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Middlesex County is a county located in the U.S. state of Massachusettsmarker. It is the most populous county in Massachusetts. As of the 2000 census, the population was 1,465,396. The center of population of Massachusetts is located in Middlesex County, in the town of Natickmarker.Its county seats are Cambridgemarker and Lowellmarker. The county government was abolished in 1997 but the county boundaries continue to describe a state district for court jurisdictions and for other administrative purposes.


The county was created by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires". Middlesex initially contained Charlestownmarker, Cambridgemarker, Watertownmarker, Sudburymarker, Concordmarker, Woburnmarker, Medfordmarker, and Readingmarker.

Law and government

On July 11, 1997, the Massachusetts State Legislature abolished Middlesex County as a governmental entity due primarily to the county's insolvency. Middlesex County continues to exist as a geographic boundary.

Immediately prior to its abolition, the government of Middlesex County consisted of three County Commissioners elected at-large to staggered four-year terms, a County Treasurer elected to a six-year term, a County Sheriff elected to a six-year term and two Registers of Deeds, one for the Northern District at Lowell and the other for the Southern District at Cambridge, both elected to six-year terms. Middlesex County owned and operated the Superior Courthouses in Cambridge and Lowell and the Middlesex County Hospital in Waltham. Besides the employees of the Sheriff's Department and the two Registries of Deeds, the county had a Maintenance Department, a Security Department, small administrative staffs in the Treasurer's and Commissioners' Offices, and the employees at the hospital. Budgets proposed by the County Commissioners were approved by a County Advisory Board that consisted of a single representative of each of the 54 cities and towns in the county. The votes of the individual members of the the Advisory Board were weighted based on the overall valuation of property in their respective communities. The county derived its revenue primarily from document filing fees at the Registries of Deeds and from a Deeds Excise Tax, a transfer tax assessed on the sales price of real estate that was also collected by the Registries of Deeds.

The legislation abolishing Middlesex County retained the Sheriff and Registers of Deeds as independently elected officials and transferred for administrative purposes the Sheriff's Department to the state Department of Public Safety and the two Registry of Deeds offices to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office. Additionally, all county maintenance and security employees were absorbed into the corresponding staffs of the Massachusetts Trial Court. The legislation also transferred ownership of the two Superior Courthouses to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The hospital was closed. Finally, the office of County Commissioner was immediately abolished and the office of County Treasurer was abolished as of December 31, 2002.

Besides the Sheriff and the two Registers of Deeds, the Middlesex District Attorney, the Middlesex Register of Probate and the Middlesex Clerk of Courts (which were already part of state government before the abolition of Middlesex County government) are all elected countywide to six-year terms. In Middlesex County (as in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts) governmental functions such as property tax assessment and collection, public education, road repair and maintenance and elections are all conducted at the city and town level and not by county government.

Records of land ownership in Middlesex County are maintained at the two Registries of Deeds. The first Middlesex County Registry of Deeds was created in 1649 in Cambridge. In 1855, the Massachusetts State Legislature created a Registry of Deeds for the Northern District of Middlesex County in Lowell. The Northern District consists the city of Lowellmarker and the towns of Billericamarker, Carlislemarker, Chelmsfordmarker, Dracutmarker, Dunstablemarker, Tewksburymarker, Tyngsboroughmarker, Westfordmarker and Wilmingtonmarker. The remaining 44 cities and towns of Middlesex County are in the Southern District which remained in Cambridgemarker.

Even after the abolition of county government in Middlesex, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 848 sq mi (2,195 km²). 823 sq mi (2,133 km²) of it is land and 24 sq mi (62 km² ) of it (2.84%) is water.

The MetroWest region comprises much of the southern portion of the county.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


As of the census of 2000, there were 1,465,396 people, 561,220 households, and 360,864 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,780/sq mi (687/km²). There were 576,681 housing units at an average density of 700 per square mile (270/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 85.88% White, 3.36% Black or African American, 0.15% Native American, 6.26% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.07% from other races, and 2.24% from two or more races. 4.55% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 20.0% were of Irish, 15.7% Italian and 8.0% English ancestry according to Census 2000. 79.6% spoke English, 4.3% Spanish, 2.7% Portuguese, 1.6% Italian, 1.6% Chinese or Mandarin and 1.5% French as their first language. Middlesex County has the largest Irish-American population of any U.S. county with a plurality of Irish ancestry. [11491]

There were 561,220 households out of which 30.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.30% were married couples living together, 9.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.70% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.11.

In the county the population was spread out with 22.50% under the age of 18, 9.00% from 18 to 24, 33.40% from 25 to 44, 22.40% from 45 to 64, and 12.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 93.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $60,821, and the median income for a family was $74,194 (these figures had risen to $74,010 and $91,461 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $49,460 versus $36,288 for females. The per capita income for the county was $31,199. About 4.30% of families and 6.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.20% of those under age 18 and 7.10% of those age 65 or over.

In 2006, Middlesex County was #10 in the United States on the list of most millionaires per county.


Presidential Election Results 1960-2008
Year Democrat Republican
2008 64.2% 462,226 34.1% 245,215
2004 63.99% 440,862 34.52% 237,815
2000 61.49% 404,043 30.27% 198,914
1996 63.41% 398,190 27.06% 169,926
1992 49.89% 343,994 28.10% 193,703
1988 54.57% 361,563 43.82% 193,703
1984 50.26% 325,065 49.42% 319,604
1980 42.46% 270,751 40.30% 256,999
1976 55.94% 359,919 40.42% 260,044
1972 55.91% 345,343 43.56% 269,064
1968 64.11% 370,310 32.60% 188,304
1964 76.25% 439,790 23.36% 134,729
1960 59.01% 356,130 40.78% 246,126

Cities and towns

Most municipalities in Middlesex County have a town form of government; the remainder are cities, and are so designated on this list. Villages listed below are census or postal divisions, but have no separate corporate existence from the cities and towns in which they are located.

See also


  1. [1]Government Census Information
  2. Davis, William T. Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, p. 44. The Boston History Company, 1895.
  3. [2]Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) c.34B, s.1
  4. [3]MGL c.34, s.4
  5. Middlesex County Directory: 1993-1995, (Cambridge: Middlesex County Commissioners Office, 1995)
  6. [4]MGL c.34B, s.10
  7. [5]MGL c.34B, s.2
  8. [6]MGL c.36, s.1

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