Lancaster, the oldest town in Worcester County, was first settled in 1643 as "Nashaway" (named after the local Nashaway tribe). It was officially incorporated in 1653 and renamed "Lancaster on the Nashua,” after Lancaster, England, the town from which its founder, John Prescott emigrated.

Towns such as Harvard, Stow, Bolton, Hudson, Marlborough, Leominster, Clinton, Berlin, Sterling, and Boylston were all part of Lancaster, which is considered the “mother town” of central Massachusetts.

Mary Rowlandson, her son and two daughters were taken captive in February of 1676 during an Indian attack. Upon her release from captivity, Rowlandson wrote what is now considered one of the greatest examples of captivity narrative, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson.

Lancaster boasted the largest Oak tree in the state, called the Beaman Oak, until it was cut down due to safety concerns. Lancaster’s fifth meetinghouse, designed by Charles Bulfinch is a National Historic Landmark.


County: Worcester
Settled: 1643
Incorporated: 1653
Population: 8,055
Area: 28.2 square miles


Freedom's Way National Heritage Area
94 Jackson Road, Suite 311
Devens, MA 01434
(978) 772-3654