Leicester () is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts. What is now Leicester was originally settled by the Nipmuc people and was known by them as Towtaid. On January 27, 1686, the territory of eight square miles was purchased for 15 pounds by a company of nine proprietors engaged in land speculation: Joshua Lamb of Roxbury, Nathaniel Page of Bedford, Andrew Gardner of Roxbury, Benjamin Gamblin of Roxbury, Benjamin Tucker of Roxbury, John Curtice of Roxbury, Richard Draper of Boston, Samuel Ruggles of Roxbury, and Ralph Bradhurst of Roxbury. The proprietors called this land Strawberry Hill but did not make an effort to settle it for nearly 30 years due to its isolated location and the disruption of King Philip’s War (1675–78), King William’s War (1688–97), and Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713).
Leicester was incorporated by a vote of the Massachusetts General Court on February 15, 1713, on the condition that the land be settled by 50 families within seven years. Upon the grant of the General Court, the proprietors immediately set about meeting the condition of the town’s incorporation. Leicester was divided into two halves, the eastern half to be distributed among settlers and the western half retained and divided among the proprietors, who had grown in number to total 22. A combined 50 parcels (so-called “house-lots”) of land with 30, 40, or 50 acres each was allotted to settlers for the eastern half of Leicester for one shilling per acre, with land also set aside for schools, churches, and mills.
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