Odd Jobs – History Mystery, April 2016


Question – April 15, 2016

Solomon Flagg III (1804-1892) was a longtime Wellesley resident in the 19th century and was well-known for his outstanding record of community service in the town. At various times, he held the positions of Town Clerk and Justice of the Peace, and served on the school committee for over 25 years. However, he also filled the post of Thythingman, Sealer of Bread, and Hogreave. While they may not be town offices today, they were common in the 1800s. Return on April 29 to find out more about these odd jobs!

Answer – April 29, 2016

A Tythingman was expected to uphold the morals of a community. According to Isaac Goodwin in the 1834 edition of Town Officer; or, Laws of Massachusetts Relative to the Duties of Municipal Officers, they regularly inspected establishments selling liquor, and reported on “idle and disorderly persons, profane swearers, or cursers, sabbath-breakers” (Goodwin, 348). Tythingmen also monitored and discouraged unnecessary travel on Sunday.

George Clarke, in Epitaphs from Graveyards in Wellesley (1900), notes that the Sealer of Bread was also known as the Surveyor of Bread or the Weigher of Bread. The post existed from 1772 to 1867 in the town of West Needham, which was incorporated as Wellesley in 1881. The Sealer of Bread regulated the weight of a loaf of bread and ensured that customers were getting the amount they paid for.

The Hogreave, or Hogreeve, rounded up stray domestic pigs and impounded them in a town pen until they were claimed by their owners. Wandering pigs could cause a great amount of damage to farms and gardens by rooting up the soil. While the position of Hogreave is outlined in Goodwin’s 1829 edition of Town Officer, he notes in his 1834 edition that impounding laws have changed and “that important functionary, the Hogreeve, has no longer a place in town elections” (Goodwin, iii).

Kathleen Fahey, Curator