Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: The Meeting-House Green
THE MEETING-HOUSE GREEN
Along the northerly side of the Meeting-house Green, and the road leading from it to the beach, are extensive fields of tillage land, owned in small lots by a large number of persons, each knowing the boundaries of his own, though not separated from the adjoining lots by walls or fences and, in some cases, hardly marked by metes and bounds. Many years ago, the fences enclosing these common fields were divided and portions assigned to each lot, so that no one of the proprietors might be released from an equitable share of the burden and expense of keeping the fields enclosed, whether his lots lay near the border or in the interior. Latterly, this arrangement has been to some extent disregarded, and those owning the land next to the roads, maintain the fences.
For several generations, these fields have been cultivated from year to year, and no finer corn-fields could be found in New England. After the crops were harvested in autumn, the fields were laid open to the cattle of all the proprietors. This was called "turning shack." The custom was probably introduced from the County of Norfolk, in England,--the birthplace of many of the first inhabitants. A similar custom has long prevailed there, and when the cattle are admitted to the fields, they are said to go a-shack.