Originally part of Plainfield the town was incorporated in October, 1703. The town area includes the original Quinebaug Plantation of Major James Fitch, son of the Reverend James Fitch of Saybrook Fort, a first settler of Norwich in 1659. Major Fitch became in 1697 the first Puritan settler at Peagscomsuck, that portion of the Colony of Connecticut comprising the most fertile, stone-free area in the Quinebaug Valley, known as the Quinebaug Country. It was claimed and held by the Narragansett Indians until King Philip's War in 1675. In the nearby village of Packer is the site of a trading post established by Roger Williams, of Providence Plantations, soon after the Pequot War in 1637. This area subsequently became a settlement for Rhode Island planters.
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General Moses Cleaveland, lawyer, veteran of the Revolutionary War and founder, of the city of Cleveland, Ohio, in the Western Reserve, was born in Canterbury on January 29, 1754, and died here November 16, 1806. In 1831 Miss Prudence Crandall of South Canterbury, Quaker school teacher, opened a boarding school for young ladies here at Canterbury Green, in the house built by Elisha Paine in 1792. Because she accepted a black girl as a day student she. became a victim of the prejudice, bigotry and snobbery of puritan intolerance,
which prevailed on Canterbury Green at the time. With the courage of her convictions she established the first school for black girls in the State of Connecticut in April. 1833
Erected by the Town of Canterbury the Canterbury American Revolution Bicentennial Commission the Canterbury Historical Society and the Connecticut Historical Commission 1976