Place:Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States


Alt namesAlmsburysource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25007128
Salisburysource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25007128
Town of Amesburysource: Wikipedia
Coordinates42.858°N 70.931°W
Located inEssex, Massachusetts, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Amesbury is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, located on the left bank of the Merrimack River near its mouth, upstream from Salisbury and across the river from Newburyport and West Newbury. The population was 17,366 at the 2020 United States Census. A former farming and mill town, Amesbury is today largely residential. It is one of the two northernmost towns in Massachusetts (the other being neighboring Salisbury).



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


The area which is now Amesbury historically sat at the intersection of Abanaki, Pawtucket, Pennacook, and Wabanaki territory.

Settlement period

In 1637, the first English settler in the Salisbury-Amesbury region, John Bayly, crossed the Merrimack River from the new settlement at Newbury, built a log cabin, and began to clear the land for cultivation. He intended to send for his wife and children in England, but they never joined him. He and his hired man, William Schooler, were arrested for a murder Schooler had committed.[1] Schooler was hanged for the murder but Bayly was acquitted.[1] Given the fishing rights on the river by the subsequent settlement, provided he would sell only to it, he abandoned agriculture for fishing.

On September 6, 1638, the General Court of Massachusetts created a plantation on behalf of several petitioners from Newbury, on the left bank of the Merrimack, as far north as Hampton, to be called Merrimac. They were given permission to associate together as a township.[2] The area remained in possession of the tribes along the Merrimack, who hunted and fished there.[2]

The settlers of the plantation, who entered Massachusetts Bay Colony, were rebels in a cause that was settled by the English Civil War (1642–1651). Although nominally subjects of the crown, they did not obey it. The settlers maintained close ties with the Parliamentary cause in Britain.[3] The supreme government of the colony was the General Court, which functioned autonomously, passing its own laws, establishing courts, incorporating townships and providing for the overall defense of the colony.[4] They established a Puritan church rather than the Church of England.[3]

In the early spring of 1639, approximately 60 planters took up residence on land cleared by the natives. In May, an elected planning committee laid out the green, the initial streets, the burial ground, and the first division into lots, apportioning the size of a lot to the wealth of the settler. In November, the General Court appointed a government of six, which required that every lot owner take up residence on his lot. They began to assign lots west of the Pow-wow river. The town was originally named Colchester, but was renamed Salisbury in October 1640, potentially at the suggestion of Christopher Batt, from Salisbury, England.[5] Batt trained the militia in the town.[5] The incorporation of the town granted it legal recognition by the colony to a township of that name, with its own government, empowered by citizens populating a territory of legally defined boundaries.[5] The original Salisbury was many times larger than the present. From it several townships were later separated.

On January 12, 1641, a town meeting ordered the first roads north and west of the Pow-wow River to be built. On April 21, another meeting granted William Osgood 50 acres of "upland" and 10 of "meadow" along the Pow-wow River, provided he build a sawmill for the town to use. It utilized a water wheel driven by the Pow-wow River.[6] The mill produced lumber for local use and pipe-staves for export.[6] A gristmill was added to the Pow-wow river location in 1642. The Powwow River provided water power for a subsequent mill complex.[7] In 1642, the town wanted families to take up residence west of the Pow-wow and form a "New Town." No volunteers responded.[7]

In 1643, the General Court divided Massachusetts Bay Colony into four counties: Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex and Suffolk. Norfolk contained Salisbury, Hampton, Haverhill, Exeter, Dover, and Strawberry Bank (Portsmouth).[8] This division was a legal convenience based on the distribution of courts.[8] Since the first establishment of four courts on March 3, 1635, the General Court had found it necessary to multiply and distribute courts, so that the magistrates would not spend time in travel that they needed for settling case loads. The main requirement for membership in a shire was incorporation.

Private occupation of the west bank of the Pow-wow River went on as East Salisbury citizens sold their property and moved to New Town. However, New Town remained a paper construct without enforcement.[9] On January 14, 1654, articles of agreement adopted at town meeting divided Salisbury into Old Town and New Town, each to conduct its own affairs.[9] The border was the Pow-wow.[9] The agreement went into effect on January 19, 1655. In New Town, a new government was voted in, which claimed authority over "all matters of publicke concernment." They still paid taxes to Old Town and expected services from it. The board of Old Town contained some members from New Town for fair representation. This agreement also was known as a "settlement".

On May 26, 1658, New Town petitioned the General Court for independent town status, but the Old Town denied the petition. The Old Town required all inhabitants, including those in the New Town, to attend church in Old Town and fined settlers for each missed meeting[10] The church and preacher were maintained from taxes.[10] Minister Joseph Peasley of New Town and his congregation attempting to defy the General Court were summoned into District Court at Ipswich "to answer for their disobedience", were fined there and Peasly was enjoined from preaching.[10] Another petition for separation was denied in 1660.

The burden of attending church several miles away became so great that New Town built a new meeting house and requested the General Court to find a preacher. The court yielded to the petition of 1666, granting the "liberty of a township" to New Town.[11] The town was unofficially incorporated, meaning a government was constituted and officers elected, on June 15.[11] It was named New Salisbury, but in 1667 the name was changed to Amesbury on the analogy of Amesbury, England, which was next to Salisbury, England. Amesbury was officially granted incorporation under that name on April 29, 1668.[12]

After King Phillips War (1675–1678), an effort by the natives to rid themselves of the colonists, the Royal Province of New Hampshire was created and took away several towns in northern Norfolk shire.[13] Massachusetts was reduced in size from most of New England to roughly its current borders. The Court dissolved Norfolk Shire, transferring Salisbury and Amesbury to Essex County.[13]

In 1876, Merrimac was created out of West Amesbury. In 1886, West Salisbury was annexed to Amesbury, unifying the mill areas on both banks of the Pow-wow River.


Beginning as a modest farming community, it developed a maritime and industrial economy. Shipbuilding, shipping and fishing were also important. The ferry across the Merrimack River to Newburyport was a business until the construction of bridges to cross the river. Newton, New Hampshire, was set off from Amesbury in 1741, when the border between the two colonies was adjusted.

In the 19th century, textile mills were built at the falls,[14] as was a nail-making factory. Beginning around 1800, Amesbury began building carriages, a trade which evolved into the manufacture of automobile bodies. Prominent manufacturers included Walker Body Company, Briggs Carriage Company, and Biddle and Smart. The industry ended with the Great Depression.[15] The Merrimac Hat Company was founded in 1856 and became one of the top hat producers in the nation. Amesbury also produced Hoyt's Buffalo Brand Peanut Butter Kisses.

In 1876, the town of Merrimac was set off from Amesbury.

Newspapers in the 19th century included the Amesbury Daily News, Merrimac Journal, Morning Courier, Evening Courier, New England Chronicle, Transcript, and the Villager. Newspapers in the 20th century included the Amesbury Advocate, Amesbury News, Amesbury Times, and Leader.[16]

Twentieth century and beyond

In 1996, the town changed its status to a city, and adopted the mayor and municipal council form of government, although it retained the title "Town of Amesbury", as voters "thought Amesbury was too small and quaint to be a city". Voters approved a charter amendment in November 2011 changing the city's official name to the "City of Amesbury" and removing references to the old "Town of Amesbury" name. The city's seal still bears the name "Town of Amesbury", although the City put forth a bill in 2013 to correct the seal with the new name.[17]

The community has several buildings that feature early architecture, particularly in the Federal and Victorian styles. The "Doughboy", a memorial sculpture by Leonard Craske, stands on the front lawn of the Amesbury Middle School. It was dedicated November 11, 1929.[18] Craske is best known as sculptor for the "Fishermens' Memorial" in Gloucester. There is also a monument erected to Josiah Bartlett, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, who was born in Amesbury.

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