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Massachusetts Attorney General

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Seal of Massachusetts.svg
Maura Healey

since January 21, 2015
StyleHer Honor
Term lengthFour years
Inaugural holderPaul Dudley

The Massachusetts Attorney General is an elected constitutionally defined executive officer of the Massachusetts Government. The officeholder is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The officeholder also acts as an advocate and resource for the Commonwealth and its residents in many areas, including consumer protection, combating fraud and corruption, protecting civil rights, and maintaining economic competition. The current Attorney General is Maura Healey.


When the 1780 state constitution was first enacted, the Attorney General was appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Governor's Council. The office was abolished in 1843 and re-established in 1849. In 1855 the constitution was amended so that the Attorney General (along with a number of other constitutionally enumerated offices) was elected by the people. The length of the term of office has matched that of the governor, and elections are held concurrently with those for other constitutional office. Elections were first held annually, became biennial (every two years) in 1920, and quadrennial (every four years) in 1966.


The Office of the Attorney General is organized into six Bureaus: Executive; Energy and Environmental; Criminal; Government; Health Care and Fair Competition; and Public Protection and Advocacy. Each bureau is divided into divisions and teams. These Bureaus and Divisions have distinct missions, but work closely together to ensure the Attorney General's Office provides the highest level of public protection.

List of Attorneys General of the Province of Massachusetts Bay

Office established at the start of Queen Anne's War in 1702.

# Name Term of Service
1 Paul Dudley 1702–1718
2 John Valentine 1718–1720
3 Thomas Newton 1720–1721
Vacant 1721–1722
4 John Overing 1722–1723
Vacant 1723–1725
5 John Read 1725–1728
6 Joseph Hiller 1728–1729
7 John Overing 1729–1736
8 William Brattle 1736–1738
9 Edmund Trowbridge 1738–1767
10 Jeremiah Gridley 1767
Vacant 1767
11 Jonathan Sewall 1767–1774
Vacant 1774–1776

List of Attorneys General of the State of Massachusetts Bay

Office reestablished at the start of the American Revolutionary War in 1776.

# Name Term of Service
1 Benjamin Kent 1776–1778
2 Robert Treat Paine 1778–1780

List of Attorneys General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Office reestablished upon the ratification of the Constitution of Massachusetts in 1780.

Attorneys general by party affiliation
Party Attorneys General
Republican 25
Democratic 11
Whig 3
Democratic–Republican 2
National Republican 1
Anti–Administration 1
Independent 1
# Name Term of Service Political Party
1 Robert Treat Paine 1780–1790 Independent
2 James Sullivan 1790–1807 Anti–Administration[a]
3 Barnabas Bidwell 1807–1810 Democratic–Republican
4 Perez Morton 1810–1832 Democratic–Republican
5 James T. Austin 1832–1843 National Republican
Office abolished 1843–1849
6 John H. Clifford 1849–1853 Whig
7 Rufus Choate 1853–1854 Whig
8 John H. Clifford 1854–1858 Whig
9 Stephen Henry Phillips 1858–1861 Republican
10 Dwight Foster 1861–1864 Republican
11 Chester I. Reed 1864–1867 Republican
12 Charles Allen 1867–1872 Republican
13 Charles R. Train 1872–1879 Republican
14 George Marston 1879–1883 Republican
15 Edgar J. Sherman 1883–1887 Republican
16 Andrew J. Waterman 1887–1891 Republican
17 Albert E. Pillsbury 1891–1894 Republican
18 Hosea M. Knowlton 1894–1902 Republican
19 Herbert Parker 1902–1906 Republican
20 Dana Malone 1906–1911 Republican
21 James M. Swift 1911–1914 Republican
22 Thomas J. Boynton 1914–1915 Democratic
23 Henry Converse Atwill 1915–1919 Republican
24 Henry A. Wyman 1919–1920 Republican
26 J. Weston Allen 1920–1923 Republican
27 Jay R. Benton 1923–1927 Republican
28 Arthur K. Reading 1927–1928 Republican
29 Joseph E. Warner 1928–1935 Republican
30 Paul A. Dever 1935–1941 Democratic
31 Robert T. Bushnell 1941–1945 Republican
32 Clarence A. Barnes 1945–1949 Republican
33 Francis E. Kelly 1949–1953 Democratic
34 George Fingold 1953–1958 Republican
35 Edward J. McCormack Jr. 1958–1963 Democratic
36 Edward Brooke 1963–1967 Republican
37 Edward T. Martin 1967 Republican
38 Elliot Richardson 1967–1969 Republican
39 Robert H. Quinn 1969–1975 Democratic
40 Francis X. Bellotti 1975–1987 Democratic
41 James Shannon 1987–1991 Democratic
42 Scott Harshbarger 1991–1999 Democratic
43 Thomas Reilly 1999–2007 Democratic
44 Martha Coakley 2007–2015 Democratic
45 Maura Healey 2015–present Democratic
  1. ^ Sullivan was appointed as a member of the Anti–Administration Party, but switched to the Democratic–Republican Party between 1792 and 1794.

Living former Massachusetts attorneys general

As of April 2021, there are five living former Massachusetts attorneys general, the oldest being Francis X. Bellotti (served 1975–1987, born 1923). The most recent attorney general to die was Edward Brooke on January 3, 2015 (served 1963–1967, born 1919).

Name Term of office Date of birth (and age)
Francis X. Bellotti 1975–1987 (1923-05-03) May 3, 1923 (age 97)
James Shannon 1987–1991 (1952-04-04) April 4, 1952 (age 69)
Scott Harshbarger 1991–1999 (1941-12-01) December 1, 1941 (age 79)
Thomas Reilly 1999–2007 (1942-02-14) February 14, 1942 (age 79)
Martha Coakley 2007–2015 (1953-07-14) July 14, 1953 (age 67)

External links

  • Massachusetts Attorney General official website
  • Office of the Attorney General, hdl:2452/35664 – via State Library of Massachusetts electronic repository. (Various documents).
  • Massachusetts Attorney General articles at Legal Newsline Legal Journal
  • Massachusetts Attorney General articles at ABA Journal
  • News and Commentary at FindLaw
  • Massachusetts General Laws at
  • U.S. Supreme Court Opinions - "Cases with title containing: State of Massachusetts" at FindLaw
  • Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey profile at National Association of Attorneys General
  • Press releases at Massachusetts Attorney General
This page was last edited on 9 February 2021, at 22:47
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