Granite State Stories: First European settlement in New Hampshire

  • Detail from “A Plan of Piscataqua Harbor, the town of Portsmouth, etc., surveyed and Drawn by James Grant,” 1774, showing the location of Thomson’s colony on Odiorne’s Point. Courtesy of N.H. Historical Society

Published: 8/3/2018 1:41:29 PM

In early 1623, a group of 10 to 20 hardy English settlers crossed the Atlantic Ocean to claim 6,000 acres granted to their leader, David Thomson, by the Council of New England. They chose a site at the mouth of the Piscataqua River near present-day Rye.

Thomson’s group established the first year-round European settlement in what would become New Hampshire. Their motivations were commercial, and their goals were to fish, farm and trade.

The colony was not especially profitable, however, and its small size made it difficult to defend and sustain.

Thomson and his family left for Boston in 1626 and Thomson died the next year. Isles of Shoals resident John Odiorne purchased the site in the 1660s, and it became known as Odiorne’s Point.

N.H. Historical Society


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