Why celebrate in 1722?
Why celebrate in 2022, when the state says we were founded in 1713?
Did we miss our own Tricentennial?? NO! Read on!
The circumstances surrounding the founding/incorporation/establishment of the town are indeed interesting!
With the assistance of State Senator Anne Gobi and John Rosenberry, Legislative Director for the Secretary of the Commonwealth, we connected with J. Michael Comeau, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Archives and Commonwealth Museum in Boston.
Here's part of what he told us:
Legislation in regard to the establishment of Rutland was first passed under the provisional authority of the 1691 Charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Under the first Royal Charter, that of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, the lack of official incorporation is one common to settlements established during its period of authority. There are a number of reasons for this. Certainly the provisions of the Mass. Bay charter were vague in many regards. Beyond that, however is the fact that in the first years of the colony, a period when the General Court administered local affairs, Massachusetts was thought of as a single community.
It wasn’t until 1636 that an act of assembly laid the groundwork for towns to manage their own business (Mass. Bay Records, Vol. 1, p. 172). The Province charter, while serving to validate the provisions of the colonial charter, was much more exact in the specific authorities it granted to the General Court. It is under the Province charter that the practice of incorporating towns through an act of the General Court begins. The legitimacy of towns established under the 1629 charter, however, is reaffirmed in the text of the Province charter. A later act for regulating townships begins by establishing the continuance of the names and boundaries of previously granted townships (Province Laws, 1692-3 c. 28).
The first legislative action regard the formation of Rutland occurs with St. 1713/14, c. 169 (photo, top left). This Act provides for the establishment of a town to be called Rutland from a tract of land purchased from the Indians known as “Naquag.” The interesting point here is that within the text of the 1713/14 legislation there is a provisional clause that makes formal establishment of the town contingent on meeting specific criteria (“ that within seven Years Time there be sixty Families settled thereon, & sufficient Land reserved for a Gospel Ministry & School…”).
The specific conditions apparently met, the General Court is again petitioned, resulting in an Act (Province Laws 1722/23 c. 6, \ that closes the deal. This legislation formally invests Rutland with all of the “powers, privileges, and immunities that other towns within this province by law have and usually enjoy.” (photo, top right - note the date on the bottom!)
So the issue here is the distinction between the “establishment” of the town and its “incorporation.” Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities, and Towns in Massachusetts (published in its most recent iteration in 1997 by the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth) references the 1713 Act as the date the Town was “established” (Historical Data list cities and towns using both the terms “established” and “incorporated”). The 1722 Act never uses the term “incorporated,” within the language of its text but instead in the caption block states it is “An Act for the Further Establishment of the Town of Rutland …”
The Director of the State Archive's last comment: "To be honest, I’m not sure what course should be recommended here. Since the caption block of the 1713 Act does allude to the new settlement as an area “To Be Called Rutland and Lie in Middlesex County,” dependent upon the internal conditional provisions, I suppose an argument can be made to view the 1722 Act as a more official accounting of the Town’s status – that is, something more akin to actual incorporation. Anything more authoritative than that I leave that to others with more legal expertise."
So here we are. We quietly celebrated the 300th anniversary of Rutland's *Founding* back in 2013, with a proclamation. We know the town celebrated its "incorporation" big in 1972 - the 250th and in 1997 - the 275th, because there are people here who remember it still. That would suggest that at the 250th there were people who remembered celebrating the 200th, and so on. On the other hand, our town seal lists our settled date (1686) and our founding date (1713).
The 300th Anniversary Committee would humbly offer that Rutland knew what it needed to do back in 1713, that it took the full seven years to get there - plus two more years for the paperwork to be approved (proof that the wheels of government have always moved slowly) - and that, having achieved finally their goals in 1722, threw a party. And maybe Boston wasn't really paying attention (a bit like now).
But just imagine the local joy and sense of accomplishment for the people here, knowing that they had achieved what they needed to do to make this a "real" town in the eyes of the state. Sixty families settled. Sufficient land for a gospel ministry and school. Twelve square miles named Naquag, to become a Town called Rutland. That was, and still is, something to be celebrated.
Where does that leave us? Should the Town take this opportunity at the Tricentennial to petition the state to change its listing? Or does Rutland go on as it has, celebrating the date it knows to be the "real" one? What do you think?