Matthew Whipple house, 638 Bay Road, Hamilton (c 1680)

The Matthew Whipple house was restored in the 20th Century to an earlier appearance

Until the late 18th Century, Hamilton was a part of Ipswich known as the Hamlet. The Matthew Whipple house at the intersection of Rt. 1A and Cutler Rd. was constructed between 1680 and 1683. (*Abbott Lowell Cummings). There were multiple generations of the family with the name Matthew. Matthew Whipple Sr. arrived early in Ipswich, and built one of the finest houses in town, which was located at the corner of Summer and County Streets.

The Hamlet

“That part of Ipswich where land was granted to Matthew and John Whipple in 1638 was known as the Hamlet and was eventually incorporated as the town of Hamilton. Its residents were part of the first parish but the distance to the Meeting-house was so great that by 1710 approximately 40 hamlet families went to Wenham for services. As their numbers grew, the Wenham church was unable to accommodate them without adding to its building. Rather than join Wenham and pay to add to its building, 62 hamlet residents petitioned Ipswich on May 1, 1712 to be set off as a church.”

“Ipswich granted the petition at a town meeting May 22, 1712 and agreed to release citizens of the hamlet “from all further charges… when they shall have erected a Meeting-House and called an orthodox minister to preach the Gospel to them.” Heading the petition effort were Maj. Matthew Whipple, Sr., Maj. John Whipple, Jr., Matthew Whipple, Jr., James Whipple, and Jonathan Whipple.. Mr. John Whipple, Matthew Whipple, 3rd, Matthew Whipple 4th’, John Annable, John Annable, Jr. and two Matthew Annables also signed On Ocrober 2nd, 1712 hamlet residents met at Matthew Whipple’s home and authorized the Meeting-IHouse be built and furnished before November 1713. It named a committee of Cornet, later Captain, John Whipple, Jr., carpenter Knowlton, Nathaniel Brown, Isaac Ringe, John Whipple, Sgt. Gilbertt,Thomas Brown, Mr. Matthew Whipple, tailor, to oversee its construction. Contributions funded the construction. Matthew Whipple, Sr.’s gift was the largest.” (from Fifteen generations of Whipples : descendants of Matthew Whipple of Ipswich, Massachusetts, abt. 1590-1647) by Blain Whipple.)

Matthew Whipple house in 1980
The Matthew Whipple House in the 1980’s. Image from the MACRIS site.

Land in the Hamlet was granted to Matthew Whipple in 1638 and the old stage road was laid out through his and his brother’s land in 1641. Ipswich Vital records show the birth, marriage and death dates of several generations with the name Matthew Whipple. Their appears to have been no less than three men with the name Matthew Whipple living in the Hamlet at the time this house was constructed

  • Matthew Whipple, weaver, born May 29, 1664; died May 28, 1736; son of Lieutenant John Whipple and Mary Stevens
  • Captain Mathew Whipple, born Nov. 25, 1672, died November 1737; son of Joseph and Sarah Whipple
  • Matthew Whipple, born in 1658, died January 28, 1739 at the age of 81; Son of John Whipple and Martha Whipple; married Martha Dennison, father of William Whipple and Matthew Whipple, Jr.
The Matthew Whipple House ca. 1914
The Matthew Whipple House, photo by Malcolm E. Robb, ca. 1914

In May, 1712, Matthew Whipple IV and his brothers John and James petitioned the Town of Ipswich for the right to establish a church in the Hamlet. The petition was granted. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about how Deacon Matthew Whipple of the Hamlet, who died Jan. 24, 1764, made provision for his slave, Plato in his will dated 1760:

“This may satisfy whom it may concern that I, the Subscriber in Consideration that my Servant Plato has been a faithful Servant, that after my Death and my Wife’s Death he shall be free if he desires it, and if he don’t he shall have Liberty to live with any of my friends whom he pleases, and I give him Liberty to live in my east Kitchen & have his feather Bed and Bedding thereto belonging, & a Pot & Skillet & a Pewter Platter & Bason & Spoon & Tramel, two Chairs, one Ax and one Hoe and a Cow & he shall have a good Pasture for her and Liberty to cut hay suffi- cient for her, & have one Acre of land, where it may be most convenient for him, and a Barrel of Cyder & three Bushels of Apples a Year as long as he lives yearly & every Year, & have liberty to cut Wood he necessarily shall want, & Barn “Room for his Cow & hay & all other Priviledges necessary for him. In Case he should by any Providence be disenabled to support himself or through old Age not able to support himself comfortably, my Heirs shall do it whatever he shall stand in need of, which is my Will. Matthew Whipple. Ipswich, Dec. 3, 1760.”

The MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission provides further history of the house: “Capt. Daniel Brown, son of Jacob Brown, was the first postmaster (1803), tavern keeper and blacksmith. His son, Israel D. Brown was later postmaster and tavern keeper. Daniel received deed to 1/2 of the property in 1782 from Jacob, and the other half in 1802 from Samuel and Hannah Whipple.”

This is an early example of a lean-to being incorporated into the original framing of the house, a custom that became popular in the first quarter of the 18th Century. Examination of the framing revealed that transom windows in the front and sides of the house had been replaced by the typical 5 bay windows we associate with Colonial houses today (“5 over 4 with a door”)

Layout of the Matthew Whipple House, by Norman Morrison Isham in Early American Houses, the Seventeenth Century. It was discovered that the original fenestration framing accommodated three transom windows in the front, instead of the Georgian 5 bay windows it had in the 20th Century.,
Framing of the Matthew Whipple house by Norman Morrison Isham, Early American Houses, the Seventeenth Century
Original window framing in the Matthew Whipple house, by Norman Morrison Isham, Early American Houses, the Seventeenth Century


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