Rowley was founded in
1639 by the Reverend Ezekiel Rogers and a band of 20 families from
Rowley, Yorkshire, England. The group sailed on the ship "John of
London" bringing with them the first printing press to be used in
America, the famous "Daye Press" which was to be set up in Cambridge.
The land area of Rowley originally included what is now Boxford,
Bradford, Georgetown, Groveland, and a part of Middleton.
is home to the nation's oldest stone arch bridge and the "Turning Place"
(now the Rowley Common) where in 1775 a battalion of Benedict Arnold's
musket men encamped enroute to Quebec. The Revolutionary War cannon,
"Old Nancy", is one of the town's most prized possessions. The cannon
was taken by Rowley soldiers from the British ship "Nancy", which was
captured off Gloucester.
In 1643, the first fulling mill
in the colonies was established in Rowley, which later proved to be a
contributing factor to the War of Independence as the mill was perceived
as a threat to England's dominance in supplying wool to the colonies.
Rowley's only other major industry was the Foster Shoe Company that
began operations in 1850.
Today, Rowley is in a transition from
its historical farming roots to that of a residential community. The
town maintains its historical charm, however, and may be the
quintessential New England hometown with its 350th anniversary
commemorative bandstand sited on the town common green, numerous
stately, colonial era homes lining Main Street, and several tall white
steeple churches standing nearby.