The Endicott Estate

In the Herald-Citizen 5/14/2021.

The Glen Magna mansion in May 2021.

Glen Magna, the beautiful mansion at the center of Endicott Park, started as a haven from the British during the War of 1812, and went on to become a center of high society, and the site of a near-assassination of the British politician who governed the worldwide British Empire.

During the War of 1812, Salem merchant Joseph Peabody moved to Danvers because he feared that the New England coast could be attacked by the British Royal Navy, with the port of Salem a likely target. Peabody rented the inland farm in Danvers from Capt. Jonathan Ingersoll, a shipmaster in Salem, and later purchased it in 1814.

A cousin of George Peabody, the famous London banker and philanthropist, Joseph Peabody was the wealthiest ship-owner in Salem until his death in 1844. His fleet of merchant ships traversed the globe, trading in ports in Europe, Africa, and the East Indies. He bought additional nearby land, and increased the estate’s size to 300 acres. As a very wealthy man, Peabody greatly enlarged the mansion on the property, which served as a private home for more than 140 years.

Joseph Peabody (1757-1854), Salem merchant. Wikimedia Commons.

Peabody became an integral part of business in Danvers in addition to his Salem ties, and employed many Danversport men on his ships. One Danversite in his employ was William Endicott, who served on Peabody’s ship Glide that was wrecked in 1829 on an island near Fiji inhabited by cannibals. Endicott survived, living among the natives for four months before he was rescued, and his story became famous among the seamen of Salem.

After Peabody died, the farm was inherited by his daughter Ellen Peabody Endicott and her husband William Crowninshield Endicott Sr. – the son of the William Endicott who sailed on Peabody’s ship Glide. This family traced its roots back to the Crowninshields of Salem, another wealthy family in the maritime trade, but also to the Endicott family of Danvers, descendants of Governor John Endicott, the first resident Governor of Massachusetts, whose farm had been along Endicott Street.

William Crowninshield Endicott Sr. was a successful lawyer, a Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. In 1885 President Grover Cleveland appointed him to be Secretary of War, a role that he held until 1889. While living at Glen Magna, Endicott and Ellen Peabody had two children, William Crowninshield Endicott Jr. and Mary Endicott, who were raised among the political elite and high society.

Due to Endicott’s official position, many important figures in world politics and society visited him at Glen Magna and in Washington, including the British Colonial Secretary, Joseph Chamberlain. As this was the height of the British Empire, Chamberlain was one of the most powerful figures in the world, managing an Empire on which the sun never set. Soon after he first met Endicott’s daughter Mary at a British Embassy ball in Washington in 1888, Chamberlain proposed to her, and the President was in attendance at their wedding.

Joseph Chamberlain and Mary Endicott Chamberlain in 1903. British National Portrait Gallery.

The married couple spent most of their time in England where Chamberlain served in the cabinet and on Her Majesty’s Privy Council, governing Queen Victoria’s realm. In England, the couple was at the height of power of influence, with Mary Endicott Chamberlain accompanying her husband on official visits to various British overseas colonies and Dominions.

The portico side of Glen Magna, May 2021.

They summered at Glen Magna in Danvers, where Joseph Chamberlain temporarily established his office, and while not working he designed one of the estate’s elaborate manicured gardens, known still as the Chamberlain Garden. He often brought his children from two previous marriages to Glen Magna, including future Nobel Peace Prize-winning British Foreign Minister Austen Chamberlain, and also future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Infamous today, Neville Chamberlain is known for his policy of appeasement in the 1930s that allowed Hitler to take Austria and Czechoslovakia and rebuild the German Army without any consequences.

While Joseph Chamberlain was fêted in London as a leading advocate of British imperialism, his policies were less popular in America. Chamberlain was loathed by Irish Americans for his decades-long opposition to Irish Home Rule – the movement to allow Ireland, a British colony for centuries, a degree of self-government. Additionally, during the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1901), Chamberlain’s office led the war effort that included the world’s first modern system of concentration camps, in which the wives and children of the Dutch Boers were imprisoned and starved. They were only given sufficient food if their husbands gave up fighting, as a way to convince the Boers to surrender to British troops.

Boston Globe, October 27, 1902.

During one summer visit to Glen Magna, Mary Endicott Chamberlain was sitting with Joseph Chamberlain on a bench in the elaborate gardens when he was nearly killed. An assassin, enraged by Chamberlain’s oppression of the Irish, crept up to the hedge behind the couple with the goal of killing the Colonial Secretary. However, upon seeing him sitting beside his wife, he wavered, not wishing to murder him in front of her, and the assassin was then caught by the British security detail.

The estate stayed in the Endicott family through the first half of the 20th century. In 1901 Ellen Peabody Endicott, wife of William Crowninshield Endicott Sr., purchased the Derby Summer House – also known as the Tea House, the small two-story structure built in 1793 by Samuel McIntire for Elias Haskett Derby – and moved it to Glen Magna, where it now stands. 

The summer house was willed to the Danvers Historical Society in 1958 by Louisa Thoron Endicott, the wife of William Crowninshield Endicott Jr., and a few years later, the whole estate was put up for sale and expected to be subdivided into 276 house lots.  In 1963 the Danvers Historical Society purchased the central portion of the Glen Magna Estate to preserve the historic mansion, and after a public campaign by local residents the Town purchased the rest of the property to establish Endicott Park and save the open land from development.


“A Topic of Discussion.” Boston Daily Globe, November 11, 1888.

“Chamberlain Going to South Africa.” Boston Daily Globe, October 27, 1902.

“Danvers Buys 130-Acre Estate For Green Belt, Recreation.” Boston Globe, July 19, 1694.

Danvers Historical Society. “Glen Magna Farms.” Danvers Historical Society, 2020.

———. “National Historic Landmark, Derby Summer House.” Danvers Historical Society, 2020.

Endicott, William. Wrecked among Cannibals in the Fijis: A Narrative of Shipwreck and Adventure in the South Seas. Salem, Mass.: Marine Research Society, 1923.

Forman, Ethan. “First Phase of Work on Tea House Complete, $100K in Work Remains.” Salem News. Accessed July 21, 2020.

“His Treaty of Love.” Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922). November 15, 1888.

Marris, N. Murrell. The Right Honourable Joseph Chamberlain: The Man and the Statesman. London: Hutchinson, 1900.

Morison, Samuel Eliot. The Maritime History of Massachusetts, 1783-1860. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921.

 “Night Was Long, Costly for Many Voters: Danvers $270,000 Appropriated To Buy Endicott Estate.” Boston Globe (1960-1989). March 19, 1963.

Philpott, A. J. “Chamberlain’s Wife Puritan Aristocrat.” Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922). July 5, 1914.

Tapley, Harriet S. Chronicles of Danvers (Old Salem Village), Massachusetts, 1632-1923. Danvers, Mass.: The Danvers Historical Society, 1923.

“The Bridegroom Cometh.” Boston Daily Globe, November 13, 1888.

“To Marry the MP.” Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922). November 8, 1888.

Trask, Richard B. Danvers: From 1850 to 1899. Images of America. Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1996.

“Treaty Concluded.” Boston Daily Globe. November 16, 1888.

Ingersoll’s Tavern, Anything But “Ordinary”

(In the Danvers Herald, 1/24/2019)

Ingersoll House 10.18.JPG
(Author’s photo, October 2018).

At the corner of Hobart and Centre St. in Danvers lies a house through whose door passed “witches,” revolutionaries, and ordinary Danversites over the past almost 350 years, and played host to the screams, contortions, and finger-pointing of the 1692 Salem Village Witch-Hunt.

The Ingersoll House, a tan-painted clapboard home at 199 Hobart St., was originally a tavern run by Nathaniel Ingersoll, Deacon of the Salem Village Church and Lieutenant in the militia, beginning in 1677. It was Ingersoll who donated the land for the Training Field (at the corner of Centre St. and Ingersoll St.) where the Salem Village, and later Town of Danvers, militia drilled.

Ingersoll and his family ran an “ordinary” – the 17th century term for a local tavern –  which was the social center of the community. The tavern served food and drink to locals, and rooms on the second floor were rented to travelers who passed along the dirt roads of colonial New England. Located at the center of Salem Village, just down the road from the meetinghouse where church services were held each Sunday, the tavern did a particularly steady business when parishioners came over between the morning and afternoon church services to eat a hot noon meal.

Despite modern-day stereotypes of the Puritans, they did indeed drink alcohol – sometimes too much – and Ingersoll’s was the favored spot for local farmers to unwind and share news with their neighbors.  The tavern featured a sizeable tap-room with a large fireplace, bare sanded floor, and many stools and chairs. There were also hooks on each side of the fireplace to hang firearms that locals brought with them. Cider, served by the quart, was usually the drink of choice, and in colonial times there was only one kind of cider: what we in the 21st century call “hard” cider. Beer, wine, whiskey, and rum were also enjoyed, and hot food was served.

There were strict restrictions on taverns in the 17th century, which were forbidden to serve Indians, apprentices, students at Harvard College (the only college around in those days), or anyone who seemed drunk, and they needed to close by either sunset or 9pm. Certain sinful and unlawful games, such as cards, dice, billiards, and shuffleboard (which particularly riled the Puritans) were prohibited. If one drank to excess, they could be punished with a scarlet letter “D” (for “drunk”) sewn onto their shirts, and could also lose their voting rights.

In addition to socializing, the tavern was where local government committees met, along with the Essex County court, which delivered justice in front of the kegs.

Ingersoll’s played a particularly interesting role in the 1692 Salem Village Witch-Hunt. Those accused of witchcraft were brought there before their initial post-arrest hearings with the magistrates, and kept under lock in an upstairs room. Originally, the hearings themselves – with accusers throwing themselves on the ground in front of the judges, screaming, and claiming to see the “specters” of the accused torturing them – were to be held in the barroom as county court sessions were. Due to the large crowds that wanted to watch the spectacle, the hearings were moved down the road to the meetinghouse, but afterwards the judges and spectators returned to the tavern for lunch and drinks.

During the time of the witchcraft delusion, a particularly fantastic scene took place in the tavern involving a sword fight with one of Satan’s supposed agents. One day in 1692, Ingersoll’s foster son Benjamin Hutchinson was working outside along the main road (present-day Centre St.). One of the witchcraft accusers, Abigail Williams, walked by and claimed to see the specter (a ghostly image that only the accusers could see) of an accused witch – George Burroughs –  standing in the road! Hutchinson turned and threw his pitchfork into the center of the road where the invisible witch was supposed to be as Abigail Williams fell to the ground, screaming. She then told Hutchinson that he succeeded in tearing the ghostly jacket of the alleged witch before he vanished.

The two then went inside to the barroom, where Williams claimed she saw the same specter again. Hutchinson drew his rapier from his belt and attempted to stab the invisible witch in a spectral duel (probably to the shock of those who happened to be at the bar enjoying a pint) as Williams shouted out where the apparition was. Next, Williams told him there was also a ghostly cat in the room, which he proceeded to do battle with and, according to Williams, kill – though she was the only one who claimed to be able to see these invisible enemies. To everyone else it would have appeared as though Hutchinson was merely stabbing at the air.

John Indian, Reverend Samuel Parris’ Indian slave and husband of Tituba, the first accused of witchcraft, worked the bar sometimes for Ingersoll, and he would show off scars on his arm to out-of-towners who passed through, bragging that he got them when he was attacked by witches. The barroom at Ingersoll’s is also where one of the accusers admitted that they were accusing and sending innocent people to their deaths for nothing but “sport.”

The tavern remained in operation through the 1700s and into the 1800s under different owners, and being close to the militia training field it was frequented by the men who later marched from Danvers to confront the British soldiers on the day of the Battle of Lexington and Concord. The establishment later “fell into disrepute,” to the chagrin of the First Church of Danvers across the street, and the Church bought the house to be the home for its minister in 1832. It remained owned by the Church until 1968, and has been a private home ever since. It is a preservation priority among important historical sites in Danvers.

Here is a beautiful rendering of the Ingersoll House by Danvers artist Paul Meinerth:

meinerth - ingersoll


Alice Morse Earle, Customs and Fashions in Old New England (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894), 166.

Daniel Wait Howe, The Puritan Republic of Massachusetts Bay in New England (Indianapolis: Bowen-Merrill Company, 1899), 104,

First Church of Danvers Congregational, Church Record Book Belonging to Salem Village, 13-14, January 17, 1693).

Marilynne K. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege (Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade, 2002), 140.

Bernard Rosenthal, ed., Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), docs 85, 500, 862.

Salem Deeds Online, 5528:237.

Harriet S. Tapley, “Old Tavern Days in Danvers,” Historical Collections of the Danvers Historical Society 8 (1920), 2-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8-9.

Charles W. Upham, Salem Witchcraft: With an Account of Salem Village and A History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects (Mineola, New York: Dover, 2000),162.