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Welcome to Essex County, Massachusetts
History and Genealogy

Congregational Church in Marblehead
Congregational Church in Marblehead

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Discovered by Europeans in 1692; the first who are known to have set foot in the county were Edward Harlie and Nicholas Hobson, who landed at Ipswich in 1611. The earliest settlers were the Cape Ann colonists, led by Roger Conant, in 1624. Endicott's colony arrived September 6, 1628. On May10, 1643, eight towns Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover were set apart and incorporated as Essex County.

    Indian disturbances affected the inhabitants but little until the breaking out of King Philip's War; in which brave soldiers and good leaders from Essex County distinguished themselves at various points. Theirs were the troops so mercilessly slaughtered at "Bloody Brook," in Deerfield, a body of ninety picked, well-disciplined, courageous soldiers known as "the Flower of Essex," under Captain Lothrop, where they were surprised by a large body of Philip's savage warriors.

    The history of this county is disfigured by the woeful delusion of witchcraft which raged here in the latter part of the 17th century; and which, originating in that part of Salem which is now included in Danvers, extended to neighboring towns, until not less than 20 persons had actually been executed, while 8 more had been condemned, 150 were in prison awaiting trial, and 200 others had been accused. It is acknowledged that most of those who suffered and many others of the accused were persons of excellent character. In consequence of the trials and the expenses, the rapacious confiscations, and the universal alarm, business was utterly prostrated, and hundreds impoverished. Long years of toil and sorrow elapsed before the county recovered fully from this terrible blow. During the Revolution, Essex County effectively sustained her part on the side of freedom and nationality. A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts 1890

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