In 1623 two groups of English settlers, sent by Captain John Mason, arrived in what is now called New Hampshire (after John Masons home county of Hampshire) and established a fishing village near the mouth of the Piscataqua River. New Hampshire would remain an English colony throughout the colonial period.

In 1638, John Wheelwright, banished from Boston for defending his sister-in-law Anne Hutchinson, founded a settlement called Exeter in New Hampshire. In 1639 the settlers signed the "Exeter Compact" patterned after the "Mayflower Compact".

The English settlers sought freedom from strict religious and economic rules in their coastal farming colony.  Colonists were able to utilize New Hampshire's short coastline for fishing and shipbuilding, but they relied heavily on potato and crop farming and textiles for economic security.

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