Carlisle, MA

Carlisle Yesterday

First District of Carlisle, 1754

In the 18th century, the people in the northern part of Concord found it hard to get to church in winter and in the time of the "flud". They petitioned the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to make their area a separate district so that the taxes that they had to pay for the support of a church could be used to provide a minister and meetinghouse closer to their farms. The General Court complied;
it established the First District of Carlisle in 1754. The town was named after Carlisle, England, because the first settler in the district, James Adams, came from there to settle on South Street. The local people supported a minister for two years, but when they could not agree on the location of the meetinghouse they successfully petitioned the General Court to restore the district to its original status as part of Concord.

Second District of Carlisle, 1758

Despite having to pay minister rates to the town of Concord again, Carlisle people continued to support a minister of their own. In 1758, Timothy Wilkins donated land (the acre and a half where the First Religious Society now stands) to be used for a meetinghouse, which was built with voluntary contributions from more than 70 families.
Twenty years later, the General Court consented to the formation of the Second District of Carlisle and freed the local people from a double church expense. Landowners in Billerica, Chelmsford, and Acton had joined the Concord families and the new district, with the meetinghouse in the center, was considerably larger than the earlier one.

Town Incorporation, 1805

In 1805, the district was given the status of a town and was allowed to send its own representatives to the General Court instead of sharing one with Acton. Because people could choose the town they wanted to join, the town line was jagged for some time. There was even an island of Concord property within Carlisle.
The Chelmsford line was adjusted after 1850 and the Concord line settled about 1900. By the early twentieth century, Carlisle was primarily an agricultural town with a very slowly growing population. Mills, farms and a few stores provided most of the employment opportunities in town.


Based on excerpts from 'Know Your Town',
Courtesy of The League of Women Voters of Carlisle, April 1985

[Carlisle Today]
The 'Carle of Carlisle'

Other colonial historical sites

History of Ipswitch, Essex, and Hamilton    

American Colonies Ring

Old Home Day



Researched and written by Al Peckham

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