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Great, free database of 38,000 Maine & Mass property owners, details, 1771

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Great, free database of 38,000 Maine & Mass property owners, details, 1771

Posted: 1520266714000
Classification: Query
Edited: 1520634714000
I have been working on my family history since 2003. But it took until now before I stumbled on a fabulous, free online searchable database that is named the "1771 Massachusetts Tax Inventory"

At that time what is now Maine was the District of Maine which was within the borders of what was then the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Which means that property owners in what is now Maine in 1771 are also listed in this database.

There could be other similar, searchable versions of this information online elsewhere.

I just typed a last name in the box, clicked on Search, and the list is shown. Counties are grouped together, and town residents are grouped together.

The results don't just list the names of property owners, there is much more information included. Such as what types and numbers of animals they owned, and how much hay and grain that property produced per year.

In July, 1771, the Massachusetts General Court passed "An Act for Enquiring into the Rateable Estates of this Province." Each town then elected assessors who prepared a list of all taxpayers and taxable property within that town. The residents themselves each submitted a list of their property as of September first. The information was needed roughly once every seven years for reapportioning the tax burden among the localities.

Only "improved" land was reported - meaning that any acres of native forest were not included in each property report. Property owners had small gardens, which were not reported. In gardens, home residents would grow relatively small amounts of vegetables such as potatoes, squash, pumpkins, peas, beans, turnips and maybe others.

In the listings, "grain" meant wheat grown to make bread, plus corn and rye. Some grain became animal feed, and some grain was kept to produce seeds for the next year's planting. Grain and other products could be sold for money, and were often traded for other items with nearby residents.

Only adult animals were reported, so each farm had significantly more total numbers of animals than reported. Uncounted animals were oxen under four years, cows and horses under three years, plus goats, sheep, and pigs under one year of age.

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