Winchester is a town located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, eight miles north of Boston. With its agricultural roots having mostly disappeared, it is now an affluent suburb. The population was 21,374 at the 2010 United States Census.
The land on which Winchester now sits was purchased from Native Americans by representatives of the settlement of Charlestown in 1639, and the area was first settled in 1640. In the early years of the settlement, the area was known informally as Waterfield, a reference to its many ponds and to the river which bisected the central village. In its second century, the area was referred to as Black Horse Village, after the busy tavern and hostelry in its center.
Until the middle of the 19th century, Winchester comprised parts of Arlington, Medford, Cambridge, and Woburn. The movement toward incorporation of what, by this time, was called South Woburn was likely precipitated by the rise of the Whig Party in Massachusetts.* The Whigs sought to split a new jurisdiction away from heavily Democratic Woburn and found enough supporters in the burgeoning village to organize a movement toward incorporation. Representatives of the planned new town selected the name Winchester in recognition of Colonel William P. Winchester of nearby Watertown, who pledged $3,000 toward the construction of the first town hall. Upon the signature of then Governor Briggs, the town of Winchester was officially incorporated on April 30, 1850. Unfortunately, Colonel Winchester did not live to visit the town that had honored his family name. He succumbed to typhoid fever within months of its incorporation.