1913 USA: Boston Common Memorial

photo by B.A. Cotton

In or about the year of our Lord One Thousand Six Hundred thirty and four the then present inhabitants of the Town of Boston of whom the Hon John Winthrop Esq Gov of the Colony was Chiefe did treat and agree with Mr William Blackstone for the purchase of his Estate and any Lands living within said neck of Land called Boston after which purchase the Town laid out a plan for a trayning field for which ever since and now is used for that purpose and for the feeding of cattell.

The Blackstone Memorial Tablet, designed and erected in 1913 by R. Clipston Sturgis, recalls the founding of Boston Common in 1634. The words of the inscription are taken from an 1864 deposition of four elderly men, among the last survivors of the inhabitants of the town. For generations, this testimony has been cited as evidence that the lawful owners of the Common are the people of Boston.

Boston Common is the oldest city park in the United States. It is 50 acres (202,000 m²) in size, bounded by Tremont St., Park St., Beacon St., Charles St., and Boylston St. Its purpose has changed over the years. Originally it was owned by William Blaxton (often given the modernized spelling “Blackstone”) until it was bought from him by the city. It was used as a camp by the British before the Revolutionary War and was where they left from for the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Up until 1830, it was used for cattle grazing. It was also used for public hangings up until 1817. Mary Dyer was hanged there in 1660.

 This plaque is mentioned on page 38 of Allan Forbes, Towns of New England and Old England, Ireland, and Scotland: Part 1. Vol. 1, New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1921.

photo by B.A. Cotton


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