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Hingham is a town in Plymouth Countymarker on the South Shoremarker of the U.S. state of Massachusettsmarker. The United States Census Bureau 2008 estimated population was 22,561. Hingham is located southeast of the Bostonmarker city limits.

For geographic and demographic information on the census-designated place Hingham, please see the article Hingham , Massachusettsmarker.


The town of Hingham was dubbed "Bare Cove" by the first colonizing English in 1633, but two years later was incorporated as a town under the name "Hingham". Suffolk Countymarker claimed Hingham from its founding in 1635 until 1793; Norfolk Countymarker from 1793 to 1803; and Plymouth Countymarker from 1803. The eastern part of the town split off to become Cohasset, Massachusettsmarker in 1770. The town was named for Hinghammarker, a village in the Englishmarker county of Norfolk, East Anglia, from where most of the first colonists came, including Abraham Lincoln's ancestor Samuel Lincoln (1622–90), his first American ancestor, who came to Massachusetts in 1637.A statue of President Lincoln adorns the area adjacent to downtown Hingham Square.

Hingham was born of religious dissent. Many of the original founders were forced to flee their native village in Norfolk with both their vicars, Rev. Peter Hobart and Rev. Robert Peck, when they fell foul of the strict doctrines of Anglican England. Peck was known for what the eminent Norfolk historian Rev. Francis Blomefield called his "violent schismatical spirit." Peck lowered the chancel railing of the church, in accord with Puritan sentiment that the Anglican church of the day was too removed from its parishioners. He also antagonized ecclesiastical authorities with other forbidden practices.

Hobart, born in Hingham, Norfolk, in 1604 and, like Peck, a graduate of Magdalene College, Cambridgemarker, sought shelter from the prevailing discipline of the high church among his fellow Puritans. The cost to those who emigrated was steep. They "sold their possessions for half their value", noted a contemporary account, "and named the place of their settlement after their natal town." (The cost to the place they left behind was also high: Hingham was forced to petition Parliament for aid, claiming that the departure of its most well-to-do citizens had left it hamstrung.)

Hingham Memorial Bell Tower, dedicated to the settlers of Hingham

While most of the early Hingham settlers came from Hingham and other nearby villages in East Anglia, a few Hingham settlers like Anthony Eames came from the West Country of England. The early settlers of Dorchester, Massachusettsmarker, for instance, had come under the guidance of Rev. John White of Dorchestermarker in Dorset, and some of them (like Eames) later moved to Hingham. Accounts from Hingham's earliest years indicate some friction between the disparate groups, culminating in an 1645 episode involving the town's 'Trainband', when some Hingham settlers supported Eames, and others supported Bozoan Allen, a prominent early Hingham settler and Hobart ally who came from King's Lynnmarker in Norfolk, East Anglia. Prominent East Anglian Puritans like the Hobarts and the Cushings, for instance, were used to holding sway in matters of governance. Eventually the controversy became so heated that John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley were drawn into the fray; minister Hobart threatened to excommunicate Eames.

The bitter trainband controversy dragged on for several years, culminating in stiff fines. Eventually a weary Eames, who was in his mid-fifties when the controversy began and who had served Hingham as first militia captain, a selectman, and Deputy in the General Court, threw in the towel and moved to nearby Marshfieldmarker where he again served as Deputy and emerged as a leading citizen, despite his brush with the Hingham powers-that-be.

Although the town was incorporated in 1635, the colonists didn't get around to negotiating purchase from the Wampanoag, the Native American tribe in the region, until three decades later. On July 4, 1665, the tribe's chief sachem, Josiah Wompatuck, sold the township to Capt. Joshua Hobart (brother of Rev. Peter Hobart) and Ensign John Thaxter, representatives of Hingham's colonial residents. Having occupied the land for 30 years, the Englishmen presumably felt entitled to a steep discount. The sum promised Josiah Wompatuck for the land encompassing Hingham was to be paid by two Hingham landowners: Lieut. John Smith and Deacon John Leavitt, who had been granted 12 acres on Hingham's Turkey Hill earlier that year. Now the two men were instructed to deliver payment for their 12-acre grant to Josiah the chief Sachem. The grant to Smith and Leavitt – who together bought other large tracts from the Native Americans for themselves and their partners – was "on condition that they satisfy all the charge about the purchase of the town's land of Josiah–Indian sagamore, both the principal purchase and all the other charge that hath been about it." With that payment the matter was considered settled.

The third town clerk of Hingham was Daniel Cushing, who emigrated to Hingham from Hingham, Norfolkmarker, with his father Matthew in 1638. Cushing's meticulous records of early Hingham enabled subsequent town historians to reconstruct much of early Hingham history as well as that of the early families. Cushing was rather unusual in that he included the town's gossip along with the more conventional formal record-keeping. Cushing's early manuscript was published in 1865, with photographs of his contemporaneous notes on Hingham and its inhabitants entitled "Extracts of the Minutes of Daniel Cushing of Hingham."

The first history of Hingham was written in 1827 by Hingham attorney Solomon Lincoln. In it Lincoln delineated the history of many of the town's landmarks and early families. In subsequent years Solomon Lincoln corresponded with Abraham Lincoln about the future president's Hingham ancestry, of which Abe professed to be ignorant. When Solomon Lincoln suggested that Abe might have forebears in Hingham, Abe responded with dry Lincoln wit that if the town's name was 'Hang'-em' then he probably did have relatives there.

For many years Hingham was the site of the Fall Blast which was the New England Optimist Fall Championship.

Hingham is home to the United States' oldest continuously used house of worship, the Old Ship Churchmarker, built in 1681, which currently serves members of the Unitarian Universalist faith. Old Ship Church is the only remaining 17th-century Puritan meeting house in New England. The meeting house derives its name from the roof and ceiling rafters, which resemble an upside-down ship's hull. Many of the builders were ship carpenters, and the form was common throughout East Angliamarker, the home of many of the town's earliest settlers. The town boasts a wide assortment of eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century homes. Many of these may be found in the six historic districts set aside by the town of Hingham.
Hingham was originally part of Suffolk Countymarker, and when the southern part of the county was set off as Norfolk Countymarker in 1793, it included the towns of Hingham and Hullmarker. In 1803 those towns opted out of Norfolk County and became part of Plymouth Countymarker.

In 1889, a wealthy Hingham resident, John Brewer, commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted to design a residential subdivision on a peninsula Brewer owned adjacent to Hingham Harbor. While Olmsted's tree-lined horse-cart paths were made, the residential buildings were never constructed. After World War II, Hingham was unsuccessful in its bid to have Brewer's peninsula used as the site of the planned United Nations Secretariat building. In later years the site was also considered for a nuclear power plant. In the 1960s, to prevent eventual development, townspeople organized an effort to preserve the peninsula as open space. Today this natural conservation land is called World's Endmarker and is maintained by The Trustees of Reservations.

Hingham's contribution in the World Wars

From 1903 until 1961, The Hingham Naval Ammunition Depotmarker (originally called the Hingham Naval Reserve) was a major supplier of U.S. munitions, occupying on the Weymouth Back River (in the section once known as The Hockley). Most of the munitions used in the European front in World War II were created at the depot. At peak capacity in 1945, over 2,400 civilians and military personnel worked there. In the mid 1950s, the site contained over 90 buildings, its own telephone exchange, and 15 cranes. The base was decommissioned in 1961, though the Navy held on to the property until 1971, when it was turned over to the town of Hingham. Today much of the site is now occupied by the town's Bare Cove Park.

Hingham was also the location of a 97-acre shipyard set up as an adjunct to the Fore River Shipyardmarker in nearby Quincymarker, operated for some 39 months during the Second World War. The facility employed approximately 23,500 workers and produced some 75 destroyer escorts (DEs), 17 high speed transports (APDs), 95 tank landing ships (LSTs), 40 landing craft (LCIs), for a total of 227 vessels. These smaller, relatively simple ships played a vital role in the Allied victory, and were built in record time. One DE was launched just 23 days after keel-laying, and in one 50-hour span a total of 5 LSTs were delivered. The steel mill erected on the site (used later as a General Services Administration warehouse) was the largest single-story building in New England, at . (A twin building was demolished in the 1980s.) After the war, the complex became an industrial park. By the 1970s, the complex had fallen into disuse. It is currently used as a commuter boat terminal and parking area. Most of the buildings have now been demolished to pave the way for a new multi-use marina, condominium, and retail complex that is to be constructed over the next five to ten years.

"The Main Street of America"

View along Main Street, Hingham
During World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt authored a book entitled This is America, which used Hingham as an embodiment of the typical American town in wartime. As part of her visit researching the book she toured Hingham's Main Street, with its stately eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses and, at the time, a canopy of elm trees. Mrs. Roosevelt later concluded in the book "[t]his is the most beautiful Main Street in America." Main Street looks today much as it did then, though the elm canopy has mostly fallen victim to the ravages of Dutch Elm disease.

In January 2007, the town carried out a long-discussed plan to put up the first set of traffic lights along Main Street, intended to improve safety at the intersection with Free and High Streets. Those street lights ended up being put up on Free and High Streets, making it easier for cars to cross, but causing traffic to back up along Main Street. Since then, there have been no car accidents at the intersection.

Current development

While strongly rooted in America's colonial past, Hingham has seen a wave of development in the past ten years. Real-estate development pressure in Hingham is likely spurred by several factors: the town's close proximity to Boston; its high-quality public education; its relatively unspoiled historic character, and expanding availability of public transportation to Boston, by MBTA bus, commuter ferry, and commuter rail.

Recent development includes the Conservatory Park residential subdivision and the Black Rock residential subdivision (a gated community, golf course, and private club). Another gated community for senior citizens, Linden Ponds, has been constructed in the southern part of Hingham. A second private golf club and residential community is nearing completion. Both golf clubs were developed on Hingham's western border with neighboring Weymouthmarker, in areas that had previously been woodland or quarry. Brandon Woods, an exclusive neighborhood of large homes starting at around $1,000,000, was also built off Charles Street in the early 2000s.
Hingham Town Landing, Hingham harbor
The old shipyard is being converted into an upscale condo community including a movie theatre and stores with starting prices around $1,000,000. Next to the current Beal's Cove condo community is the new Backriver townhomes community, with buildings including three units per building, which sell starting in the $700,000s. Baker's Hill is now home to the Christina Estates. There is another 55+ community called Ridgewood Crossing off French Street, which includes upscale free-standing condos for 'active adults.' A street is also being built off Fresh River Ave on the Weymouth border called Steven's Way. Another street off Gardner Street is being built with large houses around $1,500,000.

Hingham's recent and future projected growth have led its school board to conclude that additional educational resources must be constructed for the town's expanding student population. The state has approved the construction of a fourth elementary school on the site of the former East School. The town has recently voted to spend approx. $7 million for renovations and repairs to the Foster and Plymouth River elementary schools.


Hingham Distance Marker
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 25.0 square miles (64.9 km²), of which, 22.5 square miles (58.2 km²) of it is land and 2.6 square miles (6.7 km²) of it (10.26%) is water. Hingham is bordered on the east by Cohassetmarker, and Scituatemarker, on the south by Norwellmarker and Rocklandmarker, on the west by Weymouthmarker, and on the north by Boston Harbor, Hingham Bay and Hullmarker. Cohasset and Weymouth are in Norfolk Countymarker; the other towns, like Hingham itself, are in Plymouth Countymarker. Hingham is fourteen miles (21 km) southeast of downtown Bostonmarker.

Hingham lies along the southwest corner of Boston Harbor, at the portion known as Hingham Bay. The bay leads to a harbor, which cuts a U-shaped indentation into the northern shore of the town. The town is separated from Hull by the Weir River and its tributary, which leads to the Straits Pond. The northern third of the town's border with Weymouth consists of the Weymouth Back River, which empties out into Hingham Bay. There are several other small ponds and brooks throughout town. The town also has several forests and parks, the largest of which, Wompatuck State Parkmarker, spreads into the neighboring towns of Cohasset, Scituate and Norwell. There are also several conservation areas throughout town, including the World's End Reservationmarker, which juts out into the bay. There is a marina along the mouth of the Weymouth Back River, and a public beach along the harbor.


Second Parish Church, Hingham, Massachusetts

As of the census of 2000, there were 19,882 people, 7,189 households, and 5,478 families residing in the town. The population density was 884.8 people per square mile (341.6/km²). There were 7,368 housing units at an average density of 327.9/sq mi (126.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.5% White, 0.40% Black or African American, 0.04% Native American, 0.88% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.75% of the population.

There were 7,189 households out of which 37.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.8% were non-families. 21.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the town the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 26.3% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 89.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.6 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $83,018, and the median income for a family was $98,598 (these figures had risen to $100,444 and $134,259 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $66,802 versus $41,370 for females. The per capita income for the town was $41,703. About 2.4% of families and 3.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.7% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.


Hingham Fire House, Hingham

On the national level, Hingham is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2006, is Edward Kennedy. The junior (Class II) Senator, re-elected in 2008, is John Kerry.

On the state level, Hingham is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Third Plymouth district, by Garrett Bradley. The district also includes Cohasset, Hull and North Scituate. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Plymouth and Norfolk district, by Robert Hedlund. The district also includes the towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate and Weymouth. The town is patrolled on a secondary basis by the First (Norwell) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.

Hingham is governed on the local level by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a town administrator and a three-member board of selectmen. The town hall is located in the former Central Junior High School building, which it moved into in 1995. The town has its own police and fire departments, with a central police station next to the town hall and fire houses located near the town common, in West Hingham, and in South Hingham. The town's nearest hospital is South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, where all emergency calls are sent. There are two post offices in town, one in downtown Hingham on North Street and another in South Hingham right on Route 53. The town's public library is located on Leavitt Street in Centre Hingham, and is part of the Old Colony Library Network.


St. Paul's Catholic Church, Hingham

Hingham operates its own school system for the town's approximately 3,800 students. There are four elementary schools (Plymouth River, South, East and William L. Foster) which serve students from kindergarten through fifth grade (the South Elementary School also has pre-kindergarten classes). There is an independent private preschool located at the South Shore Conservatory, as well as Wilder Memorial Nursery School on Main Street. The Hingham Middle School is located in South Hingham, and serves students from sixth to eighth grades. Prior to 1989, this building was the South Junior High; however, it merged with Central Junior High to make a single, centralized school. The Central Junior High School building is no longer used for classes and was renovated to house all the town's offices and the police department.

Hingham High School is located near Hingham Center, and serves students from ninth to twelfth grades. The school's teams are known as the Harbormen, and their colors are red and white. The teams compete in the Patriot League, and their chief rivals are nearby Weymouth High, Scituate High, and Duxbury High. The school was recently recognized as one of two Blue Ribbon Schools in the state, by the United States Department of Education. "The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to high levels"

In addition to the town's public schools, Hingham is home to four private schools. Saint Paul's School is a Catholic school, and Derby Academymarker is an independent private school. Both serve elementary and middle school aged students. The town is also home to Notre Dame Academymarker, a Roman Catholic high school for girls. Hingham is also home to Old Colony Montessori School, a private school serving children ages 2.9 through Grade Three. Private schools in Weymouth, Milton, Braintree, and other towns also serve students from Hingham.


South Street, Hingham

A small portion of Route 3 passes through the southwest corner of town, with one exit in town and another at Route 228 just south of the town line. Routes 3A and 53 also cross through the town, the latter mirroring the path of Route 3. Route 228 passes from north to south in town; the rest all pass from west to east.

Public transportation is currently served by the commuter boat service at the Hingham Shipyard, and the MBTA's Bus Route 220, with Route 222 also passing through a small section of town. Commuter rail has been restored along the Greenbush Line through Hingham. Trains stop at two stations in town; West Hinghammarker and Nantasket Junctionmarker. As part of the MBTA's agreement to restore train service, a tunnel has been built to carry the commuter trains under historic Hingham Square. There were disputes in Hingham about whether to allow the train to pass through the town. Some people felt that Hingham is becoming less like a town and more like a small city. Others felt that the line will benefit the town. There is no air service in the town; the nearest airport is Logan International Airportmarker in Boston.

Notable residents

Historical marker, Samuel Lincoln House, Hingham, Massachusetts

Hingham's most famous line of citizens came from two unrelated families named Lincoln who emigrated to Massachusetts from the Englishmarker county of Norfolk in the seventeenth century, from Hinghammarker and Swanton Morleymarker respectively. A bridge in Hingham over Route 3, the Southeast Expressway, is named after Revolutionary War hero General Benjamin Lincoln of the Swanton branch. General Lincoln is best remembered for accepting Cornwallis's sword of surrender at the Siege of Yorktown. But the most famous Hingham Lincoln never lived in the town: United States President and Civil War Commander-in-Chief Abraham Lincoln, descended from one of several Lincoln families who settled in Hingham—and unrelated to General Benjamin. A bronze statue, a replica of the famous sitting Lincoln Memorialmarker in Washington D.C. sits at the foot of Lincoln Street at North Street. Issachar Bates, a prominent Shaker composer and church leader, was born in Hingham in 1758. Native son Isaac Sprague was the best-known American botanical illustrator in the 1800s. John F. Andrew was a United States Congressman in the 19th century.
Old Burying Ground, Hingham, Massachusetts

See also


  1. The first settlers of Hingham, Historical Collections: Being a General Collection of Interesting Facts, John Warner Barber, published by Warren Lazell, Worcester, 1844
  2. Godly Reformers and Their Opponents in Early Modern England, Matthew Reynolds, Boyell Press, 2005
  3. Rootsweb details for Robert Peck (c. 1580–1658)
  4. History of the Town of Hingham, Vol. II, Thomas Tracy Bouvé and others, Published by the Town, Hingham, 1893
  5. History of the Town of Hingham, Vol. I, Part I, Thomas Tracy Bouvé and others, published by the Town, Hingham, 1893
  6. History of New England, Vol. II, John Gorham Palfrey, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1860
  7. Legal case involving Bozoan Allen and Anthony Eames in 1643
  8. Hingham, Massachusetts, 1631–1661: An East Anglian Oligarchy in the New World, John J. Waters, University of Rochester, Journal of Social History, 1968, JSTOR
  9. John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father, Francis J. Bremer, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003.
  10. The History of New England from 1630 to 1649, John Winthrop, James Savage, Vol. II, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Mass., 1853
  11. A Narrative History of the Town of Cohasset, Massachusetts, Edwin Victor Bigelow, Priscilla L. Collier, Published Under the Auspices of the Committee on Town History, Press of Samuel Usher, Boston, Mass., 1898
  12. Hingham's early settlers intermarried extensively. Town clerk Daniel Cushing, for instance, was brother-in-law to John Leavitt, founding deacon of Old Ship Church, for whom today's Leavitt Street is named. (They married daughters of Edward Gilman, Sr., who settled in Hingham before moving to Exeter, New Hampshire. The immigrant Edward Gilman's sister Bridget married Edward Lincoln, father of Samuel Lincoln, ancestor of Abraham Lincoln.) Later the Cushing and Leavitt families themselves intermarried – resulting in descendants named both Leavitt Cushing and Cushing Leavitt.
  13. The Genealogy of the Cushing Family, Lemuel Cushing, Lovell Printing and Publishing Company, Montreal, 1877
  14. Abraham Lincoln and His Ancestors, Ida M. Tarbell, Kenneth J. Winkle, University of Nebraska Press, 1997, ISBN 0803294301, 9780803294301
  15. Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, William Richard Cutter, 1908
  16. Daniel Cushing was married to the daughter of Edward Gilman, Sr., who had initially settled in Hingham before moving to Exeter, New Hampshire, The will of Edward Gilman Sr., Exeter, The Essex Antiquarian, Sidney Perley, 1897
  17. History of the Town of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, Solomon Lincoln Jr., Hingham, 1827
  18. The Early Life of Abraham Lincoln: Containing Many Unpublished Documents and Unpublished Reminiscences of Lincoln's Early Friends, Ida Tarbell, 1896
  19. The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, James Henry Lea, John Robert Hutchinson, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1909
  20. for Hingham, MA, 2000 census
  22. Index of Legislative Representation by City and Town, from
  23. Station D-1, SP Norwell
  24. Pedigree chart for John Lincoln (1716–88)
  25. Pedigree chart for Benjamin Lincoln (1643–1700)
  27. Following in HIs Hingham Footsteps after 350 Years, Connie Gorfinkle, GateHouse News Service,

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