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Town of Kittery, ME - Historical Notes
One act of the court of elections held on October 20, 1647, was memorable : the erection of the Piscataqua Plantations into a town, the first in our present State of Maine, by the name of Kittery, which embraced the present town of that name, the Berwicks and Eliot.
The Town of Kittery, Maine, takes its name from the manor of Kittery Court located on Kittery Point in Kingsweare, Devon, England, across the river Dart from the city of Dartmouth. The old manor house is standing. From Kingsweare the Shapleigh family, first settlers and proprietors of Kittery Point, Maine, came to New England. Colonel Charles Banks, to whom the discovery of the origin of the name is due, also mentions the word Godmorrock, an early name of the castle of Kingsweare, the home of the Shapleighs, which was given to land in Kittery, but remained for only a brief time.
Nicholas Shapleigh, the builder of the first house at Kittery Point, Maine, and the only emigrant to come in his own vessel, was a man of substance and influence. During the troublesome times of the changing governments in the seventeenth century in the Province of Maine, he was either elected or appointed to most of the offices in the hands of the government or the people. A loyal follower of Gorges and his King, as Provincial Councillor, he was, however, among the first to take the oath of allegiance to Massachusetts in 1652, where by his weight of character and popularity, he became special commissioner for holding courts, county treasurer and seargeant-major of the Yorkshire militia.
Many of the first settlers at Kittery who were there as early as 1623 were fishermen, hunters, and trappers and workers in timber, which was easily shipped to England or the West Indies.
Captain Francis Champernowne was another Kittery pioneer. His birthplace was at Champernowne manor, Dartington Hall, ten miles above the home of the Shapleighs in England. The southern part of Kittery, Maine was first called Champernowne's.
Three brothers from Wales, John, Robert and Richard Cutts, were also early comers. Mr. Edward Godfrey had charge of a trading post in Kittery in 1632.
Among the other early settlers were:
- John Andrews
- Philip Babb
- Mary Baylie
- John Bursley
- Humphrey Chadbourne
- William Chadbourne
- Nicholas Frost
- Charles Frost
- William Everett
- Thomas Withers
- Edwin Small
- John Heard
- John Edgecomb
- John Fernald
- Peter Wyler
The first selectmen of Kittery after its incorporation in 1647, were Nicholas Shapleigh, John Heard, and Nicholas Frost ; the town clerk was Humphrey Chadbourne, who held office for twenty years.
John Josselyn, writing in 1663, said : "Towns there are are not many in this province. Kittery situated not far from Passacataway is the most populous." In 1652, when the people of Kittery submitted to Massachusetts, it was recognized as a municipal township and along with York received a guaranty of equal privileges with other towns of Massachusetts.
Taken from "Maine Place Names and The Peopling of It's Towns / by Ava Harriet Chadbourne, Professor Emeritas of Education, University of Maine. Printed by Furbush-Roberts Co., Inc., Bangor, Me. c1955.
- Old Kittery and her families by Everett S. Stackpole. Published 1903 by Press of Lewiston journal company in Lewiston, Me .