In the beginning, the world was without form and void... Okay, maybe we won't go back that far.
The North Parish arose from land that was added as part of Reading. Redding began to be settled in 1639 when inhabitants from Lynn petitioned the General Court for an upland plantation.
The Court granted “four miles square at the head of their bounds, or so much thereof as the place will afford, upon condition that the petitioners shall, within two years, make some good proceeding in planting, so at it may be a village, fit to contain a convenient number of inhabitants, which may in due time have a church there; and so as such as shall remove to inhabit there, shall not withal keep their accommodations in Lynn, after their removal to the said village, upon pain to forfeit their interest in one of them, at their election”.
In 1644, Lynn Village, the name first given to the territory, had a sufficient number of houses and families and the General Court ordered that it should take the name of Redding.
The four mile square grant was substantially the same territory as the present towns of Reading and Wakefield. The land of present town of North Reading was added by a subsequent grant made in 1651. This land arose from special grants to men who had significantly aided the establishment of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
This included a grant of eight hundred acres, east of what is now Haverhill Street, awarded to Lord Brooks, a grant of five hundred acres of upland and meadow, extending from the Willis Brook to what is now the BB Chemical Co. in Middleton to Mr. Thomas Willis, and a grant of two hundred acres, all north of what was called (Bare) Bear Meadow and south of the Ipswich River to Mr. Richard Saddler.
A statement of the grant of this additional territory to Reading appears in the town records for October 1651. “The court doth grant to the inhabitants of Reading, an addition to its former bounds, a certain tract of land, about two miles content, lying between Mr. Bellingham’s farm (in Andover) and the great (Ipswich) river, and so to join their former four-mile grant, so as it has not already been granted to any town or person, nor prejudicing any former grant.”