Taunton, a city and one of the shire towns of Bristol co., Massachusetts, at the head of navigation on Taunton river, 24 m. from Nar-ragansett bay, 17 m. E. of Providence, R. I., and 32 m. S. of Boston; pop. in 1850, 10,441; in 1860, 15,376; in 1870, 18,629, of whom 4,605 were foreigners; in 1875, 20,429. In shape it is an irregular polygon, having an extreme length N. W. and S. E. of 11 m. and an average width of 6 m. The surface is generally level; half of the land is wooded with forests of pine, oak, beech, and cedar, and there are five ponds of considerable size. It is traversed by the Taunton river and two principal branches, the Canoe and Rumford, which furnish power for many mills and factories. Navigation is impeded by ice but a small part of the winter. The city communicates by rail with Boston, Providence, Fall River, Newport, New Bedford, Cape Cod, and various other points, and has a line of street cars. There are several villages within the city limits. The streets of the central village are well laid out, lighted by gas, and adorned by shade trees of various kinds. The " green" is a well shaded public ground. There are many elegant residences, some of great cost, to which are attached gardens and conservatories.
The principal public buildings are the court house, city hall, hotels, school houses, and churches. The state hospital for the insane occupies a conspicuous site, with grounds of more than 140 acres, and accommodates over 400 patients. Taunton has from the beginning been noted for its manufacture of brick and iron, the latter being at present the leading business, and employing a capital of about $2,000,000. There are two locomotive works, two tack and nail factories, several founderies and machine shops, etc. In copper manufacture a capital of about $900,000 is invested. The Taunton copper company, the oldest and largest in the United States, has been incorporated nearly 50 years. Its products are copper, sheet zinc, and yellow metal sheathing. Among other establishments are two manufactories of silver-plated and britannia ware, four of stove linings and fire brick, two of crucibles, five cotton factories, a flannel factory, a carriage factory, etc. There are three national banks, with an aggregate capital of $1,300,000, and two savings banks, with deposits to the amount of $4,500,000. The coasting trade is important.
Taunton and Taunton river are also proverbial for their herring fisheries, the privileges of which are still annually sold, though few of the inhabitants now pursue this branch of industry. Large quantities of shad and alewives are taken from the river in April and May. - The city is governed by a mayor, eight aldermen (one from each ward), and 24 common councilmen. The taxable value of property in 1874 was $18,326,-228; city debt, $275,600. The public schools comprise the following grades : high, 1; grammar, 12; intermediate and primary, 31; ungraded schools, 15. The number of pupils enrolled in 1874 was 3,654; average attendance, 2,522; total expenditure for support of schools, $42,759 58. There are two private schools, an incorporated academy, a public library of 13,000 volumes, and a daily and two weekly newspapers. The principal charitable institutions are the insane asylum, the city almshouse, and a home for aged and infirm women. There are 19 churches, viz. : 2 Baptist, 3 Congregational, 2 Episcopal, 1 Free-Will Baptist, 4 • Methodist, 2 Roman Catholic, 3 Unitarian, 1 Universalist, and 1 Union. - Taunton, of which the Indian name was Cohannet, was settled in 1638 by a company from Taunton in England, from whom a largo proportion of the present natives of the town are descended.
It became a city in 1864. One of the chief promoters of its settlement was Miss Elizabeth • Pool, to whom a monument has been erected in the cemetery. In King Philip's war the town was protected from harm by tho king's friendship for Thomas Leonard. Here was Philip's favorite hunting ground.
Taunton, a town of Somersetshire, England, on the Tone, 133 m. W. S. W. of London; pop. in 1871, 15,466. It has an old castle, several places of worship, including the church of St. Mary Magdalen with a fine renovated tower, and various charitable and educational institutions. Among the latter is a college established in 1868 by the Congrega-tionalists at Fairwater, outside of the town. The wool manufactories established in the 14th ■century have long since declined, and gloves are now the staple industry. In 1645 it was held by Blake for the parliament, and sustained a protracted siege by 10,000 royalists.