This town book was rescued from the refuse heap near Richwood, Ontario, in about 1950, by James Forest of Princeton, Ontario. It was kept by Mrs. Wilfred Williamson, formerly historical coordinator for the Princeton-Woodbury Women's Institute, for many years. This book was donated to the Provincial Archives of Ontario in 1973 for safe keeping. A photographic copy is available in the Princeton Public Library. The editor has a hand written transcription of the contents of the book. The book contains the minutes of the town meetings from 1822 to 1844 including lists of the town and parish officers chosen for each year. Also recorded were the town laws voted on and fines received and monies spent on roads. Eighty nine ear marks of sundry inhabitants of the Township of Blenheim for Horned Cattle, Hogs and Sheep. etc. were also recorded.
The first recorded town meeting was legally notified and held at Princeton in the old school house on Dundas St. on the first Monday in January eighteen hundred and twenty two with the following persons being chosen to serve as Town and Parish officers for the year: Town Clerk, Jacob Goble; Assessors, Henry Slawson and Abel Mudge; Collector, Donald McIntyre; Pound Keepers, William Swarts and Benjamin Bailey; Town Wardens, Earl Martin and Silas Martin; Overseers of Highways, Silas Martin, Elial Martin, Ebenezer Boss and James Pelton. Succeeding town meetings were held once a year on the first Monday of January.
Except for the years 1825-1827, when no meetings were recorded, the meetings were held in the following places:
1822-24, 1828-29 the old school house in Blenheim on Dundas St.
1830 the house of Elial Martin
1831 the house of Murray Lister in Blenheim
1832-33 the Cooper shop of C.H. Spalding and Co. at Canning
1834 the house of Wm. Whitfield (Innkeeper) on Governor's Road
1835 the old store house in Canning
1836 the house of Wm. Sills in Canning
1837-38 the Gristmill in Canning
1839-40 the house of Thos. Gad on the Governor's Road
1841-42 the school house on the fifth concession
1843 Roach's Inn in Blenheim
Fines received and monies paid out by the town council were as follows:
1838 Fines 22 10s 0d Paid for road work 22 10s 0d 1839 Fines 1 0s 0d 1840 Fines 14 15s 0d Paid for roads 14 15s 0d 1842 Fines and Wild Land Taes 2 0s 2d Paid out 2 0s 2d 1843 Wild Land Tax 32 3s 4d Paid out 32 3s 4d
Of particular interest are the Town Laws which in the early days of Blenheim dealt mainly with animals and fences. In 1822, the following town laws were voted on: that all swine over six months old to run at large, seed hogs excepted; that rail fences be 5 1/2 feet high, staked and riden and not more than 5 inches between the five bottom rails; that log fences be 5 feet high. In 1823, the laws were the same except that hogs not weighing sixty pounds are not to run at large, seed hogs not to run at all under pain of being impounded. In 1824, fence laws were the same but it was voted that all swine run at large but if any hog of the weight of thirty pounds or under does any damage to a neighbour the owner of said hog shall be liable to pay the damage. In 1828, the fence and hog laws were the same. New laws voted on were: that horses are not to run at large; that horses, horned cattle and hogs are not to run at large about mills or taverns from the first of January to the first of April next; that sheep not run at large in the first concession; that all horned cattle be free commoners except those known to be unruly and that all cattle be kept off of Dundas Street in the night.
For the succeeding years until 1841 the laws generally remained the same with the following additions. In 1834, it was voted that no hogs were to run at large under fifty pounds weight. In 1835, it was resolved that no person shall vote at the election of any path master unless those who reside on the division for which such path master is chosen provided there are present at the town meeting two persons from such division and if there are not present at town meetings two persons from any division in this township then and in such case the path master for such division or divines shall be appointed by a majority of the house holders and freeholders then and there present.
In 1838, horses which are allowed to be free commoners, to be impounded if committing any injury whether fences are legal or not. In 1839, the law respecting the allowing of animals to run at large around public places was extended to include the first of December to April next. In 1840, this law was in effect from November to April and included Mills, Taverns or Blacksmith Shops.
In 1842, the following laws were voted on: that rams are not to run at large from the first Monday in September to the first Monday in January; that no boars run at large over twenty five pounds; that bulls are not to run at large from the first of April to the first of November; that stud horses not run at large anytime over two years old, fine one pound; that breachy cattle are not free commoners; that horses doing damage in enclosed lands may be impounded whether fences enclosing the same be legal or not; that no cattle, horses, hogs or sheep are to run at large at grist Mills, Taverns or Blacksmith Shops from the first of January to the first of June; that hogs less than fifty pounds are not free commoners; that no rail fence is legal if less than 5 feet high staked and ridered and staked in the corners and no space within 3 feet of the ground to be more than 5 inches wide, the whole fence well filled with rails; that no log fence is legal if less than 4 1/2 feet high, spaces 6 inches wide; that no board fence is legal if less than 4 1/2 feet high, spaces not over 4 inches wide 3 feet above the ground.
At a town Wardens meeting held at the office of W. Thos. Love in Blenheim on the third Saturday in January 1836, the following resolutions were made: that each and every pound keeper within this township shall have for their trouble of impounding and releasing all animals impounded the sum of two shillings and six pence, for each advertisement the sum of one shilling; that the pound keepers be required to feed all animals impounded in such a manner and with sufficient food that the said animal shall not fall away or otherwise receive damage by being impounded and for so doing he or they shall be allowed double the value of all provided for and consumed by such animal.
Of particular interest is the location of the old school house on Dundas St. where the first recorded meeting was held. According to information obtained from the Oxford County Registry Office, the school was located near the present cemetery on lot 14 concession 1 Blenheim Township.
Although the minute book records meetings starting with 1822, there were Town Officials before this date. Information obtained from the Oxford County Registry Office in Woodstock, indicates that in 1809, Abel Mudge and Neal Brown were Town Wardens of Blenheim and Burford and they purchased one acre of the SW quarter of lot 14 concession 1 of Blenheim Township for a public burying ground.
Source: Blenheim Township Minute Book 1822-1844.
Transcription held by Edward Kipp.
Photographic Copy held by Princeton Public Library, Princeton, Ontario.
Original held by the The Provincial Archives of Ontario.
Updated May 29, 2009