Daily Life of Colonial New Hampshire

by Jim Orrill
New Hampshire's early colonists relied heavily on timber and fishing for their livelihood.

New Hampshire's early colonists relied heavily on timber and fishing for their livelihood.

New Hampshire's first settlement was founded in 1623 when Captain John Mason ordered David Thompson to establish a fishing colony at the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Towns grew throughout New Hampshire, populated by colonists whose Puritan traditions were strong and who learned to harvest the bounty of the sea and forest to survive.

The Household

Colonists lived in log homes with open fireplaces so large that keeping a full log supply was nearly a daylong job, which a family's boys would typically perform. Women cooked over the fire, suspending pots and kettles over the flames with chains, and they would bake in stoves that were embedded into the fireplace's chimney.

The Town

The town was the center of New Hampshire's colonial life. Colonists valued education and after 1647, New Hampshire law required that every town of 50 householders or more had a schoolhouse. Church was an important center of town life and all colonists were expected to attend services. If their attention flagged or they fell asleep, the church's tithing-man would strike them with a brass-tipped staff.

Trades

Colonists' farms were mainly for their own personal subsistence and they relied on trades that included fishing, shipbuilding and commerce for their livelihood. Hunting and trapping provided pelts and meat, and almost every man learned some carpentry to provide basic household furnishings and repairs.

About the Author

Since 2006 Jim Orrill has produced reviews and essays on popular culture for publications including Lemurvision and "Sexis." Based in Western North Carolina, Orrill graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina with a bachelor's degree in office systems.

Photo Credits

  • swift river in new hampshire image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com