Rye Town

Rockingham County, New Hampshire

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Rye administrative offices are located at 10 Central Road, Rye, NH 03870.
Phone: (603) 964-5523


The Town of Rye [†] did not become entirely separate until 1776 during the Revolutionary War and was finally incorporated as a town in 1785. Rye's namesake is in England on the Channel.

During the War of 1812, at the Battle of Rye Harbor on April 3, 1814, a barge, from one of two warships of the British Navy which were anchored offshore, entered Rye Harbor. It was driven off by locals under the command of General Thomas Goss. In 1874, the first totally undersea transatlantic cable was run from Europe to New Hampshire and terminated at the Cable House on Old Beach Road in Rye.

Since 1876, Rye has been the only town in New Hampshire to encompass islands in the Atlantic. Two leagues from the shore, the four Isles of Shoals included in the jurisdiction of the Town of Rye are White Island, Star Island, Seavey Island and Lunging Island (once known as Londoner's Island). The border between Maine and New Hampshire cuts across Gosport Harbor and the breakwater between Cedar and Star Islands. The Isles, five in Maine and four in New Hampshire, were first described by Champlain in 1605. In his publications at that time, Champlain is reported to have called Rye Harbor Beauport. Champlain and his men encountered 200 Native Americans in the area of Rye Harbor. The natives were cultivating corn, green beans, pumpkins, winter squash and sunflowers for their roots.

From Rye's early settlement days, its livelihood was based upon agriculture and fishing. Fishing and farming sustained the population of a thousand well into the 1800's. Rye Harbor was a thriving coastal port for a variety of goods.

In mid-1800's boarding houses and hotels attracted tourists from afar to the scenic beaches of Rye. The Golden Age of Rye resorts lasted well into the 20th century. The farming and fishing continued to thrive.

Rye is thirty-five and a half square miles of land located in the County of Rockingham which runs along the Atlantic Ocean bounded by North Hampton, Greenland and Portsmouth. Of that acreage, nearly 65% is under water. The highest natural point in the town is only 151 feet above sea level at Breakfast Hill. The Town's beaches and natural landmarks carry familiar names of early settlers: Jenness, Wallis, Foss, Seavey, Brackett, Garland and Locke. Three great crescent beaches continue to lure people today as Rye retains its coastal heritage.

The Rye Citizens Handbook, 2018, www.town.rye.nh.us, accessed October, 2021.

Nearby Towns: Hampton Town • Kittery Town • New Castle Town • Newington Town • North Hampton Town • Portsmouth City •

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