Topsfield

Parson Capen house

Incorporated 1650. Originally known as New Meadows.

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Parson Capen House, 1 Howlett Street. Built in 1683 for his marriage to Priscilla Appleton, this restored house is where Rev. Joseph Capen (1658-1725) lived in 1692. An opponent of the witch hunt, Capen provided character witnesses for sisters Mary (Towne) Estey (1634-1692) and Sarah (Towne) (Bridges) Cloyce (1638-c. 1703) who grew up in Topsfield. Years after the Salem witch trials ended, Capen and several other ministers signed a petition asking the court to reverse the convictions of those accused as witches. This First Period building has been featured on This Old House.

Pine Grove Cemetery, 8 Haverhill Road. Burials include Rev. Joseph and Priscilla Capen. A newer obelisk lists Jacob Towne (1631-1704) on the base, brother of three accused witches.

Witch Hill near Peirce Farm at Witch Hill, 116 Boston Street. The foundation of Peirce Farm includes a section of the 1690s farmhouse where Isaac Estey (1662-1714) lived. The property also included what’s now the Topsfield Fair grounds. His mother, Mary Estey, was accused as a witch, jailed, and released, then arrested again at her son’s house in May 1692.

Witchcraft Hysteria Commemorative Stone, Topsfield Common (1992)

Research

Digital Commonwealth: Topsfield

Topsfield Town Library, 1 South Common Street.

Topsfield Historical Society, 1 Howlett Street. The Gould Barn Records Room contains papers, books, photos, and maps dating as far back as the 17th century. The collections cover family history, historic houses, and neighborhoods. Contact Amy at historicalrecords@topsfieldhistory.org.

Online Books & Records

Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society

History of Topsfield, Massachusetts by George Francis Dow (1940)

Old Naumkeag: an historical sketch of the city of Salem, and the towns of Marblehead, Peabody, Beverly, Danvers, Wenham, Manchester, Topsfield, and Middleton by Charles Henry Webber and Winfield S. Nevins (1877)

Topsfield Times (wiki) community and local history resource