CONNECTICUT TOWNS IN THE ORDER OF THEIR
ESTABLISHMENT; WITH THE ORIGIN OF THEIR NAMES
Until 1700 almost the only official action of the colonial government (General Court) in regard to town organization, was to authorize the town name, usually chosen by its leading man, from his home in England. In October, 1700, we find implied or quasi incorporation, such as exists to this day in the records. "This assembly doth grant to the inhabitants of the town of Lebanon all such immunities, privileges and powers, as generally other townes within this Colonie have and doe enjoy." The authoritative legal definition of a town in England, contemporary with the earliest Connecticut settlements is given in the first edition of Coke's Commentaries upon Littleton, published 1628: "It can not be a town in law, unless it hath, or in past time hath had, a church, and celebration of Divine services, sacraments and burials." The churches, which moved bodily, with their pastors, from Massachusetts to Connecticut, proceeded to exercise the secular powers which we regard as those of the town, but the English township is known by its ecclesiastical name of parish. Several of our towns were first set off as parishes from great town-tracts; yet the town in Connecticut colony essentially separated church and state in government, in that it never restricted political suffrage to church members. As to dates, the official colonial records are followed, as soon as they begin, 1636.
As Indian was not a written but a spoken language, its spelling is often a matter of astonishing versatility. Because of mutilation of the Indian names by Colonial scribes and by the Colonial pronunciation it is frequently impossible to arrive at any definite conclusion with regard to the original meaning. The variety of dialects, even in the Algonquin tribe, varied greatly, even among those living within thirty or forty miles of one another. This added greatly to the complications of spelling Indian words in English.
To add to the confusion, the white men continually applied Indian names to features of the landscape that were not at all in the Indian mind when they coined the word. Thus a word meaning a hill might be applied by the white men to all the surrounding territory and come eventually to mean a pond. And so the Indian names, or their Indian approximates, have come down to us not in the names of the towns, which the white men were creating in the tradition of their own race, but in features of the countryside streams, mountains, hills and other natural aspects.
1. Windsor, settled by a company from Plymouth Colony, arriving with the frame and materials of a trading house on their vessel Sept. 26, 1633. This house was set up, 80 to 100 rods below the mouth of the Farmington River, on a tract previously bought of the original Indian proprietors. Before the summer of 1635, the settlers had bought Great Meadow, north of the Farmington, and placed cattle and servants on their lands. They sold out, 1637 and 1638, to Dorchester, Mass., settlers, who had arrived in their vicinity, 1635, and named their settlement Dorchester. It was named in 1637 from Windsor in Berkshire, now a royal residence.
2. Wethersfield, settled as Watertown 1634; named 1637 from Wethersfield in Essex, England. Indian name, "Pyquag."
3. Hartford, Dutch trading house, "House of Hope," 1633; settled as Newtown in 1635; named 1637 from Hertford in Hertfordshire, Indian name, "Suckiag."
4. Deep River, was formerly Saybrook, fort, soon a settlement, 1635; named 1639 from Lord Say & Sele, and Baron Brook; name changed by act of General Assembly, July 1, 1947. Indian name, "Pattaquasset."
5. New Haven, settled April, 1638; named Aug. 1640, from Newhaven on the south coast of Sussex. Indian name, "Quinnipiac."
6. Milford, settled early in 1639; named November, 1640. Indian name, "Wepawaug."
7. Guilford, settled, 1639; named from Guildford parish in Surrey, July, 1643. Indian name, "Menunkatuck."
8. Stratford, settled in 1639; named in 1643 from Stratford-le-Bow, Essex, or more probably, Stratford-on-Avon. Indian name, "Cupheag."
9. Fairfield, settled 1639; name = fair field; or possibly from Fairfield in Kent. Indian name, "Uncoway."
10. Greenwich, settled by the English and named, July 18, 1640, from Greenwich near London; N.Y. to Ct., transferred, 1656. Indian name, "Patuquapaen."
11. Stamford, settled in 1641; named 1642 from Stamford in Lincolnshire. Indian name, "Rippowam."
12. Farmington, settled in 1640; incorporated and named, Dec. 1645. "Tunxis shall be called Farmington" = farming town.
13. New London, settled as "Pequot," 1646, named from London, England, March, 1658. Old Indian name, "Nameaug."
14. Norwalk, settled 1649; incorporated Sept., 1651, "Norwaukee shall bee a townee," Algonkin noyank, point of land, or more probably from the Indian name, "Naramauke."
15. Stonington, settled 1649; named Souther Towne, by Mass., Oct., 1658; Stonington by Conn., 1666. Indian names, "Pawcatuck" and "Mistack."
16. Middletown, incorporated 1651; named 1653, from position between upper river towns and Saybrook. Indian name, "Mattabeset."
17. Norwich, settled 1659; accepted as legal township, May 1662; named from Norwich in Norfolk, England. Indian name, "Mohegan."
18. Lyme, set off from Saybrook, 1665; named from Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire, May, 1667. Formerly East Saybrook.
19. Killingworth, named Kenilworth, May, 1667, from Kenilworth in Warwickshire. Indian name, "Hammonassett."
20. Haddam, settled in 1662; incorporated, and named Oct., 1668, from Much Haddam parish in Hertfordshire.
21. Simsbury, settled and named May, 1670, from Sim (on) Wolcott, leading settler, or from Simondsbury in Dorset.
22. Wallingford, set off from New Haven and named, May, 1670, from Wallingford in Berkshire. Old name, "East River" or "New Haven Village."
23. Woodbury, named May, 1673, from being well wooded. Indian name, "Pomperaug."
24. Suffield, "abbreviation of Southfield," established in Mass., 1674; annexed to Conn., May 1749.
25. Derby, settled 1651; named May, 1675, from Derby, town and county in England. Indian name, "Paugasset" or "Paugasuck."
26. Enfield, grant of township "called Enfield" by Mass., May, 1683, from Enfield in Middlesex; annexed to Conn., May, 1749. Formerly Freshwater.
27. Branford, settled 1639; named 1653, from Brentford in Middlesex; set off from New Haven, 1685. Indian name, "Totoket."
28. Waterbury, settled May, 1674; incorporated and named May, 1686, from abundant waters. Indian name, "Mattatuck."
29. Danbury, settled 1685, named Oct., 1687, from Danbury parish in Essex; incorporated May, 1702. Named by Gov. Treat. First name, "Swampfield." Indian name, "Paquiage" or "Pahquioque."
30. Preston, incorporated 1686, named 1687, probably from the Preston in Suffolk in honor of the Thomas Parke family.
31. Woodstock, settled as New Roxbury, Mass., 1686; named March, 1690, from Woodstock in Oxfordshire; annexed to Conn., May, 1749.
32. Windham, settled 1686; incorporated May, 1692; named from Windham in Sussex, or from Wymondham in Norfolk.
33. Glastonbury, incorporated May, 1693; set off from Wethersfield, June, 1692; named from Glastonbury in Somersetshire.
34. Colchester, settled 1699; named, Oct., 1699, from Colchester borough and port in Essex. Formerly Jeremiah's Farms.
35. Plainfield, settled 1689; name descriptive; authorized Oct., 1700.
36. Lebanon, named 1697 from Lebanon in Syria; Hebrew name = white; incorporated Oct., 1700.
37. Mansfield, settled 1686; set off from Windham and incorporated Oct., 1702; named from Major Moses Mansfield. Originally called Ponde-town. Indian name, "Noubesetuck."
38. Canterbury, settled 1690; set off from Plainfield and incorporated Oct., 1703; named from Canterbury in Kent. Indian name, "Peagscomsueck."
39. Durham, settled 1699; named May, 1704; from Durham, town and county in England. Indian name, "Cockingchaug," or "Coginchaug."
40. Groton, Incorporated from New London, May, 1705; named 1705 from English home town of Gov. John Winthrop.
41. Hebron, settled 1704; named 1707 from Heb. Hebron (derivation doubtful); "An association," "a league," and "confederacy," are meanings given this word by various authorities; incorporated May, 1708.
42. Killingly, settled 1700; incorporated May, 1708; and named from Killingly Manor near Pontefract, Yorkshire. Indian name, "Aspinock."
43. Ridgefield, settled 1708; incorporated 1709; named from its ridges. Indian name, "Caudatowa."
44. Ashford, settled 1710, named Oct., 1710, probably from Ashford in Kent, England; incorporated Oct., 1714. Formerly New Scituate.
45. Newtown, named May, 1708 = a new town; incorporated Oct., 1711. Indian name, "Pootatuck" or "Quonapague."
46. Coventry, settled 1709; named from Coventry in Warwickshire, Oct., 1711; incorporated May, 1712.
47. New Milford, settled from Milford, 1707; named Oct., 1703; incorporated Oct., 1712. Indian name, "Weantinock" or "Weantinogue."
48. Pomfret, settled in 1686; named and incorporated May, 1713, from Pontefract in Yorkshire. Indian name, "Mashamoquet."
49. Tolland, named May, 1715; incorporated May, 1722, from Tolland in Somersetshire, whence Henry Wolcott, grandfather of Gov. Roger Wolcott, chief owner.
50. Litchfield, named and incorporated May, 1719, from Lichfield, a town of Staffordshire. Indian name, "Bantam."
51. Stafford, settled in 1719; named from Stafford, town in Staffordshire.
52. Voluntown, settled 1719; named May, 1708 = volun (teers') town; grant to volunteers in the Narragansett war; incorporated, May, 1721.
53. Bolton, settled 1716; named and incorporated Oct., 1720; named from Bolton in Lancashire, or the Duke of Bolton.
54. Willington, named "Wellington," May, 1725, from Wellington in Somersetshire (birthplace of Henry Wolcott, whose grandson Roger was chief purchaser, 1720), which gave title to the Duke of Wellington, but incorporated May, 1727, as "Willington."
55. East Haddam, "Haddam East Society"; incorporated and named May, 1734. Indian name, "Macki-moodus."
56. Somers, set off from Enfield by Mass., and named from Lord Somers, July, 1734; annexed to Conn., May, 1749. Formerly East Enfield.
57. Union, settled 1727, as "Union Lands"; named 1732; incorporated Oct., 1734 (union of East Stafford and State Lands).
58. Harwinton, settled 1731; named May, 1732, from Har(tford), and Win(dsor), from whence its original proprietors; incorporated Oct., 1737.
59. New Hartford, named May, 1733, from Hartford, whence its proprietors, and incorporated Oct., 1738.
60. Canaan, named May, 1738, from the Bible, Canaan = lowland; incorporated Oct., 1739.
61. Goshen, named May, 1738, from Goshen in Egypt; incorporated Oct., 1739.
62. Kent, named May, 1738, from Kent county, England; incorporated Oct., 1739. Indian name, "Scatacook."
63. Sharon, named and incorporated Oct., 1739, with the Hebrew name, sharon, a plain.
64. Cornwall, named May, 1738, from the southwest county of England; incorporated May, 1740.
65. New Fairfield, settled and named May, 1728, from Fairfield; incorporated May, 1740.
66. Torrington, named May, 1732, from Torrington in Devonshire; incorporated Oct., 1740.
67. Salisbury, named May, 1738 (by Rev. Thomas Noyes), from Salisbury, Wiltshire; incorporated Oct., 1741. Indian name, "Weatogue."
68. Norfolk, named May, 1738, from Norfolk county on the east coast of England; incorporated Oct., 1758.
69. Hartland, named 1733 = Hart(ford) land, because owned by Hartford men; incorporated May, 1761.
70. Redding, made a parish and named Reading from Col. John Read, May, 1729; incorporated as Redding from Fairfield, May, 1767.
71. East Hampton, was Chatham, named 1767, from the importance of its shipbuilding in allusion to Chatham, England; incorporated from Middletown, Oct., 1767; name changed by act of General Assembly, May 4, 1915.
72. East Windsor, settled 1680; incorporated from Windsor and named May, 1768. Formerly Windsor.
73. Winchester, tract named from Winchester in Hampshire, May, 1733; incorporated May, 1771. Called the "Green Woods."
74. Washington, incorporated and taken from Kent, Litchfield, New Milford and Woodbury, Jan., 1779; named from George Washington. Formerly parishes of Judea and New Preston.
75. Barkhamsted, named from Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire, May, 1732; incorporated Oct., 1779.
76. Colebrook, named May, 1732, from Colebrooke in Devonshire, settled 1765; incorporated Oct., 1779.
77. Southington, named Oct., 1726, as south society of Farmington; incorporated from Farmington, Oct., 1779.
78. Cheshire, named New Cheshire, May, 1724, from Cheshire, England; incorporated from Wallingford, May, 1780. Earlier called, "West Farms on Mill River."
79. Watertown, incorporated May, 1780, from Waterbury, which suggested its name. Formerly Westbury.
80. East Hartford, incorporated from Hartford, Oct., 1783. Indian name, "Podunk."
81. Woodbridge, incorporated from New Haven and Milford, Jan., 1784 and named from its pastor, B. Woodbridge. Formerly parish of Amity.
82. Berlin, incorporated from Farmington, Middletown and Wethersfield, May, 1785; named from Berlin, Prussia. Formerly Kensington.
83. Bristol, incorporated from Farmington, May, 1785, and named from Bristol, England. Formerly New Cambridge.
84. East Haven, named May, 1707; incorporated from New Haven, May, 1785. Originally Iron Works Village.
85. Thompson (Parish), named 1728, from its chief owner, Sir Robert Thompson; incorporated from Killingly, May, 1785.
86. Bozrah, incorporated from Norwich, May, 1786, and given Heb. name = enclosure. Formerly New Concord.
87. Brooklyn, named 1752, brook line (the Quinebaug); incorporated from Canterbury and Pomfret, May, 1786. Formerly Mortlake.
88. Franklin, incorporated from Norwich, May, 1786, and named from Benjamin Franklin.
89. Ellington, named 1735, from Ellington in Yorks or Hunts; incorporated from E. Windsor, May, 1786. Originally called the "Great Swamp."
90. Hamden, incorporated from New Haven, May, 1786, and named from John Hampden, English patriot.
91. Lisbon, incorporated from Norwich, May, 1786, and named from Lisbon, capital of Portugal. Formerly Newent parish.
92. Warren, incorporated from Kent, May, 1786, and named from Gen. Joseph Warren.
93. Granby, incorporated from Simsbury, Oct., 1786, and named from the Marquis of Granby (Chas. Manners), or from Granby, Mass.
94. Hampton, incorporated from Brooklyn, Canterbury, Mansfield, Pomfret and Windham, Oct., 1786; named from Hampton in Middlesex. Formerly Kennedy or Windham Village.
95. Montville, incorporated from New London, Oct., 1786; name French for mountville.
96. North Haven, named 1739; incorporated from New Haven, Oct., 1786.
97. Bethlehem, named as society, Oct., 1739; Hebrew = house of bread; incorporated from Woodbury, May, 1787.
98. Southbury, named May, 1731; south part of Woodbury; incorporated from Woodbury, May, 1787.
99. Weston, named and incorporated from Fairfield, Oct., 1787; named as the west town, or settlement of Fairfield. Formerly Northfield. Indian name, "Aspetuck."
100. Brookfield, incorporated from Danbury, New Milford and Newtown, May, 1788; named for Thos. Brooks, first pastor. Formerly Newbury.
101. Shelton, named for Edward N. Shelton, leader in Housatonic Dam project; was Huntington, incorporated from Stratford, Jan., 1789, and named from Gov. Samuel Huntington; name changed by act of General Assembly April 15, 1919. Indian name, "Quorum." Formerly parish of Ripton.
102. Sterling, incorporated from Voluntown, May, 1794, and named from Dr. John Sterling, a resident.
103. Plymouth, incorporated from Watertown, May, 1795, and named by H. Cook, from Plymouth, Mass., of which his grandfather was an early settler. Formerly Northbury.
104. Wolcott, incorporated from Southington and Waterbury, May, 1796, and named from Gov. Oliver Wolcott.
105. Roxbury, named May, 1743, as rockier part of Woodbury, whence incorporated Oct., 1796.
106. Trumbull (North Stratford), incorporated from Stratford, Oct., 1797, and named from Gov. Jonathan Trumbull. Formerly parish of Unity.
107. Oxford, parish, named from Oxford, England, 1741; incorporated from Derby and Southbury, Oct., 1798.
108. New Canaan, named 1731; incorporated from Norwalk and Stamford, May, 1801. Formerly Canaan parish.
109. Waterford, incorporated from New London, Oct., 1801; name descriptive.
110. Wilton, named a society, 1726, from Wilton in Wiltshire; incorporated from Norwalk, May, 1802.
111. Sherman, incorporated from New Fairfield, Oct., 1802, and named from Roger Sherman.
112. Marlborough, named 1747, from great Duke of Marlborough, or from Marlborough, Mass.; incorporated from Colchester, Glastonbury and Hebron, Oct., 1803. Previously Eastbury and New Marlborough.
113. Columbia, incorporated from Lebanon, May, 1804, and given the poetic name for the United States.
114. Burlington, incorporated from Bristol, May, 1806; named (as Burlington, Vt.), prob. from 3d Earl of Burlington. Formerly "West Woods" or "West Britain."
115. Canton, incorporated from Simsbury, May, 1806, and the name Canton suggested by the late Ephraim Mills, is derived from a likeness to a Swiss canton. Original name, "Suffrage."
116. *Meriden, named in a deed 1664, from "Meriden Farms," Dorking, Surrey, Eng.; incorporated from Wallingford, May, 1806.
117. Middlebury, incorporated from Southbury, Waterbury and Woodbury, Oct., 1807; named from its position, 1790.
118. North Stonington, named 1724; incorporated from Stonington, May, 1807.
119. Vernon, incorporated from Bolton, Oct., 1808, and named prob. from the home of Washington at Mount Vernon, Va. Formerly North Bolton.
120. Griswold, incorporated from Preston, Oct., 1815; and named from Gov. Roger Griswold.
121. Salem = Hebrew "peace"; named from Salem, Mass., and incorporated as New Salem, from Colchester, Lyme and Montville, May, 1819.
122. Darien, incorporated from Stamford, May, 1820, and named from the Isthmus of Darien. Formerly parish of Middlesex.
123. Bridgeport, name descriptive, 1800; incorporated from Fairfield and Stratford, May, 1821. Indian name, "Pequonock." Formerly Stratfield or Newfield.
124. Chaplin, society, named 1809 from its deacon, Benjamin Chaplin; incorporated from Windham, Mansfield and Hampton, May, 1822.
125. Orange, incorporated from Milford and New Haven, May, 1822, and named from Wm. of Orange (III of England). Formerly North Milford. *See "A Century of Meriden" (Curtis-Gillespie).
126. Manchester, incorporated from East Hartford, May, 1823, and named from Manchester, England, because of manufacturing. Originally Orford parish.
127. Monroe, incorporated from Huntington, May, 1823, and named from Pres. James Monroe. Formerly parish of New Stratford.
128. Madison, incorporated from Guilford, May, 1826, and named from Pres. James Madison. Formerly East Guilford.
129. Prospect, incorporated from Cheshire and Waterbury, May, 1827; named as fine lookout place. Formerly Columbia parish.
130. Avon, incorporated from Farmington, May, 1830, and named from Avon river at Stratford-on-Avon. Formerly Northington.
131. North Branford, named as society, 1768; incorporated from Branford, May, 1831.
132. Bethany, named as parish, 1762; Heb. = house of dates; incorporated from Woodbridge, May, 1832.
133. Bloomfield, incorporated from Windsor, May, 1835; named from a Hartford family. Formerly Wintonbury.
134. Westport, incorporated from Fairfield, Norwalk and Weston, May, 1835; name descriptive. Indian name, "Saugatuck."
135. Chester, parish 1640, named from Chester in Cheshire; incorporated from Saybrook, May, 1836. Indian name, "Pattaquonk."
136. Ledyard, incorporated from Groton, May, 1836; named from Col. Wm. Ledyard, commander at Fort Griswold, Groton, 1781. Formerly North Groton.
137. Clinton, incorporated from Killingworth, May, 1838, and from Gov. Dewitt Clinton of N.Y.
138. East Lyme, named 1816; incorporated from Lyme and Waterford, May, 1839.
139. Westbrook, parish named 1810 as west parish of Saybrook; incorporated from Saybrook, May, 1840. Indian name, "Pochaug."
140. Portland, incorporated from Chatham, May, 1841, and named from Portland, Dorsetshire, famed for quarries. Originally named Conway.
141. Rocky Hill, name given Stepney parish from a hill in it, 1826; incorporated from Wethersfield, May, 1843.
142. Naugatuck, incorporated from Bethany, Oxford and Waterbury, May, 1844; Algonkin name = one tree. Formerly Salem parish or Salem Bridge. Originally South Farms of Waterbury.
143. Easton, incorporated from Weston, May, 1845; named as east part of Weston.
144. South Windsor, incorporated and named from East Windsor, May, 1845. Formerly Windsor Farms.
145. Eastford, named as east parish of Ashford, 1777; incorporated from Ashford, May, 1847.
146. Andover, parish named 1747, perhaps from Andover, Mass.; incorporated from Coventry and Hebron, May, 1848.
147. New Britain, parish named 1754 from (Great) Britain; incorporated from Berlin, May, 1850.
148. Seymour, incorporated from Derby, May, 1850, and named from Gov. Thomas H. Seymour. Indian name, "Naugatuck"; called Rimmon (1670), Chusetown (1735), Humphreysville (1805).
149. Cromwell, incorporated from Middletown, May, 1851, and named from Oliver Cromwell. Formerly Upper Middletown.
150. Essex, parish named 1820; named from Essex, England; incorporated, Sept. 13, 1852, as Old Saybrook; taken from Saybrook; name changed, July 8, 1854 to Essex. Indian name, "Patapoug."
151. Old Saybrook, incorporated from Essex (then Old Saybrook), July 8, 1854, and named at the same time.
152. West Hartford, named 1806; incorporated from Hartford, May, 1854. Formerly West Division.
153. Windsor Locks, named 1833 from canal locks there; incorporated from Windsor, May, 1854. Formerly Enfield Falls.
154. Bethel, named 1759; Hebrew = house of God; incorporated from Danbury, May, 1855.
155. Old Lyme, incorporated as South Lyme, from Lyme, May, 1855; named Old Lyme, 1857.
156. Putnam, incorporated from Pomfret, Thompson and Killingly, May, 1855; named from Israel Putnam. Indian name, "Quinebaug."
157. Bridgewater, named 1803; name descriptive, incorporated from New Milford, May, 1856.
158. Scotland, parish named by first settler, Magoon, a Scot, 1706; set off, 1732; incorporated from Windham, May, 1857.
159. East Granby, named 1822; incorporated from Granby and Windsor Locks, June, 1858.
160. North Canaan, named 1813; incorporated from Canaan (whence its name), May, 1858.
161. Morris, incorporated from Litchfield, June, 1859, and named from James Morris, prominent resident.
162. Sprague, incorporated from Lisbon and Franklin, May, 1861, and named from W. Sprague, village founder.
163. Middlefield, named 1744, from rural part of Middletown; incorporated from Middletown, June, 1866.
164. Plainville, named 1831 = earlier name "Great Plain"; incorporated from Farmington, July, 1869.
165. Beacon Falls, name descriptive, 1856; incorporated from Bethany, Oxford, Naugatuck and Seymour, June, 1871.
166. Newington, parish named 1721, from Newington in Kent or Stoke-N. Middlesex (London), incorporated from Wethersfield, July, 1871.
167. Thomaston, incorporated from Plymouth, July, 1875; named 1866 from Seth Thomas, clock mfr. there.
168. Ansonia, incorporated from Derby, April, 1889; named from Anson G. Phelps, founder of mfg. village, 1843.
169. West Haven, incorporated from Orange, June, 1921; named when made the west parish of New Haven, about 1720.