The next large group of records that I want to check is the published Massachusetts Bay Colony records (MBCR). I have downloaded the entire set on my computer and am creating my own hard copy as I work on each sketch. This takes paper and ink, but it eliminates having to find a place to keep the huge large-volume set in the house or to repeatedly pull up the digital version if I already have a page printed. I am collecting similar copies of other published sources (or at least of their indexes) that have a high density of the names I need.
Richard Newton appears only once in the published MBCR, when he was made a Freeman in May 1654 (MBCR, 2:294). Clearly not a public man. I had hoped MBCR would give me a clue to the estimated dates of arrival in New England for Richard Newton – “by 1639 or 1640” – given in the secondary sources without any citations or explanations. I know from a list given to me by Bob Anderson that this date comes from something in the unpublished Sudbury town records, and I know from browsing the NEHGS on-line catalog that there are several manuscripts in the collection with transcriptions of town and church records for Sudbury
However, before I pursued this further, Vita Brevis reader Howard Swain e-mailed details of his search that led him to http://sudbury.ma.us/archives/. This is my first encounter with this nice website, which has typed transcriptions of town records (possibly the same as in the NEHGS collection, I haven’t checked), plus a search engine to locate names. A search for the name Richard Newton brings up 19 hits, all of which I print (nearly 40 pages, but it is the beginning of my collection of Sudbury town records). Record #144 is a tax list dated 22 February 1639[/40], which includes the information that two acres had been laid out to Richard Newton. Thanks for the tip, Howard.
Richard Newton moved from Sudbury to Marlborough, but there are no similar on-line town records for the latter, so my next step is to take advantage of the digitized “book” repositories such as www.ancestry.com, www.archive.org, www.hathitrust.org, www.openlibrary.org, and Google Books. I find the published town histories for Sudbury and Marlborough, and burial and early colonial records for Marlborough (the last being a reprint from the NEHGS Register). I could access and print only the pages specific to this search, but in this case I download the entire books for my virtual library since I know I will need them again.
Next, vital records.