Family Trees and Family Stories
 McKay/Stevens Genealogy Pages

Old World Emigration

The Great Migration

There were some 300 ship landings in Massachusetts and elsewhere between 1620 and 1640. There was little emigration from England from 1640 until after the American Revolution. This Great Migration ended in the early 1640s at the outbreak of the English Civil War, and it was also affected by stories of intolerance that were carried back to England during that time.

The Puritan Great Migration of 1620–1640 refers to the large out-migration of Englishmen, primarily Puritan families, to Massachusetts, the islands of the West Indies, and elsewhere. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Puritans fared badly in England, many men and women being arrested and thrown into prison, because they sought to retain their own religious beliefs, which were deemed contrary to the teachings of the Church of England. Many of them fled to Holland. On the death of Queen Elizabeth, she was succeeded by King James who was more lenient with the Puritans and freely allowed them to immigrate to America, first to Plymouth and later to Boston which became the capital of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Reasons for the Great Migration

Driven to the Colony for many reasons, the majority either followed or were influenced by charismatic Puritan ministers who lead their flocks to a land free from the persecution of King Charles’ (who became king on the death of James) emboldened Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, and his contemporaries. Certainly, there were other contributing factors, including a failing economy and overcrowding, leading to food shortages and waves of disease. However, religious persecution could not be escaped by relocating within England.

Another reason for leaving was economics. Since the 30 Year War in 1618, England was in a period of a declining economy. Between 1629 and 1630, England experienced crop failures and the complete destruction of the exports of cloth and fine fabrics. In addition, the practice of Primogeniture made it impossible for most sons to get any part of their families’ estates. This custom resulted in only the eldest son inheriting the father's estate. The younger sons of noblemen only inherited their surname and their right to the family coat-of-arms.


Ships of the Great Migration (1620-1640)

  • Mayflower, 1620
  • Fortune, 1621
  • Sparrow, 1622
  • Anne & Little James, 1623
  • Abigail, 1628
  • Higginson Fleet, 1629
  • Lyon's Whelp, 1629
  • Arbella, 1630
  • Handmaid, 1630
  • Mary & John, 1630
  • Swift, 1630
  • William & Francis, 1632
  • Lyon, 1631 & 1632
  • Mary & Jane, 1633
  • Griffin, 1633
  • Mary & John, 1633/4
  • Recovery 1633/1634
  • Elizabeth and Ann, 1634
  • Elizabeth and Dorcas, 1634
  • Francis 1634
  • Griffin, 1634
  • Hercules, 1634
  • Elizabeth, 1634 & 1635
  • James of London, 1635
  • Phillip, 1635
  • Planter, 1635
  • Abigail, 1635
  • Angel Gabriel, 1635
  • James from Bristol, 1635
  • Truelove 1635
  • Unity, 1635
  • Blessing, 1635
  • Defence (Defiance), 1635
  • Hopewell, Spring 1635
  • Increase, 1635
  • Susan and Ellen, 1635
  • Speedwell, 1635 & 1637
  • John & Dorothy of Ispwich 1637
  • The Rose of Yarmouth, 1637
  • Mary Anne of Yarmouth, 1637
  • Bevis, 1638
  • Confidence, 1638
  • Hector, 1637 & 1638
  • Diligent, 1638
  • John of London, 1638
  • Jonathan, 1639

New England's Great Migration[1]

The peak years of the Great Migration lasted just over ten years — from 1629 to 1640, years when the Puritan crisis in England reached its height. In 1629, King Charles I dissolved Parliament, thus preventing Puritan leaders from working within the system to effect change and leaving them vulnerable to persecution. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, chartered in the same year by a group of moderate Puritans, represented both a refuge and an opportunity for Puritans to establish a “Zion in the wilderness.” During the ten years that followed, over twenty thousand men, women, and children left England to settle permanently in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1640, when Parliament was reconvened, attention was redirected from the New World back to the old and migration to New England dropped sharply.

Seventeenth-century conditions in England caused hundreds of thousands of emigrants to leave England and seek new homes elsewhere: in Ireland, the Caribbean, and the other colonies of North America. For sheer numbers and longevity, these movements to other regions dwarfed New England’s “Great” migration. But the term “Great Migration” was coined for a reason: it reflected the greatness of the endeavor’s purpose rather than its size. The immigrants who came to New England differed from immigrants to other regions in a variety of ways, all stemming from their fundamental desire to obtain spiritual rather than economic rewards. Unlike colonists to other areas, those who migrated to New England had known relatively prosperous lives in England. In fact, it was a greater economic risk to leave than to stay. From the colonists’ perspective, they traded economic advantages and stability in a corrupt England for a more precarious economic situation tempered by the opportunity to live more pious and worthy lives in a Puritan commonwealth.

Motivated primarily by religious concerns, most Great Migration colonists traveled to Massachusetts in family groups. In fact, the proportion of Great Migration immigrants who traveled in family groups is the highest in American immigrant history. Consequently, New England retained a normal, multi-generational structure with relatively equal numbers of men and women. At the time they left England, many husbands and wives were in their thirties and had three or more children, with more yet to be born. This situation contrasts with that of the southern colonies, which were populated primarily by single young men. In the Chesapeake Bay area, even at the end of the seventeenth century, the male-to-female sex ratio was skewed. Great Migration colonists shared other distinctive characteristics. New Englanders had a high level of literacy, perhaps nearly twice that of England as a whole. New Englanders were highly skilled; more than half of the settlers had been artisans or craftsmen. Only about seventeen percent came as servants, mostly as members of a household. In contrast, seventy-five percent of Virginia’s population arrived as servants. And in much greater proportion than the English population as a whole, New England settlers came from urban areas.

Unlike colonists of other regions, the Great Migration colonists were primarily middle class, and few were rich or poor. English emigrants primarily in search of economic betterment were unlikely to settle in the Massachusetts Bay Colony; the potential rewards were not great. Similarly, those already rich saw little opportunity to increase their wealth in a harsh region with no obvious cash crop. Emigrants seeking to realize the greatest economic opportunity would choose to go elsewhere, in effect excluding from New England those who placed material concerns first. The result of this exclusion was a remarkably homogeneous population, with colonists sharing similar backgrounds, outlooks, and perspectives.

An important rite of passage for all Great Migration colonists, and one that further bound them together as a group, was the voyage to Massachusetts. The majority of emigrants lived within a few days travel of a port of departure. Ships left from several points along the English coast, including London, Bristol, Barnstaple, Weymouth, Plymouth, Southampton, Ipswich, Great Yarmouth, and Gravesend. Most emigrant ships left England in March or April, allowing sufficient time for the journey and the ship’s return trip to England before cold weather began again. An average ocean crossing lasted from eight to ten weeks but the time of the voyage could vary greatly, from a trip of just thirty-eight days to one of six months.

Once in New England, the settlers usually spent a minimum of several weeks — frequently the entire first winter — in the port town at which they arrived or another established town. After gathering information about possible places to settle, they dispersed to towns throughout the colony, sometimes moving several times before finding permanent residences. Most chose to move to a new town, generally one less than two years old.

The key to success was arriving early enough after a town’s founding to become a proprietor and share in the original land distribution, administered and controlled by the town. Proprietors received the best and largest land grants, as well as rights to share in future divisions. This share in future land divisions was extremely important to the settlers because it ensured viable economic futures for their children. In order to best secure these rights, towns limited the number of possible proprietors. Once the limit was reached, the town was considered closed. In Dorchester, this process happened quite early — in 1636, just six years after its founding. Twenty-two towns, from Maine to Rhode Island, were closed or entry was drastically restricted within the first ten years of settlement.

Fortunately for new arrivals, the frontier continued expanding and many new towns formed during the lifetimes of the original settlers. Settlement expanded from Boston, to both the north and the south, along the coast. The colonists first occupied land cleared by previous Native inhabitants. After these more desirable areas were taken, settlers moved into increasingly difficult terrain. Twenty-three towns in Massachusetts were founded in the 1630s, and these towns, as well as those settled in succeeding decades, provided a stable and secure land distribution system for the immigrants.

Another aspect of life in New England proved noteworthy: the remarkable health and longevity of the population. Many colonists lived to the age of seventy, and a substantial number lived to be eighty. Both male and female settlers in New England lived significantly longer than their English counterparts. This longevity is no doubt due to a variety of factors: dispersed settlement patterns, lack of epidemic disease, the healthful effects of a “little ice age,” clean air and water, possibly a better diet, and the original good health of most immigrants. Also, infant and childhood mortality rates were lower in New England, and the settlers produced large and healthy families — most having seven or more children. Accordingly, New England experienced tremendous population growth within the lifetime of first generation settlers.

Overall, Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers were able to attain a comfortable living for themselves and assure some measure of economic success for their children. Most owned houses and land, as well as a sufficient amount of livestock, farm equipment, and household goods. (Interestingly, with their disposable income New Englanders chose to forgo the purchase of silverware, pottery and other household goods in favor of books — principally the religious books that were so key to Puritanism.) If few in New England were wealthy, few lived in poverty either. Most settlers lived in circumstances similar to their neighbors and if one colonist was more prosperous than the rest, this prosperity was likely to manifest itself in a greater amount of land rather than a more ostentatious way of life. Both the community’s spiritual outlook and the material conditions experienced by the first generation in New England fostered a uniquely communal and stable way of life. The commitment to life in a Puritan commonwealth on which the Great Migration colonists staked everything when they left England had indeed paid off.


German Immigration

About three quarters of our German ancestors came from Southwest Germany, the current states of Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, and Rhineland-Palatinate. Over 90% of our German ancestors emigrated from 1705-1764.

While the land of the Palatinate was good to its inhabitants, many of whom were farmers, vineyard operators etc., its location was, unfortunately, subject to invasion by the armies of Britain, France, and Germany. Mother Nature also played a role in what happened, for the winter of 1708-09 was particularly severe, the harshest in 100 years, and many of the vineyards perished. This, combined with the devastating effects of war, set the scene for a mass migration.

At the invitation of Queen Anne in the spring of 1709, approximately 7,000 harassed Palatines sailed down the Rhine to Rotterdam. From there, about 3,000 were dispatched to America, either directly or via England, under the auspices of William Penn. The remaining 4,000 were sent to Ireland, via England, to strengthen the protestant interest.

Many immigrants from the Palatinate region (Southwestern Germany) were settled in New York State from 1710 to 1740. In 1710, a large group of Palatines sailed from London to New York with the new Governor, Robert Hunter. There were 3,000 Palatines on 10 ships that sailed and approximately 470 died on the voyage or shortly after their arrival. In New York, the Palatines were expected to work for the British authorities, producing naval stores (tar and pitch) for the navy in return for their passage. They were also expected to act as a buffer between the French and Natives on the northern frontier and the English colonies to the south and east. Among them were four McKay [MM] families: Schrembling (Scramlin), Landgraff, Jung (Young) and Schneider. Hans Andreas Jung’s [MM] son Theobald became David Young when he arrived from Dunzweiler, Germany in the early 1700s.

Two Deary ancestors Peter Hagedorn and Friederich Mentegen are listed as working in Livingston Manor, New York in 1710 and 1711. This was a settlement owned by Robert Livingston of Palatines working in servitude that ended in 1712.

The Deary [MD] line probably started in America with Jacob Derry who emigrated from Germany inthe mid 1700s. He may have been part of the German migration in 1748, when 2,800 emigrants from the Palatinate region of Germany arrived in Maryland by way of Annapolis and Baltimore; most of these immigrants settled in and around what is now Frederick. Within three years, Frederick had become the county seat of Frederick County.

The Quisenberrys [FF] descended from the von Questenbergs whose roots go back many centuries to the Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. They were merchants of the Hanseatic League trading with England. Henrich Von Questenberg left Germany for England in the mid-1400s and they became the Questenburys. Thomas Quessenbury moved to Virginia during the early Jamestown era. The Quisenberry name disappears from our family tree when Mary Quisenberry married a Mize whose daughter married a Ratliff whose daughter married a Freeman.


Scots-Irish immigration

A Scot-Irish image

Ulster Plantation

The Scots-Irish (called Ulster Scots, in the UK and Ireland) are an ethnic group in Ireland, found mostly in the Ulster region and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of Ireland. Their ancestors are largely descended from colonists from Galloway, Ayrshire, and the Scottish Borders Country, although some descend from people further north in the Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands, or other parts of Britain, or even elsewhere in Europe. What united these different national groups was a base of Calvinist religious beliefs.

These people migrated to Ireland in large numbers, both as a result of the government-sanctioned Plantation of Ulster, a planned process of colonization which took place under the auspices of James VI of Scotland (aka James I of England) on land confiscated from members of the Gaelic nobility of Ireland.

In 1704, during the reign of Queen Anne, the “Test Act” passed in England, which was imposed upon only certain citizens. This Act required Scottish people living in the North of Ireland to swear allegiance to the established Church of England, a requirement that most Scotch Presbyterians didn’t appreciate. It proved to be a short-sighted policy on the part of England, for the result was a migration in large numbers of many Scots from the North of Ireland to America. It is estimated that a quarter million Ulster Scots left Ireland for the American Colonies between 1717 and 1776.

The term Scots-Irish came into use following the surge in Irish immigration after the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, as the descendants of the earlier arrivals began to distinguish themselves from the newer, predominantly Roman Catholic and poor immigrants.

In our family Scots-Irish (with year of immigration) include: Thomas Darrogh [FB] (1725), George Erwin [FB] (1710), Theophilus Simonton [SS] (1725), Charles Strong [SS] (1773), Janet Gaston [SS] (1773), John Huston [FB] (1735), James McCoun [FB] (1742), Joseph Thom [SS] (1773), John McCurdy [MD] (1729), Patrick McGee [SS] (1758), Samuel Park [SS] (1755), Charles Strong [SS] (1773), James Tilford [FB] (1745), Margaret McQuillan [MD] (1725), Margaret Cunningham [FB] (1735), and Christopher Huston [FB] (1735).

Ancestors from the later Irish migration include: Patrick Henry Hart [SL] (1794), Francis Roberts [PR] (1865), and Charlotte Wagner [PR] (1865).


Schleswig-Holstein immigration

A Schleswig -Holstein image

Schleswig-Holstein connection

The current national border closely matches the demarcation between the Danes and the Germans (or earlier Saxons). But the actual national boundary has changed over the past two hundred years. This area known as Schleswig-Holstein. Going back many centuries German was used in the southern part of Schleswig and Danish in the northern part. In 1848, eight years before Sonke Petersen's birth, King Frederick VII of Denmark declared that he would grant Denmark a liberal constitution and the immediate goal for the Danish national movement was to ensure that this constitution would give rights to all Danes, i.e. not only to those in the Kingdom of Denmark, but also to Danes (and Germans) living in Schleswig. Conflict with the more German-leaning southern part of the region led to the First Schleswig War (1848–51), which ended in a Danish victory. A more aggressive Germany led to the Second Schleswig War that Germany won and Denmark lost Schleswig (Northern and Southern Schleswig) and Holstein. From this period until 1920 when the final boundary was settled in a plebiscite, the people in the region were effectively part of the German confederation.


Continued in column 2...

New World Settlements

The Jamestown Settlement

The Jamestown settlement was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. William Kelso says Jamestown "is where the British Empire began." Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 4, 1607, it followed several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699. Since no settlers survived the Roanoke Colony, our first ancestors settled in the Virginia Colony of Jamestown.

In 1608, in the Second Supply, the Virginia Company brought eight Polish and German colonists, some of whom built a small glass factory. The Germans and a few others soon defected to the Powhatans with weapons and supplies from the settlement. The Second Supply also brought the first two European women to the settlement. In 1619, the first documented Africans—about 50 men, women and children—came to Jamestown aboard a Portuguese slave ship that had been captured in the West Indies and brought to the Jamestown region. They most likely worked in the tobacco fields as indentured servants, initially. The modern conception of slavery in the future United States was formalized in 1640 and was fully entrenched in Virginia by 1660.

It was common practice in England during the 1600s for the second son to attend college and enter the ministry. England in the 1600's was a dangerous place for a person in the ministry. With each newly crowned authority in England, the tide would turn from Catholic to Protestant and back again, all ending with religious persecution in relation to the current monarch's religious preferences. Many in the ministry, therefore, chose to go to Virginia rather than risk persecution in England.

The Jamestown settlement was located within the country administered by the Powhatan Confederacy, and specifically that of the Paspahegh tribe. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial provisions and support for the colonists, who were not agriculturally inclined. Relations with the newcomers soured fairly early on, leading to the total annihilation of the Paspahegh in warfare within 3 years. Mortality at Jamestown itself was very high due to disease and starvation, with over 80% of the colonists perishing in 1609-1610 in what became known as the "Starving Time". Adam and Mary Dorsey [SS] may have been casualties during this period, or soon after. Of the 6,000 people who came to the settlement between 1608 and 1624, only 3,400 survived.

The early inhabitants of Jamestown were employees of the Virginia Company and were supposed to direct their labors toward the production of profits for the investors. It quickly became apparent that gold and silver did not exist in appreciable amounts in eastern North America, a fact that left the colony without a cash crop and the resultant threat of bankruptcy.

The advent of the tobacco economy in the 1610s changed the course of Virginia’s development. Tobacco production required large tracts of land and many workers. The company held title to tremendous amounts of land, but had few workers at their disposal.


The Headright System

In 1618, the headright system was introduced as a means to solve the labor shortage. It provided the following:

Colonists already residing in Virginia were granted two headrights, meaning two tracts of 50 acres each, or a total of 100 acres of land.

New settlers who paid their own passage to Virginia were granted one headright. Since every person who entered the colony received a headright, families were encouraged to migrate together.

Wealthy individuals could accumulate headrights by paying for the passage of poor individuals. Most of the workers who entered Virginia under this arrangement came as indentured servants — people who paid for their transportation by pledging to perform five to seven years of labor for the landowner.

The ability to amass large plots of land by importing workers provided the basis for an emerging aristocracy in Virginia. Plantation owners were further enriched by receiving headrights for newly imported slaves.


New Netherlands

In 1609 Henry Hudson, an English navigator, then in the service of the Dutch East India Company, discovered the river that is now called by his name. Sailing up this river for about 150 miles, he took possession of the country in the name of the States-General of Holland. To the territory which they had thus acquired the Dutch gave the name of New Netherlands. The colony was conceived by the Dutch West India Company in 1621 to capitalize on the North American fur trade.

In 1613 they erected a few buildings on Manhattan Island, where New York city now stands. In 1614 they built a fort and storehouse on a little island just below Albany, and in 1623 they built Fort Orange on the site where the city of Albany now stands.

The claimed territories extended from the Delmarva Peninsula to southwestern Cape Cod, while the more limited settled areas are now part of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, with small outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

New Amsterdam was established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island and served as the seat of the colonial government in New Netherland. By 1655, the population of New Netherland had grown to 2,000 people, with 1,500 living in New Amsterdam. By 1664, the population of New Netherland had risen to almost 9,000 people, 2,500 of whom lived in New Amsterdam.

In August 1664, an English fleet forced the surrender of New Amsterdam, and New Netherland became a part of the surrendered territory eventually known as New York.

Ancestors associated with New Netherlands include the Vieles, the Swarts, the Groots, and the du Trieux family.

New Sweden

New Sweden was a Swedish colony along the lower reaches of the Delaware River in America from 1638 to 1655, established during the Thirty Years' War when Sweden was a great military power. New Sweden was part of Swedish colonization efforts in the Americas. Settlements were established on both sides of the Delaware Valley in the region of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, often in places where Swedish traders had been visiting since about 1610. Fort Christina in Wilmington, Delaware was the first settlement, named after the reigning Swedish monarch. The settlers were Swedes, Finns, and a number of Dutch. New Sweden was conquered by the Dutch Republic in 1655 during the Second Northern War and incorporated into the Dutch colony of New Netherland.

Ancestors associated with New Sweden include the Frands, the Coxes, and the Anderssons.

Continued in column 3...

New England Puritan Migration

Mayflower and Plymouth Colony

Plymouth

Plymouth Colony 1620

Among the descendants of the early Plymouth colonists there is special homage given to those who arrived on one of the first four ships: Mayflower (Dec. 1620), Fortune (Nov. 1621), Anne and Little James (July 1623).

The Mayflower was the ship that transported English Separatists, known today as the Pilgrims, from Plymouth in England to the New World. The Mayflower arrived at Plymouth in November 1620, at the very onset of winter. There were 102 passengers, and the crew is estimated to have been about thirty, but the exact number is unknown. This voyage has become an iconic story in some of the earliest annals of American history, with its story of death and of survival in the harsh New England winter environment. The culmination of the voyage, in the signing of the Mayflower Compact, is an event which established a rudimentary form of democracy, with each member contributing to the welfare of the community.

Like all Puritans, the Plymouth settlers were Calvinists desiring a single, purified, reformed faith reflective of the early Christian church, as well as the elimination of residual traces of Roman Catholicism from the Church of England (i.e., Anglicanism, which in the United States became the Episcopal religion).

The Pilgrims were a subset of Puritans known as Separatists. Convinced that the Church of England could not be reformed from within, they seceded from the Anglican Communion to found their own churches.

Because the Church of England was the official and only church in England—indeed, an extension of the government—everybody belonged to it. Every resident of a community was automatically a member of the parish in his community.

The English parish system thus encompassed all citizens indiscriminately, without regard to character, beliefs, or true degree of Christian commitment. According to Separatist convictions, this was contrary to a “communion of saints.” The church should be composed only of religiously dedicated Christians.


Massachusetts Bay Colony

Mass Bay

Great Migration 1630-40

Eleven ships headed by the Arbella and known as the Winthrop Fleet, the first in a great series of convoys, made port in Massachusetts Bay in 1630, carrying 700 Puritans. In the summer of 1634, 20 ships with 2,000 settlers arrived.

John Winthrop wrote to his wife just before they set sail that there were seven hundred passengers. Six months after their arrival, Thomas Dudley [future governor of Massachusetts] wrote to Bridget Fiennes, Countess of Lincoln, that over two hundred passengers had died between their landing April 30 and the following December, 1630. Conditions on board the ships were horrible for the passengers, although they were certainly no worse than any other ship for the period. In fact, all eleven ships were veterans of the Mediterranean wine trade, and thus they were specially chalked and drier than most ships below decks. However, they could hardly be called comfortable. Above decks, the forecastle deck (on the forward part of the ship) housed the ship's crew, and the poop deck (at the rear) housed the officers. Most of the space in between was used for storage. The men made jury-rigged cabins for the women and children and hung hammocks from the ceiling for themselves. There was no ventilation below decks, no heat, no light at night, and only the most basic sanitary and cooking facilities. Since fresh water could not be kept clean and potable during long sea voyages, the ships carried beer for passengers to drink during the crossing. The Arbella alone carried forty-two "tuns," about 10,000 gallons of beer. For food, they ate salt pork.

Throughout the passage, the Puritans huddled below decks and tried to weather the frequent storms. When one group of crewmembers grew too rowdy for the pious passengers, they held a prayer meeting and appointed three men to enforce proper conduct on board the ship. Winthrop occasionally convinced the seasick passengers to come out on deck and get a breath of fresh air. He found that a splash of salt spray often cheered up the passengers. Storms blew up with regularity and cost the expedition precious resources, both in material and in morale. One storm alone killed nearly seventy cows. About 60 days later they landed.

Indications are that most of the original colonists moved into (Winnisemmet) Charlestown, set up their tents on the slope of the hill, and on Aug. 23rd held the first official meeting of the Massachusetts Bay Colony on American soil. Many moved on to what would become Boston.

Ancestors in this group included: Thomas Howlett and Alice French [FB], John Gage [MD], William Bateman [MD], Dr. William Gager [FF], Mary Barker [FB], Isaac Stearns [MD], Ralph and Alice Mousall [FB], Thomas Lombard [PR], Robert Lockwood [MD], William Knapp [FB] [PR], James Knapp [PR], Mary Knapp [FB], Ezekiel Richardson and Susannah Bradford [MD] [MM], Abraham and Lydia Brown [FB], Jehu Burr and family [PR], John Bland Smith and Isabell Drake [MM].

Comparing the two colonies

While the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were Separatists, the Puritans were non-separating Congregationalists -- they believed the Church of England was the one true church and they were loyal to England, but not in the way they worshipped.

Plymouth ultimately proved less successful than its neighbor to the north, the Massachusetts Bay Colony. When people talk about Puritan influence in America, they are referring, albeit usually unwittingly, to the Puritanism of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, not Plymouth or the Pilgrims.

Boston was the chief center of the Bay Colony. Colonial jurisdiction eventually extended to much of present-day New England, including portions of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The Colony’s leading figure was John Winthrop.

William Bradford’s Plymouth Colony was from the start more tolerant than its neighbor. Although witchcraft, for example, was a capital offense in Plymouth, only two charges for the crime were ever brought. The first was dismissed before trial; the second resulted in the acquittal of the defendant and punishment of the accuser for making false allegations.

The two colonies differed in other important ways.

The Massachusetts Bay colonists were committed to reforming the Church of England from within rather than separating from it. The Church of England remained the official church.

However, as a practical matter, there was no ecclesiastical hierarchy to sustain a state church bureaucracy. During the entire colonial period, for example, not a single Anglican bishop was appointed to rule the American flock.

Thus, over time, migration from England brought about de facto separatism in Massachusetts Bay, and the adoption of Plymouth Colony’s Congregational form of church polity, wherein each local congregation controlled its own affairs.

There were also significant wealth and status differences between the two populations.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth were mostly farmers and artisans. The colonists of Massachusetts Bay, in contrast, were better educated, more economically and socially successful and brought with them educated clergy to provide leadership for both church and community.

Massachusetts Bay’s governor, John Winthrop, was the son of a Suffolk squire Adam Winthrop [MD] [MM], a neighbor and friend of the Earl of Warwick, a Cambridge graduate, and a trained attorney. English historian Paul Johnson called him “the outstanding figure of the Puritan voyages, the first great American.”

It must be remembered that the settlement of the new colony was by a specially chartered company and only the stockholders at first had the right to vote. This privilege was soon afterward extended to the freemen, who of necessity were also church members, and thus early in the history of the colony there was a semblance of our modern popular government. But the Puritan government was essentially a theocracy; only members of the Church were eligible to become a freeman. One also had to be a landowner.

Two ancestors had a role in documenting the early years in these colonies. George Morton [FF] was one of the authors “Mourt's Relation” the first account of life in Plymouth written to entice Englishmen to settle in Plymouth. He was the brother-in-law of Governor William Bradford and arrived in Plymouth in 1623 aboard the Anne. Edward Johnson [FB] was the author of “Wonder Working Providence,” a quaint and authentic narrative of events connected with the settlement of Massachusetts Bay.

The advent of the English Civil War in the early 1640s brought the Great Migration to an end. About 10 percent of the population returned to England, some to fight in the Civil War.

Puritan authorities in Massachusetts were sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause, and had generally positive relationships with the governments of the English Commonwealth and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.


Freeman Status

A freeman is defined as : freeman – one who is personally free, one who is not a slave or serf, subject to due process of law, etc. Only someone who was a Freeman could handle town affairs, vote, be a selectman, serve on a council, or as a member of a jury. Specifically, in reference to the Massachusetts Colony or Company, originally a freeman was a member of the Company (or who signed the Mayflower Compact), who held the right of suffrage and afterwards those that might be admitted by a majority vote of said freeman. At the start, all freeman practiced true democracy, each person having one vote on all subjects before the law, in all trials, etc. Later they acted as voters to elect representatives to the various councils and courts, which were devised to handle the growing affairs of the colony. In 1658 it was recorded, in law, that freeman must take an ‘oath of fidelity’, must not be a ‘Quaker’ or a ‘ranter’; and by 1671, a freeman was defined in the statutes, “…freemen must be twenty-one years of age, of sober and peaceable conversation, orthodox to the fundamentals of religion, and possessed of twenty pounds ratable estate in the Colony.”

In early New England a Freeman was a member of a church in good standing who had taken a civil oath called a "Freeman's Oath" and was thus allowed to vote and hold public office. Initially, any male first entering into a colony, or just recently having become a member of one of the local churches, was formally not free. They were considered common. Such persons were never forced to work for another individual, per se, but their movements were carefully observed, and if they veered from the Puritanical ideal, they were asked to leave the colony.


Early Rhode Island Settlement

Rhode Island settlers, unlike those of the other New England colonies, buried their dead on private family land instead of in central community location--such as a town green.

The political and religious history of the Rhode Island colony is unique--only Rhode Island had separation of church and state. In other colonies, each town was to some extent a parish of the church. They formed new towns by splitting off a second or third parish, and the green formed its center, where all public buildings were located--including the church. When taxes were collected, they were used to pay the minister's salary, and residents of the town were buried around the church.

In Rhode Island, which was founded on the principle of religious tolerance, the churches were smaller, and there were many scattered throughout the towns; therefore the town green system did not develop (with the exception of the few towns that were originally part of Massachusetts). Churches included 7th Day Baptists, Six Principle Baptists, Episcopal, Quaker, Jewish, Congregational, and splinter groups like Ann Hutchinson’s followers. Most of these churches did not have cemeteries and most towns, except the large port towns with small house lots like Newport, Bristol, and Providence did not have large cemeteries until about 1850, two hundred years after the other colonies.


Founding of Hartford and Connecticut

Rev. Thomas Hooker (an ancestor of Char’s) is considered the “Father of Connecticut” since he led many followers, including Alexander Edwards [PR], George Stocking [PR], and James Olmstead [PR], in 1636 to the Connecticut River country. Among that group was John Webster [PR] who would become governor of Connecticut. A further schism among the Hartford members took place when Rev. Samuel Stone [PR] wanted to liberalize the baptism ritual. When some in the congregation, including John Webster and Thomas Graves [PR], disagreed, they moved to Hadley, MA to start a new church.

George Graves [MM] and John Wilcox* [MM], Ozias Goodwin [PR] Thomas Scott [SS ] and Richard Watts [SS] Thomas Stanley [PR] Edward Stebbins [PR]. Rev. Bygod Eggleston [MD]x2 founded Windsor, Connecticut. Settlements in Hartford and Wethersfield and Springfield united with Windsor under a new government (Colony of Connecticut).


Founding of New Haven

The beginnings of the New Haven Colony were very similar to the beginnings of the Connecticut Colony. Like Thomas Hooker, John Davenport was a popular Puritan minister who fled to Holland to escape persecution by the established Church of England. Like Hooker, Davenport decided to immigrate to America in search of religious freedom, and like Hooker, a substantial portion of his congregation accompanied him. Both groups of Puritans wound up in Boston in the early 1630s and both became dissatisfied with what they found there. Hooker struck out overland to establish Hartford in 1636. Davenport’s party sailed into New Haven harbor to establish a new colony in 1638.

For its size, New Haven was undoubtedly the wealthiest colony in New England, its assessed valuation, the year after it was planted, having been £ 33,000, or the present equivalent of, perhaps, $ 700,000. Its founders, under the leadership of the Reverend John Davenport, a Nonconformist London clergyman, and Theophilus Eaton, a schoolmate of his, had arrived in the early summer of 1637, just in time to take part in the Antinomian controversy and the taxes for the Pequot war. Mr. Davenport was requested to contribute to the former, and Mr. Eaton to the latter. Their company was a distinguished one, including several other wealthy London merchants besides Eaton; five ministers; four school-teachers, among whom was the first president of Harvard; the father of Elihu Yale, the founder of Yale University; and Michael Wigglesworth, the "lurid morning star" of New England verse. Both Davenport and Eaton had been, for some years, members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that company's colony made great efforts to retain the new body of settlers within its own bounds. While the leaders took under consideration the various offers made to them, they either found them unsatisfactory, or had already determined to establish an independent colony of their own. After Eaton had examined the country around Quinnipiack, it was decided to plant there, and seven men were left to guard the site during the winter, the whole company following in the spring. Not only were the resources of the colonists unusually ample, but their preparations seem to have been exceptionally complete, and the little town soon contained the most stately dwellings in all New England. Some idea of their scale may be gained from the reputed presence in Davenport's of thirteen fireplaces, and of nineteen in Eaton's. The intention, apparently, was not only to found a Puritan state, but to have it become the chief mercantile centre of the New World, which accounts for their having built, as one of their Massachusetts critics wrote, "as if trade and merchandize had been as inseparably annexed to them as the shadow is to the body, in the shining of the sun." One disaster followed another in their business ventures, however, and the dreams of the merchant-founders were never realized.

Davenport and most of his company were not only Puritans, but of the strictest sect, and the Bible Commonwealth which they proceeded to form was of the most extreme type. Like the Connecticut and Rhode Island people, they were without a charter, and were mere squatters upon the soil; but in June, 1639, a meeting was held of the "free planters", to discuss a frame of government to replace the previously signed plantation covenant, now lost. We have no knowledge of what constituted a "free planter", but the term undoubtedly excluded a large number of males in the settlement. The proceedings took the form of queries put by Mr. Davenport, upon which those present voted by raising hands. As a result of the unanimous votes at this meeting, the fundamental agreement provided that the franchise should be restricted to church members, and that the free planters should choose twelve men, to whom should be intrusted the sole right of selecting from among the rest of the colonists those who should become church members and freemen, and who were to have the power of appointing magistrates from among themselves, of making and repealing laws, and, in fact, of performing public duties.

Under the provisions of the Charter of 1662, the New Haven Colony ceased to exist, and instead found itself absorbed by the colony of Connecticut.


Footnote

[1]Lynn Betlock