The territory included within the limits of Bradford was originally a part of Rowley and was first known as "Merrimac Lands," and "Rowley Village by the Merrimack," and then as "Merrimack," which name was changed to Bradford at a town meeting held Jan. 7, 1672, in memory of Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England, several of the settlers having emigrated from that place.

At a session of the General Court held May 27, 1668, it was recorded: "In ansr to the petition of the inhabitants of Rouley liuing ouer against Hauerill, the Court, hauing considered the peticon, pervsed the towne of Rouleys grant to the petitioners, heard Rouley deputy, and also considering a writing sent from Rouley, wth what els hath been presented in the case, doe finde that there is liberty granted the petitioners by the towne of Rouley to prouide themselues of a minister, & also an intent to release them from their towneship when they are accordingly prouided, and therefore see not but this Court may grant their petition to be a towneship, provided they doe gett & setle an able & Orthodox minister, & continue to majntejne him, or els to remaine to Rouley as formerly."

The first town meeting was held in 1668, the "orthodox minister," Rev. Zechariah Symmes, of Charlestown, already having been secured. The meeting house was erected in 1670. The town first paid a colonial tax on October 13, 1675.

On March 8, 1850, part of its territory was set off and incorporated as the town of Groveland.

On January 4, 1897, the town of Bradford was annexed to the city of Haverhill.

The population of Bradford at different periods was as follows:

1765, 1,125   1800, 1,420   1840, 2,222
1776, 1,240   1810, 1,360   1850, 1,328
1790, 1,371   1820, 1,600   1895, 4,736
      1830, 1,856       

The following records of births, marriages and deaths include all entries to be found in the books of record kept by the town clerks (no records of intentions of marriage before 1850 are preserved in the custody of the Haverhill city clerk, nor has extended search brought them to light in private hands); in the church records (which are very imperfect); in the returns made to the Salem Quarterly Court; in the cemetery inscriptions; and in private records found in family Bibles, etc. These records are printed in a condensed form in which every essential particular has been preserved. All duplication of the town clerks' record has been eliminated, but differences in entry and other explanatory matter appear in brackets. Parentheses are used when they occur in the original record; also to show the difference in the spelling of a name in the same entry; and to indicate the maiden name of a married woman.

When places other than Bradford and Massachusetts are named in the original records, they are given in the printed copy. Marriages are printed under the names of both parties. Double-dating is usual 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.