Highlights from the History of Needham in 100 objects
The Dedham Farmers' Petition
Scope & Content:
Petition made by Needham citizens in the North Parish to the General Court in Boston for permission split from Dedham and form their own town.

The Dedham Grant was settled in the 1630s, and settlers immediately claimed land north of the Charles River to graze cattle in the rich wet meadows. By 1711, the 45 families who lived here in the North Parish were finding it difficult to travel the eight miles to church in Dedham - a trip that could take hours each way. An appeal was made to Town Meeting for their own school and church, but this was denied. Leading citizens of the North Parish, therefore, petitioned the General Court in Boston for permission to form their own town.

Three justifications for this break were offered: First, that with 45 families, the parish was large enough to support its own church and school. Second, that travel to church in Dedham was difficult in the best weather, but nearly impossible in the winter, so they were missing out on church, school, and Town Meeting. And third, because of their remote location, their needs as townsmen were neglected, leaving them in difficulty and hardship. The Petition was signed by 40 of the 45 householders.

The Farmers' Petition was approved on November 6, 1711. Needham became the third town to separate from Dedham. The new town was named after Needham Market, a village near their former English home.

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