Rowley is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 5,856 at the 2010 census.
Part of the town comprises the census-designated place of Rowley.
In spring of 1639 Rowley was originally settled as a plantation by Reverend Ezekiel Rogers, who had arrived from England on the ship John of London with approximately twenty families. The John of London also brought over the first printing press in the colonies, which was later brought to Harvard University.
The following spring, on September 4, 1639, the town was incorporated, and included portions of modern-day Byfield, Groveland, Georgetown, and Haverhill. The town was named after Rowley, East Riding of Yorkshire, where Rogers had served as pastor for twenty years before his suspension due to non-conformist Puritan beliefs. Rogers was installed as Rowley’s pastor on December 3.
1643 and 1645 saw the construction of a fulling mill and grist mill, respectively. The town became known for its hemp and flax cloth, as well as cotton. In 1642, a keystone arch bridge and a dam were built on the Mill River for the fulling mill, the first such in the colonies. The bridge was the first stone arch bridge in North America, constructed entirely of hand-chiseled granite and contained no mortar. It was rebuilt in the mid-19th century. In 1669, a sawmill was established in town and is still in business today. A wagon factory was built in 1868 by Moses E. Daniels. Later, at the start of the 20th century, the town had a booming shoe industry, as well as successful boat building businesses.
Many colonial homes line Rowley’s streets, mixed in with a variety of architectural styles from all throughout American history. The town common (historically called the training place), is surrounded by many simple yet graceful old homes. It was at the training place where Benedict Arnold’s expedition to Quebec encamped in 1775, during the American Revolution.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,500 people, 1,958 households, and 1,468 families residing in the town. The population density was 293.8 people per square mile (113.4/km2). There were 2,004 housing units at an average density of 107.1 per square mile (41.3/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.38% White, 0.24% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.45% Asian, 0.27% from other races, and 0.40% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.85% of the population.
There were 1,958 households, out of which 39.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.5% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.0% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 28.0% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.1 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $62,130, and the median income for a family was $75,527. Males had a median income of $49,970 versus $32,500 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,413. About 3.3% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.8% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.