Birthplace of Nathan Dane

Nathan Dane

Nathan Dane

Nathan Dane was born in Ipswich to Abigail and Daniel Dane, a farmer and descendant of John Dane who immigrated to Massachusetts from England in 1636. He worked at the family farm that at the decease of John Appleton had passed from his son to Benjamin Patch, and then to Daniel Dane, and to his son Nathan Dane. D. F. Appleton reacquired the land, and now the Appleton Farms CSA store at 219 County Rd. is at or near the the location of the Dane home.

Nathan Dane graduated from Harvard College in 1778. Dane married Mary Brown and was admitted to the bar, setting up a legal practice in Beverly. He was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Federalist, where he served until 1785. He was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress, where he helped draft the Northwest Ordinance, which was enacted in 1787. Dane’s amendment banning slavery in the territory which would become five new states was accepted into the Ordinance. His amendments to the Articles of Confederation helped lead to adoption of the United States Constitution and a Bill of Rights. Dane was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate from 1790 to 1791 and from 1794 to 1794, and served on a commission that reviewed and codified the laws of Massachusetts. In his legal practice he worked on behalf of vocational education and humane treatment of prisoners, and helped establish the American Temperance Society. Dane was a representative to the Essex Junto in Ipswich and a delegate to the Hartford Convention during the War of 1812.

Patch-Dane house at Appleton Farms
The Patch-Dane house at Appleton Farms, no longer standing. Photo courtesy of David Thayer

The Dane house

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote:

“John Appleton, son of Major Samuel, died in 1724, at the age of 29, and by his will, proved June 8, 1724 (Pro. Rec. 315:107-9) devised his estate to his son Benjamin. Benjamin’s widow, Elizabeth (Wade), was appointed administratrix, March 1, 1731 (Pro. Rec. 318:74). The heirs sold to Daniel Deane or Dane, Jan. 13, 1752 (97:322).

Mr. Dane conveyed it to his son Nathan Dane, the famous Professor of Law at Harvard, April 4, 1780 (139:57). He was born in the year 1752, and he may have seen the light, as it has been affirmed, in the ancient dwelling which still (stood in the early 20th Century) though the timbers of the house indicate that it (was) not the original dwelling built by John Appleton. Nathan Dane enlarged his farm by the purchase of about 31 acres with a dwelling on the east side of County Road, bounded by the land of Oliver Appleton, north, and Mile River, east, from the guardian of Jacob Brown, a person non compos mentis, June 30, 1790 (152: 33).”


Further reading:

Wagon train leaving from Rev. Cutler's church in Ipswich, bound for Marietta Ipswich to Marietta, December 1787 - In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory.… Continue reading Ipswich to Marietta, December 1787
Woodcut of historic Ipswich Town Hill Prominent Members of the early Ipswich bar - Ipswich boasts a long line of legal luminaries – lawyers and judges – going back to the dawn of the Town’s existence. Not only is this the “Birthplace of American Independence” but the home to many notable statesmen, and the caliber of the bench and bar of a people is in part a measure of the quality of the culture. … Continue reading Prominent Members of the early Ipswich bar
Notable Persons from Ipswich history - The Ipswich Town Historian has begun a list of notable people who lived in our community and requests your additional input. These individuals could have resided during any historic time period.… Continue reading Notable Persons from Ipswich history

2 thoughts on “Nathan Dane”

  1. Gordon,
    Many thanks for this post on Nathan Dane. Because of it I think I have found my error in the family lineage. Now all I have to do is correct it. I always enjoy your posts because my husbands family line is connected thru the Adams, and I have loved finding information to add (and or ) correct.
    Thanks for being such a bright light!

  2. Hi Mr Harris,
    Do you know where the father of Nathan Dane lived before he bought the Patch House?
    It seems like there was a movement of people to N.H. on the Dark Day 5/19/1780. Was there a reason for this?
    Thanks, Ginny

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