Ipswich in the 17th Century

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.”

The 17th Century

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.… Continue reading Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635→

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.… Continue reading The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”→

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, so-called in the French patent of November… Continue reading Jeffreys’ Neck Road→

John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630 – On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony.… Continue reading John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630→

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.… Continue reading The “Commonwealth”→

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 ship weighed anchor and sailed for New… Continue reading Mass Moments: Puritans Leave for Massachusetts→

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. … Continue reading Homes of the Lords→

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.… Continue reading Daniel Denison→

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.”… Continue reading Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet→

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.… Continue reading John Winthrop Jr., here and gone→

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.… Continue reading The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel→

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.… Continue reading Linebrook Parish→

Ipswich at war – Links to two dozen wars that Ipswich men fought in from the town’s settlement in 1633, through the Vietnam War.… Continue reading Ipswich at 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.… Continue reading Killing wolves→

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.”… Continue reading Strong drink→

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. … Continue reading Daniel Hovey→

Homes of the Jewetts – Generations of the Jewett family made their homes on upper High Street, and the area near the Rowley town line came to be known as Ipswich Village.… Continue reading Homes of the Jewetts→

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.”… Continue reading 1639: “The pigs have liberty”→

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.… Continue reading Along the Old Bay Road→

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.… Continue reading The Cape Ann Sea Serpent→

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.… Continue reading Troubles with Sheep→

Drunkards, liars, a hog, a dog, a witch, “disorderly persons” and the innkeeper – As the young boys who arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich approached adulthood, they developed a fondness for hard liquor and rowdiness, which frequently landed them in court.… Continue reading Drunkards, liars, a hog, a dog, a witch, “disorderly persons” and the innkeeper→

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.… Continue reading A photographic and chronological history of the Ipswich Schools→

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.… Continue reading Names of the Ipswich slaves→

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 specimens of high culture achieved in the… Continue reading A Nostalgic Glance at Harvard’s Early History→

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.”… Continue reading A short history of Ipswich dog laws→

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.… Continue reading A 17th Century neighbors quarrel→

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.… Continue reading Nathaniel Ward: The Simple Cobbler of Agawam in America→

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.”… Continue reading The Legend of Heartbreak Hill→

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. … Continue reading The Ipswich jails→

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.”… Continue reading The sad story of Alexander Knight→

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.… Continue reading Persecution of Quakers by the Puritans→

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.… Continue reading The Bones of Masconomet→

Little Neck – Photos of Little Neck in Ipswich from the 19th through the 21st Century.… Continue reading Little Neck→

The first jailbreak in the Colony, March 30, 1662 – On the morning of the 30th of March, 1662, the Ipswich jailer found that a prisoner had escaped, the first offense of this nature committed in the country. … Continue reading The first jailbreak in the Colony, March 30, 1662→

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 have produced in his lifetime. In 1960,… Continue reading Thomas Dennis, legendary Ipswich joiner→

“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”… Continue reading “Wording it over the sheep” and behaving badly→

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.”… Continue reading The ghost of Harry Maine→

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.”… Continue reading “Dalliance and too much familiarity”→

Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War – In 1660, a group of Ipswich families settled in Quaboag which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks in 1675 resulted in its destruction.… Continue reading Ipswich, the Brookfield Massacre and King Philip’s War→

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…… Continue reading The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679→

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.… Continue reading The Spectre Ship of Salem→

The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680 – Elizabeth Morse of Newbury was accused and found guilty of being a witch. She was initially sentenced to be hanged, but after spending a year in the Boston jail, she was sent home… Continue reading The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680→

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.… Continue reading The Legend of Goody Cole→

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.… Continue reading Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681→

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.”… Continue reading The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich→

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.… Continue reading Mason’s Claim→

John Dunton’s visit to Ipswich and Rowley in 1686 – in 1686, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart on High St. were favored with a visit from the book seller John Dunton, who came to Ipswich “in the course of his saddle-bag peregrinations.”… Continue reading John Dunton’s visit to Ipswich and Rowley in 1686→

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.”… Continue reading The “Birthplace of American Independence”→

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.… Continue reading The defiant Samuel Appleton→

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.… Continue reading The Ipswich Revolt of 1687→

The witchcraft trial of Elizabeth Howe, hanged July 19, 1692 – Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. She was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child and was arrested on May 28, 1692. She was one of the five women hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.… Continue reading The witchcraft trial of Elizabeth Howe, hanged July 19, 1692→

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… Continue reading The witchcraft accusations against Sarah Buckley and Mary Witheridge→

Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692 – Everything about Rachel Clinton’s life went wrong, and in her old age she was an easy target for the witchcraft hysteria that spread from Salem throughout Essex County.… Continue reading Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692→

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. … Continue reading The Spectre Leaguers, July 1692→

Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials – During the Salem witch trials, Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hanged. 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.… Continue reading Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials→

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.”… Continue reading South Main Street→

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.… Continue reading “We walked in the clouds and could not see our way”→

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