Taunton was founded in 1637 by Elizabeth Pole, and officially incorporated as a town on September 3, 1639. Most of the town's settlers were originally from Taunton, Somerset, England, which led early settlers to name the settlement after that town. At the time of Taunton's incorporation, they explained their choice of name as being, in honor and love to our dear native country... and owning it a great mercy of God to bring us to this place, and settling of us, on lands of our own bought with our money in peace, in the midst of the heathen, for a possession for ourselves and for our posterity after us. Prior to 1640, the Taunton area was called Cohannet.
The English founders of Taunton took possession of the land from the native Wampanoags. The Taunton area was the site of battles (on its soil or the surrounding area) during various conflicts, including King Philip's War and the American Revolution. Taunton was re-incorporated as a city on May 11, 1864.