Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Unlike today, justices of the peace in Massachusetts at the time had a good deal of power, with jurisdiction over criminal cases and some civil cases. Justices worked out of their own homes and kept their own records and ledgers. Dissatisfied parties could appeal the justices’ rulings to the local county courts, with the records for the appeal coming from the ledger or minute books of the justice of the peace who heard the original case. Catherine S. Menand, A Research Guide to the Massachusetts Courts and Their Records 60 (1987).
Wood’s ledger covers actions from 1801-1840, with the bulk of the entries from 1801-1816. Although most of them are related to defaults on debts, there are approximately one hundred actions brought for other matters including theft, assault and battery, and vagrancy. Additionally, there are several records of marriages performed by Wood. One of the more interesting actions is displayed above. In it, plaintiff Joseph Bisbe, a blacksmith, has brought an action against the defendant for theft. After examining the “proofs” offered, Justice of the Peace Wood declares the defendant to be guilty and orders him to pay a fine of three dollars as well as the costs of prosecution, listed on the bottom left of the page.
A previous post showcased a similar record book belonging to a justice of the peace in Springfield.
Many thanks to Robert H. Rubin for the description on which this post is based.
Thomas Weston, History of the Town of Middleboro Massachusetts (1906)
Catherine S. Menand, A Research Guide to the Massachusetts Courts and Their Records (1987)
This posted was drafted by BC Law Library intern, Liz Walk, Boston College Class of 2016.
Posted by Laurel Davis at 10:08 AM