Pembroke includes part of the village of Suncook. First granted in 1728, the town was known as "Lovewell's Town", in honor of Captain John Lovewell, who built the stockade at Ossipee. Shortly afterward, the town took the name of "Suncook", the Pennacook Abenaki name for the river flowing through the area. When the town was incorporated in 1759 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth, it was given the name "Pembroke" in honor of Henry Herbert, ninth Earl of Pembroke in southern Wales.
Pembroke's early history is reflected in the various mills of the downtown area, located to use water power from the Suncook River. The better-known mills were the Pembroke Mills, Webster Manufacturing and China Manufacturing, all producing print cloth. Pembroke industries included brickmaking, with bricks manufactured from clay along the Merrimack River. In 1852, the Concord and Portsmouth Railroad established a station in Pembroke.