The oldest section of the Tuttle – Lord – Shatswell house at 88 High Street in Ipswich is said to have been built before 1690 as the home of John Shatswell, who came to join the Ipswich settlement in 1633 with his wife and four children. He was granted this piece of land and built his original small dwelling near the existing one, and is believed to be the Shatswell Planters Cottage that was moved to Jeffreys Neck Road in the 1940’s. (Planters is a term used for the earliest settlers of New England)
Shatswell was appointed a surveyor of the land upon which other homes were built, and is the earliest person in Ipswich to whom the title of Deacon was given. This House is one of the oldest residences in town and remained for many years in the family by inheritance from the time of the original grant. It was the home of Col. Nathaniel Shatswell, famous for his command of Union troops during the Battle of Harris Farm during the Civil War.
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about this house in the first volume of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:
“John Shatswell was one of the earliest grantees, and under date, April 20, 1635, he is mentioned as owning six acres of ground, where his house is built, between Mr. Wade’s house lot east and Mr. Firman’s on the west, Goodman Webster’s lot, northeast. I cannot identify this with the present Shatswell location. This early grant was on the north side of the highway wherever it was, and if another house lot bounded it on the northeast it could not be located on High St. as the lots on the other side of the highway are on the hill side.
On the 21 May, 1685, John Day bought one and a half acres and the line was laid, “from said Daye’s fence corner by his brick house,” near Mr. Tuttle’s and Richard Shatswell’s. The Day lot, which still shows the refuse bricks of an ancient brickyard, is probably included in the western part of Mr. John Cogswell’s pasture on the Linebrook Road. It touched on the land of Shatswell and Tuttle.”
“Shatswell may have been in possession many years at this time. The estate was divided between the sons John and Richard in 1695, and it was bounded by Brewer’s land east and Mrs. Tuttle’s west. Its later history is given under that of the adjoining lot. The lot, called Mrs. Tuttle’s, adjoining Shatswell on the west was sold by “Stephen Minot of Boston, Stephen Minot, Jr., son of Stephen by Sarah, his wife late deceased, eldest daughter of Francis Wainwright deceased, and Samuel Waldo of Boston and Lucy his wife, youngest daughter of Francis Wainwright,” being “the house and land 2 acres, inherited from Simon Tuttle,” to Francis’ Goodhue, Dec. 6, 1732.”
“Goodhue sold it to Joseph Fowler, Feb. 19, 1745 and the heirs of Fowler sold an acre and a half, probably the whole of the same lot, to Nathaniel and Moses Shatswell, March 25, 1807. It is still owned by the Shatswell heirs. The east end of the house was sold to Capt. John Lord, in 1824. The family tradition is that the original house was burned. When Capt. John, great grandfather of the John and Nathaniel of today, was to be married, the western end was built, and the three families, who then occupied it, made common use of the single long and narrow kitchen, with its one capacious fireplace. In later years, the three houses to the west have been built on the Shatswell land.”
The following is from Alice Keeton in her book “Ipswich Yesterday” .
“(This house) is one of our particular favorites, the old 1658 Shatswell House — and what a fascinating hodge-podge of 17th, 18th and 19th century joining and construction this old place has gone through and endured. The northerly end of the house is considered to be of very early 17th century construction and the old place has been enlarged, raised and pounded into “a very unusual structure growing out of complicated growth” — which is an understatement if we ever heard one.”
“The mid-18th century paneling of “the excellent walls of the right hand and middle chambers” is considered “noteworthy” and all in all the old house is a treasure trove of architectural goodies. Hannah Dustin of Haverhill, that fearless heroine of the Indian Wars was born here while her mother was visiting her relatives, the Shatswells. Later she would become famous as that prisoner of the Indians who somehow or other managed to overcome a half dozen or so of her savage captors, scalp them all, and return to Haverhill to collect a considerable bounty. The mighty Daniel Webster was a descendent of the Shatswells and we’ve all heard of the feisty Madame Shatswell who threatened to blast that nosy Committee of Correspondence to kingdom come for harassing her family and questioning their loyalty during the Revolutionary War. Surely a house of history.”
John Shatswell’s son Richard married his next door neighbor Simon Tuttle’s daughter Rebeckah. Mark Quilter and his wife Francis lived nearby in a small single-room house. Quilter made his living as a cow-keeper in the common land on the north side of town and seemed to be the object of public insults, which caused Quilter to be overly protective of his authority at home. One March morning in 1664 Rebeckah Tuttle arrived to “sit and work” with Goody Quilter and “to bear her company,” leaving us with an amusing story that has been handed down for generations.
Photos from inside the northwest section of the house during renovation:
Remnants of a stick and mud chimney?
In 2016 the owners of the oldest northwest oldest part of the house gutted the downstairs bathroom and exposed the timber floor frame, which sits just above the soil level, unlike the front of the house. In the inside corner adjoining the main house they discovered what appeared to be a foundation composed of mud, clay, small stones and short sticks that had been cut to a uniform thickness and length.
The above photo may show the remnants of a chimney from the early Shatswell cottage. Primitive chimneys constructed in the first few years of Ipswich settlement were often of the “mud and stick” variety. Here, a mud-based plaster or clay was thickly applied to a rude frame sub-structure of overlaid logs or planks. Even when the lower part of the chimney, enclosing the firebox, was constructed of fieldstone, the narrow chimneystack above might be composed of such a mud and stick compound. Impermanent by their very nature, and highly susceptible to fire unless constantly maintained, mud-and-stick chimneys were usually replaced as soon as practicable by more permanent constructions of brick or stone. Hence, few mud-and-stick “Mudcat chimneys” survive today. Clay was thickly applied to a rude frame filled with a mud and stick compound. Clay chimneys were impervious to water but highly susceptible to fire, and were thus replaced as soon as practicable by brick or stone. Very few mud and stick chimneys survive today. The re-creation of the chimney at the Alexander Knight house opposite the Ipswich Museum was constructed in this way.
Even more curious was that the excavated area in the lower left corner of the photo above contained at heap of animal bones, for which we have no easy explanation. DNA testing may help sort out this mystery.
In his will, dated 11 February 1646 and proved 30 March 1647, “John Satchwell of Ipswich though weak in body” bequeathed to “my son Richard” all my houses and land, except part of the twenty-five acre lot from the upper end of the plowed land to the sea, and sixteen acres of pasture beyond Muddy River towards Rowley, which parcels of land I give to “Johan my wife.”
Col. Nathaniel Shatswell and the Battle of Harris Farm
Nathaniel Shatswell was born on Nov. 26, 1834 and grew up in the historic Shatswell home on High St. During the Civil War, he was instrumental in forming the Ipswich companies, and rose to the rank of colonel. In the spring of 1861, Company A and L of the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment were assembled with Ipswich soldiers, and were assigned to protect the forts around Washington, D.C. When the Confederates attacked at Harris Farm during the part of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the First Regiment went into battle. Rebel bullets began to fly, and before long many Union soldiers were dead or injured.
Colonel Shatswell was glazed by a bullet to his head early in the battle, but returned to take command. With blood saturating his coat, Shatswell inspired his fellow soldiers. Although 398 men from the First Regiment were killed early in the battle, Shatswell’s troops drove the Confederates into the cover of the woods. Every time they emerged, the first battalion charged and drove them back, eventually ending with a Northern victory. The Harris Farm battle claimed 1,598 Confederate and Union lives.
After the war, Col. Shatwell worked for a while as the assistant superintendent of the Ipswich House of Correction, but in 1890 Shatwell became the curator of the museum of the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. Nathaniel Shatwell died on December 14, 1905, and is buried in the Old North Burial Ground, alongside his wife, Mary White.