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Town of Canterbury records

Identifier: RG062_022

Scope and Content

The records of the town of Canterbury are housed in five boxes and one volume, the bulk of which consists of Administrative Records and Court Records.

Series 1, Administrative Records, 1801-1927, holds selectmen, town clerk, town deposit fund, town meetings, and treasurer papers. The collection begins with one folder of petitions to the selectmen asking for the convening of town meetings to address such subjects as the lowering the number of liquor licenses and the need for a town house. Box 1, folder 3 contains five annual selectmen reports of financial records for town expenses. The next folder holds dog registrations and liquor purchases of at least one pint from an unidentified store, mostly for the years 1857-58. Box 1, folders 5-7 contains accounts of the Canterbury Town Deposit Fund covering the years 1837-1909. For those interested in the history of education at the local level, these rare accounts have considerable value. The largest quantity of records in Series 1 is composed of Treasurer bills (Box 1, folders 10-17; Box 2, folders 1-9) for expenses paid by the town. The bulk of the materials cover a handful of years, 1896-1904, 1913-14, and 1926-27. Bills and payments for 1897, for example, include those for labor on a burial lot, legal advice, use of a watering trough, sheep killed by dogs, and for general town expenses like road repairs and salaries.1 Other bills for 1904 consist of those for road repairs, printing of town reports, surveying town boundary lines, and salaries for town officials.2 The series also includes an account book kept by the treasurer for the years 1845-58 that is located at the end of the collection.

Series 2, Poor Relief Records, 1799-1927, is housed in Box 2, folders 26-31. It consists of one folder of accounts of supplies furnished to the alms house and a folder of bills for service on the Board of Relief. The series also includes three folders of payments on behalf of individual paupers. On April 1, 1897, for example, Mrs. Julius Tracy was paid $41.31 for boarding Henry Adams, Mary Freeman, Harriet Hall, Bridget Sullivan, Katie Williams, and six tramps at the town farm.3 A second bill for that same year was for groceries furnished Roswell Olin.4 Information on individual tramps is not often found in town records, but sometimes they are listed by name, as in January 1898 when Charles S. Hyde was paid $1.00 for keeping Joseph J. Hogan and James Clifford one night.5

Series 3, Land Records, 1816-1871, consists of three folders of deeds (Box 2, folder 32 and Box 3, folders 1-2) in which the town of Canterbury is the grantee, as when Samuel L. Hough sold the town one half acre of land bordering on the Quinebaug River in 1837 for $659.28.6

Series 4, Court Records, 1792-1914, fills most of Boxes 3-4. The bulk of the papers consist of writs signed by a Canterbury justice of the peace and writs of execution upon losing parties in court cases. The former is typified by a writ signed by Andrew T. Judson, the town's most eminent political figure in the first half of the nineteenth century, summoning Elijah Rixford to appear to answer charges of Levi Stephens of Lisbon in a debt by note for $50.7 A typical writ of execution for 1817 directed one of the constables of town to collect $8.43 debt and $0.50 costs of suit from Augustus Fisk after he had been found liable for the debt in a trial before Judson on February 8, 1817. The verso of the execution notes that the debt was paid.8 The series also includes numerous writs for cases tried before the county court, as when William Bradford of Canterbury sued Eliza Dana, formerly of Canterbury but then of Rowley, MA, to collect a debt of $24.06.9 A generation later the "President, Directors and Company of the Thames Bank" of Norwich sued George W. Clark for repayment of a note for $400.10

Although the vast majority of lawsuits are for debt, other subjects are also represented. In January 1823, for example, Loren Rockwell of Hampton sued Sylvanus Shephard of Canterbury for defamation after the defendant stated that "the Plaintiff is a Thief and has stolen a calf skin from me."11 In a second lawsuit, Washington Smith and his wife Anna sued for defamation on the charge that the husband caught a venereal disease from his wife.12 Other subjects addressed include assault, breach of promise, breach of Sabbath, covenant broken, counterfeiting, fornication, malicious mischief, theft, and trespass. For example, grand juror Daniel Frost, Jr. accused John Beckwith of violating the Sabbath by doing secular business on the "Lord's Day."13 Dillis Morse accused Frederick Hyde of debauching his daughter Ellen, fathering her illegitimate child, depriving him of her services, and forcing him to pay the costs for taking care of her and her child.14 One last example, James McDaniels accused three youths of killing of goose and three goslings worth $3.00 in a case of malicious mischief.15

The remaining materials in Series 4 consist of two folders of probate records, one containing a volume of copies of eleven wills, and one of miscellaneous materials.16

Series 5, Military Records, 1841-1845, is comprised of one folder of certificates for soldiers performing militia duty or serving in the Packersville Fire Engine Company, activities for which the participants received abatements for some taxes.

Payments for educational expenses at the eleven one-room schools make up Series 6, School Records, 1896-1904, (Box 4, folders 17-19, Box 5, folders 1-3). Most list the amount for the term and contain the signatures of the Acting Visitor, school Committee person, and teacher. The records are particularly useful for tracking the names of the teachers in each school district

Series 7, Election Records, 1838-1959, holds primarily election returns for state officers for 1852-55 and 1859, although votes for judges of probate and federal offices are also occasionally found. The town cast a majority of votes for candidates of the Democratic Party in every election. Box 5, folder 4 contains lists of electors for 1838 and 1844.

The final series is Series 8, Tax Records, 1839-1944, (Box 5, folders 8-9) and contains little of research interest except for a handful of receipts for the payment of state taxes.


  1. 1Treasurer bills, 1896, Box 1, folder 12.
  2. 2Ibid, 1904, Box 2, folder 5.
  3. 3Individuals, payment for, Apr. 1, 1897, Box 2, folder 28
  4. 4IIbid, Apr. 24, 1897, Box 2, folder 28.
  5. 5Ibid, Jan. 21, 1898, Box 2, folder 29.
  6. 6Land records, Hough to Town of Canterbury, Jan. 29, 1837, Box 2, folder 32.
  7. 7Court Records, Levi Stephens v. Elijah Rixford, Mar. 6, 1816, Box 3, folder 4.
  8. 8Marvin Stockwell v. Augustus Fisk, Feb. 8, 1817, Box 3, folder 4.
  9. 9William Bradford v. Eliza Dana, Apr. 28, 1821, Box 3, folder 9.
  10. 10Norwich Bank v. George W. Clark, Jan. 11, 1843, Box 4, folder 2.
  11. 11Loren Rockwell v. Sylvenus Shephard, Jan. 16, 1823, Box 3, folder 11.
  12. 12Washington Smith and Anna Smith v. Joseph Palmer, Oct. 18, 1856, Box 4, folder 11.
  13. 13State of Connecticut v. John Beckwith, July 30, 1823, Box 3, folder 11.
  14. 14Dillis Morse v. Frederick Hyde, Dec,. 21, 1852, Box 4, folder 8.
  15. 15James McDaniels v. Denison T. Tillinghast, Samuel Scott, and Rufus H. Allen, June 28, 1828, Box 3, folder 16.
  16. 16The volume of wills also contains meetings of the civil authority of Canterbury for 1879 and 1880. Box 4, folder 14.


  • 1792-1944

Language of Materials

The records are in English.

Restrictions on Access

These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.

See the Rules and Procedures for Researchers Using Archival Records and Secured Collections policy.

Historical Note

The town of Canterbury was incorporated in October 1703 and taken from Plainfield. It has an area of 40.2 square miles, retains its original selectmen-town meeting form of government, and is located in Windham County. It is best known today as the site of the Prudence Crandall School.


3 cubic feet


Administrative, poor relief, land, court, military, school, election, and tax records for the town of Canterbury.


Series 1. Administrative Records (1801-1927).

Series 2. Poor Relief Records (1799-1926).

Series 3. Land Records (1816-1871).

Series 4. Court Records (1792-1914).

Series 5. Military Records (1841-1845).

Series 6. School Records (1896-1904).

Series 7. Election Records (1838-1859).

Series 8. Tax Records (1839-1944).


The records were donated to the Connecticut State Library by the Town of Canterbury.

Related Material

The collections of the State Archives hold additional records of Canterbury. They include one volume of vital records covering the period 1851-1907 and records of the First Congregational Church, 1711-1940, Westminster Congregational Church, 1770-1900, and St Thomas Church, 1818-27, plus a scattering of additional materials on other subjects.

RG 062:022, Town of Canterbury
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Connecticut State Library staff.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Connecticut State Library Repository