The territory comprising the present town of Amesbury was originally a part of Salisbury. On May 23, 1666, amidst significant migration into the Salisbury area, "Salisbury New Town" was granted the privileges of a town, and May 27, 1668 the name was changed to Amesbury. In the Massachusetts Bay Colony records the name is entered as "Emesbury."
A few subsequent territorial changes took place in Amesbury's history. Firstly, in the year 1876, the town of Merrimac was formed from land in what was then West Amesbury. Secondly, 10 years later, in the year 1886, West Salisbury became part of Amesbury.
Amesbury originally had an agriculture based economy. It later evolved over the years to be textile based (textile mills operated on the Powwow River), and later it achieved acclaim for manufacturing carriages.