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Province of New Hampshire

Province of New Hampshire
Colony of England (1629-1641)
Colony of England (1680-1686)
Colony of England (1689–1707)
Colony of Great Britain (1707–76)






Seal of the Province of New Hampshire, 1692

Capital Portsmouth (de facto 1630-1679; de jure 1679-1775)
Exeter (de facto 1774-1789)
Languages English (sole language of government)
(various other indigenous languages)
Government Constitutional monarchy
 •  1664–1685 Charles II
 •  1769–1776 George III
 •  1680–1681 John Cutt
 •  1681–1767 (list)
 •  1767–1775 John Wentworth
Legislature General Court of New Hampshire
 •  Established 1629
 •  First royal charter issued, governance from 1680 1679
 •  Dominion of New England 1686–1689
 •  Second royal charter issued, governance from 1692 1691
 •  Disestablished 1776
Currency New Hampshire pound (Often pegged to the Pound sterling); Spanish dollar
Today part of  United States
Map depicting territorial claims related to the province

The Province of New Hampshire is a name first given in 1629 to the territory between the English royal colony on October 7, 1691, during the period of English colonization. The charter was enacted May 14, 1692, by William and Mary, the joint monarchs of England and Scotland, at the same time that the Province of Massachusetts Bay was created. The territory is now the U.S. state of New Hampshire, and was named after the county of Hampshire in southern England by Captain John Mason, its first proprietor.

First settled in the 1620s, the province consisted for many years of a small number of communities along the seacoast and the Piscataqua River. In 1641 the communities came under the government of the neighboring Massachusetts Bay Colony, until King Charles II issued a commission to John Cutt as President of New Hampshire in 1679. After a brief period as a separate province, the territory was absorbed into the Dominion of New England in 1686. The Dominion collapsed in 1689, and the New Hampshire communities again came under Massachusetts rule until a provincial charter was issued in 1691 by William and Mary. Between 1699 and 1741 the province's governors were also commissioned as governors of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. In 1741, Benning Wentworth was appointed governor solely of New Hampshire. Wentworth laid claim on behalf of the province to the lands west of the Connecticut River, issuing controversial land grants that were disputed by the Province of New York, which also claimed the territory. These disputes resulted in the eventual formation of the state of Vermont.

The province's economy was dominated by timber and fishing. The timber trade, although lucrative, was a subject of conflict with the crown, which sought to reserve the best trees for use as ship masts. Although the Puritan leaders of Massachusetts ruled the province for many years, the New Hampshire population was more religiously diverse, originating in part in its early years with refugees from opposition to religious differences in Massachusetts.

From the 1680s until 1760, the province was often on the front lines of military conflicts with American Revolutionary War, many of its inhabitants joined the revolutionary cause. After Governor John Wentworth fled the province in August 1775, the inhabitants adopted a constitution in early 1776. Independence as part of the United States was confirmed with the 1783 Treaty of Paris.


  • Before colonization 1
  • Early English settlement 2
  • First royal charters 3
  • 1691 charter 4
  • Revolution 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7

Before colonization

Prior to English colonization, the area that is now northeastern New England was populated by bands of the Abenaki, who lived in sometimes-large villages of longhouses.[1] Depending on the season, they would either remain near their villages to fish, gather plants, engage in sugaring, and trade or fight with their neighbors, or head to nearby fowling and hunting grounds; later they also farmed tobacco and the "three sisters": corn, beans, and squash.[1] The seacoast was explored in the early years of the 17th century by English and French explorers, including Samuel de Champlain and John Smith.[2]

Early English settlement

Permanent English settlement began after

  • Belknap, Jeremy. The History of New Hampshire (1791–1792) 3 vol. classic history
  • Clark, Charles E (1970). The Eastern Frontier: The Settlement of Northern New England 1610–1763. New York: Knopf.  
  • Daniell, Jere. Colonial New Hampshire: A History (1982)
  • (1976)New Hampshire: A Bicentennial HistoryMorison, Elizabeth Forbes and Elting E. Morison.
  • (1956)The Granite State of the United States: A History of New Hampshire from 1623 to the PresentSquires, J. Duane.


  1. ^ a b Native Americans in Vermont: the Abenaki, from, a website funded by educational grants
  2. ^ Clarke, p. 4
  3. ^ Clark, pp. 17–18
  4. ^ "Fast New Hampshire Facts". State of New Hampshire. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  5. ^ Clark, p. 18
  6. ^ Clark, pp. 18–20
  7. ^ Clark, pp. 37–39
  8. ^ Clark, pp. 39–42


New Hampshire joined with the other Thirteen Colonies in resisting attempts by the British Parliament to impose taxes. After the American Revolutionary War began in April 1775, the province recruited regiments that served in the Siege of Boston, and formally established an independent government as the State of New Hampshire in January 1776.


Since the province was on the northern frontier bordering New France, its communities were frequently attacked during King William's War and Queen Anne's War, and then again in the 1720s during Dummer's War. Because of these wars the Indian population in the northern parts of the province declined, but settlements only slowly expanded into the province's interior.

Wentworth broadly interpreted New Hampshire's territorial claims, believing that territories west of the New Hampshire Grants and New York authorities that eventually resulted in the formation of the state of Vermont. The controversy also resulted in the replacement of Wentworth by his nephew John, who would be the last royal governor of the province.

Benning Wentworth as New Hampshire governor.

1691 charter

In January 1680 Cutt took office, ending Massachusetts governance. However, Cutt and his successor, Richard Waldron, were strongly opposed to the Mason heirs and their claims. Consequently, Charles issued a second charter in 1682 with Edward Cranfield as governor. Cranfield strongly supported the Mason heirs, making so many local enemies in the process that he was recalled in 1685. In 1686 the territory was brought into the Dominion of New England, an attempt to unify all of the New England colonies into a single government. The New Hampshire towns did not suffer as much under the rule of Sir Edmund Andros as did Massachusetts. After word of the Glorious Revolution reached Boston, Massachusetts authorities conspired to have Andros arrested and sent back to England. This left the New Hampshire towns without any colonial administration, just as King William's War erupted around them. Subjected to significant French and Indian raids, they appealed to Massachusetts Governor Simon Bradstreet, who oversaw them until William and Mary issued new, separate charters in 1691 for both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

First royal charters

Because of a general lack of government, the New Hampshire settlements sought the protection of their larger neighbor to the south, the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1641, they collectively agreed to be governed from Massachusetts, provided the towns retained self-rule, and that Congregational Church membership was not required for their voters (as it was in Massachusetts). The settlements formed part of that colony until 1679, sending representatives to the Massachusetts legislature in Boston. Mason's heirs were in the meantime active in England, seeking to regain control of their territory, and Massachusetts was coming under increasing scrutiny by King Charles II. In 1679 Charles issued a charter establishing the Province of New Hampshire, with John Cutt as its first president.

Conflicts between holders of grants issued by Mason and Gorges concerning their boundaries eventually led to a need for more active management. In 1630, Captain Walter Neale was sent as chief agent and governor of the lower settlements on the Piscataqua (including Strawbery Banke, present-day Portsmouth), and in 1631 Captain Thomas Wiggin was sent to govern the upper settlements, comprising modern-day Dover, Durham and Stratham.[5] After Mason died in 1635, the colonists and employees of Mason appropriated many of his holdings to themselves.[6] Exeter was founded in 1638 by John Wheelwright, after he had been banished from the neighboring Massachusetts Bay Colony for defending the teachings of Anne Hutchinson, his sister-in-law. In the absence of granting authority from anyone associated with the Masons, Wheelwright's party purchased the land from local Indians. His party included William Wentworth, whose descendants came to play a major role in colonial history.[7] Around the same time, others unhappy with the strict Puritan rule in Massachusetts settled in Dover, while Puritans from Massachusetts settled what eventually became Hampton.[8]

[4].Hampshire Mason took the territory between the Piscataqua and Merrimack, and called it "New Hampshire", after the English county of [3]

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