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Duxbury, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Duxbury Town Offices
Official seal of Duxbury, Massachusetts
Location in Plymouth County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°02′30″N 70°40′22″W / 42.04167, -70.67278Coordinates: 42°02′30″N 70°40′22″W / 42.04167, -70.67278
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Plymouth
Settled 1624
Incorporated 1637
 • Type Open town meeting
 • Total 37.6 sq mi (97.4 km2)
 • Land 23.8 sq mi (61.5 km2)
 • Water 13.9 sq mi (35.9 km2)
Elevation 36 ft (11 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 14,248
 • Density 599.8/sq mi (231.6/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02332
Area code(s) 339 / 781
FIPS code 25-17895
GNIS feature ID 0618338

Duxbury is a coastal town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. Duxbury is a suburb of Boston, located approximately 35 miles (56 km) to the south of the city on the South Shore. The population was 14,248 at the 2000 census.

For geographic and demographic information on specific parts of the town of Duxbury, please see the articles on Cedar Crest, Duxbury (CDP), Duxbury Beach, and South Duxbury.


The area now known as Duxbury was inhabited by people as early as 12,000 to 9,000 B.C. By the time European settlers arrived here, the region was inhabited by the Wampanoags, who called this place Mattakeesett, meaning “place of many fish.”

Theory has it that the town was named by Myles Standish after the family estate of his childhood in Lancashire. The ancient Standish family in northern England owned much land and large estates, including the two main family headquarters of Standish Hall and Duxbury Manor, in Lancashire, since the before the Middle Ages. Myles Standish's will delineates his inheritance rights to very particular lands near and around Standish and mostly Duxbury Manor, stating his descent from both lines of the Standish family; and so it has been suggested that he named the new town in Massachusetts after the estate where he grew up.

Plymouth Colony Settlers 1627[]

John Alden House in Duxbury MA. Built in 1653, replacing the first house he built in 1629.

In 1620, the English settlers known as the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and established their colony in Plymouth Colony. Per the terms of their contract with financial backers in London, they were required to live together in a tight community for seven years. At the end of that term in 1627, land along the coast was allotted to settlers for farming. Thus, the coastline from Plymouth to Marshfield was parceled out, and many settlers began moving away from Plymouth.

After 1627, Some of the most influential men in the colony received grants in Duxbury and became its first leaders. These prominent families of Pilgrims moved to Duxbury, including:

Plymouth Colony map.svg.png

At first, those who settled in Duxbury came to work their new farms just in the warmer months and returned to Plymouth during the winter. It was not long, however, before they began to build homes on their land, and soon requested permission from the colony to be set off as a separate community with their own church. Duxbury, which originally included land that is now [1]Pembroke, was incorporated in 1637.

The graves of some of Duxbury’s first settlers can be found in the Old Burying Ground on Chestnut Street, next to the site of original meetinghouse.

King Philip's War[]

A number of men from Duxbury were recruited into a band of the Plymouth Militia led by Capt Michael Pierce (c1617-1676) and Lt Samuel Fuller (1628-1676). This group first fought at the Great Swamp Fight in Dec 1675 beating a bunch of Indians, but then massacred in battle by a superior indian force near Pawtucket, Rhode Island in the Spring of 1676.

Colonial Era[]

Duxbury was primarily a farming community throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Its quiet history in the 18th century was interrupted only by the Revolutionary War. The town of Duxbury thrived around its seaport, and many personal histories connect to the shipping era.

  • The Weston Sisters - the early genealogy of this abolitionist family notates many menfolk lost while at sea.
  • William Sprague (1664-1712) - died at age 48 when thrown from his whaling boat in stormy weather and drowned.

Revolutionary War Era[]

In the years leading to the American Revolutionary War, opposition to the Crown was fierce in Duxbury. Crowds met atop Captain’s Hill during the Stamp Act crisis, and effigies of British officials were hanged and burned. Matters became more tense in 1775 when British General Gage, responding to pleas from loyalists in nearby Marshfield, stationed a company of regulars in that town. [2][3]

It is recorded by Seth Sprague (1760-1847) in his memoirs that the town was fierce Whig and only two Tory's were found in the whole town, Gamaliel Bradford (1704-1778) (father of the Revolutionary War leader of same name) and Brig Alden, father of Major Judah Alden, and that they both recanted their Tory allegiance after the Lexington Battles.[4]

On April 19, 1775, news of the battles at Concord and Lexington quickly spread throughout New England. Colonial militia companies which had been drilling for months in anticipation of a crisis rapidly gathered in Plymouth. Under the command of Colonel Theophilus Cotton, the colonial regiment, consisting of volunteers from Plymouth, Kingston and Duxbury, headed for Marshfield to engage the British. The colonial officers held a council of war at the home of Lt. Col. Briggs Alden in Duxbury.

  • Aborted Attack on Marshfield: Nearly two days slipped by before they could agree on any action. The Americans outnumbered the British company six to one. Still, Colonel Cotton hesitated to attack—perhaps a prudent decision when faced with the gravity of outright rebellion. By 3 p.m. on April 21, British sloops had arrived off Brant Rock to take their soldiers to safety in Boston.
  • 14th Massachusetts Regiment commanded by Duxbury Colonel Gamaliel Bradford (1731-1807). This forced included Turner’s Company served the longest of any Duxbury company, from 1777 to 1780. They were with Washington during the hard winter at Valley Forge and fought at the battles of Germantown and Monmouth. Without a doubt, the Duxbury soldiers that saw the hardest duty were those that were sent to the Continental Army. Two companies, under Captains Joseph Wadsworth and Thomas Turner, were formed in 1777 soon found themselves in some of the fiercest fighting in the Revolution.
  • Duxbury in the Revolution - Rosters / journals of Duxbury men in the Revolutionary War.

The sheer number of Duxbury men who signed up for service is remarkable. Some 270 are on record, representing the vast majority of the town’s adult male population.

Commercial Era[]

The most remarkable period in Duxbury’s history, the shipbuilding era, began immediately after the Revolution. Following the Treaty of Paris (1783)|Treaty of Paris, the newborn nation was granted fishing rights on the Grand Banks. Several families took advantage of the new opportunity and began to build large fishing schooners. Notable individuals doing this include Ezra Weston (1743-1822), Samuel Delano, Nathaniel Winsor (1747-1839), Joshua Winsor (1749-1827) and Seth Sprague (1760-1847). Reaping great rewards from this business, they all went into shipbuilding to create bigger fishing fleets and other trading.[5]

These men strongly advocated for the building of a commercial road from Powder Point to the Bayfront and the establishment of the Duxbury Old Shipbuilder's Historic District which became their center of their shipping business.[6] This development culminated with the building of the first Powder Point Bridge in 1803. Soon, the schooners built in the 1790s gave way to larger brigs and eventually three-masted ships. As several merchant families began to amass large fleets, shipyards and other ancillary industries flourished and Duxbury prospered. By the 1840s, Duxbury boasted about 20 shipyards and produced an average of ten large sailing vessels per year.

Three shipbuilding Duxbury families played a very important role in making Duxbury a major seaport in the early 1800s:

Beach and residences c. 1910

The largest industry in Duxbury was owned by Ezra Weston (1743-1822), who came to be known as "King Caesar" due to his success and influence. Weston began building small vessels in 1764 and soon became famous for his successful merchant fleet. His son, Ezra Weston II, who inherited his father’s kingly sobriquet, would bring the industry to its height. By 1841, the younger King Caesar had constructed the largest vessel built in New England up to that time. The ship Hope was an astounding 880 tons.

The shipbuilding era in Duxbury ended as quickly as it began. By the 1850s, sailing vessels were made obsolete by other modes of transportation such as steamships]] and railroads. While other Massachusetts towns grew, Duxbury went into a long economic decline.

The Old Colony Railroad connecting Boston to Plymouth was not completed until 1845 and even then the nearest station to Duxbury was four miles away. Communication was by either horse relays or water packets. Telegraphic service and the railroad did not reach Duxbury until many years later.

There was, however, a silver lining. By the 1870s, Duxbury’s rural character and unspoiled bay began to attract summer visitors. Duxbury soon gained a reputation as an idyllic summer resort. With the 1871 completion of the Duxbury & Cohasset Railroad,[7] large numbers of city-folk from Boston could pay $1.50 for a round-trip ticket and enjoy Duxbury’s refreshing environment. Boarding houses sprang up everywhere. The Miles Standish Hotel on the Nook soon became enormously popular. The Myles Standish monument, completed in 1898, was a result of this tourist influx.

This pattern continued in Duxbury well into the 20th-century. It was not until the construction of Route 3 that transportation to Boston became expedient and the town’s population exploded with the arrival of thousands of year-round residents.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.6 square miles (97.4 km²), of which, 23.8 square miles (61.5 km²) of it is land and 13.9 square miles (35.9 km²) of it (36.87%) is water. Duxbury is bordered by Cape Cod Bay to the east, Duxbury Bay, Kingston Bay and Plymouth to the southeast, Kingston to the southwest, Pembroke to the west and northwest, and Marshfield to the north. The town's border with Plymouth is due to the town having the only land access to Saquish Neck, a thin, hook-shaped strip of land along Duxbury Bay whose tip is in Plymouth.

Duxbury is the sixth largest cranberry producer in Massachusetts. It also has come in recent years to be known for its oyster beds, as well as other shellfish. The town has many ponds and bogs throughout. The Back River lies along the western edge of Saquish Neck, and has many tributaries from the local rivers, brooks and marshes. There are several sanctuaries, a conservation area and other forests within the town, especially in the western half of town.


On the national level, Duxbury is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class II) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2008, is John Kerry. The junior (Class I) senator, elected in 2010, is Scott Brown.

On the state level, Duxbury is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the Sixth and the Twelfth Plymouth districts; the Sixth includes the towns of Hanson, Pembroke and portions of Halifax, and the Twelfth includes all or parts of the towns of Halifax, Kingston, Middleborough, Plymouth and Plympton. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Plymouth and Norfolk district, which includes the towns of Cohasset, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate and Weymouth.[8] The town is patrolled by the First (Norwell) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.[9]

Duxbury is governed by the open town meeting form of government, and is led by a town manager and a board of selectmen. The town operates its own police and fire departments, with the police station located near the junction of Routes 14 and 139, and fire stations located in the northwest and southeast parts of town. There are two post offices in town; one is at Hall's Corner (near Goose Point) and the other is at Snug Harbor, along Duxbury Bay just south of Powder Point. The Duxbury Free Library is located in the heart of town, next to the John Alden House, and is a member of the Old Colony Library Network. The town also has a highway department, located behind the Town Hall, and a harbormaster, whose office is located next to the Duxbury Yacht Club near Snug Harbor. Duxbury is located within ten miles (16 km) of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, and as such has a well-organized emergency management agency. The nearest hospitals are Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, and Brockton Hospital.

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 15, 2008[10]
Party Number of Voters Percentage
  Democratic 2,236 20.13%
  Republican 2,545 22.91%
  Unaffiliated 6,277 56.51%
  Minor Parties 50 0.45%
Total 11,108 100%


Public schools[]

Over $26 million of Duxbury's annual budget is devoted to the town's nationally recognized public school system. According to Newsweek Magazine's 2005, 2006 and 2007 rankings of the Nation's Top 1200 Public High Schools (the top 5% of public school systems), Duxbury was ranked at 246, 185 and 142 respectively.

Duxbury operates its own school system for the town's approximately 3,400 students, serving preschool through 12th grade. Chandler School is located near Tree of Knowledge Corner in the west of town and serves students from pre-kindergarten through second grade. The Alden Elementary School, located near the John Alden House, serves grades 3-5. The Duxbury Middle School is located adjacent to the Alden School, and serves grades 6-8.

Duxbury High School is located across Saint George Street from the middle school, and serves grades 9-12. Duxbury High's athletic teams are known as the Dragons, and their colors are green and white. Their chief rival is Marshfield High School and play against them in the Thanksgiving Day Tournament.

Private schools[]

There are two private schools located in Duxbury. The Bay Farm Montessori Academy is a private, independent school located in the southern corner of town and serves Toddlers through grade 8. Good Shepherd Christian Academy is a private, Christian school which serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The nearest private high school is Sacred Heart in Kingston. The town does not have any agreements with vocational schools.

Higher education[]

The nearest college is Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.


Route 3, a two-lane freeway also known as the Pilgrims Highway, passes through the town, with one exit granting access to the town from it. Routes 3A, 14, 53 and 139 also pass through the town. Routes 14 and 139 both end in the town, and Route 53 ends less than 1/2 mile south of the town line, at Route 3A. There is no rail or air service in town. The Kingston-Plymouth Line of the MBTA's commuter rail passes through (and terminates in) neighboring Kingston and Plymouth, as the southern end of a route which starts at South Station in Boston. The nearest municipal airport is Marshfield Municipal Airport; the nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Notable residents[]

  • Ichabod Alden (1739-1778), officer in the American Revolution
  • John Alden (c1599-1687), a Mayflower immigrant and one of the founders of Duxbury
  • Gamaliel Bradford (1731-1807) - Officer in the Revolutionar War Army, commander of the 14th Massachusetts Regt.
  • Gamaliel Bradford (1763-1824) - Privateersman in Revolutionary War and French Quasi-War of 1800.
  • Love Brewster (1611-1650), a founder of the town of Duxbury.
  • William Brewster (1567-1644), the Pilgrim leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony and a passenger on the Mayflower. He was also and one of the founders of Duxbury.
  • George Soule (c1593-1678), a Mayflower Pilgrim, signer of the Mayflower Compact and one of the founders of Duxbury
  • Myles Standish (c1584-1656) a Mayflower settler, militia leader for Plymouth Colony and founder of Duxbury.
  • Bill Curley, former NBA center for San Antonio Spurs basketball team
  • Captain Amasa Delano (b. 1763), became fictionalized as a character in Herman Melville's 1855 novella Benito Cereno
  • Bobby Farrelly, screenwriter, director; with brother Peter wrote and directed popular films including Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary, and Shallow Hal
  • Juliana Hatfield (b. 1967), indie rock singer
  • Pat Leahy, NHL hockey player for the Boston Bruins
  • Elizabeth Alden Pabodie (1623-1717) - first anglo girl born in New England.
  • Philip Parlier, former shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team
  • George Partridge, a representative to Continental Congress and the First United States Congress
  • Joe Perry, guitarist for Aerosmith
  • Mike Sullivan, former coach of the Boston Bruins
  • Ezra Weston, Jr., referred to colloquially as King Caesar. Weston's shipbuilding enterprise dominated Duxbury in the early 19th century with a large portion of the population employed in the Weston shipyards, farms, wharves, mill, ropewalk, or aboard Weston’s fishing schooners and merchant fleet. The King Caesar House is now a tourist attraction in town.

Points of interest[]

Powder Point Bridge

  • Alexander Standish House, built in 1666.
  • Art Complex Museum: The Carl A. Weyerhaeuser collection.[11]
  • Captain Daniel Bradford House
  • Gamaliel Bradford House - 1807 historic home of US Privateer.
  • Duxbury Free Library
  • First Parish Church, Unitarian Universalist: Founded in 1632 by the Pilgrims, it was the second religious body of the Plymouth Colony.[12]
  • Gershom Bradford House: This early 19th century house remains virtually untouched from when it was built and furnished by the seafaring captain. It remained in the family for four generations until donated to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society.[13]
  • Hall's Corner: Duxbury's small commercial and retail shopping area, centering around the flagpole.
  • John Alden House, built in 1653, home to Pilgrim John Alden.
  • King Caesar House[14]
  • Snug Harbor: A charming harborfront with small shops on Washington Street.

Myles Standish Monument

  • Myles Standish Monument stands high atop Captain's Hill, a 116-foot granite shaft crowned by a 14-foot statue of Captain Myles Standish, Mayflower pilgrim and military leader of Plymouth Colony. Completed in 1898. Open free to public. Impressive views of the region.
  • North Hill Marsh: The Massachusetts Audubon Society's 129-acre (0.522 km2) sanctuary on Mayflower Street includes a forest, bike trails, and a 90 acre pond.[15]
  • Old Shipbuilder's Historic District
  • Pillsbury Summer House
  • Powder Point Bridge
  • Tinkertown: A quaint hamlet of Duxbury settled in the early 1700s. The illumination of luminaries on Christmas Eve is a Tinkertown tradition dating back generations.
  • Mill Pond, Island Creek Pond, Island Creek Information
  • Camp Wing: Located in Duxbury's northeast tip, it is a summer camp with many year round events.
  • Wright Memorial Library, home of the Duxbury Student Union and the Drew Archival Library of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Historical Society
  • Nathaniel Winsor, Jr. House headquarters of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society
  • Far Far's Ice Cream amazing ice cream location



See also[]

  • Duxbury High School


External links[]

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