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Cape Ann is a rocky cape in northeastern Massachusetts on the Atlantic Ocean. It is located approximately 30 miles northeast of Boston and marks the northern limit of Massachusetts Bay. Cape Ann includes the city of Gloucester, and the towns of Essex, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Rockport. It also includes the easternmost part of Beverly.
Cape Ann was first mapped by the explorer John Smith. He had given it the name Cape Tragabigzanda, after his mistress in Constantinople. He had been taken as a prisoner of war and enslaved in the Ottoman Empire. His mistress had fallen in love with him, but Smith later escaped in Russia.
When Smith presented his map to Charles I, he suggested that Charles should feel free to change any of the "barbarous names" (meaning the many Native American place names he had adopted) into English ones. The king made many such changes, but only four survive today. One was Cape Ann, which Charles named in honor of his mother Anne of Denmark.
The English colony at Cape Ann was first founded in 1623. It was the fourth colonizing effort in New England after Popham Colony, Plymouth Colony and Nantasket Beach. Two ships of the Dorchester Company brought 32 in number with John Tylly and Thomas Gardner as overseers of a fishing operation and the plantation, respectively. This colony predated Massachusetts Bay charter and colony. For that reason, members of the colony were referred to as "old planters". The first Great House in New England was built on Cape Ann by the planters. This house was dismantled on the orders of John Endecott, in 1628, and moved to Salem to serve as his "Governor's" house. When Higginson arrived in Salem, he wrote that "we found a faire house newly built for the Governor" which was remarkable for being two stories high.
By 1634 the name of Cape Ann was already established, as it is mentioned and depicted on maps in William Wood's New England's Prospect first published in that year.
At the end of Cape Ann, and splitting Gloucester into two parts, is the Annisquam River. Many locals who live in Gloucester and Rockport refer to the land east of the Annisquam as "The Island". There is a waning but still persistent sense of independence that exists amongst some of those living there who are from old families that they rarely, or never, "cross over the bridge" since everything they need is on the island. The island has its own schools, water supply (by quarries), and even its own hospital, the Addison Gilbert Hospital.
Cape Ann is the location of the fictional town of Sea Harbor, the setting of the Seaside Knitters mysteries by author Sally Goldenbaum (author's site). Sea Harbor is on the coast, with Gloucester as its nearest neighbor town. Cape Ann is also featured as the setting for the Harry Chapin song 'Dogtown'.
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- Stewart, George R. (1967) . Names on the Land: A Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (Sentry edition (3rd) ed.). Houghton Mifflin. p. 38.
- Goff, John. (2009) Salem's Witch House: A Touchstone to Antiquity The History Press (via google.com)
- Felt, J.B. (1827) Annals of Salem W.&S. B. Ives
- Martin, Roger (1997). Rockport Remembered: An Oral History. The Curious Traveler Press.