Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the town of Rochester. You will find help with town histories, vital records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries. There are detailed guides for the towns set off from Rochester: Marion and Mattapoisett. The town was first in Barnstable County until 19 Nov. 1707.

Town Clerk[edit | edit source]

1 Constitution Way
Rochester, MA 02770
Phone: 508-763-3871 x 17
Fax: 508-763-4892

Brief History[edit | edit source]

A group of men across Plymouth Colony Genealogy gathered to buy seventy square miles at Sippican in 1679 west of Westerly Jumping or Besse Brook and the Wankinco River. The first housing lots were along the Great Neck (now in Mattapoisett). Few of these proprietors actually settled in town. The town was established by Plymouth Colony Genealogy in 1686 and placed in Barnstable County. For a brief time, the town was part of the Dominion of New England Genealogy from 1686 to 1689, though still in Barnstable County and in limbo, until the "Colony" was merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony Genealogy in 1691 that became the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The town was transferred to Plymouth County on 19 Nov. 1707.

Historical Data[edit | edit source]

The basic data is from the "Historical Data" publication series[1] with additions from various sources.

Associated names

Abington at one time was called Mattapoisett, Monehansett, and Scippican.

Village or section names include Bisbee's Corner, Cowen's Corner, East Rochester, Look's Mills, North Fochester, Pierceville, Rochester Center, Roundsville Mills. and Sherman's Corner.

Border changes
Dates Events
4 June 1686 Established as a town by the desire of the inhabitants of Scippican alias Rochester. [Ply. Col. Rec., 6: 189]
19 Nov. 1707 Town transferred from Barnstable County to Plymouth County.
11 June 1714 Border between Rochester and Tiverton established.
10 July 1739 Part of Rochester (12 square miles) included in the new town of Wareham.
9 Apr. 1836 Part of Rochester annexed to Fairhaven and border established.
14 May 1852 Southeastern part (4th or South Parish) set off as the new town of Marion.
8 Apr. 1853 Border between Rochester and Marion established.
20 May 1857 Southern third (2nd Parish) set off as the new town of Mattapoisett.
20 Apr. 1864
15 Feb. 1866
3 June 1887
12 June 1939
Border between Rochester and Wareham established.
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Town Histories and Records[edit | edit source]

Works written on the town include:
Barnstable CountyBristol CountyPlymouth CountyNorfolk CountySuffolk CountyFalmouthMashpeeSandwichBourneFairhavenAchushnetNew BedfordDartmouthWestportFall RiverFreetownBerkleyTauntonRaynhamEastonStoughtonAvonHolbrookCantonRandolphWeymouthCohassetBraintreeQuincyMiltonBostonHullHinghamScituateNorwellRocklandAbingtonBrocktonWest BridgewaterWhitmanHanoverMarshfieldDuxburyPembrokeHansonEast BridgewaterBridgewaterHalifaxPlymptonKingstonPlymouthCarverMiddleboroughLakevilleRochesterWarehamMarionMattapoisett
Town of Rochester in Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

  • Joseph S. Luce and Noah Hammond, copyists, "Proprietors' Records, 1679-1807" [covers Rochester, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Wareham and copied from the originals], FHL film 482218 Items 1-3.
  • David Hamblen, "First Settlers of Rochester and Their Families" in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 5 [1851]: 85-88.
  • "History of Rochester" in D. Hamilton Hurd, ed., History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts ... (Philadelphia, 1884), 329-339.
    Digital version at Internet Archive.
  • Mary Hall Leonard, "Revolutionary Records of a Country Town" in The New England Magazine, New Ser., 19 [1898-1899]: 289-299.
  • Mary Hall Leonard, "Old Rochester and Her Daughter Towns" in The New England Magazine, New Ser., 20 [1899-1900]: 613-635.
  • Mattapoisett and Old Rochester, Massachusetts: being a History of these Towns and also in part of Marion and a portion of Wareham ([Mattapoisett, Mass.], 3rd ed., 1950), 426 pp.
    Digital versions of the 1907 edition at Internet Archive and Google Books
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.482 H2m (1907 ed. only); FHL fiche 6081392 (1907 ed. only).
  • "Rochester, Mass., records," 37, 135, 7, 47 p. at R. Stanton Avery Special Collections Dept., New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston, Mass.), Mss C 4932a-b, and online ($) as "Records of the First Church, 1737-1797.
Handwritten transcription of original records concerning Rochester, Mass. Includes epitaphs for cemeteries in Marion and Mattapoisett, Mass., family Bible records from Mattapoisett and Rochester, Mass., two vols from the First Church, records of the Second Church (1740-1849); baptisms in the Third Church in North Rochester (1794-1845); and records of marriages, births, deaths and burials of friends belonging to the Monthly Meeting of Dartmouth (records pertaining to Rochester, Mass.).
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Vital Records[edit | edit source]

The town's vital records are available in many locations:

Original records
Published records
This includes, in part, church records from the First Congregational Church of Rochester (C.R.1), Second Church of Rochester (C.R.2), Third Church of Rochester (C.R.3), and Records of the Society of Friends of Rochester [now with the Society in New Bodford (C.R.4). Deaths are included from First Parish Cem., Rochester Centre (G.R.1), Union Cem.(G.R.2), East Rochester Cem. (G.R.3), Old Parish Cem., North Rochester (G.R.4), Central Cem., North Rochester (G.R.5), Pierce Cem.(G.R.6), Sherman Cem. (G.R.7), Ellis Family Burying Ground (G.R.8), Ashley Cem. (G.R.9), Pierceville Church or Briggs Lane Cem. (G.R.10), Little Neck Cem. [now in Marion] (G.R.11), Happy Alley or Quaker Cem. [now in Marion] (G.R.12), Evergreen Cem. [now in Marion] (G.R. 13), Old Landing Cem. [now in Marion] (G.R. 14), Blankinship Cem. [now in Marion] (G.R. 15), Mednell Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 16), Cushing Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 17), Ellis Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 18), Pine Island Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 19), Friends' Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 20), Hammond Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 21), Barlow Cem. [now in Mattapoisett] (G.R. 22), and one grave in the woods, Rochester Centre (G.R. 23).
  • "Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1687-1718, from the First Volume of Town Records" [Rochester] in the Genealogical Advertiser, 4 [1901]: 65-68 [to be continued, but journal ceased publication].
Online records
  • Rochester town and vital records, 1673-1883, are browsable (i.e. not indexed as of Nov. 2012) on FamilySearch.
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City Directories[edit | edit source]

Rochester was published in 1903/4, 1907, 1910/1, 1916, 1919, 1924/5, 1926, 1928/9.

The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) has one of the largest collections of city directories in the country. They are likely to own most of the years listed above. Their collection is in microfiche, microfilm, and books, but there is no online inventory of their holdings except for microfilm. See their guide online.

Other holdings:

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Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of cemeteries in present-day Rochester. Early cemeteries now in Marion, Mattapoisett, and western Wareham were once in this town and covered in the published vital records book above. For locations of the cemeteries, see PlymouthColony. For more details regarding these cemeteries, see the state guide under cemeteries for books on the subject.

  1. Ashely Cemetery, 1788. (A, B, C, D-p. 104)
  2. Braley Family Cemetery, 1838-1914. (D-p. 147)
  3. Ellis Family Burying Ground, 1840-1845. (A, C, D-p. 142)
  4. Hillside or East Rochester Cemetery, 1824. (A, C, D-p. 67, 170)
    Rochester Genealogy Club online transcription.
  5. Howes Family Plot, 1791. (D-p. 133)
  6. North Rochester or Central Cemetery, 1810. (A, B, C, D-p. 91)
  7. Old Parish Cemetery, 1758. (A, D-p. 84)
    John S. Ryder, "Cemetery Inscriptions, Rochester Centre, Massachusetts," (S.l., typ., 1907), [72] leaves, at NSDAR.
  8. Rochester First Parish Cemetery, 1701. (A, C, D-p. 5)
  9. Perry Family Plot, 1854. (D-p. 136)
  10. Pierce Family Cemetery, 1797-1843. (D-p. 149)
  11. Sherman Cemetery, 1843. (A, B, C, D-p. 96)
    Digitized transcript at SAILS.
  12. Union Cemetery, 1810. (B, C, D-p. 45)
    Rochester Genealogy Club online transcription.
  13. Woodside or Pierceville Cemetery, 1828. (A, B, D-p. 114, 156)

Abstracts of the cemeteries above are marked and keyed to:
(A). Vital Records of Rochester, Massachusetts, to the year 1850 (Boston, 1914). [See links above for various versions of this source.]
(B). Charles M. Thatcher, Old Cemeteries of Southeastern Massachusetts (Middleborough, Mass., 1995). WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 V3.
(C). New England Historic Genealogical Society, Manuscripts Dept.
(D). Town transcription online.

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Churches[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of churches established in town in order of organization date (if known) and condition of records in the 1889 survey if listed.

  1. Society of Friends, 1672. [part of the Sandwich Monthly Meeting]
    Records on microfilm as Sandwich Monthly Meeting records, 1646-1850, FHL films 1330-1331.
  2. First Congregational Church of Rochester, 1703, records good and start 1798.
  3. North Rochester Congregational Church, 1753, records good, records burned in 1841.
  4. St. Rose of Lima Church, 1961. [part of Sacred Heart Parish, Middleborough]
  5. Kingdom of Jehovah's Witnesses, n.d.
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Newspapers[edit | edit source]

There were no newspapers published in Rochester.

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Libraries and Historical Societies[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of research facilities in town:

Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library
17 Constitution Way
PO Box 69
Rochester MA 02770
Phone 508-763-8600

Rochester Historical Society

References[edit | edit source]

  1. William Francis Galvin, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, new ed., 1997), 97-98. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2h 1997
Adjacent towns: Plymouth Co.: Lakeville | Marion | Mattapoisett | Middleborough | Wareham Norfolk Co.: Acushnet | Freetown