First settled in 1676 and Incorporated on June 29, 1732, Townsend was named for Viscount Charles Townshend, a British cabinet minister. Its earliest structures included a Meeting House built about 1730 on top of Meeting House Hill and a mill built in 1733 in "Townsend Harbor." The Meeting House was later moved to the center of Town where it is now the Methodist Church. Recently renovated, care was taken to preserve the slave pews. By 1744, Townsend voted to raise and appropriate 20 pounds to support three public schools.
Seventy-three men from Townsend marched to Concord to join the other towns in fighting the British. Gone twenty-one days, they returned to confiscate and sell several Tory properties within the town.
Beginning in 1806, Boston and Keene New Hampshire stagecoaches passed through town and for many years coopering (the making of wooden casks or barrels), run by three generations of the Fessenden Family, was Townsend’s largest business.