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To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Com
monwealth of Massachusetts, in General Court assem-
Pursuant to an order of the last General Court, upon the petition of John Wills and others, for the annexation of a part of Newbury to the town of Newburyport, the subscribers, the Comunittee therein named, after having given notice to the parties of the time and place of their meeting, met in Newburyport for the purpose of attending to the subject committed to them, on the third day of December last. They proceeded, on that day, to view the premises described in said petition, and such boundaries and parts thereof, as were pointed out to them by the petitioners and respondents, and also the village of Belleville, so called, in Newbury, and adjoining Newburyport on the north. Having viewed such places as we were requested to, by the petitioners and their counsel, or by the agents for the town of Newbury, (who appeared, pursuant to a vote of the town, to oppose the petition,) we heard the parties on the fourth and fifth days of December; and from said view and hearing, we respectfully submit the following statement.
The town of Newburyport did not appear by their agents before the Committee, and it was admitted by the parties, that no meeting of the inhabitants had been called, although a copy of said petition and the order thereon had been duly served upon the town clerk. It was stated to the Committee by the petitioners, and not denied by the respondents, that the town of Newburyport had voted, on former petitions, in favor of receiving such
part of Newbury as was therein proposed to be annexed to Newburyport; and there is no reason to doubt, that if a meeting were had, a vote would be obtained in favor of the petition-although no evidence was pre: e ted to prove that the inhabitants of Newburyport generally take a deep interest in the subject.
Newburyport was incorporated in 1764. It contains only 640 acres, and is believed by the Committee to be, territorially, the smallest town in the Commonwealth. It is bounded northeasterly on Merrimack River, and near its mouth, and on all other sides, by Newbury. A considerable part of the territory is in the Common pasture, so called, a tract of poor land. The population, by the census of 1830, was 6,388. The occnpations of the inhabitants are almost exclusively connected with commerce and the fisheries, like those of other maritime places. By reference to the map of Newbury and Newburyport, recently published, the territory described in the petition may be readily understood. It includes the ridge, or southwestern side of the populous street called High street, lying between the Newburyport turnpike and the Rev. Mr. Withington's meeting-house. The line runs from thence by the southerly side of the same street or road leading to Parker river, as far as the southeasterly side of the farm owned by the heirs of John Pettengill, Esq.; thence across the road and by the southeasterly side of said farm to the Plum Island turnpike road; thence by the southerly side of said turopike road to the bridge ; and thence in a right line with the southerly side of said road at the bridge, to the ocean ; thence by the ocean and by the dividing line between Newbury and Salisbury, to the line of Newburyport. The territory described in the petition was stated to include about
500 acres of upland, and also the flats at the mouth of the river, and is within the limits of the first parish of Newbury. In 1831, the number of rateable polls in Newbury was 847, viz: in the first parish 485, in Belleville 220, and in Byfield parish 142. There were stated to be 320 polls within the lines described in the petition. There are 769 legal voters in Newbury, 300 of whom arc within that district. The population of Newbury, by the late census, was 3,803, about one third of which was stated to be within this territory. The whole amount of taxes in Newbury, in 1831, was $9,355, of which $3,083 47 were assessed within the territory proposed in a petition now pending, to be annexed to Newburyport, including non-residents. That petition varied very little from the one under consideration.
The petition is signed by 131 persons living within the boundary lines described in the petition, and a supplemental petition was presented to the Committee, contaiping 46 names. It was stated by several witnesses, and not denied, that the residents within the district are generally desirous of being annexed to Newburyport. Some were opposed to the petition; the precise number of those in favor of, or opposed to it, was not shewn to the Committee. The ridge on the upper or westerly side of High street contains a line of dwelling houses, and to the eye appear to be a part of the town of Newburyport. Many of the inhabitants on that part of the territory are merchants and traders, whose places of business are in Newburyport. Two of the clergymen of Newburyport dwell there. In the territory proposed to be set off, lying southerly of Newburyport, is a compact village or settlement, closely connected with, and to a stranger, appearing to be a part of Newburyport.
This is generally known by the name of Joppa ; the inhabitants are seafaring people, and principally engaged in the fishing business. There are no wharves in that place, and their business is done almost wholly in Newburyport.
One of the principal reasons given by the petitioners for a separation, is the inconvenience they now suffer as to schools. This territory contains one school district, (Joppa) and a part of two others. There is a school house in Joppa, one at the green, near the Rev. Mr. Withington's meeting house, and one on the southerly side of the turnpike, near High Street. Schools have been kept in these houses about six months in each year. The families living on the ridge have not been in the habit of sending their children to the district schools, but to private schools in Newburyport or elsewhere. Application has been made at different times for their admission to the town schools in Newburyport, but the request has not been granted. The schools in Newburyport were stated to be in very good order, and to be kept through the year. There is a fund for the support of a grammar school in that town, which will soon amount to the sum of $10,000, when the income is to be appropriated for that purpose. And a large sum has been bequeathed by the late Oliver Putnam, Esq. for the support of a seminary for the benefit of Newburyport and Newbury. The sum of $1600 is raised by Newbury for the support of schools, about $300 of which has usually been granted to the district at Joppa, and nearly the same sum to the other two districts. There was no complaint that a full proportion of the school money had not been granted to the districts within the described boundaries. It was stated
by the respondents, and not denied by the petitioners, that no application had been made to the town of Newbury to enlarge the districts for the purpose of maintaining a school through the year, or for any change in relation to the schools. It was stated by a witness that there were between 3 and 400 children in Joppa, of a suitable age to attend school. The schools there begin in May, and there are three or four schools, one kept by a male teacher and the others by females. Many boys are engaged in fishing in summer. The respondents stated and produced witnesses who testified, that the schools had generally been kept by competent instructers, and had been well conducted; and they further stated, that the annexation of the territory to Newburyport, as prayed for, would destroy the Turnpike district, leaving only seven or eight houses within its limits, and those so situated that they could not be conveniently annexed to any other school district, and that the division of the school district, the school house of which is at the Green, would be very pernicious. The petitioners alleged that the Turnpike district might be united to the district at the Green without inconvepience.
It was stated, that it was important that the annexation should be made on account of quarantine regulations, Newburyport not now extending to the mouth of the river and the ocean ; but no evidence was furnished that any evils had arisen from this cause.
The petitioners also suggested as a reason for separation, the inconvenience to which they were exposed from there being two post offices in Newbury, viz. one in Belleville, and one in Byfield Parish, to which their letters were liable to be sent; but there was evidence