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Winchester is a small suburban town located 8.2 miles north of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, United States in Middlesex County. It is the 7th wealthiest municipality in Massachusetts and functions largely as a bedroom community for professionals who work in the greater Boston area. 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 by Europeans 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, parts of Arlington, Medford, Cambridge, and Woburn comprised what is now Winchester. 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 (History of Winchester, Massachusetts by H. S. Chapman and Bruce W. Stone, 1936, 1975).
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.
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