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Needham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. A suburb of Boston, its population was 31,248 at the 2018 census. It is home to the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.
Needham was first settled in 1680 with the purchase of a tract of land measuring 4 miles (6.4 km) by 5 miles (8.0 km) from Chief Nehoiden for the sum of 10 pounds, 40 acres (160,000 m2) of land, and 40 shillings worth of corn. It was officially incorporated in 1711. Originally part of the Dedham Grant, Needham split from Dedham and was named after the town of Needham Market in Suffolk, England.
In 1710, 40 residents of what was then known as the "North part of" Dedham suddenly petitioned the Great and General Court for permission to break away and form a separate community. They cited the usual concerns about being far from the church and distant from town government, but also, to preempt any objections, also listed "reasons why we desire to be a township rather than a precinct." Dedham officials asked for a delay of one year. In 1711, when the General Court took up the matter, they agreed to let that part of town break away but asked for a different boundary line that would have greatly reduced the amount of land the separatists were seeking. The General Court rejected this and granted autonomy with the border originally proposed.
By the 1770s settlers in the western part of the town who had to travel a long distance to the meeting house on what is now Central Avenue sought to form a second parish in the town.