Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Worcester County, Massachusetts

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Seat  Worcester
Time zone  Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Founded  2 April 1731
Population  809,106 (2013)
Largest city  Worcester
Area  4,090 km²
Sheriff  Lewis Evangelidis
Worcester County, Massachusetts httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu
Congressional districts  1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th
Rivers  Blackstone River, Charles River, Millers River
Colleges and Universities  Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester State University, College of the Holy Cross, Clark University, Fitchburg State University
Points of interest  Worcester Art Museum, EcoTarium, Old Sturbridge Village, Worcester Historical Museum, Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Worcester County is a county located in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of the 2010 census, the population was 798,552, making it the second-most populous county in Massachusetts while also being the largest in area. The largest city and traditional county seat is the city of Worcester.


Map of Worcester County, MA, USA

Worcester County is included in the Worcester, MA-CT Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.


Worcester County was formed from the eastern portion of colonial Hampshire County, the western portion of the original Middlesex County and the extreme western portion of the original Suffolk County. When the government of Worcester County was established on April 2, 1731, Worcester was chosen as its shire town (later known as a county seat). From that date until the dissolution of the county government, it was the only county seat. Because of the size of the county, there were fifteen attempts over 140 years to split the county into two counties, but without success. Initially, Lancaster was proposed as the seat of the northern county; later, Petersham was proposed once and Fitchburg was proposed repeatedly, most recently in 1903. Perhaps as a concession, in August 1884 the Worcester County Registry of Deeds was split in two, with the Worcester Northern registry placed in Fitchburg.

Government and politics

Worcester County is one of 8 of the 14 Massachusetts counties, which has had no county government or county commissioners since July 1, 1998, when county functions were assumed by state agencies at local option following a change in state law. The County has an elected county sheriff, county prosecutor, and court officials, administered under the state department of public safety. The state correctional system in the County is known as the Worcester County Jail or "House of Corrections" at West Boylston, and the Worcester County District courts (state administered) are housed at Worcester, Fitchburg and other district courts within county boundaries. The Worcester County district attorney is a county-wide position even though the district includes one town from a neighboring county. In Massachusetts, Sheriffs have more limited roles than most states and are responsible for corrections, court service and bailiffs and jail release programs. County Sheriffs in Massachusetts are elected to six-year terms. The Worcester County Sheriff is Lewis Evangelidis, (R), and the Worcester County District Attorney is Joseph Early (D).(see the info-box at lower right for elected officials at county level). The Worcester County 4 H fair is in its 63rd year in 2014 with the fairgrounds at Spencer. Worcester County has one commercial airport at Worcester. The Worcester County Conservation District has countywide boundaries. The County has a regional planning commission.

Massachusetts law allows regional compacts, traditional counties and other governmental entities. Traditional County governments in the state include: Norfolk, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, and Plymouth Counties. Barnstable County, which is Cape Cod, functions as a modern regional county government. Suffolk County which is mainly Boston is under the Boston City Council. The Massachusetts General Laws describe this relationship of county government and the options for abolishing county governments and/or chartering regional governmental compacts in subchapter 34 B. Four other new county compacts have been created by the state legislature and these are in Hampshire, Franklin, Barnstable Counties, and a regional planning council level for Berkshire County. Thus 9 of 14 Counties have some form of county regional governments. Worcester County could exercise that option if it chooses for example, for public safety and, or preparedness due to its rather large geography, by a request to and a special act of the legislature, by local referendum or by one of three mechanisms. See the references for the state statute, and the League of Women Voters link.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,579 square miles (4,090 km2), of which 1,511 square miles (3,910 km2) is land and 68 square miles (180 km2) (4.3%) is water. It is the largest county in Massachusetts by area. The county is larger geographically than the entire state of Rhode Island even including Rhode Island's water ocean limit boundaries. The county constitutes Central Massachusetts, separating Western Massachusetts on one side from Eastern Massachusetts and the Greater Boston area on the other side. It stretches from the northern to the southern border of the state. The geographic center of Massachusetts is in Rutland.

Worcester County is one of two Massachusetts counties that borders three different neighboring states; the other being Berkshire County. They are also the only two counties to touch both the northern and southern state lines.

National protected area

  • Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge (part)
  • Demographics

    In 1990 Worcester County had a population of 709,705.

    2000 census

    As of the census of 2000, there were 750,963 people, 283,927 households, and 192,502 families residing in the county. The population density was 496 people per square mile (192/km²). There were 298,159 housing units at an average density of 197 per square mile (76/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 89.61% White, 2.73% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 2.62% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.93% from other races, and 1.82% from two or more races. 6.77% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 15.9% were of Irish, 12.3% Italian, 11.7% French, 8.0% French Canadian, 8.0% English, 5.6% Polish and 5.0% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 85.1% spoke English, 6.1% Spanish and 1.9% French as their first language.

    There were 283,927 households out of which 33.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.50% were married couples living together, 11.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.20% were non-families. 26.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.40% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.11.

    In the county, the population was spread out with 25.60% under the age of 18, 8.40% from 18 to 24, 31.10% from 25 to 44, 21.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.

    The median income for a household in the county was $47,874, and the median income for a family was $58,394. Males had a median income of $42,261 versus $30,516 for females. The per capita income for the county was $22,983. About 6.80% of families and 9.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.30% of those under age 18 and 9.50% of those age 65 or over.

    2010 census

    As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 798,552 people, 303,080 households, and 202,602 families residing in the county. The population density was 528.6 inhabitants per square mile (204.1/km2). There were 326,788 housing units at an average density of 216.3 per square mile (83.5/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.6% white, 4.2% black or African American, 4.0% Asian, 0.2% American Indian, 3.6% from other races, and 2.3% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 9.4% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 22.2% were Irish, 15.1% were French as well as 6.7% French Canadians, 14.4% were Italian, 11.7% were English, 7.0% were Polish, 6.9% were German, and 3.2% were American.

    Of the 303,080 households, 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.2% were non-families, and 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.09. The median age was 39.2 years.

    The median income for a household in the county was $64,152 and the median income for a family was $79,121. Males had a median income of $56,880 versus $42,223 for females. The per capita income for the county was $30,557. About 6.9% of families and 9.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.


    The ranking of unincorporated communities that are included on the list are reflective if the census designated locations and villages were included as cities or towns. Data is from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.


  • Fitchburg
  • Gardner
  • Leominster
  • Southbridge
  • Worcester (traditional county seat)
  • Ghost town

  • Dana
  • Notable people

  • Louisa May Alcott, novelist, daughter of Amos Alcott
  • Johnny Appleseed, real name Jonathan Chapman
  • Mike Barnicle, newspaper writer
  • Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross
  • Michael Beasley, NBA player, high school All-American; attended Notre Dame Preparatory School
  • Robert Benchley, writer, theater critic, actor, humorist, and member of the Algonquin Round Table
  • H. Jon Benjamin, actor and comedian
  • Ezra T. Benson, Mormon pioneer, missionary, Quorum of Twelve, and Utah territorial legislator
  • Ken Bouchard and Ron Bouchard, NASCAR drivers
  • Luther Burbank, horticulturalist; developed russet potato used in French fries by McDonald's
  • William Cullen Bryant, poet, journalist and editor of the New York Evening Post
  • Effingham Capron, woolen and cotton mill scion who liberated slaves from the 1830s; led local, state and US anti slavery societies
  • George M. Cohan, entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, director
  • Robert Cormier, novelist and columnist
  • Ron Darling, professional baseball pitcher, World Series player; local St. Johns High School star from Millbury, born in Honolulu
  • Dorothea Dix, social reformer; activist
  • Ralph Earl, famous portrait painter, artist of early America
  • Fannie Farmer, cookbook author
  • Abby Kelley Foster, radical abolitionist, women's suffrage
  • Robert H. Goddard, father of American rocketry
  • Ryan Gomes, NBA player; attended Notre Dame Preparatory School
  • Gabby Hartnett, greatest baseball catcher before Johnny Bench
  • Abbie Hoffman, activist
  • Elias Howe, invented the sewing machine
  • Elliott P. Joslin, pioneer diabetes researcher and clinician; founded Joslin Clinic
  • Walker Lewis, black abolitionist, Masonic Grand Master of African Grand Lodge #1, Mormon elder
  • Connie Mack, baseball great and long-time baseball manager
  • Nora Marlowe, character actress; best known for role on The Waltons
  • Agnes Moorehead, actress
  • William T. G. Morton, contributor to modern anaesthesia
  • Francis Patrick O'Connor, associate justice on Massachusetts Supreme Court
  • Frank O'Hara, avant-garde poet and playwright
  • Jeannine Oppewall, Hollywood producer, film art, four Academy Award nominations including Bridges of Madison County
  • Joe Perry, songwriter and guitarist with Aerosmith; he was from Hopedale, and played his first gig at Mendon
  • Brian Skerry, underwater photographer for National Geographic
  • Steve Spagnuolo, former head coach of the St. Louis Rams, currently the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants
  • Lysander Spooner, pamphleteer, lawyer, abolitionist and political theorist
  • Lucy Stone, famous suffragette, women's rights advocate, abolitionist, public speaker, first woman college grad in Massachusetts; first woman to retain her own name after marriage
  • Lydia Chapin Taft, America's first woman voter; first colonial woman who voted legally in America
  • Earl Tupper, a New Hampshire native, who pioneered Tupperware in Farnumsville, South Grafton, in the 1940s
  • Hiram Walker, distillery founder
  • Artemis Ward, major general of the American Revolution; the first Supreme Allied Commander of the Continental Army
  • Daniel B. Wesson, co-founder of Smith & Wesson, a major firearm manufacturer
  • Eli Whitney, invented the cotton gin
  • Scott Young, NHL professional hockey player, two-time Stanley Cup champion, United States Olympian; attended St. Mark's and Boston University
  • Geoffrey Zakarian, Iron Chef and restaurateur
  • References

    Worcester County, Massachusetts Wikipedia