History of Bristol County

Bristol County, southeastern Massachusetts, U.S., is bordered to the south by Buzzards Bay and to the west by Rhode Island. It consists of a rolling coastal lowland and includes a few islands in the bay. Bristol was created from Plymouth colony in June 1685 and named for Bristol, England. The county seat is the city of Taunton. Other cities are Attleboro, known for jewelry making; Fall River, known for producing textiles; and New Bedford, which has long been a prominent fishing port. Wheaton College was founded in Norton in 1834. The county's early industries of whaling and shipbuilding gave way to cotton milling in the mid-19th century. Textiles continue to be a prominent industry along with electronic components, jewelry, and primary metal industries. The southern coast supports resort communities. A large number of county residents are of Portuguese ancestry. Area 556 square miles (1,440 square km). Pop. (1990) 506,325; (1996 est.) 513,899.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


The History of Bristol County, Massachusetts, (Hurd ) states:

  • Bristol County was made a county in 1686 from Plymouth County.
  • Bristol County included until 1747
    Bristol County RI:
    1681 Bristol (Mount Hope 1679)
    1717 Barrington
    1747 Warren, plus until 1747, these two Newport county Rhode Island towns:
    1694 Tiverton from Dartmouth and Freetown Mass.
    1682 Little Compton.
    Included till 1860 Pawtucket Mass. now Pawtucket RI

    1639 Taunton (Cohannet) seal. 
    1712 Dighton seal
    1785 Swansea (Wannamoisett 1667) seal. 
    1790 Somerset seal
    1731 Raynham (was part of Taunton) seal. 
    1735 Berkley seal

  • Taunton North Purchase
    1711 Norton (was North Precinct of Taunton) seal.
    1725 Easton (from part of Norton) seal.
    1775 Mansfield precinct 1731, district 1770 (was part of Norton), seal.
  • 1645 Rehoboth seal.
    1812 Seekonk (was part of Rehoboth) seal.

  • Rehoboth North Purchase 1666
    1694 Attleboro
    1887 North Attleborough
    1747 Cumberland Providence County RI (was Attleborough Gore)
  • 1664 Dartmouth seal.
    1787 Westport seal.
    1787 New Bedford (from part of Dartmouth)  seal.
    1683 Freetown seal.
    1803 Fall River (from part of Freetown)  seal.
    1812 Fairhaven seal.
    1860 Acushnet seal.
    1694 Tiverton from Dartmouth and Freetown MA),
    1682 Little Compton

History of Bristol County Massachusetts with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men History of Weymouth
History of Bristol County Old Colony Historical Society