This page is devoted to places that were once called Suffolk but, for varying reasons, have since changed names.
Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)
Canada:Suffolk County, Ontario, Canada. 1792-1800
Counties - Land Losses:-Suffolk, England - Land Lost to Other Counties & the Sea (& Some Gains)
Suffolk County was created in 1792 in southern Ontario on the north shore of Lake Erie. It is noticeable that the order of counties at that time ran east to west in the same order that the counties on the eastern coast of England run north to south: Northumberland, Durham, York, Lincoln, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. York and Lincoln were even divided into Ridings like their English counterparts.
Only eight years later however, in 1800, the land was split between Kent & Middlesex Counties; at which time Suffolk ceased to exist. In 1851, most of the land that had been Suffolk became Elgin County, although the former Suffolk townships of Delaware, Westminster & North Dorchester remained in Middlesex. Three historical townships in Elgin County are named after towns in Suffolk, England, namely Aldborough, Dunwich & Southwold; although these were actually first settled in the early 1800s, after the demise of Suffolk County. Just across the boundary, in Kent County, can be found the township of Orford.
Today Elgin County is bordered by the counties of Kent to the west, Middlesex to the north, Oxford to the northeast & Norfolk to the east. It is located at 42° 45’ N 81° 10’ W. The county seat is St. Thomas.
For the development of the early administrative units in Quebec see Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk page.
The original plans for settlement in 1792 had the three townships of Grenville, Suffolk and Templeton, going upstream on the north bank of the River Ottawa with the Seigneurie de La Petite-Nation in between. They first appear on the Gale and Duberger map of 1795, and were waiting to be granted out for settlement.
In 1798 Archibald McMillan succeeded his father as head of the McMillans of Loch Arkaig in Scotland. Facing eviction from their tenancies to make way for sheep farming, McMillan emigrated with 400 of his kinsmen to Canada in 1802. He settled in Montreal where he became engaged in mercantile pursuits. Archibald McMillan quickly realised the potential in obtaining a township grant. Being a Montreal resident, he was barred from obtaining land in Upper Canada (now Ontario), but he could acquire land in Lower Canada (now Quebec). In August 1804 McMillan petitioned for land in Suffolk, Templeton, and Grenville townships on the Grand, or Ottawa, River, but he soon ran into the bureaucratic delays that characterised the land-granting system in the colony. Discouraged, many of McMillan’s Highlanders left for Glengarry in Upper Canada, where they had relatives. Nevertheless, in spite of the delays, his patience was rewarded in 1807 with patents on 13,261 acres in the Township of Suffolk, and a quarter of the Township of Templeton. On 26th March 1807 McMillan promptly had Suffolk renamed Lochaber, after the region around Fort William in Scotland where Loch Arkaig is located.
Having acquired large forested areas McMillan pursued his lumbering interests with great energy. As his profits from lumbering far exceeded what he could earn from farming, he became negligent in attracting sufficient emigrants to comply with the settlement conditions of his grant. The government lost patience with him by 1825 and confiscated his land-grant. However, his intervention had stimulated the spread of Scottish communities that developed along the Ottawa River, and accounts for the large number of McMillan surnames that survive to this day.
From 22 May 1874 to 19 February 1994 this was the official name for Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk (see Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk page). The township was merged with other townships, as below, from 1867 to 1880 and 1885 to 1994. For the geographical relationship of the townships to each other, refer to the Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk page.
In 1867 Suffolk was not yet organised because of its small population, and administratively it became part of the United Townships of Hartwell-et-Suffolk some time between 1867 and 1870. The Township of Hartwell was organised on 16 January 1864, and named after the Buckinghamshire town. However, when the first post office was opened by Pierre Hercule Chéné (1834-1904) the village was named Sévigné, after the Marquise de Sévigné, an extremely devout French noblewoman. From 1876 to 1884 it was renamed Hartwell, but from 1884 the post office became Chénéville and in 1903 the municipality officially took this name in recognition of the achievements of its founder. On 1 January 1881 the Township of Suffolk, which was now the larger of the two municipalities, separated. In 1996,Chénéville and Vinoy merged (see Suffolk-West below).
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The Township of Addington was not organised in 1885 and it was, therefore, attached to Suffolk, its southern neighbour, as the United Townships of Suffolk-et-Addington on 1 January 1885. It took its name from Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth, who was the Speaker of the House of Commons when the 1791 Constitutional Act for Canada was passed. He was later the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1804. In 1890 the first settler David Desormeaux arrived in the area, and on 13 August 1892 the Township of Addington was formally organised. In 1910 the post office took the name of Lac Desormeaux which in 1933 was changed to Lac-des-Plages (in English “Lake of Beaches”). In 1923, due to the distance from Saint-Émile-de-Suffolk where the administrative affairs were conducted, Addington tried to separate, but because of its small population it had to remain administratively part of Suffolk-et-Addington. In 1950 it was partly detached from Suffolk and the village formally became Lac-des-Plages. Finally, on 19 February 1994 the two townships were officially separated.
Vinoy is a district to the southeast of the municipality of Chénéville. A post office opened here in 1871 and was named after Joseph Vinoy, a French general of the 19th century. It remained part of the Township of Suffolk in 1881 when Hartwell and Suffolk separated. In 1920 Vinoy became the Township of Suffolk-Partie-Ouest (Suffolk-West) and was detached from the United Townships of Suffolk-et-Addington. In 1923 it reverted to its original name as the Township of Vinoy. On 21 August 1996 it merged with the existing Municipality of Chénéville.
Located at 46°19’41” N 63°04’19” W on the Winter River just west of Suffolk Road, this has been known since about 1950 as Officers Pond.
The use of water from the Winter River has been a significant factor in the economy of the area since the early 19th century. Because rivers in PEI are relatively small and shallow they were ideal for damming. In the 1830s a sawmill began operating at Suffolk (see Suffolk, PEI page). Initially the cutting and sawing was done by human power, but soon the river was dammed, and the water flow through the wheels was used to drive machinery for grinding grain or cutting logs into lumber.
A pond naturally formed behind the dam. This was originally known as Johnstons Pond after the Johnston family that operated the sawmill for most of the 19th century. After that family moved on, it became known as Suffolk Pond as the water exits at the northeast corner of the pond where the settlement of Suffolk is located. The Winter River flows northeast through Suffolk into Winter Bay at Corran Ban.
It remained Suffolk Pond for the first half of the 20th century, but around about 1950 it became known as Officers Pond after the United Services Officers Fishing Club that established its site there.
The pond and its associated wetlands cover approximately 30.4 hectares (75 acres). In 1993 studies showed that it was one of the best ponds on the island in terms of fish habitat, and it is renowned for the wild Brook Trout that can be caught there.
Suffolk Bay is the former “official” name for Troumaka Bay on the west coast of the island of St Vincent, one mile north of Cumberland Bay.
The name “Saint Vincent” was given by Columbus on his discovery of the island in January 1498 on that Spanish saint’s day. The Spanish made no attempt to settle the island. The Caribs of St Vincent, living in the densely forested, mountainous interior, were able to resist European settlement longer than any other island in the Caribbean. This was in part because many Caribs from other islands fled to St Vincent after their home islands had been conquered, and from 1635 the Caribs intermarried with Africans who had escaped from slavery, after a shipwreck on the island. While the English were the first to lay claim to St Vincent in 1627, they never settled the island. The fierceness of the Carib tribes led to both France and Britain agreeing that St Vincent should be a neutral island, left alone by both nations. This allowed the Carib language to survive in place-names on the island, such as the village and bay of Troumaka.
French settlers did arrive in the early 1700s but in 1763 St Vincent was ceded to Britain. The mixed race Caribs, known as Black Caribs, resisted British rule and destroyed many plantations during the First Carib War (1772-73), after which the British conceded most of the eastern half of the island to the Black Caribs. With Carib aid, the French seized the island in June 1779, but restored it to Britain by the Treaty of Paris (3 September 1783) that ended the American War of Independence.
The British realised that the Caribs would again resist their rule and, in order to eradicate the native influence, the British began providing English names as alternatives to existing Carib place-names, such as Berkshire Hill, Dorsetshire Hill, Cumberland Bay, etc. Suffolk Bay was the alternative given to Troumaka Bay. It was named in recognition of the activities of Rear-Admiral Sir Joshua Rowley in the recent conflict. He had just relinquished the position of commander-in-chief of the West Indies station after the cessation of the American War of Independence. Joshua Rowley (1730-1790) was born and lived at Tendring Hall, Suffolk. In December 1778 he took up command of the 74 gun HMS Suffolk and was sent to the West Indies in command of a squadron of seven ships, and was very successful in capturing a number of French, Spanish and American vessels. In 1782 he became commander-in-chief based at Jamaica. On return to England he retired and died at Tendring Hall. The naming of the bay thus commemorates both him and his ship.
Tension between the British and the Black Caribs continued, culminating in the Second Carib War (1795-97). This ended in defeat for these people, and the British forcibly moved around 5,000 Black Caribs to Central America, leaving only a small native population who had remained on friendly terms with the British, known as Yellow Caribs, on a reservation in the north of the island. Nevertheless, the black slaves brought from Africa remembered the uprising and they preferred to retain the original Carib names rather than adopt the English names of their masters, thus the village of Troumaka remained and nearby Suffolk Bay was invariably referred to as Troumaka Bay by the local inhabitants. In the 1960s it became evident that greater autonomy would be given to the local population and the old colonial names were quietly dropped. In October 1969 St Vincent became a self-governing Associate State and on 27 October 1979 it became an independent member of the Commonwealth. There does not seem to have been an official renaming of Suffolk Bay, the colloquial name just continued to exist as it always had.
The name “Suffolk Bay” has been revived by a North Carolina furniture manufacturer for its range of cocktail tables (see Suffolk Bay Cocktail Tables on the page).
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Elvira is an unincorporated community in Center Township, Clinton County, Iowa. It was named Suffolk for eighty days in 1854.
After 1832, the Native Americans between the Mississippi and Iowa rivers were forced westward so that the territory could be opened for European settlement. The first settlers moved into the present Clinton County in 1835, and in 1840 the community of Pleasant Prairie was established at Brophy Creek, to the west of Elvira. The territory around today’s Elvira was occupied from 1851 by a few widely dispersed homesteads, Adam Kelley being considered the first such settler. Other early settlers soon after this were Jacob Lepper, who established the first general store and tavern on the wagon train route, and William E Leffingwell. In 1852 Pleasant Prairie was burnt down by raiding Indians, so the survivors moved back east to where Jacob Lepper’s store was located, and established a new village which they called Cherry Wood. In March 1852 the Township of Center was organised and the first elections held at the house of Jacob Lepper. New settlers began arriving and, on 11 October 1854, a post office was established there with the name of Suffolk. Among the new arrivals was a William H Gibbs, who platted the settlement to make the occupancy of plots official, but he gave it the present name of Elvira in honour of his wife on 29 December 1854.
The sources do not indicate why Suffolk was chosen as the original name for the settlement. However, it appears likely that the early settler William E Leffingwell was responsible. This person was a notable attorney who was born at Sag Harbor in Suffolk County, New York. None of the other early settlers had any connection with a Suffolk and, as an attorney, ‘Bill’ Leffingwell would have been the most eloquent advocate. His family had moved west in the 1830s and he became a member of the State General Assembly, a State Senator, and a district judge. In the Civil War he was a captain in the First Iowa Cavalry, organising a company known as the “Hawkeye Rangers” with recruits mainly from Clinton and Jackson counties. Capt. William E Leffingwell was badly wounded in 1862 and had to give up his command. He later moved to Chicago where he continued to practise law.
High Suffolk was a 1,450 acre plantation located at the headwaters of the Wicomico River in Somerset County, Maryland. It was to the northwest of present-day Salisbury near the head of Rockawalkin Creek in modern day Wicomico County between the Salisbury-Nantichoke Road (Route 349) and Levin Dashiell Road.
Capt Thomas Walker was born before 1661 at Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was a prominent merchant and captain of the “Providence of Boston”. He settled in Somerset County, Maryland, possibly as early as 1664 as a planter and land speculator. He is known to have married Jane Coppinhall of Somerset County in 1674, and he was High Sheriff of the county in 1676-77. The first records relating to his land holdings are in 1677 when he is recorded as holding a plantation called “Boston Towne” and three plots of various names totalling 1,000 acres “in the woods at the head of the Rockiawakin River”. In October 1677 he is recorded as having three plots of 1,450 acres, 200 acres and 150 acres called “Suffolk” on the north side of the Wicomico River. This may reflect a consolidation of the previous entry into one plantation named after his home county in Massachusetts. The name was probably changed to “High Suffolk” as soon as it was realised that an earlier plantation called Suffolk had already been formed in the lower part of the county (see Suffolk, Somerset County, MD, under the page). Capt Thomas Walker died in 1680.
On 15 September 1700 Adam Hitch from Virginia purchased 1,450 acres called High Suffolk from Susannah, the daughter of Thomas Walker, and her husband Nicholas Evans. On the death of Adam Hitch in 1729 the land was divided up between his heirs. Thereafter throughout the 18th century, parts of the estate were sold, and these portions were given different names by the new owners, which led to the name “High Suffolk” gradually falling into disuse. A survey in 1799 refers to “parts of the tract of High Suffolk”, and there is a mention of the name in a judicial record of 1855 referring to the estate on an historic basis.
The land where High Suffolk was once located is still used for agricultural purposes. It seems that the residence of High Suffolk during the time of Adam Hitch lay west of the plantation on land that is now the housing development of Centennial Village North, a suburb of the City of Salisbury.
Suffolk was just off State Highway 155, four miles southwest of Gilmer in Upshur County which is in northeast Texas.
Although the lands around Gilmer had been granted out in large tracts to ranchers in the 1830s, much of this territory remained virgin forest. The first settler within the boundaries of modern Upshur County arrived in 1836. The area was originally part of Nacogdoches County, and later was incorporated into Harrison County. On 27 April 1846 the first legislature of the State of Texas established Upshur County with the provision that the county seat be located within five miles of the geographic centre, and must be named Gilmer. These names were chosen after the US secretary of state, Abel P. Upshur, and the secretary of the navy, Thomas W. Gilmer, who were both killed during a test firing of a new cannon on the USS Princeton in 1844. On 1 May 1848, the location for Gilmer was selected, and in August the sale of lots for the new town began.
The area around Gilmer was soon granted out to small homesteads, self-sustaining family farms with cotton as the main cash crop. The only communal centre was Gilmer itself. However, in 1901 the St Louis & Southwestern Railway of Texas (colloquially known as The Cotton Belt Railway) drove a line connecting Tyler to Gilmer. The Cotton Belt route became an important rail artery between Memphis/St Louis and East Texas/Arkansas. Working on the railroad brought many new people to Upshur County, and led to the creation of small communities around stops that were planned along the line, one of which was Suffolk. It is not known why this name was chosen, but it may have been suggested by one of the three major financial backers of the railway, all of whom came from New York City. The president of the company was Edwin Gould and he was the one most active in building railroads, the other two were Winslow Pierce and Louis Fitzgerald, financiers from a bank and an insurance company respectively. The proximity of Suffolk County on Long Island, then a major retreat for the wealthy, may have lent itself to such a suggestion.
The original intention was that Suffolk should be a transit point for agricultural produce brought down the Aspen Trail, and a siding and spur track were built for this purpose. However, the arrival of the railroad opened the virgin forests for exploitation and from 1907 this countryside experienced a lumbering boom. Soon the small lumbering and farming town of Suffolk, consisting of a church, a depot, a store, a school, a cemetery, and a number of houses, was established along the Aspen Trail north of the train stop. It is marked on maps from 1914.
The lumbering boom faded because of forest depletion by 1930 and people began moving away. The Suffolk School closed down in 1932. State Highway 155 was upgraded between 1933 and 1939, and competition from road transport began to affect the railroad and its employees. After World War II most of the residents moved away, and by the mid-1960s all that remained of the community was a few widely scattered houses. The railroad ceased in 1987. In 1990 Suffolk no longer appeared on highway maps; two businesses still operated there in 1999 with a business address as “Suffolk”, but for official purposes Suffolk was no longer recognised as a “populated place” in Upshur County. The few remaining residences in the area all now have a Gilmer address. However, since 1961 a small dormitory suburb of Gilmer has grown up where the Aspen Trail meets Highway 155, just south of the former railway stop, and some maps sometimes show this as “Suffolk”. This would seem to be a memory of the former community that was located nearby along the Aspen Trail, and not an official name for this new development. Nevertheless, since Suffolk is still well within living memory, it may be that the name is unofficially used by the locals.
The only other vestige of the town is Suffolk Road and the Morris Cemetery, and the cemetery was there before Suffolk. Suffolk Road runs from Highway 155 towards the cemetery and connects with the Aspen Trail; it takes its name from being a route to the former town. The Morris Cemetery is still in use, near to the junction between Suffolk Road and the Aspen Trail, and opposite to where the old school was located. The cemetery is located on land that was part of the farmstead of William Morris in the 1860s. The cemetery is noted for the grave of the “unknown soldier”, the first to be buried there. A Confederate soldier, on his way home at the end of the war, and very ill, stopped at the William Morris home. There he died, without revealing his name. The Morris family buried him on their property and thus began the Morris Cemetery. This must have been about 1866. A hundred years later a County marker was erected over his grave.
Central Islip is a census-designated place within the town of Islip in Suffolk County, New York. The population was 34,450 at the 2010 census.
Prior to 1842 the area now occupied by Central Islip was farmland on the original tract of land owned by the Nicoll family (for early history see Islip on the Suffolk County, New York page). In July 1842 the eastward expansion of the Long Island Rail Road reached the area, and Suffolk Station was opened at the present junction of Islip Avenue and Suffolk Avenue.
Suffolk Station became the commercial centre for the neighbouring communities where produce was brought for onward transport by rail, but it was not until 1849 that urban development really began. That year George Hubbs bought 939 acres of land from the seventh William Nicoll, and moved his family to Suffolk Station where he became Railroad Stationmaster, Postmaster and later School Inspector. It was on his land that new housing and stores were built, and the population of the area grew.
Eventually a new station was built in November 1873 further to the east along Suffolk Avenue where Wheeler Road and Carleton Avenue meet today. The name Central Islip was given to the new station and, hence, the present-day name was given to the community of Suffolk Station. In November 1987 the modern Central Islip station was relocated to the corner of Lowell Avenue as part of a major reconstruction of the line, and is thus in a different location from all of its predecessors.
Manor of Suffolks, a former manor in Enfield, Middlesex, England, was situated in the southeastern part of Enfield at Ponders End, a village on the main highway to Hertford; the manor house being just to the west of the highway (Hertford Road).
In 1307 it is recorded that an Ellis of Suffolk held a house and land in Enfield which became the nucleus of the Manor of Suffolks (in modern day English we would say “Suffolk’s Manor”). In 1459 it was conveyed, with lands in Essex, by John Norton to Thomas Colt and others. It remained in the Colt family, and hence received its alternative name of “Colt’s Farm”, until 1578 or 1579, when it was conveyed by George Colt to Sir Robert Wroth of Durants. The Manor of Durants lay on the east side of the main highway at Ponders End. The two manors remained separate. In 1686 they passed to the Galliard family and then by marriage to the Bowles family of East Sheen in Surrey. In 1792 the daughter of Charles Bowles married Newell Connop, and both manors were sold to the son-in-law. In 1798 the Manor of Suffolks, then comprising 462 acres, was merged into the Manor of Durants, and ceased to have a separate existence.
The name “Suffolks Farm” is recorded on the western side of Hertford Road in 1572, and there was a field called “Suffolks” in the 18th century. Later there is reference to a “Suffolks Orchard” where a “desirable residence was built on Suffolks Orchard at Enfield Highway” shortly before 1869. This became Broadlands Farm, adjacent to Hertford Road and the large orchards to the west of that road, and opposite the site of Durant Manor (now called Durant Arbour). It is believed that the manor house probably stood near Suffolks Orchard at Enfield Highway. (Enfield Highway was the name given to the settlements either side of Hertford Road between the villages of Ponders End and Green Street, and the general area is marked thus on the Ordnance Survey maps from 1822.) However, the precise location of the manor house of Suffolks is unknown.
Newell Connop died in 1831, leaving most of his estate to his son Woodham. In 1867 there were several orchards at Enfield Highway and Ponders End, and these accounted for much of the Connop estate in the eastern part of Enfield. On the death of Woodham Connop in 1868 the estate was broken up and these lands were acquired for housing in 1869, but little building took place until the 20th century. Any manorial rights were said to be extinct in 1911. The first houses on land formerly owned by the Connop family were built in 1891. In 1903 Enfield Council purchased Durant Arbour in order to create a public park; the house was demolished in 1910. Broadlands Farm on the opposite side of the Hertford Road was sold in the 1920s and is now covered by the houses of Broadlands Avenue.
The present Suffolk Road at Ponders End is on the western side of and adjacent to the Hertford Road, and is a quarter of a mile to the south of where the Manor of Suffolks was probably situated. This may not relate directly to the location of the old manor, but it is certainly in the vicinity and probably recalls a folk-memory of the name being applied to the fields and orchards here. The roads built either side of Suffolk Road are also named after English counties: Lincoln, Oxford and Norfolk. The first houses in Suffolk Road were occupied in 1909.
However, the ancient name was revived for a new housing estate built in the 1930s to the north of Broadlands Avenue, known as the “Suffolks Estate”. A primary school built on the estate in 1934 is still known as Suffolks Primary School, Brick Lane, Enfield. The Suffolks Baptist Church is also to be found in Carterhouse Lane, Enfield, originally meeting as the “Suffolks Mission” at the primary school from 1936.
This was a gold mining settlement located in north east Victoria between Chiltern and Magenta. Chiltern still exists but the settlements of Magenta and Suffolk Lead (pronounced ‘leed’) no longer survive. The sites of the former gold mines are listed heritage sites, and the Magenta Mine is now a major tourist attraction.
‘Leads’ are buried streams or gullies containing gold bearing sand or gravel. These leads are buried beneath layers of sediment and it is the depth at which they occur that determines whether it is profitable to extract the ore. The extent of the leads in one locality is referred to as a ‘reef’, thus an alternative name for the mine itself was “Suffolk Reef”.
The actual site of Suffolk Lead was north east of Chiltern, to the south of the present Magenta Road, and just east of Suffolk Street in Chiltern, the latter taking its name because it led to the mine and settlement. The area is now open fields, but its former mining activity is evident in up to eight slum ponds and a few tailings still being present. A ‘slum pond’ is the liquid accumulation of the discharge from the hydraulic process used in mining; ‘tailings’ are the refuse material from the metallurgical process, often available for further treatment if the price of gold increases to make this worthwhile.
The Victorian Gold Rush began in 1851 at Ballarat, northwest of Melbourne. It soon became obvious that there were similar geological formations in other parts of the colony that may produce gold. To the northeast of Melbourne the area around present-day Chiltern was surveyed in 1853, and by 1858 an informal community of prospectors, called New Ballarat, had developed at Black Dog Creek, south of Chiltern. Gold was first discovered that year at Black Dog Creek. It was then a matter of tracing where the old bed of the stream (the ‘reef’) had probably run to see if there were other deposits to be found. This led to the Magenta Reef and Suffolk Reef being located, and in December 1858 gold was discovered at the present location of Chiltern. A township named after the Chiltern Hills in England was established, and the original mining settlement moved from New Ballarat (Black Dog Creek) to the new township. Other mining camps sprang up above the reefs and by the end of 1859 settlements had spread along the track from Chiltern to Magenta, including Suffolk Reef.
An application by the Nil Desperandum Company to begin extraction of ore on the Suffolk Reef was granted in January 1859. Soon after it is reported: “Suffolk Lead continues to be much the best, the wash-dirt being very thick and in some claims yielding an average of 2 oz to the load” (The Argus (Melbourne), 7 July 1859). Mining of the Magenta Reef began in 1860 and it soon became the principal gold bearing reef in the area. In its heyday, Magenta was a significant residential area, and in late 1860 plans were considered to run trams along the five miles between Magenta and Chiltern.
The name “Suffolk” is said to have been derived from the renowned confidence trickster Owen Suffolk (see Suffolk Misc. page) who, at that time, had a notoriety that appealed to the mining community. He had been working the mining settlements in 1858, and had just been given a prison sentence at Ballarat that year (see Suffolk United Mine, Eaglehawk, Bendigo, Victoria, Australia on Suffolk Misc. page).
There are records of births and deaths at Suffolk Lead from 1858, and it was a recognised community in the 1861 Census with a population of 470 persons of whom 290 were Chinese. By 1864 most of the workforce in the district was Chinese since they were prepared to work for lower returns. In 1866 there was an exodus of miners to the gold mines of New South Wales, and the mining population was reduced to less than 100. Mining had almost ceased at Suffolk Lead and by 1869 the mine had been abandoned. In 1879 a shaft 150 feet deep was sunk at Suffolk Lead in an attempt to find gold at depth to revive the mine, but this was ultimately unsuccessful. There is also record of a Chinese miner being killed at Suffolk Lead in 1881.
Basically the reason for the existence of Suffolk Lead was over by 1869. However, a settlement continued with fewer and fewer residences, some of which are noted to be in existence in 1907. After that year the community can no longer be said to exist. However, the last death recorded at Suffolk Lead was in 1926. This was probably in a solitary household at the time.
Suffolk County was one of the four original counties when Massachusetts Bay Colony created them on 10th May 1643. At the time of its inception, Suffolk County covered an area far greater than it does today. At that time, the county comprised the towns of Boston, Braintree, Dedham, Dorchester, Hingham, Nantasket (now Hull), Roxbury and Weymouth. Since then land has been lost to neighbouring counties; most notably Norfolk, the majority of which was originally part of Suffolk. At the time, boundaries were largely undefined and nobody was sure where the southern limits of the Massachusetts Bay Colony lay. As such, some towns now in Connecticut and Rhode Island were originally considered part of Suffolk County. As the City of Boston expanded, some land returned from Norfolk County to Suffolk County, parts of Middlesex County were also absorbed and land was gained from landfill.
(i) Loss of land now in Plymouth County (earlier Plymouth Colony), Massachusetts
The potential for Suffolk County to lose territory began before it was created in respect of its eastern boundary. The 1628 Charter placed the southern boundary of Massachusetts Bay Colony as a straight line from a point three miles south of the southernmost part of the Charles River in the west to a point three miles south of the southernmost part of Massachusetts Bay in the east. This clearly put the southern coastal strip of Boston Bay within the territory of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. However, this stretch of coast had been considered by the older Plymouth Colony to be within its sphere, and Wessagusset (Weymouth) and Nantasket (Hull) were settled as part of the Plymouth Colony in 1622 and 1624 respectively. Nevertheless, these two became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, and hence part of Suffolk County in 1643.
The difficulty was in deciding where Massachusetts Bay ended. Scituate had been settled from Plymouth Colony in 1627, and that colony maintained this was on the Atlantic coast not in Massachusetts Bay, whereas the Massachusetts settlers insisted that a line drawn three miles south of the Bay would include Scituate. The real argument was over the Cohasset Bay coastal marshes. Marshland is not considered particularly valuable now, but in the 17th century such land was essential to provide salt marsh hay for cattle. The settlers of Hingham in Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed these marshlands as part of their own, whilst Plymouth had granted land in this area to the settlers at Scituate. The leaders of the Plymouth Colony argued that a tidal inlet on Massachusetts Bay was a more easily discernable boundary line between the two colonies; the Massachusetts Bay Colony agreed to this, thus conceding Scituate to Plymouth but in return they expected to be granted territory east of the inlet as marshland for Hingham.
The boundary with Plymouth Colony was finally demarcated in 1639 (“The Old Colony Line”) and is still visible today as the straight line boundary between Norfolk County to the west, and Bristol and Plymouth Counties to the east, except in the northeastern part where it deviates towards Massachusetts Bay. The commissioners in 1640 awarded 60 acres of marshland at the mouth of the tidal inlet “on the Scituate side”, i.e. the east side of the inlet, for the benefit of Hingham farmers. Plymouth disagreed with this since that land had already been given to Scituate farmers, while Hingham farmers did not consider the 60 acres to be sufficient for their needs. In 1664 a joint commission from both colonies re affirmed “The Old Colony Line”, but this dispute simmered on even after 1691 when Plymouth Colony became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Eventually in 1711 the “Old Colony Line” as delineated was declared to be the boundary, thus Suffolk County lost the southern and eastern coastlands of Cohasset Bay to Plymouth County, all but the 60 acres (appropriately named Border Street) which can still be seen as part of present-day Norfolk County on the other side of the inlet on Cohasset Bay.
This was not the end to this disputed boundary. At this period of colonial settlement the art of surveying was somewhat limited by the instruments at hand. As more sophisticated equipment became available, it was found that the straight line deviated by as much as half a mile in favour of Suffolk County between Stoughton (in Suffolk) and Bridgewater (in Plymouth). In 1770 this anomaly was corrected by the part previously in Suffolk County being passed to Plymouth County.
When Norfolk County was created out of Suffolk County on 26th March 1793, it included the towns of Cohasset, Hingham and Hull. However, both Hingham and Hull petitioned against this and their removal was repealed on 20th June 1793, leaving Hingham and Hull as detached parts of Suffolk County. Nevertheless, this only lasted ten years since, on 18th June 1803, Suffolk County finally lost Hingham and Hull when they became part of Plymouth County, leaving Cohasset as an exclave of Norfolk County.
(ii) Loss of Land now in Middlesex County, Massachusetts
In 1636 the General Court assigned ‘two hundred square miles of virgin wilderness’ to be settled by the new colonists of Massachusetts Bay Colony. In September 1636, a settlement located just southwest of Boston was named after Dedham, Essex, the home town of some of the original inhabitants, hence this area assigned to the town became known as the “Dedham Grant”. Included in the Grant was a tract five miles square lying north of the Charles River which covered the present towns of Needham, Natick and the eastern part of Sherborn. This was, of course, before the counties had come into existence. However, the land assigned to Dedham was considered to be part of Suffolk County, whereas Natick and Sherborn are today in Middlesex County.
In the grant of 1636, Dedham acquired 3,400 acres of land in the eastern part of what is today Sherborn to the south of Natick. This land was sought out by the settlers because of the abundant marsh grass growing on the wide flood plain. The first settler in this area in 1648 was Capt. George Fairbanks, the commander at Dedham, to be followed by other farmers in the 1650s, all of whom retained citizenship of towns in Suffolk County. In 1651 the boundary with Middlesex County was settled along the Charles River in this area, but Medfield in Suffolk County, which had succeeded to the rights of Dedham, continued to collect taxes from the farmers on the other side of the river. It was not until the town of Sherborn was incorporated in Middlesex County in 1674 that the loss of this land from Medfield and Suffolk County was finally accepted.
The Natick Plantation to the north of Sherborn was established in 1651 by the Puritan missionary, John Eliot, who settled a group of “Praying Indians” (indigenous people who had converted to Christianity) on land that had been part of the Dedham Grant. The General Court assigned 2,000 acres to the north of the Charles River, in the area now called South Natick, for this settlement. As was the practice of that time, Indian lands were considered to be outside the territorial organisation of the colonists, so Natick was effectively removed from Suffolk County. However, John Eliot expanded this settlement to south of the river. The settlers at Dedham, who were basically hostile to the Indians, protested at this and took the matter to the county court. The Suffolk court found in favour of the settlers, but in 1662 the General Court overturned this decision and assigned a further 2,000 acres south of the river to the Indians on the basis that they had “improved the land” whereas the Dedham settlers had never bothered with it. This is why there is still an extension of Natick and Middlesex County into Suffolk County south of the River Charles. Dedham, in compensation, was granted 8,000 acres at Pocumtuck (Deerfield) now in Franklin County in northwest Massachusetts, on which Dedham residents were later to settle.
The prosperity of the Natick village was destroyed during King Philip’s War in 1675, a general Indian uprising against the white settlers. The General Court ordered the Natick Indians to be sent to Deer Island. Many died of disease and cold, and the Indians who survived found their homes destroyed. In 1696 Thomas Sawin became the first white settler at Natick when he was invited to live and work alongside the native population. However, the Indian village did not fully recover, and the land held in common by the Indian community was slowly sold off to incoming white settlers to cover debts. In 1719 the experiment was ended when twenty men were named by the General Court as Proprietors to oversee the division of land. This brought Natick back into the colonial administration as part of Middlesex County, the town clerk coming from Sherborn. Soon the Indians drifted away or succumbed to disease, leaving the white settlers in the majority and in possession of the land.
Meanwhile, the remaining tract of the Dedham Grant north of the Charles River had been incorporated as Needham in 1711 in Suffolk County. This included that land to the north of the Indian settlement at South Natick. This was a wedge of land 2½ miles long and 1½ miles wide that became known as the “Needham Leg”. It had first been settled by white farmers in 1704 and by 1724 there were only six families in the “Leg”. Nevertheless, in 1724 they petitioned the General Court to be part of Natick because the Indian meeting house in South Natick was nearer to them than the one in Needham. As more settlers began to move into the “Needham Leg”, the agitation to separate from Needham became stronger (this became known as the “Meeting House Dispute”). In 1743 their petition was finally granted and the “Needham Leg” went from Needham and Suffolk County to Natick and Middlesex County. However, this was not the end of the matter. No sooner had the people in the northern part of Natick obtained access to the meeting house in South Natick, rather than support an Indian church, they began to request their own meeting house in the centre of Natick. Not getting this, the people in the “Leg” then requested the General Court to restore this area to Needham. This was approved in 1761, and the area came back to Suffolk County. Natick became a town in 1781 and by this time the inhabitants were divided in their religious persuasions. In 1796 the majority voted to separate from their southern brethren and to build a new meeting house to the north, in the centre of the present-day town. This was in line with the sympathies of those living in the “Needham Leg”, so the General Court resolved the issue in June 1797 by allowing most of the “Leg” (1,656 acres) to return to Natick and Middlesex County, but the southern and eastern sections (404 acres) remained with Needham and Suffolk County. This is how the boundaries have remained ever since.
(iii) Loss of land now in Worcester County, Massachusetts
In 1659 the town of Braintree in Suffolk County wanted relief for their population growth, and the General Court allowed a new plantation to be established in an area called Nipmug. In 1662 a deed of land of eight square miles was purchased from the native population and by July 1663 settlers from Braintree and Dorchester had moved to the plantation. At the time this was seen as an extension of Suffolk County since this was where the people had come from, but in May 1667 the settlement was incorporated as Mendon and placed in Middlesex County by the General Court. It was not until 1669 that the General Court appointed a magistrate, a Colonel William Crowne. However, his period in office was marked by disputes, particularly over excessive taxation, and the town petitioned the General Court to be moved back into Suffolk County. This was achieved in June 1671.
Mendon originally covered the area adjacent to the southern boundary of Massachusetts with Rhode Island and Connecticut as far west as Sturbridge, only 36 miles from Springfield, then the westernmost settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (see section (xii) below). This area remained part of Suffolk County until 2nd April 1731 when it was split off to become part of the newly established Worcester County. By this time the following towns had been incorporated and separated from the parent town of Mendon*: Uxbridge*, Sutton, Oxford, and Sturbridge.
* Lydia Taft (née Chapin) (1712 -1778), the first woman to legally vote in America, was born in Suffolk County, at Mendon. As a widow, Lydia Taft, voted in an official town meeting at Uxbridge on 30th October, 1756, and is recorded as voting at subsequent meetings. By this time Uxbridge was in Worcester County, Massachusetts. This was on the basis that the heir to her husband’s substantial estate was a minor, and since she was paying taxes on that estate, the male townspeople voted to allow Lydia to exercise this right following the tradition of “no taxation without representation”.
(iv) Loss of land now in Connecticut
In 1642 the southern boundary of Massachusetts was surveyed but the equipment of that period was not adequate to ensure accuracy, and to make matters worse the surveyors miscalculated the latitude. This placed the boundary seven or eight miles south of the true line. In 1663 the Massachusetts Bay Colony awarded this territory to the town of Roxbury in Suffolk County. In 1674 John Eliot, the Puritan missionary from Roxbury, was active among the American Indians in the area around present-day Woodstock. In 1682 Massachusetts bought a tract of land, which included Woodstock, from the Mohegans, and a group of 13 men from Roxbury settled a town there in 1686, naming it New Roxbury. In 1690 its name was changed to Woodstock by Judge Samuel Sewall “because of its nearness to Oxford, Massachusetts” as was the Woodstock in England near to Oxford in that country.
Connecticut resurveyed the boundary in 1695 and noted that Woodstock was in fact within their colony. This more accurate survey was confirmed by surveyors from both colonies in 1702, yet Massachusetts denied the surveyors’ authority and insisted on maintaining the 1642 boundary. The territory remained in dispute until 1713 when Connecticut sold the land to Massachusetts. However, to complicate matters, the citizens of the border towns affected (Enfield, Somers, Suffield and Woodstock), who were not party to this agreement, petitioned for annexation to Connecticut because they were unhappy with the higher taxes of Massachusetts.
In 1731 this westernmost part of Suffolk County became part of the newly established Worcester County, and Woodstock became one of the prominent towns of that county. However, the border towns continued to claim that they were included within Connecticut’s original boundaries and were illegally sold since the Crown had not given its assent. In 1749 Connecticut voted to accept the towns back. Massachusetts appealed to the King, but the Crown found in favour of Connecticut, so the boundary became as it is today.
(v) Loss of land now in Rhode Island
When established in 1643, Suffolk County and the Massachusetts Bay Colony had no defined boundary in the southwest where Rhode Island is today. William Blackstone (also spelt Blaxton) was the first European to settle and live in Rhode Island in 1635, and he had come from Boston. He lived in today’s Cumberland area of northeast Rhode Island. Other settlers followed him and this provided the basis for both Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies claiming jurisdiction up to the eastern edge of Narrangansett Bay. In 1663 King Charles II granted Rhode Island a charter as a separate colony and defined its eastern boundary as running north along the Blackstone River from the Pawtucket Falls until it reached the Massachusetts line. However, it had been assumed that the Blackstone River ran directly north to south when it actually ran from northwest to southeast. The southern line of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had already been determined as a point ‘three miles south of the southernmost waters of the Charles River’. When demarcated, this left the whole of the land east of Woonsocket and the Blackstone River down to Manville as part of Massachusetts and Suffolk County.
This was not as intended since the early settlers of this part of Rhode Island were exiles who had been banished from Massachusetts because they had refused to conform to its strict Puritan beliefs. They had little inclination to once again become part of that colony. Although conveyances of land were placed on record in both Rhode Island and Suffolk County in order to be ‘on the safe side’, the inhabitants of this area refused to pay taxes to officials who came from Boston, and those officials were invariably sent packing with injuries to body and soul. Rhode Island naturally claimed its northern boundary should be further north than where it was now established. Finally, in 1746, the Crown approved the present boundaries of Rhode Island and agreed that this disputed area should be annexed to Providence, Rhode Island, and named it Cumberland; thus Suffolk County lost the northeastern portion of what is now Rhode Island.
(vi) Loss of Norfolk County, Massachusetts
The greatest loss of land took place on 26th March 1793, when much of the original Suffolk County, with the exception of Boston and Chelsea (which had initially been part of Boston, but had been incorporated in 1739), was split off to become part of the newly created Norfolk County, under legislation signed by Gov. John Hancock.
As early as 1726, communities south of Boston began to seek a division of Suffolk County because of the dominance of that town over rural communities that had different priorities. In 1793, after years of negotiations, this finally happened. To the east, it included the coastal towns of Cohasset, Hingham and Hull. However, both Hingham and Hull petitioned against this, citing the difficulty in travelling overland to the new county seat in Dedham, and their removal was repealed on 20th June 1793, leaving Hingham and Hull as detached parts of Suffolk County. This reprieve lasted only until 18th June 1803, when Suffolk County finally lost both towns which were then incorporated into Plymouth County. This left Cohasset as an exclave of Norfolk County, a situation that still applies.
As finally established in 1793, Norfolk County consisted of twenty-one towns: Bellingham, Braintree, Brookline, Cohasset, Dedham, Dorchester, Dover, Foxborough, Franklin, Medfield, Medway, Milton, Needham, Quincy, Randolph, Roxbury, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole, Weymouth, and Wrentham, with an area of 445 square miles and a population of 23,828. The town of Dedham (named after the village in Essex, England, just across the River Stour from Suffolk), became the county seat.
(vii) Land gained from Norfolk County, Massachusetts
The communities of Dorchester and Roxbury became part of Norfolk County in 1793. Both, however, would eventually be reclaimed by Suffolk County.
Dorchester was annexed to Boston and Suffolk County in three pieces beginning on 6th March 1804 and ending with complete annexation to the City of Boston after a plebiscite in 1869. As a result, the whole of Dorchester became part of Boston on 3rd January 1870. However, the historical Dorchester that became part of Norfolk County in 1793 had already lost parts of its land around Squantum to Quincy in 1792, 1814, 1819, and 1855, and another portion had become the separate town of Hyde Park (1868 and later annexed to Boston in 1912 - see below).
In 1804 property speculators arranged the annexation of Dorchester Neck from the town of Dorchester. Geographically, Dorchester Neck was an isthmus that connected the mainland of Dorchester with Dorchester Heights, the whole being a peninsula of 570 acres. The original boundary ran along today’s 9th Street and, after annexation, the area’s name was changed to South Boston. It was not actually connected to Boston since it was separated by South Boston Bay, and it was only in 1805 that the first direct link with the city was made when a footbridge was built across that bay. Landfill has since greatly increased the amount of land, and widened the connection to the mainland to the point that South Boston is no longer considered separate.
On 21st May 1855 the present Andrew Square section of South Boston was annexed from Dorchester. This was originally called “Little Neck” until 1850 when the name was changed to “Washington Village”. Until the construction of the first footbridge across South Boston Bay, Little Neck provided the only road (Dorchester Street) onto the peninsula. The city boundary with Dorchester now became Washburn Street until the complete annexation of that town in 1870.
The original town of Roxbury once included the current Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and West Roxbury. It also claimed much of Back Bay and South End. These latter neighborhoods were established on land reclaimed from the tidal flats surrounding Boston, and the boundaries across these waters were disputed. Roxbury was the other side of the narrow isthmus connecting Boston to the mainland, and the boundary line between the two towns was determined by the General Court in 1636. However, Boston chose to establish its town gate at the narrowest point on the isthmus since this was the easiest to defend. This was at Dover Street (today East Berkeley Street). The Roxbury town gate was about a mile to the west on land known as Boston Neck. The problem began when the tidal flats began to be infilled to allow Boston to expand. In 1801 Boston first began to develop the area that became South End, but since the city entrance had long been at Dover Street, Roxbury disputed the right of Boston to expand their jurisdiction beyond that point. In Back Bay the City of Boston only controlled a small strip in what is now the Public Gardens, whereas Roxbury in 1636 had been given jurisdiction over much of the Charles River within eight miles of its meeting house. Each time the matter came up, the courts found in favour of Boston until the boundaries were determined so that all of Back Bay and South End eventually passed to that city. In 1859 the General Court confirmed that the boundary between the two was just south of Lenox Street and not at Dover Street. In reality, since the dispute only concerned land that had been reclaimed from the sea, it can be said that Norfolk County did not actually lose any land.
On 5th January 1868 Roxbury was annexed to Boston and Suffolk County on the initiative of its residents who hoped that the greater financial resources of the City would bring much needed public improvements. Nevertheless, one little part of Norfolk County did not pass to Suffolk County since, in 1844, Roxbury had ceded a part of its territory to Brookline. This was the area known as Punchbowl Village (after a tavern of that name), today called Brookline Village; this was done to make the Muddy River the boundary between the two towns in its entirety.
West Roxbury (including Jamaica Plain and Roslindale) was split off from Roxbury as an independent municipality within Norfolk County on 24th May 1851. This was because it was still largely an agricultural area with little in common with the smaller part immediately adjacent to Boston that was now really an urban suburb of the city. In 1853 West Roxbury annexed a small part of Dedham to incorporate an isolated hillside above the Dedham turnpike for the Notre Dame Academy. The separate existence of West Roxbury was short-lived as it soon departed Norfolk County. After a vote in favour in 1873, it was annexed to Boston and Suffolk County on 5th January 1874.
With the expansion of Boston during the 19th century it made sense that the surrounding communities should unite under a single political entity since Boston could provide certain services that they would have a hard time obtaining for themselves. In 1873 the municipalities of Charlestown and Brighton (in Middlesex County) also voted to join Boston, and hence became part of Suffolk County. However, the neighbouring town of Brookline in Norfolk County rejected annexation in 1873 and hence remains an enclave almost completely surrounded by Suffolk, except in its southwest corner where it has a boundary with Middlesex County. It is, thus, isolated from the rest of Norfolk County. Today’s Fenway and its sub-neighborhoods of Kenmore Square and Audubon Circle, down to the Muddy River, were annexed by Boston from the town of Brookline on 4th November 1870. This was in line with the project to infill Back Bay that had begun in 1857 and, at that time, these were marshlands. After the town of Brighton had been annexed in January 1874, it became an exclave of Boston and Suffolk County because Brookline had rejected this option, and it lay in between Brighton and Boston. In order to connect the new Back Bay neighborhood with Brighton, it became necessary to redraw the Boston-Brookline boundary, and this took effect on 8th May 1874. This created a narrow strip of land along the Charles River which went from Brookline (Norfolk County) to Boston (Suffolk County) and cut Brookline off from the shoreline. The current northern boundary of Brookline is along Commonwealth Avenue.
Hyde Park was the last area to come from Norfolk County. After a vote, it was annexed to Boston and Suffolk County on 1st January 1912. Hyde Park only existed as a separate town for 43 years, having been established by property developers in April 1868 from parts of Dorchester (1,300 acres), Dedham (800 acres) and Milton (700 acres). The property developers created a commuter town along the new railway line to Boston from the industrial district of Readville in Dedham, and the settled communities of Hazelwood and Clarendon Hills in Dorchester, and Fairmount in Milton.
(viii) Land gained from Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Before April 1838, the Brook Farm area of West Roxbury was in Newton, Middlesex County. In 1838 this area was ceded to Roxbury (of which West Roxbury was then a part), so it came to Norfolk County until 1874 when West Roxbury was annexed to Boston, and thus it then became part of Suffolk County.
In 1630 land south of the Charles River comprising present-day Allston-Brighton was assigned to Watertown, north of the Charles River. In 1634 this area was transferred from Watertown to Newtowne, later renamed Cambridge, also north of the river. In 1643 Cambridge was included in Middlesex County. The community south of the river took the name Little Cambridge from its parent town until 1807 when it separated and became incorporated as Brighton, still in Middlesex County.
Charlestown began as an independent community founded in 1629 by English colonists before they established Boston across the harbour on the Shawmut Peninsula. It is located on a peninsula north of the Charles River, and adjoins the Mystic River and Boston Harbor. Only a small strip of land called the “Neck” connected what is now Charlestown to the mainland. In 1643 it also became part of Middlesex County. As one of the original colonial settlements, Charlestown was once much larger in area, but the outlying districts separated and became independent towns. The Charlestown peninsula grew into a major port community and by the 18th century the inhabitants had little use for the rural area “beyond the Neck”. Political separation took place in 1842, with Somerville becoming its own township. Charlestown had little in common with the rest of Middlesex County, being completely oriented towards Boston and its Harbor.
In 1873 the municipalities of Charlestown and Brighton voted to join Boston. In January 1874 they were officially annexed and became neighborhoods of Boston, and hence part of Suffolk County.
One part of Suffolk County that is isolated from the rest of the county lies on the north side of the Mystic River as a slice of territory along Alford Street intruding into the town of Everett (formerly part of Malden) in Middlesex County. The north side of the river was originally part of Charlestown but, when Malden separated in 1649, Charlestown retained two farms on the north side of the river. In 1847 Charlestown wished to build a new almshouse and, as there was no room in the main part of the city, it purchased another 45 acres around these farms. The State legislature allowed the formal transfer of this land from Malden to Charlestown. At the time both communities were in Middlesex County. However, when Charlestown came to Boston and Suffolk County in 1874, this small slice of territory on the north side of the Mystic River also passed into Suffolk. Although the almshouse closed in 1911, the land is still an integral part of the City of Boston.
Another exchange of land with Middlesex County occurred in July 1875. The Brighton/Newton boundary was redrawn for the purposes of placing the Chestnut Hill Reservoir solely in Boston. Newton in Middlesex County was compensated with the transfer of approximately 100 acres of prime real estate on Washington Hill from Brighton and Suffolk County.
(ix) Loss of land now in Essex County, Massachusetts
In 1841 Suffolk County lost the “Chelsea Panhandle” to the town of Saugus in Essex County. The Panhandle was a narrow strip of land with parallel sides, 2,500 feet wide and four miles long. It extended from the northwestern corner of Chelsea on the edge of Rumney Marshes to Wakefield, separating Malden and Melrose in Middlesex County from Saugus in Essex County. It is not known why Chelsea should have had such a peculiar outline. However, an old legend states that the Panhandle was acquired by a mistake in surveying in 1649. The boundary line on the Charlestown side in Middlesex County was determined that year. Later the same year the town of Lynn in Essex County was surveyed, but the boundary line that their surveyors demarcated was not the same as that for Charlestown. Hence, Chelsea was left with the land in between. The inhabitants in the Panhandle were related to those living in Lynn and petitioned to become part of that town, but to no avail. It was not until nearly 200 years later, on 22nd February 1841, that the Panhandle was ceded to Saugus (which had separated from Lynn). Today the bottom part of it remains as the Franklin Park district in Revere, a short stub of land attached to the northwest corner of that town, and the rest forms the western boundary of Saugus which abuts into Middlesex County.
(x) Boston Harbor Islands
At the time Suffolk County was established in 1643 all but one of the islands in Boston Bay were part of towns within the county. The exception was Lovells Island which had been granted to Charlestown in 1636 and was hence in Middlesex County. In 1767 Charlestown sold the island to a landowner in Hingham and it passed to the jurisdiction of that town in Suffolk County. However, in 1793 when Norfolk County was created the eight islands belonging to Dorchester and Weymouth passed from Suffolk County, and in 1803 when Hull and Hingham went to Plymouth County, 19 islands belonging to those two towns also passed from Suffolk. The City of Boston later purchased three of the islands and, hence, these returned to Suffolk County: in 1825 Georges Island from Hull and Lovells Island from Hingham (both Plymouth County), and in 1834 Thompson Island from Dorchester (Norfolk County).
(xi) Land gained from Boston Harbor
Suffolk County, and specifically the City of Boston, gained much land from landfill in Boston Harbor and the adjacent marshlands during the nineteenth century; mainly in the neighborhoods of East Boston, South End, West End and Back Bay. During this time some former islands were joined to the mainland, and two of the Trimountaine on which Boston was built were flattened and the soil used as landfill material. The third, Beacon Hill, survived but with a reduced height.
Since this land was reclaimed from the surrounding waters it did not materially affect the neighbouring counties. Further detail of these areas is provided in the Neighbourhoods of Boston section on the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, page.
(xii) And the One That Never Was in Suffolk County - Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield was long the westernmost settlement in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and since its original settlers had come from Roxbury in Suffolk County, it is often thought to have been that county’s furthest outpost. The founder of Springfield was William Pynchon, an original patentee, magistrate, and assistant treasurer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, who was also one of the founders of Roxbury. Pynchon became dissatisfied with that town’s notoriously rocky soil, and in 1635 he led the initial expedition that established the settlement on land then known as “Agawam”. Pynchon was first and foremost a successful businessman, and he realised that this spot was ideal as it was the northernmost point on the Connecticut River where all travellers had to stop to negotiate a waterfall, and transfer their cargoes from ocean-going vessels to smaller boats.
As it was on the Connecticut River, the settlement was originally within the administration of the Connecticut Colony, but Pynchon believed that the colony’s policy of intimidating and brutalising the native population was not only immoral, but bad for business. In 1640 he fell out with the Connecticut leaders over this issue, and promptly defected from their control. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was delighted to offer its support to Pynchon and named him its magistrate of the Agawam Plantation. That same year Springfield was officially renamed after Pynchon’s home village, now a suburb of Chelmsford, England.
In 1650 William Pynchon became famous for writing the New World’s first banned book, The Meritous Price of Our Redemption. For his critical attitude towards the Calvinist Puritanism of Massachusetts, he was accused of heresy, and his book was burned on Boston Common. Realising which way the wind was blowing, William Pynchon transferred ownership of his properties to his son and then, in 1652, returned to England.
Although Suffolk County did eventually extend to Sturbridge, 36 miles to the east of Springfield, the settlement was never listed as part of any county by the General Court. It did bestow full civil and criminal jurisdiction on the magistrate of Springfield, who was William Pynchon from 1640 to 1652. On his departure, the General Court appointed three commissioners as magistrates who were also given this authority. In 1658 the General Court ordered that courts, similar to county courts, should be held yearly to govern Springfield and its area. Finally, in 1662 Hampshire County was constituted comprising the entire western part of Massachusetts Bay Colony. It included only three towns: Springfield, Northampton, and Hadley.
***Norfolk County now describes itself as the “ County of Presidents”, as it claims to be the birthplace of four future presidents of the United States (John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John F. Kennedy, and George H.W. Bush). While this may be true from the point of view of modern day county boundaries, from a historical perspective this is incorrect. Both the second President of the United States, John Adams (1735 – 1826) & his son, the sixth President John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848), were born in what was, at that time, known as the North Precinct of the town of Braintree (which became the town of Quincy in 1792). As shown above, Norfolk County didn’t come into existence until 1793, so therefore the birthplace of both men was, in fact, Suffolk County.***
Unlike its namesake in Massachusetts, Suffolk County in New York State has suffered very few boundary changes since its creation in 1683. However, the boundary pre-dates the county. It was first established by the Treaty of Hartford on 19 September 1650. This treaty stated that a line would be drawn south from the westernmost point of Oyster Bay, continuing in a direct and straight line to the seacoast on the other side of the island, and this shall mark the boundary between the Dutch and English on Long Island. The difficulty came later as to what constituted Oyster Bay since the Dutch named the western part of present-day Oyster Bay as “Schout’s Bay”, and to them Oyster Bay was only that part which today is known as Cold Spring Harbor. When the English established the present settlement which they called Oyster Bay in 1653, the Dutch insisted that they swear allegiance to the governor of New Netherlands because it was in their half of the island. This matter was never fully resolved but, to avoid conflict, the Connecticut colonial government accepted a line drawn from the southernmost tip of Cold Spring Harbor as the boundary. Thus, the boundary today between Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island is, with some minor adjustments, that negotiated in 1650.
The problem with the Dutch was settled in 1664 when the English took over the New Netherlands and renamed it New York. The whole of Long Island was given to this new colony, therefore the boundary issue became of minor consequence and the existing arrangement was retained; thus, the boundary of the East Riding and Suffolk County, its successor from 1683, with Queens County was that of 1650.
There was no doubt that, wherever the boundary should have been, the land east of Cold Spring Harbor was part of Suffolk County. This included the neck of land and peninsula of approx. 3,500 acres that was called by the Matinecock Indians Caumsett (meaning “place by sharp rock”). In 1654 they sold this peninsula to three English settlers from Oyster Bay for a variety of items, including three coats, three shirts, six knives, and two pairs of shoes. At the same time other English settlers bought the land that was to become Huntington, and they gave the name Horse Neck to the peninsula because the farmers grazed horses there. In 1666 Huntington was incorporated under a patent that placed its boundary in Long Island Sound, thus the Horse Neck peninsula was within its limits and since Huntington was in Suffolk County, the peninsula was also situated there.
In 1676 James Lloyd, a Boston merchant, became the sole owner of Horse Neck. It seems that he wished to remain unencumbered by the Huntington settlers and on 8th March 1685 the Lieutenant Governor granted James Lloyd the royal patent for Horse Neck and formally renamed it the “Manor of Queen’s Village”, and allowed it to be annexed to the Town of Oyster Bay in Queens County on the basis of its original purchase by settlers from that town. This was further away from Horse Neck and, being completely cut off from that town, there was less chance of interference with the Lloyd domain that was run as a feudal estate. The peninsula soon became known as Lloyd Neck and for the next 200 years it was isolated from the main body of Oyster Bay. It had no land boundary with Queens County, and was connected to the mainland only by an isthmus to the village of Lloyd Harbor on the Suffolk side of the county line.
From an administrative perspective this was proving impractical and so, on 15th June 1885, Lloyd Neck was transferred from Queens County and became part of the town of Huntington in Suffolk; although many people in Queens County opposed the annexation and felt that Oyster Bay should be compensated for the loss of its territory. In 1899 the eastern part of Queens County became Nassau County, and in 1926 Lloyd Neck was united to Lloyd Harbor as a separate community from Huntington.
Between the years 1990 and 2000, some minor losses were incurred when the town of Huntington in northwest Suffolk lost some land to the town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County. During the same period, Oyster Bay and the Suffolk town of Babylon also exchanged some territory.
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Western boundary with Cambridgeshire: Obviously natural features were the easiest boundaries to agree upon between the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in eastern England. For the Kingdom of East Anglia, the North Sea and River Stour provided these boundaries to the north, east and south. However, except for the swamps of the Fenlands there were no natural features to the west that were easily recognisable. The incoming Anglian tribes continued to push westward, but they did not proceed to settle much of the marshy fenlands in today’s northern Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely. However, a group of settlements: Westley Waterless, Weston Colville, Weston Green, West Wratting, and West Wickham, in the wooded uplands of southeast Cambridgeshire today, indicate that the original settlers came from the east, and this area was once united to the East Anglian territory where today East Green, Wickhambrook, Great Wratting and Little Wratting are found in Suffolk.
Under Rædwald (c.599-625) the Kingdom of East Anglia expanded further west and it was generally accepted that the River Cam was the western boundary of this kingdom. Thus the western boundary of today’s counties of Norfolk and Suffolk would have run north to south through the middle of Cambridgeshire. In 633 Penda of Mercia became the most powerful ruler in England and, after defeating the East Anglians in c.636, he expanded his kingdom eastward into today’s Cambridgeshire. The western boundary of today’s Suffolk thus retreated back to the Devils Dyke. This is a massive bank and ditch running 7.5 miles just to the west of Newmarket. This is now recognised as an East Anglian defensive earthwork barrier, constructed in the late 6th or early 7th century against Mercian aggression. It began in the north next to the swamps of the Fenlands which acted as a natural barrier. Running south it climbed to an altitude of 300ft in the wooded hills south of Newmarket; the dense clay woodlands there serving as a natural defence.
The Danes occupied the settlement of Cambridge in 875 and when King Edward recovered it in 921 it became a fortified “burh” at the centre of a new shire. In accordance with the strategic thinking of the day, a “burh” was to provide defence in depth by extending its administration over territory that could be reached within a day. Thus the creation of Cambridgeshire resulted in the western boundary of the embryonic county of Suffolk being pushed back more or less to its present position. In northwest Suffolk, the rivers Lark and Kennet formed an obvious natural boundary, but in the southwest the boundary was less obvious and it remained indeterminate for a while, particularly as the East Anglian settlements there had strong connections with their neighbours to the east. The limits of Cambridgeshire were not finally fixed until 1044 when the “Liberty of St Edmund”, a territorial unit administered by the Abbey at Bury St Edmunds, was established (see East & West Suffolk on Suffolk, England page). This became the western boundary of Suffolk which, except for the area around Exning and Newmarket, remains the same today, and the Anglian people in southeastern Cambridgeshire were lost to Suffolk.
The peculiar shape of the boundary around Exning and Newmarket, where it forms a near-enclave within Cambridgeshire, joined in the east to Suffolk by only a few yards, conforms to the previous royal estate. It is known that King Anna (c.641-653) had Exning as his royal vill, probably located so that he could be near to where the threat came to his kingdom. At the time of the Domesday Book (1086), Exning was considered part of Cambridgeshire. It remained king’s land and was governed for the king by the Bigod family, the Earls of Norfolk. Their base was originally Thetford, but from 1101 it was the great castle of Framlingham in Suffolk. Henceforth, Exning became attached to the Suffolk holdings of the Bigod family, and in 1162 it is first recorded in Suffolk in a land grant to the king’s brother. By the time the Bigod family died out without male heirs in 1307, Exning was considered an integral part of Suffolk.
Newmarket did not exist during this early period. The boundary would have been drawn around the king’s estate with respect to placing Exning near its centre, not Newmarket. A “New Market” was granted to a local landowner by the king in 1200. It soon eclipsed Exning because of this commercial advantage, and the growing town expanded without reference to the county boundaries. At the beginning of the 19th century the county boundary ran down the middle of the main street of Newmarket. This obviously made administration difficult. The boundary has subsequently been moved substantially towards the southeast so that the whole of the town is now in Suffolk. As the urban area of Newmarket expanded, Cambridgeshire lost land to Suffolk: in 1851 (57 acres), in 1894 (303 acres), in 1993 (927 acres, although a small area of 17 acres was handed back to Cambridgeshire).
Southern boundary with Essex: The boundary between the kingdoms of East Anglia and the East Saxons (Essex) was readily agreed to be the River Stour, a natural feature easily recognisable, and where it turned north towards its headwaters the boundary continued west over land to the wooded upland watershed. The River Stour remains the boundary between Suffolk and Essex today, although there were a few isolated fields “on the wrong side of the river” where the river had changed direction over time, but the county boundary still followed the old course. These anomalies were corrected by a Boundary Act of 1989 which amended the boundary so as to follow the middle of the river channel as it is today. This same Act also altered the county boundary over small sectors of land around Haverhill and Sudbury in Suffolk. These changes in total resulted in 15.3 hectares (79 acres) going from Suffolk to Essex and 15.3 hectares (37 acres) going from Essex to Suffolk.
The boundary with Essex departs from the River Stour in the southwestern part of Suffolk around Haverhill and heads up across land towards the watershed between the streams flowing east towards the North Sea and those flowing west and north to the River Ouse and The Wash. In the early middle ages it was always more difficult to regulate boundaries that did not follow natural features. However, from about 1008 this land boundary became better demarcated and basically followed existing tenurial holdings. At this period the lordship of Sturmer in Essex was more important than the neighbouring estates of Haverhill and Kedington in Suffolk. This led to the lords of Sturmer holding parts of south-east Haverhill (648 acres) and south-west Kedington (773 acres). These lands, although in Suffolk parishes, thus became part of Essex. This continued to be the case despite Sturmer declining to a small village, while both Haverhill and Kedington developed into sizeable communities that expanded into these areas of Essex. It became administratively difficult to have built-up areas of these Suffolk communities subject to a different judicial and taxation authority in Essex. Likewise there were small detached parts of Suffolk parishes that were enclaves within Essex because the fields had been farmed by an owner whose main estate was in Suffolk. The largest was a 39 acre enclave of Haverhill by Greatley Wood and Hilltop Farm, east of the B1057. So, in 1879, by the Divided Parishes Act, the county boundary was adjusted to do away with these enclaves and make the county boundary and parish boundaries coincide, resulting in 1420 acres returning to Suffolk in exchange for approximately 50 acres reverting to Essex.
By Parliamentary Acts of 1832 & 1835 the borough of Sudbury was extended south to include the villages of Ballingdon and Brundon on the opposite side of the River Stour (730 acres). Although part of Essex at the time of Domesday, the two villages had long considered themselves as part of Sudbury. The 1989 Act eliminated a long finger of land belonging to Ballingdon that adjutted into Bulmer in Essex by its transfer to that village. In addition, where amenities and housing belonging to Sudbury had expanded slightly into Essex, the boundary was adjusted around Ballingdon to bring a housing estate, oil depot and refuse dump wholly into Suffolk (Sudbury).
Bures is a village divided by the River Stour and, therefore, the county boundary. The Suffolk side is officially known as Bures St Mary and the Essex side as Bures Hamlet. However, the village has always been treated as a single community with Bures St Mary (the Suffolk side) as its centre. This anomalous position was recognised in the Domesday Book with the local lord holding jurisdiction on both sides of the river despite the land being in different counties. This same situation holds true today, and Bures considers itself one village regardless of county boundaries. Parliament has never got round to rectifying this anomaly.
Northern boundary with Norfolk: The distinction between the “North Folk” and “South Folk” of East Anglia is first recorded in 895 but the boundary between them was not definitely settled until after the Norman Conquest. By the time of the Domesday Book (1086), the boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk was known. Two rivers formed an easily identifiable boundary: the River Waveney flowing east into the North Sea, and the Little Ouse flowing west to join the larger Ouse. The source of both rivers lies only a few yards apart in fenland near the B1113 road. These two rivers have long formed the boundary, but there have been diversions from the rivers in three places.
Brandon to the west of Thetford on the Little Ouse is definitely south of the river in Suffolk, and it became the first crossing point of that river east of the Fenlands. At first a ferry linked both sides of the river, but later a medieval bridge was built. Soon a part of Brandon migrated across the bridge to the north and, as such, was in Norfolk. Like Bures on the River Stour, both sides of the river formed part of the one community despite being in different counties. In 1895 parliament recognised this fact and extended the boundaries of Brandon north of the Little Ouse, so a small part of Norfolk came to Suffolk.
The same process occurred at Thetford, but in reverse. Thetford lies on the Norfolk side of the Little Ouse, and by late Saxon times it had become the capital of the Kingdom of East Anglia. By the time of Domesday it was the sixth largest town in England, and it had already expanded across the river into Suffolk where it was known as the parish of Thetford St Mary. When the Normans arrived they introduced the rabbit to England. In c.1140 King Stephen granted 1300 acres of land in Suffolk to William de Warren, Earl of Surrey, for the purpose of rearing and hunting rabbits; this became Thetford Warren, land that could not be built upon as it was reserved for game. In 1574, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the town was given the responsibility for managing Thetford Warren, although it remained legally part of Suffolk. In 1888 when the administrative counties were created, these parts of Suffolk were placed in the administrative county of Norfolk. However, technically Thetford St Mary and Thetford Warren remained legally part of Suffolk, although wholly administered by a town in Norfolk. Finally, in 1974 the Local Government Act legally transferred this part of Suffolk to Norfolk.
The River Waveney joins the River Yare before this latter river reaches the sea. Yarmouth was originally built c.1008 on a sandbank island between two mouths of the River Yare emptying into the North Sea. The northern opening was closed in about 1066 and, as the county boundary followed along the channel of the rivers which now flowed through the southern entrance, Yarmouth was left on “the Norfolk side” and became attached to that county. Gorleston, two miles south of Yarmouth, was on “the Suffolk side” of the River Yare. At the time of Domesday, Gorleston was recorded in Suffolk and Yarmouth in Norfolk.
As Yarmouth grew it could only expand west and south across the River Yare. By the 13th century a settlement had developed to the west; in 1272 this was known as Little Yarmouth (now South Town) and the original settlement became Great Yarmouth. South Town or Little Yarmouth was also across the river in Suffolk, although connected to Great Yarmouth by a drawbridge. In 1668 the Great Yarmouth authorities were allowed to administer South Town to safeguard its main crossing point. Finally, in 1684 South Town was added to the Borough of Great Yarmouth and lost to Suffolk.
Gorleston remained a separate settlement in Suffolk. Both Great Yarmouth and Gorleston had fishing fleets and there were continuing disputes over harbour dues and landing rights along this coastline, particularly as the river entrance, pier and part of Gorleston were within the ancient boundaries of Great Yarmouth. From the early 16th century Great Yarmouth expanded across the river towards Gorleston and the two towns were soon connected. It became obvious that municipal governance would be better served by one authority. However, as Great Yarmouth was by far the larger and richer of the two communities, it was apparent where the decisions would be made. Gorleston long resisted absorption but in 1832 & 1835 Gorleston was united with Great Yarmouth, but only for parliamentary elections and fiscal (taxation) purposes; legally Gorleston remained a part of Suffolk. There also continued to be doubt about South Town’s legal position. Finally, in 1890, with the reorganisation of the administrative counties, both Gorleston and South Town were legally transferred to Norfolk and incorporated fully into Great Yarmouth.
The continued westward growth of Great Yarmouth resulted in the successful lobbying of the Great Yarmouth MP to get parliament to allow for the future urban expansion of that borough. Consequently, in the 1972 Local Government Act, Suffolk lost five parishes to Norfolk: Burgh Castle, Fritton, Hopton, Bradwell and Belton. These were all incorporated into the new Borough of Great Yarmouth. The parishes were to the west and south of the town and comprised some 11,630 acres, much of it still agricultural land. To add to the ignominy of this loss, the same Act gave a small coastal strip of the Suffolk village of Corton to Hopton (and Norfolk), thus allowing this latter village access to the sea. It promptly renamed itself “Hopton-on-Sea” (see next entry below).
Eastern boundary with the North Sea: The county of Suffolk was definitely larger a thousand years ago than it is today. However galling it is that Suffolk should have its land stolen by Norfolk, this is nothing to the injury inflicted by Mother Nature. It is reckoned that in the 10th century much of the eastern coastline of the county was the best part of a mile further east than it is today. The cliffs of the east coast of Suffolk are made of relatively young, soft sediments. They erode very quickly.
The disappearance of the major port of Dunwich is well recorded (see The Lost City of Dunwich, section on the page). Covehithe, like Dunwich, was once a town in the middle ages. Now it has a population of 20. Erosion caused the coastline at Covehithe to retreat more than a quarter of a mile between the 1830s and 2001, according to contemporary Ordnance Survey maps. Easton Bavents is a hamlet in Waveney District. It was once the most easterly point in England; a map of Suffolk dated around 1610 shows a headland projecting eastwards into the sea there. However, coastal erosion has caused this to disappear and the former village is now under the North Sea over one mile east of the present coast.
Yet another loss to the sea was the village of Newton south of Gorleston. At the time of Domesday this was a large parish that lay between the Suffolk villages of Hopton and Corton, and the North Sea. The cliffs at Newton were undermined and by 1526 it is last mentioned as “lost to the sea”. The western part of the parish, known as Newton Green, remained and this was attached to the village of Corton. In 1873 this too was washed away except for a narrow strip of land between Hopton and the sea. This strip remained part of Corton until the 1972 Act mentioned above transferred it to Hopton (and Norfolk).
The prevailing local current gives rise to an effect known as ‘longshore drift’ and moves material gradually southwards along the coast. One of the most striking effects of this can be seen in the large shingle spit known as Orford Ness. The spit gradually formed at the mouth of the River Alde, just to the south of Aldeburgh, and over centuries it has grown in length, to run for over ten miles parallel to the sea. The addition of this land to Suffolk hardly compensates for the losses that the sea has taken away.
Nevertheless, despite the ravages of Man and Nature, the county of Suffolk is still the eighth largest county of England.