Legal Papers of John Adams, volume 1

Adams' Minutes of the Trial

Adams' Minutes of the Argument and Decision


The earliest use of the writ found in Massachusetts for a case under the poor laws is Waltham v. Weston, SCJ Rec. 1760–1762, fol. 161 (Middlesex, 1761). The writ, in the form printed in No. 27, Doc. V, was issued in 1759.

The first certiorari of any kind known to have issued from the Superior Court is that in Boxford Parish v. Rogers, SCJ Recs. 1753–1754, fol. 101d (Essex SCJ, Oct. 1753), a case involving a minister's salary. Edith G. Henderson, Certiorari and Mandamus in Massachusetts and Maryland 3–4 (Unpubl. paper, Harvard Law School, 1955). Prior to 1720 at least, appeals from Sessions seem to have been allowed in such matters, as well as in poor law, bastardy, and highway cases. Id. at 4–5. In 1747, however, the Superior Court dismissed the appeal in Bodfish v. Barnstable, a case under the poor laws. See note 12 3 below. The use of certiorari may have developed in response to this decision. The English practice is covered in Henderson, Foundations of English Administrative Law 83–116, 143–159.