The Town of Ipswich devoted much manpower and resources during the first half of the 18th Century to the French and Indian Wars, and became a staunch supporter of the War for Independence. The development of the stagecoach maintained the prominence of the town for several decades. In 1793, the Hamlet was set off from the town and became the Town of Hamilton. The port of Ipswich was unable to compete with the larger harbors, and the town sank into period of economic decline began.

Jewett Hill, Ipswich Village map Ipswich Village on the Old Rowley Road - Featured image: “Ipswich Village” in the 1832 Philander map of the town of Ipswich. The following narrative includes excerpts from Ipswich Village and the Old Rowley Road. by Thomas Franklin Waters in 1915. “At the very beginning of the Town, High Street was the road to Newbury or ‘the pathway leading toward the River of Merrimac.’ No … Continue reading Ipswich Village on the Old Rowley Road
Carted back to Ipswich, 1714 - In the Old North Burying Yard on High Street in Ipswich lies the body of the Reverend Samuel Belcher. Born in Ipswich in 1639, he graduated from Harvard College in 1659, and studied for the ministry, and was preaching at Kittery, Maine as early as 1663. In 1668 he married Mary, daughter of Rev. Thomas Cobbett of Ipswich. In … Continue reading Carted back to Ipswich, 1714
Homes of the Wades - Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers. He came into ownership of land along the South Green originally granted to the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, and left an estate valued at £783. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on for the family on County Rd., and other houses … Continue reading Homes of the Wades
Choate Island and Rufus Choate - Featured image: Painting of the Choate homestead by E. Choate Kane, courtesy of Joyce Patton Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island. In the Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it is recorded that keeping hogs on islands or in fenced enclosures during the planting season was the law from the 1630’s, and each … Continue reading Choate Island and Rufus Choate
The Seating of Boys and Girls at the Ipswich Meeting House - Dec 26, 1700: To prevent the Youth from profaning ye Sabbath &  misordering themselves in times of God’s Worship, it is ordered: They shall sit together in ye two backside seats of each front Gallery which are ye seats appointed for them. and that ye Tything Men shall take turn by two in a day … Continue reading The Seating of Boys and Girls at the Ipswich Meeting House
Grave Discoveries - Today I was asked for help finding the original location of two old tombstones which were found at Barton Stone in Ipswich. An earlier operator of the business thought these were worth keeping and put them away. Bill Boyington created the wonderful site FindaGrave with photos and inscriptions from tombstones, many of which are in Essex County. Using his site, it didn’t … Continue reading Grave Discoveries
One Third for the Widow - Under Puritan law an adult unmarried woman was a feme sole, could own property and sign contracts. A married woman was a feme covert and could not own property individually. Widows regained the status of feme sole but the Right of Dower entitled them to keep only one third of their property. When a woman was left a widow some … Continue reading One Third for the Widow
A romantic tale from the Great Snow, Feb. 12-24, 1717 - Joshua Coffin’s history of Newbury recounts the romantic tale of Abraham Adams who walked three miles to visit his new wife Abigail, snowbound in her parents’ home during the Great Snow which began on the 21st of February, 1717.
Col. Doctor Thomas Berry, “Last of the Ipswich Aristocracy” - Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that in the first half of the Eighteenth Century, Col. Thomas Berry was the most conspicuous citizen of the Town, “Autocrat of his time, Magistrate, Military leader, Physician and Statesman.” Born in Boston in 1695 and a graduate of Harvard, he married Martha Rogers, daughter of the Rev. John Rogers of Ipswich in … Continue reading Col. Doctor Thomas Berry, “Last of the Ipswich Aristocracy”
Haselelpony Wood, November 27, 1714 - Haselelpony Wood’s tombstone is located at the Old North Burial Ground, just a short distance on the left starting from the front gate. She is believed to be the only person with this name in modern history. John Gee was lost at sea on Dec. 27, 1669, a sad Christmas surprise for his wife and five children. … Continue reading Haselelpony Wood, November 27, 1714
Death in a snowstorm, December 1, 1722 - Daniel Rogers graduated from Harvard in 1686 in his nineteenth year and first became the teacher of the Ipswich Grammar School. In 1702 he was admitted to practice law in the Ipswich Court.
Dr. Joseph Manning’s house, and the sad tale of Timothy Souther - In exploring the history of this building, I uncovered a tale of two families, one most fortunate, and the other less so. Ownership of the store at 31 South Main Street can be traced back to Isaac Fitts, a hatter, who petitioned for forty feet on the River bank in 1726, that he might set a dwelling … Continue reading Dr. Joseph Manning’s house, and the sad tale of Timothy Souther
The reluctant pirate from Ipswich, Captain John Fillmore - John Fillmore was born in Ipswich in 1702, the son of mariner John Fillmore Sr. who died at sea in 1711. His widowed mother was Abigail Tilton, whose two brothers Jacob and Daniel famously overcame and killed several Indians who took them hostage after boarding their fishing schooner in 1722. After sailing the ship back to … Continue reading The reluctant pirate from Ipswich, Captain John Fillmore
Two Taverns for Two Susannas - In the 1700’s two of the finest inns in town were run by women, a mother and daughter both named Susanna. Although the two houses are both on corners of County Street, they were separated by the river since the bridge was not built until a hundred years later. In 1725 Increase How purchased “a … Continue reading Two Taverns for Two Susannas
The Buried House at Wigwam Hill - Much of the 1200 acres of dunes at Castle Neck along Crane Beach were forested with pitch pine in 1634 when European settlers arrived. The people of Ipswich realized that it was a special place, and the selectmen decreed that “The Neck of Land whereupon the great Hill standeth which is known by the name … Continue reading The Buried House at Wigwam Hill
Tomstone of Elizabeth and Mary Berry, daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry, who both died in 1735. Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36 - Featured image: Tombstone of the daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry: Elizabeth age 5 years, and Mary, age 18 months, who died in December 1735 of the “throat distemper.” Photo by John Glassford An epidemic of “throat distemper” raged in New England between 1735 and 1740. The contagion struck first in New Hampshire, killing almost 1% of the … Continue reading Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36
Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41 - In the first half of the 18th Century, the colonies suffered greatly from a shortage of money in circulation, the result of which was an unsanctioned scheme to print currency in Massachusetts, led in no small part by several Ipswich men. In September 1740, the Land Bank began to issue 50,000 pounds of notes of varying amounts … Continue reading Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41
Agnes Surriage and Sir Harry Franklin Marblehead tavern maid Agnes Surriage becomes becomes the lady of the manor, 1742 - Thanks to the New England Historical Society for this romantic old tale from Marblehead. In 1742, Charles Henry Frankland, the king’s collector for the port of Boston, visited Marblehead. Staying at the Fountain Tavern, he was gobsmacked by the beauty of Agnes Surriage, the tavern’s 16-year-old maid. Charmed by her beauty and straightforward manner, Frankland offered … Continue reading Marblehead tavern maid Agnes Surriage becomes becomes the lady of the manor, 1742
The Devil's Footpring, Ipswich Ma The Devil’s Footprint, 1740 - Imprinted into the rocks in front of the First Church in Ipswich is a xenolith, confirming that 400 million years ago, Town Hill was part of a chain of volcanic islands. Hellish as that may seem, for the people of Ipswich it will always be the footprint of the devil, left there forever in a legendary encounter with … Continue reading The Devil’s Footprint, 1740
The Missing Burial Ground - The Case of the Missing Burial Ground Lesslie Road Burial Ground Linebrook Parish, Old Ipswich, Massachusetts Story by: Bruce Laing Toward a comprehensive documentation of the greater Ipswich burial grounds In 1935 Arthur Warren Johnson and Ralph Elbridge Ladd jr. wrote Momento Mori, a map and transcription of tombstones in the area of Ipswich, Massachusetts. It … Continue reading The Missing Burial Ground
Homes of the Lords - Featured image: The Thomas Lord house on High Street in Ipswich dates to 1658. Robert Lord arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in late 1634 or early 1635, probably from Sudbury, Suffolk, England, where he was born in 1603. Soon after his arrival, Robert Lord was appointed Ipswich Town Clerk and Clerk of the Court of … Continue reading Homes of the Lords
Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755 - A lesson for our times: The French and Indian War, as it is now known, began in 1754 and ended with the French defeat in 1763. Expeditions were planned against the French strongholds on Lake George, Fort Niagara; and against the Acadian settlers in Nova Scotia. Massachusetts men played a conspicuous part in the war along with … Continue reading Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755
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 Old South Cemetery - The Old South Cemetery in Ipswich, MA was used from 1756 till 1939, with a few more recent burials. It sits at the southwestern end of the South Green, and has about 1000 interments. A walking trail extends down the slope to the River, continuing downstream to Sallys Pond near the Whipple House. Visit the Old South Cemetery and view … Continue reading The Old South Cemetery
The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755 - A series of earthquakes in the early 18th Century gave rise to recurrences of religiosity in Ipswich. On October 29, 1727 a severe earthquake occurred on a Sabbath night between ten and eleven o’clock. People became so frightened that a very powerful revival of religion followed in the Ipswich parishes and throughout New England. An urgent demand for … Continue reading The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755
Townshent acts tea tax The “Detested Tea” - From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, one of which provided for a tax on wine, glass, tea, gloves, etc, imported into the Province. During the winter, the General Court issued a Circular Letter, which was sent to the other Assemblies, notifying them of the measure … Continue reading The “Detested Tea”
The Laces of Ipswich - In its lace making heyday in the late eighteenth century, Ipswich, Massachusetts boasted 600 lace makers in a town of only 601 households. George Washington himself, a lace afficionado, paid a visit to Ipswich in 1789 to support its extraordinary domestic textile industry. In The Laces of Ipswich: The Art and Economics of an Early … Continue reading The Laces of Ipswich
The Choate Bridge becomes a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark - The Choate Bridge in Ipswich was constructed in 1764 and is the oldest documented surviving double stone arch bridge in North America. As part of Rt. 1A and Rt. 133 the Choate Bridge is estimated to carry between 10,000 and 20,000 vehicles each day! The town approved construction of the stone bridge on April 18, … Continue reading The Choate Bridge becomes a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark
Great Storm of 1815 Jane Hooper, the fortune teller - This story is adapted from the Reminiscences of Joseph Smith and Reminiscences of a Newburyport 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 … Continue reading Jane Hooper, the fortune teller
Jenny Slew gains her freedom Freedom for Jenny Slew, November 1766 - Jenny Slew was born about 1719 as the child of a free white woman and a black slave. She married one or more black men who were slaves but lived her life as a free woman until 1762 when she was kidnapped and enslaved by John Whipple of the Hamlet (part of Ipswich that later … Continue reading Freedom for Jenny Slew, November 1766
In Congress, July 4, 1776 - Featured image: “Declaration of Independence,” oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818. IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776   The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among … Continue reading In Congress, July 4, 1776
The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
The Arnold Expedition arrives in Ipswich, September 15, 1775 - In September, 1775, Gen. Montgomery set out from Lake Champlain to take Quebec from the British forces. Another force of Continental Army troops set off from Cambridge, MA with an infantry of riflemen under the command of 20-year-old Col. Benedict Arnold. Aaron Burr, sick with fever in Cambridge, heard about Arnold’s Expedition, and raising himself up, declared he would go at once to join them. The force of … Continue reading The Arnold Expedition arrives in Ipswich, September 15, 1775
Ipswich and the Breach with Britain - From The Breach With Great Britain” by Thomas Franklin Waters, author of “Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.” “The march of critical events now became rapid. In March, 1770, the clash between the soldiers and citizens, known as the “Boston Massacre” caused the death of several Boston men. In 1772, the “Gaspee,” a British armed vessel, … Continue reading Ipswich and the Breach with Britain
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the fate of the American Revolution - I listened today to an interview with author Nathaniel Philbrick on NPR, and was impressed with his fresh take on the social dynamics of the Revolutionary War, portrayed in his book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. His account of the Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold … Continue reading Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the fate of the American Revolution
Journal of the American Revolution The Wartime Letters of Joseph and Sarah Hodgkins | Journal of the American Revolution - “I have nothing to send you but love. I hope I shall have some money soon.” So wrote Lt. Joseph Hodgkins from his “Camp on Long Island” to his wife, Sarah, back home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The letter was dated June 10, 1776, so Sarah’s husband had already been away from his wife and family … Continue reading The Wartime Letters of Joseph and Sarah Hodgkins | Journal of the American Revolution
Pillow Lace Sign, High St., Ipswich MA Pillow lace - The Pillow Lace plaque is located in front of 5 High Street in Ipswich. In the mid-18th Century a group of Ipswich women started making and selling lace with distinctive patterns. Small round lap pillows were used to pace the bobbins and needles as the lace grew around it. Ipswich lace quickly became very popular and … Continue reading Pillow lace
The hanging of Ezra Ross and Bathsheba Spooner, July 2, 1778 - In 1778, sixteen year old Ezra Ross, son of Jabez and Johana Ross of Ipswich was condemned to death for his participation in the murder of Joshua Spooner of Brookfield MA. Spooner’s wife Bathsheba became the first woman executed in the newly created United States of America. Ezra Ross is buried in an unmarked grave at the Leslie Road Cemetery … Continue reading The hanging of Ezra Ross and Bathsheba Spooner, July 2, 1778
John Adam’s letters from Ipswich, May-June, 1774 - Article by Bruce Laing.  John Adams visited Ipswich many times during his tenure as the Boston representative to the colonial legislature from 1770 to 1774. This brilliant and controversial fellow served as a member of the Continental Congress, then as the 1st Vice President in the Washington administration, then as the 2nd President of the United States. … Continue reading John Adam’s letters from Ipswich, May-June, 1774
Paul Revere’s not so famous ride through Ipswich, December 13, 1774 - On the cold icy morning of December 13, 1774, Paul Revere headed out on a 60 mile gallop along the Old Bay Road to warn the citizens of Portsmouth that British troops may be landing.
Fall 1774: Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist John Calef - The people of Ipswich have a long tradition of heated debate at Town Meeting. In 1687 Samuel Appleton and other town leaders called an emergency town meeting to debate new taxes imposed by the Crown. They were imprisoned for their refusal to appoint a tax collector, an act for which Ipswich is known as the “Birthplace … Continue reading Fall 1774: Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist John Calef
Leslie's Retreat Leslie’s Retreat, or how the Revolutionary War almost began in Salem: February 26, 1775 - In our struggle for Independence, the British military received its first setback from the inhabitants of Salem in an episode that could not have been more ludicrous or entertaining if it had been written for Monty Python. A mural at the Salem Armory portrays Leslie’s Retreat.
The Letters of Joseph Hodgkins and Sarah Perkins - The Perkins-Hodgkins house is located at 80 East St on the corner with Jeffreys Neck Road. This First Period timber-frame house was rebuilt in 1709 after the original 1640 thatch roofed home burned when an indentured servant dropped ashes from her pipe on the straw roof. Ownership passed through generations of the Perkins-Hodgkins family to … Continue reading The Letters of Joseph Hodgkins and Sarah Perkins
Great Ispwich Fright, John Greenleaf Whittier The Great Ipswich Fright, April, 1775 - Capt. Jonathan Burnham with the Hampton company arrived in Ipswich on the morning of April 21, 1775 after an all night march, and found the town panic-struck. The town was nearly defenseless, as more than three hundred of its men had marched off with their Ipswich captains to fight the British regulars at Concord and Lexington. A rumor had spread … Continue reading The Great Ipswich Fright, April, 1775
George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. Gift of Nanine Hilliard Greene George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783 - Featured image: George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. by Helen Breen   General George Washington welcomed back to Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War (mountvernon.org) The dramatic painting of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” launching a surprise attack on the Hessian foe on December 25, 1776 is … Continue reading George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783
We the People Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War - Establishment of the Electoral College Many of our founding fathers had little trust in the instincts of the common man. John Adams observed that “Pure democracy has also been viewed as a threat to individual rights,” and warned against the “tyranny of the majority.” Alexander Hamilton, one of the three authors of the “Federalist Papers” defended the system of electors by which … Continue reading The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War
The Muster Murder of 1787 - During the Boston Muster of 1787, Daniel Foster of Rowley participated in the customary celebration of shooting musket balls into the air, and accidentally shot Amos Chapman of Ipswich in the leg. Chapman died six days later. He and his family are buried in the old Leslie Road  Burial Ground in unmarked graves. A jury convicted Foster of willful murder, and … Continue reading The Muster Murder of 1787
Elizabeth Whitman – The “Mysterious Coquette,” July 25, 1788 - The Elizabeth Whitman Mystery at the Old Bell Tavern in Danvers Elizabeth Whitman arrived at the Bell Tavern in Danvers, Massachusetts in the late spring of 1788. Refined, pleasant and beautiful, she was also pregnant. Whitman checked into the tavern under the name of Walker. She was from Connecticut, she told the innkeeper, and said … Continue reading Elizabeth Whitman – The “Mysterious Coquette,” July 25, 1788
The Dark Day, May 19, 1780 - On the afternoon of May 18, 1780 the sky was a strange yellowish color and the clouds seemed dark and heavy. The next morning the sun came up deep red and barely visible through a haze, until by noon there was “midnight darkness” and people could not see. Candles were lighted, cattle lowed, and fowls … Continue reading The Dark Day, May 19, 1780
General Putnam landing at Marietta Ipswich to Marietta, 1787 - In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory. Early in the 18th Century, seven of the 13 colonies had made claims on vast areas of the West, with hopes … Continue reading Ipswich to Marietta, 1787
“Dying Confession of Pomp, a Negro Man Who Was Executed at Ipswich on the 6th August, 1795” - Long before the corner of Mile Lane and High Street in Ipswich became famous for the Clam Box, it was known as Pingrey’s Plain and was where the wicked were hung at “Gallowes Field.” On Aug 6th 1795, Pomp an African-American slave was hung for chopping off the head of his master, Captain Charles Furbush, … Continue reading “Dying Confession of Pomp, a Negro Man Who Was Executed at Ipswich on the 6th August, 1795”
Dr. Manning’s mills - In 1792 Dr. John Manning erected a factory at the corner of South Main and Market Streets beside the Choate Bridge, and began the manufacture of coarse cloths and blankets in 1794. The completed building was two stories high, 105 feet long and 32 feet wide. On the roof squatted a great octagonal tower, inside … Continue reading Dr. Manning’s mills