Essex County, Massachusetts

Essex County, Massachusetts

Infobox U.S. County
county = Essex County
state = Massachusetts

map size = 225
founded = 1643
seat = None (formerly Salem and Lawrence)
County government was abolished in 1999 | area_total_sq_mi = 829
area_total_km2 = 2146
area_land_sq_mi = 501
area_land_km2 = 1297
area_water_sq_mi = 328
area_water_km2 = 849
area percentage = 39.57%
census yr = 2000
pop = 723419
density_sq_mi = 1444
density_km2 = 558
web =

Essex County is a county located in the northeastern part of the U.S. state of Massachusetts. As of 2000, the population was 723,419. It has two county seats: Salem and LawrenceGR|6.


The county was created by the Massachusetts General Court on May 10, 1643, when it was ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires". Essex initially contained Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover. [Davis, William T. "Bench and Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts", p. 44. The Boston History Company, 1895.]

Essex County is famous as the area that Elbridge Gerry districted into a salamander-like shape in 1812 that gave rise to the word gerrymandering.

Law and government

Like an increasing number of Massachusetts counties, Essex County exists today only as a historical geographic region, and has no county government. All former county functions were assumed by state agencies in 1999. The sheriff (currently Frank Cousins) and some other regional officials with specific duties are still elected locally to perform duties within the county region, but there is no county council, commissioner, or county employees. Communities are now granted the right to form their own regional compacts for sharing services. See also: [ League of Women Voters page on Massachusetts counties] .


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 829 square miles (2,146 km²), of which, 501 square miles (1,297 km²) of it is land and 328 square miles (849 km²) of it (39.57%) is water. Essex County is adjacent to Rockingham County, New Hampshire (north), the Atlantic Ocean (east), Suffolk County (south), and Middlesex County (west). All county land is incorporated into Towns or Cities.

Essex County includes the North Shore, Cape Ann, and much of the Merrimack Valley.

Adjacent Counties

*Rockingham County, New Hampshire (north)
*Suffolk County (south)
*Middlesex County (west)

National protected areas

* Parker River National Wildlife Refuge
* Salem Maritime National Historic Site
* Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
* Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge


As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 723,419 people, 275,419 households, and 185,081 families residing in the county. The population density was 1,445 people per square mile (558/km²). There were 287,144 housing units at an average density of 574 per square mile (221/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 86.44% White, 2.60% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 2.34% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.20% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. 11.04% of the population is Hispanic or Latino of any race. 18.4% were of Irish, 15.1% Italian, 9.9% English, 5.6% French and 5.0% French Canadian ancestry according to Census 2000. 80.8% spoke English, 10.2% Spanish, 1.4% French, 1.2% Italian and 1.0% Portuguese as their first language.

There were 275,419 households out of which 32.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.10% were married couples living together, 12.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.80% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 7.50% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 23.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $51,576, and the median income for a family was $63,746. Males had a median income of $44,569 versus $32,369 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,358. About 6.60% of families and 8.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.90% of those under age 18 and 8.90% of those age 65 or over.

In 2006, Essex County received the dubious honor of being named number one on Forbes Magazine's list of most overpriced places to live in the U.S. The magazine cited high living costs and expensive real estate as the major reasons Essex County was picked over cities with higher mean real estate values (San Diego, New York, Honolulu.)

Cities, towns, and villages*

*Amesbury incorporated 1666 from Salisbury.
*Andover incorporated 1646.
**"Shawsheen Village"
*Beverly incorporated 1668 from Salem.
*Boxford incorporated 1685 from Rowley.
*Bradford incorporated 1668 from Rowley. Annexed by Haverhill 1897.
*Danvers incorporated 1757 from Salem.
*Essex incorporated 1819 from Ipswich.
*Georgetown incorpated 1838 from Rowley.
*Gloucester settled 1624.
*Groveland incorporated 1850 from Bradford.
*Hamilton incorporated 1793 from Ipswich.
*Haverhill founded 1640.
*Ipswich established 1634.
*Lawrence incorporated 1847 from Methuen and Andover.
*Lynn established 1629, named Lynn 1637.
*Lynnfield incorporated 1814 from Lynn.
*Manchester-by-the-Sea incorporated 1645.
*Marblehead incorporated 1635.
*Merrimac incorporated 1876 from Amesbury.
*Methuen incorporated 1725 from Haverhill.
*Middleton incorpated 1728 from surrounding towns-Salem,Topsfield,Andover,etc.
*Nahant incorporated 1853 from Lynn.
*Newbury founded 1635.
** Byfield (a village of Newbury)
*Newburyport incorporated 1764 from Newbury.
*North Andover incorpoated 1855 from Andover.
*Peabody incorporated 1855 from Danvers.
*Rockport incorporated 1840 from Gloucester.
**Pigeon Cove (a village of Rockport)
*Rowley founded 1639.
*Salem founded 1626.
*Salisbury established 1640.
*Saugus incorporated 1815 from Lynn.
*Swampscott incorporated 1852 from Lynn.
*Topsfield established 1650.
*Wenham settled 1638.
*West Newbury incorporated 1819 from Newbury.*"Villages are census division, but have no separate corporate existence from the towns they are in."



Essex County is home to several libraries and schools, both public and private.


* [ Merrimack Valley Library Consortium - Northern Essex and Middlesex County Libraries]
* [ North of Boston Library Exchange - Southern Essex and Middlesex County Libraries]

econdary education

* [ Amesbury Public Schools]
** Amesbury High School serves Amesbury and South Hampton
* [ Brooks School - North Andover]
* [ The Pingree School - South Hamilton]
* [ GDA - Governor Dummer Academy - Newbury]
* [ Pentucket Regional School District - Groveland, Merrimac, West Newbury.]
* [ Triton Regional School District - Newbury, Rowley, Salisbury.]
* [ Masconomet Regional School District]
** [ Masconomet Regional High School] serves Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton
* [ Phillips Andover Academy]
* [ St. Johns Prep - Danvers]
* [ Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School]

Higher education

* Endicott College
* Gordon College (Massachusetts)
* Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
* Marian Court College
* Massachusetts School of Law
* Merrimack College
* Montserrat College of Art
* North Shore Community College
* Northern Essex Community College
* Salem State College

Essex National Heritage Area

On November 12, 1996, Essex National Heritage Area was authorized. The heritage area is Essex County, a convert|500|sqmi|km2|sing=on area between the Atlantic Coast and the Merrimack Valley. It includes thousands of historic sites and districts that illuminate colonial settlement, the development of the shoe and textile industries, and the growth and decline of the maritime industries — including fishing, privateering, and the China trade. ["The National Parks: Index 2001-2003," Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, p. 104.]

ee also

*Lovecraft Country


Essex County References
*Arrington, Benjamin F. "Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts" [ Volume 2] . [ Volume 3 Biographical] . [ Volume 4 Biographical] . Published 1922 by Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Unfortunately have mistakenly not put Volume 1 online in Full View mode.
*Hurd, Duane Hamilton. History of Essex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many Pioneers and Prominent Men. [ Volume 1] . Published 1888 by J.W. Lewis and Co.
* Newhall, James Robinson. [ "The Essex Memorial, for 1836: Embracing a Register of the County"] . Published 1836.
*Lewis, Alonzo and James Robinson Newhall. [ History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts: Including Lynnfield,Saugus, Swampscott and Nahant] .Published 1865 by John L. Shorey 13 Washington St. Lynn.
*Perley, Sidney. [ "The Essex Antiquarian"] . [ Volume 1 1897] . [ Volume 3 1899] . [ Volume 6 1902] . [ Volume 8 1904]
*Various. [ "Early Massachusetts Vital Records" 1600-1849]


External links

* [ Essex County Registry of Deeds -Salem Mass.]
* [ Northern Essex Registry of Deeds - Lawrence Mass.]
* [ Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.]
* [ 1872 Map of Essex County from the 1872 "Atlas of Essex County".]
* [ 1884 "Atlas of Essex County"] . Some plates missing. Also at Salemdeeds below.
* [ Peabody Essex Museum - Salem Mass.]
* [ National Register of Historic Places listing for Essex Co., Massachusetts.]
* [ Map of cities and towns of Massachusetts]
* [ Essex National Heritage Area]
* [ Salisbury Point Railroad Historical Society] . Specializing in the History of the Boston and Maine Railway and Essex County railroads.
* [ "Atlases of Essex County"] . Several Atlases and Maps of Essex County Towns. 1795, 1830, 1872-Beers, 1884-Walker.

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