Wilmington was first settled in 1665 and was officially incorporated in 1730, from parts of Woburn, Reading and Billerica. Minutemen from Wilmington responded to the alarm on April 19, 1775 and fought at Merriam's Corner in Concord. Wilmington men also fought at Bunker Hill.
The Middlesex Canal passed through Wilmington. Chartered in 1792, opened in 1803, it provided freight and passenger transport between the Merrimack River and Boston. One important cargo on the canal was hops. From the middle of the 18th century until the early 19th century, Massachusetts was the acknowledged leader in hop production in North America. Middlesex County in particular was famous for its hop yards, and Wilmington was the first place where the culture grew to a fever pitch.