This area was first settled in 1720 by Gamaliel Baman and others from Lancaster, who came soon after. On December 19, 1744, it was established as the West Parish of Lancaster, known as CHOCKSETT, derived from a longer Indian name, "Woonksechauxit". On April 25, 1781, this precinct was Incorporated as the Town of Serling, Massachuesetts.

Sterling is abutted on the North by Leominster, East by Lancaster, South by Boylston and West Boylston, and on the West by Holden and Princeton. Its land area of 30.52 square miles was derived from three original Grants to Lancaster:

"The Mile," purchased from Sholan, Sachem of the "Nashuoggs," in 1643, was annexed to Chocksett, by Lancaster, when it became the West Parish.

"The New or Additional Grant," purchased from a nephew of Sholan in 1701, confirmed by the General Court in 1713, included a large part of Leominster and Sterling, parto of Boylston, and a small tract set off to West Boylston.

"The Leg," so-called from its unusual shape, was set-off to Lancaster by Shrewsbury, in 1768, and shortly thereafter to Sterling. In 1808, as boundary lines were adjusted, about one-third of this area was set-off to West Boylston, causing a noticeable drop in population since some 31 families were affected by this transfer of land.

Population at different periods:

1790 1,426 1830 1,781 1970 4,417
1800 1,614 1950 2,166 1975 4,900
1810 1,453 1960 3,193

All Vital Records in an original Volume of the Town from its incorporation in 1781, to September 27, 1794, were burned in a disastrous fire in the store of Moses Smith, Town Clerk. A new Volume was stared, and from time to time re-entries were made from existing Church Records; from files of Justices of the Peace; and by Heads of Families who reported names and birth dates of all their children, including some of their deaths. Since these re-entries follow no regular chronological order, it has always been difficult to locate certain items at a moment's notice.

The following compilation of births, marriages and deaths includes all entries found in Volumes 1 and 2 of existing Town Records. Entries have been prepared in condensed alphabetical form in which all essential particulars have been preserved. Marriages are listed under th enames of both parties; duplicate entries have been eliminated; original spellings of names have been followed. It is suggested that all alphabetical arrangements of surnames be examined. With a few exceptions, the Vital Records range from 1781 to 1848. No notice of Intentions of Marriage are indicated in this book, since many of the actual marriages did not take place in Sterling, or were not recorded in the Town books by interim ministers.

The initial idea to prepare these records for future publication was made possible through the cooperation and guidance of Lois H. Seifer, Town Clerk of Sterling. Without her assistance, this project might never have materialized.

During the past several years, the Historical Commission of the Town has assumed sponsorship of the proposed publication, giving it full support and backing. In May 1976, recognizing the need and merit of this work, it was VOTED at the Annual Town Meeting, to appropriate funds to defray the final cost of printing the Vital Record Book during this Bicentennial Year.

It is not possible to mention all of the people who volunteered their services as work progressed: however, special acknowledgment should be given to: Robert Waters, former chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Richard M. Conley, present Chairman of the Board, Ronald E. Kidd, and Donald Abare.

Historical Commission: John J. Powers, Jr., Chairman, Katharine A. Wilder, Clerk, Frances P. Tapley, former chairman, Edna M. Murdock, Clara B. Thompson, Avis C. Bourne and Roger Taft, and the members of the Finance Board.

Mention should also be made of Assistance by Mrs. Rose Houmere, and volunteers of her Senior Girl's Typing Classes at Wachusett Regional High School, who alphabetized all recors used in compiling necessary data for this book, as their Bicentennial project. And Mrs. Richard S. Rossi of the Montachusett Transcription Service, who prepared the Vital Records for photographing.

The entire project was a truly cooperative undertaking by all concerned, and this Compiler is grateful for the support accorded her every step of the way.

Frances P. Tapley
Historical Commision
Town of Sterling, MA

August 1976

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 following 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.