Falmouth is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts and is the south-westernmost town on Cape Cod. It is to the east of Buzzards Bay and to the north of Nantucket Sound with the Elizabeth Islands extending from it to the southwest. The original Indian name for the area was Suckanessett but it was first settled by a group of Quaker sympathizers in 1660. The settlement was incorporated as the town of Falmouth in 1686.
The origin of the name comes from the town of Falmouth in Cornwall, England, however it may have been chosen for several separate reasons. First, Falmouth, England was credited as the home port of English explorer and privateer Bartholomew Gosnold (1572 – 1607) who was the first European to visit Cape Cod. He is also credited for naming the cape, the Elizabeth Islands, and Martha’s Vineyard. The town of Gosnold, Massachusetts is named for him. He was also a major influence on the colonization of Virginia and died attempting to colonize Jamestown. In addition to being home to Mr. Gosnold, Falmouth in England was already significant for being the third largest natural harbor in the world. And finally, the two towns share a geographic correspondence: Falmouth, England is a major port in southwest England while Falmouth, Massachusetts is on the southwest of Cape Cod.
Falmouth in England is named for being placed on the mouth of the River Fal. Curiously, the town was remarkably new for it to inspire a sister in New England: it was less than a hundred years old when Falmouth, Massachusetts was founded. However, the town itself was founded next to the much older town of Penryn, on the same harbor. Now a suburb of Falmouth, Penryn was founded in 1216.
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