MARBLEHEAD, a township of Essex county, Massachusetts, U.S.A., occupying a rocky promontory on Massachusetts Bay, about 16 m. N. of Boston. Pop. (1890), 8202; (1900), 7582; (1905), 7209; (1910), 7338. Area, about 4 sq. m. Marblehead is served by the Boston & Maine railroad, and by electric railways connecting with Salem, Lynn and Boston. It is a quaint old town, with a number of houses dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Among the older buildings are the Lee mansion (1768), St Michael's church (P. E., 1714), and the old town-hall (1727), sometimes called Marblehead's " Cradle of Liberty." Abbot Hall (1877), the municipal building, also contains the public library and several noteworthy paintings, including " The Spirit of '76 " or " Yankee Doodle " by Archibald M. Willard. The post office and custom-house was completed in 1904. There are several parks (Crocker, Fort Sewall, Seaside, and Fountain), and an old burying-ground, in which many of the early settlers and a number of soldiers of the War of Independence (including General John Glover) are buried; and a granite monument near the railway station commemorates the taking of the British supply and powder ship "Hope" off Marblehead in 1776 by Captain James Mugford, who was killed during the fight. The commodious harbour, nearly landlocked, is formed by a rocky peninsula known as Marblehead Neck. On this are the club-houses of the Eastern and Corinthian Yacht clubs; and Marblehead is a popular yachting centre. The manufacture of children's shoes is the principal industry. Shipbuilding, once important, has been superseded by yacht and launch construction.
Marblehead, originally a part of Salem, known as Marble Harbor, was settled about 1629 by English emigrants (probably mostly from Lincolnshire and Devonshire) ; later (after about 1700) many emigrants from the Channel Islands settled here, and to them the dialectical peculiarities of Marblehead have often (perhaps mistakenly) been attributed. Marblehead was separately incorporated as a town in 1649. In the colonial period Marblehead was an important commercial port, and at one time was one of the most populous places in Massachusetts. After the passage of the Boston Port Bill (1774) it was made the port of entry instead of Boston, but its merchants refused to take advantage of this opportunity and patriotically invited the Boston merchants to use their wharves and warehouses. During the War of Independence many " state cruisers " (chartered at the Continental expense) set out from this port, the most famous being the " Lee," commanded by John Manley * (1733-93); in November 1775 this cruiser captured. the " Nancy with military stores valued at 20,341, which were taken to the American army at Cambridge. The " Lee " was manned by fifty men of the " amphibious regiment," which under General John Glover (1732-1797) rendered invaluable services to 1 See Robert E. Peabody, " Naval Career of Captain John Manley of Marblehead," in Essex Institute Historical Collections (Salem, Mass.) for January 1909.
Washington in conveying his troops across the East River after the battle of Long Island, and later in ferrying them across the Delaware before the battle of Trenton. Marblehead furnished more than 1000 men to the Continental army. During the war of 1812 the sea fight between the " Chesapeake " and the " Shannon " took place (June i, 1813) off the adjacent coast. Marblehead was the scene of Benjamin (nicknamed " Flood ") Ireson's ride, immortalized by J. G. Whittier.
See Samuel Roads, jun., The History and Traditions of Marblehead (Boston, 1880; 3rd ed., Marblehead, 1897).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)