Named for the town in England, the City of Barnstable is the county seat of Barnstable County
, and includes seven villages. It is located along Highway 6A, near the head of Upper Cape Cod. Barnstable is one mile north of US 6, the major highway traversing the length of Cape Cod; it is 4 miles N of Hyannis, the area's main commercial center.
Prior to the Revolution, Barnstable, an old seafaring community, conducted a brisk trade in codfish caught on the Grand Banks for rum and molasses from the West Indies.