The first settlement in New Hampshire was the result of a 6,000-acre land grant to David Thomson in 1622. Thomson and a small group of settlers arrived aboard the Jonathan on April 16, 1623, and began a settlement at Odiorne’s Point. Although some of the colonists remained, Thomson abandoned the colony and his claim to it. In 1629, the Crown granted the same land to Captain John Mason, who named his holdings New Hampshire, after his home county in England.
The exact territory encompassed by Mason’s grant was indistinct owing to multiple grants of the same territory in a short period of time. In addition to Mason’s grant, the Crown awarded Mason and Ferdinando Gorges the lands called Laconia, which bordered New Hampshire on the north and west. A third grant, the Squamscott Patent, went to Edward Hilton, one of the original settlers who arrived with Thomson. Yet another grant given to Mason, Gorges, and several others, the Pascataway Patent, encompassed much of the same territory.
In 1691, Samuel Allen purchased Mason’s original land grant, but Allen failed to obtain approval from the settlers, and the Privy Council voided the transaction in 1739. In 1746, John Tufton Mason, the legal heir, sold all claims to New Hampshire to a group of twelve Portsmouth citizens, finally settling the disputes over who owned the patent.
Most of New Hampshire’s population resided in one of four towns in the colony until the middle of the seventeenth century. Originally settled in 1623, Portsmouth was incorporated as a town in 1631 and served as the government center for the colony. Dover, the original 1623 location, was established by Thomson. Exeter was begun by Massachusetts exile John Wheelwright in 1638, and Hampton was founded by the Bay Colony under the guidance of Reverend Stephen Bachiler.