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Jaffrey, New Hampshire
Clay Library
Clay Library
Official seal of Jaffrey, New Hampshire
Location in Cheshire County, New Hampshire
Country United States
State New Hampshire
County Cheshire
Incorporated 1773
Villages Jaffrey
Jaffrey Center
 • Total 40.2 sq mi (104.1 km2)
 • Land 38.4 sq mi (99.5 km2)
 • Water 1.8 sq mi (4.6 km2)  4.42%
991 ft (302 m)
 • Total 5,320
 • Density 139/sq mi (53.5/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 603
FIPS code 33-38500
GNIS feature ID 0873633

Jaffrey is a town in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 5,320 at the 2020 census.

The main village in town, where 3,058 people resided at the 2020 census, is defined as the Jaffrey census-designated place (CDP) and is located along the Contoocook River at the junction of U.S. Route 202 and New Hampshire routes 124 and 137.


Old Baker House, Jaffrey, NH
Old Baker Home, which was the oldest house in Jaffrey in 1905

First granted by the Massachusetts General Court in 1736 to soldiers from Rowley, Massachusetts, returning from the war in Canada, the town was known as Rowley-Canada. In 1749, the town was re-chartered by the Mason proprietors as Monadnock No. 2, sometimes called Middle Monadnock or Middletown. It was one of the first towns established following the Masonian proprietors' purchase of undivided lands under the claim.

Settled about 1758, the town was regranted in 1767. It would be incorporated in 1773 by Governor John Wentworth, and named for George Jaffrey, member of a wealthy Portsmouth family. Jaffrey's son was a life trustee of Dartmouth College, and designer of the official college seal. The Contoocook River provided water power for mills. Village prosperity would be expressed in fine early architecture, including the Town Meetinghouse, built in 1775.

Beginning in the 1840s, the area's scenic beauty attracted tourists, and several summer hotels were built at the base of Mount Monadnock, enduringly popular with hikers. Some who scaled the summit were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Rudyard Kipling. The experience inspired Emerson in 1845 to write the poem, Monadnoc.

Jaffrey was the setting for a 1950 biography by Elizabeth Yates entitled Amos Fortune, Free Man, winner of the 1951 Newbery Medal. Amos Fortune was an African-born slave who purchased his freedom and that of his wife, and established a tannery in the village. He is buried in the local cemetery, together with bandbox craftswoman Hannah Davis, and author and summer resident Willa Cather.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 40.0 square miles (104 km2), of which 38.3 sq mi (99 km2) is land and 1.7 sq mi (4.4 km2) is water, comprising 4.32% of the town. The town center, or census-designated place, has a total area of 2.6 sq mi (6.7 km2). 2.5 sq mi (6.5 km2) of it is land and 0.1 sq mi (0.26 km2) (3.83%) is water.

Thorndike Pond is in the north, and Contoocook Lake is on the southern boundary. Mount Monadnock, elevation 3,165 feet (965 m) above sea level and the highest point in Jaffrey, is in the northwest. Jaffrey lies mostly within the Merrimack River watershed, via the Contoocook River in the eastern part of the town, with the northwest corner of town lying in the Ashuelot River watershed, part of the larger Connecticut River watershed.

Located in southeast Cheshire County, the town of Jaffrey is bordered by Dublin to the north, Peterborough and Sharon to the east (both part of Hillsborough County), Rindge to the south, and Troy and Marlborough to the west.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 1,235
1800 1,341 8.6%
1810 1,336 −0.4%
1820 1,339 0.2%
1830 1,354 1.1%
1840 1,411 4.2%
1850 1,497 6.1%
1860 1,453 −2.9%
1870 1,256 −13.6%
1880 1,267 0.9%
1890 1,469 15.9%
1900 1,801 22.6%
1910 1,895 5.2%
1920 2,303 21.5%
1930 2,485 7.9%
1940 2,879 15.9%
1950 2,911 1.1%
1960 3,154 8.3%
1970 3,353 6.3%
1980 4,349 29.7%
1990 5,361 23.3%
2000 5,476 2.1%
2010 5,457 −0.3%
2020 5,320 −2.5%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 5,457 people, 2,234 households, and 1,451 families residing in the town. There were 2,547 housing units, of which 313, or 12.3%, were vacant. 160 of the vacant units were for seasonal or recreational use. The racial makeup of the town was 96.2% white, 0.4% African American, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% Asian, 0.04% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 0.3% some other race, and 1.7% from two or more races. 1.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Of the 2,234 households, 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.4% were headed by married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.0% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.5% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41, and the average family size was 2.95.

In the town, 24.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.8% were from 18 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.5 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.

For the period 2011–2015, the estimated median annual income for a household was $56,618, and the median income for a family was $73,564. Male full-time workers had a median income of $50,138 versus $39,434 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,689. 15.0% of the population and 6.5% of families were below the poverty line. 28.3% of the population under the age of 18 and 15.9% of those 65 or older were living in poverty.

Master plan

As with many small rural towns in New England, Jaffrey entered the 21st century grappling with the issues of how to cope with increased population growth and development pressures. Both for tourism and for quality of life of its residents, open undeveloped land is an important component of the town's attractions. In the 2007 update to its Master Plan, the town specifically cites a desire to preserve open space and rural character.

Notable people

  • Laban Ainsworth (1757–1858), minister
  • Lucy Barnes (1780–1809), writer
  • Vannevar Bush (1890–1974), engineer, inventor, scientist
  • Willa Cather (1873–1947), author
  • Francis Joseph Christian (born 1942), retired auxiliary bishop, Diocese of Manchester
  • Walter S. Crosley (1871–1939), rear admiral in the United States Navy
  • Amos Fortune (c. 1710–1801), early resident, tanner, and subject of Elizabeth Yates' book Amos Fortune, Free Man
  • Fannie Hillsmith (1911–2007), painter
  • Alfred B. Kittredge (1861–1911), US senator from South Dakota
  • Talcott Parsons (1902–1979), sociologist
  • Jedediah Sanger (1751–1829), founder of New Hartford, New York
  • Levi Spaulding (1791–1873), missionary
  • Oliver L. Spaulding (1833–1922), Civil War general, politician

See also

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