Ipswich in the 17th Century
Mural at the Ipswich Post Office
Ipswich was settled in 1633 in an area the Native Americans called Agawam. The town was incorporated as Ipswich the following year. The strain of King Philip’s War left the colony exhausted, and the General Court enacted a series of restrictive and irksome laws.
In 1681, Mason’s Claim threatened to make every land title worthless, and in 1684 King Charles II of England revoked the Colony’s charter. An Ipswich town meeting three years later resisted the Andros’ government in an act for which several of the town leaders were jailed.
The Puritans imagined the work of Satan at every location, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials, of which Ipswich played a significant role. In 1697, The Rev. John Hale wrote, “Such was the darkness of that day, the tortures and lamentations of the afflicted and the power of former precedents that we walked in the clouds and could not see our way.”
Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named "Watch and Wait." As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague” - An estimated 18,000,000 Native Americans lived in North America before the 17th Century. The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America. Jeffreys’ Neck Road - This history of Jeffreys Neck is from the Agawam Manual and Directory by M.V.B. Perley, published in 1888. The business of fur-trading and fishing along the New England coast received a new impetus about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, […] Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really? - It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, even when there is a better explanation or a closer truth. I hope it will be possible to change public knowledge about the Native Americans who lived here and get closer to the truth. The “Commonwealth” - "Commonwealth" is defined as a state in which authority is vested in the citizenry. In the 17th Century it was the radical philosophy the work and the proceeds thereof should be shared by the people. Mass Moments: Puritans Leave for Massachusetts - Featured image: The Pilgrim Fathers: Departure of a Puritan family for New England 1856 by Charles COPE On April 7, 1630, the last well-wishers stepped off the ship Arabella and returned to shore. More than a week after the vessel first set out, the winds were finally favorable. The […] A very old pear tree grows in Danvers - A pear tree in Danvers was planted before 1640 by the Massachusetts governor John Endicott. President John Adams enjoyed the flavor of its fruit, and Longfellow admired its longevity. The tree has survived hurricanes, earthquakes, cows, development and vandalism but continues to thrive and bear fruit. The First Winters in Ipswich - Two hundred Boston colonists succumbed in the winter of 1631, but by 1633, 1500 Puritans had arrived and settled in Boston and outlying areas. The band of a dozen men who John Winthrop Junior to establish the Ipswich settlement at Agawam were better prepared. 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. Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet - Often alone in Ipswich while her husband Simon was engaged in government, Anne Bradstreet wrote a collection of poems published in London in 1650 titled, "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America...by a Gentlewoman in these Parts." John Winthrop Jr., here and gone - John Winthrop the younger was the son of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, and led the settlement of Agawam in 1633 (renamed Ipswich in 1634), accompanied by 11 men. Homes of the Lords - Robert Lord, his wife Mary Waite and their four children arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in 1634, where he was appointed town clerk. Almost every house on High Street has been lived in by a member of the Lord family. The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco. Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635 - Featured image: Marblehead, by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900 A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered “that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head” and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was […] 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. Mass Moments: Roger Williams Banished - In 1635, Puritan minister Roger Williams was found guilty of spreading “newe & dangerous opinions” and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Before leaving England in 1630, Williams had seen heretics whipped, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. He called for religious freedom, a serious threat to the […] Ipswich at war - Links to two dozen wars that Ipswich men fought in from the town's settlement in 1633, through the Vietnam War. 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. Strong drink - Colonial liquor licenses were granted to Ipswich men of highest esteem. They were bound “not to sell by retail to any but men of family, and of good repute, nor sell any after sunset; and that they shall be ready to give account of what liquors they sell by retail, the quantity, time and to whom.” Daniel Hovey - At the foot of Hovey Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ipswich settler Daniel Hovey, whose home and wharf were across the river on what is now Tansey Lane. 1639: “The pigs have liberty” - "Such small piggs as are pigged after the first of February shall have liberty to be about the towne, not being liable to pay any damage in house lotts or gardens, until the 16th of August next." Along the Old Bay Road - In 1639, the Colony ordered that a road be laid out from Boston to Portsmouth, to be constructed by each town along the way. The Bay Road made Ipswich an important stagecoach stop. Several milestones to indicate distances are still standing. The Cape Ann Sea Serpent - The earliest recorded sighting of a Sea Serpent in North American waters was at Cape Ann in 1639. In 1817, reports spread throughout New England of a sea serpent sighted in Gloucester Harbor. Homes of the Jewetts - Deacon Maximilian Jewett was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, baptized Oct. 4th, 1607. He with his wife Ann, and his brother Joseph sailed from Hull, England in 1638 in the ship John, with a colony under the leadership of Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. They arrived at […] Troubles with Sheep - Thomas Granger of Duxbury was hung for sodomy in 1642, the first execution in the Colony. With great speed the court issued an edict suggesting spinning and weaving as suitable occupation for boys and girls to avoid idleness and immodest behavior. A photographic and chronological history of the Ipswich Schools - In 1652, the Town of Ipswich voted "For the better aiding of the school and the affairs thereof," building a grammar school and paying the schoolmaster. By the 19th Century there were 10 grammar schools spread throughout the town, and a high school. Names of the Ipswich slaves - In 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted a code of laws that made slavery legal. In 1755, the slaves in this town above the age of sixteen numbered sixty-two, but within ten years, public opinion began turn against slavery. In 1780, the present Constitution of Massachusetts was adopted, its first article asserting that all men are born free and equal. A Nostalgic Glance at Harvard’s Early History - *From it’s earliest days, the people of Ipswich made frequent contributions to Harvard College. William Hubbard of Ipswich, the son of the Rev.William Hubbard, in his twenty-first year, ‘was one of that remarkable group of nine young men whom Harvard College sent forth in 1642, as the first […] Saugus Iron Works and the Appleton house - After John Winthrop Jr. founded the town of Ipswich, he returned to England to find investors for the first iron works in the colonies. In the 1680's, Samuel Appleton of Ipswich owned the Iron Works. A short history of Ipswich dog laws - In 1644, the Town of Ipswich ordered, "If a man refuse to tye up his dogg's legg and hee bee found scrapeing up fish in a corne fielde, the owner thereof shall pay twelve pence damages, beside whatever damage the dogg doth. But if any fish their house lotts and receive damage by doggs the owners of those house lotts shall bear the damage themselves." A 17th Century neighbors quarrel - Mark Quilter was a cow-keeper on the north side of town with a reputation for drinking. When Goodwife Shatswell visited Goodwife Quilter and insulted both of them, Quilter lost his temper. Nathaniel Ward: The Simple Cobbler of Agawam in America - 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. The Legend of Heartbreak Hill - "In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, rises a hill which the people call Heartbreak Hill, and its history is an old, old legend known to all." The Ipswich jails - 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 sad story of Alexander Knight - In 1648, Alexander Knight was charged with the death of his chiled whose clothes caught on fire. A jury fined him for carelessness after being warned. The town took mercy and voted to provide him a piece of land "whereas Alexander Knight is altogether destitute, his wife alsoe neare her tyme." 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 on High St, and were warned, fined and dealt with harshly. Mass Moments: Quakers Outlawed, December 3, 1658 - Magistrates in the Massachusetts Bay Colony were alarmed by Quaker teachings of direct personal revelations from God. The courts passed a series of laws forbidding residents from housing Quakers. Quakers themselves were threatened with whipping, arrest, imprisonment, banishment, or death. The Bones of Masconomet - On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid. Little Neck - Photos of Little Neck in Ipswich from the 19th through the 21st Century. Thomas Dennis, legendary Ipswich joiner - In 1937, Irving P. Lyon published a series of six articles about Thomas Dennis, joiner of Ipswich, analyzing numerous articles of furniture and family documents. The furniture of Thomas Dennis took on the status of historic treasure, and over time more pieces were attributed to him than he could […] “Wording it over the sheep” and behaving badly - Samuel often had words with his neighbor John Lee Sr. over the handling of cattle and sheep, and in 1668 the two landed in court for disturbing the peace. Neither would not admit to any wrong. A witness testified that John's son Joseph hit Samuel with a club as they “were wording it over the sheep” The ghost of Harry Maine - Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down with an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back; So when the sea cries, the goodwives say "Harry Maine growls at his work today." “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 tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679 - Rebecca Rawson of Newbury became one of the most popular young ladies in Boston society. She married a charming but cunning young man who left her desolate in London. On her return to America, the ship was swallowed by a tsunami. The Legend of Goody Cole - Some said that Goody Cole took the shapes of eagles, dogs, cats and apes. At last she lay under sentence of death in the Ipswich jail for changing a child in its cradle. The Spectre Ship of Salem - On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like. Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681 - On July 14, 1681, Sarah Whipple Goodhue left a note to her husband that read: "Dear husband, if by sudden death I am taken away from thee, there is infolded among thy papers something that I have to say to thee and others." She died three days after bearing twins. This is the letter to her husband and children. The Boy Who Couldn’t Remember - Ezekiel Cheever was the first Ipswich schoolmaster, followed in 1660 by Schoolmaster Andrews. An unfortunate but mischievous lad was the nemesis of the esteemed Mr. Andrews. Mason’s Claim - On January 4, 1681, John T. Mason presented the King's letter to the General Court, which ordered "all said tenants" to appear in Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as "quit-rents" could be grafted upon New England. 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 origin of civil power is the people...and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please." The “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 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. The Ipswich Revolt of 1687 - On August 23, 1687, the citizens of Ipswich, led by the Reverend John Wise, denounced the levy of taxes by the arbitrary government of Sir Edmund Andros, and from their protest sprang the American Revolution of 1689. The witchcraft accusations against Sarah Buckley and Mary Witheridge - On May 23, 1692, a complaint for witchcraft was filed against Sarah Buckley and her widowed daughter Mary Witheridge. The "bewitched" girls of Salem Village claimed that the women's specters had attacked them. Held in shackles in the cold crowded jail, both were acquitted in January,1692 Four-year-old Dorothy Good is jailed for witchcraft, March 24, 1692 - On March 24, 1682. a child, Dorothy Good of Salem was taken custody, and interrogated by the local magistrates for two weeks. Hungry, cold and missing her mother, Dorcas broke down and told the inquisitors what they wanted to hear, that her mother was a witch, and consorted with the devil. The Spectre Leaguers, July 1692 - In the midst of witchcraft accusations in 1692, Gloucester was invaded by a spectral company for a fortnight. Their speech was in an unknown tongue, and bullets passed right through them. Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - During the Salem witch trials, Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hung. 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. South Main Street - In March 1692 the Selectmen laid out 23 small lots with the condition that the owners not encumber the highway, provide drainage to the river and paving for foot travelers, and "keep horses from spoiling the same.”
“We walked in the clouds and could not see our way” - The wife of Rev. John Hale of Beverly participated in the witch trials until his wife was accused. Hale later published an analysis in which he asserted that Satan had tricked the Puritans, and made a plea for forgiveness. The Amazing Story of Hannah Duston, March 14, 1697 - Hannah Duston was born in Ipswich in 1657 while her mother was visiting her relatives the Shatswells. A bronze statue in Haverhill honors her daring escape, killing and scalping a dozen Abanaki captors.