Rough Draft – more to be added – June 21st, 2021
Probably the most beautiful and strategic views of the Piscataqua on the Maine side come from Kittery Point. This small, raised penninsula at the mouth of the Piscataqua gives one a line of sight across to New Castle, Seavy Island, the Isle of Shoals, and the mouth of the Piscataqua.
In 1632, Ferdinando Gorges gave a grant to Alexander Shapleigh all of Kittery point “except the extremity where a wigwam stood owned by Philip Swadden.” This first site on Kittery Point dated to 1635 (other than possibly fishermens huts), was a Shapleigh site, at the southwest corner of Kittery Point, and on the eastern side of “Phylis’ Notch.” The structure was possibly inherited by an earlier builder. It was not the primary residence of Alexander Shapleigh, however, but here it was made into an “orginary” or tavern, a warehouse was built to store and trade goods, and close by was the wigwam. There was also a saw mill and saw pit at Spruce Creek, all of this by the mid 1630’s.
Subsequently, Nicholas, son of Alexander, owned all of Kittery Point after Alexander’s death [in 1650].”
In 1636, Alexander Shapleigh also bought more land, 800 acres, in current day Eliot. This land was south of Sturgeon Creek and directly across from Hilton Point, Dover. This area is chronicled in this article:1633 Sturgeon Creek Village Kittery Eliot
It’s funny to note that the price paid for this was “100 merchantable dried codfish per year, and half the net income of contemplated ferry, which never paid its expenses.” (34)
The tavern and warehouse was later placed in charge of William Hilton until 1651, and it was then leased to Hugh Gunnison for another 21 years (34).
Arthur Champernowne, was a rich merchant (and co-owner of some fishing ships with Alexander Shapleigh), a member of British Parliment from 1622 through 1626, and a “kinsman” or “cousin” to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. He was given a large island in what is now Kittery Point which was orignally called Dartington. That name came from his manor house in Dartington, England. Although I don’t know if he ever set foot in New England, the estate passed to Arthur’s son named Francis. Francis first lived in Greenland NH from 1640 to 1657 where he helped setup a merchant industry and later moved out to Kittery Point. Additionally, “at the same time another five hundred acres were granted to Champernowne, northeast of Braveboat Harbor, in York, to be called Godmorrocke.” (34)
Franscis Champernowne had no children. Before his death in 1687, started selling large tracks of land beginning in 1648 and the history of that can be seen in reference #34, but names like Gerrish Island and Cutts Island still date back to the 1600’s. Francis was perhaps the richest and most powerful man on the Piscataqua Plantations primarily due to his inheritance. Just another trust fund baby — 17th century style.
During the late 1600’s, William Pepperell started aquiring land in Kittery Point, and by the Revolutionary War, the family owned most of Kittery Point including Fort William (McClary).
There couldn’t be an article written about Kittery Point without mentioning Fort McClary. An important military defensive position since 1689, William Pepperrell acquired a tract of land known as “Battery Pasture”, which was adjacent to his own house. The first structures were probably simple earthworks and a small blockhouse, which was known as Pepperrell’s Garrison, or Fort Pepperrell (38).
Not until 1715 did the Colony of Massachusetts Bay vote to erect a permanent breastwork of six guns for the defense of the river. However, it may not have been until around 1720 that the fort was actually built. The position of a Naval Officer was also established, to collect duty from all ships entering the harbor, and to prevent New Hampshire’s Naval Officer from extracting unreasonable duties. This money went to the purchase of powder and shot for the fort. The new fort was named Fort William, again after William Pepperrell, although some still called it Fort Pepperrell (38).