Kimmitt Genealogical Research

19 February 2016

I'll Warrant Not Much Has Changed

I sing in a chorus that rehearses in a church hall in Worcester, Mass. On my way into chorus rehearsal a few weeks ago I came across this notice on the door. I was struck by how little has changed since the earliest days in Central Massachusetts when it was required to post the warrant for the annual meeting on the front door of the church. We're still electing a moderator and other officers, still voting on new and old business. And still physically posting the notification on the door!

Warrant for Annual Meeting of 31 Jan 2016, 2nd Parish, Worcester,
posted on the door to the First Unitarian Church,
photographed by Polly Kimmitt, 26 Jan 2016.

What has changed is who qualifies as an eligible voter. Only Freemen could vote in early town and parish meetings. That meant males over 18 who owed no money, were not in servitude, were in good standing with the town and church, and had taken the Freeman's Oath. Once they were Freemen they were allowed to own property and vote: a far cry from who is allowed to vote today.

Here is a transcription of a warrant for neighboring Shrewsbury, Massachusetts from 1756.

Left Sidebar: Notification for the first precinct In Shrewsbury, November the 1, 1756
Body: These are to Notifie and warn all free Holders and other Inhabitants
Living in the first precinct In Shrewsbury Qualified by Law to
vote In precinct affairs to meet at the Meetinghouse in sd precinct on monday
the first Day of November - Next at one of the Clock In the afternoon
then and there In the first place to Chuse a moderator 2. To bring in precinct 
Depts and grant Money to pay the same 3 To see what the precinct will
give the Revd Mr Job Cushing for the present year to Make a sufficient
Sallary for his support 4 To Chuse a committee to Reckon with the
precinct Treasurer and to make Report at the Next Meeting \   \   \   \   \   \  
5 To Chuse a committee to Reckon with the Revd Mr Job Cushing In
order to get a Discharge 6 To See if the precinct will grant money
to Repair the windows of the Meeting house 7 To See if the precinct will
Chuse a committee to [Shut up?] the [ally] in the meetinghouse through the
Body of Seats as hath been voted or to act -- anything there on as the precinct 
shall think fitt 8 To See if the precinct will come into sum way to clear the
Burying place and to mend the fence or act anything thereon as the precinct
shall think fitt   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   \   
Shrewsbury first precinct                    Simon Maynard    }         precinct
Oct. the 11 1756                                  Ebenezer Keyes    }         Committee
                                                             Job Cushing Jr      }

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