Ipswich was established in 1634, and was one of the most influential towns in Colonial America. The early town records, the actions of Town Meeting, and the deliberations of the courts which met here are available online:
- Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF)
- The Development of our Town Government, by Thomas Franklin Waters
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Volume I , T. F. Waters
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony Volume II, T. F. Waters
- History of Ipswich, Essex, and Hamilton by Joseph Felt
- Town Reports 1856 – present
- Vital Records of Ipswich to End of 1849 , by the Essex Institute
- Vital Records of Ipswich MA online
- Ancient Records of Ipswich 1634 – 1650; at Archive.org; Available in Print
- Antiquarian Papers At Archive.org; Available in Print
- Hammatt Papers: Early inhabitants of Ipswich, Mass. 1633-1700 by Abraham Hammatt
The Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich - In September 1898, The Ipswich Chronicle began publishing the Ancient Records of Ipswich as a column. The collection was later published as Vol. 1. Volume 1: 1634-1660 (view online) Town Records online: 1600 – 1916 These online documents are available on the Town of Ipswich site. Birth, Deaths, Marriage, Intentions 1663-1733 Births, Deaths, Marriage, Intentions 1663-1783 Birth, … Continue reading The Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich
30 South Main Street, the Old Town Hall (1833) - The Old Town Hall building at 30 Main Street in Ipswich is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the South Green National Historic District (9/17/1980). For 180 years the massive Greek Revival building has stood at the corner of Elm Street and South Main Street. The Unitarian Church built it … Continue reading 30 South Main Street, the Old Town Hall (1833)
73 High Street, the Nathaniel Lord house (C 1720) - The house at 73 High Street is named after Nathaniel Lord who graduated from Harvard and spent 36 years as the Register of Probate in the Ipswich Court. His sons all entered the legal profession and one followed him in the same position. In 1824 General Lafayette visited our town and was met by a crowd … Continue reading 73 High Street, the Nathaniel Lord house (C 1720)
Meeting House Green Historic District - Featured image: Meeting House Green, 1839 The National Register of Historic Places is the official federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects that have been determined significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. Ipswich has a total of seven listed historic districts and 62 individual structures. Boston was only three years … Continue reading Meeting House Green Historic District
Ipswich Conservation Commission approaches its 60th anniversary - Conservation commissions are the municipal agencies responsible for protecting the land, water, and biological resources of their communities. In 1957, Representative John Dolan of Ipswich filed a bill in the Legislature (Chapter 223, Acts of 1957) which authorized cities and towns to establish conservation commissions to promote the development of natural resources. This became the Conservation … Continue reading Ipswich Conservation Commission approaches its 60th anniversary
The Karma of Modern Problems - by Gavin Keenan: Town Meeting time can often raise the blood pressure. When paired with the daily MOABs of POTUS 45, a defibrillator may be indicated. But here I want to speak of local affairs; to wit, small town politics and the history of governing in Ipswich as clearly as I recall it. Those of … Continue reading The Karma of Modern Problems
Governing Ipswich - Ipswich was established in 1634, and was one of the most influential towns in Colonial America. The early town records, the actions of Town Meeting, and the deliberations of the courts which met here are available online: Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF) The Development of our Town Government, by Thomas Franklin Waters Ipswich in the … Continue reading Governing Ipswich
Patronage and Scandal at the Ipswich Customs House - In 1829, the position of Ipswich Customs Collector was granted to Timothy Souther, a man of prominence and one of the old line Democrats who held office there under President Andrew Jackson. Souther resigned in August, 1840 after being charged with graft.
The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result - Delegates met in Ipswich in 1774 and 1778 to deliberate a Constitution for Massachusetts. Their “Exceptions” were published in the 60-page “Essex Result,” and included an ominous warning to future generations: In 1774, in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, General Gage was sent to Boston with troops, and assumed the governorship. The colony’s … Continue reading The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result
19th Century: Religion divided the town - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters The Congregational Church The Congregational Church, founded by the first settlers, maintained the old order for many generations in undisputed supremacy. From time to time, as the population increased, as has been noted, new Parishes within the Town limits had been established, in … Continue reading 19th Century: Religion divided the town
Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41 - In September 1740, two Massachusetts Land Banks organized and issued 50,000 pounds of notes of varying amounts, without legal authorization of the Crown, and over the objections of the governor and his Council. An Act of Parliament declared all the transactions of the two Bank Schemes illegal and void.
Killing wolves - One of the first laws instituted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a bounty on wolves, and in early Ipswich, a rather disconcerting aspect of entering the Meeting House was the site of wolf heads nailed to the door. Roger Williams, who fled the colony to establish Rhode Island, referred to the wolf as “a fierce, … Continue reading Killing wolves
The Town is Full! - In the 17th Century Ipswich, residency was allowed to such as were church members and deemed suitable under the law. Every man thus elected took the freeman's oath, prescribed by the General Court. No stranger was permitted to live more than one week in any tenement without satisfaction of the Selectmen.
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.
19th Century political toasts - In April, 1778, a number of prominent Essex County men gathered in Ipswich to discuss the drafting of a new Massachusetts constitution, and became the local backbone of the Federalist Party, advocating the financial policies of Alexander Hamilton. President John Adams coined the name “Essex Junto” for this group, who he deemed his adversaries. The Federalist Party dominated Ipswich politics until … Continue reading 19th Century political toasts
“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.”
Election night in Ipswich - Thomas Franklin Waters made observations about Ipswich politics in his two-volume set, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: “The New England settlers of the 17th Century largely reproduced English institutions in an older shape than they knew in England. They gave a new life to many things, which in their older home had well nigh died out. … Continue reading Election night in Ipswich
Ipswich in the Great Depression - The severe winter of 1933-34, in which below-zero temperatures lasted for weeks, added great misery to the lives of the homeless during the Great Depression. As part of the New Deal, President Roosevelt signed a forced draft work relief program known as the Civil Works Administration, putting millions to work on secondary roads, schoolhouses, parks, and other projects. … Continue reading Ipswich in the Great Depression
1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - The American Party, better known as the “Know Nothing Party,” emerged in 1843, originally named the “Native American Party” with the intent of preventing Irish Catholic immigration. Anti-Catholic activists formed secret groups to support their cause, and when asked about their activities, members were instructed to reply “I know nothing.” The movement first made news in 1834 with the burning of … Continue reading 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections
Persecution of Quakers by the Puritans - Beginning in 1656, laws forbade any captain to land Quakers. Any individual of that sect was to be committed at once to the House of Correction, to be severely whipped on his or her entrance, and kept constantly at work, and none were suffered to speak with them. In Ipswich, Roger Darby his wife lived in High St, and were warned, fined and dealt with harshly.
To the Inhabitants of the Town of Ipswich, from Thomas Jefferson, September 2, 1808 - The people of Ipswich were united in their opposition to the Embargo Act of 1807, and petitioned Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States.
Elizabeth S. Cole is elected as first female Ipswich selectman, March 10, 1970 - IPSWICH, March 10, 1970: “For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, a woman has been elected a member of the Ipswich Board of Selectmen. Trouncing three male contenders, including the incumbent, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Cole of Argilla Road swept into office Monday, poling 1401 of the 3364 ballots cast by an … Continue reading Elizabeth S. Cole is elected as first female Ipswich selectman, March 10, 1970
President Monroe’s brief visit to Ipswich - From the journal of Miss Eunice Jones, 1793-1825. Journal, July 12 1817: “This morning about nine o’clock the President of the United States, Monroe, passed through Ipswich. He was attended by a large concourse of people; they paid him all the honor possible. The gentlemen and ladies of the town decorated our street and bridge … Continue reading President Monroe’s brief visit to Ipswich
John Adam’s letters from Ipswich, May-June, 1774 - Article by Bruce Laing. John Adams visited Ipswich many times during his tenure as the Boston representative to the colonial legislature from 1770 to 1774. This brilliant and controversial fellow served as a member of the Continental Congress, then as the 1st Vice President in the Washington administration, then as the 2nd President of the United States. … Continue reading John Adam’s letters from Ipswich, May-June, 1774
Ipswich town meeting - Featured image: Ipswich woodcut, 1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the early history of Town Meeting in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first Ipswich public official appointed was the Clerk, Robert Lord, chosen in February 1643-4, “from this time forward to be present at every general meeting of the … Continue reading Ipswich town meeting
Birthplace of American Independence - Resistance by the citizens and leaders of Ipswich to a tax imposed by the Crown in 1687 is commemorated in the seal of the town of Ipswich, which bears the motto, "The Birthplace of American Independence 1687."
The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812 - Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead in 1744 and spent almost all of his life in government service. He promoted colonial opposition to the British Parliament’s colonial policies, and served in the Second Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. Gerry was elected as a Massachusetts representative to the United States Congress in its first … Continue reading The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812
Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894 - Three Business Blocks and Three Dwellings Destroyed in Ipswich January 14, 1894,© The New York Times. Flames were discovered soon after 1 o'clock this morning in the photograph rooms of George Dexter, in the upper portion of the Jewett Block, on Central Street. The wind was blowing a gale, and the temperature registered nearly at … Continue reading Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894
Early Ipswich, “A paradise for politicians” - Thomas Franklin Water gave us in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony a history of the early formation of the government of the Town of Ipswich.
Fall 1774: Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist John Calef - The people of Ipswich have a long tradition of heated debate at Town Meeting. In 1687 Samuel Appleton and other town leaders called an emergency town meeting to debate new taxes imposed by the Crown. They were imprisoned for their refusal to appoint a tax collector, an act for which Ipswich is known as the “Birthplace … Continue reading Fall 1774: Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist John Calef
Daniel Denison - Daniel Denison was born in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England in 1612, and came to America with his parents William Denison and Margaret Chandler on the ship “Lyon” in 1631. When Daniel Denison’s son John died unexpectedly, Denison left an autobiography for his grandchildren, which told about the journey to America and their heritage. “I thought meet … Continue reading Daniel Denison
Police open fire at the Ipswich Mills Strike, June 10, 1913 - On June 10, 1913,police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers at the Ipswich hosiery mill. A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. were taken into custody.
The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679 - When Chebacco Parish (now Essex) began building their own meeting house, Ipswich authorities obtained an order that “No man shall build a meeting house at Chebacco.” Abigail Proctor saw a glaring legal loophole...
The defiant Samuel Appleton - In 1687, a warrant was issued for the arrest of several Ipswich men for being "seditiously inclined and disaffected to his Majesty's government." The 62-year-old Major Samuel Appleton scorned the appearance of submission and remained imprisoned in the cold Boston Jail through the winter.
A short history of Ipswich dog laws - 1644 The following is transcribed from the Ipswich Town Meeting, May 11, 1644: “It is ordered that all doggs for the space of three weeks after the publishing hereof shall have one legg tyed up, and if such a dogg shall break loose and be found doing any harm, the owner of the dogg shall pay … Continue reading A short history of Ipswich dog laws
Stopping nuclear, 1967-1970 - 1967: Ipswich Nuclear Missile Site 1970: Nuclear Power Plant In 1970 a proposal was made to build a nuclear power generating plant on the site of the former town dump at the end of Town Farm Road in Ipswich. MEPP Inc., an organization of 29 Massachusetts Municipal Electric Departments, had been studying Ipswich as a … Continue reading Stopping nuclear, 1967-1970
The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence came from the pulpit and pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich, Massachusetts. “The first human subject and original of civil power is the people…and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please. The end of all good … Continue reading The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich
Life in the Ipswich jails - The Ipswich stone jail on Green Street, built in 1806, was a notoriously cruel and inhospitable place. Sixteen British prisoners were kept hostage there during the War of 1812 and treated so cruelly that they were removed by the District marshal.