Located on the Shore Road on Salem Neck in Salem (“on the easterly corner of Derby and English Streets,” according to historian Sidney Perley), the Blue Anchor Tavern was one of many taverns in Salem in 1692. Historian James Duncan Phillips described it as having, “a large storehouse and wharf in front of it. This was near the starting-point of the Marblehead Ferry, handy to the fishing industries at Winter Island and to travelers entering the town by coastwise boats which did not take the time to go up to the inner harbor.”
In 1674, merchant William Hollingworth (alternate spelling Hollingsworth) was off at sea and his wife Eleanor (alternate spellings Elinor and Elianor) was granted a license to operate an ordinary [a tavern] in her mortgaged house, which she called the Blue Anchor. Her operation was very independent; Eleanor brewed the beer she sold in her own brew house. When William was declared lost at sea in 1677, Eleanor Hollingworth was saddled with significant debts. However, when granted Power of Attorney for the estate, unusual for a woman in that era, Eleanor had William’s debts paid and his businesses running smoothly in short order. She paid off her mortgage by 1682 and owned the Blue Anchor outright. A strong and aggressive woman, Eleanor was herself accused of witchcraft in 1685. When she died at the age of 59 in 1689, Eleanor left no debts and a handsome inheritance for her daughter Mary.