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By Roger Chartier


Local New Bedford, Ma. History
1750 - 1777 In Chronological Order

First Fire Engine Hand Pumper in New Bedford, Ma. - 1772 -

The 1750 - 1777 saw growth in the village.


Joseph Russell lll had built a house at the top of present day Walnut street.

Nearby was what is today the intersection of Union Street and County Streets. It had a red gate opening to his cart path along present day Union Street leading down to the sea.

Near the shore, he had built a try-works for rendering whale oil.

On December 25th William Sanford gave the town one-quarter of an acre of land on which the town house was to stand forever (so reads the deed)."

1700 to 1750
Land purchased by the Russell family becomes the area eventually to be known as New Bedford.
The land purchased was along the Acushnet River and the hills up above the river.

Joseph Russell lll did a lot of planning and development of the area.

1755 Joseph Russell persued the business of whaling as early as this date.
The The "Manufacture" was the first whaling ship to be "outfitted" from and sailed from "Bedford Village" then the name of current day New Bedford. It sailed in April of 1756 and returned to port with it's catch three weeks later a relatively short trip as compared to the future of whaling.

The town was compelled to furnish it's quota of soldiers for the invasion of Canada.

Eleven settlers and one Indian were conscripted and marched to Lake George.

This was to continue as the records show several expeditions for Her Majesty's Service over the next years.


James Smith was granted the privilege of living in the work-house for two years for the sum of $5. per annum.

For this, he was to repair the house and take care of all the poor and idle persons that shall be sent to him to keep them for labor."


An early settler and land owner Joseph Russell created a plan for the village of what is now New Bedford.

Another settler was John "Jack" Loudon, from Pembroke who was a caulker by trade.
His intention was to carry on ship building.
He bought the first land sold from the Russell homestead farm.

It was one acre just south of what is Union Street and Water street. The deed was drawn up by Jireh Willis Esq.
The Louden house was the first house erected within the limits of the then contemplated village built on the west side of South Water Street at the head of Commercial Street.

The other residents in the area did not live within the bounds of the planned village.
Those people had their farmhouses for the most part on the west side of County street and each had 800 acre farms running from the river up to County Road and then on to the west about an equal distance.
The lots were lined up from Clark's Point to the head of the river.

At one time, he kept a tavern. His house was burned by the British in 1778.

John Allen who was a house carpenter came and built a home on the corner of Union and Water streets.

In 1762 Elnathan Sampson came to set up a blacksmith shop on the opposite corner.


In the spring of that year, Benjamin Tabor bought land nearby and built a structure for boat building and block-making.

He was the first to build a whaleboat in New Bedford.

His home was on the North Side of Union Street, the first one just below North Water Street.

It was built by Gideon Mosher and bought by Taber in 1765.


Elnathan Sampson a blacksmith from Wareham, purchased a lot of land south of that owned by John Loudon and north-east of Union and Water Streets.

Along County Road (now County Street) were the farm houses of Joseph russell, Caleb Russell, Ephraim Kempton, and Samuel Willis while on the riverfront was a single wharf and a try-house.


As per a quaint law selectmen should be advised of any new residents or new members of the family residing in the homes of the inhabitants. Here is a copy from the town record.

"To Humphrey Smith, Walter Spooner, and Ezekell Cornell the present selectmen of ye town of Dartmouth Greeting:
"This is to notify you as the law directs that I have taken in my house a young woman to dwell in said town named Elizabeth Baggs, daughter of John Baggs, of Newport in the Colony of Rhode Island, &c.

She came to reside with me this day.
Given under my hand this 30th of the sixth month called June 1762, pr. William Anthony.
"received the above July 14th, 1762 Humphrey Smith, one of the selectmen of Dartmouth."


Joseph Rotch born in 1704 in Salisbury, England, became a Nantucket whaling merchant.

In 1765, he bought ten acres of land from Joseph Russell III and moved his business to what was to become New Bedford. He brought his experience, money and technology.

His first home here was on the west side of Water street just south of William and was burned by the British in 1778

Joseph Rotch, working with his sons changed for the better a lot of the ways things were done and helped to put New Bedford in the forefront of the whaling industry.


The sloops Nancy, Polly, Greyhound and Hannah, all from 49 to 60 tons owned by Joseph Russell, Caleb Russell and William Tallman, were employed in the whalefishery.

Seth Russell House was constructed.

Walter Spooner was chosen to represent the town in the jurisdiction line between Dartmouth and Freetown.
First Schoolhouse in Bedford Village built on Bethel Street, which is now known as Johnny Cake Hill. It was financed by Quakers..

The first ship built here was launched. It was built beneath buttonwood trees near where Hazards Wharf was later located.
The ship was owned by Francis Rotch and called The " Dartmouth".
It's first trip carried whale oil to London.
Later it was one of the ships in the Boston Tea Party incident.


In this year there were in the township 772 dwelling houses, 158 tan, slaughter and other workhouses, thirty grist, fulling and saw mills and one iron works, 525 horses,797 oxen, 1965 cows and heifers, 7,108 goats and sheep, 383 swine,10,236 1/2 acres of pasturage land, 2,124 acres of tillage land.

There were twenty-one persons between the ages of fourteen and forty-five who were held as slaves or as the record reveals "servants for life".
There were 2,933 tons of vessels of every kind, 16, 400 superficial feet of wharves.

The number of rateable polls in 1765 was 1,033. In 1768, it was 1,148, in 1773 1,231, and in 1774, 1,240.
Total valuation of estates real and personal: In 1765, 31,710 pounds, in 1773, 44,574 pounds, in 1774 44,560 pounds.

The township was in good and prosperous condition when the American Revolution started.

1769, March 8
The highways known at the present time as Union, North Water and South Water were laid out.
A slave was bought.
"Elnathan Sampson of Dartmouth in the County of Bristol and Province of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England, blacksmith did on the eight day of November, A.D. 1769 at Publick Auction purchase, buy and become possesor of a Negro man slave Named Venter aged about Forty-six years as may appear by a bill of sale of said Negro given to the said Elnathan Sampson by Job Williams a deputy Sheriff in Said County of Bristol..."

Captain Cornelius Grinnell's house was built on the west side of Water Street between Madison and Walnut Streets. See the picture in the right column.

The town voted "There to be one Grammar Schoolmaster provided by said town by the selectmen and they shall be placed and replaced as they shall judge proper."
On May 21, it was voted to collect a duty of two shillings per barrel of fish seigned in the rivers and coves of this town.
Exact date unknown. Saw the first naval conflict between the colonies and England in Buzzards Bay. This was at the beginning of the Revolutionary War
The New Bedford fire department was born with the purchase of a hand operated fire engine built in London by Richard Newsham.

It was bought by a citizen, Joseph Rotch. see the image at the top of the page.
In what is currently South Dartmouth (Padanaram), the first school in that area was built and is located at 45 School Street.

It has since been converted to a home and is occupied and well maintained by the long time owner Gerald R. Audette who likes to keep it ship-shape, and neat-nice.

(Gerald passed away in March of 2014) As of November of 2014 the house is for sale. It also has a rental property on the south side of the estate.

The front room, which today remains very antique looking, sparesly decorated and quite unused, was the single school room, and the rest of the house was the domicile for the teacher with an addition made in later years.

The structure was spared or missed when the British burned much of the village around that time.
A small image of the house can be seen in the column to the right.

It was voted that the workhouse of Dartmouth be properly endowed with suitable utensils for said house and to regulated according to law.

It was also voted to raise by way of tax the sum of Eighty seven pounds, four shillings and eight pence to pay for the cost of building the New Workhouse in "Bedford in Dartmouth.

The building was on the South side of Sixth Street between Spring and School Street.
This event was the first time "Bedford" is mentioned in Dartmouth record.

See information about the later alms house and poor farm at Clark's Point.

December 16,
The well known Boston Tea Party took place, and one of the ships involved was the Dartmouth (Captain Hall) built in Dartmouth and owned by Mr. Rotch, a Dartmouth merchant.

July 18th A committee was formed and met to discuss taxation. They formally voted to make a statement that they were aggrieved by the taxation levied upon them by the British..

They also voted and resolved that thy would not purchase any imported goods from England or Ireland and would not export flax seed to certain ...etc.

Tax on Tea:
They specifically would not purchase any British tea from any vendor, as well.

In January, a meeting was held, and 57 women were present.

Strong patriotic action was taken. The pledged to abandon tea drinking until the unjust act was repealed.


John Cotton preached to the Indians at Acushnet.

The natives were being pressured to follow the European's religious views.


1775 April 19 the British attacked Lexington and Concord
"The Britishers are coming!".

On the night of Paul Revere's famous ride, one of the riders came from Boston and, rode down Acushnet Avenue to the village. Announcing a call to arms.

The war had begun.

On April 21, 1775
Three companies of minute men marched out of Dartmouth and went into camp in Roxbury.

The call had gone out all around New England, and in three days twenty thousand Americans had gathered about Boston eager to fight for liberty.


On the 5th of May, Captain Linzee of the British Ship Falcon captured two sloops from Bedford Village, but the Bedford Village people fitted out 2 sloops with 30 men and recaptured the 2 vessels with 15 British aboard.

In the action 1 British soldier died and 3 were wounded afterwards 13 prisoners of that action were sent to Cambridge.

1775 June 17
Prior to this date the construction of Fort Phoenix had begun as deduced from correspondence found in later years.

Benjamin Dillingham was the Captain, and his father Elezer Hathaway was a Lieutenant of the company that built it. June 17 marks the date of the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston.
 Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale
Fire Truk - Hand Pumper -
First Fire Engine
Hand Pumper

1772 Bedford Village
built in England bought by Joseph Rotch
New BEdford Harbor Sketch -
Early Sketch of New Bedford Harbor made in 1762
schoolhouse -n Padanaram 1773 - 45 School Street -
schoolhouse Padanaram 1773 plaque -
School House in Padanaram 1773
Cornelius Grinnel House 1769 New BEdford -
Cornelius Grinell House
Water Street
built 1769
This brick structure survived the British burning of Bedford Village during the Revolutionary War in 1778