The Town of Stonington is located in New London County, Connecticut, in the state's southeastern corner. It includes the borough of Stonington, the villages of Pawcatuck, Lords Point, Wequetequock, the eastern halves of the villages of Mystic and Old Mystic (the other halves being in the town of Groton). The population of the town was 17,906 at the 2000 census.
The first European colonists established a trading house in the Pawcatuck section of town in 1649. The present territory of Stonington was part of lands that had belonged to the Pequots who referred to the areas making up Stonington as "Pawcatuck" (Stony Brook to Pawcatuck River) and "Mistack" (Mystic River to Stony Brook). It was named "Souther Towne" or Southerton, by Massachusetts in 1658, and officially became part of Connecticut in 1662 when Connecticut received its royal charter. Southerton was renamed as Mistick in 1665:26 and again renamed as Stonington in 1666.:36 Thomas Miner, Walter Palmer, William Chesebrough and Thomas Stanton were the founders. The town of North Stonington was set off as a parish from Stonington in 1724 and incorporated as a town in 1807.
Stonington first gained wealth in the 1790s when its harbor was home to a fleet engaged in the profitable sealing trade in which the skins of seals clubbed on islands off the Chilean and Patagonian coasts were sold as fur in China.