The town of Topsfield was part of land deeded by the Agawam Indian leader Masconomet to John Winthrop in 1638. As part of Ipswich, it was known as New Meadows. The town was incorporated in 1648 and renamed Topsfield, perhaps for its abundance of glacial hills, or after Toppesfield, England, a small parish in the county of Essex north of London. Topsfield is neighbor to Danvers, where the accusations that resulted in the Salem witch trials of 1692 began. Several residents of the town were accused, and two were hung. In 1818, the state legislature chartered the Essex Agricultural Society, now known for its Topsfield Fair.
Stories from Topsfield
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.
The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich - The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich enters Willowdale State Forest and continues north through the town-owned Dow-Bull Brook preservation land. A branch continues from Willowdale through Bradley Palmer S.P to New England Biolabs.
The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common - The Topsfield "Linear Common" follows the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line. A side path takes you to the Grand Wenham Canal, also known as the Salem-Beverly Waterway Canal, which transports water from the Ipswich River to Wenham Lake.
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.
The plantations at New Meadows, now Topsfield - Large allotments of land in today's Topsfield were granted in the early 17th Century by the colony's leaders, comprising more than one-half of the town's present acreage. The persons who were awarded the lots, sometimes referred to as "king's grants" were merchants and men of influence and power who had joined the Massachusetts Bay Company.
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).
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.