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Many were women, but as the need for labor grew, immigrants arrived from Ireland, and later Quebec.Brick tenement row houses were rented by the company to employee families, many of whose members worked in the mills beside their parents before passage of child labor laws.Somersworth's heyday was during the mill era, although frequently overshadowed by the larger neighboring cities of Dover and Rochester, Somersworth retains a quantity of Victorian architecture from its prosperous age.Some antique residences, most notably within the historic district known as "The Hill", have been restored, the municipality is today largely a bedroom community for other cities and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.13.6% of the population and 10.2% of families were below the poverty line, along with 20.0% of people under the age of 18 and 6.9% of people 65 or older.The Somersworth School District consists of Somersworth High School (grades 9–12), Somersworth Middle School (grades 6–8), and two elementary schools, Idlehurst Elementary School and Maple Wood Elementary School.The upper end of High Street, however, continues to develop as a retail center, with several big-box chain stores.Somersworth is bordered to the northeast by the Salmon Falls River, which is also the state boundary with Maine, the highest point in Somersworth is Prospect Hill rising just west of the city center, on which the city reservoir is built.

At first millworkers came from surrounding farms, including those in Berwick, Maine, directly across the bridge.New Hampshire Route 108 passes through a western portion of the city, leading northwest to Rochester and south to Dover.New Hampshire Route 236 (West High Street) leads west out of downtown to NH 108.Somersworth, originally called "Sligo" after Sligo in Ireland, was settled before 1700 as a part of Dover, it was organized in 1729 as the parish of "Summersworth", meaning "summer town", because during that season the ministers would preach here.

It was set off and incorporated in 1754 by colonial governor Benning Wentworth, and until 1849 included Rollinsford.

Somersworth is bounded by the town of Rollinsford to the south, the city of Dover to the southwest, the city of Rochester to the northwest, and the Maine town of Berwick to the northeast, across the Salmon Falls River.