Town of Dartmouth History and Resources
The Town of Dartmouth is unusual in exemplifying from its earliest history the tension between the established Calvinist Puritan religion and those who wished to worship in their own way.  In 1652, Massasoit, Chief Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, sold the land covering Dartmouth and four other present towns, to elders of the Plymouth Colony, including Miles Standish, John Alden, and Governor William Bradford. These early real estate speculators then sold the land off in smaller parcels, primarily to religious dissidents, Quakers and Baptists, who were seeking refuge on what was then the frontier from the religious persecutions being launched both by the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Bay Colonies. The town, named after an English port, was incorporated in 1664 but refused consistently to pay the "minister's tax" which was levied on all communities to support Puritan clergy. 

The community grew quickly, attracting many who disagreed with the establishment and many more who sought work in agriculture, salt making or fishing, including a significant number of Portuguese immigrants. Dartmouth has remained through most of its history a rural agricultural community but began adopting a summer residential and resort character in the 19th century as wealthy and near-wealthy city dwellers from New Bedford built and purchased vacation homes. 
 Narrative based on information provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
Dartmouth from the History of Bristol County Federal Census, 1800, Dartmouth
Dartmouth Official Site Federal Census, 1850 Dartmouth
Dartmouth Pictures Federal Census, 1860, Dartmouth
  From Old Dartmouth to Modern New Bedford
Dartmouth Public Libraries Historic Maps Covering Dartmouth
Federal Census, 1790, Dartmouth History of Dartmouth