Thursday, May 7, 2009

Church and State

J.G. Hales, 1819 (BPL)

Ward Nicholas Boylston was the son of Loyalist Benjamin Hallowell. After the Revolution and the seizure of the family homestead by the new government, Ward Nicholas, having taken his maternal uncle's name, returned to Roxbury and won back the property in a lawsuit. The house and property were on Centre street, near the corner of what became Boylston street. Read more about The Hallowells and Mr. Boylston here.

Massachusetts was the last state to go through disestablishment - the legal separation of church from state - and that did not happen until 1833. In 1802, residents were still required by law to attend and support their local church. In this case, Mr. Boylston had to get an act of the Legislature to allow him to leave the First Roxbury parish in Roxbury proper and join the Third parish at Centre and South street. Since the parishioners supported the meeting house financially, any movement among parishes could harm the fiscal health of the church, and as such was of concern to the state. In this case, Mr. Boylston got his wish. Perhaps coincidentally, when the Town of West Roxbury was cut from greater Roxbury in 1851, Mr. Boylston's land would sit just inside the northern border of the new town.

Columbian Minerva September 14, 1802.


Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In the year of our LORD one thousand eight hundred and two.

An act to set off Ward Nicholas Boylston, of Roxbury, and his estate on Jamaica Plain, from the first to the third precinct or parish in Roxbury.

Section I

Be it enacted by the Senate & House of Representatives, in General Court assembled and by the authority of the same, That Ward Nicholas Boylston, of Roxbury in the county of Norfolk, with his estate there consisting of a Dwelling-House, and nine acres of land more or less, be, and hereby is set off from the first and annexed to the third parish in Roxbury on Jamaica Plain. Provided the said Boylston shall pay his proportion of parish charges due from his to said first parish prior to the date of this act.

June 21, 1802.

By the Govenor approved..

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