A free online searchable database called the “1771 Massachusetts Tax Inventory” is available online. While the title says “Massachusetts,” keep in mind that what is now the state of Maine was still a part of Massachusetts at that time. Since the database includes all of what was then the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the property owners in what is now Maine are also listed in this database.
The collection of data contains the names and descriptions of taxable property of nearly 38,000 individuals who resided in 152 Massachusetts towns in 1771. Data include enumerations of the type and value of real estate and buildings, as well as tabulation of livestock and farm commodities produced.
The on-line version allows you to browse the data by selecting items to view and “drilling down” through totals for counties and towns to the holdings of individual taxpayers.
An interactive map helps you locate towns and counties in the state. The map is based upon a map of Massachusetts drawn in 1792 and scanned from the Harvard University map collection. In order to use the map, you must install the Flash plug-in for you browser.
To use the online database, simply a last name in the SEARCH 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.
You can find the 1771 Massachusetts Tax Inventory at: http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~hsb41/masstax/masstax.cgi.
My thanks to newsletter reader Larry Parker for telling me about this valuable resource.