More About Welcome to Middleton

Early settler Bray Wilkins Sr., who played a role in the 1692 witchcraft trials, together with John Gingell, owned 6-700 acres in an area formerly home to an Indian village. It was called Will’s Hill, named after the only native survivor of the village, Chief Will, who reportedly lived at the hill’s summit and is still celebrated in Middleton to this day. Another early settler was Thomas Fuller – he and his son were also involved in the trials. The Lt. Thomas Fuller House, built circa 1684, is the oldest still standing in Middleton.


According to town history found online at the Flint Public Library, “Others who settled on large tracts of land before 1700 included the Putnams, Hobbs, Townes, Elliots, and Peabodys.” Members of several of these families would find themselves caught up in the events of 1692.


In its earliest days, the area was a farming community, with other industries including iron works and saw mills. In the mid-nineteenth century, the shoe industry provided work for many, and a paper mill was established. Sylvania got its start in Middleton Square, while the roots of the family-run Richardson’s Farm, home of Richardson’s Ice Cream, go back to 1695. According to their website, “The Richardson’s have milked cows in Middleton every day since [David Richardson’s] arrival …”.


Several ponds and the Ipswich River, which flows through the eastern side of town (and creates part of the eastern border), helped to make Middleton a favorite summer destination for nearby city residents starting in the late eighteenth century. Also located in Middleton is the Essex County Correctional Facility, constructed in 1991.


According to the Flint Public Library history, “As late as 1840, Middleton had only 640 residents. By 1975, the town’s population had jumped to 4,200. Today, approximately 10,000 people reside in this historic town.” Middleton is one of the fastest-growing communities on the North Shore.


One person from Middleton, John Willard, was hanged for witchcraft in 1692. Also accused, but not executed, were William, Deliverance, and Abigail Hobbs.


Special thanks to Shirley Paul Raynard for her invaluable help with this section of our tour.