Hancock was first settled in 1762 as the Plantation of Jericho. The town was officially incorporated in 1776, and renamed for John Hancock.
Hancock is one of only three towns in Massachusetts whose local telephone service was not provided by the former Bell System (instead it is part of the Taconic Telephone Corporation, every one of whose other exchanges is situated in neighboring New York). The other two such towns are Richmond, also in Berkshire County, and Granby, in Hampshire County.
Hancock Shaker Village
In 1790, the Shakers established Hancock Shaker Village. The Shakers were a religious order which believed in pacifism, celibacy and communal living. Worship could take the form of singing and ecstatic dance, which is why they were called the "Shaking Quakers", or "Shakers." The utopian sect is renowned today for its plain architecture and furniture.
After reaching peak membership in the 1840s, with 19 "societies" scattered from Maine to Kentucky, and west to Indiana, the Shaker movement gradually dwindled. Today, only one village remains in the control of the last Shakers, located at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village in New Gloucester, Maine. Hancock Shaker Village, now operated as a museum, is famous for its Round Stone Barn, built in 1826.