The Charlton Historical Society's mission is to further the interest and appreciation of the history of the Town of Charlton.
Time Line for the Establishment of the Town of Charlton
By William O. Hultgren
Ebenezer Mackintire’s home and tavern, on what was to become Charlton Common, had been the meeting place of the men intent upon convincing their fellow Oxford townsmen and ultimately the General Court in Boston, that their properties in the western part of Oxford should be made into a separate town.
Oxford had been settled by French Huguenots as early as 1683. Following a number of clashes with
the native Nipmucks, they had abandoned the settlement. The General Court then authorized a settlement of English pioneers in 1713, on the eastern part of the grant, now Oxford center. The remaining west part of 3000 acres was granted to five individuals: Robert Thompson, William Stoughton, Daniel Cox, John Blackwell and Joseph Dudley. The Town of Dudley was subsequently established from Joseph Dudley’s lands. Thomas Freak and John Blackwell, by division, each take two sevenths of the Daniel Cox land. Edward Kitchen, in 1730, acquired the Thomas Freak property. The accompanying map illustrates this division of land. By 1730 some of these lands or “farms” were subdivided and sold to individuals. Ebenezer Mackintire and his relatives took up three of these 150 acre lots, Ebenezer taking the area now comprising Charlton Center in 1733. There remained a wedge-shaped piece of land of 6000 acres north of the Oxford lands, called “County Gore” which was surveyed and divided into farms in 1719.
Life was rough on these settlers. Land must be cleared, houses built, and basic needs supplied. Important to these early families was the strong religious convictions associated with the established church. These matters would become a strong arguing point in the petitions of these west Oxford families to be established as a new town.
Oxford town meeting voted, in 1721, to build a new church. All land owners were assessed towards the construction and the support of a minister. The west Oxford residents complained that they were, in some cases, seven miles from the meetinghouse and must travel, in all sorts of weather, over paths unbridged, to attend meeting, yet charged for the support of the Gospel without any benefit thereof. They also complained that large herds of cattle were driven onto this area to graze, destroying their crops and tillage land, “all these things considered, we feel we shall be undone without help of the Court,” the petition reads. The land owners in that area called the “Gore” north of Oxford, complained that they belonged to no town. They were, therefore, unable to record their deeds to their land and were too small to be a town of their own. They, in 1750, joined with the west Oxford settlers in petitioning the General Court to be “set of” as a new town.
Oxford town meeting voted to support this petition, only moving the town line one mile farther west than requested. With this change, no action was taken in Boston. In 1754, another petition was presented. This time the “Gore” lands were not included and the east line re-established.
The petition was referred to committee and their recommendation was “having considered all the circumstances, recommend a district be made.” On Friday, January 10, 1755, an engrossed bill, entitled, “an Act for Setting Off the Inhabitants, as Also Their Estates of the West Part of Oxford, into a Separate District by the Name of _______,” passed to be enacted. No name was inserted in the act, but when it reached the office of Gov. William Shirley, he inserted the name “Charlton.”
A district differed only in that Charlton was not allowed to send a representative to the General Court, combining with Oxford in that choice. Charlton become a “town” by a law making all districts towns in 1775.