Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Flint and Lawrence Family Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
This collection contains a wide variety of personal papers belonging to members of the Flint and Lawrence families, long time residents of the area known today as Lincoln, Massachusetts. The papers are dated between 1642 and 1798. The collection also includes the records of several town and church meetings, town petitions, and a large number of receipts documenting the construction of the meeting-house between 1746 and 1750.
Lincoln was not established as an independent township until 23 April, 1754. As early as 1734, inhabitants of south east Concord, and adjacent areas of Lexington and Weston, began petitioning their local governments to allow them to establish their own precinct. The reasons cited included the inconvenience of living at such a great distance from the place of worship. The petitions in this collection show that not all inhabitants favored this motion, mainly due to the loss of taxes such a step would bring about. However in 1746 the Massachusetts House of Representatives established Lincoln as a precinct, and 8 years later Governor William Shirley signed the bill for its complete independence. Edward Flint, whose papers form a significant part of this collection, played an instrumental role in this struggle for independence.
The personal papers in this collection are predominantly the records of business and legal transactions. The former, dating from 1642-1798, include the records of land sales, indenture papers, and contracts. They provide insight into the general economic situation during this period. The latter, in particular the wills and estate inventories and settlements, are valuable for the information they contain about land and property holdings. The most extensive personal letters are those of Dr. Joseph Adams, a Loyalist who fled to England in approximately 1777. His letters to his brother-in-law provide insight into both the conditions in England at the end of the 1700's, and the legal and psychological problems faced by emigres. The Massachusetts House of Representatives' decision concerning the sale of Adams' property provides interesting information both about the distribution of emigres' estates, and the provision made by the state government for the maintenance of emigres' families. The only other mention of the Revolutionary War in this collection is provided by the records of a church meeting held to examine Rev. William Lawrence's supposed lack of a patriotic stand.
Finally, the accounts of the construction of the town's meeting-house, 1746-1750, provide some insight into the occupations of Lincoln's inhabitants, and their position in the town hierarchy, as well as into the cost of labor and materials during this period.