Taunton (Tahn-ton), a pleasant, well-built town of Somersetshire, in the fair and fertile valley of the Tone (' Taunton Deane') 45 miles SW. of Bristol. Here about 710 Ine, the West Saxon king, built a fortress, which, passing with the manor to the bishops of Winchester, was rebuilt by Bishop William in the first quarter of the 12th century. Added to in the 13th and 15th centuries, this castle received Perkin Warbeck (1497), and was held by Blake during his famous defence of the town (1644-45). In its great hall, fitted up now as a museum, Judge Jeffreys opened the 'Bloody Assize,' hanging 134 and transporting 400 of the inhabitants of Taunton and the neighbourhood who had accorded Monmouth an enthusiastic welcome (1685); and here too Sydney Smith made his ' Mrs Partington' speech (1831). The church of St Mary Magdalene has a noble Perpendicular tower 153 feet high (c. 1500; rebuilt 1858-62); and other buildings are the Elizabethan shire-hall (1858), the municipal buildings (formerly the grammar-school founded by Bishop Fox in 1522), King's College school (1880), Independent college (1847-70), Wesleyan Institution (1843), Huish schools (1874), Bishop Fox's girls' school, hospital (1809-73), barracks, etc. Once a great ' clothier town,' Taunton now has shirt, collar, glove, and silk manufactures, with a large agricultural trade. It was thrice chartered (1627, 1677, 1877) as a municipal borough, and lost one of its two members in 1885. Pop. (1851) 14,176; (1901) 21,078. See works by Toulmin (2d ed. 1822), Cottle (1845), Macmullen (1860-62), Jeboult (1873), and Pring (1880).


Taunton, capital of Bristol county, Massachusetts, at the head of navigation on Taunton River, 34 miles by rail S. of Boston. It contains a fine park, court-house, city hall, state lunatic asylum, and numerous foundries and cotton-mills, locomotive and copper works, shipyards, and manufactories of bricks, nails, jewellery, etc. Taunton was settled from Taunton in England in 1637 Pop. (1880) 21,213; (1900) 31,036.