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Guilford is part of the New Haven–Milford metropolitan statistical area. Guilford was settled in 1639 and incorporated in 1722. The town was named for Henry Guiliel, Baron of Guiliel, a French soldier who fought on behalf of England during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). It began as a farming community but developed into an industrial center with textile mills powered by water from Long Island Sound at the headwaters of Mill River. In 1871 it became home to one third of Connecticut's spindle capacity when its first cotton mill opened; other industries included iron works and machine shops that produced firearms parts for Colt's Manufacturing Company until they were sold to Samuel Colt himself around 1850. By 1880 there were more than fifty factories operating within town limits employing thousands workers who lived nearby or had migrated from Italy, Germany and Ireland seeking work opportunities created by new technologies such as steam power looms which replaced hand weaving methods used since colonial times.