View of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from across the Piscataqua River, from an engraving published in England in 1780.

THIS YEAR Portsmouth is celebrating 400 years of rich and varied history. The city’s Colonial origins extend back to 1623 when a small group of Europeans settled in the wilderness near the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

To put this into perspective, the first permanent English settlement in North America had been developed only 16 years earlier, in 1607 in Jamestown, Virginia. In 1620 the Pilgrims, who had separated from the Church of England, had crossed the Atlantic Ocean and had arrived in Plymouth Harbor in Massachusetts where they built a small hamlet. The Puritans would not incorporate the Massachusetts Bay Colony and establish Boston as their foothold until 1630.

Aurore Eaton is a historian and writer in Manchester, contact her at auroreeaton@aol.com or at www.facebook.com/AuroreEatonWriter