While giving tours and talking town history we at the Historical Society frequently hear the question “When was our town established? The bronze tablet pictured here identifies the five birthdays, or founding dates, for our town.
Dunstable, Mass was founded in 1673. Most of the land contained within the present boundaries of Hudson was included within that town, with the exception of about 4,600 acres in the northeast part of Hudson which was then a part of Londonderry. The geography of Dunstable included land on both sides of the river including all or parts of some 14 towns in present day Mass and NH. In the early days of Dunstable land had been granted on the east side of the river but no real settlements occurred until about 1710. We remained a part of Dunstable, Mass until 1733.
As the number of settlers on this side of the river increased they petitioned Mass to be set off as a separate town. This petition was answered on January 4, 1733 when the charter for Nottingham, Mass was granted This town included all Dunstable lands on the east side of the river. The General Court ordered that a Town Meeting be held within 3 months and a minister be settled within 3 years. After survey and much debate the center of the town of Nottingham, Mass was agreed upon and a meeting house built on what is now Musquash Road. The town of Nottingham, Mass remained as such for only 9 years, until 1741.
The ancient boundary between the provinces of NH and Mass was based upon the Merrimack River and the misconception that the river flowed from west to east; with no idea of the abrupt bend northward the river made near Chelmsford. This resulted in some dual grants by the rival provinces of NH and Mass and a boundary dispute which was not settled until 1741. At that time the line was established to run 3 miles north of the Merrimack River from the ocean until reaching a specific point north of Pawtuckett Falls; after that the line ran due west to the Connecticut River. All land south of this line was in Mass. Land to the north was in Nottingham,NH; called by many historians as the District of Nottingham as towns had not yet been incorporated under the laws of The State of NH.
During the time after 1741 a number of smaller New Hampshire towns were spun off from Nottingham and were incorporated within NH. One of these, Nottingham West was incorporated in 1746 and a charter issued July 5, 1746. Nottingham West contained most of the lands of the present town of Hudson, except for those acres in Londonderry and minor adjustments to the boundaries with Windham and Pelham.
We remained as Nottingham West until 1830. At the annual town meeting of 1830 the voters of Nottingham West adopted an article to petition the General Court of NH to alter the name to Auburn or to designate some other name. The name was changed to Hudson July 1, 1830.
Our town has 5 founding dates or birthdays. In 1672 we were established as Dunstable, MA; 1733 as Nottingham, MASS; 1741 as Nottingham, NH; 1740 as Nottingham West, NH; and in 1830 as Hudson, NH. This confuses our celebrations! In 1933 we celebrated the 200th birthday of incorporation of Nottingham, Mass; in 1972, some 39 years later, we celebrated the 300 birthday of the founding of Dunstable! To my knowledge there was never a centennial or bi-centennial celebration for Nottingham West and no centennial celebration for changing name to Hudson in 1830. So, when will our next celebration be? perhaps in the year 2022, some six years from now, when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of Nottingham West?
This tablet is located within the School Administration Building, aka Kimball Webster School, and was donated to the Town by the students of Webster School as part of our 1933 bi-centennial celebration. Photo taken for publication of Town in Transition and is part of the Historical Society collection.