The Town of Pembroke was incorporated in 1712; however this town has a beginning that is even older.
The first settlers to what is now know as Pembroke were Robert Barker Sr. and Dolor Davis between 1640-1650, in the Herring Run area. The native peoples that lived and worked on the land before the settlers arrival were the Wampanoag and the Massachusett tribes. They valued the rich lands, especially along the many river banks and ponds. This is where they cultivated various crops, and fished the abundant waters. Barker and Davis arrived to what was then known as Mattakeesett (meaning: place between lakes where corn grows best) to the locals, by way of the North River from Scituate. Named after the town of Pembroke in Whales, which was probably due to it’s English investors, after other names were tossed out. It was purchased from the Massachusett tribe dealing through Josias Wampatuck as part of the “Major’s Purchase” and started out as part of Duxbury until it’s incorporation.
The numerous bodies of water contained within Pembroke played an integral role with how, not just the state of Massachusetts came to be, but also in building the foundation of America. There were several shipyards, mills, and even the Pembroke Iron Works located on those bodies of water. The Iron Works, being established around 1720, would dredge the ponds in order to obtain iron for smelting. There were 5 notable ship yards located on the North River. The Brick Kiln Yard, Seabury Point, Job’s Landing, Turners Yard, and Macy’s which combined built over 1,000 vessels from the late 1600’s to around the 1870s. During the winter months ice was cut from the ponds and stored to help preserve perishable foods during the summer. Another resource pulled from the waters of Pembroke were Herring.
Atlantic Herring are a smaller fish that live in the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn and start their life cycle. Considered a precious resource, and highly prized in 1741 Pembroke started to regulate the taking of the fish in order to preserve them for future generations. Every year to celebrate the “running” of the Herring, Pembroke holds their annual “Grand Ol’ Fish Fry”. This event is held on the first Sunday in May, all are welcome to attend, and is hosted by the Pembroke Historical Society.
One of Pembroke’s original home still stands. Today it is commonly know as the Adah F. Hall House, and is cared for by the Pembroke Historical Society. The home has other names that it’s referred to as from it’s former owners through the years. Believed to have been built in the late 1600’s estimated to be around 1685, by Robert Barker Jr. The land was given in a grant to Barker Sr. from Myles Standish, the Hall home is said to resemble the Alexander Standish House located in Duxbury. The Standish home was built in 1666, and it is know that Barker Jr built the standing Hall home sometime after, which is how the estimated 1685 date came to be. The home can be visited by appointment only.