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|They wanted to make the New Towne the capital of the colony. To this end, they granted it unusual amounts of land and offered influential people inducements to move there. Eventually, its boundaries extended 35 miles, from Billerica on the north to present Waban (a village of Newton) on the south.1
In 1638, the Court assigned to the New Towne the name of Cambridge.
Cambridge never did become the capital. As its population grew unevenly in later decades, it split into several communities. The village of Cambridge Towne grew up around present Harvard Square. To the west, the Precinct of Menotomy became West Cambridge in 1807 and then Arlington (after the Virginia cemetery)in 1867. Even farther west, Cambridge Farms was incorporated as Lexington in 1712/3.
|The original name survives in today’s City of Newton, a piece of Old Watertown (settled as such in 1630) that the Court took away to make the New Towne more attractive. While it was part of Cambridge, it bore the name “Cambridge Village.” Nowadays, it consists of eleven or more (up to 14, depending on whose word you accept) “villages.” Its chief executive, I’m told, is known more or less formally as “Mayor of All the Newtons.”|
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(New Towne, Massachusetts Bay Colony)
Updated Jul 2020
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