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Ipswich is a seaside town of 13,000 people (2010) in Massachusetts. Home to Willowdale State Forest and Sandy Point State Reservation, Ipswich includes the southern part of Plum Island. A residential community with a vibrant tourism industry, the town is famous for its clams, celebrated annually at the Ipswich Chowderfest, and for Crane Beach, a barrier beach near the Crane estate.



Ipswich was founded by John Winthrop the Younger, son of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and its first governor, elected in England in 1629. Several hundred colonists sailed from England in 1630 in a fleet of 11 ships, including Winthrop's flagship, the Arbella.

There is no record of any Native resistance to the colonization, even though estimates of the earlier populations run into the thousands. A plague of 1616–1618 and again in the early 1630s, perhaps smallpox brought from abroad, had apparently devastated the once populous Indian tribes. The fields stood vacant. The colonists encountered but few Natives.

Ipswich was incorporated as a village in 1634, and named after Ipswich in the county of Suffolk, England.

Pioneers would become farmers, fishermen, shipbuilders or traders. The tidal Ipswich River provided water power for mills, and salt marshes supplied hay for livestock. A cottage industry in lace-making developed. But in 1687, Ipswich residents, led by the Reverend John Wise, protested a tax imposed by the governor, Sir Edmund Andros. As Englishmen, they argued, taxation without representation was unacceptable. Citizens were jailed, but then Andros was recalled to England in 1689, and the new British sovereigns, William III and Mary II, issued colonists another charter. The rebellion is the reason the town calls itself the "Birthplace of American Independence".

Great clipper ships of the 19th century bypassed Ipswich in favor of the deep-water seaports at Salem, Newburyport, Quincy, and Boston. The town remained primarily a fishing and farming community, its residents living in older homes they could not afford to replace—leaving Ipswich with a considerable inventory of early architecture. In 1822, a stocking manufacturing machine which had been smuggled out of England arrived at Ipswich, violating a British ban on exporting such technology, and the community developed as a mill town. In 1868, Amos A. Lawrence established the Ipswich Hosiery Mills beside the river. It would expand into the largest stocking mill in the country by the turn of the 20th century. What may be the last witchcraft trial in North America was held in Ipswich in 1878. In the Ipswich witchcraft trial, a member of the Christian Science religion was accused of using his mental powers to harm others, including a spinster living in the town.

Get in[edit]

Map of Ipswich (Massachusetts)

By car[edit]

  • From the south, take Exit 50 on I-95 to US-1 North. After about 4.4 miles, turn right onto Ipswich Rd. Continue for 4 miles to arrive in downtown Ipswich.
  • From the north, take Exit 54 on I-95 to route 133 then turn left. Continue on 133 East for about 7 miles to arrive in downtown Ipswich.

By train[edit]

By air[edit]

Get around[edit]

Ipswich Essex Explorer. Provides weekend service during the summer to Essex, Crane Beach, and other nearby attractions.



  • 1 Crane Beach, Argilla Road, +1 978-356-4354, . 8AM-dusk. A 1200-acre reservation of beachfront, dunes and maritime forests with 5.5 miles of raised boardwalk trails. Crane Beach's annual sand sculpture competition "Sandblast!" is held every August. In-season: lifeguards and rangers, bike rack, bathhouses with toilets and changing area, outside showers, Store (refreshments and merchandise), picnic tables, drinking water fountains, transportation for mobility-impaired and challenged visitors. Off-season: portable toilets. Crane Beach (Q5181997) on Wikidata Crane Beach on Wikipedia
  • Willowdale State Park, Linebrook Road (Main entrance off of Route 1 near Hood Pond), +1 978 887-5931. Hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing on 40 miles of trails, fishing and boating on Hood Pond.

Arts & culture[edit]


  • Historic Ipswich. With more First Period houses than any town in the country, Ipswich is America's best-preserved Puritan town, and prides itself on being the "Birthplace of American Independence." The Town Historian publishes a popular website and leads historic tours throughout the warmer months.





Go next[edit]

Routes through Ipswich
NewburyportRowley  N US 1.svg S  TopsfieldBoston
NewburyportRowley  N MA Route 1A.svg S  HamiltonBoston
GeorgetownRowley  W MA Route 133.svg E  EssexGloucester
BeverlyHamilton  SW MBTA Newburyport-Rockport icon.png NE  RowleyNewburyport

This city travel guide to Ipswich is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.