These 9 Massachusetts towns are wicked old, in fact…the oldest! How old are they? They’re so old rainbows were likely black and white. No seriously, they’re so old, they are in the record books as the oldest towns in Massachusetts. This whole subject came to mind when I was reading something the other day that mentioned Gloucester was one of the oldest towns here in Mass. So, of course I had to start digging to find out what other towns were considered the oldest.

Think about it. Everywhere you go in our historic state you see town signs with settlement dates, or year established. It’s a source of pride, and it should be! Collecting information on this subject got a little tricky because some go by cities or towns settlement dates and some go by established dates. So, I enlisted the help of  Only In Your State and Wikipedia to share, with you, a list of the oldest towns. These are the oldest towns in Massachusetts, according to the date they were settled.

See if your town made the list!

  • 9. Hingham

    This pretty little South Shore town was first settled in 1633 under the name Bare Cove. It was named after a market town in England. And most of it’s first settlers came from Hingham in England, and other nearby villages in East Anglia. It was incorporated in 1635 and the land was deeded to the English by the Wampanoag chief, who name was Wompatuck, in 1655. (Wikipedia) Hingham, today, is where you will find the beautiful Wompatuck State Park. 

  • 8. Ipswich

    This gorgeous North Shore coastal town was settled in 1630. It was founded by John Winthrop the Younger. His father, John Winthrop became the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was originally referred to as Agawam, and later named after the town of Ipswich in the country Suffolk, England. (Wikipedia). Today people come from all over to enjoy the sand, water and scenic views at Crane Beach.

  • 7. Watertown

    1630 was a popular year for settling into Massachusetts towns. This was the year Watertown was founded (among others to come). This Middlesex Country city actually dates back way further than this. According to Wikipedia and archeological evidence,  Watertown was likely inhabited for thousands of years before the English settled here. It was first known as Saltonstall Plantation, later it became known as Waterton. Watertown became the home of the first gristmill and shortly after one of the first woolen mills was built here. 

    Another first happened here…

  • 6. Medford

    Medford was settled in 1630 and was first known as a part of Charlestown. Just north and west of Boston, this suburb was originally called Misktick, which is what the indigenous people called the area river. Mistick was later renamed”Meadford,” likely because it described the area of  the “meadow by the ford.” (Wikipedia). A couple of very famous songs were written by town residents here. Lydia Marie Child wrote “Over The River and Through The Woods” after a trip to her grandparents house on the other side of town. And “Jingle Bells” was written by Medford’s John Pierpont, after watching a sleigh race from Medford to Malden.  Of course, Medford is also home to a highly acclaimed university.


  • 5. Boston

    Boston is one of the oldest municipalities in America. It was founded in 1630 on the Shawmut Penisula from settlers who came from Boston, England. Just walk around some streets in the financial district, Faneuil Hall area or the North End. That’ll show you just how old. But the European charm, and the history is what we love best about our city. It’s what has been drawing visitors here for generations.  So much has happened here, so many things started here. Today it’s considered to be one of the best cities to live. Conversely, it’s also has the 2nd highest rent in the country. Ouch. Got to work on that. 

  • 4. Lynn

    Lynn was first settled by Europeans in 1629. It was originally known as Saugus. It got it’s name from an area in Norfolk, England called King’s Lynn. And the first business in town was a mill. It supplied grains for the settles and trade with the Naumkeag natives, but was also used to make wine and beer to send back to to King George in England. In the beginning of the 20th century, another business reigned in Lynn. It became the world-leader in the production of shoes. But wait, there’s more…the first roast beef sandwich was reportedly created here!


  • 3. Salem

    This North Shore suburb of Boston was settled in 1626. Yes, it’s famous for it’s witch trials, and now a Halloween tourist attraction. Ironically, it got it’s name from a hebrew word meaning “peace.” Salem went on to become a world-famous seaport, especially in trading with China. It was big on cod fishing, exporting to Europe and the West Indies, along with sugar and molasses.

  • 2. Gloucester

    This center of the fishing industry and popular summer destination was first settled in 1623. It was originally called “Sandy Bay” and included the town of Rockport. Logging and cattle were the first order of business here, as the rocky land didn’t serve farming well. Later, Gloucester became a thriving granite industry. Later the city became known as an important shipbuilder center. In fact, it’s been reported that the very first schooner was built here in 1713. Fun fact: Gloucester is the birthplace of Marvel character Dane Whitman whose superhero alter ego is the Black Knight. (Wikipedia)

  • 1. Plymouth

    An now, ladies and gentlemen…the oldest of the old. It’s “America’s Hometown.” Plymouth was settled in 1620, and you may have seen the not-so-impressive rock (replica) where the Pilgrims first stepped foot in this area of Massachusetts.  This is where New England was first established. It is the oldest town in New England and one of the oldest in America. This is the home of the First Thanksgiving. It was named after a city in Southwest England. And completely coincidentally, after a failed attempt to make the 1620 trans-Atlantic crossing from Southampton, the Mayflower ultimately set sail for America from Plymouth, England. Fun fact: Plymouth became the world’s largest manufacturer of rope and cordage products, with the founding of the Plymouth Cordage Company in 1824.  At one point, the longest ropewalk in the world was found on the company’s North Plymouth waterfront site, measuring a quarter mile long.

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