Historical Data Relating to the Incorporation of and Abolishment of Counties in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

County

Date of Incorporation or, First Mention in the Names of Counties Records

Reference to Act

Barnstable

June 2, 1685

Ply. Col. Rec. Vol. VI, p.169

Berkshire

April 21, 1761(1)

Prov. Laws, Vol. IV, p.432

Bristol

June 2, 1685

Ply. Col. Rec. Vol. VI, p.169

Dukes

June 22, 1695(2)

Prov. Laws, Vol. I, p. 216

Essex

May 10, 1643

Mass. Bay Rec. Vol. II, p.38

Franklin

June 24, 1811(3)

Chapter 61, Acts of 1811

Hampden

February 25, 1812(4)

Chapter 137, Acts of 1811

Hampshire

May 7, 1662

Mass. Bay Rec. Vol. IV Part 2, p.52

Middlesex

May 10, 1643

Mass. Bay Rec. Vol. II, p.38

Nantucket

June 22, 1695

Prov. Laws, Vol. I, p. 216

Norfolk (Extinct)

May 10, 1643(5)

Mass. Bay Rec. Vol. II, p.38

Norfolk

March 26, 1793(6)

Chapter 72, Acts of 1792

Plymouth

June 2, 1685

Ply. Col. Rec. Vol. VI, p.169

Suffolk

May 10, 1643

Mass. Bay Rec. Vol. II, p.38

Worcester

April 2, 1731(7)

Prov. Laws, Vol. II, p.584

  1. Act took effect June 30, 1761
  2. By an act passed by the legislature of New York, November 1, 1683, entitled, "An act to divide this province and dependence into shires and Countyes," the County of Dukes County was established as follows: "Dukes County so contayns the Island and nomans Land." By the Province Charter in 1692 (Prov. Laws, Vol. I, p.9) the "Isles of Cappawock and Nantucket near Cape Cod" were granted to the Province of Massachusetts Bay. June 13, 1693 (Prov. Laws, Vol. I p. 117), the "Islands of Capawock, alias Martha's Vineyard," are referred to. June 22, 1695 (Prov. Laws, Vol. I p. 216), it was ordered that "The Islands of Martha's Vineyard, Elisabeth Islands, the islands called Noman's land and all the dependencies formerly belonging to Dukes County (the Islands of Nantucket only excepted) shall be and remain, and continue to be one county to all intents and purposes, by the name of Duke's County"
  3. Act took effect December 2, 1811
  4. Act took effect August 1, 1812
  5. February 4, 1680, the towns remaining in Norfolk County were re-annexed to Essex county (Mass. Bay Rec., Vol. V, p. 264
  6. Act took effect June 20, 1793
  7. Act took effect July 10, 1731

Source: Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts 1997. Prepared by William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth and published by The New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Abolishment of Certain Counties within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Dates of Abolished County Governments

County

Date

Chapter: Section / Acts of

Franklin

July 1, 1997

151:567 / 1996

Middlesex

July 11, 1997

48:1 / 1997

Hampden

July 1, 1998

48:1 / 1997

Worcester

July 1, 1998

48:1 / 1997

Hampshire

January 1, 1999

300:11 / 1998

Essex

July 1, 1999

300:11 / 1998

Berkshire

July 1, 2000

300:11 / 1998

Suffolk

July 1, 1999

Ma. Gen. Law Chapter 34B Sec.1