In the early 1630s, a Praying Indian village named Shawsheen was at the current site of Billerica.
In 1638, Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop and Lt. Governor Thomas Dudley were granted land along the Concord River in the wilderness which was called Shawshin by the local Native Americans. (Today, Shawshin is commonly spelled Shawsheen; see Shawsheen River.) Most of the settlement was to take place under the supervision of Cambridge; however, financial difficulties in the colony prevented this from taking place, and the issue of settling Shawshin continued to be deferred. Finally, in 1652, roughly a dozen families from Cambridge and Charlestown Village, later Woburn, had begun to occupy Shawshin as well.
Wishing to replace the foreign-sounding Shawshin with a name more familiar, the settlers chose the name Billerica, likely due to the fact that the majority of the families living in the settlement were originally from the town of Billericay in Essex, England. The town was incorporated as Billerica in 1655, on the same day as nearby Chelmsford and Groton. The oldest remaining homestead in the town is the Manning Manse, built in 1696, and later the residence of William Manning (1747–1814), the author of "The Key of Libberty," a critique of Federalist policies. (The unusual spelling of liberty is Manning's own.) Other notable Revolutionary War era residents included Asa Pollard (1735–1775), the first soldier killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and Thomas Ditson (born 1741), who was tarred and feathered by the British in 1775 while on a visit to Boston. The song "Yankee Doodle" supposedly became a term of national pride instead of an insult due to this event. The town now celebrates "Yankee Doodle Weekend" every September.
Billerica has several small neighborhoods that form villages (or sections) of town. Those villages are East Billerica, North Billerica, Nutting Lake, Pinehurst, Rio Vista, River Pines, Riverdale, Riverside, and South Billerica.
There were 12,919 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.1% were married couples living together, 9.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 20.7% were non-families. 16.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the town the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 34.6% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 8.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 103.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.2 males.
As of the 2010 census, the median income for a household in the town was $87,073, and the median income for a family was $95,128. The per capita income for the town was $32,517. About 2.8% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.5% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.
Billerica was a contender for CNN Money's "Best Places to Live" in 2009 but did not make the top 100 list for the nation.
Billerica Public Schools operate primary and secondary schools. The Billerica public school system consists of six elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. In addition, the town is home to a regional technical high school. Shawsheen Valley Technical Highschool.
Ditson Elementary School (Cook Street; Pinehurst)
Frederick J. Dutile Elementary School (Treble Cove Road; River Pines)
S. G. Hajjar Elementary School (Rogers & Call Streets; North Billerica)
John F. Kennedy Elementary School (Kimbrough Road & Carline Drive; East Billerica)
Parker Elementary School (River Street; Billerica Village)
Eugene C. Vining Elementary School (Lexington Road; Nuttings Lake)
The Trampoline Park on 700 Boston Road, Grand Opening is March 2014, features jumping activities such as 3D Dodgeball, Basketball Dunking Lanes, Kid Zone, Foam Pits, Gymnastics "tumble tracks", rock climbing wall, battle beam which is suspended over a foam pits, and also has a large main court. Altitude Billerica is the first trampoline park in Massachusetts to include a rock climbing wall and a battle beam.
The Middlesex Canal, which flowed through Billerica between 1795 and 1852, was used to transport goods between Lowell and Boston. Because of this key transportation corridor, Billerica earned the moniker "Gateway to Lowell."
In the 1840s, the Boston and Lowell Railroad's main line was built and passed through the town's villages of North Billerica and East Billerica. Stations were built in both locations and North Billerica Station is still an active Commuter Rail Station. Trains stopped taking passengers at East Billerica in 1965 and the station was remodeled and is now a private home.
E Ink Corporation, a privately held manufacturer of electrophoretic displays (EPDs) that powers tablets such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, is in the process of moving its corporate headquarters from Cambridge, MA to a 140,000 square foot facility in Billerica, MA
Raytheon Company, a major American defense contractor and industrial corporation with core manufacturing concentrations in weapons and military and commercial electronics, has two large offices in Billerica, MA.
EMD Serono, Inc, the US biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical group, is undergoing a $75-million expansion of their Billerica facility, naming it the EMD Serono Research & Development Institute.
Cabot Corporation, a $3.3 billion specialty chemicals and performance materials company, has its primary Research and Development facility in Billerica, MA.
Avaya Inc, a privately held $8 billion global provider of business communications and collaboration systems, has its New England headquarters in Billerica, MA.
L3 Communications, is a $15 billion American company that supplies command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C3ISR) systems and products, avionics, ocean products, training devices and services, instrumentation, space, and navigation products. They have a Billerica office on Concord Road.
Merck KGaA, a German drug and chemicals company unrelated to Merck & Co., in March 2010 "said it plans to move the headquarters of its US chemicals business to Billerica after its acquisition of life sciences toolmaker Millipore Corp."
Pharmalucence, a biotech company which makes drugs for disease diagnosis, "plans to build a 70,000-square-foot plant and corporate headquarters in Billerica."
American Science & Engineering, based in Billerica, "said it received a $6.7 million order for its X-ray detection technology that will be used by the US government for counterterrorism missions."
Lantheus Medical Imaging Inc., the Billerica based medical imaging company, "sealed a new purchasing deal with Ottawa-based MDS Nordion for a rare imaging isotope, molybdenum-99."
^"1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1920 Census of Population". Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1890 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1870 Census of the Population". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1860 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1850 Census". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.