As the spring of 1638 came, the little band of founding settlers began their journey to Aquidneck Island.  Some came over the land by way of Providence.  Others sailed around Cape Cod.  They settled at the North end of the Island around Founder’s Brook and another brook in the area.  They had left the security of Boston for tent like homes or dug out caves lined with wood.  Just like the Native Americans before them, they hunted and fished for food and they began to prepare the land for planting.   There was a new community on Aquidneck Island beginning as the old native community had ended.

Portsmouth has always been known for its farming, but the original settlers had little experience in farming when they came here.  They were craftsmen and tradesmen.  

William Coddington was a merchant, William and Edward Hutchinson had a textile business, John Coggeshall was a clothier, William Dyer was a milliner and fishmonger, William Baulston was an innkeeper, Nicholas Easton was a tanner.  

They had some experience with how land had been laid out in Boston, so they followed similar patterns here.  The house lots were clustered together with open fields around them.  Early town records show they were concerned about how land would be given out and that records of land ownership should be kept. They lived in the area between East and West Main roads from Sprague Street to the Mount Hope Bay. At first they were given two acre house lots near a spring and larger areas of grazing land further south from the settlement.

Edward West map of first settlement

The first settlers brought cattle with them. There was a common pasture for cattle in the area that became known as Common Fence Point.  All the settlers contributed to the cost of building and maintaining the fence.  This pattern of houses together with town planting fields around them was a practical solution for the settlers.  They didn’t yet have enough tools or time to clear land for planting nor did they have the plows or other equipment for planting and harvesting crops.  Later on the house lots were given up as families began to live on their farms instead of together in a community.  Caring for their animals and property became a real need.  Soon the pigs and other animals became a problem as they trampled over the fields that had been planted.  The grass on Hog Island was given to Portsmouth settlers and pigs roamed freely on Hog, Patience and Prudence Islands. Massasoit had granted grazing rights in the Fogland area of what is now Tiverton in exchange for wampum.