The Way it Was in Hampton, NH in 1840

By John M. Holman
Contributing Writer

In the Tuck Memorial Museum Library, is a NEW HAMPSHIRE ANNUAL REGISTER for the year 1840, and it lists the following facts and information for the Town of Hampton for the year ending 1840.

The Representative from Hampton to Concord was David Marston and his salary was $2.00 per day for attendance during the session of the Legislature. The Legislature was in session from June 5 to July 6, 1839 and passed 40 acts and 23 resolves. The House of Representatives consisted of 246 members.

The Attorney at Law in Hampton was Edmund Toppan, who was also the Notary Public. Justices of the Peace were Edmund Toppan, Ebenezer Lawrence, James Leavitt, Joshua Lane, Thomas Leavitt, Jr., Uri Lamprey, Aaron Coffin, Jonathan Marston 2nd, Abraham Nudd and Robert Smith.

The Deputy Sheriff was Uri Lamprey and the Coroners were Simeon B. Shaw and John B. Brown. The Postmaster was E. W. Toppan. Single letters could be mailed for a distance of not over 30 miles for 6 cents, providing they were composed of a single piece of paper! A letter to be sent over 400 miles would cost 25 cents! (In 1998, sending a letter anywhere in the United States cost 32 cents for the first ounce.) Postage for newspapers cost 1 cent, but not over 100 miles!

The Hampton Academy instructors were Horace Hall and Miss S. A. Whittemore. The Town Clerk in Hampton was Josiah Dow, Jr. and the Selectmen were Simon Towle, John Weare and David Janvrin.

Also, the President of the United States in 1840 was MARTIN VAN BUREN and his annual salary was $25,000, and the 26th Congress was in session.

And so it was in Hampton, New Hampshire in 1840 -- the best of times and the worst of times.