Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Traill-Spence House

Sometimes referred to as simply the Spence House, the Traill-Spence House was once located on the southwest corner of State and Fleet Streets.

During the mid-1700s, a shipping merchant named Robert Traill, from the Orkney Islands in Scotland, lived in this substantial house with his wife, Mary Whipple. Mary was the sister of General William Whipple of the Moffatt-Ladd House, who signed the Declaration of Independence. Before the Revolutionary War, Traill served as the Comptroller of the Port of Portsmouth. In 1766, he was the first person in New Hampshire to brew strong beer, and an outbuilding behind his house, on the corner of Fleet and Court Streets, became known as the “Old Brewery”. As a representative of the British Government for the Province of New Hampshire, Trailll opposed the American Revolution and returned to England once the war began. Robert Traill died in 1785, and Mary in 1824.

Their daughter, Mary Traill, married a native of Scotland named Keith Spence, the purser onboard the frigate, USS Philadelphia who later became the Navy agent to New Orleans. They resided in this house after her father left the country, and their families lived here for many generations. Keith and Mary Spence were the grandparents of the poet, James Russell Lowell.

The Traill-Spence House and the Old Brewery have been demolished. The southwest corner of State and Fleet Streets is now occupied by a drive-up banking facility for TD Bank.

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