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Founding of Woburn

Nine years after the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony in 1620, Puritans from England settled in Charlestown and established the First Church of Charlestown.  As more families migrated from England, the Church needed to expand their territory to provide additional land for farming to accommodate their growing congregation.  After petitioning the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Church was awarded a large tract of land to the North encompassing an area including present day Winchester, Burlington and Woburn and parts of Stoneham, Reading and Wilmington.  The Court stipulated that the new settlement would be named Charlestown Village and be maintained as a civil and religious society. The leaders were required to build houses, lay out streets and build a church within two years.

In November of 1640, seven members of the Church were commissioned to explore this vast territory and find a suitable site for the new town.  Led by Captain Edward Johnson, Thomas Richardson, Samuel Richardson, Ezekiel Richardson, Thomas Graves, Edward Converse and John Mousall set out into the wilderness. Edward Johnson was an established leader of the Charlestown community and well known throughout the colony.  Published in England in 1654, Johnson was the author of The Wonderworking Providence of Zion’s Saviour in New England, the first printed history of New England.

Johnson is considered the “Father of Woburn”.

In 1640 at their first meeting, the seven commissioners and twenty-five other men created and signed the Town Orders of Woburn.

They laid out house lots, John Mousall built the first house on what is now the corner of Montvale Avenue and Prospect Street. The three main roads were established; they were Up Street, Sawpit Lane and Military Lane. In 1642 the first meetinghouse (the First Parish) was built on the southerly side of the Common and Reverend Thomas Carter was named the first pastor. Thomas Carter would serve the church for 42 years until his death in 1684.

In 1642, the General Court incorporated the town with the words “Charlestown Village is called Wooburne” taking the name from Woburn Bedfordshire, England.

Ancient map of Massachusetts Bay, 1667

Captain Edward Johnson went into the wilderness along with six other brave men and settled Woburn in 1640.

Aberginian, a term used by early settlers for the tribes of the north. One of these tribes in the Horn Pond area were the Abenaki, "people of the dawn."

The First Meetinghouse (church) located on what is now the Woburn Common.

The first house in Woburn (1640-1833), 

built by John Mousall, one of the original founders.  It was located on Hilly Way now called Montvale Avenue.


Home of

Woburn Historical Society

7 Mishawum Road

PO Box 91

Woburn, MA  01801


[email protected]

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Mondays and Wednesdays

10 am to 2 pm

Bill and ​Joyce Cummings

The Society is extremely grateful to be a recipient of a Cummings Foundation Grant.

Thank you to these Woburn businesses for their generous support!


George's Auto Body

Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home

McLaughlin-Dello Russo Funeral Service

Mooney Dental, Kevin Mooney

J. Sallese & Sons, Inc.


Kiwanis Club of Woburn

Lawton Real Estate, Inc.

Lennon Insurance


Little Folks Day School

Tocci Building Corporation