The Indian name for this locaility was "Shenewemedy," but the first settlers applied the name of "New Meadows" to the grant of land which was made by the General Court, Nov. 5, 1639, to inhabitants of Salem and Ipswich. Oct. 18, 1648, the Court voted, — "The village at the newe medowes at Ipswich is named Toppesfeild." Oct. 18, 1650, it was established as a town.

Oct. 19, 1658, and May 29, 1664, bounds between Salem and Topsfield were established.

May 5, 1682, bounds between Wenham and Topsfield were established.

April 28, 1684 and May 31, 1697, bounds between Ipswich and Topsfield were established.

Feb. 25, 1701 and June 17, 1731, bounds between Boxford and Topsfield were established.

June 29, 1728, part of the territory was included in the new town of Middleton.

Feb. 16, 1774, part of the town of Ipswich, lying on the south side of the river, was annexed to Topsfield.

The population of Topsfield at different periods was as follows:

1765, 719   1800, 789   1840, 1,059
1776, 773   1810, 815   1850, 1,170
1790, 780   1820, 866   1900, 1,030
    1830, 1,010    

The following records of births, marriages, and deaths include all entries to be found in the books of record kept by the town clerks; the church records now in the custody of the town clerk; the returns made to the Salem Quarterly Court; cemetery inscriptions; and a private record of deaths, covering the period of 1790-1853, now in the possession of Mrs. George Warren Towne, of Danvers, Mass. These records are printed in a condensed form in which every essential particular has been retained. All duplication of the town clerk's record has been eliminated, but differences in entry and other explanatory matter appear in brackets. Parentheses are used only when they occur in the original record, usually enclosing the maiden name of a wife.

When places other than Topsfield and Massachusetts are named in the original records, they are given in the printed copy. Marriages and intentions of marriage are printed under the names of both parties. Double-dating is used in the months of January, February and March, prior to 1752, whenever it appears in the original and also whenever from the sequence of entry in the original the date may be easily determined. In all records the original spelling of names is followed and in the alphabetical arrangement the various forms should be examined, as items about the same family may be found under different spellings.

A general guide to how to use these pages.

If you are new to this site, or haven't used the site a lot, please be sure to read the rest of this page. Even if you have used this site a lot, a refresher may be helpful due to the changes that have been introduced.

You can research the records alphabetically or chronologically within surname. Images of the pages from which the transcriptions were done, and the title pages, are available for most towns. A list of abbreviations used is available.

Alphabetic - This is the most common way that the published vital records were presented. All of the same given names were arranged chronologically with names that had middle initials or middle names followed the others. Nicknames would appear alphabeticall according to the spelling, i.e. Nabby, the nickname for Abigail, would be with the names beginning with the letter "N."

In this version, the names are sorted based on the most common spelling. Abbie, Abby, Abigail, Knabby, Nabby, etc., will all appear together and will be chronological. Middle initials and middle names have no influence on the order.

Note: There are going to be errors in the indexing of the names. A woman named Abiel may have been recorded as Abby. The indexing will have her with the Abigails. Please notify me with the Contact page about errors and they will be fixed within a couple days.

Chronologic - The chronologic sort will be most helpful with surnames having lots of entries, especially births. Records that had a missing date, or part, have had the missing portions replaced with zeros and will appear ahead of the others.

Page images - The icon at the left of each record is a link to the image of the page from which the transcription was done. The transcriptions are a tool. The image is the source. It is your responsibility to copy the image for your documentation. Also, the title page should be copied. There is a link to the title page in the navigation bar on transcription pages and image display pages.

Abbreviations - Each town had its own abbreviations used in the published records. Most of these are the same. The abbreviations for the headstones (GR), private records (PR), churches (CR), etc. are all different. There is a link to a list of all abbreviations used for the town in the navigation bar of the transcription pages.

Errors - There are two types of errors.

  • Errors in the published records - It is known that errors are in the published records. Not many, to be sure, but they are there. Where I have found them, or have been informed and provided sufficient documentation, the records have been annotated. This appears in red at the end of the line.]
  • Transcription errors - Even with the best of proofing, errors occur. If you find one, use the Contact link at the top of the page and tell me about the error. I need to have the town name, type of record, page number, what the error is and what it should be. It facilitates matters if you copy and paste the record in error into the e-mail.

Miscellaneous - As the opportunity has provided, I have tried to research names that had only initials or an initial and a surname to find the full names. Where I've been successful I've added the name in red, i.e. J.R. appears as J[ohn] R. or J[ohn] R[ussel].

The alphabetic and chronologic sort orders and many planned improvements require that towns be transcribed. If you can spare two, or more, hours per week to help with the transcribing, write me.

With the exception of the few people helping with transcribing and indexing, I am the only person working on this project. I do all of the technical work. I correct errors. I put transcriptions into final format. I design the pages. This takes a tremendous amount of time and money. If you find this site useful, please donate what you think it is worth to you by going to the donations page.