York county. This is an ancient maritime town, on the coast, between Kittery and Wells. It is bounded W. by South Berwick. This was for many years the shire town, and the place of holding the courts and keeping the records for the whole province, until the counties of Cumberland and Lincoln were set off in 1760. The town was incorporated in 1653.
York has a court house and gaol, but all the county courts have been, within a few years past, removed to Alfred. The principal harbor is York river, about 6 miles from Portsmouth, N.H., with water sufficient for vessels from 200 to 300 tons burthen. The entrance, however, is difficult, being narrow and crooked. The other harbor is cape Neddock, about 4 miles N.E. of the former, navigable about a mile from the sea at full tides only, it having a sand bar at its mouth, sufficient to prevent vessels of any considerable burthen from passing at low water.
Cape Neddock and Bald Head are the head lands. The former is a little to the couth of cape Neddock river. At the end of this cape is a small hillock called the Nubble, on which Congress has recently authorised the erection of a Light house. Boon Island lies about 9 miles southeast of this point. Bald Head makes the S.W. part of Wells bay.
The settlement of this place began about the year 1630: it was then called Agamenticus, from a mountain of that name in the north part of the town. This is of considerable elevation, and a noted land mark. From its summit, there is an extensive prospect bounded by the great ranges of the N.H. mountains on the N. and N.W., and the Atlantic on the coast from Cape Ann to Cape Elizabeth.
This town was nearly destroyed by the Indians and French in 1692, who, coming on snow shoes, surprised the unwary inhabitants at early morning. This calamity was so desloating that the few remaining inhabitants had thoughts of abandoning the place altogether; but a number remained, though suffering under severe privations from the destruction of almost every thing that could give them shelter or sustenance.
The population of the town in 1830, was 3,485; but it has been reduced since that time, by the annexation of a portion of its northern angle to South Berwick. Its population in 1837, was 3,001.