The Edwards Family Home Site in Boston’s North End
October 24, 2011 by Ben Edwards
The Edwards Family property was located on Back Street (now Salem Street) in the North End of Boston. It was two blocks from Paul Revere’s home in North Square and three blocks from Christ Church (Old North Church) on Salem Street. Before purchasing the Back Street property, my sixth great grandfather Captain Benjamin Edwards (1685-1751) lived in the North End in two other locations – Hull Street in 1713, and the corner of Prince and Salem streets in 1717. In 1719, Captain Edwards purchased property from Abigail Blaque that bounded southeasterly on Back Street (95 1/2 ft.) and northwesterly on the Mill Pond. The property included houses, outhouses, buildings, barns, stables and gardens. Captain Edwards lived here in a brick home and this is where his seven children, including my fifth great grandfather Dolling Edwards, were born. Today, a restaurant at 104 Salem Street called L’Osteria stands on the site of the old Edwards Family property.
In 1738, Captain Edwards purchased additional property on Back Street, next to the piece he already owned, from blacksmith Solomon Townsend. It measured 31 1/2 ft. at the front and 200 ft. from front to rear and contained land and buildings. A private dwelling stands on this site today. After Captain Edwards’ death in 1751, this property was passed on to his oldest son Benjamin. The Captain’s remaining real estate was divided among his five other living children. His sons John and Robert received the front part of his home, while Captain Edwards’ daughter Bathsheba was given the back part. Captain Edwards’ son Alexander was given a brick home, buildings and land next to his siblings. This property had 50 ft. of frontage on Back Street. The Captain also owned two small dwellings: one on Ship Street and one in White Bread Alley. These were given to his youngest son, Dolling. Alexander Edwards would eventually come to possess all of the family property on Back Street. After his death in 1798, it was passed on to his wife Sarah and when she died it went to Alexander’s dear friend Jedediah Lincoln.
While researching the location of the family home for my book One April in Boston back in 2000, I mistakenly placed the Edwards property further south on Back Street. I realized this error just within the past year after locating Clough’s Atlases of Property Owners of Boston in 1798 in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. These atlases clearly show the precise location of the two pieces of property owned by Sarah Edwards in 1798. View the links below to get a better feel for where the family property was located.
- The Edwards Family Property on a 1775 Boston Map (PDF)
- Walking Tour Route Passes the Edwards Family Home Site (PDF)
- Sarah Edwards’ Property on Clough’s Atlases in 1798
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