1722 The Selectmen of Taunton, Mass. Evict a Woman and Her Four Children From Town Fearing Paying Support
March 24, 1722-Dated, Manuscript Document Signed, by Four “Selectmen of Taunton,” being a legal Writ (Warrant) to Evict a Woman “Hannah Wetherel” and Her Four Children from Town, “Fearing they will be a town Charge,” Fine.
An original and remarkable content Legal Document, 1 page, measuring 7.5” x 7.75”, Manuscript Document Signed by the 4 Selectmen at lower right. Some tone spots at left outer margin, overall easily readable being written in deep brown ink on period laid paper. Document is a warrant to the Constable to evict a mother and her four children because the local government didn't want to be responsible to support them. “Fearing they will be a town Charge... Require you and said Constables... forthwith to warn Said Woman to remove the abode and Dwelling of her self and her four Children out of the Bounds of said Taunton within fourteen days... given under our hands... (Signed) James Leonard, Abraham Joans, Samuel Leonard and Morgan Cobb Junior - Selectmen of Taunton.” Notation at lower left states that the Constable has made the decision by this writ known to Hannah Wetherel ... “By me Nathaniel Thayer Constable.”
Taunton, Massachusetts was founded by settlers from England and officially incorporated as a town on September 3, 1639. Most of the town's settlers were originally from Taunton in Somerset, England, which led early settlers to name the settlement after that town.
At the time of Taunton's incorporation, they explained their choice of name as being, "in honour and love to our dear native country... and owning it a great mercy of God to bring us to this place, and settling of us, on lands of our own bought with our money in peace, in the midst of the heathen, for a possession for ourselves and for our posterity after us." Prior to 1640, the Taunton area was called Cohannet, Tetiquet or Titiquet.
The English founders of Taunton purchased the land from the Nemasket Indians in 1637 as part of the Tetiquet Purchase and the remaining native families were relocated to the praying town of Ponkapoag in current day Canton, MA.
A central figure among the founders was Elizabeth Poole who is believed to have been the first woman to found a settlement in the Americas and, contrary to local folklore,[a] did not take part in the town purchase but was among its greatest beneficiaries and played a significant role in the founding of its church. Described as "the foundress of Taunton" and its matriarch, Poole "was accorded equality of rights, whether in the purchase of lands, [or] in the sharing of iron works holdings," having been a financier of the settlement's first dam and mill built for the manufacture of bar iron.
Plymouth Colony was formally divided into counties on June 2, 1685, with Taunton becoming the shire town of Bristol County. The counties of Plymouth Colony were transferred to the Province of Massachusetts Bay on the arrival of its charter and governor on May 14, 1692.
The Taunton area has been the site of skirmishes and battles during various conflicts, including King Philip's War and the American Revolution. Taunton was re-incorporated as a city on May 11, 1864.