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At the time of Taunton's incorporation, they explained their choice of name as being, "in honour and love to our dear native country...and owning it a great mercy of God to bring us to this place, and settling of us, on lands of our own bought with our money in peace, in the midst of the heathen, for a possession for ourselves and for our posterity after us." Plymouth Colony was formally divided into counties on June 2, 1685, with Taunton becoming the shire town of Bristol County.

The city is bordered by Norton to the northwest, Easton to the north, Raynham to the northeast, Lakeville to the east, Berkley and Dighton to the south, and Rehoboth to the west.

City neighborhoods include the Bird Lanes, Clearview Estates, East Taunton, Elliot's Corner, Herring Run Estates, Linden Estates, Matthews Landing, North Taunton, Oakland, Pine Crest Estates, Pine Hill Estates, Wades Corner, Weir Village, Westville, Whittenton, Whittenton Junction, Britannia Village or Britanniaville, Willis Lake Village and Woodward Estates.

The counties of Plymouth Colony were transferred to the Province of Massachusetts Bay on the arrival of its charter and governor on May 14, 1692.

The Taunton area has been the site of skirmishes and battles during various conflicts, including King Philip's War and the American Revolution.

The original boundaries of Taunton included the land now occupied by many surrounding towns, including Norton, Easton, Mansfield, Dighton, Raynham, Berkley, and Lakeville.