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

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
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.
Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. Eva Jackman writes, “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 on Rte 1. When greenheads get really bad he resorts to burying himself in the hay to … Continue reading Gathering Salt Marsh Hay

Stories from Newburyport

Newburyport colonial houses Newburyport Colonial homes - 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 of Newburyport.” View: Postcards from Newburyport Stories from Newburyport The following photos of First Period, Georgian,and early … 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).
Lord Timothy Dexter’s house burns, August 15, 1988 - Lord Timothy Dexter of Newburyport was not really a lord; he bestowed that title upon himself. His home was a showplace, ornamented in front by wooden statues of himself and prominent men of the day, the early 1800’s. The belvedere on the roof with an eagle for a finial was a lovely ornament atop the large three … Continue reading Lord Timothy Dexter’s house burns, August 15, 1988
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.)
Trolley at Joppa Flats 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 Dexter - From Melissa Berry at anceSTORY Archives: “Lord Dexter is a smart old man: Just try to catch him if you can!”
Lord Timothy Dexter shows up at his own funeral - Timothy Dexter was born on January 22, 1747, and was undoubtedly the most eccentric person of his time.
Sam Smith shocks his kin by becoming a Methodist - Having grown up in a Methodist family, I found this story enlightening.
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
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”