The first British settlers arrived in Marblehead in the late 1620s, leaving Salem to the northwest where they found the Puritan rules too restrictive. One woman from Marblehead, Wilmott Redd, was executed for witchcraft in 1692.
More About Welcome to Marblehead
Located on the coast of Massachusetts, between Salem to the north and Swampscott to the south, Marblehead was founded by British settlers who moved away from nearby Salem Town in the late 1620s to escape the strict rules of the Puritans. These settlers lived peacefully with the native Naumkeag people, whose ranks had been decimated by smallpox epidemics over the years. In 1648, Salem Town voted to allow Marblehead to separate from Salem, which became official the following year. In 1684, the three thousand seven hundred-acre area was officially purchased from the Naumkeags for £16.
Marblehead was world-famous for its fishing industry from the 1620s to the mid-1800s. Today, while some Marbleheaders still earn their living from fishing, the town is more frequently known as the Yachting Capital of the World. Marblehead boasts several yacht clubs, including Boston Yacht Club, Corinthian Yacht Club, Eastern Yacht Club, and the oldest junior yacht club in America, Pleon Yacht Club.
Marblehead also has a rich Revolutionary War history. Marblehead’s Colonel John Glover created the Marblehead Militia, and formed, with his own ship Hannah (the first Naval ship) and other commissioned ships, “ye navy.” For this reason, Marblehead lays claim to the title Birthplace of the American Navy. An interesting note: it was Glover’s Regiment who, on December 25, 1776, rowed General George Washington and his men across the Delaware River to surprise the British in the Battle of Trenton.
Gale’s Head was originally fortified in 1644. A fort was established there in 1742, enlarged in 1794, and enlarged again around the Civil War. It was named Fort Sewall in 1814, after Marblehead lawyer and Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Samuel Sewall. He was the great-grandson of Judge Samuel Sewall, one of the nine judges on the witchcraft trials’ Court of Oyer and Terminer. It was in Marblehead Harbor, under the protection of Fort Sewall’s guns, where the USS Constitution took refuge from two British frigates during the War of 1812, another significant event in American Navy history.
Today, Marblehead is mostly residential. Its population was just under 20,000 in the 2010 census.
One Marblehead woman was accused, convicted, and executed for witchcraft in 1692. Her name was Wilmott Redd.
Looking out on Marblehead Harbor, from Fort Sewall.
Marblehead Light stands at the entrance to Marblehead Harbor, on Marblehead Neck.