Roxbury is a neighborhood
within Boston, Massachusetts. It was one of the first towns founded in the
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. It became a city in 1848 and was annexed
to Boston in 1868. The original town of Roxbury once included the current
Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury, Mission Hill and
much of Back Bay. Roxbury now generally ends at Columbus Avenue to the
north and Melnea Cass Boulevard to the east.
1852 City Map of Roxbury
The early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
established a series of seven villages in 1630. Roxbury was located about
three miles south of Boston, which at the time was a peninsula, and was
connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land, "Roxbury Neck". This
led to Roxbury becoming an important town as all land traffic to Boston
had to pass through it. The town was home to a number of early leaders of
the colony, including colonial governors Thomas Dudley, William Shirley,
and Increase Sumner. The Shirley-Eustis House, located in Roxbury remains
as one of only four remaining Royal Colonial Governor's mansions in the
The settlers of Roxbury originally comprised the
congregation of the First Church Roxbury, est. 1630. The congregation had
no time to raise a meeting house the first winter and so met with the
neighboring congregation in Dorchester, Mass. The first meeting house was
built in 1632, and the building pictured here is the fifth meeting house,
the oldest such wood-frame building in Boston. The Roxbury congregation,
still in existence as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist
Association, lays claim to several things of note in American
Establishment of the first church school in the British
The founding (along with 5 other local congregations, i.e.
Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown and Dorchester) of Harvard
The first book published in the British Colonies (1640).
Editors of the Bay Psalm Book most cited are John Eliot and Thomas Weld,
ministerial colleagues at First Church Roxbury, and Richard Mather,
minister in Dorchester (and perhaps 27 other ministers not often
The first Bible published in the British Colonies (1663).
It was a translation into the Massachusett language by the congregation's
minister and teaching elder, John Eliot (known as "The Apostle to the
First Church Roxbury was the starting point for William
Dawes' "Midnight Ride", April 18, 1775 (He went off in a different
direction than Paul Revere to warn Lexington and Concord of the British
As Roxbury developed in the 19th century, the northern part
became an industrial town with a large community of English, Irish, and
German immigrants and their descendants, while the majority of the town
remained agricultural and saw the development of some of the first
streetcar suburbs in the United States. This led to the incorporation of
the old Roxbury village as one of Massachusetts's first cities, and the
rest of the town was established as the town of West Roxbury.
was originally called "Rocksbury" because of its hilly geography and the
many large outcroppings of Roxbury puddingstone, a rock formation composed
of small stones that were surrounded by lava from ancient
[History Source: Wikipedia.org.
Map from "The Roxbury
directory : embracing the city record, the
names of the citizens, a
business directory, a map of the city,
with an almanac for 1852", J.T.
Bicknell & Co., 1852, c1851]
Contributor - K. Torp