FITZWILLIAM, one of the southern tier of townships in the county, lies in lat. 42° 45 and long. 4° 54′, bounded north by Troy and Jaffrey, east by Jaffrey and Rindge, south by the state line, and west by Richmond. The town was originally granted by the Masonion proprietors, as Monadnock No. 4, January 15, 1752, to Roland Cotton and forty-one others. These grantees, however, failed to comply with the requirements of the charter and thus forfeited their right to the territory, and it was subsequently, early in 1765, rE.granted to Samson Stoddard and twenty-three associates. On May 19, 1773, upon petition of the inhabitants, a New Hampshire charter was obtained of Governor Wentworth, and the town was incorporated under its present name, given in honor of the Earl of Fitzwilliam. In the charter deed, which contained the usual restrictions and reservations of those documents, the township was bounded as follows:
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“Beginning at the west line of Mason’s patent, by the north line of Massachusetts six miles; east by South Monadnock [now Rindge] five miles; thence north 80′ west one and one quarter miles to the southwest corner of Middle Monadnock; thence north by the needle two miles and forty rods; thence :north 8g° west to the patent west line as lately marked; and from thence south by that line to the place of beginning.”
These bounds enclosed an area of about 26,900 acres. The charter also appointed James Reed, Esq., to call the first town meeting, within thirty days from the date thereof. June 15, 1815, the town was divided and 4,200 acres set off towards forming the township of Troy, as detailed in the sketch of that town.
The surface of the town is broken and uneven, its lakelets, streams, hills. and valleys blending with exquisite harmony, in a landscape whose beauty is famous, and which attracts many visitors each season. Of the streams, Camp and Priest brooks, flowing a southerly course, are the largest. Among the lakelets or ponds are Rockwood and Scotts, in the northern part, and South, Meadow and Sip ponds in the southern part. Among the elevations which lend a picturesqueness to the landscape and afford delightful views, are the Pinnacle, in the central part of the town, from which may be obtained a delightful prospect, and Gap Mountain, or Little Monadnock, lying partly in Troy, which, at a distance, appears to be a part of Monadnock. Granite of a fine quality is abundant and is extensively quarried. The soil, though rocky, is generally suitable for grazing and tillage, while there is a considerable quantity of very arable and highly productive meadow land. The original growth of timber on the uplands is maple, beech, birch, oak, pine and hemlock, and on the low lands pine, hemlock and spruce. The Cheshire railroad crosses the town in a diagonal direction from northwest to southeast.
In 1880 Fitzwilliam had a population of 1,187 souls. In 1884 the town had eleven school districts, eleven common schools, and one graded school Its eleven school-houses were valued, including furniture, etc., at $8,200.00. There were 261 children attending school, thirty-two of whom were pursuing the higher grades, taught during the year by four male and thirteen female teachers, at an average monthly salary of $37.50 for males, and $29.69 for females. The entire amount raised for school purposes during the year was $2,200.76, while the expenditures were $2,267.71, with A. R. Gleason, Amos J. Blake and Elliot K. Wheelock, committee.