“This town is said to have been settled in 1635, which is the date of the earliest record to be found of the proceeding of planters in relation to the disposal of lands. The exact date when the first English people settled here cannot be ascertained. Among some private papers there is a “list of the names of such persons as came out of the town of Hingham and towns adjacent, in the county of Norfolk, Eng., and settled in Hingham, New Eng.,” from which it appears there were inhabitants here as early as 1633. In June of the first-named year, grants were made to a considerable number of individuals, and on the 18th of Sept., 30 of the inhabitants drew for house-lots, and received grants of other lands for the purpose of pasture, tillage, &c. The following is a list of
the first settlers of Hingham, with the year in which lands were granted them in the town :
Edmund Hobart, sen.
Edmund Hobart, jr.,
Rev. Peter Hobart,
Thos. Lincoln, weav.
John Beal, senr.,
Mr. Robert Peck,
John Beal, jr.,
Thos. Lincoln, farm.,
Mr. Henry Smith,
Wid. Martha Wilder,
1639. Anthony Hilliard, John Prince.
In 1635, Rev. Peter Hobart and his associates from Hingham, in the county of Nor. folk, in England, began a settlement in this town at a place called Bear Cove, which was afterwards called Hingham. ” The house-lots of the settlers, as already stated, were drawn 18 September, 1635. The Rev. Peter Hobart was there on that day, and drew a lot with the twenty-nine.” Mr. Hobart continued to discharge the duties of his office till his death, in 1679, at the age of seventy-five. He was a man of piety and talents, and had four sons, who all became respectable ministers. Rev. John Norton was ordained colleague pastor with Mr. Hobart a few months before his decease. Mr. Norton died in 1716, and was succeeded by Rev. Ebenezer Gay, who continued in the ministry nearly sixty-nine years, and died in 1787, at the age of nearly ninety-one years. Rev. Henry Ware. D. D., the successor of Mr. Gay, was ordained about seven months of his decease, and continued about eighteen years, when he resigned to accept the Hollis professorship of divinity in Harvard University. Rev. Joseph Richardson, his successor, was settled in 1806. The Second church in Hingham was formed in 1745 ; Rev. Daniel Shute, D. D., their first minister, was ordained the next year. He was pastor here more than fifty-five years. His sight failing him, he ceased from his public labors in 1799, and died in 1802. Dr. Shute had a seat in the convention which formed the Constitution of the United States. Rev. Nicholas B. Whitney succeeded Dr. Shute in 1800. The Third church was formed in 1807, and Rev. Henry Colman, the first minister, was ordained the same year. Rev. Charles Brooks, the next minister, was ordained in 1821.
The following is a representation of the ancient Congregational church in the village of Hingham, the oldest house of worship now standing in New England. It was erected in 1680, was 55 feet in length, 45 in breadth, and the height of the posts was 20 feet. It cost the town the sum of £430 and the old house. Two additions have been made to the building; the first about the year 1730, and the second in 1755. These additions were made, however, without materially altering the external appearance and form of the house. It is yet in a good state of preservation, and its frame of oak bears no mark of dilapidation or decay. It cannot now be ascertained at what particular time the first meeting-house was erected; it was, however, a small building, surrounded by a palisado, for the protection of the worshippers from Indian assault. Its situation was very near, if not the spot, on which the post-office now stands, near the academy. Around it, upon the declivities of the hill, the dead were buried, where, after a repose of nearly two centuries, they were disturbed by the march of improvement. ‘ The meeting-house is gone—the soil upon which it rested is gone —the worshippers are gone. Not a solitary monument points out the spot where were deposited the remains of the brave, the virtuous, the learned, who laid the foundation of our social improvements and religious blessings.’
The village of Hingham is built at the head of a bay, which is an arm of the great bay of Massachusetts. Owing to its situation, it is rather irregularly built, embracing within its limits a number of sandy elevations. The township is seven miles in length, and about five in breadth. The soil in many parts of the town is rich and fertile. There are in Hingham 1 woollen factory, an iron foundry, a brass foundry, and salt works. In addition to these there is the usual variety of mechanical works, as is found in most towns of a similar size. Here is a printing-office and a bookstore, and a large number of traders in foreign and domestic goods. Ship-building is carried on in the town to considerable extent. About 80 sail of vessels belong to this place, which are engaged in the cod and mackerel fishery and the coasting-trade. Seve
the summer months a steamboat plies daily between the places. Derby Academy, a free school, and the Willard Private Academy, are highly respectable seminaries, and promise great privileges to parents. The Hingham Bank has a capital of $100,000. There is in this town a mutual insurance office, and a Savings bank. In 1837, there were 50 vessels employed in the cod and mackerel fishery; tonnage, 2,894. Twenty-nine hundred quintals of codfish were taken; value, $8,700. There were 14,436 barrels of mackerel taken, valued at $105,000; hands employed, 450; “vessels built, 17; tonnage of the same, 2,170; value of the same, $73,780.” There were 26,064 pairs of boots and 5,654 pairs of shoes manufactured, valued at $55,967; males employed, 71; females, 51. One air and cupola furnace; 150 tons of castings were made; value, $15,000; the value of wooden ware manufactured was $30,000; hands employed, 50. There were 18,600 umbrellas manufactured, the value of which was $39,500 ; males employed, 20; females, 53. Various other articles were also manufactured in the town. Population, 3,445. Distance, 26 miles from Plymouth, 12 miles by water and 14 by land from Boston.”
Source: Historical Collections: Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, by John Warner Barer, 1848, pages 503-6