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New Castle, New Hampshire

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New Castle is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States The population was 968 at the 2010 census1 It is the smallest and easternmost town in New Hampshire, and the only one located entirely on islands It is home to Fort Constitution Historic Site, Fort Stark Historic Site, and the New Castle Common, a 31-acre 13 ha recreation area on the Atlantic Ocean New Castle is also home to a United States Coast Guard station, as well as the historic Wentworth by the Sea hotel


  • 1 History
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 Demographics
  • 4 Sites of interest
  • 5 Notable people
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links


The main island on which the town sits is the largest of several at the mouth of the Piscataqua River and was originally called Great Island Settled in 1623, an earthwork defense was built on Fort Point which would evolve into Fort William and Mary rebuilt in 1808 as Fort Constitution Chartered in 1679 as a parish of Portsmouth, it was incorporated in 1693 and named New Castle after the fort Until 1719 it included Rye, then called Sandy Beach The principal industries were trade, tavern-keeping and fishing There was also agriculture, using the abundant seaweed as fertilizer2:594-6

Beginning on June 11, 1682, Great Island experienced a supernatural event—a Lithobolia, or "Stone-Throwing Devil," recorded in a 1698 London pamphlet by Richard Chamberlain On a Sunday night at about 10 o'clock, the tavern home of George Walton, an early settler and planter, was showered with stones thrown "by an invisible hand" Windows were smashed, and the spit in the fireplace leapt into the air, then came down with its point stuck in the back log When a member of the household retrieved the spit, it flew out the window of its own accord The gate outside was discovered off its hinges34:7-12, 66-67 Rev Cotton Mather took an interest in the phenomenon, reporting that:

"This disturbance continued from day to day; and sometimes a dismal hollow whistling would be heard, and sometimes the trotting and snorting of a horse, but nothing to be seen A man was much hurt by some of the stones He was a Quaker, and suspected that a woman, who charged him with injustice in detaining some land from her did, by witchcraft, occasion these preternatural occurrences However, at last they came to an end"

The "Stone-Throwing Devil" created quite a sensation on Great Island Hundreds of stones mysteriously rained down on George Walton's tavern, as well as onto him and others in the area over the entire summer Yet, no one ever came forward who saw anyone throwing the stones Many other mysterious events also occurred at that time Demonic voices were heard, and items were flung about inside Walton's tavern Prominent Boston minister Increase Mather described the strange events in his book Illustrious Providences4:xiii, 4-5, 7-12

George Walton, who was in a property boundary dispute with his neighbor, accused her of witchcraft She, in turn, accused him of being a wizard Others in the area may also have had reasons to throw stones at Walton He was a Quaker Quakers were looked upon with great suspicion by Puritans, and just being a Quaker was a crime Walton was a successful innkeeper, merchant, and lumberman, and became the largest landowner on the island Walton was envied by his less industrious neighbors He was involved in a number of lawsuits over business and property disputes He also had two Native American employees, which would have caused great concern so soon after war with the Indians King Philip's War and because of the uneasy peace that existed His tavern customers included a variety of rowdy outsiders, including "godless" fishermen, who were considered undesirables by others on the island Regardless of what caused Walton and his inn to be the victim of a months-long rain of stones, it was the first major outbreak of apparent witchcraft in America34:4-5, 7-12, 48-51, 58, 66

News of it traveled throughout America and England Within a few years, accusations of witchcraft would occur in other New England towns, culminating in the famous witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts4:177-201

Fort William and Mary was the site of one of the first acts of the American Revolution On the afternoon of December 14, 1774, colonists arrived aboard gundalows sailing barges and raided the fort Severely outnumbered, Captain John Cochran and the fort's five soldiers surrendered, whereupon the rebels loaded onto a boat 100 barrels of gunpowder The boat was floated up the Piscataqua River and the powder offloaded for transport to inland towns, including Durham, where the ammunition was stored in the cellar of the Congregational church The next day, the colonists returned to the fort and removed 16 of the lighter cannon and all small arms The gunpowder was used at the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill2:474–477

A new route to the island was created in 1821 when three bridges now two bridges and a causeway connected Frame Point in Portsmouth with the northwestern corner of Great Island Previously, a bridge on the southwestern point had been the only way to reach New Castle without a boat The community was then an overlooked fishing village, which helped preserve its colonial architecture However, in 1874 the Hotel Wentworth was built atop a hill with a view of Little Harbor and the ocean After early financial difficulties, the establishment was purchased and elaborately refurbished in Second Empire style by Portsmouth alemaker and hotelier, Frank Jones It became the area's most fashionable resort, growing in size until it was a village unto itself When President Theodore Roosevelt mediated the 1905 Treaty of Portsmouth to end the Russo-Japanese War, envoys from both countries stayed at the Wentworth by the Sea, ferried by launch to negotiations held at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard The hotel was a setting for the 1999 movie, In Dreams


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 24 square miles 62 km2, of which 08 sq mi 21 km2 is land and 15 sq mi 39 km2 is water, comprising 6513% of the town1 New Castle occupies an archipelago, consisting of one main island Great Island and several smaller islands surrounded by the Piscataqua River and Atlantic Ocean The highest point of land is located at The Wentworth-by-the-Sea Hotel, where the elevation reaches 60 feet 18 m above sea level


Historical population
1790 534
1800 524 −19%
1810 592 130%
1820 932 574%
1830 850 −88%
1840 742 −127%
1850 891 201%
1860 692 −223%
1870 667 −36%
1880 610 −85%
1890 488 −200%
1900 581 191%
1910 624 74%
1920 728 167%
1930 378 −481%
1940 542 434%
1950 583 76%
1960 823 412%
1970 975 185%
1980 936 −40%
1990 840 −103%
2000 1,010 202%
2010 968 −42%
Est 2015 975 07%
US Decennial Census6

As of the census7 of 2000, there were 1,010 people, 443 households, and 314 families residing in the town The population density was 1,2226 people per square mile 4698/km2 There were 488 housing units at an average density of 5907 per square mile 2270/km2 The racial makeup of the town was 9782% White, 059% African American, 050% Asian, and 109% from two or more races Hispanic or Latino of any race were 050% of the population

There were 443 households out of which 221% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 616% were married couples living together, 50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 291% were non-families 239% of all households were made up of individuals and 115% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older The average household size was 226 and the average family size was 265

In the town, the population was spread out with 178% under the age of 18, 34% from 18 to 24, 208% from 25 to 44, 340% from 45 to 64, and 241% who were 65 years of age or older The median age was 50 years For every 100 females there were 957 males For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 971 males

The median income for a household in the town was $83,708, and the median income for a family was $93,290 Males had a median income of $57,375 versus $35,568 for females The per capita income for the town was $67,695 None of the families and 06% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under 18 and none of those over 65 New Castle was New Hampshire's wealthiest town in terms of median per capita income

Sites of interestedit

Hotel Wentworth c 1880
  • Fort Constitution State Historic Site
  • Fort Stark State Historic Site
  • New Castle Historical Society & Museum
  • Portsmouth Harbor Light or Fort Point Light

Notable peopleedit

  • Samantha Brown, travel guide TV host
  • George Frost, seaman, jurist and representative to the Continental Congress
  • Benjamin Randall, religious leader
  • Edmund C Tarbell, impressionist painter


  1. ^ a b "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Census Summary File 1 G001: New Castle town, Rockingham County, New Hampshire" American Factfinder US Census Bureau Retrieved April 1, 2016 
  2. ^ a b Coolidge, Austin J; John B Mansfield 1859 A History and Description of New England Boston, Massachusetts 
  3. ^ a b Palmer, Ansell W, ed Piscataqua Pioneers: Selected Biographies of Early Settlers in Northern New England, pp 446-7, Piscataqua Pioneers, Portsmouth, NH, 2000 ISBN 0-9676579-0-3
  4. ^ a b c d Baker, Emerson W The Devil of Great Island, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2007
  5. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015" Retrieved July 2, 2016 
  6. ^ "Census of Population and Housing" Censusgov Retrieved June 4, 2016 
  7. ^ "American FactFinder" United States Census Bureau Retrieved 2008-01-31 

Further readingedit

  • John Albee, New Castle, Historic and Picturesque; Cupples, Upham & Company, Boston, Massachusetts 1884
  • Charles W Brewster, Rambles About Portsmouth; C W Brewster & Son; Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1859
  • Thomas F Kehr, "The Seizure of his Majesty's Fort William and Mary at New Castle, New Hampshire, December 14–15, 1774," Essays and Articles, New Hampshire Society of the Sons of the American Revolution at 1
  • Thompson, Connie Piscataqua Pioneers: Selected Biographies of Early Settlers in Northern New England, Piscataqua Pioneers, 2000
  • White, Anna B History of New Castle, New Hampshire, 1984 Carrol White, ed, 2012

External linksedit

  • Town of New Castle official website
  • New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau Profile
  • Seacoast Forts of Portsmouth Harbor from American Forts Network
  • New Castle, NH Historical Society website
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