Brief history of Shelburne
The origins of Shelburne
The town of Shelburne was first chartered on August 18, 1763. At the time, Vermont was a territory over which New Hampshire and New York struggled to assert control. The charter establishing Shelburne was signed by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire, one of many such charters issued in an effort to populate western Vermont with settlers that favored the New Hampshire government.

The charter stated that Shelburne should consist of a six-mile square, covering 23,500 acres. However, the already-established boundaries of Burlington to the north and Charlotte to south precluded such an orderly arrangement, and so Shelburne took on the angular shape still seen today (the town now covers around 14,000 acres).

Early settlers were required to perform several duties in exchange for their lots of 200-300 acres, such as cultivating a certain minimum number of acres and reserving all worthwhile pine trees for use by the Royal Navy as masts. The first settlers actually arrived in 1768, and began cutting lumber for shipment to Canada.

During the American Revolution, northern Vermont was a restless frontier, uncomfortably close to British Canada, and most settlers fled south for the duration of the war, eventually returning to begin clearing land and building a real town.

Map of Shelburne in 1869, noting major land features and transportation routes. Burlington lies just to the north. Map courtesy of Shelburne Place Program.