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Essex is a coastal town in Essex County, Massachusetts, 26 miles (42 km) north of Boston and 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Newburyport. It is known for its former role as a center of shipbuilding. The population was 3,504 at the 2010 census.
The central village areas of Essex and South Essex make up the census-designated place of Essex.
Essex was incorporated as a town in 1819. It was previously a part of the town of Ipswich and was then called Chebacco Parish. The first European settlers arrived in 1634. At that time, the land formed part of an area inhabited by Native Americans of the Agawam tribe. The name Chebacco is Agawam in origin and refers to a large lake whose waters extend into neighboring Hamilton. Conomo Point, the easternmost part of the town, is named for the Sagamore or Chief of the Agawams, Masconomo, the leader of the tribe in the late 17th century. Early on, Chebacco Parish lobbied for status as an independent town, asking for permission to build a meeting house.