BOSTON (AP) – About 200 people rallied in Marshfield with a single message: Keep the beach open to the public.

The beach in question is Marshfield’s Rexhame Beach and the dispute reaches back to the late 1700s. That’s when Marshfield farmer Briggs Thomas claimed private ownership of the beach and lost.

Now a deal between Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office and local abutters who claim private ownership of the beach could close the beach to the public.

Critics tell The Boston Globe that the deal violates action taken by the town in the 1640s to keep the beach as a public common.

State Rep. Frank Hynes said he was told by representatives of Coakley’s office that the historical records didn’t support the contention of public access.

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