Dighton was originally part of Taunton's South Purchase and other surrounding towns. It was separated in 1672, officially incorporated in 1712. It was named for Frances Dighton Williams, wife of Richard Williams, a town elder. At the time of incorporation, the town included land on both sides of the Taunton River, including the land of Assonet Neck, which includes Dighton Rock, a rock found in the shallows of the river which includes cryptic carvings whose origins are debated to this day. However, in 1799, that land on the east bank of the river was annexed by Berkley, thus giving that town the claim of being the home of the rock.
As it was located at the beginning of the tidewater of the river, Dighton was a shipbuilding community, and even had status as a port of call. Because of this, and its centralized location, it became a shipping hub for Southeastern Massachusetts. There were also cotton mills, manufacturers and farming concerns in the town. With time, however, many of these industries left, leaving the town as a rural suburban community with some small farms.
In 2008, production began for a low-budget, independent documentary based on the history of the town. Filming began on May 24, 2008, on the first annual Dighton Day. The documentary will be officially never be released.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.9 square miles (59.2 km²), of which, 22.4 square miles (58.0 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (2.06%) is water.
Dighton is bordered by Rehoboth to the west, Swansea to the southwest, Somerset to the south, the Taunton River and the town of Berkley to the east, and the city of Taunton to the north. In addition to being bordered by the Taunton River, it also is bordered by the Three Mile River, a tributary which empties into the Taunton along the northeast border of town. The town is also the site of the Segregansett River, another tributary of the Taunton which flows through the center of town, as well as several smaller brooks.
It is the site of the Berkley-Dighton Bridge, a one-lane bridge built in the 1890s as a link between Center St. in Dighton and Elm St. Berkley. It is the only span crossing the Taunton River between the Brightman Street Bridge between Somerset and Fall River, and the Plain Street Bridge in Taunton, a drive of 12½ miles (and four miles (6 km) south of the Plain Street Bridge).
Dighton's localities are: Chestnut Tree Corner, Dighton, Dighton Rock State Park, North Dighton, Segreganset, South Dighton and Wheeler's Corner.
As of the census of 2009, there were 7560 people, 2,201 households, and 1,718 families residing in the town. The population density was 275.9 people per square mile (106.5/km²). There were 2,280 housing units at an average density of 101.9/sq mi (39.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.80% White, 0.53% African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.28% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.07% of the population.
There were 2,201 households out of which 37.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.5% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.9% were non-families. 18.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the town the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 30.4% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $58,600, and the median income for a family was $64,792. Males had a median income of $41,427 versus $28,250 for females. The per capita income for the town was $22,600. About 1.0% of families and 2.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 1.2% of those age 65 or over.
Dighton is governed by an open town meeting led by a board of selectmen. The town has a central police station along Route 138 by the banks of the Segreganset River, separate post offices and fire departments near the center of town and North Dighton, and the Dighton Public Library at the center of town. Dighton has a conservation area and a small park next to the town hall near the intersection of Center Street and Route 138.
Dighton is located in the Fifth Bristol state representative district, which includes Somerset and parts of Swansea and Taunton. The town is represented in the state senate in the First Plymouth and Bristol district, which includes the towns of Berkley, Bridgewater, Carver, Marion, Middleborough, Raynham, Taunton and Wareham. Dighton is patrolled by the Middleboro Barracks (D4) of the Massachusetts State Police. On the national level, the town is part of Massachusetts Congressional District 4, which is represented by Barney Frank. The state's junior (Class I) Senator is Scott Brown and the state's senior (Class II) Senator, up for re-election in 2014, is John F. Kerry.
Dighton, along with Rehoboth, is a part of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District. It was founded in 1987 to oversee the schools of both towns. The high school, Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, was founded in 1958 to serve both towns. The school itself is located in North Dighton, literally yards away from the Rehoboth town line. Its athletics teams are known as the "Falcons," and its colors are green and gold. The Dighton Middle and Elementary Schools are located near the corner of Center Street and Somerset Avenue (Route 138) at the center of town.
The town is also the home of Bristol County Agricultural High School. The school operates a large farm along the banks of the Taunton River at its Center Street location. The town does not have any affiliation with a regional vocational school system, the closest one being Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School, located in Taunton.
Dighton Public Library is a public library in Dighton.
As of December 2009, the Library Director was Jocelyn Tavares.