Exeter is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 14,306 at the 2010 census and an estimated 15,317 in 2018. Exeter was the county seat until 1997, when county offices were moved to neighboring Brentwood. Home to the Phillips Exeter Academy, a private university-preparatory school, Exeter is situated where the Exeter River feeds the tidal Squamscott River. The urban portion of the town, where 9,242 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the Exeter census-designated place. Exeter is named after the historic city in Devon, England.
The area was once the domain of the Squamscott people, a sub-tribe of the Pennacook nation, which fished at the falls where the Exeter River becomes the tidal Squamscott, the site around which the future town of Exeter would grow. On April 3, 1638, the Reverend John Wheelwright and others purchased the land from Wehanownowit, the sagamore. Wheelwright had been exiled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, a Puritan theocracy, for sharing the dissident religious views of his sister-in-law, Anne Hutchinson. The minister took with him about 175 individuals to found the town he named after Exeter in Devon, England. Local government was linked with Massachusetts until New Hampshire became a separate colony in 1679, but counties weren’t introduced until 1769. One of the four original townships in the province, Exeter originally included Newmarket, Newfields, Brentwood, Epping and Fremont.
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