Game Change: 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth Increases Opportunity for Merchants

Close up of the caribou antlers, the only object left from the Macpheadris Era (1716-1729). Close up of the caribou antlers, the only object left from the Macpheadris Era (1716-1729).

Between the late 1680s and 1713 turmoil characterized life in the Piscataqua. European wars disrupted trade and native attacks reduced settlement in northern New England in the environs of Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, Maine.

Learn how two merchants, one a longtime resident Kittery, and the other a recent arrival in Portsmouth, used the improved conditions to build significant fortunes in this talk by Sandra Rux, curator of the Portsmouth Historical Society and Warner House Board member. Sponsored by the Warner House Association, the lecture will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Discover Portsmouth Center on Oct. 16, 2013.

William Pepperrell (father of the more famous Sir William Pepperrell), began trading in fish and lumber in the 1680s.  During the 1713-1723 decade at least 18 or 19 vessels joined the Pepperrell fleet. In all the earlier years, only 15 or 16 vessels can be identified as belonging to the Pepperrells—the increased number of vessels represents steady expansion of their ventures.

Pepperell also helped rebuild the interior towns after the peace of 1713. The Treaty with the Abenaki made it safe for English settlers to repopulate towns such as Wells, York and Saco. The Pepperells used many of their profits to acquire land—it was said that William Jr. could walk from his house to Pepperrellborough (Scarborough) without leaving his own land!

Archibald Macpheadris, most likely born around 1680 in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, was a generation younger than Pepperrell Sr.  He first appears in New England in 1709 as a sea captain in Boston. By the time he came to Portsmouth about 1714, he owned six ships engaging in trade with the West Indies, Spain and Portugal. When Archibald selected Portsmouth as the base of his operations, perhaps because it offered more opportunity than did Boston, he built the largest house in town (now the Warner House) and married Sarah, one of Lieutenant Governor John Wentworth’s daughters. He formed trading partnerships with Benning Wentworth, Robert Wilkinson in London, and others in Ireland, Cadiz and Barbaboes. Cargoes were primarily wine, European goods and English iron. Additionally, Macpheadris superintended an iron mining and smelting operation on the Lamprey River in New Hampshire.  He worked with his Irish connections to bring over 100 people to work in the iron and fishing industries.

While we have largely forgotten the Treaty of 1713, it made a lasting difference to both old and new merchants in the Piscataqua region.


Discover PORTSMOUTH CENTER AT 5:30 p.m. on October 16, 2013



 Optima Bank     ♦     Piscataqua Bank     ♦     Dovetailed Kitchens              


Northeast Auctions          Richardson's Realty          Leetes Island Enterprises, LLC              


Phineas Graphics          Gravestone Artwear