Hometown Tuesday #42 ~ Hingham, Suffork County, Massachusetts Colony

The town of Hingham, Massachusetts Colony was called “Bare Cove” by the first colonizing English in 1633. Two years later it was incorporated as a town under the name “Hingham” after the city in England where most of the settlers were from. The town was within Suffolk County from its founding until 1803, and then was in Plymouth County from 1803 to the present.

Hingham was born of religious dissent. Many of the original founders were forced to flee their native village in Norfolk England with both their vicars, Rev. Peter Hobart and Rev. Robert Peck, when they fell away from the strict doctrines of the Anglican Church in England. Peck was known for what the eminent Norfolk historian Rev. Francis Blomefield called his “violent schismatic spirit.” Peck lowered the chancel railing of the church, in accord with Puritan sentiment that the Anglican church of the day was too removed from its parishioners. He also antagonized ecclesiastical authorities with other forbidden practices.

Although the town was incorporated in 1635, the colonists didn’t get around to negotiating purchase from the Wampanoag, the Native American tribe in the region, until three decades later. On July 4, 1665, the tribe’s Chief Sachem, Josiah Wompatuck, sold the township to Capt. Joshua Hobart and Ensign John Thaxter, representatives of Hingham’s colonial residents. Having occupied the land for 30 years, the Englishmen presumably felt entitled to a steep discount.

Josiah Wompatuck

The American Otises of the seventeenth century were of English descent. The emigration of the family from Barnstable, Devon, England occurred during the early days when the settlements in New England were still infrequent and weak. Arriving in 1635, the John Otis Sr. family was among the first to settle at the town of Hingham. It wasn’t long until the name Otis appeared in the public records, indicating official rank and .leadership. He purchased over 60 acres of land, building two houses and a barn. He grew corn on 35 acres of this land. John, born in 1581, and his first wife Margaret (1583-1653), along with their seven daughters and two sons, settled into the larger of the two homes. John was made selectman for the town, a position he held until the death of his wife in 1653.

He then married a widow by the name of Elizabeth Whitman Stream (1592-1672) and he sold most of his land, leaving 30 acres to be divided between his 2 sons. He then moved to Weymouth, Massachusetts. He died there in June 1657, at the age of 76.

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