Hingham Massachusetts, 1890

Hingham is a fine old town, situated on the south shore of Boston Bay, and in the northern extremity of Plymouth County, about 17 miles southeast of Boston by the South-shore branch of the Old Colony Railroad, which has a station at West Hingham, Hingham, Old Colony House, where the Nantasket Beach Branch connects, and at Weirs, on the latter road. Other villages are Hingham centre, South Hingham, Downer Landing, Glad Tidings Plain, Liberty Plain and Queen Anne's Corner. The dwellings number 1,060, and the inhabitants 4,375. The assessed area is 12,973 acres, which includes 2,642 acres of woodland.

[the Public Library, Hingham.]

The town is bounded on the north by Boston Bay, on the northeast by Cohasset, on the southeast by South Scituate and Rockland, and on the west by Weymouth, from which it is in part separated by Weymouth Back River. The northern line is extremely circuitous. The harbor admits of sloop navigation, and is well protected. Steamers run constantly between this place and Boston, 12 miles distant, during the open season, and afford on their passage very fine views of the picturesque islands in the harbor. The rich and varied flora of this town offers great attraction to the naturalist; and the salubrity of the air is manifested in the general health and longevity of the people. The underlying rock is sienite and the St. John's group, which project in many broken ledges, and lend variety to the scenery. The highest point of land is Prospect Hill, 243 feet above sea-level, in the southeastern angle of the town. It commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country and the ocean. From Otis, Planter's, Baker's, Turkey and Squirrel hills, in the northern part of the town, delightful views of the shipping in the harbor, the curving shores, and rocky headlands, are obtained. The principal streams are Weymouth Back River, which widens into a beautiful estuary on the west; and the Weir River, which, with its tributaries, drains most of the territory of the town, and forms another estuary between World's End and Hull. Accord Pond, from which it flows, comprises about 90 acres, and, it is said, received its name from the amicable adjustment of the boundary lines of the three towns which came together in its centre. Cushing's Pond, of about 30 acres, is a beautiful sheet of water at Glad Tidings (or Upper) Plain, a pleasant village having a church near the centre.

The soil, though somewhat rough, is in many places very fertile, and well adapted to arboriculture and to market-gardening. Many acres of salt-marsh are mown, and some small tracts are devoted to cranberries. The aggregate product of the 63 farms in 1585 was $83,440. In addition to its agricultural interests, Hingham has manufactures of cabinet ware, cordage, wooden ware, boots and shoes, upholstery trimmings, building establishments, worsted goods woven, knit, and hand-made; iron castings, hatchets, leather and other articles; the value of the goods made in the last census year being $285,360. A little attention is still given to the fisheries. The valuation in 1888 was $3,632,785, with a tax-rate of $10 on $1,000.

Hingham has a good newspaper, "The Hingham Journal;" an agricultural and horticultural society, owning a very fine hall; a Post of the G. A. R.; bands of music; a national bank; a savings bank; a mutual fire insurance company; a public library, founded by the Hon. Albert Fearing; a town-hall; Loring Hall, built by Col. Benjamin Loring for lectures; Derby Academy, incorporated June 19, 1797 (endowed by Madame Sarah Derby); the Keble School, lately established by American Episcopal Churchmen; ten public school-houses, of which one is a high school in a fine building which cost about $20,000; and several handsome church edifices. These are the Unitarian (Old Church); Unitarian (New North Church); Unitarian (South Hingham); Trinitarian Congregationalist (at the centre); Baptist; St. John's (American Episcopal Church); Universalist; Methodist, Church of Zion (Independent); and St. Paul's church (Roman Catholic). The streets of Hingham are remarkably well shaded with stately trees; and the Hingham Cemetery is tastefully decorated with shrubs and flowers. It contains a monument erected in memory of its seventy-six soldiers and sailors lost in the late war, whose names are inscribed thereon. In this cemetery repose the remains of Gov. Andrew.

[the Old Meeting-house, Hingham]

This town, at first called "Bear Cove," was settled as early as 1633 by immigrants, mostly from Hingham, county of Norfolk, England. Among those to whom lands were granted here in 1635, the familiar names of Peter Hobart, Thomas Lincoln (weaver), William Hersey, Thomas Loring, Henry Rust, Henry Tuttle, William Walton, Richard Osborn, and John Fearing, are found. The town was incorporated September 2, 1635; and on the 18th of the same month the Rev. Peter Hobart drew a house-lot with the other twenty-nine to whom lands had been granted. He kept a journal, which is very valuable; continuing as pastor of the church until his death in 1679, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Norton. The latter died in 1716; and his successor was the Rev. Ebenezer Gay, D.D., who continued in the ministry nearly sixty-nine years.

The old meeting-house is the oldest in New England. It was first occupied as such on the 8th of January, 1682. It stands upon rising ground, and is 73 feet in length by 55 in breadth. The pyramidal roof is surmounted by a peculiar belfry and a spire. The original cost of it was £430 and the old meeting-house. Extensive repairs and alterations were made in it in 1869.

The second church was organized in 1745; and the Rev. Daniel Shute was the ensuing year ordained as pastor, and continued as such until 1799.

During Philip's War, which began in 1675, the town was protected by three forts, one of which was at Fort Hill, one at the cemetery, and the other "on the plain about a mile from the harbor." "On the 19th of April, 1676," says the Rev. Peter Hobart in his Diary, John Jacob was slain by the Indians near his father's house." The Indians burned, the day following, the dwellings of Nathaniel Chubbuck, Israel Hobart, Joseph Jones, Anthony Sprague and James Whiton.

Jedidiah Farmer and Simon Brown commenced publishing "The Hingham Gazette" here in 1827.

This town has given to the world Col. John Otis (1657-1727), an able lawyer and judge; Ezekiel Hersey (1709-1770), a famous physician; Gen. Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810), a very distinguished Revolutionary officer, secretary of war from 1781 to 1784, collector of the port of Boston from 1789 to 1808; Levi Lincoln (1749-1820), acting governor in 1809; Andrews Norton (1786-1853), an eminent scholar and writer; Henry Ware, Jun., D.D. (1794-1843), an able clergyman and editor; John Ware, M.D. (1795-1864), a noted physician and author; William Ware (1797-1852), an author and clergyman; Joseph Andrews (1806-1873), one of the best line-engravers in the country; James Hall (1811), New York State geologist; Winckworth Allan Gay (1821), a fine landscape painter; Richard Henry Stoddard (1825), a prolific writer and popular poet; and Hon. Solomon Lincoln, an able writer and author of a "History of Hingham."

pp. 370-373 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890