Amherst is a town in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 11,201 at the 2010 census. Amherst is home to Ponemah Bog Wildlife Sanctuary, Hodgman State Forest, the Joe English Reservation and Baboosic Lake.
The town center village, where 613 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Amherst census-designated place. The village is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Amherst Village Historic District.
Like many New England towns, Amherst was the result of a land grant given to soldiers - in this case, to soldiers in 1728 who had participated in King Philip's War. Settled about 1733, it was first called "Narragansett Number 3," and then later "Souhegan Number 3." In 1741, settlers formed the Congregational church and hired the first minister. Chartered on 18 January 1760 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, the town was named for General Lord Amherst, who commanded British forces in North America during the French and Indian War. Lord Jeffrey Amherst is also infamous for initiating the practice of giving smallpox blankets to Native Americans in a genocidal effort "to Extirpate this Execrable Race" (as quoted from his letter to Colonel Henry Bouquet on July 16, 1763).
In 1770, Amherst became the county seat of Hillsborough County, due largely to its location on the county's major east-west road. It continued to prosper through the Revolutionary War and afterwards. In 1790, the southwestern section broke off and became the town of Milford, and in 1803, the northwest section departed to become Mont Vernon. The development of water-powered mills allowed Milford to grow at Amherst's expense, and the county seat was moved to Milford in 1866.
Franklin Pierce, who later become the 14th President of United States of America, studied under Judge Edmund Parker in Amherst. He wed Jane Means Appleton, the daughter of a former president of Bowdoin College, in a house on the town green.
The Nashua and Wilton Railroad passed through Amherst.