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The town was granted in 1735 by Colonial Governor Jonathan Belcher to John Goffe and 61 others. It was named for John Hancock, then governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. Settled in 1736, it originally included land that is now part of Greenfield and Washington. The first settlers were from Connecticut; they built a sawmill on the Contoocook River near its confluence with Little River (now known as Mill Brook). In 1803, parts of Hancock were joined with parts taken from Marlborough to form a new town called Hopkinton; this took away most of what had been considered "the old village" at the junction where routes 123/137 meet today. According to the United States Census Bureau, Hancock has a total area of , all land except for some marshland along Little River upstream from its mouth at Contoocook Lake (which flows into New Boston).