The New Hampshire Grants
Why was Vermont called the New Hampshire Grants? How did the English colonies divide the land?
By the mid 1700s, New England was crowded. Farmers in Connecticut and Massachusetts had used up the good soil. They wanted more land for themselves and their children. They started to move to the land that is now part of Vermont.
Benning Wentworth was the Governor of New Hampshire from 1741 to 1766. He wanted the land west of the Connecticut River to be part of his colony. He granted(officially give areas of land) this land to groups of settlers to start towns. These towns were called the New Hampshire Grants.
In 1749, Wentworth chartered(gave a paper that said who owned the land) the first town which he named Bennington, after himself. Some of the settlers bought land to start new farms. After cutting down trees, they could plant crops like corn on their farms. Other people, like Ethan Allen, wanted to sell their land to make money.
Governor Wentworth started 129 towns. But there was a problem. New York also thought that it owned the land north of Massachusetts and east to the Connecticut River. Both colonies wanted to start towns on the same land.
Thinking About History
Historians ask questions to think deeply about history.
How do you think the Abenaki felt when the New Hampshire governor started dividing up the land?
Imagine you lived 250 years ago. Would you want to take a chance and settle in a new place? Or would you rather stay in Connecticut? Why?
Follow the links below to explore related topics.
Examine Thomas Jeffreys' map showing the New Hampshire Grants
Try the activity Name That Town...
Some towns chartered by Governor Wentworth have celebrated their 250th birthdays! See if your town is on this list. How old is your town?
Examine a 1780 map showing the New Hampshire Grants
Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.
Vermont Historical Society. "The New Hampshire Grants." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed April 14, 2021. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/the-new-hampshire-grants