Massachusetts Attorney General

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.

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

since January 21, 2015
Government of Massachusetts
StyleThe Honourable
TypeChief legal officer
Constitutional officer
ResidenceNone official
SeatOne Ashburton Place, Boston, Massachusetts
NominatorPolitical parties
AppointerPopular vote
Term length4 years, no limit
Constituting instrumentConstitution of Massachusetts
Formation1702; 320 years ago (1702)
First holderPaul Dudley


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 BayEdit

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
12 Benjamin Kent 1776–1777
13 Robert Treat Paine 1777–1780

List of attorneys general of the Commonwealth of MassachusettsEdit

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
No. Portrait Name Prior experience Municipality of residence 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
25   J. Weston Allen 1920–1923 Republican
26   Jay R. Benton 1923–1927 Republican
27 Arthur K. Reading 1927–1928 Republican
28   Joseph E. Warner 1928–1935 Republican
29   Paul A. Dever Middlesex County Public Administrator, Mass. House 1929-'34, Lawyer[1] Cambridge 1935–1941 Democratic
30   Robert T. Bushnell Middlesex County District Attorney, Lawyer West Newton 1941–1945 Republican
31   Clarence A. Barnes Mansfield Town Moderator and Counsel, Mass. House 1912-'13, Constitutional Convention, Governor's Council 1943-'44, Lawyer[2] Mansfield 1945–1949 Republican
32   Francis E. Kelly Boston City Council, Lieutenant Governor, Fall River Finance Commissioner, Attorney at law[3] Dorchester, Boston 1949–1953 Democratic
33   George Fingold Asst. Attorney General, Asst. District Attorney, City Council, Lawyer[4] Concord 1953–1958 Republican
34   Edward J. McCormack Jr. Boston City Council, Lawyer Dorchester, Boston 1958–1963 Democratic
35   Edward W. Brooke Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Massachusetts Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Boston Finance Commission, Lawyer[5] Newton Centre 1963–1967 Republican
36 Edward T. Martin 1967 Republican
37   Elliot Richardson Lieutenant Governor, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Brookline Town Meeting member, Lawyer[6] Brookline 1967–1969 Republican
38   Robert H. Quinn Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Lawyer Dorchester, Boston 1969–1975 Democratic
39   Francis X. Bellotti Lieutenant Governor, Attorney Quincy 1975–1987 Democratic
40   James Shannon Representative in Congress, Lawyer Lawrence 1987–1991 Democratic
41   L. Scott Harshbarger Middlesex County District Attorney; General Counsel, State Ethics Commission; Chief, Public Protection Bureau, Department of Attorney General; Deputy Chief Counsel, Massachusetts Defenders Committee[7] Westwood 1991–1999 Democratic
42   Thomas Reilly Middlesex County District Attorney Watertown 1999–2007 Democratic
43   Martha Coakley Middlesex County District Attorney Medford 2007–2015 Democratic
44   Maura Healey Massachusetts Attorney General's Office as the Chief of the Civil Rights Division, Chief of the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau, Chief of the Business and Labor Bureau, litigator and junior partner at the international law firm WilmerHale, Special Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County, clerk for Judge David Mazzone in the United States District Court in Massachusetts, former professional basketball player[8] Boston 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 generalEdit

As of July 2022, 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 99)
James Shannon 1987–1991 (1952-04-04) April 4, 1952 (age 70)
Scott Harshbarger 1991–1999 (1941-12-01) December 1, 1941 (age 80)
Thomas Reilly 1999–2007 (1942-02-14) February 14, 1942 (age 80)
Martha Coakley 2007–2015 (1953-07-14) July 14, 1953 (age 68)


  1. ^ Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1945-1946. Boston Review. p. 26.
  2. ^ Hayden, Irving N.; Grove, Lawrence R. (1945). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1945-1946. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 25.
  3. ^ Hayden, Irving N.; Grove, Lawrence R. (1957). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1951-1952. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 27.
  4. ^ Hayden, Irving N.; Grove, Lawrence R. (1957). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1957-1958. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 26.
  5. ^ Chadwick, Thomas A.; Maiers, William C. (1965). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1965-1966. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 23.
  6. ^ Pidgeon, Norman L.; Maiers, William C. (1967). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1967-1968. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 23.
  7. ^ O'Neill, Edward B.; MacQueen, Robert E. (1997). Public Officers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1997-1998 (PDF). Massachusetts General Court. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. p. 25.
  8. ^ "Maura Healey, Attorney General". Massachusetts Political Almanac. State House News Service. Retrieved November 18, 2021.

External linksEdit