1646-1909; bulk: 1725-1805

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of papers relating to the town of Groton, Mass., collected by Samuel A. Green in preparation for his Groton Historical Series. Dating from 1646 to 1909, the records include deeds, indentures, wills, receipts, accounts, warrants, petitions, muster rolls, and other military papers, as well as the military and professional papers of Col. William Lawrence, the military papers of Capt. Thomas Lawrence, and scrapbooks relating to Groton events.

Collection Description

The Groton historical papers consist of 3 document boxes, 1 oversize box, and 3 bound volumes dating from 1646-1909 with the bulk of the material from 1725-1805. Gathered by Dr. Samuel A. Green in preparation for writing his Groton Historical Series, the papers include deeds, indentures, wills, receipts, accounts, tax records, warrants, petitions, muster rolls, and correspondence. Prominent names within the collection include the Blood, Flint, Lakin, Lawrence, Prescott, Shattuck, Sawtell, and Tarbell families. Many of the records were created by the offices of the Groton town clerk and justice of the peace and include papers of Justices of the Peace Benjamin Prescott (1696-1738) and William Lawrence (1697-1764).

The papers of Col. William Lawrence are especially prominent within the collection and contain many records relating both to his role as justice of the peace and to his military service. Lawrence began his military service during Dummer's War in 1723, rising to colonel in 1754, and served under General Amherst at Fort Ticonderoga in 1759. Records relating to Lawrence's military career include appointments, promotions, and receipts documenting salaries paid to his soldiers. Many of the deeds included in his papers document Lawrence's land purchases in the Groton area. Records relating to the construction of the Groton meetinghouse, 1751-1761, are included in his papers and consist largely of receipts, account books, and meeting minutes.

Other highlights of the collection include documentation of the early and persistent conflicts with local Native Americans, as evidenced by a 1675 petition to the Massachusetts General Court requesting aid against increasing Native American hostilities. The collection also documents many of the military units raised by the town during both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. Of particular note are the papers relating to the company of Capt. Thomas Lawrence, Ebenezer Nichols's regiment, of the Massachusetts militia in the French and Indian War. They include muster rolls, pay receipts, and inventories of the belongings of soldiers killed in action. Also of note are the military warrants of the South Company of militia, calling for members to attend drills and training.

In addition to his Groton Historical Series, Green used his collected documents as sources for his published historical sketches in the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society and in his weekly newspaper column, "Turner's Public Spirit." The collection contains several reprinted documents, with Green's commentary and explanations, as well as pamphlets containing topical historical sketches of Groton.

Three bound scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings, programs, and correspondence. The "Groton, Mass." scrapbook (1874-1892) contains clippings of historical sketches written by Green, especially for his weekly column "Turner's Public Spirit," as well as obituaries, wedding notices, and programs relating to Groton events. The "Bi-Centennial" scrapbook (1855-1888) contains documents relating to the celebration of Groton's 200th anniversary in 1855. The third scrapbook, "Fires at Groton" (1892-1893), contains newspaper clippings relating to two fires which occurred in July 1892 and the litigation that followed.


The bulk of this collection consists of loose documents that were bound into nine volumes in 1908-1909 and disbound in 1976. Documents were numbered in the back lower left corner, indicating the page number and volume in which they were bound. The volumes were originally divided into the following four categories: Miscellaneous, volumes 1, 2, and 9; Col. William Lawrence, volumes 3-6; Military, volume 7; and South Company, volume 8.

These categories have largely been preserved in the collection's present organization. It now consists of the following five series: Groton town papers; Col. William Lawrence papers; Military papers; Samuel A. Green papers; and Bound scrapbooks. Documents previously labeled Miscellaneous are now organized into the Groton town papers series. The documents in the Military and South Company volumes have been brought together in the Military papers series, but the distinctions have been retained with the subseries. Green's notes relating to documents in each volume, as well as several of his published pamphlets, have been gathered into a separate series.

Acquisition Information

Gifts of Dr. Samuel A. Green and others, 1881-1909.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Groton town papers, 1646-1849

Arranged chronologically.

This series consists of deeds; indentures; wills; receipts; accounts; tax records, especially from Ebenezer Prescott; petitions to the Massachusetts General Court; and warrants and other records from the offices of the justice of the peace and the town clerk. Included are a collection of papers given to Green by Frederick Shattuck regarding the Shattuck family (1780-1834). This series also includes documents regarding the establishment of Flintstown, later known as Baldwin. Other documents of particular interest include a 1675 petition to the General Court requesting aid against increasing Native American hostilities; records from a 1712 Council of Churches; Justice of the Peace Benjamin Prescott's record book, 1729-1733; a list of "such as was Torys in Groton," 1775; Revolutionary War enlistment and training records, 1776; a letter from Oliver Prescott to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln relating to Shays' Rebellion, 1787; and an 1832 letter regarding an incident of racism at a local school. Genealogical papers in this series include records relating to the Prescott, Lane, and Lawrence families.

Box 1

II. William Lawrence papers, 1702-1789

Arranged chronologically.

The bulk of this series consists of papers relating to the activities of William Lawrence (1697-1764), including his military career, his role as justice of the peace, and his acquisition of land in and near Groton. Lawrence began his military career as a private during Dummer's War (1721-1725) and had risen to the rank of colonel by the time of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). He served as justice of the peace from 1739 through 1762, and many of the records in this series are warrants issued and signed by him. Other records include both military and civil appointments issued to Lawrence, deeds, indentures, surveys of Groton, requests and receipts of payments, wills, warrants, accounts, records of court costs, and town meeting minutes. Of special note are the papers relating to the construction of the Groton meetinghouse dating from 1751-1761, which include receipts, account books, and meeting minutes. Also of interest are the 1751 town meeting minutes of Township No. 1, New Hampshire, regarding the construction of their meetinghouse.

Box 2
Box 3Folder 1-13

III. Military papers, 1748-1804

This series has been divided into three subseries: Thomas Lawrence company records, South Company records, and Miscellaneous military papers.

A. Thomas Lawrence company records, 1756-1759

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains papers relating to the company of Thomas Lawrence, part of Col. Ebenezer Nichols' regiment during the French and Indian War. When Lawrence and 20 other soldiers in the regiment were killed in a battle at Half-Way Brook on 20 July 1758, command of the company was assumed by Ephraim Wesson. This subseries consists of muster rolls, inventories of the possessions of slain soldiers, including Lawrence, and pay receipts. Of special note are a 1756 pay schedule listing each position within a regiment and Lawrence's 1758 military orders.

Box 3Folder 14-19

B. South Company records, 1796-1804

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries relates to the militia company raised in Groton and led by Capt. Timothy Bigelow. It consists entirely of military warrants issued by Bigelow calling for enlisted men to present themselves for drill sessions and other activities of the militia. Of special note is the warrant dated 12 Feb 1800 calling for the presence of the men at a memorial parade to honor General Washington.

Box 3Folder 20-27

C. Miscellaneous military papers, 1748-1779

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries consists of various papers relating to military companies raised in Groton. It includes payrolls for the companies of Capt. Humphrey Hobbs, Capt. John Burk, and Capt. Silvanus Smith in the regiment of Col. Timothy Bigelow; a 1748 list of men "ordered out on a scout after the enemy"; muster rolls of men "enlisted for his Majesty's service for the total reduction of Canada, 1760"; a 1757 billeting roll of invalids; and a 1761 account of quartered soldiers.

Box 3Folder 28

IV. Samuel A. Green papers, 1880-1909

Arranged by subject.

Editorial and research notes, title pages from the original bound volumes of manuscripts, and notes and correspondence relating to the donations of various papers both to Green and the Massachusetts Historical Society have been collected into a separate series. Also within this series are historical pamphlets written by Green, including "The Lakin Family" and "The Lawyers of Groton," containing biographical information about Benjamin Prescott, William Lawrence, and others. The pamphlet entitled Papers relating to Capt. Thomas Lawrence's Company raised in Groton Massachusetts, during the French and Indian War, 1758 gives a brief background sketch of the company in addition to reprinted documents, many of which are found in this collection.

Box 3Folder 29-30
Groton town papers, 1880-1909
Box 3Folder 31
William Lawrence papers, 1892-1908
Box 3Folder 32
Thomas Lawrence company papers, 1888-1908
Box 3Folder 33
South Company papers, 1906

V. Scrapbooks, 1855-1893

This series consists of three bound volumes: "Groton Bi-Centennial Celebration" scrapbook, "Groton, Mass." scrapbook, and "Fires at Groton" scrapbook.

Vol. 1
"Groton Bi-Centennial Celebration" scrapbook, 1855-1888

This volume contains announcements, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and other material relating to the celebration held on 31 October 1855 of the 200th anniversary of the incorporation of Groton, also referred to as the "Jubilee of Groton." Much of the material consists of correspondence between George H. Brown, secretary for the Committee of Arrangements, and invited guests. Also included in this volume are written copies of the speeches given at the celebration. Two pamphlets written by Green in 1884 and 1888 as part of his Groton Historical Series discuss the 1855 celebration and include the recollections of Samuel Lawrence (1801-1880), as well as essays on slavery in Groton, Lawrence Academy, Walter Dickson's family, the Eldridge family, and Groton Junction. A note from Green at the front of the volume indicates that the bulk of the documents belonged to Brown and were given to Green by Brown's widow.

Vol. 2
"Groton, Mass." scrapbook, 1874-1892

This volume consists of newspaper clippings and programs relating to the town of Groton. Among the papers represented are the Boston Daily Globe, Boston Daily Advertiser, Boston Journal, Boston Post, Boston Herald, Boston Transcript, Lowell Weekly Journal, Fitchburg Daily Sentinel, and The Times (Marlboro, Mass.). Many of the newspaper articles were written by Green himself, including clippings of his weekly column, "Turner's Public Spirit." These articles contain brief historical sketches about Groton and the surrounding area, often based on specific documents that are reprinted with the article. The volume also contains many obituary and wedding notices, as well as programs from various Groton events.

Vol. 3
"Fires at Groton" scrapbook, 1892-1893

This volume contains newspaper clippings relating to two fires occurring in the house of Dr. George P. Hurd on 5 and 8 July 1892. Papers represented include Boston Daily Advertiser, Boston Daily Globe, Boston Journal, Boston Herald, Boston Post, and Lowell Daily Courier. The clippings date from 6 July 1892 through 26 May 1893 and cover the fire itself, as well as the resulting inquest held 18-25 July 1892 to determine the cause of the fires and the lawsuit filed by Dr. Hurd against his insurance company in May 1893.

VI. Oversize papers

This series consists of oversize papers pulled from the rest of the collection.

Box OS

Preferred Citation

Groton (Mass.) historical papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Blood family.
Brown, George H.
Flint family.
Green, Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott), 1830-1918.
Lakin family.
Lawrence family.
Lawrence, Thomas, 1720-1758.
Lawrence, William, 1697-1764.
Prescott, Benjamin, 1696-1738.
Prescott family.
Sawtell family.
Shattuck family.
Tarbell family.


Massachusetts. Militia. Regiment, Ebenezer Nichols' (1755-1763).


Groton (Mass.)--Centennial celebrations, etc.
Groton (Mass.)--Church history.
Groton (Mass.)--History.
Justices of the peace--Massachusetts--Middlesex County.
Real property--Massachusetts--Groton.
United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763--Muster rolls.