America’s “best-preserved Puritan town”

The North Green in the early 19th Century

Ipswich, Massachusetts was founded in 1634 in an area the Indigenous people called “Agawam.” The historic neighborhoods of Meeting House Green, High Street, the East End, and the South Green are well-preserved streetscapes of 17th to 19th-century residences. Opposition by the people of Ipswich to a tax imposed by the King is commemorated in the seal of the town of Ipswich, with the motto, “The Birthplace of American Independence 1687.”

Over 50% of the land in Ipswich is protected, with forested rolling hills, salt marshes, sandy dunes and one of the most beautiful beaches in New England.

Recent posts

Unrequited love and an Ipswich murder-suicide

The 1941 Ipswich Town Report included a tribute to the late Water and Light Commissioner Walter G. Brown without mentioning that he murdered his former girlfriend Phyllis Chisholm and committed suicide.

Four old houses that stood on High St.

The Jacob Manning house, the Caleb Lord house, the Nathaniel Lord house at the corner of High and Manning Streets, and the thatched roof William Baker house at the corner with Mineral Street.

Kamon Farm-Turkey Hill hike

This 3 mile hike starts at the new Essex County Greenbelt property, Kamon Farm on Pineswamp Rd. and connects to the Turkey Shore Conservation area with a connector trail.

A walk in the dunes

Gordon Harris kicks off the first episode of Ipswich ICAM’S “Destination Ipswich” series with a walk in the sand dunes at Castle Neck.

Women in Ipswich history

Stories on this site about women in local history from the early days of the settlement through the Twentieth Century.


As settlers moved west into the cold New England frontier away from the Puritan strongholds, it was not uncommon for unmarried persons to be invited to sleep in the same bed for warmth. The definition of bundling evolved and developed over time into a ritual of courtship.

“Dalliance and too much familiarity”

William Row v. John Leigh, Mar. 28, 1673: “For insinuating dalliance and too much familiarity with his wife and drawing away her affections from her husband, to the great detriment both in his estate and the comfort of his life.”

The Price Act, passed at Ipswich, February 1777

In 1777, the Ipswich Selectmen and the Committee of Correspondence and Safety, acting under the authority of the General Court, issued a schedule of prices covering all articles of food, clothing, wages of labor of every kind, entertainment at hotels, shipping rates etc.

The Commons

When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.

Stories from the Courts

In 1641, the General Court established four quarter-annual courts kept yearly by the magistrates of Ipswich & Salem, two to be held at Salem & the other two at Ipswich, with jurisdiction in all matters not reserved to the Court of Assistants. Read stories of Ipswich residents who faced the magistrates.

The Keeping of Cattle on Jeffreys Neck

In Ipswich, cows would be put to pasture on the Neck in the spring, and every October they would be rounded up and herded into a pen. Many of the town’s laws regarding land use, property rights, labor and sanitation grew from issues surrounding the keeping of livestock.

Hurricanes and winter storms

Massachusetts has the highest probability of all of the states to be hit by an ocean storm, which includes hurricanes and nor’easters.

Nathaniel Ward (1578-1652)

Ward emigrated to Massachusetts in 1634 an served for two years as the minister in Ipswich. His “Body of Liberties” established a code of fundamental principles of government. Ward’s book “The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America” was published in England in 1647.

Measuring Time–by an hourglass

Kitty Robertson’s Measuring time—by an hourglass is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty was also the author of “The Orchard: A Memoir”.

Flight from Rooty Plain

News arrived in Rooty Plain that the Regulars had come in to Ipswich, and every man was called for, to meet the enemy. One aged man. Mr. Stephen Dressr thought he would sit down a while and smoke his pipe, and waited but they didn’t come, and had quite a comfortable nights sleep.

Linebrook Parish

This remote area was originally known as Ipswich Farms. After the residents began pressing for their own church, the Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish, the boundries of which were defined by 6 brooks and lines connecting them. The community had a church, store, school and its own militia.

The Cold Friday of January 19, 1810

The Cold Friday on Jan. 19, 1810 brought terrible winds and frigid temperature. Many people froze to death while traveling along the highways. Houses, barns and vast numbers of timber trees were blown down or broken to pieces.

Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials

During the Salem witch trials, Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hanged. The Ipswich jail was filled with the accused, but the ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion. Residents blocked the bridge to prevent the accusing girls from being brought into Ipswich.

Arthur Wesley Dow’s images of Ipswich

Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 – 1922) was one of the town’s most famous residents. View his paintings, ink prints,and a slideshow of over 200 cyanographs.

George Dexter’s early photos of Ipswich

Perhaps the best-known early Ipswich Photographer was George Dexter (1862-1927). His photographs along with those of Edward Lee Darling (1874-1962) and Arthur Wesley Dow provide a visual history of the town of Ipswich.

The Peat Meadows

Deep in Willowdale State Forest is a bog which in the 1832 Ipswich map is the “Peat Meadows.” “Turf” as it was also called, became a commonly-used fuel when local forests were depleted and until anthracite coal became widely available.


One of the most progressive citizens of Ipswich, Dr. John Manning opened a practice in 1760, and began inoculating members of his family for smallpox, incurring the wrath of the Town. An epidemic of smallpox spread through Boston during the British occupation of the city at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Ipswich and the breach with Britain

On June 10th, 1776, the men of Ipswich, in Town-meeting assembled, instructed their Representatives, that if the Continental Congress should for the safety of the said Colonies declare them Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, they will solemnly engage with their lives and Fortunes to support them in the Measure.

Saving the Rooster

The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.

Market Street

Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.


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