The history of the Shapleigh family runs far back into the dim ages of the past. It was one of the early families of England, and though not so numerous as some of the other families, has ever been one of distinction.
The origin of the name, Shapleigh, probably dates back nearly ten centuries. In the remote past Saxon men, in common with other men of that period, were known by one name only. When family and neighborhood groups increased in size and a name therefore became more common, two or more men having the same name became distinguished one from another by adding a word or phrase describing a distinctive attribute of the individual, such as his looks, an unusual habit, or dwelling place.
Eight hundred years ago, in the Parish of Upylyme (Upper Lyme), in Devonshire, Southern England, which was an important sheep-raising parish not far from Kingsweare, there was a farm, according to old historical records which bore the name, Shapwick. In the Saxon-derived language of those days shap meant sheep, and wick meant farm. A man living on this farm might have been known as John Shapwick (John of the Sheep Farm). Another John, a sheep-raising neighbor whose home was on a nearby meadow, would have the name, John Shapleigh (John of the Sheep Meadow), shap meaning sheep, and leigh meaning meadow, thus distinguishing him from his neighbor, John Shapwick. In this manner the name, Shapleigh, originated.
Kingsweare, about thirty miles from the Shapwick farm in Upylyme, which was located on the River Teign, was probably the birthplace of our ancestor, Alexander Shapleigh the Immigrant. We know little about his parents or grandparents, though research in the Parish Records of Dartmouth and Totnes and in the old records preserved in the Guild Hall Library in London would undoubtedly bring to light many interesting facts concerning his ancestors. However, in the "Visitation of Devon, 1620" there are listed numerous Shapleighs bearing baptismal names of Anglo-Saxon origin, names which are still common among the present-day Shapleighs in America. These include such names as Richard, Robert, Thomas, John, William, Mary, Dorothy and Elizabeth.
The Shapleighs of England and America have descended from Teutonic barbarians, Saxons who fifteen hundred years ago were hunters, fisherman and pirates, living among the swamps and dense forests in the lowlands bordering the Weser and Elbe Rivers in Northwestern Germany.
Extending their raids along the shores of the North Sea and finally to the English Channel, these marauders eventually found in Southwestern England a region of gentle hills and fertile valleys, and a mild and pleasant climate. Its rivers gave easy access to inland areas. Its numerous fine harbors provided safe anchorage for their many boats. Forsaking their dreary northern homeland, these plunderers in quest of booty finally settled here in about 495 A.D. forcing the native Celts into serfdom or driving them into the rugged hills and mountains of Cornwall and Wales.
By 577 A.D. the invaders were in full control of the coastal regions of Southern England, their speech and customs replacing those of the Celts. Along the western coast they became known as Weswt Saxons, founding the Kingdom of Wessex. In the village of Kingsweare, located here, Alexander Shapleigh, ancestor of the Shapleighs in America, was born more than a thousand years later.
The newcomers soon forsook their pillaging habits, turning to sheep raising, farming and trading. During the following ten centuries, descendants of these intruders, at one time led by their renowned king, Alfred the Great, repulsed invasions by other Northmen and later, after a long struggle, drove their Norman conquerors back to France. The Saxon leaders became great landowners, eventually barons and earls, close to royalty.
During the War of the Roses, 1453-1471, the Duke of York and the Peers of the House of Lancaster engaged in a long struggle, the prize being the sovereignty of England. The Shapleighs fought under the banner of the Lancastrians, whose symbol was the red rose. The House of York chose the white rose as its emblem. The war thus derived its name, the War of the Roses. The Yorkists were finally victorious. The Shapleigh nobility lost their titles, wealth and political power. Those who survived turned to trade and commerce, but in their heraldic emblem, the Shapleigh Coat of Arms, they retained the red roses of the House of Lancaster.
Devon County, in the West of England, was one of the Shapleighs early homes, and the one from which the American branch of the family emigrated. We find a Robert Shapleigh living at Dartmouth about the year 1500, or shortly thereafter; a John Shapleigh at Totnes, an old man in 1600; a Nicholas at Woolborough; and two or three generations by the name of Alexander and Nicholas at Kingsweare, on the River Dart, opposite the city of Dartmouth. By the late 1500s the Shapleighs living in Devonshire, in the communities of Dartmouth, Kingsweare and Totnes had become citizens of importance, active in local politics and engaged in mercantile pursuits on land and sea. The 15th through 17th Century Mayoral Roll at the Totnes, Devon, Guild Hall lists John Shapleigh who was first elected Mayor of Totnes in 1602. Robert Shapleigh also served in 1642 and 1657. William Shapleigh in 1672 completed the seventy year span of Shapleigh mayoral service.
When in 1588 the great Spanish Armada neared Plymouth, a neighboring important seaport, on its way to invade England, we may be sure that Alexander Shapleigh, then a boy three years of age, watched the ships owned by Shapleighs sail from Kingsweare Harbor to join the motley fleet of English merchant and fishing vessels which, with their more powerful guns and superior seamanship, turned back the mighty Armada only a few miles from Alexander's home and finally destroyed it.
The Dart River, at Kingsweare, where Alexander Shapleigh was from continues in a narrow channel between the hills of Kingsweare and Dartmouth, on its way to the English Channel.
In 1481 a strong defensive tower, known as Dartmouth Castle, was built at the narrow entrance of the channel, from which a heavy chain protecting the entrance was extended across the channel to the Kingsweare shore, In 1501 a similar but smaller tower, Kingsweare Castle, was constructed, as shown on the map. It is said that a winch located in a still visible cave among the rocks near Kingsweare Castle was used to raise and lower the chain, to foil enemy ships or to permit passage of friendly vessels.
In this historic setting our ancestor, Alexander Shapleigh, grew to manhood during the reign of Elizabeth, England's great queen. Living during her reign was the great dramatist, William Shakespeare (1564-1616), whose birthplace and retirement home were about one hundred and fifty miles, as the crow flies, from Kingsweare. Shakespeare's real name, according to one writer engaged in literary research, was William Shapleigh!
Among other contemporaries of Alexander who were familiar with Kingsweare Harbor were the adventurers, Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Raleigh, settlers in the New World, Queen Elizabeth's favorites; Captain John Smith, explorer, colonist, writer; Sir Fernando Gorges, astute businessman and Lord Proprietor of the Province of Maine in New England, for whom Alexander Shapleigh, as did also Captain John Smith, served as business agent; and Captain Francis Champernowne, Alexander Shapleigh's friend and associate in business in Kingsweare, who sailed from there only a year after Alexander had emigrated to America, and established his home close by Alexander's house and trading post at Kittery Point.
The Dart River, finding its way to the sea through the beautiful countryside of Southern England, narrows its channel as it passes between the two high, steep hills a half mile before entering the English Channel. On the slope of the eastern hills rises the ancient, terraced village of Kingsweare, the English home of Alexander Shapleigh the Immigrant before he came to America.
Up the river, just beyond the hills of Kingsweare and Dartmouth, lies the sheltered, deep-water harbor. A busy seaport for many centuries, from this harbor in 1189 the Crusaders, under the leadership of King Richard the Lion-Hearted (Coeur de Lion), embarked for the Holy Land, as did also earlier Crusaders. More than four centuries later the Mayflower, in 1620, on its way to Plymouth Rock entered Kingsweare Harbor for repairs to its sister ship, the Speedwell. And from this seaport Alexander Shapleigh, ancestor of the Shapleighs in America, carried on his extensive maritime enterprises.
Alexander Shapleigh the Immigrant
Alexander Shapleigh, the pioneer of the American Branch of the Family, was born apparently at Kingsweare, about 1574, and was probably the son of Nicholas Shapleigh, of that place, but of this we are not quite sure. Alexander Shapleigh, as described in available historical records, became a man of importance in Kingsweare. He was a merchant, shipbuilder, and owner of vessels engaged in extensive commerce in Europe and in the New World. There can be little doubt but what he had agents in America and did business long before he purchased land in what was afterwards the town of Kittery. The purchase of land was an afterthought, brought about by the King's grant to the Council of Plymouth and their grant to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Before that, land in America was common domain, and its use and products were free to the citizens of England. It now became cheaper to purchase land and have the protection of the government than to do a clandestine business.
The Shapleighs of Dartmouth and Kingsweare were mostly merchants. Their ships traversed almost every sea, and were especially engaged in commerce between England and America. They would bring over knives, hatchets, coarse cloth and trinkets of all kinds from England and exchange with the Indians for valuable furs and skins, taking back at the same time a shipload of masts and round timber which they could then cut, with very little trouble, almost anywhere. In this way they accumulated quite a respectable property.
A large importer of salt from the salt mines of France and Spain, Alexander sold this commodity not only to English markets but also to the numerous European fishing fleets operating during the summer months off the northern shores of North America. These fleets had found their most productive fishing grounds in the shallow sea surrounding a group of islands described at length and named the Isles of Shoals by the famous Captain John Smith during his explorations along the Maine Coast in 1614. Located ten miles offshore from the mouth of the Piscataqua River, where Alexander Shapleigh later settled, these islands became the center of the dressing, salting and curing of fish caught nearby, including the salmon and sturgeon found at that time in great abundance in the Piscataqua River and its many tributaries.
Having been appointed an agent of Sir Fernando Gorges, who had already developed extensive commercial operations along the coast of Maine, it is probable that Alexander Shapleigh, in the interests of his employer, came to Maine several times before emigrating to Amerca. During these trips of investigation, which he undoubtedly made, he had ample opportunity to estimate the large profits which he might reap if he stationed a fishing fleet at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, and opened a nearby trading post dealing in furs and supplying the many needs of fishermen, settlers and Indians, including the highly prized firewater. Water-power sawmills could also be built, easily provided with logs of virgin oak and pine floated down the numerous streams. And lumber was at that time in great demand, not only in the coastal colonies but also in the shipyards and cities of England.
The prospects for success in such ventures apparently persuaded Gorges' agent to extend his own activities in New England. Accordingly, Alexander Shapleigh came to Kittery, Maine, in 1635, sailing with his neighbor Captain Francis Champernowne in their jointly-owned ship "Benediction" to Piscataqua Plantations, the original name for the Kittery, Maine-Portsmouth, New Hampshire area. One of five original villages of Piscataqua Plantations on the Maine side of the Piscataqua River was named Kittery Point and later became the Town of Kittery in 1647. It is the oldest town in the State of Maine and, until 1820, was known as the Province of Maine.
Alexander Shapleigh the Merchant Venturer
Alexander Shapleigh, ancestor of the Shapleighs in America, who settled in Kittery, Maine, in 1635, was a merchant in Kingsweare, England in the early 1600s. He was associated with a group of ambitious men known as "Merchant Venturers". They were merchants whose ships were engaged chiefly in trading and colonizing enterprises in far distant lands, including the shores of North America. They were also adventurers, termed "venturers", whose vessels were subject to attacks by Spanish and other enemies of England and by numerous pirates as they carried on their hazardous operations.
Coldham's "English Adventurers" reported the following discovery in the Admiralty Records - "On Sept. 20, 1610, Alexander Shapley [sic] of Kingswear, Master of the "Restitution" of Dartmouth, while returning from a fishing voyage to Newfoundland and enroute to Portugal was seized by Robert Stephens, a pirate."
Among Alexander's ships, his largest and finest was the "Golden Cat", of four hundred and fifty tons, a small vessel now but in Alexander's day it was more than twice as large as most of the ships that plied the traffic lanes of the North Atlantic. It was similar in size, design and rigging to the "Merchant Venturer's Ship" of 1615 pictured above (the sketch was from Adrian Mapple, Curator of the Dartmouth Borough Museum, Dartmouth, Devonshire, England).
The "Golden Cat" was twice as large as the Mayflower in which the Pilgrims came to Plymouth Rock in 1620, and three times the size of the "Golden Hind", earlier called the "Pelican", in which the "Merchant Venturer" Francis Drake and his crew of fifty-six men made a three year journey through the Straits of Magellan to San Francisco, to the China Sea, and returned by way of the Cape of Good Hope to their home port, Plymouth, England, only a few miles from Kingsweare. Drake, in this "Venture", brought back to Queen Elizabeth and other members of his trading company a huge profit of 4,700 per cent from his bartering, and other less legal transactions which filled the ship's hold with Spanish silver and gold stolen on the western shores of South America.
Like the "Golden Hind", Alexander's "Golden Cat" was armed with good English cannon, as well as muskets, cutlasses and other weapons used in repelling enemy attacks and in capturing ships of England's enemies, also for protection against the hordes of pirates who infested the shores and shipping lanes of the North Atlantic.
Alexander Shapleigh's Properties in England & America
Kittery Court, Kingsweare, Devon, England
The beautiful English estate of Alexander Shapleigh was named Kittery Court. It was located in the picturesque village of Kingsweare, overlooking the Dart River in the County of Devon. (See picture link at end of text.) Kittery Court was a name that had come down in the Shapleigh family for several generations, and the name, as we shall see later, followed the family to America and finally gave name to the Town of Kittery. It was located in the picturesque village of Kingsweare, overlooking the Dart River in the County of Devon, England. Kittery Court, now a small estate in acres, is on the brow of a hill, adjoining and facing the river Dart. The present estate is about four hundred feet long, by about two hundred feet wide. It is divided into terraces, with retaining walls about eighteen feet high, one above the other. All of the houses and buildings are several hundred years old, and are without doubt the very buildings in which Alexander the Immigrant once lived. They are of stone. The ancient stone mansion and outbuildings remained in outward appearance in the middle of this century much the same as in 1914, when Mrs. Hannah Tibbetts, the Shapleigh Family Association's first historian, visited the estate, and have changed little since Alexander lived there in 1635. The two-story mansion has four chimneys, and there are bay windows on the river side, looking out toward the ocean, but the bay windows are a modern innovation. The estate's terraces extended upward from the stone retaining wall at the water's edge. The buildings and grounds still retain their old-time charm, though no longer owned by Shapleighs. Several descendants related to our association members or members themselves have visited the estate grounds in recent years.
Alexander Shapleigh's American Properties
Kittery House, now in present-day Eliot, Maine Alexander Shapleigh came to Kittery, Maine in 1635 and soon acquired large tracts of land and established his new enterprises. There can be little doubt but that Alexander had agents here in America, and did business, long before he purchased land in what was afterwards the town of Kittery. As noted, the purchase of land was an afterthought, brought about by the King's grant to the Council of Plymouth and their grant to Sir Fernando Gorges. Before that, land in America was common domain, and its use and products were free to the citizens of England.
Accordingly, orders were sent over to Alexander's agents to purchase certain tracts of land, and on May 5, 1636 John Treworgy, his agent and grandson, purchased 500 acres of land at Kittery Point, for his grandfather Shapleigh, and a few months later, on January 10, 1636/7, he purchased, for his grandfather Shapleigh, 800 acres of land in what it now Eliot, then a part of Kittery. The price paid and to be paid, for the Kittery Point property, was 100 merchantable dried codfish per year, and half the net income of contemplated ferry, which never paid its expenses. This price, small as it was, was soon remitted and the grants comfirmed in fee to the Shapleigh estates, by both the town of Kittery and the Province of Massachusetts Bay.
The northwesterly side line of the Kittery Point tract began at the river side, at a certain notch in what then or later was known as Warehouse Point and extended up to the southeasterly corner of Philip Swadden's wigwam, which stood on the westerly side of Warehouse Point, thence upon a straight line unto the creek that turns up at Brave Boat Harbor. A dwelling house was immediately built, or more likely, had already been built. We know by William Reeves' deposition that the house had already been built, as early as 1637, and from the same deposition, we gather that John Treworgy, Mr. Shapleigh's agent, had formerly obtained of Philip Swadden a right to the house, and so to the saw-pit. Philip Swadden is supposed to have held the Indian title to that part of Kittery Point.
Rev. Everett S. Stackpole, in his history of Old Kittery, places the building of this house in 1635. We are inclined to place the date still earlier. Philip Swadden was probably in the employ of Alexander Shapleigh and had placed his wigwam, which was doubtless of wood, next-door neighbor to Mr. Shapleigh and within a few feet of the warehouse. The deposition also shows that in 1637, at least, Mr. Shapleigh was running a sawmill at Spruce Creek, and probably before that date, for permission was given for free passage between his dwelling-house and the saw-pit, and there would be no saw-pit, if there was no sawmill.
In the old court records at Alfred, Maine, under date of October 15, 1650, is the following: "Forasmuch as the house at the river's mouth, where Mr. Shapleigh's father first built and Mr. William Hilton now dwelleth, in regard it was the first house there built and Mr. Shapleigh intendeth to build and enlarge, it is thought fit it should from time to time be for a house of entertainment or ordinary, with this proviso, that the tenant be such an one as the inhabitants shall approve of." Whatever the date of the building of the house may have been, we here learn that it was the first house ever built at Kittery Point.
Alexander Shapleigh's warehouse or store at Kittery Point, for he had two warehouses, stood on the easterly side of Warehouse Point, within one hundred and fifteen feet of the water, just in front of this ordinary/hotel. The site of the old dwelling house, which soon became a hotel, is probably covered by this hotel or, if not, probably but a few feet up the rising ground. In our Vol.1 No. 3 edition of "The Shapleigh Chronicles" we included a picture of the Champernowne Hotel, Kittery Point, Maine, from the Association's library. Our historian wrote "this hotel was built in 1890. It was located opposite the Kittery Point (Maine) Congregational Church on Route 103 and at the end of Lawrence Lane opposite the foundation remains of Alexander Shapleigh, the Immigrant's buildings at Warehouse Point and Phyllis' Notch and located on his 500 acre tract of land there. The hotel was the site of several Shapleigh Family reunions during the 1920's and was torn down in 1927." Philip Swadden's wigwam stood just over yonder, on the westerly side of the road, or path, which afterwards extended down the present road and through Philliss's Notch to the ferry; for here was the public ferry from Kittery to Great Island, now Newcastle, and to Strawbery Banke, now Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for the next thirty or forty years.
We have now in 1637 the warehouse or store, the dwelling house which became a hotel, the wigwam, and out in the distance is the old sawmill. William Hilton, originally one of David Thompson's party, was placed in charge of the house and proposed ferry, a position which he continued to hold until June 7, 1651, when the premises were leased to Hugh Gunnison for the term of twenty-one years.
It is probably that Alexander Shapleigh may have lived here a few months, from time to time, but this was not his manor house. That was located on his eight hundred acre tract in what is now Eliot. The southerly side of this tract originally began at the river-side at Watts Fort, otherwise called Point Joslain, and ran northeast by east into the woods about two and one quarter miles to a red oak tree, which stood about forty rods to the eastward of Sturgeon Creek brook. The northerly side line began at the riverside at the mouth of Cammock's Creek, afterwards called Mill Creek, and ran up that creek and into the woods 560 rods to Sturgeon Creek Marshes, the river being the westerly bound. The date of this deed, as we have seen, was Jan. 10, 1636/7.
A settlement was immediately commenced by the riverside just above Point Joslain. A warehouse or store was built same as at Kittery Point, and near it a large building was erected for an ordinary or hotel, for what was the use of having a store to sell goods to the Indians, unless there was an ordinary where fire-water could be sold to them at the same time!
Captain William Everett, a very convenient man for Mr. Shapleigh, appears to have been placed in charge of the ordinary, and a large five-chambered manor house was built further up on high land and about half a mile from Point Joslain, with kitchen, brew-house, barn and out-buildings all on a large scale to match the manor house; which after the house at Kingsweare was named Kittery House, and by this name it was known for the next one hundred years. Alexander could not call his estate Kittery Court, same as the English estate, for it consisted of eight hundred acres of timber land, but he named the house after the old house in England, and the name was preserved by his son Nicholas during his whole lifetime.
It was here that Alexander Shapleigh, when living in America, made his home; but his stay in America was brief. His business kept him most of the time in England, and the American end or branch was left mostly in charge of agents and members of his family. Different mills were built, and his money from 1636 to 1641 was spent by his agent, with a lavish hand. Such a course could not always last, and one bright morning in the spring of 1641 James Treworgy, Alexander's son-in-law who was then living in Kittery, came forward with the story that he had purchased all of Mr. Shapleigh's property, that was situated in America. There were debts out, and of course there was a flutter of excitement, for at this time the town had grown largely in population.
The records of court at this time are fragmentary and we shall never know the whole of what happened. But on April 2, 1641, James Treworgy passed title to all of Mr. Shapleigh's property in America to Mr. Nicholas Shapleigh, then of Kingsweare, son of Alexander Shapleigh. The consideration was fifteen hundred pounds in English money, or about seven thousand five hundred dollars of our money; a large sum for those days. Doubtless James Treworgy, with this money, fixed up the creditors as best he could. The ordinary or hotel, together with the warehouse and a small tract of land, appears to have been left in the possession of Captain William Everett, who soon died, and his widow was never troubled by Major Nicholas Shapleigh. Sixty-seven acres of land adjoining were afterwards, in 1652, confirmed by the town to Nathan Lord, who married the daughter and only surviving heir to Captain William Everett.
Twenty acres more were confirmed by the town to the heirs of Nicholas Frost, who made claim, on an alleged promise made to their father by Mr. Warnerton, prior to the sale of the land to Mr. Shapleigh's agent. Twenty acres more were lost, by reason of the bounds of a previous grant to Dennis Downing overlapping on the Shapleigh land; and twenty-seven acres more were lost by reason of an earlier grant to Abraham Conley, making in all one hundred and thirty-four acres; but this was partly compensated by Mr. Shapleigh's original grant covering more than 800 acres. So that Major Nicholas Shapleigh finally saved about seven hundred and sixty acres clear, out of this tract.
Sandy Hill and Kittery House
Alexander, the Immigrant, purchased through his grandson John Treworgy, this "800 acre tract" on 10 January 1636 and it was recorded in York Deeds on January 20, 1636, Book III, Folio 2. It was purchased from Thomas Cammock who had earlier purchased it from the Laconia Company in 1633. The small tidal creek off the Piscataqua River in Eliot, which forms one of the boundaries of Alexander Shapleigh's 800 acre land tract and the current Sandy Hill Farm of the late Merritt Shapleigh Jr. and his wife Nancy, was originally called Cammock's Creek (in the 1600's), later appeared on maps as Stacy's Creek. This creek was deeded to Alexander Shapleigh as part of the 800 acre tract. At about the same time Alexander built his house there - KITTERY HOUSE - a garrison, several hundred feet away and soon thereafter constructed a saw mill and grist mill at the entrance to the creek. We believe Cammock's Creek took on the Shapleigh Old Mill Pond name about that time. We know for certain it bore that name in 1850 since there is an 1850 map that still hangs in the William Fogg library in Eliot, Maine, which carries that name. River Road was also called Sandy Hill Road, Fore Road was called Shapleigh Road and Old Road was called Fore Road at that time. The town has no record of the pond being changed to Stacy Creek which all of the current maps now show. There were several Stacy families living on the other side of the creek according to an 1872 map which Richard W. Shapleigh, Sr., our historian, has a copy of. The Shapleigh Family Association was instrumental in getting the townspeople of Eliot to change, by vote, the creek back to its historical name. This was readily accomplished without objection on March 17, 1990.
Alexander's son, Major Nicholas Shapleigh (1618-1682), for whom the Town of Shapleigh was named, had no children, but brought from England and raised his nephew John Shapleigh, son of Alexander, Jr. who died quite young. Lieutenant John Shapleigh(3) (1642-1706) received a grant of land consisting of 110 acres at Spruce Creek in Kittery which was in the area of where the present Kittery Trading Post is located. He inherited from his uncle, Major Nicholas Shapleigh (when he was killed at the launching of a boat at John Diamond's shipyard in Kittery in 1682), the estate of his uncle at Sandy Hill in Eliot. Thus, we can conclude that the name Sandy Hill is well over 300 years old. "Old Eliot" printed in 1898 indicates the name dates back to 1655. It has been suggested that it could have originated with the Indians. We do not know much about the two earlier houses, the first of which - Kittery House - was built about 1638, but quite likely they were destroyed by fire. We do have a written description but no pictures. Our records indicate that the first house was "later enlarged and fortified as a garrison" for the protection of the villagers at Sturgeon Creek against Indian raids.
The second Shapleigh house built on the site of Kittery House next door to Sandy Hill was a garrison to protect themselves from the Indians, which the town ordered Lieutenant John to build and fortify. John subsequently met a cruel death at the hands of the Indians.
An article in the "Boston Globe" indicated that the first cup of tea made in this country was brewed on the Shapleigh estate in Eliot, Maine in the 17th century. This had to be at Sandy Hill and probably was as early as 1636.
A grist mill located at Sturgeon Creek was about a mile away from Sandy Hill. (We know that Major Nicholas(2) had a grist mill there.
As noted, River Road was called Sandy Hill Road as late as 1850. Across the street from Sandy Hill (River Road), where Shapleigh creek empties into the Piscataqua River, there can be seen the remaining timbers of Major Nicholas Shapleigh's saw mill and grist mill that has been preserved for over 300 years by the salt water. This site was to be nominated to the Register of Historic Sites by the Maine Historic Preservation Committee.
Less than a mile from here on River Road, in front of what used to be the Lanzier Tea Room, is a bronze placque marking the site of the Signing of the Submission of the Province of Maine to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1652. Major Nicholas Shapleigh(2) was a signer of this historic document.
Sandy Hill is next door to the third house built in 1802 on the site of the Kittery House was built by Captain Elisha Shapleigh (1749-1822), a Revolutionary War veteran and sixth generation descendant of Alexander Shapleigh. A bronze placque stands near the road (River Road) in front of this house, marking the site of the original Kittery House, which gave name to the Town of Kittery. The placque was placed there in 1912 by the Shapleigh Family Association. Captain Elisha Shapleigh had ten children. One his grandchildren, Augustus Frederick Shapleigh, founded the Shapleigh Hardware Company in St. Louis around 1843.
Mrs. Nancy Shapleigh, widow of Merritt J. Shapleigh, Jr. extended an invitation to SFA to have its year 2000 reunion at her Sandy Hill Farm which borders Shapleigh Old Mill Pond at 76 River Road in Eliot. She owns 42 acres on the Shapleigh 800 acre tract, so-called, and still has her beautiful Belgian horses (about a dozen at last count) which are pastured in a corral that borders River Road and overlooks the Piscataqua, a real picturesque scene during Spring, Summer and Autumn. Two earlier reunions were held at Sandy Hill Farm, in 1987 and 1990.
Various Deeds/Wills on Shapleigh Lands in Eliot and Kittery
Various deeds/wills etc on Shapleigh Lands in Eliot and Kittery: The full sequence of land transactions of Alexander Shapleigh's original 900 acre tract in Sturgeon Creek Village (now Eliot) and the 500 acre tract in Kittery Point Village (adjacent to Francis Champernowne's 500 acre tract) follows:
1. Deed 2 June 1633 - Neale to Cammock ( granted unto Gorges/Mason by the President and Counsell of the said Province ((Mayne, within the territtorie of New England)) to Capt Walter Neale, Governor of the Collonies). "a true coppie of the originall Deede recorded at the Generall Courte holden at Saco" on 20 July 1642. ((Source Maine Wills,
#1-1640-1760 compiled and edited by William M. Sargent, A.M., of the Cumberland Bar, Member of the Maine Historical Society, of the Maine Genealogical Society, and of the Gorges Society - Portland: Brown Thurston & Co, 1887.)
2. Deed 1 May 1634 of royal land grant from Mason/Gorges to Capt. Thomas Cammock, later sold to Alexander Shapleigh through his agent, grandson John Treworgy. Appears to be a confirmation of earlier transaction in 1 above from Neale to Cammock. "a true coppie of the originall Deede recorded at Generall Courte holden at Saco on 20 July 1642". (Maine Wills #3, by Sargent)
3. Indenture date 20 January 1636 from Cammock to Alexander Shapleigh. "a true coppie of the originall Deede recorded at the Generall Courte holden at Saco on 20 July 1642" - Consideration 20 Pounds Sterling. (Maine Wills #2, by Sargent).
4. Deed 9 July 1633 Governor Neale to Thomas Wannerton and thence Deed 1 March 1637 from Wannerton to Alexander Shapleigh, through grandson, John Treworgy (apparently recorded 20 November 1642) - Consideration 30 Pounds. "A True copy Examd P Wm Pepperrell Clerk". (Pioneers on MaineRivers, by Spencer)
5. Deed 26 May 1642 - recorded 3 July 1650 - from Alexander Shapleigh to James Treworgy due to embarrassing debts outstanding in England. Consideration 700 Pounds. (Probably included Kittery Pt property). Source York County Deeds, Part I, Fol. 7.
6. Deed 2 April 1641 from Treworgy to Nicholas Shapleigh - Eliot and Kittery Pt property. Consideration 1,500 Pounds. York County Deeds,
Vol 1, Part 1, Folio 1.
7. Deed 24 December 1661/2 from Nicholas Shapleigh to Walter Barefoot all of Kittery Pt property. Consideration 300 Pounds. York County Deeds, Book 8, Fol. 135.
The Preface to Sargent's publication reads as follows: "RESOLVE in favor of publishing all Maine Wills recorded prior to the time of the separation of the Counties. Resolved, That if the Maine Historical Society shall cause to be compiled and copied all the wills recorded in this state prior to the time of the separation of the counties, from the records in the county clerk's office, the registry of deeds, and the probate office of York County (a total of 471 wills), and have the same duly attested by the several officers having custody thereof, and have the same printed in one volume complete, with a full index, in form similar to the volumes of Suffolk deeds, lately published by the City of Boston, the governor and council shall purchase for the state two hundred copies thereof, at five dollars per volume, and that a copy of said volume be placed in each registry of deeds and each registry of probate in the state. [Approved February 20, 1887]" Until 1760, the County of York embraced the entire Province of Maine.
"In the arrangement of the wills that was adopted, the sequence of the lettered and numbered volumes in the several offices has been followed, rather than an alphabetical, or chronological order, although thereby the sequence in time was necessarily disarranged, the earliest will in point of time, that of Captain Thomas Cammock, dated September 21, 1640, recorded in Book 2 of the Registry of Deeds, being printed at page 53".
Site of Alexander Shapleigh's Kittery House
on River Road in Eliot, Maine,
this house, built in 1802
is the third house on the site.
The placque in front reads:
"Site Of The Kittery House
Erected About 1633 By
This House Gave Name
To The Town Of Kittery
This Tablet Was Placed Here By
The Shapleigh Family Association
August 19, 1912"