Within three years of the arrival of the Winthrop fleet to New England, so many immigrants had arrived in Massachusetts Bay that Boston Neck could not hold them all. Perceiving a threat from the French, thirteen men arrived in 1633 to establish the town that would be named Ipswich a year later.
The settlement in Ipswich set itself resolutely to the task of guarding against undesirable prospective citizens. The practice of “warning out” strangers was finally abolished in 1793.
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.
Photos of Little Neck in Ipswich from the 19th through the 21st Century.
Before the settlement of Ipswich was begun in 1633 by John Winthrop, William Jeffrey, who had come over in 1623, had purchased from the Indians a title to the glacial drumlin which bears his name. By 1639 the whole tract was set apart as a common pasture by the new town, and in 1666 the General Court gave Jeffrey five hundred acres of land elsewhere. After the early eighteenth century, the Necks remained as the only common lands retained by the Commoners.
An Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, Massachusetts, written by Thomas Franklin Waters, with genealogies of John Brown, William Fellows, and Robert Kinsman)
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.”
Due to the small scale of the settlement, the settlers of Ipswich reproduced an English form of government from a far earlier time. The first public officials were the clerk, lot-layers and “The Seven Men” (selectmen). By the end of the next century, every industry was supervised by some public functionary.
When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.
Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island, and is the largest island in the Crane Wildlife Refuge and is the site of the Choate family homestead, the Proctor Barn, the White Cottage, and the final resting place of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Crane. There are great views from the island summit of the Castle Neck dunes and Plum Island Mount Agamenticus in Maine.
Crane Beach and all of Castle Neck are protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Pitch pine and scrub oak rise from the masses of marsh grass, sage green hudsonia and dune lichen lining the trails that wind through the dunes.
The first settlers of Ipswich were given rights to use of the Common land. Unfenced tillage lots beyond the residential area were assigned in areas set apart for this use, including the area of Newmarch Street which was known as Manning’s Neck.
This Ipswich neighborhood has historically had a close social connection with neighboring Rowley. Jewett’s mill was created in the 17th Century, and historic houses still line the street.
More than the concepts of sovereignty and private property, the commodification of nature in the service of mercantile capitalism was the crux of the problem.
In 17th Century Ipswich, cows would be put to pasture on the Neck in the spring, and every October they would be rounded up and herded into a pen. Many of the town’s laws regarding land use, property rights, labor and sanitation grew from issues surrounding the keeping of livestock.
“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.