WINNACUNNET: "Beautiful Place of Pines"

By Lucy A. Marston

Its origin and meaning -- A brief history of the first settlement

Edited By John M. Holman, Contributing Writer

"In 1638, the General Court of Massachusetts granted to Rev. Stephen Bachiler and others, the right to leave Newbury and settle in WINNACUNNET. This was the Indian name for this part of the colony and meant "Beautiful Place of Pines".

"As near as can be reckoned, it was on Wednesday, October 14, 1638, that a party sailed up Hampton River in a shallop and probably landed at what is now called 'THE LANDING'. This site was chosen because of the broad stretches of salt marshes which would afford good fodder for their cattle.

"As it was so late in the season, the families of many of these men were probably not moved here until the spring of 1639, when many came to join the settlement.

"A short distance from the river, the settlers came to the open meadows now called 'RING SWAMP' surrounded by dense forests. Here they at once began to build log (?) houses and a meeting house.

"Rev. Stephen Bachiler was the first pastor of this church and at his request, the General Court in 1639 gave permission to change the name from WINNACUNNET to HAMPTON for Southampton, England, where he had his last pastorate.

"At first the Indians were friendly but after a time, they became jealous and treacherous. A watch house was built and men were obliged to have their muskets near at hand when at work in the fields.

"Wild beasts resented the intrusion and attacked the cattle and sheep. Despite these handicaps, the little colony grew. Houses were built around the swamp and after building several meeting houses on the green, a larger church was built across from the swamp. It had box seats, a gallery, and pulpit reached by stairs with a large sounding board. The old pulpit is now in the Congregational Church on Winnacunnet Road.

"A school was early provided for the children. In 1649, JOHN LEGAT was hired to teach all of the children who were capable of learning to read, write and cast accounts. For this he was to receive the sum of 20 pounds in corn, cattle and butter. (Ed.: A NH Historical Marker #28 designating the first public school in New Hampshire is located on the front lawn of the Centre School at 53 Winnacunnet Road in Hampton and states: )

First Public School historical marker
First public school in N.H.

First Public School
In New Hampshire Supported by
taxation, was opened in Hampton
on May 31, 1649. It was presided over
by John Legat for the education of
both sexes. The sole qualification
for admission of the pupils wasbr /> that they be "capable of learning".

"The education of the children was never neglected and better schools were provided until the (HAMPTON) ACADEMY was built about 1810. This was built on the Meeting House Green adjacent to the now Tuck Museum. (Ed. note: The building burned in 1851 and was rebuilt in 1852. On January 22, 1883, it was moved to Academy Avenue and was used as the high school until a new school was built and the old wooden Academy building was auctioned off for $200 and razed in 1940.)

"The forests are nearly gone, the old landmarks fast disappearing, but, often on a clear October day, we close our eyes and seem to see that little shallop sailing up the river and hear the wind sighing in the forests of fair 'WINNACUNNET'."

(Footnote: Lucy Ann (Godfrey) Marston was the daughter of Captain Jonathan Godfrey, and married Otis H. Marston, who were the parents of Adeline Copeland Marston, long time school teacher in Hampton. Marston Elementary School was named in her honor.)