Newbury Plantation was settled in 1635. The Rev. Thomas Parker and cousin Rev. James Noyes, along with the latter’s brother Nicholas, led a group of about 100 pioneers from Wiltshire, England, first landing in Agawam (now Ipswich) in 1634. They next spring they sailed to the Quascacunquen River, now the Parker River. A commemorative stone marks the spot where Nicholas Noyes was the first of the new settlers to leap ashore. Newbury originally included Newburyport, set off in 1764, and West Newbury, set off in 1819.

Byfield is a small community within Newbury, and is where in 1763 the nation’s first preparatory school, Dummer Academy, now The Governor’s Academy was founded. Byfield developed into a mill village, and once had six water powered mills.

On January 28, 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts passed “An act for erecting part of the town of Newbury into a new town by the name of Newburyport.” The act  reads, ” Whereas the town of Newbury is very large, and the inhabitants of that part of it who dwell by the water-side there, as it is commonly called, are mostly merchants, traders and artificers, and the inhabitants of the other parts of the town are chiefly husbandmen; by means whereof many difficulties and disputes have arisen in managing their public affairs – Be it enacted … That that part of the said town of Newbury … be and hereby are constituted and made a separate and distinct town.”   Newburyport became a city in 1851. Situated at the Merrimack River, Newburyport became an active port for privateering during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. One of its most important industries was the construction of whaling and clipper ships.newburyport_shipyards

Stories from Newbury

William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644 - Children in the 17th and 18th Century New England colonies generally arrived with their families, but hundreds of English children were taken from the streets and unwillingly taken without their parents to be indentured as servants. Although the practice was more common in the Southern colonies, Joshua Coffin in his History of Newbury shared a … Continue reading William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts - This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal houses of Newbury, Massachusetts. The following images, and text were provided by the Newbury Historical Society in 1989, and are online through the Massachusetts Historical Commission site (MACRIS). Photos are displayed alphabetically in order of street name. House numbers may have changed. Click on any image to view a larger photo. … Continue reading Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts
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 the execution was never carried out and, after spending a year in the Boston jail, Elizabeth Morse was sent home to live with her husband on the condition that she was forbidden to travel … Continue reading The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680
A romantic tale from the Great Snow of Feb. 21-24, 1717 - Snowstorms on the 20th and 24th of February 1717 covered the earth up to 20 ft. deep. In some places houses were completely buried, and paths were dug from house to house under the snow. A widow in Medford burned her furniture to keep the children warm.
Hay straddle Ipswich MA Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - (Featured photo from a glass plate negative taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter (1862-1927).) Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. Eva Jackman replied to this post: “My husband’s family has been harvesting salt hay on the same Newbury land as in 1643. He cuts salt hay and helps with the stacks … Continue reading Gathering Salt Marsh Hay

Stories from Newburyport

Pope night in Newburyport MA November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”) - The Puritans who settled Massachusetts abhorred holidays, but they turned a blind eye to Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, a British tradition which celebrated the failed attempt by Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, to blow up the king and members of Parliament and thus remove Protestants from government. On the evening of November 5, 1605, Sir … Continue reading November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”)
Newburyport colonial houses Newburyport Colonial homes - The HABS and the HABs NOTS Documenting the Architecture of Newburyport in the Historic American Buildings Survey Newburyport, MA was settled in 1635 as part of the town of Newbury. In 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts passed “An act for erecting part of the town of Newbury into a new town by the name … Continue reading Newburyport Colonial homes
“Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875 - Excerpt from “Newburyport and its Neighborhood” by Harriet Prescott Spofford, July 1875, the New Harper’s Monthly Magazine. “The history of Newburyport, and of her mother Newbury, much of which has become incorporated with herself, is replete with striking facts and marvels. She had not only the first of our ships upon the Thames, as has … Continue reading “Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875
Postcards from Newburyport - (Click on any image to begin a slideshow. Press the X in the top left corner or the Esc button to leave the slide show).
Bombshell from Louisbourg - Mounted securely to a stone post at the corner of Middle and Independent Streets in Newburyport, there was for many years a large cast-iron bombshell, thrown from a mortar at the Second Siege of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1758. It was brought to Newbury by Nathaniel Knapp, who served as a soldier, carpenter and ship-caulker with the … Continue reading Bombshell from Louisbourg
The Great Newburyport fire, May 31, 1811 - A fire commenced about nine o’clock in a stable in Mechanic Row in Newburyport on the evening of May 31st, 1811. (The description below is from The Fireman’s Own Book by George P. Little, 1918.)
Joppa Flats, Newburyport - In the late 19th Century, clam shacks proliferated along a stretch of the Merrimack River in Newburyport known as Joppa Flats, providing clams to the Boston area. Photos in this slideshow were provided by Laurie Jarvis Short. Visit her Joppa Flats page on Facebook.
“A Good Heat,” a short tale from Newburyport - From Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian, by Sarah Anna Emery
Lord Timothy Dexter - Timothy Dexter was born on January 22, 1747, and was undoubtedly the most eccentric person of his time. He aspired to join the upper classes of society, as many a fortunate blockhead had done before him, but he could not keep his mouth shut, and made no headway in his attempted progress to join the aristocrats … Continue reading Lord Timothy Dexter
Great Storm of 1815 Jane Hooper, the fortune teller - This story is adapted from the Reminiscences of Joseph Smith and Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian and brings together no less than four incredible old tales. Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport “school dame” but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune teller and became known in our area as “Madam Hooper, the Witch.” The Madam had very bright … Continue reading Jane Hooper, the fortune teller
The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679 -   The following is from a story told in 1921 by Rev. Glenn Tilley Morse, President of the Historical Society of Old Newbury and Newburyport. Edward Rawson arrived in Newbury in 1637. When he was only twenty-three years old he was chosen town clerk, notary public, and registrar for the town of Newbury. He was … Continue reading The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679
Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town” - In 1803, a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport (the highway we call Rt. 1). The intent was to bypass Salem and promote Newburyport as a commercial destination. Proponents claimed it would cut travel time by a … Continue reading Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town”


The HABS and the HABs NOTS

Documenting the Architecture of Newburyport in the Historic American Buildings Survey

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