Weymouth, the Wessagusset village of the Indians, is the oldest settlement in Massachusetts, except Plymouth Colony.
In 1622, Thomas Weston, a merchant of good reputation in London, having procured for himself a patent for a tract of land in Massachusetts Bay, sent two ships, with 50 or 60 men, at his own charge, to settle a plantation. Many of the adventurers being sick on their arrival at Plymouth, most of the company remained there during the greater part of the summer, and were treated with hospitality and kindness by the inhabitants. Some of their number, in the mean time, finding a place in the Massachusetts Bay, named Wessagusset, which they judged convenient for a settlement, the whole company moved to it, and began a plantation.
This was rather of a disorderly company, there being, as it was reported, "many of them rude and profane," and being badly governed, fell into disorder, and experienced much suffering from their extravagance and conduct towards the natives, such as taking their corn, etc.
The Indians were so incensed against them that they entered into a conspiracy to destroy the whole company. This was prevented by the daring exploit of Captain Miles Standish. Such, however, was the reduced state of the colony, and their danger from the natives, that it was deemed prudent to break up the settlement. It appears, however, there were a few inhabitants here in 1624, as it was reported "that the few inhabitants of Wessagusset receiving an accession to their number from Weymouth, in England, the town is supposed to have hence been called Weymouth."
In 1635, a Mr. Hull and 21 families joined the settlement. Mr. Hull was a minister from England, and appears to have been their first preacher. This town was attacked by the Indians in King Philip’s War, in 1676, and seven or eight houses were burnt.
Shipbuilding, to some extent, [was] carried on in this place; vessels of 400 tons have been launched above the bridge, over Maniquot River. This town is 15 miles from Dedham, 5 from Randolph, and 10 from Boston.
The surface of the town is undulating and stony, and the soil generally good. It [had] a good landing-place for vessels of light burthen; about 800 tons of shipping belong to the place, and it is estimated that about half a million of dollars’ worth of boots and shoes are manufactured in the town. The "Union Bank" of Weymouth and Braintree, with a capital of $100,000, was located here.
There are 3 houses of worship, 2 Congregational, and 1 Methodist. Population , 3,387. In 1837, there were 70,155 pairs of boots and 242.083 pairs of shoes manufactured in this town, the value of which was $427,679; males employed, 828; females, 519, value of leather tanned and curried, $42,500.
Weymouth is a busy, industrial, and progressive town, comprising four pleasant postal villages: Weymouth, East Weymouth, North Weymouth, and South Weymouth.
It lies in the easterly section of Norfolk County, 15 miles southeast from Boston by the Old Colony Railroad [now defunct], which sends one branch through the northerly, and another branch through the southerly part of the territory. It is bounded north by Boston Harbor, east by Hingham (from a part of which it is separated by Weymouth Back River), on the southeast by Abington, and on the west by Holbrook, Braintree, and Quincy (from the latter of which it is divided by Weymouth Fore River, here a broad and navigable stream). A point of land called "The Lower Neck" extends northerly into Boston Harbor, at the terminus of which lies Grape Island. Vessels of considerable size ascend Weymouth Fore River to Weymouth Landing. The principal rock is granite, which frequently crops out in broken ledges.
Whitman's Pond of about 240 acres in the central, and Great Pond of 280 acres, with a pretty island in the center, are valuable and handsome sheets of water. Efforts [were] being made to stock the latter pond with black bass and other fish. The outlet is by Mill River into Weymouth Back River. The land is agreeably diversified and somewhat elevated, the scenery picturesque, and the soil in general good. The number of farms [was] 91; and of persons employed in cultivating them, 125. As many as 3,562 acres are covered with forests, and 1,096 acres are in English mowing. Some 30 persons are engaged in fishing.
The manufactures consist of boots and shoes, boxes, brackets, nails, tin-ware, fireworks, super-phosphate of lime, and other articles. The leading industry, however, is the manufacture of boots and shoes. This is carried on actively at Weymouth Landing, East Weymouth, and South Weymouth.
As many as 1,724 hands, according to the [then] State Report on Industry, were employed in this line of business; and the goods here made have an excellent reputation. M. C. Dizer and
Company, J. H.
Clapp and Company, and N. D. Canterbury, are among the largest firms in East Weymouth. The new iron-works of Nahum Stetson produce 2,000 casks of nails per week. An extensive business is done at Weymouth Landing in the coal, the grain, and the lumber trade.
Weymouth [had] 37 public schools. Two of these are high schools.
The whole number of teachers in the public schools [was] 41. It has a very good town hall, two banks of discount, three institutions for savings, an insurance company, two Posts of the G. A. R., and two Masonic Lodges. The name of the public journal [was] "The Weymouth Weekly Gazette." It sent its full quota of soldiers to the Civil War; and to the memory of the 99 who were lost it has erected a handsome monument.
The town-appropriations in 1873 were: for schools, $24,000; roads, $16,000; town-officers, $5,500; health department, $2,000; interest and debt, $10,000; town poor, $5,500; miscellaneous, $2,500; discounts, $2,500; police force, $1,000: total, $69,000.
Some of the church-edifices—as the Congregational at South Weymouth, the Baptist at Weymouth Landing, and the Methodist at South Weymouth—are beautiful and commodious. The pastors [were] the Revs. H. P. Smyth and Peter Leddy, Roman Catholic; C. H. Rowe, Baptist (Weymouth Landing); B. H. Davis and Jacob Baker, Universalist; W. F. Lloyd, Episcopal (Weymouth Landing); Joshua Emery, C. T., Eirst Church ; George F. Stanton, Second Church (South); James McLean, C. T., Union Church (South); E. P. Chapin, C. T. (East).
The town was incorporated Sept. 2, 1635. It was attacked by the Indians February 25, 1676, when several dwellings and barns were reduced to ashes.
The following noted persons were born in this place: Abigail Smith (1744-1818), who became the wife of John Adams, president of the United States, in 1764; William Cranch, LL.D. (1769-1855), an able jurist; and Joshua Bates (1788-1864), a successful financier.