Welcome to the New MAGenWeb Project
My name is Michelle Wilkins Cook, I am the State Coordinator for the Massachusetts GenWeb Project. You can reach me via email at MA State Coordinator. Please let me know if there is anything you think should be added to this site.
Massachusetts was first colonized by principally English Europeans in the early 17th century, and became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the 18th century. Prior to English colonization of the area, it was inhabited by a variety of mainly Algonquian-speaking indigenous tribes. The first permanent English settlement was established in 1620 with the founding of Plymouth Colony by the Pilgrims who sailed on the Mayflower. A second, shorter-lasting colony, was established near Plymouth in 1622 at Wessagusset, now Weymouth. A large Puritan migration begun in 1630 established the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Boston, and spawned the settlement of other New England colonies. Friction with the natives grew with the population, erupting in the Pequot War of the mid-1630s and King Philip's War in the 1670s. The colonies were religiously conservative, and Massachusetts Bay authorities in particular repeatedly deported, cast out, and even executed people with views that did not accord with their narrow Puritan views. The Massachusetts Bay Colony frequently clashed with political opponents in England, including several kings, over its religious intolerance and the status of its charter. Businessmen established wide-ranging trade links, sending ships to the West Indies and Europe, and sometimes shipping goods in violation of the Navigation Acts. These political and trade issues led to the revocation of the Massachusetts charter in 1684.
King James II in 1686 established the Dominion of New England to govern all of New England, whose unpopular rule by Sir Edmund Andros came to a sudden end in 1689 with an uprising sparked by the Glorious Revolution. King William III established the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691, to govern a territory roughly equivalent to that of the modern Commonwealth and Maine, although border issues with its neighbors would persist into the 19th century. Its governors were appointed by the crown, in contrast to the predecessor colonies, which had elected their own governors. This created friction between the colonists and the crown, which reached its height in the early days of the American Revolution in the 1760s and 1770s. Massachusetts was where the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, an effort many of its people and businesses supported until Britain formally recognized the United States in 1783.
The commonwealth formally adopted the state constitution in 1780, electing John Hancock its first governor. The state was the first to abolish slavery.
1620: The Plymouth Colony was established. It eventually spread over today's Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol Counties.
1630: Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded. It expanded to today's area of Essex, Middlesex, Old Norfolk (now part of New Hampshire), and Suffolk Counties.
1652: Maine became part of Massachusetts. Maine land records often were recorded in Massachusetts state land records and can be found in the Massachusetts State Archives.
1691: A new charter was granted to Massachusetts Bay Colony, uniting it with Plymouth Colony. Parts of Maine and Nova Scotia were also added to Massachusetts.
1700: Massachusetts created the 1st 'Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands', including Maine.
1783: Massachusetts created the 2nd 'Committee for the Sale of Eastern Lands', specifically to survey, appraise and sell land in Maine.
1786: The Ohio Land Company was formed, resulting in the emigration of many Massachusetts residents to Ohio.
1819: Maine separated from Massachusetts, but Massachusetts retained ownership of half the available land.
1853: Maine bought the rest of the land still owned by Massachusetts within Maine borders.