First is the fact that there are no other cities or towns on this planet with the name “Medfield.” — there is a “Medfield” section of Baltimore, a “Medfield Estates” housing sub-division in Raleigh, N.C., a Medfield Street in Boston, Raleigh and London and a Metfield, England but no other “Medfield” anywhere else, no where. The name is uniquely Medfield.
The question is: Where did the name of our town come from?
Originally Medfield was part of Dedham. Settlers from Dedham had been coming out this way to cut the grasses that grew and still grow along the Charles River. These grasses were needed to feed the horses, sheep and other livestock during the winter months. In 1649, 13 settlers thought it more convenient to settle closer to the banks of the Charles River and so petitioned the Town of Dedham to break away and establish a new town. At first this area was known as Dedham Village. When the grant transferring land to the new town was finalized, the name Medfield was used. In the early records there were numerous spellings of the name Medfield; most often were “Meadfield” and “Medfeild.” And so in May of 1651, the General Court gave Medfield official recognition as a “town erected beyond Dedham, in the county of Suffolk, upon the Charles River, called by the name Meadfield … and are granted all the power and privileges which other towns do enjoy according to the law.” With that, Medfield became the 43rd town to be incorporated in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Several reasons have been given for the selection of the name Medfield. One ties to the abundant meadows and fields that lay in this area. The most plausible, however, is the early settlers from England often named the new towns after the towns they left behind in Old England. Metfield, England is located near the other British towns of Dedham and Wrentham. Due to the numerous spellings that took place concerning the name Medfield, there seems to be a strong possibility of a tie between Metfield, England and the settlers who settled this town. Earliest records in England show a spelling of Medefeld. In 1325 the name Metfield appears. By the 1630’s waves of emigrants left that area of England and settled here in New England, including Ralph Wheelock, the “Founder of Medfield.”
In more recent time, few people seemed to know just where Medfield, Mass. was located. Strangers hearing the name thought you were referring to Medford. In fact, mail intended for Medfield would often be sent to Medford. Before World War II, Hollywood producer Walt Disney came out to Medfield several times to visit with friend Justin Dart, who owned Holiday Farm on Elm Street. From visiting “Medfield,” Disney used the name first in the 1961 movie “Absent Minded Professor,” starring Fred MacMurray and then again in 1997 with “Flubber,” starring Robin Williams. Both films focused around the fictitious Medfield College.
Today, because of its high quality school system, movies centered around the former , professional football and baseball stars as residents and the town becoming a desirable location in which to live, Medfield is less confused with Medford and its uniqueness and name have become more widely known.