Place:Newbury, Essex, Massachusetts, United States

Alt namesWessacucon Plantationsource: USGS, GNIS Digital Gazetteer (1994) GNIS25011797
Coordinates42.767°N 70.883°W
Located inEssex, Massachusetts, United States
Contained Places
Old Town
Byfield Cemetery
First Parish Burying Ground ( 1635 - )
Inhabited place
Newburyport ( - 1764 )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

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

Newbury is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, USA. The population was 6,716 at the 2020 census. Newbury includes the villages of Old Town (Newbury Center), Plum Island and Byfield. Each village is a precinct with its own voting district, various town offices, and business center.


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

Native Americans lived along the Merrimack River for thousands of years prior to European colonization of the Americas. At the time of contact, Pennacook or Pentucket controlled territory north of the Merrimack, while Agawam and Naumkeag controlled territory southeast and southwest of the river respectively. The original name for the land that would become Newbury may have been Quascancunquen meaning "waterfall," referring to the falls in Byfield where Central Street crosses the Parker River, and was likely part of the territory of Agawam sachem Masconomet at the time of contact.[1] No formal agreements between the original inhabitants of Newbury and English colonists would be made until more than a generation had passed from settlement and the effects of virgin soil epidemics had significantly decreased native populations in the area.

English colonists settled and incorporated Newbury Plantation 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. They sailed from the River Thames aboard the ship Mary and John, first landing in Agawam (now Ipswich) in 1634. They arrived the next spring at 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 at Newbury, named after the town in Berkshire, England.

In 1650, 30 acres of modern day West Newbury referred to as Indian Hill was purchased by the town of Newbury from an indigenous man named Great Tom for three pounds.[1] In 1681, the descendants of an indigenous man Old Will would sell one hundred and sixty acres to the town of Newbury for six pounds, thirteen shillings, and four pence.[1] Finally, in 1700, the grandson of sachem Masconomet of the Agawam would relinquish his title to any lands in Newbury for a sum of ten pounds.[1]

In 1791, 3,000 head of cattle grazed town lands, or on the region's abundant salt marsh hay. Other trades included tanning and shipbuilding. Newbury originally included Newburyport, set off in 1764, and West Newbury, set off in 1819.

In 1636, the first water-powered mill was established at the falls. Gristmills and sawmills were built, and in 1794, the first textile mill in Massachusetts. At Byfield in 1763 was founded the nation's first boarding preparatory school, Dum'r (Dummer) Charity School, known subsequently as Dummer Academy, Governor Dummer Academy, and now The Governor's Academy. It was also site of the first female seminary, founded in 1807. Byfield developed into a mill village, and once had six water-powered mills, manufacturing various products from woolens to snuff.

The railroad entered the community in 1850, carrying freight but also tourists, helping Plum Island develop into a Victorian seaside resort. Back on the mainland, silver was discovered in a large field in 1878, and the Chipman Silver Mine would begin operations until it finally closed in 1925. By 1905, however, the economy had shifted back to agriculture, and Newbury became a supplier of eggs, milk and poultry. Some would dig for clams or hay the salt marshes. The town is today primarily residential, with many examples of fine antique architecture.

The Landing at Parker River (Newbury) [1] From: "Ould Newbury": Historical and Biographical Sketches by John J. Currier (1896), Damrell and Upham, Boston

The settlers of Newbury were much like those of much of what is now northern Essex county. They were not religious enthusiasts or pilgrims who fled from religious persecution in England. They were substantial, law abiding, loyal English tradesmen, of that staunch middle class that was the backbone of England.

Those that settled Newbury came at different times and on different ships, between the end of April, 1634 and July, 1635. In one of the first ships arriving in 1635, came Thomas Parker a minister along with a small company of settlers. They went first to Agawam (Ipswich) and later along with their countrymen, who came from Wiltshire, England, to Newbury. On May 6, 1635, before the settlers had moved from Ipswich to Newbury, the House of Deputies passed a resolution that Quascacunquen was to be established as a plantation and its name was to be changed to Newbury. So Newbury was named before the first settlers arrived, interestingly Thomas Parker had taught school in Newbury, Berkshire, England before coming to America.

The first settlers came by water from Ipswich, through Plum Island Sound, and up the Quascacunquen River, which was later renamed the Parker River. There had been a few fisherman occupying the banks of the Merrimack and Parker rivers before this, but they were not permanent settlers. These settlers came to Newbury in May or June of 1635. Ships from England began to arrive almost immediately with cattle and more settlers. Governor Winthrop, in his history of New England under the date of June 3, 1635, records the arrival of two ships with Dutch cattle along with the ship "James", from Southampton bringing more settlers.

Newbury was, therefore, begun as a stock raising enterprise and the settlers came to engage in that business and to establish homes for themselves. In total fifteen ships came in June and one each in August, November and December bringing still more families to the settlement.

There is no record of how many families arrived in the first year. Houses were erected on both sides of the Parker River. The principal settlement was around the meeting house on the lower green. The first church in Newbury could not have been formed before June, as some of those recorded at its formation are not recorded as having arrived until June. In the division of land the first settlers recognized the scripture rule, "to him that hath shall be given," and the wealth of each grantee can be estimated by the number of acres given him.

The reason for establishing Newbury, as stated above, was not in fleeing from religious persecution but to utilize vacant lands and to establish a profitable business for the members of a stock-raising company.

When they arrived in Massachusetts, the settlers found that the state had established the Congregational form of religion. Everyone was taxed to support the Congregational Society and was commanded to attend worship at the meeting house. The Reverend Thomas Parker was a member of the stock raising company and was also the minister of the settlers. The outlying settlers had a long journey to the meeting house. The congregations were in danger of attacks from Indians and wild beasts on their way to and from worship. There was a constant dread of attack during the time of services and all able bodied inhabitants were required to bring their weapons to church. Sentinels were posted at the doors. In spite of the hardship and danger, the population steadily increased in number and gradually improved its worldly condition. Being cramped for room, the settlers moved up to the upper or training green. This was in order to get tillable land and engage in commercial pursuits. This movement began in 1642. Each had been allotted half an acre for a building lot on the lower green, on the upper green each was to have four acres for a house lot. Also on the upper green a new pond was artificially formed for watering cattle.

The new town gradually extended along the Merrimack River to the mouth of the Artichoke River. It appears that all desirable land in this region was apportioned among the freeholders by October 1646. The land beyond was ordered to lie perpetually common. This tract of common land was a part of Newbury and what is now West Newbury. The Indian threat had disappeared as most of the Indians in the region had been exterminated by an epidemic. The first record of an Indian living in Newbury is in January 1644, when a lot was granted to "John Indian."

Over the following years some notable, though not earth shaking events occurred in Newbury. In 1639, Edward Rawson began the manufacture of gun powder in what was probably America's first powder mill.

Newbury had a trial for witchcraft thirteen years before the trials in Salem. In 1679, Elizabeth Morse was accused. She was condemned three times to die, but was reprieved and spent her last years in her home, at what is now Market square in Newburyport.

The first American born silversmith was Jeremiah Dummer of Newbury who apprenticed to John Hull, an Englishman. He practiced his trade in what is now Newburyport. Jeremiah was the father of Governor William Dummer the founder of Gov. Dummer Academy. Jeremiah's brother-in-law, John Coney, engraved the plates for the first paper money made in America. In 1686, when the upper Commons (West Newbury) were divided among the freeholders of the town of Newbury, Pipestave Hill was covered with a dense forest of oak and birch. These trees were cut and used to make staves for wine casks and molasses hogsheads. For many years, this industry, the first of its kind in America, flourished and the place is still called Pipestave Hill.

Limestone was discovered in Newbury in 1697. Previous to this all the lime used for building was obtained from oyster and clam shells. Mortar made from this lime was very durable and came, in time, to be almost as hard as granite. This business prospered for many years until a superior quality of lime was discovered elsewhere.

The first toll bridge and shipyard in America were also in Newbury. The latter giving rise to the ship building industry which was to determine the prosperity of Newburyport in the coming centuries.

NEWBURY - A Brief History [2])

"In February, 1633-34 the Council for New England, assembled at Whitehall, England, adopted an order placing certain restrictions on the transportation of passengers and merchandise to the colony of Massachusetts Bay; and before the ship "Mary and John" and eight other vessels, then lying in the river Thames, were allowed to sail, instructions were issued expressly providing that the captains in command of these vessels "shall cause the Prayers contained in the Book of Common Prayers, established in the Church of England, to be said daily at the usual hours of Morning and Evening Prayers, and that they cause all persons on board said ships to be present at the same."

In the ship "Mary and John" cam Thomas Parker, James Noyes, John Spencer, Henry Short,Henry Lunt, John Bartlett, and many others, who ultimately settled in Newbury. Upon their arrival in New England most of these passengers went to Agawam, now Ipswich, Mass., where they remained until the spring of 1635.

Meanwhile Sir Richard Saltonstall, Henry Sewall, Richard and Stephen Dummer, with others from Wiltshire, England had organized a company for the purpose of stock-raising at a time when the prices for cattle, horses, and sheep were at their highest. They added to their own domestic herds some imported Flemish stock, and persuaded John Spencer, Henry Short, Richard Kent,Thomas Parker, and others to join them in the enterprise, and establish a settlement on the river Quascacunquen, now Parker River.

Sept. 3, 1633, the General Court granted "John Winthrop, junior, and his assignes" permission to set up a trading house on the Merrimack River; and under date of May 6, 1635, the House of Deputies passed the following order:-

Quascacunquen is allowed by the court to be a plantation, and it is referred to Mr. (John) Humphrey, Mr. (John) Endicott, Captain (Nathaniel) Turner, and Captain (William) Trask, or any three of them, to set out the bounds of Ipswich and Quascacunquen, or so much thereof as they can; and the name of said plantation shall be changed, and shall hereafter be called Newberry.

Further, it is ordered that it shall be in the power of the court to take order that the said plantation shall receive a sufficient company to make a competent towne.

Previous to this date, undoubtedly, a few venturesome fishermen had built temporary residences on the banks of the Merrimack and Quascacunquen rivers; but they were looked upon as trespassers and intruders, for the General Court had forbidden all persons from settling within their jurisdiction without leave.

Rev. Thomas Parker and those associated with him, having obtained permission to begin a plantation "to be called Newberry", made preparations to remove from Ipswich early in the spring. There were no roads through the trackless forest, and the transportation of women and children and household goods overland was impracticable. Tradition asserts that they came by the way of Plum Island Sound, in open boats, and landed, in the month of May or June, 1635, on the north shore of what is now the river Parker, in a little cover about one hundred rods below the bridge; Nicholas Noyes, the brother of Rev. James Noyes, being the first to leap ashore. Near this secluded spot a number of summer cottages have recently been erected, giving to the place a pleasant, home-like look; but two centuries and a half ago the prospect was less agreeable and inviting.

"...Eastward, cold, wide marshes stretched away,
Dull, dreary flats without a bush or tree,
O'ercrossed by winding creeks, where twice a day
Gurgled the waters of the moon-struck sea;
And faint with distance came the stifled roar,
The melancholy lapse of waves on the low shore."

Inland hills rising above hills stood like sentinels over the almost unbroken wilderness. Centuries before this memorable landing Indians had hunted in these forests and fished in the placid stream that ebbs and flows to the falls of Newbury; but only a few of that race remained to resist the encroachments of the white-faced strangers. Dismal and gloomy must have been the outlook as these brave pioneers gathered together at the close of the first day, and contemplated the prospect before them. They knew that wild beasts were roaming through the forests, and whether the red men would welcome them as friends or foes was as yet uncertain.

"Their descendants can have but a faint idea of the difficulties they encountered, and of the dangers that continually hung over their heads, threatening every moment to overwhelm them like a torrent, and sweep the, with those who they dearly loved, to the silent tomb."

Undismayed by these difficulties and dangers, the new settlers instinctively turned their attention to the cultivation of the soil and the development of the resources of nature. Here and there along the winding river they appropriated the few clear spots where the natives had formerly planted corn, and promptly took possession of the neighboring marshes where the growing crop of salt grass promised an abundant harvest. There was no lack of work; no room for idle dreamers. Houses had to be built, land ploughed and tilled, and sheds erected for the protection of cattle before winter set in. House lots, planting lots, and meadow lots were laid out and granted to individual members of the community, and the original entries, giving names and dates, can still be seen on the old records of the town; but how many houses were erected or how many families settled in Newbury during the first year of its existence it is impossible to state with exactness. Governor Winthrop, in his History of New England, under date of June 3, 1635, records the arrival of two ships with Dutch cattle; and the same day the ship "James" arrived from Southampton, bringing, among other passengers, John Pike, father of the famous Robert Pike, of Salisbury, and one Thomas Coleman, who had been employed b the projectors of the stock-raising company to provide food for the cattle and take care of them for a specified term of years.

In the Massachusetts Colony Records, under date of July 8, 1635:- It is ordered that there shall be a convenient quantity of land set out by Mr. Dumer and Mr. Bartholemewe, within the

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The Evolution of the Town of Newbury

"On May 6, 1635, the plantation called Wessacucon was established as "Neweberry." It derived its name from Newbury, Berkskire, England, and was so named in honor of the Rev. Thomas Parker, who had preached for some time in Newbury, England, before his emigration to America. The town comprised all the territory now included in the city of Newburyport, the towns of West Newbury and Newbury, and the larger part of the parish of Byfield. On Jan. 28, 1764, Newburyport was set off from Newbury. On Feb. 18, 1819, a part of Newbury was established as Parsons, which name was changed, on June 14,1820, to West Newbury."

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