Town Warrant, Gloucester c. 1700s

This town warrant is a fairly typical one for a Cape Ann community of the early 18th century. It opens with a summons to male “freeholders” who are also property owners, to assemble at the Meetinghouse, and gives the major issues of the meeting. A noteworthy subject is whether the swine, and likewise the cattle, will “go at large” over the next year.

To William Segars, one of the Constables of the Town of Gloucester – Greeting –

You are hereby required in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Summon and Notify the freeholders and other inhabitants of said town, Qualified by law to Vote in town meetings. Viz.1 such as pay to one Single tax besides the Poll2 or Polls a Sum equal to two thirds of a single Poll tax, to assemble at the Meetinghouse in the first Parish in said Town of Gloucester on the 17th day of March Instant at ten o’clock in the fore noon to Act on the following Articles. Viz.

First – To Choose Town Officers for the Current year
Secondly – To know what method the Town will take to repair the highways, the Current year & vote money to mend the same.
Thirdly – To know if the Town will choose a Committee to Act on Present Business Done which will be an Advantage to said Town
Fourthly – To Know if the Town will let the swine3 go at Large the Current year Fifthly – To know if the Town will Choose a School Committee for the Current Year
Sixthly – To Know if the Town will choose a Committee to remove all Encumbrances4 on the highways and Landings
Seventhly – To hear the report of the School Committee
Eighthly – To Know what method the Town will take respecting the Cattle that are brought into this town and turned on the Commons
Ninthly – To Choose a County Treasurer for the Current Year
Tenthly – To Hear the Selectmen’s Report respecting the Six Nine pounders —- cannon

1 Viz = therefore
2 Poll tax = a tax paid in order to be able to vote
3 Swine = pigs
4 Encumbrances = items that block the highways


Town Warrant (c. 1700s). Gloucester Archives, Gloucester, MA.