Dedham, Massachusetts Bay Colony

The plantation of Dedham was first settled in 1635 and incorporated in 1636. The Puritans who built the village devised a form of government in which almost every freeman could participate and eventually chose selectmen to run the affairs of the town. They then formed a church and nearly every family had at least one member.

Dedham was in Suffolk County beginning on 10 May 1643 when the Massachusetts Bay Colony created the county, and in the 1650s Dedham acquired the 2,000 acres of land in the town now known as Natick. In 1651, Medfield was set off from Dedham to form a new town. Until 1682 all Dedhamites had lived within 1.5 miles of the meetinghouse, but as Dedham's population grew greater and greater, numbers of residents moved further away from the center of town. As the numbers further away grew they began to break off and form additional new towns and Medfield was followed by Needham in 1711, Bellingham in 1719 and Walpole in 1724. As the population spread the residents crossed borders into other towns and between 1738 and 1740 Dedham annexed about eight square miles from Dorchester and Stoughton. On 20 June 1793, the Southwestern three-quarters of Suffolk County including Dedham and the town of Cohasset were set off as the new county of Norfolk. Over time, other towns were set off from Dedham to form new towns, and some of them would further subdivide after that, giving Dedham the designation "Mother of Towns."