Kittery forms the extreme south-western part of York County, and of Maine. It originally comprised, besides its present territory, that of Eliot, Berwick, South Berwick, and North Berwick, and was incorporated in 1647, as the plantation of Piscataqua. It is the first incorporated town in Maine. The territory of the Berwicks was set off in 1713, and Eliot in 1810. The first settlement was at the Point about 1623. The town was a portion of the Mason and Gorges Patent, and many of the present titles came through Walter Neal, their agent; who, before 1634, by grant or sale, had conveyed all the lands in the tract. During the Revolution, Kittery voted men and means, as they were required of her. Portsmouth Harbor was an important station and war-vessels and privateers were built and fitted out here. The harbor was fortified and garrisoned, both on the New Hampshire and Maine side. The quota for 1176 was 60 men, and a bounty of £6 was paid by the town for each recruit. Fort MeClary, situated on the western side of the island formed by Spruce Creek and the river, was garrisoned in 1812, and also in the war of the Rebellion. A monument to the memory of the townsmen who fell in the latter struggle is conspicuously located in Old Orchard Cemetery. Among the early inhabitants were Messrs. Jenkins, Jones, Lord, Mason, Paul, Spinney, Humphrey Chadbourne, Nicholas and Charles Frost, John Heard, John Andrews, Nicholas Shapleigh, Gowen Wilson, Thomas Spencer, John Fernald, William Everett, Richard Nason, Thomas Withers, John Dennet, Robert Mendum, and James Emery. Eminent citizens of later times were John Cutts, first president of the New Hampshire Council; Mark Adams; General William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence; Joshua T. Chase, and Sir William Pepperell, who commanded at the capture of Louisburg,-for which lie was made baronet by the King. The family tomb of the latter is one of the curiosities of the town.
Kittery is bounded on the north-west by Eliot, on the north by the latter and York, south-west and south by Piscataqua River and its harbor, and south-east by the sea. The town contains near 7,347 acres of land. The Isles of Shoals, which lie about 9 miles south of Kittery Point are divided by the line between Maine and New Hampshire, by which the larger number belong to Kittery. Hog Island, the largest, has an area of about 350 acres, its greatest elevation being 57 feet above the sea. Smutty Nose has about 250 acres and an elevation of 45 feet. Star Island contains 180 acres, and its height is 55 feet. The surface of these islands is mostly gneissic rocks, but a thin soil in places. These islands were formerly and are still a great resort for fishermen; but now, though many fish are still caught in the neighboring waters, they are chiefly taken into Portsmouth, whence they are sent fresh to all parts of the country. At one time previous to the Revolution the shoals contained from 300 to 600 inhabitants The islands at one time constituted a municipality called Appledore, and later, Gosport, and sent two representatives to General Court. There was a court-house on Haley's Island, and once the General Court of Massachusetts convened there. Latterly the islands have become places of numerous resort in summer, and have several fine hotels. The mainland of Kittery is rocky and broken in the southern part, and moderately uneven in the northern. The soil yields well of the common crops. Navigation and shipbuilding furnish the principal business of the town. Master William Badger built 100 ships here, and his son Samuel built 45 before his death in 1857. In 1782 the first 74 gun ship of the National government was launched here; she was named America, and was commanded by John Paul Jones. She was shortly after presented to the French government in return for the loss of one of their ships in Boston harbor. The government in 1806 purchased an island of 60 acres (now connected with Kittery village by a bridge) and has ever since made use of it as a navy-yard. Seavy's Island, adjoining, was also purchased by the government a few years ago for the same purpose. The islands are now occupied by numerous shops and yards, in which 1,000 men are sometimes employed in the construction and repair of United States vessels. Many noted vessels have been built here. The bridge connecting Kittery with Portsmouth was built in 1822, and is 2,230 feet long. The business of the town, other than farming, is chiefly found at Kittery Depot; a half mile easterly at Kittery Village, whence a bridge leads to the Navy-Yard; and at Kittery Point, a mile and a half east of the village.
The first Congregational church of Kittery was organized in 1714, and Rev. John Newmarch was ordained pastor. The Spruce Creek church was organized in 1750, and Rev. Josiah Chase was ordained pastor. The First Baptist church in Maine was organized here in Kittery in 1862; ; the first Christian church in 1806 ; and the first Methodist society was formed about 1827. The town has now two Christian and two Methodist churches, one Congregational, one Free Baptist, and one Universalist church. A good public library has been recently established in the village. There are eleven schoolhouses in town including that of the High School valued at $17,000. The valuation of estates in 1870 was $622,523. The population at that time was 3,333. in 1880 it was 3,230, and the valuation, $535,289.
- George J. Varney, A Gazetteer of the State of Maine (Boston: B.B. Russell, 1886), 303-306.