Amesbury Town

Essex County, Massachusetts

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Amesbury Town Hall is located at 62 Friend Street, Amesbury, MA 01913.
Phone: 978‑388‑8100.


Though it is called the Town of Amesbury, this municipality was incorporated and chartered with a city form of government.

Beginnings [1]

The homesteads left by the first comers to Amesbury were sold at different times, commencing in 1647. Not until 1654 were there enough families and freeholders in this new settlement to undertake to form a new town. Only 18 legal voters were then within the territory selected. The "Articles of Agreement" of this town were signed May 1, 1654 by the following named, which gives a good idea of who the first settlers of the town were: Joseph Moyce, Thomas Bradbury, Samuel Winsley, George Goldwyer, William Buswell, Edward French, William Allin, Samuel Felloes, Thomas Carter, John Rolfe, John Eaton, Isaac Bushwell, William Osgood, John Stevens, Henry Browne, Roger Eastman, Anthony Colby, George Martin, John Hoyt, Philip Challis, Jaret Handon, Richard Currier, John Weed, Thomas Macy, Edward Cottle, William Barnes, Thomas Barnard and Valentine Rowell.

In 1675 records show that the businesses within the town included farming, fishing, making of staves and building of vessels. These enterprises called forth such tradesmen as blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters, weavers, etc. River and harbor fishing came next to farming in importance. Livestock was raised, small grains were grown in abundance and fine orchards were established.

Benjamin Eastman built a fulling mill on the Powow River about 1708. Other business industries of those early years included the iron works industry. In 1710, Colonel John March, John Barnard, Joseph Brown and Jarvis Ring petitioned for the building of an iron-works on the Powow River, without being taxed, which was readily assented to by the town.

In 1810, 21 ships were built along the Powow.

The most ancient of industries in Amesbury is the manufacture of hats, which dates back to the settlement of the town, for one of the original 17 proprietors was a hatter. In 1767 the town granted a location for the first hat factory, on the Ferry Road, next to the Powow River.

The first library was formed about 1827.

Amesbury was the home of one of America's most celebrated poets, John Greenleaf Whittier. At the age of 28 he purchased a cottage on Friend Street where he lived the remainder of his life. Beginning as an infant, Whittier accompanied his parents, who were devout Quakers, from their home in East Haverhill, when they came to worship at the Friends' meeting house in Amesbury. During his residence in Amesbury, Whittier wrote 422 of his more than 500 poems.

  1. Benjamin F. Arrington, editor, Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts, Volume I, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, New York, 1922.

Nearby Towns: Hampton Town • Merrimac Town • Newbury Town • Newburyport City • Salisbury Town • South Hampton Town • West Newbury Town •

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