First known as Gilmantown, the town was home to the Gilman family, of
which there were twenty-four members receiving land grants. At one time
it was the second-largest town in the state, following
Portsmouth. The original town was larger than it is now, with villages
and parishes including Belmont, Gunstock Parish, Hurricane, Tioga,
Factory Village, and Lakeport. Original boundaries of the town
were Alton, Barnstead, Loudon, Canterbury, Northfield, Winnipesaukee
River and Winnisquam Bay. A parish first called Averytown, the site
of an unprofitable iron-mining enterprise, is still known as Gilmanton Iron Works.
Gilmanton was incorporated in 1727 and the Charter was signed on the 20th
of May by his Majesty's Colonial Governor, John Wentworth. The conditions
of the new charter were: proprietors must build seventy dwelling houses and
house a family in each within three years of the charter. They also needed
to clear three acres of land for a planting and a meetinghouse must be built
for religious worship within four years. They also needed to build a house
for a minister and build a school. If anyone defaulted they would lose their
share of the land.
The town was not settled until 1761 because of the fear of the Indians along
with a land dispute with John Tuffon Mason who owned much of the land in New
Hampshire. Among the first to live year-round in Gilmanton were the Mudgett
brothers, John and Benjamin in 1761. In 1762 more families arrived by 1767
there were forty-five families living in town.
Currently, Gilmanton remains a quaint and quiet town.
It is much smaller in land size and its town boundaries are now Alton,
Barnstead, Belmont, Canterbury, Loudon, and Pittsfield. The town is still
predominantly rural and it has two village areas, the Corners and the Iron
Works each with its own post office and small grocery store.