Map of Colonial Boston
Established: 1630
Established by: England

Several prehistoric Native American archaeological sites that were excavated in the city have shown that the peninsula was inhabited as early as 5,000 BC.  Boston's early European settlers first called the area Trimountaine, but later renamed the town after Boston, Lincolnshire, England, from which several prominent colonists had emigrated.

Boston was founded on September 17, 1630, by Puritan colonists from England.  The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony are sometimes confused with the Pilgrims, who founded Plymouth Colony ten years earlier in what is today Bristol County, Plymouth County, and Barnstable County, Massachusetts.  The two groups, which differed in religious practice, are historically distinct.  The separate colonies were not united until the formation of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691.

Massachusetts Bay Colony's original governor, John Winthrop, gave a famous sermon entitled "A Model of Christian Charity," popularly known as the "City on a Hill" sermon, which captured the idea that Boston had a special covenant with God.  (Winthrop also led the signing of the Cambridge Agreement, which is regarded as a key founding document of the city.)

Puritan ethics molded a stable and well-structured society in Boston. For example, shortly after Boston's settlement, Puritans founded America's first public school, Boston Latin School (1635) and America's first college, Harvard College (1636). Boston was the largest town in British North America until the mid-1700s.

In the 1770s, British attempts to exert more-stringent control on the Thirteen Colonies prompted Bostonians to initiate the American Revolution.  The Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, and several early battles—including the Battle of Lexington and Concord, Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston—occurred in or near the city. During this period, Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride.