Town Meeting Warrant, Gloucester c. 1800s

This town warrant is a fairly typical one for a Cape Ann community of the early 19th 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 Constables1 of the Town of Gloucester — Greeting–

You are hereby required in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Summon and Notify the freeholders2 and other inhabitants of said town Qualified by law to Vote in the Town Meetings. Viz3. such as pay to one single tax besides the Poll4 or Polls a Sum equal to two thirds of a Single Poll tax, to Assemble at the Meetinghouse5 in the first Parish in said Town of Gloucester on the 17th Day of March Instant at Ten O’clock in the forenoon to act on the following articles, viz.

First –To choose Town Officers for the Current year
SecondlyTo know what method the Town will take to repair the highways the Current year & vote the money to mend the same.
ThirdlyTo Know if the Town will choose a Committee to Act on Probate6 Business which will be an advantage to said Town
FourthlyTo Know if the Town will let the swine7 go at large the Current year
FifthlyTo know if the Town will Choose a School Committee for the Current year
SixthlyTo know if the Town will Choose a Committee to remove all Incumberances on the highways and Landings —
SeventhlyTo Hear the report of the School Committee
EighthlyTo Know what method the Town will take respecting the Cattle that are brought into this Town and turned on the Common8

1 Constable = policeman
2 Freeholders = free men who owned property and could vote in town
3 Viz = ”namely”
4 Poll = voting tax
5 Meetinghouse = building used for town meetings and church services
6 Probate business = business having to do with deaths
7 Swine = pigs
8 Common = land owned by the town and often used by townspeople who didn’t own much land themselves


Town Meeting Warrant, (c. 1800s). Gloucester City Archives, Gloucester, MA.