Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Meeting-House Green

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The place at first selected as a site for a house of worship, was on the northerly side of the salt marsh, at the distance of about one-fourth of a mile from it. A considerable tract of land near this was called THE MEETING-HOUSE GREEN. This tract included the whole of what afterwards took the name of Ring Swamp, together with the road around it. From the easterly part of the Green a common-way was laid out where the principal road to the seashore now goes. Around the Green and along this common-way, many of the early families had their homes, and, in several instances, the house lots of those early inhabitants are now, after the lapse of two centuries and a half, owned and occupied by their lineal descendants. A similar remark may be made concerning a few house lots in other parts of the town.

Along the northerly side of the Meeting-house Green, and the road leading from it to the beach, are extensive fields of tillage land, owned in small lots by a large number of persons, each knowing the boundaries of his own, though not separated from the adjoining lots by walls or fences and, in some cases, hardly marked by metes and bounds. Many years ago, the fences enclosing these common fields were divided and portions assigned to each lot, so that no one of the proprietors might be released from an equitable share of the burden and expense of keeping the fields enclosed, whether his lots lay near the border or in the interior. Latterly, this arrangement has been to some extent disregarded, and those owning the land next to the roads, maintain the fences.

For several generations, these fields have been cultivated from year to year, and no finer corn-fields could be found in New England. After the crops were harvested in autumn, the fields were laid open to the cattle of all the proprietors. This was called "turning shack." The custom was probably introduced from the County of Norfolk, in England,--the birthplace of many of the first inhabitants. A similar custom has long prevailed there, and when the cattle are admitted to the fields, they are said to go a-shack.

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