Woburn was first settled in 1640 near Horn Pond, a primary source of the Mystic River, and was officially incorporated in 1642. At that time the area included present day towns of Woburn, Winchester, Burlington, and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington. In 1730 Wilmington separated from Woburn. In 1799 Burlington separated from Woburn; in 1850 Winchester did so, too.
Woburn got its name from Woburn, Bedfordshire. Woburn played host to the first religious ordination in the Americas on Nov. 22, 1642. Rev. Thomas Carter was sworn in by many of the most prominent men of New England including John Cotton, minister of the First Church of Boston, Richard Mather minister of the First Church of Dorchester, and Capt. Edward Johnson co-founder of the church and town of Woburn. The establishment of the church preceded the incorporation of the town, as was customary in those days.
A Chronological History of Woburn, Massachusetts
Charlestown, settled in 1629, only nine years after the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony, is actually the starting point of Woburn's history. In the early 1630s, looking to expand Charlestown, its citizens petitioned the newly elected representatives of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony for more land. A wide extent of territory on the main land eight miles northward was granted to Charlestown (this area includes present day Woburn, Winchester, Burlington and parts of Stoneham and Wilmington).
In February of 1640 a group set forth from Charlestown to find a suitable location for their projected town. After much deliberation, present day Woburn Center was chosen as the site for the new Village.
On November 5, 1640 a committee of seven was appointed by Charlestown to determine the boundary lines of the new settlement. The seven men who received this grant to undertake the settlement of Charlestown Village, as it was to be called, were Captain Edward Johnson, Thomas Richardson, Samuel Richardson, Ezekiel Richardson, Thomas Graves, Edward Converse and John Mousall. These men were required to build houses for habitation within two years. They also were entrusted with the power to grant lands to other persons willing to build and live within the newly formed Village. The grant further stated that it was the duty of these men to select newcomers who would work as a unit to improve the land, lay out the streets and maintain a civil and religious society.
Edward Converse is said to have built the first house and mill in 1640. It was located in the southern part of town (now Winchester Center). John Mousall's house was the first dwelling built in present day Woburn. It was located on what is now Montvale Avenue. Captain Edward Johnson was chosen as the first Town Clerk on December 18, 1640. Not yet even a year old, the spirit of independence was strong in the new Charlestown Village. Already plans were underway to create a distinct Town, instead of a Village more or less dependent upon Charlestown.
Religion played an important role in Puritan Massachusetts. Every incorporated Town or Parish was required to have a church and pastor. On December 5, 1641 the Rev. Thomas Carter, the first pastor, gave his first sermon. The first church was built around this time on the southerly side of the Common.
The new Village was growing, a church and pastor were a part of the community; the way was now prepared for granting the privileges of a Town to this newly established community. The General Court met in session in the fall of 1642 and the Town of Woburn was incorporated on October 7, 1642. The act of incorporation reads: "Charlestowne Village is called Wooborne'.
List of Original Settlers
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- Edward Johnson, Captain
- Thomas Richardson
- Samuel Richardson
- Ezekiel Richardson
- Thomas Graves
- Edward Converse
- John Mousall
- Thomas Carter, Reverend
- Edward Winn
- William Learned
- Henry Baldwin
- Gershom Flagg
- Samuel Converse