Histories of Marlborough

In 1656 a number of the pioneer inhabitants of Sudbury petitioned the General Court for leave to attempt a new settlement upon the wild lands of the colony, saying

“God hath beene pleased to increase our children, which are now diverse of them grown to man’s estate; and wee, many of us, grown into years, so that wee should bee glad to see them settled before the Lord take us away from hence, as also God having given us some considerable quantity of cattle, so that wee are so straightened that we cannot so comfortably subsist as could be desired and some of us having taken some pains to view the country; wee have found a place which lyeth westward about eight miles from Sudbury which wee conceive might be comfortable for our subsistence . . .”

The land that they asked for and upon which they settled became the town of Marlborough. The route west was then called The Great Trail, later known as the King’s Highway, and today it is State Route 20.

In 1680, Fort Meadow was deeded from Great James, "an Indian," to Thomas Martin, a shoemaker from Marlborough, for six pounds, ten schillings.

The deed, pictured at right, along with a transcription, is available here as a PDF.

General histories of Marlborough

  • Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough, Massachusetts, by Ella Bigelow, was published in 1910.  The entire 488-page book appears below and can be downloaded as a PDF here.  Bound reprints and an index can be purchased at the Historical Society.  The book is also available at the Marlborough Public Library.  A presentation on the homesteads pictured in the book is here.  The presentation includes information on each homestead and photos of each building (or location) today.

In addition, 124 of the original paintings from the book, most depicting homes throughout Marlborough, are displayed on the lower level of the library.

  • Marlborough resident John Buczek has a large collection of information, including maps and photographs, on the history of Marlborough here.

Click on the pictures to view plaques marking (l-r) the founding of Marlborough, road to Spring Hill Cemetery, and John Brown Bell.

Photographic histories

  • Some pictures from the Society's archives are in this slideshow.

Histories on specific items and individuals in Marlborough
  • Marlborough Historical Society member Joan Abshire, after months of exhaustive research in Massachusetts and West Virginia, wrote The John Brown Bell--The Journey of the Second-Most Important Bell in American History, from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, to Marlborough, Massachusetts, pictured at right.  This book is available as a free download here.  

  • The History of Artemas Ward Park was the title of a very thoroughly researched presentation given by Marlborough Historical Society Trustee Paul Brodeur in March 2011.  Additional information and his presentation are here.
  • Samuel Boyd is called the father of our city.  Society Curator Bob Kane gave a presentation on Boyd in January 2012.  It was captured on video and can be viewed online.
  • For several years the Society awarded a scholarship annually to the student whose report on some aspect of Marlborough's history was judged the best.  Some of the reports are available here.
"The 1938 Hurricane," by Peter B. Snyder, winner of the 2011 Annual Scholarship Award includes interviews with long-time residents of Marlborough.

Historical maps

The Society has several maps in its archives.  The maps below were scanned by the City and are available here as downloadable PDFs that range in size from 500 KB to 1.5 MB.  The high resolution enables you to zoom in and see details.  (Information on working with PDFs is here.)

  • 1667: Marlborough Plantation
  • 1794: Town of Marlborough
  • 1803: Town of Marlborough
  • 1835: Marlborough
  • 1878: View of Marlborough--Detail at right
  • 1908: Center of Marlborough
  • 1937: North Sudbury Watershed
  • 1948: City of Marlborough
  • 1956: Zoning for City of Marlborough
  • 1958: City of Marlborough
  • 1962: City of Marlborough
Several of these and many others are in our archives.

Architectural histories

  • The 1908 book Marlborough, Massachusetts, Burial Ground Inscriptions: Old Common, Spring Hill, and Brigham Cemeteries can be read and searched online or downloaded from Google Books as a PDF here.
  • More information on Marlborough cemeteries is at the bottom of our page on Genealogy.

Let us know of other historical resources you've found helpful.