Mason’s Claim

Early political cartoon showing Mason and Gorges dividing up a map of New England.

The spring of 1683 brought an issue of great concern for the residents of Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed in Boston court, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as “quit-rents” could be grafted upon New England.

In 1622 Capt. John Mason had obtained title to all land between the Naumkeag and Merrimack Rivers (Salem to Newburyport) as a principal partner in a stock company known as the Plymouth Council for New England. The company charter was surrendered in 1635 with the condition that the land be divided among its members, primarily Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges, founder of the “Province of Maine.” Neither man ever set foot in America.

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Ipswich First Period Houses

Ipswich, Massachusetts has 59 houses that were constructed or begun in the First Period (1625- 1725) of English settlement.

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Women build a Meeting House


This photo is from a barn-raising in an Amish community in the 1800′s, but the practice of an entire community coming out to frame a church building in a day was common in early New England.

In 17th Century New England,  the church was the center of government. Chebacco was the section of Ipswich that is now Essex, and its inhabitants were expected to make the ten-mile round trip every Sabbath, Lecture Day, Training Day or Town Meeting day to the Meeting House in Ipswich.

Chebacco residents petitioned the town of Ipswich in 1677 that they be allowed to build their own meeting house, and after considerable delay, Ipswich leaders answered that the Chebacco residents were free to do so as long as they continued to tithe to the Ipswich church. Undeterred, Chebacco folks started meeting in private homes and asked the Rev. Jeremiah Shepard to join them. The Ipswich church ordered him to stop preaching, and the Rev. Shepard found a less controversial appointment as the pastor at Lynn.

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“Wording it over the sheep”

sheepSamuel Hunt came to Ipswich after arriving with his Puritan parents in New England at the age of four in 1636. For 200 years what we call Great Cove downstream from  the County Street Bridge was known as “Hunt’s Cove”.

Samuel often had words with his neighbor John Lee Sr. over the handling of cattle and sheep, and in 1668 the two landed in court for disturbing the peace. Both, feeling entirely justified, would not admit to any wrong.

Great Cove was once called “Hunt’s Cove”

A witness testified that John’s son Joseph hit Samuel with a club as they “were wording it over the sheep” and that Samuel took Joseph by the collar and tripped him up. At this point John Sr. appeared with a pitchfork and struck Samuel twice. If the younger John Lee  hadn’t interfered, Samuel would have been killed.

Another person testified that he heard Samuel Hunt had said he had pulled the hair from Joseph Lee’s head.  In response, Samuel owned that he had and added, “had it not been for the old man, I would have pulled them all out!” The three fighters were fined and bound to good behavior. Four months later they were released from the bonds apparently having behaved themselves. Read the entire story by Louella Jones Downard

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Paying the Pastor

Rev. David Kimball’s home, still standing at Meeting House Green

From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

In 1806 Rev. David Tenney Kimball, a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1803, was introduced to the people of the First Church of Ipswich as pastor. The church oversight committee recommended that the Parish offer Rev. Kimball the sum of $600.00 /year, to be regulated according to the price of the necessaries of life, and to rise and fall according to the price of said necessities. In case of his being unable by the Providence of God to perform said duties & services that sum to be reduced to four hundred dollars.  It was agreed by the Parties that the said Salary is always to be paid in Cash. The committee and Rev. Kimball agreed on the following articles and prices:

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The defiant Samuel Appleton

The Reverend John Wise and Major Samuel Appleton gathered with other Ipswich men to organize opposition to taxes imposed by Sir Edmund Andros.

Image from the Ipswich Post Office Mural portrays Reverend John Wise and Major Samuel Appleton gathered with other Ipswich men in 1687 in opposition to taxes imposed by Sir Edmund Andros.

On April 18, 1689 leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reclaimed control of the government from the crown-appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros. Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich was given the honor of handing Andros into the boat which conveyed him to prison on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, and was appointed to serve on the new ruling council.

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Ipswich River photos, postcards and paintings

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Ipswich Hosiery ads

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