Barnstable County, Massachusetts Genealogy

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GenWeb Project

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About Barnstable County

Barnstable County was formed on 2 June 1685 when Plymouth Colony was divided into three counties. The county seat is the Town of Barnstable. Bristol and Plymouth counties were also named after their county seats.

Some General County Information

Towns of Barnstable County

    • Barnstable, The Town of – county seat – formed 3 Sep 1639 (Indian name- Mattacheese, Mattakeese),

(currently has seven villages – West Barnstable, Hyannis, Centerville, Osterville, Marston’s Mills, Cotuit, Barnstable)
[other geographical centers include Cummaquid-part of Barnstable village; South Hyannis, Hyannisport and West Hyannisport-part of Hyannis, Santuit-part of Cotuit, Wianno-part of Osterville?]

    • Bourne – settled 1637, incorporated 1884 (formerly part of Sandwich)(Manomet)
    • Brewster – settled 1653, incorporated 1803 (formerly part of Harwich)(Potenumacut)
    • Chatham – settled 1656, incorporated 11 Jun 1712 (Monomoy)
    • Dennis or Dennis – settled 1639, incorporated 1793 (formerly the East Precinct of Yarmouth)(Nobscusset)(villages- East Dennis (includes Sesuit Neck, Quivet Neck), South Dennis, Dennisport, Dennis)
      Class of ’98
    • Eastham – settled 3 Mar 1645, incorporated 2 Jun 1646(Nauset)
    • Falmouth – Incorporated 1686 (Succonessett)
    • Harwich – settled 1688, incorporated 1694 (Satucket)
    • Mashpee – Incorporated 28 May1870 (Massipee)
    • Orleans – settled 1777 Incorporated 1797(Namskaket)
    • Provincetown – settled 1714, incorporated 14 Jun 1727(separated from Truro) (Meeshaum)
    • Sandwich – “On 3 April 1637 the court gave permission for ten men from Saugus in the Bay Colony, … to search out sufficient lands to settle sixty families.”(p. 64, ibid). Incorporated 1639(Shawme).
    • Truro – settled 1676, incorporated 1769 (Pamet)
    • Wellfleet – settled 1644, incorporated 1763, (from the North Precinct of Eastham) (Pononakrnet)
    • Yarmouth – “On 7 January 1638/9, the Court of Assistants granted lands at ‘Mattacheeset, now called Yarmouth’ to Mr Anthony Thacher, Mr Thomas Howes, Mr John Crow,…”(p. 65, ibid)

Villages ( Yarmouthport, Yarmouth, West Yarmouth, South Yarmouth)
[other geographical centers include Bass River-part of South Yarmouth]

It is interesting to note that if you extend the original town lines out into Cape Cod Bay they intersect at one point in the middle of the bay. This is probably the location of the anchored survey ship that was used to survey the lines (possibly at night with the aid of a light on the ship).

Barnstable County is part of Cape Cod and was made an island when the Cape Cod Canal was finished in 1914. (besides the two vehicle bridges and a railroad bridge across the canal the only other other access is by boat or plane). Well there is a little piece of the county (part of Bourne) on the north side of the canal, but it is still fun to think of it as an island. In fact, some of the islanders may have advocated closing the canal bridges to vehicle traffic.


Cemeteries in Barnstable Co
Mass Tombstone Transcription Project


County MapBarnstable County is bounded by Cape Cod Bay(north), Nantucket Sound- and the Islands (Dukes County and Nantucket) (south), the Atlantic Ocean (east) and Plymouth County(west).

Barnstable County, Massachusetts History

Pre-European Settlement

It appears the Wampanoag Indians under chief Massasoit were a friendly tribe. Their enemies to the west were the Narragansetts. Nipmuck, Niantic, Saconnet, Massachuset, Mohegan, and Pequot tribes were also in this region.

Plymouth Colony and Barnstable County

The Mayflower and its 99 passengers landed at Plymouth on 21 Nov 1620. The Fortune arrived in Nov 1621. The Anne and Little James followed so that by 1624 there are about 180 persons. It is the late 1630s when we see settlements formed in what is now Barnstable co. In Sandwich there are some families led by Rev John Vincent before 1637. We find settlers in Yarmouth before 1639 and the Town of Barnstable in 1638. Eastham is the fourth area settled in Mar 1644.


Add a query ONLINE to the Barnstable co page.
Search Barnstable queries

Barnstable co Surname List
Index to Cape Cod Genealogical Society Bulletin
Sears Family Association by Ray Sears ( LRSEARS@CAPECOD.NET )
Nickerson Family Information Other “Old Settlers” include Thomas HOWES, Nicholas SNOW, John CROWE (CROWELL)
Tupper Family by Michael Maiden ( )

Other Sites Relating to Barnstable County

Cape Cod History
Cape Cod Towns
Cape Travelogue
Cape Cod Information Center
Cape Cod Town Information
The Association for the Preservation of Cape Cod
Falmouth History

Other Sites Relating to Massachusetts

New England Historic Genealogical Society
Sons of the American Revolution
The Mayflower web page


Send comments, additions, and corrections to Ray Sears