Settled 1633, Incorporated 1634
Ipswich, first called Agawam as it began as a native Indian tribal village, was settled by colonists in 1633, incorporated in 1634 and prides itself as being "The Birthplace of American Independence". This title arises from a protest, led by Reverend John Wise in 1687, with the angry townsfolk refusing to submit to "taxation without representation" promoted by the oppressive "Taxation Edict" of notorious royal governor, Sir Edmund Andros.
"1633, March. John Winthrop, Jr. and twelve others commence a settlement here. 17April 1st. The Court of Assistants forbid any to reside in this place, without their leave, except those already come. Then follows a list of them; viz. — Mr. John Winthrop, Jr., Mr. William Clerk, Robert Coles, Thomas Howlet, John Biggs, John Gage, Thomas Hardy, William Perkins, Mr. John Thorndike, and William Serjeant. Three are wanting to make up the first number. June 11th. Thomas Sellan has permission to become an inhabitant."
The History of Ipswich, Essex and Hamilton, by Joseph B. Felt, 1834.
On August 4, 1634 the village was incorporated and renamed Ipswich for the town in Suffolk County, East Anglia, the locale where most of its first settlers originated.
The present town composes thirty-three square miles encompassing seven hills supported by a topographical landscape of marshes, dunes, beaches, uplands, forests, fields and farmland. The fresh water Ipswich River originates forty-five miles to the west and runs through the town’s heart where it becomes tidal and salt on it’s way to the Atlantic Ocean. Its Crane Beach is reputed to be one of the most beautifully scenic beaches in all New England.
Ipswich is replete with colonial architecture having over forty houses built prior to 1725 still standing and occupied. Its most notable Colonial structures open to the public, are the Whipple House Museum (c. 1677) and the Heard House Museum (1795-1800). The Ipswich Visitor Information Center is housed in the Hall-Haskell House (c.1819) which continues to be the subject of restoration and renovation.
For those of you able to visit Ipswich, The Ipswich Historical Society has a pamphlet to guide you on a Walking Tour of some of the more notable of the old homes and buildings. For those who can not go there in person, the IHS gave me permission to put this pamphlet online. With thanks to some people who took the time to go around and take pictures, you can take the Walking Tour of Ipswich.
While not of a Colonial nature, Castle Hill, owned by The Trustees of Reservations, is an "open to the public" property overlooking Crane Beach (also owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations) and containing a 59-room Stuart style Great House built in 1927.
Another significant Ipswich property is Appleton Farms created and developed by Samuel Appleton. In December 1638, the town of Ipswich granted 770 acres of "medow and upland to him, his heirs and assigns forever" and there began an operation which continues to this day as this country's oldest (or maybe the second oldest) functioning farm still run by the original family.
Shipbuilding and fishing were dominant business activities of Ipswich in the 17th Century. In Colonial Ipswich developed this country's first lacemaking industry helping Ipswich to achieve the status as "The Birthplace of American Hosiery". Tanning and shoemaking soon followed along with machine knitting. Local yore relates that small parts of the original knitting machines were secreted from England in pots of Yorkshire butter and brought to Ipswich in defiance of English export regulations. Id. p. 417 One of its present "most famous products" is the "Ipswich Clam" which is distributed on a nation-wide basis.
Today Ipswich, a culturally and economically diverse community of approximately 12,000, promotes its richly deserved position as one of this country’s most significant, interesting and influential early colonial settlements.