The area now known as Merrimac was first settled in 1638 and was part of the town of Amesbury, Massachusetts when Amesbury separated from Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1666, and was referred to as the West Parish of Amesbury, or West Amesbury. This initial settlement was along the north bank of the Merrimack River. As West Amesbury expanded, the riverside village became known as South Amesbury, with the relocated town center away from the river retaining the West Amesbury name. Merrimac was officially incorporated as a separate town in 1876, with the riverside area becoming known as Merrimacport. It is believed that the town, as well as the river that runs along its southern border, are both named for the American Indian tribe that occupied the region. "Merrimac" (or Merrimack) means "swift water place" in the language of this tribe.
Though it began as a shipbuilding and fishing port along the Merrimack River, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the mill-powered factory permanently changed the town. The center of the town shifted away from the river to a newly-developing village, now known as Merrimac center, which was dotted with many carriage-manufacturing factories. After several prior attempts to separate from Amesbury had been voted down, the town of Merrimac was incorporated in 1876, due mainly to this developing carriage industry. A carriage is part of the current town seal.
Essex County Massachusetts Genealogy Project was founded August 1996.
Original Merrimac Massachusetts Genealogy Project was created March 2006.
Current Town Coordinator is Michelle Wilkins Cook