The Hancock House sits on property that was purchased from John Fenwick in 1675 by William Hancock, an English shoemaker. Upon his death the property passed to his wife and then to his nephew, John Hancock.
John’s inheritance of approximately 500 acres made him a major landholder in Fenwick’s Colony. He contributed
to the development of the area by building a bridge across Alloways Creek in 1708.
Now known as “Hancocks Bridge,” it permitted passage on an important highway between Salem and Greenwich and gave the settlement its name.
When John Hancock died in 1709, he left his
property to his son William. William became a
Justice of the Peace for Salem County and served in the Colonial Assembly for 20 years
In 1734, William and his wife Sarah built the
Hancock House. Their initials [WHS] and the
construction date  can be seen in the
brickwork on the house’s west elevation
Upon his death in 1762, William left his house to his son William, who succeeded him in the Assembly and became His Majesty’s Judge of the County Court for the County of Salem. It was this William who figured in the massacre of March 1778.
The Hancock House remained in the family until 1931, although the extent to which the house was used as a private residence and the property farmed is uncertain. There is evidence to suggest a section of the house was leased for a tavern during the 18th & 19th centuries. The State of New Jersey acquired the Hancock House for $4,000 in 1931 and opened it as a museum in 1932.