Gosnold is a town that encompasses the Elizabeth Islands in Dukes County, Massachusetts, United States. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 52, the least populous town in Massachusetts. Most of the residents live in the village of Cuttyhunk, while most of the land in the town is owned by the Forbes family.
The earliest settlers of the Elizabeth Islands were the Wampanoag Native Americans. The tribe did not settle permanently on the Elizabeth Islands, but used them in summer for hunting, fishing, and gardening. Occasionally, arrowheads or stone tools are discovered on the islands. The islands' names come from the Wampanoag language.
The Elizabeth Islands, including Cuttyhunk, were discovered by Europeans in 1602 by Bartholomew Gosnold. He and his crew attempted to establish a trading post on Cuttyhunk so that they could trade with the natives, the first attempt by Europeans to do so. The trading post was abandoned after only a few weeks, and Gosnold decided to return home. Upon his return to England, the British Crown claimed jurisdiction of the island chain.
Gosnold was first settled in 1641, the year of purchase of the islands by Thomas Mayhew, Sr. The islands were claimed by the Wampanoag until 1658, when the Wampanoag sachem transferred the deed of ownership to Mayhew. Constituting Dukes County, New York since 1683, the Elizabeth Islands, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket, were transferred to the newly created Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691. Gosnold was separately incorporated as a municipality in 1864; previously it was a part of the town of Chilmark.