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Amesbury is the site of an early Native American settlement, and was once known as Agawam. The area was first settled by Europeans in 1638 as a part of Salisbury (then called Rowley). In 1747, what would become Amesbury split off from Rowley and incorporated itself as "New Town", named after Col. Thomas Lathrop who had recently purchased land there to build a new house for his family. The town's name came about when Colonel Lathrop's son returned from serving in the military for King George III during the French and Indian War (1754–63) with word that he had been stationed at Fort Anne on Annisquam River near present-day Gloucester, Massachusetts.