1634-1700: The Town is founded and flourishes as one of the leading towns of the Colony
1630 — Eleven ships in the Winthrop fleet bring more than eight hundred Puritan colonists. They begin settlements in Salem, Boston, Charles-town, Medford, Watertown, Newtown (Cambridge), Roxbury, Dorchester and Lynn. John Winthrop is their Governor.
1633 —Agawam is officially settled under leadership of John Winthrop, Jr. Nine other men, Mr. William Clerk, Robert Coles, Thomas Howlett. John Biggs, John Gage, Thomas Hardy, William Perkins, Mr. John Thorndike and William Sergeant, arrive with him in March. Thomas Sellin, George Carr, and John Shatswell are also listed in this first year.
1634 — The Town is incorporated and given the name Ipswich, honoring the merchants of Ipswich, England, financial supporters of the Bay Company. Families have arrived. A first Meeting-House is built, the ninth in the colony, the visible symbol of their covenant with God. The Rev. Thomas Parker and the Rev. Nathaniel Ward are their Ministers.
1635 — High Street is laid out. A foot-bridge spanning the river is completed (near the present County Street). Dwellings must be built within one-half mile of the Meeting House; farm lands and wood lots are allocated in outlying areas. House lots are from one-half to three acres.
1636 — The General Court decrees that Quarterly Courts are to be held in Ipswich.
1637 — Town government maintained by “the seven-men” or” select-men”: John Winthrop, Jr., Simon Bradstreet, Daniel Denison, Goodman Perkins, Goodman Scott, John Gage and Mr. Wade. Daniel Denison is appointed Town Clerk. He is to “Keep the Town Book, enter the Town orders and set a copy of them up in the Meeting-House”. He is also to keep records of land grants.
1638 — Masconomet sells Agawam to John Winthrop, Jr., for twenty pounds.
1639 — Town of Rowley is set off from Newbury and Ipswich.
1640 – John Winthrop. Jr., is granted Castle Hill in addition to his other holdings except for” what the town shall need for the building of a fort”.
1641 — It is ordered that deeds are to be recorded in the “Town Book”. Road surveyors are appointed. The Rev. Nathaniel Ward, lawyer as well as minister, helps to codify the civil law, resulting in a work called the Body of Liberties — important in the development of government in the Bay Colony.
1642 – The town votes to establish a free school. Richard Saltonstall speaks out against life tenure for Magistrates. Every householder is required to own a ladder in case of fire.
1643 — “Whereas the Towne hath formerly granted that there shall be a free Schowle established in the towne, it is now declared that there shall be ten pound per annum raised . . . as the committee shall determine and that there shall be seven free scholars, or soc many as the Feoffees (to be chosen) from tyme to tyme shall order so the number exceed not seven.” Indian beans are used for tallying votes for affairs of the Colony and are carried to the General Court to be counted.
1644 — Each family is asked to contribute one peck of corn or twelve pence for support of Harvard College.
1645 — Richard Saltonstall speaks out against slavery. The “New Meadows” section of Ipswich is “sett off” and becomes Topsfield.
1646 — Forty pounds sterling appropriated to build a bridge across the river. Mr. William Payne, John Whipple and Richard Jacob are the building committee. Of the second structure of the First Church, Edward Johnson writes “their Meeting house is a very good prospect to a great part of the town and beautifully built”. One hundred forty-six families live in the town. The Rev. Nathaniel Ward’s “Simple Cobbler of Agawam” is published in England.
1648 — Any male inhabitant of the town that “shall be absent from the yearly meetings or from any other meeting whereof they shall have lawful warning shall forfeit one shilling.”
1649 —Ipswich is allowed two-fifths of Plum Island by the General Court.
1650 — Town government consists of selectmen, two constables, four surveyors, and a committee of five to apportion taxes for support of the ministers. Ad hoc committees are frequently named. Ann Bradstreet’s “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America” is published in England. Population now “about one hundred and forty families”.
1651 —. The Town gives all the neck beyond the Chebacco River and the rest of the ground up to the Gloucester line to support the Grammar School. Five trustees known as Feoffees of the Grammar School are chosen to administer the Grant. (Called Cogswell’s Grant, it was rented for many years to John Cogswell.)
1652 — The second prison in the Massachusetts Bay Colony is built in Ipswich.
1658– Masconomet, the Sagamore of Agawam, dies. Sometime later his body is buried on the summit of Sagamore Hill (in what is now Hamilton).
1659 — It is ordered that the Town Bell shall be rung each day as a curfew (a practice continued until recent years). Haying and planting rights are granted on common lands.
1665 —Plum Island is withdrawn from common lands when it is divided among the two hundred and three inhabitants who have rights of commonage. Twenty-eight are entitled to a double share; seventy to a share and a half; one hundred and five to a single share. Each share contains three acres.
1666 — Felling of shade trees in streets or highways is prohibited.
1670 — Town lots average two acres; tillage lots about six acres. Corn and rye are the staple crops. Richard Saltonstall holds a monopoly on the “mill privilege” for many years. (His grist mill occupied part of the site on which the main mill buildings — now EBSCO— stand.)
1673 — Jonathan Wade has a windmill on Windmill Hill (site of Cable Hospital) prior to 1673. Extensive ship-building is beginning in Chebacco (now Essex).
1675 — Total male population estimated at five hundred. Indian uprisings known as King Philip’s War begin. Bloody battles occur throughout the Colony and Ipswich militia men march away to protect settlers to the west and south. Marauding bands of Indians spread throughout the whole colony. Fortifications are planned in all the seacoast towns. General Denison becomes Commander-in-Chief of all the forces of the Colony. Maj. Appleton turns the tide of warfare along the Connecticut River. Although threatened many times, there are no actual skirmishes in the Town. Land grants in other parts of the Colony awarded for service in the Indian wars quicken the migrations out of Ipswich into other parts of New England.
1679 — After much contention, and by a vote of the Town, Chebacco is allowed to form its own Parish.
1681 — The Mason and Gorges territorial claims against the colony’s charter threaten land grants in Ipswich.
1684 — A House of Correction is built. As a result of the long contention between the English Kings and Parliament and the colonists, the charter which had been in effect since 1629 is vacated, and the Colony belongs to the Crown.
1686 — Sir Edmund Andros, appointed Royal Governor, decrees that a royal tax is to be collected and that a special new tax collector is to be chosen in each town. Since the earliest days of the Colony, the people had imposed taxes upon themselves and they are angered by Andros’ abrogation of their rights as Englishmen.
1687 — A town meeting is held at which the Rev. John Wise of the Chebacco Parish and several others speak out against the new tax. The meeting refuses to elect the tax collector after speakers remind the voters of their rights as Englishmen, since the days of King John and Magna Carta, to impose taxes upon themselves. Twelve are arrested as ringleaders of the rebellion. Trials are held in Boston Courts, heavy fines imposed along with deprivation of civil privileges. (As a result of this rebellion we now have on the Town Seal “Birthplace of American Independence”.)
1689 — Suddenly, fearful accusations of witchcraft begin in Salem, Salem Village, Rowley, Newbury and Ipswich. The Ipswich jail is used to house the overflow from the Salem jail. Ipswich ministers speak out against the trials and consequent punishments.
1689 — King Williams War. The year 1689 marks the outbreak of three quarters of a century of wars between France and England as the two nations struggle for empire and trade in Europe, Asia and America. King William III of England heads the European alliance against the French King, Louis XIV, but most of the fighting is on the northern frontier with the French attacking the Iroquois Indians and the colonists being attacked by frontier Indians. The Colonists, including Maj. Appleton, Capt. Cross and Rev. John Wise from Ipswich, under the command of Sir William Phips, succeed in capturing Port Royal, Nova Scotia, in 1690. Ipswich is fearful of attack as Rowley and Newbury had been attacked.
1692 — Elizabeth Howe of the Linebrook section is accused of witchcraft, tried, convicted and hung. Sarah Buckley, Rachel Clenton and Elizabeth Proctor are tried and pardoned. Ipswich ministers again speak out against the hysteria, and lead the efforts to clear the names of the accused and to relieve those who suffered.