Barnstable. I. A S. E. county of Massachusetts, consisting of the peninsula of Cape Cod and several small islands, joining Plymouth county on the N.W., bounded E. and S. by the Atlantic ocean, and S. W. by Buzzard's bay, and including Cape Cod bay; area, 290 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 32,774. The surface is generally low and level, and there are numerous clear sandy-bottomed ponds without outlet. The soil is light, and the lower portion of the cape sandy, and in great part covered with beach grass. Cranberries are extensively cultivated in the swamp lands. The forests are chiefly of pine. Seafaring is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. The county communicates with Boston and other cities by the Cape Cod railway and its branches. It has 4 or 5 banks, 5 weekly newspapers, 184 public schools, 2 woollen mills, 2 glass works, 3 tanneries, 1 saw mill, etc. In 1865 there were 28 vessels engaged in the whale fishery, 314 in the mackerel and cod fishery, and 313 in the coastwise or carrying trade. In 1870 the county produced 2,648 bushels of rye, 12,069 of corn, 4,019 of oats, 2,065 of barley, 11,246 of potatoes, and 3,872 tons of hay. II, A town, port of entry, and capital of the preceding county, situated on the S. side of Barnstable bay, on the Cape Cod railroad, 65 m.
S. E. of Boston; pop. in 1870, 4,793. It has a bank, a savings institution, an insurance company, a weekly newspaper, and several churches and good schools. The inhabitants are mostly employed in fisheries or in coasting.