Hampton is a town in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 14,976 at the 2010 census. Located beside the Atlantic Ocean, Hampton is home to Hampton Beach, a summer tourist destination.
The densely-populated central settlement of the town, where 9,656 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Hampton census-designated place (CDP) and is centered on the intersection of U.S. 1 and NH 27.
First called the Plantation of Winnacunnet, Hampton was one of four original New Hampshire townships chartered by the General Court of Massachusetts, which then held authority over the colony. "Winnacunnet" is an Algonquian Abenaki word meaning "pleasant pines" and is the name of the town's high school, serving students from Hampton and surrounding towns.
In March 1635, Richard Dummer and John Spencer of the Byfield section in Newbury, came round in their shallop, came ashore at the landing and were much impressed by the location. Dummer, who was a member of the General Court, got that body to lay its claim to the section and plan a plantation here. The Massachusetts General Court of March 3, 1636 ordered that Dummer and Spencer be given power to "To presse men to build there a Bound house".
The town was settled in 1638 by a group of parishioners led by Reverend Stephen Bachiler, who had formerly preached at the settlement's namesake: Hampton, England. Incorporated in 1639, the township once included Seabrook, Kensington, Danville, Kingston, East Kingston, Sandown, North Hampton and Hampton Falls.
Among Hampton's earliest settlers was Thomas Leavitt, who previously had been among the first settlers at Exeter. His descendant Thomas Leavitt Esq., lived in Hampton Falls, and was the leading Democratic politician in southern New Hampshire for many years. He made a noted early survey and plan of the town of Hampton in 1806. James Leavitt, of the same family, occupied the home which had previously belonged to Gen. Jonathan Moulton. Later members of the family ran Leavitts' Hampton Beach Hotel, a fixture in the area for generations.
Construction of the railroad in the 1850s, as well as the Exeter and Hampton Trolley line, made Hampton's oceanfront a popular resort. Hampton Beach remains a tourist destination, offering shops, restaurants, beaches, and summer seasonal housing.