By-Laws, Gloucester 1824

This transcription of the first page of the By-Laws as set out in 1824, concentrates on areas of safety, particularly in regards to fires and regulation of “traffic” on roads.

A Transcript of part of the Bye [sic] – laws1 of the Town of Gloucester in the County of Essex –

1st It is hereby ordered That no person or persons shall presume to make any Bonfire, or to set on fire any wood, straw shavings or other combustible2 matter by night or by day in any street, lane or alley: or in any private or public yard or enclosure in this town, whereby it may endanger any buildings or other property upon pain and penalty to forfeit3 the sum of Three dollars and thirty three cents.

2nd It is hereby ordered, That no coach, chariot4, sleigh, chaise5, sled or other carriage shall go or be driven through any part of this town during any time or times that the Snow shall be upon or cover the streets; without carrying or having some Bell or Bells fastened to the horse or horses drawing the same, or to some part of such carriages that due or timely notice may be given to the inhabitants of such carriages coming on: –under the penalty of One dollar & sixty seven cents.

3rd It is hereby further ordered That no cart or sled however drawn, either by horses or horned cattle or partly by each, shall be suffered to pass through any of the streets, lanes or alleys of this town, but at a foot pace or common walk; nor without a sufficient driver, who during such passage shall keep with such a cart or sled and carefully observe and attend to such methods as may best serve to keep such horse, horses, or cattle under proper command: — and further such driver shall go by the side of and have the Hill horse6, if drawn by horses, or even by one horse only, sufficiently near to prevent damage occurring by neglect or otherwise. –And no driver be permitted to ride in his cart, truck, or other carriage, without using reins7 to govern his horse, and at a rate of speed not exceeding six miles an hour; in neglect of which to be liable to a penalty of One dollar and fifty cents for every offence – and to make good all damage that may happen in neglecting to comply with the above regulations.

4th It is hereby ordered that no cooper8 or coopers within this town shall fire or burn any cask9 in any shop, warehouse or other place, than in a sufficient brick or stone chimney and made convenient for that use; under the penalty of paying the sum of Two dollars for every offence herein: and also no carpenter, caulker10 or other person shall be permitted to make a fire to heat pitch, tar or other combustible materials on any wharf or in any situation where vessels or buildings may be endangered unless their pots or kettles are properly set in brick: under alike penalty.

1 By‐laws = general laws that govern a town
2 Combustible = easily burned
3 Forfeit = pay
4 Chariot = horse‐drawn carriage with rear seats
5 Chaise = small 2 wheeled carriage
6 Hill horse = horse on the side of road nearest a hill
7 Reins = strap for controlling a horse
8 Cooper = barrel maker
9 “fire or burn any cask” = to make barrels tight, they were heated when their bands were put on
10 Caulker = a person who fills gaps in boats to make them water‐tight


“Part of the By-Laws of Town of Gloucester” (1824). Gloucester Archives, Gloucester, MA.