by Judy Anderson, Marblehead Museum & Historical Society
All photos © Marblehead Museum
& Historical Society, used with permission.
on the rocky shores of northeast Massachusetts,
Marblehead is alive with over 375 years of history, including
tales of rugged fisherman and intrepid mariners, enterprising
merchants and skilled craftsmen,
self-reliant women and courageous seamen.
Marblehead Harbor, c. 1763, Ashley Bowen
The town was founded in 1629 as a commercial fishing operation. In
1660, in an official report to the English king, Marblehead was acclaimed
as "the greatest Towne for fishing in New England."
For most of the first decades, its earliest settlers were primarily
West Country. They were a unique mixture of non-conformists
whose hardiness and seafaring adventures brought prosperity to
the town by the mid-1700s. A vigorous shore-based industry of rope-makers, sail-makers, ships block-makers, carpenters,
and others supported the fishing and shipping fleets from the
mid-1600s through the mid-1800s.
Marblehead mariners were crucial participants in Americas
War for Independence, serving General George Washington and
his army in several pivotal and famous operations on both land
and sea. General John Glovers Marblehead Regiment
transported the Continental army across the Delaware River
for the surprise attack on Trenton and rescued 9,000 men with
horses and equipment from the British on Long Island.