Bristol, the shire-township of Bristol county, Rhode Island, U.S.A., about 15 m. S.S.E. of Providence, between Narragansett Bay on the W. and Mount Hope Bay on the E., thus being a peninsula. Pop. (1900) 6901, of whom 1923 were foreign-born; (1905; state census) 7512; (1910) 8565; area 12 sq. m. It is served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford, and the Rhode Island Suburban railways, and is connected with the island of Rhode Island by ferry. Mount Hope (216 ft.), on the eastern side, commands delightful views of landscape, bay and river scenery. Elsewhere in the township the surface is gently undulating and generally well adapted to agriculture, especially to the growing of onions. A small island, Hog Island, is included in the township. The principal village, also known as Bristol, is a port of entry with a capacious and deep harbour, has manufactories of rubber and woollen goods, and is well known as a yacht-building centre, several defenders of the America's Cup, including the "Columbia" and the "Reliance," having been built in the Herreshoff yards here.
At the close of King Philip's War in 1676, Mount Hope Neck (which had been the seat of the vanquished sachem), with most of what is now the township of Bristol, was awarded to Plymouth Colony. In 1680, immediately after Plymouth had conveyed the "Neck" to a company of four, the village was laid out; the following year, in anticipation of future commercial importance, the township and the village were named Bristol, from the town in England. The township became the shire-township in 1685, passed under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts in 1692, and in 1747 was annexed to Rhode Island. During the War of Independence the village was bombarded by the British on the 7th of October 1775, but suffered little damage; on the 25th of May 1778 it was visited and partially destroyed by a British force.