Hillsborough County New Hampshire - History & Genealogy

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History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire

Hillsborough County was organized on May 6, 1771 and named in honor of Wills Hill, the Earl of Hillsborough. Today, the county has the largest population in the state with 346,160 residents, nearly one-third of whom live in the city of Manchester.

For many years prior to 1740, the boundary lines of the province of New Hampshire were in dispute. Massachusetts claimed that the division boundary between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was defined by a line drawn from a point on the Atlantic coast 3 miles north of the mouth of the Merrimack River, and running on the northerly and easterly side of the river, at a distance of 3 miles from it, to a point 3 miles beyond the parallel of the junction of the Winnipiseogee and the Pemigewasset; thence due west to the Connecticut. This included all the territory included in the present-day limits of Hillsborough County, with the exceptions of the town of Pelham and a portion of the town of Hudson which was more than 3 miles from the Merrimack River. It also included the whole of Cheshire County and the larger part of the present-day Merrimack and Sullivan Counties.

New Hampshire claimed for her southern boundary a line due west from the same point on the ocean. By this claim the towns of Pelham, Hudson, Litchfield, Nashua, Merrimack, Hollis, Amherst and other towns lying within about 14 miles of latitude were conceded to be within Massachusetts.

The ancient town of Dunstable, which contained more than two hundred square miles, and included all of the towns named above and portions of other towns within the present limits of New Hampshire, made a part of the county of Middlesex, in Massachusets, and had not, before 1740, been regarded by any party as in part the territory of the province of New Hampshire.

The boundary between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was finally determined, in 1741, by the King himself who ended the controversy in favor of New Hampshire, and fixed the present boundary, granting a much larger territory to New Hampshire than had been claimed earlier. Upon the settlement of the question, the towns which had had a corporate existence under Massachusetts were rechartered by the province of New Hampshire, and new towns were formed from those portions of existing towns cut off from Massachusetts.

In 1771, New Hampshire was divided into five counties. Hillsborough County was formed at that time as one of the original counties.

By 1823, there were 42 townships within Hillsborough County. Several of the northern townships were set off to the newly formed Merrimack County the same year. The townships which became part of Merrimack County were: Andover, Boscawen, Bradford, Dunbarton, Fishersfield, Henniker, Hooksett, Hopkinton, New London, Salisbury, Sutton, and Warner.

During the 1800s, Manchester was known as the textile capital of the United States. The Amoskeag Mills at Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimack River employed 17,000 people and produced four million yards of cloth per week at its peak.

Nashua, the second largest city in the county and also the state, was the first inland town to be settled in New Hampshire.

Peterborough was the inspiration for and the site of the first performance of the play, Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. The town of Hillsborough was the birthplace of our 14th president, Franklin Pierce. The county also boasts several playhouses and theaters, among them, the Palace Theater in Manchester, and Andy's Summer Playhouse in Wilton, and Stage One Productions in Manchester.

Dominant industries include manufacture and retail trade. Hillsborough County is the leading source of meals and rooms tax revenues for the state. Colleges in the county include the University of New Hampshire at Manchester and Nashua;Daniel Webster College and Rivier College in Nashua; Southern NH University (formerly New Hampshire College), Notre Dame College [closed, archives] and Springfield College in Manchester; and Saint Anselm College in Goffstown. Parks, such as Greenfield, Miller, Fox [State Forest] and Silver Lake State Parks and Beaver Brook and Shieling Forest offer outdoor recreation while the Currier Museum of Art and the NH Institute of Art  (formerly Institute of Arts and Sciences) in Manchester and the Nashua Arts and Science Center provide cultural opportunities. The county agricultural fair at the 4H Youth Center in New Boston, always held on the weekend following Labor Day, and Manchester's Riverfest on the Merrimack River in the millyard are annual celebrations of rural and urban county life.[Hesser College, later renamed Mt. Washington College is closing in 2016 and has been removed from this list].

Communties in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire include the following:
Amherst, Antrim, Bedford, Bennington, Brookline, Deering, Francestown, Goffstown, Greenfield, Greenville, Hancock, Hillsborough, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield, Lyndeborough, Manchester, Mason, Merrimack, Milford, Mont Vernon, Nashua, New Boston, New Ipswich, Pelham, Peterborough, Sharon, Temple, Weare, Wilton, and Windsor. [See Town List for more information regarding individual towns].

VISIT NH Genealogy & History web site


Hawthorne's History of the United States - Ebook at Openlibrary.org

- New Hampshire Almanac (scroll down)
- New Hampshire History - from America's Story
- Brief History of Every NH Town
- Historical sketch of the Hillsborough County congresses, held at Amherst, (N.H.) 1774 & 1775: with other revolutionary records: - Boylston, Edward Dudley, 1814- comp

Compiled records showing service of military units in volunteer Union organizations (Volume Reel 0103 - Compiled records showing service of military units in volunteer Union organizations - NEW HAMPSHIRE ninth Infantry through Eighteenth Infantry Capt. Chandler's National Guards, State Militia (60 Days, 186U) Capt. Haughton's Martin Guards, State Militia (90 Days, 1864) Capt. Littlefield's Co., Strafford Guards, Militia (60 Days, 1864)) - United States. National Archives and Records Service - Internet Archive


- History of Hillsborough County NH, by D. Hamilton Hurd, 1885 [Online Book, Openlibrary.org]

- Pine Tree Riot of 1772 - WEARE NH
- History of the Hillsborough County NH SHERIFFS
- Hillsborough County record: a glimpse of the business and resources fo thirty-one towns - Dodge, Richards; 1853

- Online Book: Biographical review, containing life sketches of leading citizens of Cheshire and Hillsboro counties, New Hampshire, 1897
- History of the Hillsborough County Poor Farm [aka Alms House]
   - History of Hillsborough County Poor Farm - From "History of Wilton," taken from History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1885 - TXT file (this site)
  - New Hampshire Poorhouse History & photographs (from "Poorhouse History" web site)

- - Manchester Historic Association - Millyard Museum

[NOTE: ALSO See photographs on Goffstown's Photograph Page to see old photographs of the Hillsborough County Farm and Jail]

Note: Some of these PDF files are very large. Consider saving the file to your own computer prior to opening. [Right mouse button click link, File >Save As]


- Prisoners at the Hillsborough County Jail, April 1891-May 1892 (Grasmere/Goffstown NH) Includes Name/Age/Nationality/Where From/Length of Stay - (PDF file, this site)
- Prisoners at the Hillsborough County Jail, 1919 (Grasmere/Goffstown NH) Includes Name, Age, Date Admitted, Died/Discharged/or Remaining at Farm, Where From, Crime, Board (time spent here in weeks and days). (PDF file, this site)

Deaths at the Hillsborough County Farm for April 1891 to October 1892 (Grasmere/Goffstown NH) Information includes Date of Death, Name, Age, Cause (PDF file, this site)
- Deaths at the Hillsborough County Farm for years 1907, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914 and 1919; (Grasmere/Goffstown NH); Information includes Date of Death, Name, Age, Cause (Disease). (PDF file, this site)


- Births at the Hillsborough County Farm (Grasmere/Goffstown NH) Years: 1907, 1909, 1910, 1912, 1914 and 1919. Information includes: Date of birth, parents names and ages, sex, number of children. (PDF file, this site)

-Paupers at the Hillsborough County Farm, April 1891-October 1892 (Grasmere/Goffstown NH). Includes same information as shown below). - this is a large PDF file, 2.9 MB
- Paupers at the Hillsborough County Farm, 1919 (Grasmere/Goffstown NH); Includes name, age, date admitted, died/discharged/remaining at the farm, Where From; Board (how long did they stay in weeks and days). NOTE: This is an 8.5 mb, a large file; you may want to save it to your computer first, and open it from there. (PDF file, this site)

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