The Town of Wayland was named, tradition says, for the Rev. Francis Wayland, President
of Brown University. However, historians argue there is no documentary proof that this is true. On that February night in 1835 when forty-eight town meeting members sat down to
choose a new name for their town which had been called East Sudbury, no one wrote down the arguments presented in favor of the name, “Wayland,” or listed the members of the committee recommending it. Town Clerk
William Grout simply noted the five names recommended by the committee—Clarence, Fayette, Penrose, Waybridge and Wayland—and the six suggestions from the floor. Wayland owes its name to the forty-one
men (Women didn’t vote in those days.) who voted for that name on the second ballot.
Francis Wayland had influential friends in this town: Judge Edward Mellen and the Rev. John Burt Wight were BrownUniversity graduates, who might have suggested that name at Town
Meeting. The Brown President had made a number of summer visits to the town in the years after the town was named. In 1847 he offered the town a gift of $500 for a Public Library.
When State Rep. Wight introduced legislation at the State House, permitting the use of tax money to support libraries, our town’s public library became the first in the state.