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York County Courthouse - Alfred, ME
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 43° 28.481 W 070° 42.819
19T E 361402 N 4814956
Quick Description: This historical marker is located on the grounds of the York County Courthouse in Alfred, Maine.
Location: Maine, United States
Date Posted: 3/27/2009 11:04:57 AM
Waymark Code: WM63H7
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
Views: 16

Long Description:
The marker text reads as follows:

Here are oldest continuous court records in United States. Going back to 1636 they include patent conveying the land between Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers from Charles I to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Facade is copy of that of original courthouse built on this site 1807 and burned 1933. Town of Alfred. Erected by York County Tercentenary Commission.

The following additional information about the history of York County is from Wikipedia:

1622 patent

The first patent establishing the Province of Maine was granted on August 10, 1622, to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason by the Plymouth Council for New England, which itself had been granted a royal patent by James I to the coast of North America between the 40th and the 48th parallels "from sea to sea". This first patent encompassed the coast between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers, as well as an irregular parcel of land between the headwaters of the two rivers. In 1629, Gorges and Mason agreed to split the patent at the Piscataqua River, with Mason retaining the land south of the river as the Province of New Hampshire.

Gorges named his more northerly piece of territory New Somersetshire. This venture failed, however, because of lack of funds and colonial settlement. Also failed was a venture by Capt. Christopher Levett, an agent for Gorges and a member of the Council for New England. With the King's blessing, Levett embarked on a scheme to found a colony on the site of present-day Portland. Levett himself was granted 6,000 acres (24 km2) of land, the first Englishman to own the soil of Portland. There he proposed to found a settlement name York after the city of his birth in England. Ultimately, the project was abandoned, the men Levett left behind disappeared, and Levett died aboard ship on his return to England from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. One part of Levett's scheme did survive: the name of York, which now adorns the county.

The now-decommissioned Fort Levett on Cushing Island in Casco Bay is named for Capt. Levett.

1639 patent

In 1639, Gorges obtained a renewed patent, the Gorges Patent, for the area between the Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers, in the form of a royal charter from Charles I of England. The area was roughly the same as that covered in the 1622 patent after the 1629 split with Mason. The second colony also foundered for lack of money and settlers.


In 1664, what had been the Province of Maine was given a grant by Charles II of England to James, Duke of York. Under the terms of this patent the territory was incorporated into Cornwall County, part of the Province of New York. Unlike the previous two patents, the territory stipulated in the 1664 charter encompassed the areas north of the Kennebec River to the St. Croix River. This region, which had previously been called the Territory of Sagadahock, forms the eastern portion of the present day state of Maine. The patent to James for this territory was renewed in 1674 and survives in York County.

The first known and recorded deed for a purchase of land in York County, Maine is in 1668, when Francis Small traded goods with the Newichewannock tribe of this area. Their Chief Wesumbe, also known as Captain Sandy, was friendly with Small and warned him of a plot against his life. A group of renegade tribesmen planned on murdering Small instead of paying him with the furs that were owed to him. Small escaped after watching his house in what is now Cornish, Maine, burn to the ground. Small returned and rebuilt. The Chief made up the loss by selling Small all the lands bounded by the Great and Little Ossipee Rivers, the Saco River, and the New Hampshire border. Known now as the five Ossipee towns, the tract included all of Limington, Limerick, Cornish (formerly named Francisborough), Newfield and Parsonsfield.

After a series of further permutations, the former Province had become, by the 18th century, part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, later the state of Massachusetts. The region of Maine achieved statehood of its own in 1820.

Address and /or location:
York County Courthouse 45 Kennebunk Road Alfred, Maine 04002

Who put it there (Sponsor): York County Tercentenary Commission

Date (Erected or Dediated): Unknown

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