Engraving of Market Square in Ipswich from John Warner Barber’s Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts,” published in 1839History

Governing Ipswich

ipswich_town_sealIpswich 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:

Ancient Records of the Town of Ipswich MA 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 […]
30 South Main Street, the Old Town Hall (1833) - The Unitarians built their church here in 1833 but sold it to the town ten years later to be used as town hall. The lower section was constructed at the corner, the old Unitarian Church was moved on top.
73 High Street, the Nathaniel Lord house (C 1720) - This house is named after Nathaniel Lord who spent 36 years as the Register of Probate in the Ipswich Court. The western half of this house predates the eastern side and may have 17th Century elements.
Engraving of Market Square in Ipswich from John Warner Barber’s Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts,” published in 1839 Meeting House Green Historic District - The North Green was once the religious, governmental and commercial center of Ipswich, and where the town's most successful businessmen built fine Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate and Victorian homes.

The Ipswich jail on Green Street The Ipswich jail - The second jail in the Colony was erected in Ipswich in 1656. Sixteen British prisoners were kept hostage in the cold and cruel stone jail during the War of 1812. A large brick House of Corrections was constructed in 1828 at the site of the present Town Hall on Green Street.
The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812 - Marblehead's Elbridge Gerry served as governor of Massachusetts and vice-president of the United States, but his historic legacy will forever be tied to a political monster dubbed the "Gerrymander."
Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894 - Early in the morning of Jan. 13, 1894, the businesses on Central Street from the corner of Market St to Wildes Court went up in fire. Three months later the Damon Block burned, and the town finally voted to build a water system.
John Wise Tercentenary sign, Rt. 133, Essex MA The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: "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."
Cartoon portraying Loyalist John Calef as a calf Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist John Calef - Dr. John Calef was among only seven members of the Massachusetts Assembly who voted to retract the "Massachusetts Circular Letter" which was adopted in response to the 1767 Townshend Acts. Ipswich citizens' anger at Calef lingered as war with England approached.
Ipswich MA Conservation Commission 1958 Ipswich Conservation Commission approaches its 60th anniversary - The Town of Ipswich established the state's first Conservation Commission in 1958. Commissions were given responsibility to administer the Wetlands Protection Act, and by the mid-1980s, every city and town in the Commonwealth had established a conservation commission. 
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 […]
Engraving of Market Square in Ipswich from John Warner Barber’s Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts,” published in 1839 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 are preserved.
Chebacco women build a meetinghouse 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...
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 Essex Convention 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 […]
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 […]
Land Bank Scheme 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.
The wolf in colonial America 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. Even in 1723, wolves were so abundant and so near the meeting house, that parents would not suffer their children to go and come from worship without some grown person.
Puritans warned out strangers and announced that the "town is full" The Town is Full! - In 1673 the constable of Ipswich gave notice to William Nelson, Abner Ordway, and "an Irish man that married Rachel, Quarter Master Perkins’ maid" that the Town would not allow them to inhabit the Town unless they gave security to render the Town harmless from any charges by receiving them. In 1689, the Town refused to receive Humphrey Griffin as an inhabitant, or " to provide for him as inhabitants formerly received, the town being full.”
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 […]
“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 MA 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 […]
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 […]
Anti-Immigrant Know Nothing Party "American Patriot" 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - Prejudice disguised as patriotism repeats itself in American politics. In 1854, the "Know Nothing" American Party formed in opposition to Irish immigration and carried local elections in Boston, Salem and other New England communities. The Know Nothings swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections but were defeated two years later.
Puritans torturing quakers 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 - The Embargo Act of 1807 put New England ports at a standstill and its towns into a depression. The Ipswich Town Meeting petitioned the President to relieve "the people of this once prosperous country from their present embarrassed and distressed condition." The town found Jefferson's answer "Not Satisfactory."
Elizabeth Cole Ipswich MA selectman 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 […]
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 […]
John Adam’s letters from Ipswich, May-June, 1774 - John Adams visited Ipswich many times during his tenure as the Boston representative to the colonial legislature from 1770 to 1774.
Engraving of Market Square in Ipswich from John Warner Barber’s Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts,” published in 1839 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 […]
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."
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.
Daniel Denison grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich Daniel Denison - Daniel Denison became Major General of the colonial forces and represented Ipswich in the general court. He was remembered with high esteem by the people of Ipswich well into the 19th Century. You can visit Denison's grave at the Old North Burial Ground.
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.
Appleton's Pulpit Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission 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, […]
Stopping nuclear in Ipswich, 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 […]

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