Historical Records of
Dukes County, Mass.

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A comprehensive list of every major resource at this site.

"Situation and Area" Maps Population
Map of Dukes County

Tisbury records

Chilmark records

Edgartown records

Dukes County queries



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Resources for Further Research

What is the Correct Name of the Vineyard? by Dr. Charles Banks. (Gosnold had no daughter named 'Martha'!)

The History of Martha's Vineyard by Henry Franklin Norton, 1923.

Social Statistics of Dukes County in 1870 as enumerated by 1870 census-taker Henry B. Wood.


"The County of Dukes County," composed of Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, and Nomans Land, was established in 1683 by the Provincial Assembly of New York, and was acquired by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691. (See Organization and Jurisdiction of the County of Dukes County by Dr. Charles Banks for details.)

The county seat is Edgartown. (See The County of Dukes County: The Shire Town for details.)

Dukes County is bordered on the northwest by Bristol County, on the northeast by Barnstable County, on the east by Nantucket County.

There were 11,639 residents recorded in Dukes County on the 1990 Federal census, although the seasonal population is in excess of 60,000. See historical population figures.

Also see the entry for "Dukes County" in the 1849 Gazeteer of Massachusetts for an overview and brief history of the county as it was written in 1849.

The Towns

Dukes County originally consisted of the parent towns of Tisbury, Chilmark, and Edgartown which are now divided into seven towns: Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark, Gay Head, Gosnold, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs.


Tisbury was originally called "Middletown" until it was incorporated as the Town of Tisbury in 1671. See details. It includes (and is now often synonymous with) the village of Vineyard Haven, which was called Holmes Hole until 1871.

West Tisbury was divided from Tisbury in 1892, and all of the early records can be found with the parent town. It contains the original site of the European settlement of Middletown. See details.
West Tisbury includes the communities of North Tisbury (originally called "Newtown") and Christiantown.

Chilmark was established as "Tisbury Manor" in 1671, settled by Europeans about 1672-3, unofficially organized as a town about 1696, and formally incorporated as the Town of Chilmark in 1714. See details. Chilmark includes the village of Menemsha.

Gay Head was divided from Chilmark in 1855, and incorporated as a town in 1870. See details. It is also known as "Aquinnah."

Gosnold was formally separated from Chilmark in 1863. See details. It consists of Nonamesset, Uncatena, Monohansett, Naushon, Weepecket, Pasque, Nashawena, Penekese, Gull, and Cuttyhunk, together known as the Elizabeth Islands.

Nomans Land, a small island south of Gay Head, has historically been a part of Chilmark, and it's scarce records can be found in that town. It is now owned by the U. S. Government.

Edgartown was first settled in 1641/2 and called "Great Harbor" until 1671, when it was established as the Town of Edgartown. See details. Edgartown includes the island community of Chappaquiddick.

Oak Bluffs was divided from Edgartown in 1880, and was known as Cottage City until 1907. It was first settled by Europeans about 1667. See details. Oak Bluffs includes the community of Eastville.

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