South Berwick is a town in York County, Maine, United States. The population was 7,220 at the 2010 census. South Berwick is home to Berwick Academy, a private, co-educational university-preparatory day school founded in 1791. It is part of the Portland–South Portland–Biddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area.
The area was called Newichawannock by the Abenaki Indians, meaning "river with many falls," a reference to the Salmon Falls River. It was first settled by Europeans about 1631 as a part of Kittery known as Kittery North Parish. Near the confluence with the Great Works River, Ambrose Gibbons built the Great House at Newichawannock, a palisaded trading post, to exchange goods with the Indians.
In 1634, William Chadbourne, James Wall, and John Goddard arrived from England aboard the ship Pied Cow to build a sawmill and gristmill at Assabumbadoc Falls. Richard Leader, an engineer, rebuilt the sawmill in 1651 to handle up to 20 saws. The factory became known as the "Great mill workes," from which the Great Works River derives its name. It was run by 25 Scottish prisoners of war captured by Oliver Cromwell's forces at the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, then transported aboard a vessel called Unity to Massachusetts. They were sold as slaves whose labor would earn them freedom. The community was dubbed the Parish of Unity after the boat.
The village was attacked in 1675 during King Philip's War, then raided again in 1690-1691 during King William's War by Indians under the command of officers from New France, who burned the Parish of Unity to the ground. It was abandoned, but resettled in 1703 under its Abenaki name, Newichawannock. The Massachusetts General Court incorporated it in 1713 as Berwick, the 9th oldest town in Maine. It was named after Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town of mixed allegiances on the Anglo-Scottish border. On February 12, 1814, South Berwick was set off and incorporated.
During the 19th century, various mills were erected at the rivers to utilize their water power. At the head of navigation, Quampheagan Falls on the Salmon Falls River became the site of the Portsmouth Manufacturing Company. Established in 1831, the cotton textile mill had 7000 spindles and 216 looms, which by 1868 produced 2 million yards of sheeting per year. The mill closed in 1893, and most of its brick buildings were razed about 1917, but the Greek Revival counting house is now the Old Berwick Historical Society Museum. South Berwick also made woolens, shoes, plows, and cultivators, as well as sawn and planed lumber. The town was noted for its apple orchards. Some inhabitants worked across the bridge in Rollinsford, New Hampshire at the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company, which closed in 1927.
In 1901, local author Sarah Orne Jewett set her historical romance The Tory Lover at the Hamilton House in South Berwick. Built about 1785, the Federal style mansion is now a museum operated by Historic New England, which also owns the Sarah Orne Jewett House, built in 1774 overlooking Central Square.