TABLE OF CONTENTS
RG 062:075, Town of Lyme
Inventory of Records
Finding aid prepared by Bruce P. Stark.
Copyright © 2007 by the Connecticut State Library
The town of Lyme in New London County was set off from Saybrook in 1665 and named in 1667. The original town included the present towns of Lyme, Old Lyme, most of East Lyme, and part of Salem. Salem was incorporated as a separate town in 1819, East Lyme in 1839, and Old Lyme in 1855. The original town was organized into three and one half ecclesiastical societies – the First Society (Old Lyme), Second Society (East Lyme), and Third or North Society (Lyme). An area in the northwest part of Lyme, called Hadlyme because it encompasses two towns, was established as an ecclesiastical society in 1742 from parts of Lyme and East Haddam but never became a separate town. Some records also refer to Chesterfield Society, an area that includes part of the present towns of East Lyme and Montville.
The records of the Town of Lyme consist of six boxes of materials divided into nine different series. Administrative Records comprise the largest series, followed by Tax Records.
Series 1, Administrative Records, 1817-1888, is by far the largest series and treasurer records form the heart of the collection. Series 1, however, also includes two folders of abatements, one of indentures, and two of selectmen records, plus nine folders of printed Public Acts of the State of Connecticut covering scattered years between 1836 and 1853.
Treasurer's records make up by far the largest quantity of papers in Series 1 and they contain the most valuable research information, although considerable diligence is required to carefully examine and extract the data they contain. They begin with six folders of booklets of town orders that cover most of the years between 1817 and 1850. Town orders provide general information on who was paid and for what amount. For more detailed information on the nature of charges incurred against the town, researchers must examine treasurer bills, comprising two and one half boxes, covering many but not all years between 1820 and 1882. The bulk of the bills span the years 1820-1849 and they provide documentation on town expenses for administrative costs like the payment of town officials, care of the poor, repairs of roads and bridges, and miscellaneous expenses like bounties for foxes.
A significant proportion of treasurer bills concern care of the poor and these records provide unsurpassed documentation of the lives of those at the lowest rung of society, individuals that may be represented in no other sources. One of the earliest documents, for example, is the $61.11 bill of Ezra Pratt to the Town of Lyme for the care of the family of David Buttler between December 22, 1818 and February 19, 1821. It includes charges for moving the family, house rental, food, and for the burial of a child.1 A second item from the same folder has the bill for the transportation of Meraby Smith "a Black woman" from New London to Lyme and a third the expenses for a case of bastardy involving Delia Bramble and the reputed father Benjamin Banning.2 An 1823 bill from Dr. Vine Utley requests reimbursement of $11.47 for treating James Rogers and for Isaac Beckwith and his wife.3
Although it appears, that the largest single category of expense was for care of the poor, the town also devoted considerable resources to repairs of roads and bridges. On January 25, 1824, for example, the treasurer paid George H. Chadwick, James Gates, Benjamin Griffing, Nathan Griffing, Charles Harrison, Jonathan Laplass, Charles L. Peck, and William Sterling for gravel, labor, and timber to repair several town bridges.4 In addition, small but regular outlays were made to town officers to reimburse them for such activities as service as assessor, board of relief, and selectmen, to attorneys for representing the town in legal proceedings, and reimbursement to church societies for use of the meetinghouses to hold town meetings. On December 11, 1826, the treasurer paid Henry M. Waite $18.44 for legal services, Charles Smith $12 for making twenty-four highway rate bills, and the Strict Congregational Society $4.00 for using the meetinghouse four days for town meetings and elections.5 In 1840, a single town bill listed payments to four men totaling $4.00 as bounties on foxes.6
The remaining series are all quite small and not all are worthy of mention. Series 2, Poor Relief Records, 1818-1882, consists of just four folders, but contains valuable information to supplement that found in Series 1. Two folders hold booklets of accounts and two contain correspondence. The first booklet records payments to thirty individuals for the care of poor children, elderly, and widows, including reimbursement to two people of color for supporting other people of color, Cato Huntley for the care of Basil and John Crosley for the Prince children.7 The first folder of correspondence contains two letters of particular interest. The first is a January 25, 1831 letter from Comptroller Elisha Phelps to Oliver Raymond concerning the support of Prince Brown, while the second from 1838 concerns his widow Phillis Brown, described as "an old Coulered Woman an inhabitant of Lyme the Widow of the Late Prince Brown of or near Pleasant Valley."8
Series 4, Court Records, 1825-1872, consists of three folders of writs and attachments. The largest number of cases is suits for debt. One writ of attachment for October 17, 1843 on a promissory note, for example, notes that the defendant, Jonathan T. Warner, was formerly a resident of Lyme but at the time of "the province of California in Mexico."9 In another case, five men from Lyme and East Haddam, joint owners of the schooner John W. Smith of Lyme, sued William Smith of New London, master of the vessel, for carelessly transporting coffee, white lead, and clocks worth $2,000 from New York to Baltimore.10 One of the few lawsuits not concerning debt is Moses Maynard v. George Dorr, by which the plaintiff accused Dorr of slandering him by saying in the hearing of several others, "Damn you, you (meaning the plaintiff) stole my boards."11
The materials in Series 6, Vital Records, 1855-1872, are comprised of two folders of abstracts of "Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths." The abstract for 1859, as an example, records the births of 7 males and 13 females, 8 marriages, and 28 deaths, 15 male and 13 female. One female was "colored." Causes of death are also tabulated. They include 4 from scarlet fever, 4 from pneumonia, and 3 from consumption.12
Series 8, Election Records, 1855-1868, consists of one folder of certifications of electors, e.g., persons who were admitted as voters in one town and subsequently moved to Lyme, two folders of election returns, a printed copy of legislation relating to elections and the admission of electors, and a partial list of voters for 1858. The returns for 1860, for example, show the firmness of party loyalty, as votes for candidates of the two parties were virtually identical from the top to the bottom of the ticket. Governor William A. Buckingham received 155 votes and his Democratic opponent Thomas H. Seymour got 116. The party candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of the state, treasurer, and comptroller were identical, while the Republican candidate for county sheriff received one vote less, the candidates for state senator received 153 and 115 and judge of probate 152 and 115.13
Two items have particular importance in Series 9, Tax Records, 1781-1783, five volumes of tax lists covering the years 1781-93 and two folders of abstracts of town assessments. The latter, titled "List of Polls and Taxable Property," and the earliest dates from 1855, the year Old Lyme separated from Lyme. As of October 1, 1855, Lyme had 214 dwellings and 15,347 acres of land. Figures are also included for such other categories of taxable property as neat cattle (1,652 valued at $28,424), bank stock ($17,986), and investments in vessels, steamboats, and commerce ($9,950).
1Series 1, Administrative Records, Treasurer bills, Box 2, folder 5.
3Ibid, Box 2, folder 8.
4Ibid, Box 2, folder 8.
5Ibid, Box 2, folder 19.
6Ibid, Box 3, folder 14.
7Series 2, Poor Relief Records, Box 4, folder 19.
8Elisha Phelps to Oliver Raymond, Hartford, January 25, 1831; Charles Bliss to Selectmen of Lyme, Norwich, December 21, 1838, Ibid, Box 4, folder 21.
9Series 3, Court Records, Richard Warner v. Jonathan T. Warner, Oct. 17, 1843, Box 4, folder 24.
10Ibid, Horace Ely & others v. William Smith, Oct. 14, 1841, Box 4, folder 24.
11Ibid, Moses Maynard v. George Dorr, Apr. 9, 1851, Box 4, folder 25.
12Series 6, Vital Records, Box 4, folder 28.
13Series 8, Election Records, Box 5, folder 4.
Series 1. Administrative Records (1817-1888).
Series 2. Poor Relief Records (1818-1882).
Series 3. Land Records (1829).
Series 4. Court Records (1825-1872).
Series 5. Military Records (1820-1871).
Series 6. Vital Records (1855-1872).
Series 7. School Records (1837, 1910).
Series 8. Election Records (1855-1868).
Series 9. Tax Records (1781-1873).
Series 10. Old Accession (1781-1858).
Restrictions on Access
The records are freely accessible to researchers, although they must take care not to disarrange the many extremely small documents.
These records are stored at an off-site facility and therefore may not be available on a same-day basis.
Restrictions on Use
See the Reproduction and Publications of State Library Collections policy.
The State Archives holds additional records of the town of Lyme. They include two volumes of Lyme Town Records, the first of town meetings, 1667-1727 and the second of land grants and ear marks, 1667-1929; Town Day Book, 1810-27; and many volumes of records of the Lyme First Congregational Church, Hadlyme Congregational Church, Grace Chapel in Hadlyme, North Lyme Baptist Church, East Lyme Baptist Church, East Lyme First Congregational Church, Old Lyme First Congregational Church, Old Lyme First Baptist Church, and St. Ann’s Protestant Episcopal Church in Old Lyme.
Connecticut. Justice of the Peace (Lyme)
Deeds -- Connecticut -- Lyme
Elections -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Statistics
Justices of the peace -- Connecticut -- Lyme
Local taxation -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Registers
Property tax -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Registers
Public welfare -- Connecticut -- Lyme
Tax assessment -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Registers
Taxation -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Registers
Voting -- Connecticut -- Lyme -- Statistics
Writs -- Connecticut -- Lyme
Lyme (Conn.) -- Records and correspondence
Lyme (Conn.) -- Statistics, Vital
Civil court records
Boxes 1-5 represent a December 2006 donation to the Connecticut State Archives, while Box 6 came at an earlier time.