The Indian name for this locality was "Pentucket", but the early settlers applied the name of Haverhill in compliment to Rev. John Ward, their first minister, who came from Haverhill, England. Haverhill was founded in 1640 by twelve English Puritans from Ipswich, MA and Newbury, MA as a frontier settlement. "Mr. Ward and Newberry men" petitioned the General Court on May 13, 1640 for permission to begin a new plantation on the Merrimack river, which was granted provided "they build there before the next Courte". Though the town was settled and houses erected in 1640 it was not until November 15, 1642 that a title to the land was purchased of the Indian owners. Pentucket tribe members Passaquo and Saggahew, with the consent of Passaconway, signed for the tribe. The settlers purchased the land for 3 pounds and 10 shillings.

In June, 1641 the Court appointed men to determine the bounds between Salsberry and Pantucket alias Haverell.

(Note: Roger Eastman received lands in the 1st division in Salisbury, MA in 1640-1643.)

In 1643, a law was passed by the General Court requiring a record to be kept of births, marriages and deaths in each town and in Haverhill, Richard Littlehale was chosen "clerk of the Writs and Town Recorder" and the first meeting of which proceedings are recorded was held November 6, 1643.

In 1645 the plantation of Haverhill was incorporated as a town.

An island in the Merrimack river was granted to Haverhill on May 23, 1650.

October 14, 1651 bounds were established.

October 19, 1654 bounds between Haverhill and Salisbury were established.

May 18, 1664 bounds between Haverhill and lands of Maj. Gen'l Denison were established.

December 8, 1725 the western part of the town was included in the new town of Methuen.