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The town of Peterborough is in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire. The land upon which the town is situated was granted by Massachusetts in 1737, and it was first settled in 1749. As is the case with most other settlements in the region, the settlement was attacked several times during the French and Indian War. Even so, by the year 1759, fifty families settled there. It was incorporated by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth and named in honor of Lieutenant Peter Prescott, a well-known land speculator from Concord, Massachusetts. The town's first meeting house was built in 1753, and for the first seven or eight years had nothing more to sit on than rough boards laid loosely laid over square blocks of wood. The Contocook River, upon whose banks Peterborough sits, was a natural fit for watermills, leading Peterborough to become a bustling mill town. In 1810, the first cotton factory was built here, and four more followed. Eventually, Peterborough was home to three gristmills, seven sawmills, two paper mills, an iron foundry, a basket manufacturer, a carriage factory, a boot and shoe factory, a company which made trusses and supporters, and a machine shop. Unitarian preacher Reverend Abiel Abbot, who refused to condemn unorthodox opinions, preaching instead a message of tolerance, was accused with heresy by ten New England clergymen with heresy. He was stripped of his ministry in Coventry, Connecticut and, having been invited by the citizens of Peterborough, moved there and preached in the newly-built Bulfinch-style church. He was in his 60s when he arrived, and a short while later, he established the first tax-funded free library.

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