More About Blue Anchor Tavern, Site of

In 1674, maritime trader 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.


Mary had married Jersey merchant Philip English in 1675. English was the richest merchant in Salem by 1692. That year, both Mary and Philip English were accused of witchcraft, examined and held for trial in Boston jail, and escaped to New York to wait out the turmoil. They did not return to Salem until spring of 1693. 


Additional note: According to historian Frances Hill, it is rumored that Eleanor Hollingworth is one of the possible models for Hester Prynne, the lead character in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter.


60 Derby Street. Private residence. Not open to the public.