Location in the state of Massachusetts
Massachusetts's location in the U.S.
847.54 sq mi (2,195 km²)
823.46 sq mi (2,133 km²)
24.08 sq mi (62 km²), 2.84%
1,826/sq mi (705/km²)
Middlesex County, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the twenty-third most populous county in the United States and the most populous county in New England. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,503,085, making it more populous than any other New England state except for Connecticut. The center of population of Massachusetts is in Natick, Middlesex County.
For administrative purposes the county held two regions, Middlesex-North with county seat in Lowell, and Middlesex-South with county seat in Cambridge. 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, such as an indicator for elections. Massachusetts counties also define locations for National Weather Service weather alerts (such as severe thunderstorm warnings).
As of 2006, Middlesex County was tenth in the United States on the list of most millionaires per county.
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 Charlestown, Cambridge, Watertown, Sudbury, Concord, Woburn, Medford, Wayland, and Reading.
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 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 Lowell and the towns of Billerica, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, Westford and Wilmington. The remaining 44 cities and towns of Middlesex County are in the Southern District which remained in Cambridge.
Even after the abolition of county government in Middlesex, communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services.
|County government: Middlesex County|
|Clerk of Courts:||Michael A. Sullivan|
|District Attorney:||Marian T. Ryan|
|Register of Deeds:||Richard P. Howe, Jr. (North at Lowell)
Maria C. Curtatone (South at Cambridge)
|Register of Probate:||Tara E. DeCristofaro|
|County Sheriff:||Peter J. Koutoujian |
|State Representative(s):||37 Representatives: |
|State Senator(s):||16 Senators: |
|U.S. Representative(s):||John Olver (D-1st District)
James P. McGovern (D-3rd District)
Barney Frank (D-4th District)
Niki Tsongas (D-5th District)
John F. Tierney (D-6th District)
Edward J. Markey (D-7th District)
Michael Capuano (D-8th District)
|U.S. Senators:||Elizabeth Warren (D), Mo Cowan (D)|
According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 847.54 square miles (2,195.1 km2), of which 823.46 square miles (2,132.8 km2) (or 97.16%) is land and 24.08 square miles (62.4 km2) (or 2.84%) is water. It is bounded southeast by the Charles River, and drained by the Merrimack, Nashua, and Concord rivers, and other streams.
The MetroWest region comprises much of the southern portion of the county.