Papers of John Adams, volume 1


The “jealousies and animosities” surrounding Braintree's common lands are ably described in CFA2's Three Episodes , 2:661–665. These 1800 acres, divided between the North and South Commons, demanded attention at “almost every town-meeting,” and CFA2 tabulated “no less than 180 votes” on the subject in the Braintree Town Records . (His copy of Bates' text, heavily marked in the margins, is in the Adams Papers Editorial Office.) Proposals to sell the Commons were made as early as 1753, but in Nov. 1754, the town voted instead to lease the lands. This proved no solution, for public ways were laid out through the North and South 56Commons in 1755, and the lessees' efforts to maintain walls along these paths and to protect their lands from trespassers resulted in numerous complaints to the town and to modifications of the original leases to compensate the leaseholders ( Braintree Town Records , p. 326, 338–339, 350–351, 352, 361).

South Common lessees may have been more impatient than their counterparts in North Common, for the South Common group received less generous terms in settlements made with the town as these disputes arose. Too, the South Common, which “included that high ridge of rocky hills directly south of the easterly end of Water street” in modern Quincy, may have been less profitable to its lessees than the North Common, which ran from the town lands on Granite Street and included quarries as well as arable acres, extending through modern Adams Street and including the “Blue Hill” lands (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 37–40; and map in CFA2, Three Episodes , vol. 2, following p. 578).