Suffolk County, Massachusetts

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Suffolk County is a county of Massachusetts. As of 2009, the population was estimated by the US Census Bureau to be 757,318; an increase from its population in 2000 of 689,807. The county seat is Boston, the state capital and largest city.[1]



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 shires". Suffolk initially contained Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Dedham, Braintree, Weymouth, and Hingham.[2] The county was named after Suffolk, England, and means "southern folk."[3]

In 1731, the extreme western portions of Suffolk County, (which included Uxbridge), were split off to become part of Worcester County. In 1793, most of the original Suffolk County except for Boston and Chelsea (which remained in Suffolk) split off and became Norfolk County. Revere was set off from Chelsea and incorporated in 1846 and Winthrop was set off from Revere and incorporated in 1852. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Boston annexed several adjacent towns including Hyde Park, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Dorchester from Norfolk County and Charlestown and Brighton from Middlesex County, resulting in an enlargement of Suffolk County.

Law and government

Like an increasing number of Massachusetts counties, Suffolk County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government.[4] All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff, district attorney, and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council or commissioner. (Immediately prior to the abolition of county government, the authority of the Suffolk County Commission had for many years been exercised by the Boston City Council, even though three communities in the county are not part of the city.) However, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.[5]

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