Swansea Historical Society



For the first settlers of our town, it was considered a great privilege to be granted land and citizenship. Owning a home helped the homeowners create a connection to the community they chose to live and helped them establish roots.

In 1667, home ownership in Swanzey came with rules and regulations set forth by the Church and English Government. Anyone who did not adhere to these rules and regulations lost their place in town as well as their land.

Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting the history of the First Signers of Swanzey and the rules and regulations established by the Church and English Government to which 55 men had to adhere. We will also review the family history on some of the first 55 signers of Swanzey

The information presented will be taken from the History of Swansea Massachusetts 1667-1917, Compiled and edited by Otis Olney Wright, Published by the Town, 1917


A true copy of the grant of this township of New Swansea, lying on record at the court of New Plymouth, 1667:

"Whereas, Liberty hath been formerly granted by the Court of Jurisdiction of New Plymouth, unto Captain Thomas Willett and his neighbors of Wannamoisett, to become a township there if they should see good, and that lately the said Capt. Willett and Mr. Myles, and others, their neighbors, have requested of the Court that they may be a township there or near thereabout, and likewise to have granted unto them such parcels of land as might be accommodate thereunto not disposed of to other Townships; this Court have granted unto them all such lands that lyeth between the salt water Bay and coming up Taunton River (viz.), all the Land between the salt water and river and the bounds of Taunton and Rehoboth not prejudicing any man's particular Interest, and for-asmuch as Rehoboth hath meadow lands within the line of Wannamoisett, and Wannamoisett hath lands within the line of Rehoboth, lying near the south line of Rehoboth—if the two townships cannot agree about them among themselves, the Court reserves it within their power to determine any such controversy. Oct. 30, 1667.

"1667,March. The Court hath appointed Captain Willett, Mr Paine, Sen'r., Mr. Brown, John Allen, and John Butterworth, to have the trust of admittance of Town Inhabitants into the said town, and to have the disposall of the Land therein, and ordering of other affairs of said Town. The Court doe Allow and Approve that the Township Granted unto Capt. Willett and others, his neighbors, at Wannamoisett and parts adjacent, shall henceforth be called and known by the name of Swansea.

"The Enterys above are a Copy taken out of the Court Records at Plymouth, Nath'I Clark. And above Entrys hereof by William Ingraham, Town Clerk.

"Whereas, Capt. Thomas Willett, shortly after the grant of this township, made three following proposals unto those who were with him, by the Court of Plymouth, empowered for the admission of inhabitants, and of granting lots, viz:

  • "1. That no erroneous person be admitted into the township as an inhabitant or sojourner.
  • "2. That no man of any evill behaviour or contentious person to be admitted.
  • "3. That none may be admitted that may become a charge to the place. "


"At a town meeting lawfully warned, on the two and twentieth day of the twelfth month, commonly called February, in the year of our Lord 1669, it is ordered that all persons that are or shall be admitted inhabitants within this town, shall subscribe to the three proposalls above written, to the several conditions and explanations therein expressed, before any lot of land be confirmed to them or any of them.

"We, whose names are hereunder written, do fully, upon our admission to be inhabitants of this town of Swansea, assent to the above written agreement, made between the church now meeting here at Swansea and Capt. Thomas Willett and his associates, as the sd. agreement is specified and declared in the three proposalls afore written, with the several! conditions and explanations thereof concerning the present and future settlement of this town. In witness whereof we have hereun to subscribed."

(Signed by fifty-five persons.)

First Signers Admitted to the Town:
(click on this link or on the name to get more information on individual signers)

Stephen Brace,
Gideon Allen,
John Dickse,
Wm. Bartram,
Joseph Kent,
Sam'l Woodbury,
Nehemiah Allen,
Sampson Mason,
Job Winslow,
Obadiah Bowen, Jr.
Richard Burgess,
Jno. Butterworth,
John West,
Thos. Elliott,
Timothy Brooks,
Nathan'l Toogood,
Jere. Child,
Obadiah Brown, Senr.