Forward - The Colonies



The regions of greatest unease was Middlesex, Essex and Suffolk. This area was somewhat over populated but consisted of a fairly well educated class with trade skills. The poor economy and the regions poor farm lands contributed.

Leading opposition members applied for land grants in America and formed the Massachusetts Bay Co.. They formed a Colony in Salem, north of Plymouth, and in 1630, the Governor of the Mass. Bay Co. John Winthrop came with another thousand settlers. From 1629 to 1640, the colony grew from 300 to 14,000. They were extremely independent from London, and re-incorporated the company there, as apparently the charter overlooked as to where the board meetings were to be held, thus ensuring Puritan control locally. Boston was established as the capital ( and remained the center of British resistance ) and colonies were started in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Again, there was a difference in these colonist from the Virginia Colonist. The Massachusetts Bay Co. was looking for families and would only accept single persons if they could provide a skill that could add value to the community. The single person had to find sponsorship with a family as the feeling was that a single young man would lead to trouble, and they went so far upon arrival as to pass laws forbidding persons to live alone.

Some explanation of the Winthrops is in order here, as they played an important role in the development of New England. Samuel Winthrop woke up one morning and told his father that he wasn't cut out for farming, thus struck out on his own. He studied the very closed profession of weaving and worked his way up through the apprenticeships. He became so successful that he became a key member of the Guild. Wealth and power in those days was measured by Land ownership. At that time, Henry VIII had an interesting way of financing his wealth, he would revoke patents on church properties and sell them. Samuel Winthrop was therefore able to obtain a monastery in the village of Groton England. With land title's such as these, you automatically were considered to be one of the local magistrates. He was lord over the community and was thus making an income from farming as well as levying his own local taxes. His son Samuel jr. was sent to Cambridge and Oxford for studies, as these schools are close to Groton. In fact, Groton was in the center of Puritan England. There is a lot of misunderstanding of what a "Puritan" is. What pops into most peoples minds is "abstinence, self righteous and prudish". When in reality it was meant that they firmly believed that the bible was the word of God and that one should work to gods will. The puritans were leaders of opposition to the corruption of the church and wanted reforms to fall more in line with the bible. It's interesting to note, that the average puritan home in America had its "brew", a homemade ale. They were also a better educated group of people and many a famous thinker came from this region of England.

Samuel Jr. was a lawyer as well as overseeing many of the family duties on the farms and village. He was a very outgoing man and well liked. His son John was a rather stern and religious man. He too became a lawyer, but was more caught up in his religion. Although he tended to stray at times, he assumed the same lordly duties of his father and grandfather. Under King Charles I, the head of the Church was a Mr. Laud, he and the King, worked to disband the largely Protestant parliament, and restore and earlier version of the Anglican Church. Puritans started to lose many of their rights, John Winthrop lost the right to practice law in London as well as his son John Jr.. Winthrop was approached by a group that formed a charter and land grants that was to be called "The Massachusetts Bay Company" He was elected Governor of the board, and thus set about the details of the migration. He saw this as chance to set up a "New England" more in line with the true word of God, and also as a way of recovering lost power due to persecution by Laud. He did the unusual move of taking the charter with him and relocating the board to the Colony. His son John Jr. came later after ensuring the family property was sold and obtaining more patents.

John Jr. was scholarly and adventurous, and was more concerned with science and inventing than religion. He was sought after by many of the communities in New England to be Governor and was well liked by all. He practiced medicine and was an engineer, involved in the design of Iron works, salt evaporation ponds and Grist Mills. His election to Governor of Connecticut was forced upon him, in fact he tried to retire several times, but they retained him as governor into his eighties.

Connecticut was settled in 1636 by the Rev. Thomas Hooker who felt Gov. John Winthrop (the senior) was to dictatorial and was in turn followed in 1637 by John Davenport, who felt Winthrop wasn't stern enough. They decimated a local tribe the Pequots who resisted English law in 1637, with the help of the Narragansett Indians, in what was describe as a bloody slaughter of a whole tribe, including women and children. The Puritans in general did not have good relations with the Indians. Most of the squabbles were centered about land as the Indians didnít understand the concept of ownership and law. New Englanders did try to convert the local tribes and incorporate them into society. Even with the occasional wars, they treated them far better than their Virginia cousins did.


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