Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: Duties of the Town Clerk

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William Wakefield, the first town clerk, remained in office about three years and a half, when, having determined soon to remove from the town, he probably resigned the several offices held by him. William Howard succeeded him in the office of the town clerk, which he held till he, too, was about to seek a new residence.

The duties of the town clerk, summarily stated, were "to keep the book and to record such acts as should be made by the town." Other duties, however, were required of him. At the meeting when Mr. Howard was elected, a vote was passed for registering all the grants of land that had been made, and this business was assigned to the town clerk. The record of the vote is in these words:

"It is ordered that every inhabitant in the town shall, within one mounth after the date hereof, bring to the towne clarke in wrighting, upon the lectter dayes within the same mounth, the severall abuttments of their lands; and, as neer as they can, upon what poynt they laye; with six pence in courne [corn] for every prshall [parcel] of land they haue, either granted, appoynted, or possessed by them, for the recording thereof; And six pence for every mans [w]hole prportion, for a transcript to be written to send to the secritary to be recorded; And every one who shall be found defective herein at the mo[nth's] end, shall forfitt five shillings, & from thence following, 12d per weeke untill they doe reforme according to this order."

Accordingly, the town clerk was furnished with a statement and description of a large number of grants, that had previously been made to the inhabitants. These grants, with the quantity of land and the abutments of the several lots, were entered upon the records, where they still remain, alike creditable to Lieut. Howard for clearness and order of arrangement, and for beauty of chirography.

Two or three months later, April 1, a vote was passed declaring all gifts, grants, or elections, or any act whatsoever, done by the freemen, illegal, unless recorded by the town clerk. In July, the General Court ordered that there should be raised in the Colony a rate of £617 15s., one-half to be paid in three months and one-half by the end of the first month next [March, 1645], in cattle, corn, beaver, or money, as towns please. Of this rate, Boston was to pay £100, Hampton £10 and four towns a less sum each. Hence it appears, that in this instance, Hampton was required to pay one-tenth as much as Boston, and more than one sixty second part of the whole rate.

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