Dartmouth was first settled in 1650 and officially incorporated in 1664. It was named for the town of Dartmouth, Devon, England, from where the Puritans originally intended to depart for America. The land was purchased, with traded goods, from the Wampanoag chiefs Massasoit and Wamsutta by elders of the Plymouth Colony; reportedly thirty yards of cloth, eight moose skins, fifteen axes, fifteen hoes, fifteen pairs of shoes, one iron pot, and ten shillings’ worth of assorted goods.*

It was sold to the Religious Society of Friends of Quakers, who wished to live outside the stringent religious laws of the Puritans in Plymouth. There are still Quaker meeting houses in town, including the Smith Neck Meeting House, the Allen’s Neck Meeting House, and the Apponegansett Meeting House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town’s borders were originally named in the charter (and set by King Philip) as the lands of “Acushnea, Ponagansett (disambiguation needed), and Coaksett.” This includes the land of the towns of Westport, Fairhaven, and Acushnet, and the city of New Bedford. In 1789, the towns of Westport and New Bedford, which included Fairhaven and Acushnet, separated and were incorporated as towns themselves.*

*Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower. Penguin, 2006. p.171. ISBN 978 0 14 31197 9
*Zin, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. Perennial, 2003. p.89. ISBN 0 06 052837 0