Manchester History

Early History

1623 –  The first settlers on Cape Ann were with the Dorchester Company which built a fishing settlement at what is now Stage Fort Park in Gloucester.

1630 – Arbella anchors off shore with John Winthrop and his Puritan followers as they arrive to found Massachusetts Bay Colony

1636 – a few families have built homes at Jeffrey’s Creek later to be renamed as the town of Manchester

1645 – town is incorporated and named Manchester

town seal

1700’s – coastal fishing and trade serve as main source of income for Manchester residents –  small vessel building takes place along the “harbor” edges

1776 – General Forster leads Manchester militia to answer call to arms after Battle of Lexington and Concord – Forster Flag (one of the 1st flags of the newly forming country) accompanies them


Later History

1812-1814 – During War of 1812, fishing and trade come to a stand still due to British patrols blockading the coast. Small “encounter” between Manchester residents and raiding British forces off Black Beach sends British away by setting up town’s only cannon (but not only cannon ball as it fell out along the way and was later found on the road on the way back) on beach to scare raiders.

1800’s post war – town’s economy recovers with the resuming of small vessel building, cabinet making, coastal fishing and foreign trade. A number of residents serve as captains of larger trading vessels sailing from Boston, Salem and Gloucester.


1845 – railroad comes to Manchester attracting summer visitors

1850-1929 – Gilded Age of summer residents and their “cottages” along the coast of Manchester and neighboring towns


1930’s to present – Manchester transforms into a residential and commuter community.