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Ask a Genealogist: Researching an 18th century Boston resident.

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Question:

Question: William Kennedy published in Boston, Mass. his intention to marry Mary Butler on December 8, 1762. How can I find out when they married and where they came from?

Answer:

Reply by Alice Kane, NEHGS Genealogist

Thank you for your query about William Kennedy and MaryButler. At their deaths, probate records for William and Mary mayinclude bequests or have references to family members other thantheir children, who then can be studied for clues about yourcouple.  Similiarly, if either owned land, deed records willlist the names of all persons involved in the transaction;posthumous transactions appear with "Estate of..." as an added namenotation in indexes.  Probate and land records for them can befound in the counties in which they lived.

In the years before and after the marriage intention is filed, areview of Boston town and selectmen's records, as well as landdeeds, might yield references to William Kennedy and/or Kennedysand Butlers living in Boston who might be relatives of the couple. The Boston Records Commissioners transcribed and publishedmany early Boston records as city document reports, which areavailable online.  The specific URL links for these Bostonworks are: 

Boston Selectmen's Records: 

 Boston Town Records: 

 In the event that either William or Mary were recent arrivals toBoston, volume 29 of these reports include a list of shipsarriving in Boston 1715-1769 with passengers' names (URL: http://www.archive.org/details/volumeofrecordsr29bost).  For Boston/Suffolk county deeds, FamilySearch has animage database of Massachusetts land records available at https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2106411. While not searchable by name as yet, images of grantor and granteeindexes are available for each county in addition to the recordbooks.  

 To assist in the review of land and probate for Kennedys andButlers who might be related to your couple, you may wish to alsolocate a copy of the CD-ROM database produced by NEHGS and theMassachusetts Historical Society containing Annie Haven Thwing'scomprehensive work on families in pre-1800 Boston, TheInhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston,1630-1800,  and her book The Crookedand Narrow Streets of Boston, 1630-1822.  The CD-ROM isstill available for sale from Picton Press, and is describedat http://www.pictonpress.com/product/view/1971.

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