two mile grant in 1649. That the Colony had the right to make those grants is problematical, but that is not today's story.

Before the English arrived, we know for certain that the Nipmuc nation extended into Sudbury because Tantamous was living on Nobscot Hill and we know the Massachusett were here because Karte, aka Goodman lived on Goodman's Hill.

The Mass Bay Colony recognized the right of ancient hereditary possession and the Sudbury settlers purchased the territory from Karte in two purchases, the second deed in 1648 is printed in Hudson's History of Sudbury. Our current concept of land ownership was radically different for the indigenous population. The early Sudbury concept of holding most of the land in common was somewhere in between the two. Karte was familiar with the settlers farms when he sold the second piece to Walter Haynes and others representing the town. Karte was also present at the sale of land to Concord. We can question how well he understood the transaction, but I don't think we should under estimate him. Tantamous lived on the edge of that grant. There is no record of his involvement. The purchase of the Nipmuc land in the Two Mile grant did not occur until after the King Philips war.

In addition to the three land grants to the Town, there were three prior grants to individuals within them. These grants to Browne, Pelham and Walgrave stayed valid, but they do not affect the borders of Sudbury.

There were three other grants to individuals that did contribute land to the town of Sudbury. The grantees were Mrs. Glover, Mr. Dunster and William Jennison.

Mrs. Elizabeth Glover was the widow of Rev. Josse Glover. Mr. Glover was a rector of Sutton, Eng. In June of 1638, he made a contract with Stephen Daye, a printer, to come over at Glovers's expense to set up a printing-press in Cambridge. Mr. Glover died on the voyage over, but, Stephen Daye did become the first printer in the colonies. The grant to Mrs. Glover was 600 acres.

Mr. Dunster was the first President of Harvard, was granted 600 acres and Captain William Jennison was granted 200 acres for services during the Pequot War.

Also to the South of Sudbury was a large grant to Thomas Danforth. The northern border of this region known as the Danforth Farms was for all practical purposes, the current border between the Sudbury and Framingham.

Descendants of Sudbury settlers bought or leased lands in these grants and became "out dwellers". Their ecclesiastical and social ties were still with the town of Sudbury and they paid "rates" to support the meetinghouse and the ministry.

When Framingham became incorporated in 1701, Sudbury lost the financial support of a large portion of the out dwellers.

This made those remaining on the east side of the river more important to the future of the town. This was part of the West Side Meetinghouse issue. It was important to have the the extra income to support two meetinghouses.

In 1705, a town meeting voted that "the farmers adjacent to Sudbury that lie between Sudbury and Natick should still continue with us." In 1721, town meeting voted to petition the General Court to have the farmers and farmland joined to Sudbury.

On the same day that the General Court ordered the west side meetinghouse be built, June 9, 1721, they also ordered that "several farms lying adjacent to the Town betwixt Sudbury and Natick be added to the Township of Sudbury for Ever, ... and the Inhabitants thereof to pay their proportion to all rates and Taxes and Enjoy Equal Privileges with the rest of the Inhabitants."

Now we have the Westerly & Easterly Precincts. This a mash up of the 1830 Wood Map of Sudbury & Plan of East Sudbury, by William C Grout, 1831

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One Church for the whole town
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Mitosis of the Puritan Village into Sudbury & Wayland
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Two Precincts in one town

With the inclusion of these new farmers, there was a push to move the meetinghouse south. When it did not happen immediately, the Natick Farmers then petitioned the General Court to be detached from Sudbury. Eventually, the meetinghouse was moved and rebuilt about a mile further south to its current location, the First Parish in Wayland. There is a record of a meeting of the Easterly Precinct held there in December of 1725.

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This is the boundary of the Town of Sudbury in 1721.
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image strip of changes

Tax collections to support the two meetinghouses was very high and in 1725, the inhabitants on the north west side of the Assebet river petitioned to be annexed to Stow. In 1729, town meeting voted to give them a tax break for the minister's pay, to no avail. In 1730, the Northwest corner of Sudbury with its six families was annexed to Stow.

The boundaries of the town had stayed a rectangle until 1721 and after 1730, the did not change again for 50 years.

In 1778, the East Side petitioned to become a separate town. The border was proposed by a committee appointed by the General Count in 1779 and that boundary is more of less the current boundary. It follows the river, but a line keep several house just over the old bridge and Pelham Island on the east side.

A last minute change was the Wheeler Farm. Caleb Wheeler strenuously opposed having his farm of forty-three acres being included within the limits of East Sudbury, which explains the jigsaw puzzle piece of Sudbury that extends into East Sudbury, which was renamed to Wayland in 1835.

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The Wheeler Farm causes a jigsaw shape
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1830 Wood Map of Sudbury
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1875 Beers Map of Maynard & Sudbury

The last change to our town boundaries was in 1871. Assabet Village was a growing mill town on both sides of the Assabet River and it was incorporated as Maynard.

That is how the Westerly Precinct affected how the shape of Sudbury evolved.

A footnote on the term West Sudbury. The Town records show the terms the West or Westerly Side and East Side. The precinct is referred to as the Westerly Precinct. A quick search of the commonwealth records does not show the term West Sudbury, there either. However, there is one important document that refers to us as West Sudbury and that is the 1851 court case, The Inhabitants of the First Parish in Sudbury vs. Samuel A. Jones & others, which clarifies that the town common belongs to First Parish.

Other Notes that got cut from talk

Sudbury practiced "open field" farming, in which large fields where held in common and farmers ... Much land was held in common. See the map of Common Arable Land below by Esmée Bellalta, nèe Cromie as part of the Puritan Village research effort. More: Esmée Bellalta.

On the right is a map from the same Puritan VIllage research. From Wayland Library via Digital Commonwealth

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Common Arable Land in Sudbury in 1650
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SUDBURY, MASS ca 1638-1676 hi-res
Many towns in Massachussetts were split off of larger "mother" towns. Weston & Waltham were split from Watertown. This is an attempt at showing the earliest boundaries of the town around. See the Original Concord Map. I need to look at Dedham, Massachusetts, 1635-1890 / by Robert Brand Hanson!!

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Sudbury is one of 3 inland towns
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Lancaster Highway on Haynes Map In 1653, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered a road built from Sudbury to Lancaster. After it rounds Goodman's Hill and gets up to what is now Hudson Road, it essentially divides the Town in half. We know the middle part of this as Old Lancaster Road. It ran up from the river along the current Wolbach Road connected with Cato road. It is a reference point for many land transactions.

Billerica Dam might come down!!! TALBOT MILLS DAM REMOVAL other notes The boatman : Henry David Thoreau's river years <> Middlesex Canal


Walter Haynes was Born 1583, Age 55 in 1638. died Feb. 14, 1665. __ Hudson says about him: In his history of Sudbury, Hudson says of him: He was a freeman May 13,1641. He represented the town in the General Court in the years 1641, 14,'48 and '51, and was a selectman ten years. Mr. Haynes was probably one of the first grantees to erect a house on the west side of the river, which house was probably the “Haynes Garrison."

Freeman. What does that mean? It clearly means one is not a slave or other form of servant. There were many indentured servants that had their ships passage paid for. Depending on the contract, they may be indentured for 1-4 years and the may receive land upon completion of their service. For example, Walter Haynes brought three men with him: John Blanford, John Riddot, Rich Biddlecomb. John Blandfold stayed in Sudbury and I assume Blandfold Pond on Cavvichio's land is named for him or a descendent. However, John Blandfold is not in the Colony's list of Freemen before 1650.

Not a servant, a member of a church, and take the oath.

P.67 Town Records 1 - the Oath.
I, being by Gods providence an Inhabitant within this Jurisdiction doe truly and solemnly acknowledge myself to be subject to the government of the same, and therefore doe here sware by the great and dreadful' name of the ever livinge God that I will be true and faithful to the same and will accordingly yield Assistance thereunto with my person and that as in equity I am bound. And I will allsoe truely endeavour to maintayne and preserve the libertyes and privileges thereof submittinge myselfe to the wholesome lawes made and established by the same. And further that I will not plott or practice any evill against it nor consult with any that shall soe doe, but will tymely discover the same to lawful Authority now here established for the suppressinge of the same soe help me God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I assume taking the oath is what made Walter Haynes a freeman in 1641.

---------- Powell, Puritan Village p.100
The phrase "free townsman" was very similar, of course, to the same phrase used in the old borough of Sudbury. But the new Sudbury had a very different philosophy. All male adult citizens, once sanctioned by a town-meeting vote and given a grant of common land, were considered free townsmen. For this privilege, they were expected to live in Sudbury, pay all taxes, and be called on to serve in any town post which the town meeting decided was necessary for that particular year.

The Puritans expected everyone to contribute and to work the land they had, other wise the town would reassign it.

---------- Powell, Puritan Village
Where Watertown's first records cited "the Freemen" as a source of local political authority, Sudbury's governing body hardly used the term at all Now and then Noyes, Pendleton, Haynes, and Goodnow signed as "freemen" in the first five years, but the overwhelming majority of the early laws stated boldly, "ordered and agreed by the inhabitants of this Town of Sudbury."


History of Sudbury Massachusetts 1638-1889     Alfred S. Hudson     1889     Town of Sudbury
Puritan Village: The Formation of a New England TownSumner Chilton Powell1963Wesleyan University Press
A Puritan Village EvolvesHelen Fitch Emery1981Wayland Historical Commission
A Brief History of the Towne of Sudbury in Mass 1639-1939     Federal Writers*1987Sudbury Historical Society
Descendants of Walter Haynes and Peter Noyes, of Sudbury, Mass.     Frederick Haynes Newell1893Privately Published

2023-07-23 <> jch, aka YON - Jan C. Hardenbergh