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Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony

In 1628 a group of Puritans, led by John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley, persuaded King James to grant them an area of land between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River in North America. That year the group sent John Endecott to begin a plantation in Salem.

The main party of 700 people left Southampton in April 1630. The party included John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, William Pynchon, Simon Bradstreet and Anne Bradstreet. Before they left John Cotton gave a sermon where he emphasized the parallel between the Puritans and the God's chosen people, claiming it was God's will that they should inhabit all the world. During the 1630s over 20,000 people emigrated to Massachusetts.

John Winthrop was the first governor of Massachusetts Colony. He chose Boston as the the capital and the seat of the General Court and the legislature. Thomas Dudley was appointed his deputy and on four occasions (1634, 1640, 1645 and 1650) he served as governor.

Massachusetts was virtually independent of the Britain. Its government was representative, although the franchise was restricted to church members. Non-Puritans were allowed to reside in the colony but were forbidden participation in the government

Thomas Dudley and John Winthrop did not always agree about the way the colony should be ruled. Whereas Winthrop was tolerant and liberal, Dudley favoured the expulsion of any person he considered to be a heretic. It was Dudley who managed to get Anne Hutchinson and her followers removed from the colony. A crisis meeting was held in 1635 and these conflicts were resolved. Two years later Winthrop published a new policy on heresy.

In 1628 we procured a patent from His Majesty for our planting between the Massachusetts Bay and Charles River on the south and the river of Merrimac on the north and three miles on either side of those rivers and bay. And the same year we sent Mr. John Endecott and some with him to begin a plantation and to strengthen such as he should find there, which we sent thither from Dorchester and some places adjoining; from whom the same year receiving hopeful news, the next year, 1629, we sent diverse ships over with about 300 people, and some cows, goats, and horses, many of which arrived safely.

Now, God makes room for a people three ways:

First when He casts out the enemies of a people before them by lawful war with the inhabitants, which God calls them unto, as in Ps. 44:2: "Thou didst drive out the heathen before them." But this course of warring against others and driving them out without provocation depends upon special commission from God, or else it is not imitable.

Second, when He gives a foreign people favor in the eyes of any native people to come and sit down with them, either by way of purchase, as Abraham did obtain the field of Machpelah; or else when they give it in courtesy, as Pharaoh did the land of Goshen unto the sons of Jacob.

Third, when He makes a country, though not altogether void of inhabitants, yet void in the place where they reside. Where there is a vacant place, there is liberty for the sons of Adam or Noah to come and inhabit, though they neither buy it nor ask their leaves. So that it is free from that common grant for any to take possession of vacant countries. Indeed, no nation is to drive out another without special commission from Heaven, such as the Israelites had, and will not recompense the wrongs done in a peaceable way. And then they may right themselves by lawful war and subdue the country unto themselves.

In April 1630 we set sail from old England with four good ships. And in May following, eight more followed, two having gone before in February and March, and two more following in June and August, besides another set out by a private merchant. These seventeen ships arrived all safe in New England, for the increase of the plantation here, this year 1630.

Our four ships, which set out in April, arrived here in June and July, where we found the colony in a sad and unexpected condition, above eighty of them being dead the winter before, and many of those alive, weak and sick. All the corn and bread among them all hardly sufficient to feed them a fortnight, insomuch that the remaining of 180 servants we had the two years before sent over, coming to us for victuals to sustain them, we found ourselves wholly unable to feed them.

But bearing these things as we might, we began to consult of the place of our sitting down, for Salem, where we landed, pleased us not. And so to that purpose some were sent to the Bay to search up the rivers for a convenient place; who, upon their return, reported to have found a good place upon Mystic; but some other of us seconding these to approve or dislike of their judgment, we found a place we liked better, three leagues up Charles River.

It was decided, for our present shelter to plant dispersedly, some at Charlestown which stands on the north side of the mouth of Charles River; some on the south side, which we named Boston, some of us upon Mystic, which we named Medford; some of us westward on Charles River, four miles from Charlestown, which place we named Watertown; others of us, two miles from Boston, in a place we named Rocksbury; others upon the river of Saugus, between Salem and Charlestown; and the western men, four miles south from Boston, at a place we named Dorchester.

Mr. Vane and Mr. Peter, finding some distraction in the commonwealth arising from some differences in judgment, and with some alienation of affection among the magistrates and some other persons of quality, and that hereby factions began to grow among the people, some adhering more to the old governor, Mr. Winthrop, and others to the late governor, Mr. Dudley - the former carrying matters with more lenity, and the other with more severity - they procured a meeting, at Boston, of the governor, deputy, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Dudley, and themselves.

Mr. Winthrop spoke, professing solemnly that he knew not of any breach between his brother Dudley and himself, since they were reconciled long since. Then Mr. Dudley spoke to this effect: that for his part he came thither a mere patient, not with any intent to charge his brother Winthrop with anything; for though there had been formerly some differences and breaches between them, yet they had been healed, and for his part, he was not willing to renew them again.

(1) If we here be a corporation established by free consent, if the place of our cohabitation be our own, then no man has right to come into us, etc., without our consent.

(2) If no man has right to our lands, our government privileges, etc., but by our consent, then it is reason we should take notice of before we confer any such upon them.

(3) If we are bound to keep off whatsoever appears to tend to our ruin or damage, then we may lawfully refuse to receive such whose dispositions suit not with ours and whose society we know will be hurtful to us, and therefore it is lawful to take knowledge of all men before we receive them.

Satan is now in his passions; he feels his passion approaching; he loves to fish in roiled waters. Through that dragon cannot sting the vitals of the elect mortally, yet that Beelzebub can fly-blow their intellectuals miserably. The finer religion grows, the finer he spins his cobwebs; he will hold pace with Christ so long as his wits will serve him. He sees himself beaten out of gross idolatries, heresies, ceremonies, where the light breaks forth with power; he will therefore, bestir him to prevaricate evangelical truths and ordinances.

The devil desires no better sport than to see lightheads handle their heels, and fetch their careers in a time, when the roof of liberty stands open. First, such as have given or taken any unfriendly reports of us New English should do well to recollect themselves. We have been reputed a effluvium of wild opinionists, swarmed into a remote wilderness to find elbowroom for our fanatic doctrines and practices. I trust our diligence past, and constant sedulity against such persons and courses, will plead better things for us. I dare take upon me, to be the herald of New England so far, as to proclaim to the world, in the name of the colony, that all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other enthusiasts shall have free liberty to keep away from us, and such as will come to be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better.


The Founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony was settled in 1630 by a group of Puritans from England under the leadership of Governor John Winthrop. A grant issued by King Charles I empowered the group to create a colony in Massachusetts. While the company was intended to transfer the wealth of the New World to stockholders in England, the settlers themselves transferred the charter to Massachusetts. By so doing, they turned a commercial venture into a political one.

Fast Facts: Massachusetts Bay Colony

  • Also Known As: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Named After: Massachuset tribe
  • Founding Year: 1630
  • Founding Country: England, Netherlands
  • First Known European Settlement: 1620
  • Residential Indigenous Communities: Massachuset, Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, Pequot, Wampanoag (all Algonkin)
  • Founders: John Winthrop, William Bradford
  • Important People: Anne Hutchinson, John White, John Eliot, Roger Williams,
  • First Continental Congressmen: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Cushing, Robert Treat Paine
  • Signers of the Declaration: John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Massachusetts Bay Colony

1498 - Explorer John Cabot Sails Along Massachusetts Coast
1602 - Bartholomew Gosnold Explores Southern Maine to Cape Cod
1606 - King James I Grants Charter to Plymouth Company
1620 - Colony at Plymouth established after Mayflower Voyage
1622 - Colony at Weymouth established by Robert Gorges (fails 1624)
1628 - Colony at Salem established by John Endicott
1629 - Massachusetts Bay Company Chartered
1630 - Mass Bay Colony Established at Boston by John Winthrop
1632 - Boston is made Capital of Massachusetts Bay Colony
1634 - Four Year War With Pequots Begins, Nearly Wipes Out Tribe
1635 - Roger Williams Banished Due to his Opinions
1636 - Harvard College Established at Cambridge
1638 - Slave Ship Desire Arrives at Salem from Nicaraguan Coast
1641 - Province of New Hampshire merged into Mass Bay Colony
1643 - N.E. Confederation Established (MA, Plymouth, CT, New Haven)
1648 - Margaret Jones, Herbal Practitioner, Hanged as a Witch at Boston
1652 - First coins minted in English Colonies at Boston
1659 - William Leddra Hanged at Boston for Practicing Quaker Religion
1675 - King Philip's War (Wampanoags) Endangers Colony for 3 Years
1680 - Province of New Hampshire Separated from Mass Bay Colony
1684 - King Charles II Revokes Mass Charter due to Insubordination
1686 - Dominion of N.E. Established (MA, CT, Provinces in ME, NH, RI)
1688 - NY, East Jersey, and West Jersey Provinces join Dominion
1688 - Kings James II Overthrown, Dominion Soon Disintegrates
1689 - Governor Andros Arrested and Jailed by People at Boston
1689 - Lieutenant Governor Nicholson Arrested at New York
1692 - Province of Mass Bay Implements Charter (MA, ME, NS, NB)
1692 - Salem Witch Hysteria Occurs
1710 - Britain Conquers French Acadia after Siege of Port Royal NS
1711 - Great Boston Fire Occurs, nearly 400 Buildings Destroyed
1721 - Small Pox Epidemic at Boston, 844 People Perish
1741 - Final Separation of New Hampshire from Massachusetts
1745 - French Fort at Louisbourg, Cape Breton, NS Captured by British
1748 - Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle returns Louisbourg to French Control
1754 - French and Indian War between France and England until 1760
1756 - North American War expands to Europe as Seven Years War
1758 - British Capture Louisbourg NS after Second Siege
1760 - British Crackdown on Smuggling to Increase Tax Revenues
1820 - Final Separation of Maine from the State of Massachusetts

Approximate Population of BOSTON

1650 - 3,000
1680 - 4,500
1690 - 7,000
1700 - 6,700
1710 - 9,000
1720 - 11,000
1730 - 13,000
1740 - 17,000
1750 - 15,700
1760 - 15,600
1770 - 15,500
1815 - 38,200
1825 - 58,200
1835 - 85,000
1845 - 105,000

Social Studies Links
Early History

"In 1628, the foundation was laid for another colony in New England, by the name of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. Several enterprising men at that time purchasing from the Council of Plymouth a tract of land for the purpose of settling. it. During the same year, the purchasers sent one Mr. John Endicott, with one hundred colonists, to begin a settlement, which they effected at Salem, previously called by the Indians Naumkeak.

The settlement of Massachusetts Bay, like the Colony of Plymouth, was commenced by non-conformists, for the purpose of enjoying greater religious liberty in matters of worship. Among the most active in this enterprise were Mr. Endicott and Mr. White the latter a pious and active minister of Dorchester, England.

The tract purchased extended three miles north of the Merrimack River, and three miles south of Charles River, and east and west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.

In 1629, the Massachusetts Company obtained a charter from the king, being incorporated by the name of The Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England. Mr. Endicott, being in the country, was appointed the first governor. In June, two hundred additional settlers arrived, bringing with them horses, sheep and goats, and large stores of necessaries. A part of these emigrants, not being pleased with the situation of Salem commenced the settlement of Mishawam, or Charlestown.

The following year, 1630, it being judged reasonable that a colony should be ruled by men residing in the plantation, the proprietors agreed that the charter and powers of government, conferred by it, should be transmitted from London to the colony in America. Accordingly, this was done, the officers of government being in the first instance chosen by the company in England. The excellent John Winthrop was chosen governor, and Thomas Dudley deputy governor Isaac Johnson, Sir Richard Saltonstall, and others, to the number of eighteen, were chosen assistants.

Governor Winthrop was accompanied to Massachusetts by nearly three hundred families, or fifteen hundred souls many of whom were distinguished for their quality, as well as their intelligence and piety. This company designed to settle at Charlestown but the prevalence of a fatal sickness previous to their arrival, imputed to the badness of the water, induced many of the emigrants to form other settlements, some at Dorchester, others at Roxbury and Watertown. Governor Winthrop, with some of the most distinguished gentlemen of the company, hearing of an excellent spring of water at Shawmut, established themselves there, and erected a few cottages. This was the commencement of Boston, which for a short time was called by the English as Tri-Mountain.

On the arrival of Governor Winthrop, who continued from this time to his death the head and father of the colony, he found the plantation in a distressed and suffering state. In the preceding autumn the colony contained about three hundred, inhabitants eighty of these had died, and a great part of the survivors were in a weak and sickly state. Their supply of corn was not sufficient for more than a fortnight, and their other provisions were nearly exhausted.

In addition to these evils, they were informed that a combination of various tribes of Indians was forming for the utter extirpation of the colony. Their strength was weakness, but confidence was in their God, and they were not forsaken. Many of the planters who arrived this summer, after long voyages, were in a sickly state, and disease continued to rage through the season. By the close of the year, the number of deaths exceeded two hundred. Among these were several of the principal persons in the colony. Mr. Higginson, the venerable minister of Salem, spent about a year with that parent church, and was removed to the church in glory. His excellent colleague, Mr. Skelton, did not long survive him. Mr. Johnson, one of the assistants, and his lady, who was a great patroness of the settlement, died soon after their arrival. Of the latter an early historian observes, "She left an earthly paradise, in the family of an earldom, to encounter the sorrows of a wilderness, for the entertainments of a pure worship in, the house of God and then immediately left that wilderness for the heavenly paradise."

The succeeding winter commenced in December with great severity. Few of the houses which had been erected were comfortable, and the most of them were miserable coverings. Unused to such severities of climate, the poor people suffered severely from the cold. Many were frozen to death. The inconveniences of their accommodations increased the diseases which continued to prevail among them. But their constancy had not yet been brought to the last trial. During the continuance of the severe season, their stock of provisions began to fail. Those who wanted were supplied by those who possessed, as long as any remained. A poor man came to the governor to complain, and was informed that the last bread of his house was in the oven. Many subsisted upon shell fish, ground-nuts, and acorns, which, at that season, could not have been procured but with utmost difficulty.

In consideration of their perilous condition, the sixth day of February was appointed a day of public fasting and prayer, to seek deliverance from God. On the fifth of February, the day before the appointed fast, the ship Lion, which had been sent to England for supplies, arrived laden with provisions. She had a stormy passage, and rode amidst heavy drifts of ice after entering the harbor. These provisions were distributed among the people according to their necessities, and their appointed fast was exchanged for a day of general Thanksgiving.

Early in 1631, two important rules were adopted at a meeting of the electors in General Court, namely, (1) That the freemen alone should have the power of electing the governor, deputy governor and assistants, and (2) that those only should be made freemen who belonged to some church within the limits of the colony. This latter rule would not be tolerated at the present day. It was repealed in 1665.

In 1634, a still more important change was effected in the mode of legislation. The settlements had become so numerous and extended, that the freemen could not, without great inconvenience, meet and transact the public business in person. It was therefore ordered that the whole body of the freemen should be convened only for the election of the magistrates who, with deputies to be chosen by the several towns, should have the power of enacting the laws. "Thus," observes an 1800s historian, "did the epidemic of America break out in Massachusetts, just fifteen years after its first appearance in Virginia. The trading corporation had become a representative democracy."

For ten years from this time, a discussion was had as to the relative powers of the assistants and deputies. Both received office at the hands of the people but the former were elected by the freemen of the colony, the latter by the towns. The two bodies used to meet in convention but the assistants claimed and exercised the right of a separate negative vote on all joint proceedings. At last, in 1644, a remedy was found for this long and disturbing evil, by dividing the court in their consultations the magistrates and the deputies each constituting a separate branch, and each possessing a negative on the proceedings of the other. Thus commenced the separate existence of the democratic branch of the Legislature, or House of Representatives.

In the autumn of 1635, Roger Williams was banished from the colony, for publishing novel opinions, which were deemed seditions and heretical, both by ministers and magistrates. He seems to have denied the right to possess the lands of the Indiana by virtue of any patent from the king, or any deed from a company, without their consent. He also maintained that an oath should not be tendered to an unregenerate man and, that no Christian could lawfully pray with such, though it were a wife or child. But while on these and other points Mr. Williams was over scrupulous, and even at fault, the principal accusation against him, and the chief cause of his banishment, was his distinguishing doctrine, that the civil power has no control over the religious opinions of men a doctrine which at the present day no man would venture to deny, and which shows that in this respect Mr. Williams was far in advance of the age.

The banishment of Mr. Williams was doubtless a great wrong. But it is not necessary to impeach the motives of the pilgrim fathers. They acted from a sincere but misdirected desire to uphold the government and the church, both of which they truly believed in danger. Soon after his banishment, Mr. Williams removed, and laid the foundation of Rhode Island.

During the same year, 1635, three thousand new settlers were added to the colony among whom were Reverend Hugh Peters, a minister of great energy and popular eloquence, and Henry Vane, afterwards Sir Henry Vane, a young man distinguished for his intelligence and integrity. By his correct deportment and winning manners, the latter so won upon the colonists, that the year following they elected him governor an "unwise choice," states an 1800s historian "for neither the age nor the distinction of Vane entitled him to the honor."

And the colonists soon had reason to repent their choice. During his administration, the celebrated Anne Hutchinson, a woman of great eloquence and enthusiasm, advanced certain mystical doctrines, one of which was the monstrous doctrine that the elected saints might be assured of their salvation, however vicious their lives might be. Many embraced her views and supported her cause among whom were Governor Vane, and Messrs., Cotton and Wheelright, two distinguished clergymen. Governor Winthrop, and a majority of the churches, however, deemed her sentiments heretical and seditious. Great excitement for a time prevailed among the people conferences were held, fasts observed and, at length, a general synod was called, by which her opinions were condemned, and she and some of her adherents were banished from the colony. Failing to be reelected, Governor Vane returned the following year to England. Mrs. Hutchinson sought an asylum among the Dutch, near New York, where she and her family, except one daughter, were some time afterwards massacred by the Indians.

As many of the pilgrims were persons of liberal education, they were able to appreciate the importance of learning to the rising commonwealth, as among its surest safeguards. As early as 1636, therefore, the General Court had laid the foundation of a public school or college, by the appropriation of four hundred pounds and which, the next year, was located at Newtown. In 1638, Reverend John Harvard, a pious minister of Charlestown, dying, left to the institution upwards of three thousand dollars. In consideration of this liberal benefaction, the General Court gave to the institution the name of "Harvard College" and, in memory of the place where many of the first New England settlers had received their education, that part of Newtown in which the college was located received the name of "Cambridge." As early as 1647, Massachusetts required by law that every township which had fifty householders should have a schoolhouse and employ a teacher, and that such as had one thousand freeholders should have a grammar school.

The next event of importance in our history is the union of the colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, by the name of The United Colonies of New England. The articles of this confederation, which had been agitated for three years, were signed May, 1643. To this union the colonies were strongly urged by a sense of common danger from the Indians, and by the claims and encroachments of the Dutch at Manhattan, New York.

By those articles, each colony retained its distinct and separate government. No two colonies might be united into one, nor any colony be received into the confederacy, without the consent of the whole. Each colony was to elect two commissioners, who should meet annually, and at other times if necessary, and should determine "all affairs of war and peace, of leagues, aids, charges, and numbers of men for war," etc. Upon notice that any colony was invaded, the rest were immediately to dispatch assistance.

This union subsisted more than forty years, until the charters of the colonies were either taken away or suspended by James II and his commissioners. In 1648, Rhode Island petitioned to be admitted to this confederacy, but was denied, unless she would be incorporated with Plymouth, and lose her separate existence. This she refused, and was consequently excluded. The effects of this union on the New England colonies were, in a high degree, salutary. On the completion of it, several Indian sachems, among whom were the chiefs of the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes, came forward and submitted to the English government. The colonies, also, became formidable, by means of it, to the Dutch. This union was also made subservient to the civil and religious improvement of the Indians.

Prior to this period, Mr. Mayhew and the devoted John Eliot had made considerable progress towards modernizing the Indians, and converting them to Christianity. They had learned the Indian language, and had preached to the Indians in their own tongue. Upon a report in England of what these men had done, a society was formed for propagating the Gospel among the Indians, which sent over books, money, etc., to be distributed by the commissioners of the United Colonies. The Indians, at first, made great opposition to Christianity and such was their aversion to it, that, had they not been over-awed by the United Colonies, it is probable they would have put to death those among them who embraced it. Such, however, were the ardor, energy and ability, of Messrs. Mayhew and Eliot, aided by the countenance and support of government, and seemingly blessed by Providence, that, in 1660, there were ten towns of converted Indians in Massachusetts. In 1695, there were not less than three thousand adult Indian converts, in the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

With the history of Massachusetts, the early history of New Hampshire and of the Province of Maine, is intimately connected. As early as 1641, the settlements which existed in the former were incorporated with Massachusetts and in 1652, the inhabitants in the latter were, at their own request, taken under her protection. As early as 1626, a few feeble settlements were commenced along the coast of Maine but before they had gathered much strength, the "Plymouth Council" granted to several companies portions of the same territory, from the Piscataqua to the Penobscot. These conflicting patents gave rise, in after years, to long and angry litigation.

In 1639, Sir Ferdinand Gorges, who had obtained a royal charter of the province, first established a government over it, and the following year a General Court was held in Saco Maine. His death occurring in 1649, the officers whom he had appointed deserted it, upon which the inhabitants found it necessary td provide for themselves, and accordingly sought the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

In 1664 a royal fleet, destined for the reduction of the Dutch colonies on the Hudson, arrived in Boston, on board of which were four commissioners—Colonel Nichols, commander of the fleet, Sir Robert Carr, George Cartwright, and Richard Maverick—authorized and directed to look after the colonies of his majesty, and to proceed to settle the peace and security of the country. King Charles entertained no good will towards them, and the measure was considered a hostile one.

The conduct of the commissioners was exceedingly arbitrary and offensive. Under pretext of executing their commission, they received complaints against the colonies from the Indians required persons, against the consent of the people, to be admitted to the privileges of freemen, to church membership, and full communion heard and decided in causes which had already been determined by the established courts and gave protection to criminals. After involving the colonies in great embarrassment and expense, although little attention was paid to their acts, they were recalled, and the colonies enjoyed a season of peace and prosperity, until the break out of King Philip's War.


Early Massachusetts Settlers

Watertown and Newton, Massachusetts, merit special note in the long-ago transit of the Billick-Jackson ancestors. While the early migrants settled in and passed through numerous New England hamlets —Cambridge, Northborough, Marlborough, Concord— a significant portion of the earliest arrivees resided, at least for a time, in Watertown and Newton, an area some six miles west of modern-day central Boston, on the north and south bank, respectively, of the Charles River.

Three ancestors mentioned below are included on the Watertown Founders Monument that commemorates the hamlet’s 116 original settlers: William Hagar II, William Sibley Shattuck and Isaac Mixer they are three of Bonnie’s 1,024 8 th great-grandfathers.[2]

Greenaway

Greenaway (and its many spelling variants[3]) is a quite common English surname derived from the Anglo-Saxon words grene (“green”) and weg (“way” or “road”) signaling one who lived by the grassy path. It appears in over 200,000 Ancestry.com historical documents. Confidently sorting out the earliest possible familial relationship is impossible.

Probably the earliest certain Jackson ancestor is Essex, England native John Greenaway (1515-1559), Bonnie’s 11 th great-grandfather. It was his grandson the Puritan emigrant, Jonathan Greenaway (ca. 1563-1659), who brought the family to North America. He, his wife Mary, and four or five of their daughters were among the 140 passengers on the ship Mary and John[4] when it departed Plymouth on March 20, 1630. The voyage is described as an uneventful, albeit lengthy one, arriving at Nantasket on May 30.[5] One modern historian/genealogist characterizes the journey thus:

“… we might imagine that the ship, carrying 45 crew members and 140 passengers, plus some cows, goats, pigs, and chickens was somewhat cramped! Chests of clothing, dishes, bedding, furniture, building supplies, tools, seeds for planting, food for the voyage, and water had to be brought along. People were packed into little family quarters separated by cloth partitions. It might be very cold and wet or very hot. Many people would be seasick and vomiting. Animals and people would have to do their daily “business” and diarrhea was probably common.”[6]

Jonathan was a Millwright from Mildenhall, Wiltshire, and became one of the Pioneer Settlers of Dorchester, Massachusetts. “Millwright” at this time meant a skilled mechanic who probably erected and maintained water-driven mills. He was prosperous and literate. Two of his daughters were not on the 1630 voyage but joined the family within a few years.

Jonathan’s fourth daughter, Katherine Greenaway (1622-1680), wed William Daniel (1625-1678) (see “Daniels,” on the Inland Migration), terminating the Greenaway name in the Jackson line.[7]

Hager

Little is known of the early Hager/Hagar patriarchs, save that they hailed from the hamlet of Great Chishill about eleven miles south of Cambridge. One reason I include the Hagers here is that their immediate ancestors illustrate the many intermarriages between the early Colonial settler families.[8] It’s worth noting that by around 1680, the city of Watertown, Massachusetts consisted of only a few hundred families and the total population of the Colony is estimated at around 39,000.

The first of the Hagar clan to settle in North America was Bonnie Jackson’s 8 th great-grandfather, William Hager, Sr. (1594-1675) who arrived in the Massachusetts Colony in 1645 with his son, William Hager, II (1625-1684). William, Jr., married recent Watertown immigrant, Mary Bemis (1624-1695).[9] The Hagers appear to have been a prosperous family: William’s will enumerates eight separate properties totaling over 100 acres.

The couple had ten children, including two sets of twins. Their third daughter, Sarah Hagar (1651-1722), married Nathaniel Whitney (1646-1732) they are Bonnie’s 7 th great-grandparents. And Sarah and Nathaniel’s daughter, Hannah Whitney (1687-1768), married into the Billings family. This lineage is resumed with “The Billings,” below. The Noyes and Haynes lines merged with the marriage of John Haynes and Dorothy Noyes, whose descendants are chronicled shortly (Noyes, just below, on this page).

Another of William and Mary’s children, Samuel Hagar (1647-1705), married Sarah Mixer (1657-1745) (see The Mixers page) they are Bonnie’s 7 th great-aunt and uncle.

William Shattuck

A good deal is known about the Shattuck settlers in America from a lengthy 1855 treatise about the family.[10]

William Sibley Shattuck (ca. 1622-1672), Bonnie’s 8 th great-grandfather, was probably born in Somerset, England in the early 1620s and migrated to America in 1642. Some genealogists conjecture that his father, Samuel, may have perished during the passage to America or shortly after their arrival. Early Watertown estate inventories show William as the owner of some four acres of property. Around 1642, he married Susanna (1620-1686) whose parentage and surname are unknown.[11] The couple had nine (perhaps ten) children. William was a weaver and farmer and held several town offices.[12] Three separate times he was the surveyor of highways, an important and prestigious post in Colonial times. William Shattuck died in 1672 and is buried in the old Mount Auburn Cemetery, a famous early internment spot located about four miles west of Boston and now a National Historic Landmark.

Their son, William Shattuck, Jr. (1652-1732), married Susanna Randall (1662-1723), the daughter of immigrant parents, Stephen Randall (ca. 1629-1708) and Susanna Barron (ca. 1632-1673), who had arrived in the Colony in 1634 and 1640, respectively.

William Jr. and Susanna’s daughter, Joanna Shattuck (1678-1770), has a bit of enigmatic biography with some ambiguous, incomplete and occasionally erroneous relationships. I think the best analysis shows she wed, first, Isaac Holden (1675-1711), a Watertown neighbor, around 1702. With Isaac, she had three children. Then, I suspect she divorced him around 1710-1711. By 1713 she remarried to John Kenrick (1675-1753), by whom she bore another five children. I have found no primary documents proving the dissolution between Joanna and Isaac Holden but given the birth dates of the various children and the fact that Isaac seems to have lived many years beyond the date of Joanna’s marriage to Mr. Kenrick, divorce seems a likely scenario.[13] Joanna and John Kenrick are Bonnie Jackson’s 6 th great-grandparents. The Kenrick lineage is outlined below: Kenrick & Jackson, below.

Joanna and John Kenrick’s eldest daughter, Joanna Kenrick (1715-1759), wed Jedediah Tucker (1712-1811) in November of 1737, ending the Shattuck surname in the Jackson family tree. The story of the Tucker family begins on The Tuckers of Massachusetts page.

Divorce among the Puritans

Divorce was not uncommon among Puritan settlers. It was, in fact, one of their main areas of dispute with the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The Puritans saw marriage as a civil contract, not as a religious tie.

“The Puritans recognized many grounds for divorce that were consistent with their conception of marriage. The statutes of Connecticut allowed divorce for adultery, fraudulent contract, willful desertion and total neglect for three years, and “providential absence” for seven years. Massachusetts granted divorces in the seventeenth century for adultery, desertion, cruelty, and “failure to provide.” Physical violence was also recognized as a ground for divorce. Husbands and wives were forbidden to strike one another in Massachusetts there was no such thing as “moderate correction” in the laws of this colony. The courts often intervened in cases of wife-beating, and sometimes of husband-beating too.”[14]

A remote Jackson relative,[15] Elizabeth Luxford (1617-1668), is sometimes cited as one of the very earliest examples of the Puritan colonists’ liberal view of divorce. I won’s recount the whole story here, but her husband James was found guilty of several transgressions and Elizabeth was granted a divorce as well as possession of all the Luxford property. In addition he paid a fine, sat in the stock for an hour, and was banished from the Massachusetts Colony. Mr. Luxford was apparently quite a scoundrel. He was later found guilty of “forgery, lying, and other foul offences and other crimes,” and was sentenced to whipping and had his ears cut off! [16]

Isaac Mixer, Sr.

Another of the Watertown founders was Isaac Mixer, Sr. (1579-1642). The few known biographical notes about the senior Mixer are included below in the section about the Mixers.

Kenrick & Jackson

The Jackson family tree may have ancestors in an ancient line of Welsh nobles, beginning with one Cynwrig ap Rhiwallon (995-1075), with roots in Denbighshire, Wales. One 14 th -century relative is said to have been a knight in service of The Black Prince (Edward Woodstock, son of King Edward III of England) in two key battles of the Hundred Years War with France, Crécy (1346) and Poitiers (1356).

The “Cynwrig” name morphed over time into variations of Kenrick and Kendrick with most descendants residing in the village of Woore, in Shropshire, and occupying Woore Manor into the 1600s.

Although primary documentation is scant and inconclusive, most family trees suggest that the Kenrick Colonial ancestors begin with John Kendrick (1604-1686)[17], Bonnie’s 8 th great-grandfather, who was born in England and arrived in Boston in the mid-1630s.[18] For a time, he owned a wharf on the town dock (later called Tyng’s Wharf). He sold this property in 1652 and acquired 250 acres to the southwest that eventually became part of Newton. The area where present-day Nahanton Street and Kendrick Street join to cross the Charles River, adjacent to Kendrick Pond, is part of that original Kenrick homestead. John Kenrick passed away on August 29, 1686. His name appears on the Newton First Settlers Monument in the East Parish Burying Ground, a cemetery dating from about 1660 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

John married Anna Smith (1604-1656) in about 1635.[19] Their son, Elijah Kendrick (1645-1680), married Hannah Jackson (1646-1737) in 1668.

Hannah was the daughter of English immigrant, John Jackson (1602-1675), who had come to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1635. John himself was the son of a prosperous Londoner, Christopher Jackson (1575-1633). Not long his arrival in the Colony, John became one of the founders of Cambridge, served as the first deacon of the church, and in 1660 donated land upon which the first church and cemetery set up.[20]

The last of the Kenricks in the Jackson line was Joanna Kenrick (1715-1759), Bonnie’s 5 th great-grandmother, who wed Jedediah Tucker in November of 1737 (see Kenrick & Jackson, below).

The Colonial Whitneys

As noted earlier (see “Whitney,” on the European and English Roots page), the Whitney’s had a long history in Europe before John Whitney Jr. joined the Puritan migration to America in 1635. The Colonial Whitneys were a prominent family with significant land holdings and scores of descendants throughout Massachusetts and the surrounding area. This common surname presents challenges for genealogists and lineages prior to the individuals noted just below are uncertain. These are the early forbearers, by the way, of the famous inventor, Eli Whitney (1765-1825).

Little is known of Thomas Whitney (1550-1637), save that he was a “Gentleman,” and long-time resident of London. In May of 1583 he wed Mary Beth Bray (1563-1629), the daughter of London tailor, John Bray (1525-1615). It was their son, John Whitney (see just below) who became one of the first of many of the various Whitneys to settle in the New World.

Infant and Child Deaths

Unlike so many of the families chronicled here, the Whitney’s suffered an unusual number of early deaths. Over three generations, these families endured the loss of fourteen children at tragically young ages.

John Bray (1525-1615) and Margaret Haslonde (1536-1588) (John Whitney’s maternal grandparents) saw six of their offspring perish at early ages:

  • John, born1554, died at age four months
  • Margaret, born 1556/57, died just two weeks afterbirth
  • Laurence, born 1558, died at about age 12
  • Joan, born 1560, died in infancy (probably stillborn)
  • Thomas, born 1562, died at about age 8
  • Henry, born 1566, died in infancy

Thomas Whitney and Mary Beth Bray (John’s mother and father) suffered similar calamities with six of ten children passing in infancy or childhood:

  • Thomas, born 25 Jul 1587, died 19 Aug 1587, age three weeks
  • Henry, born 11 Nov 1588, died 4 Jan 1589, age about eight weeks
  • Arnwaye, born 2 Feb 1590, died 11 Aug 1591, age 19 months[21]
  • Nowell, born 30 Oct 1594, died 28 Feb 1597, at about age eighteen months
  • Mary, born 2 Aug 1600, died 8 Aug 1600, at six days
  • Robert, born 10 Nov 1605, died before 1610, age four years.

There is no known explanation for these very early deaths. There were several outbreaks of The Plague in London in 1582, 1592-93, and 1603 perhaps some of these children succumbed to remnants of these epidemics.

Sadly, two of John Whitney and Elinor’s nine children also died in infancy or very young:

At the other extreme, however, his third son, Richard Whitney (1624-1790), lived to be 94, another son, Joshua to 84, and two others into their 70s.

John Whitney, Sr. (1588-1673) and his wife, Elinor (1615-1659) (Bonnie’s 9 th great-grandparents),[22] lived first in Isleworth, England then later in London proper.[23] They departed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony on April 13, 1635 on the ship Elizabeth & Ann, accompanied by their six children. They landed in June, probably in Boston or Charlestown. He was a tailor by trade. John acquired a 16-acre tract a bit north of modern-day Belmont and Common Streets in Watertown. Their seventh child, Joshua Whitney (1636-1719), was the first Whitney to be born in America. He was one of the founders of Groton, Massachusetts (burned down by the Indians in 1676 during King Philip’s War) and later Deacon of the church in Watertown. Elinor died in 1659 and John married Judith Clement (1638-1673)[24] in the fall of that year.

John and Elinor’s eldest son, John Whitney, Jr. (1620-1692), was nearly fifteen years old when he arrived in America. He married another English émigré, Ruth Reynolds (1643-1662).[25] In adulthood, he was a soldier in King Philip’s War and became a major land holder: his will references some 200 acres of property in Watertown. Ruth passed away at age 38, in May of 1662. John died in Watertown in October of 1692, at age 72.

Nathaniel Whitney (1646-1732), son of John and Ruth, was born in Watertown on February 1, 1646. He was twice married first to Sarah Hagar (1651-1722) whose father, William, arrived in the Colony in 1645. They are Bonnie Jackson’s 7 th great-grandparents. The couple had eight children over twenty-five years the last, Grace Whitney (1700-ca. 1720), was born when Mrs. Whitney was 48 years old. This would be twenty-five years after the birth of the couple’s first child, Nathaniel, in 1675.[26] Strangely, Sarah outlived her youngest child who passed away in around 1720/21. Grace’s death may have been related to an outbreak of smallpox that occurred in the Colony at this time. The “Fever” as it was called is estimated to have infected over 50% of the population of Boston proper.[27]

Following Sarah’s death in 1722, Nathaniel married Sarah Shepard Goble (1658-1746). He was a successful farmer and at the time of his death he possessed some 50 acres of land, a mansion, a barn, and substantial cash. He died without a will and the administration of his estate amongst his heirs took nearly a year to sort out.

Nathaniel’s daughter, Hannah Whitney (1688-1768) was born March 17, 1687. She married Nathaniel Billings (1688-1750), a native of Concord, on October 11, 1708. The Billings chronicle continues just below (Billings).

The Noyes’s

As seen earlier (“The Noyes Clan,” on the Middle Ages and Renaissance Heritage page), the Noyes family of Weyhill, England, can be traced at least to the 14 th -century. Perhaps the first of that stock to travel to North America was Peter Noyes (1590-1667),[28] Bonnie Jackson’s 9 th great-grandfather. Born in Andover, Hampshire County, England in August of 1590, he married Elizabeth ? (1594-1636) in 1621 and fathered six children. Elizabeth died around 1636 and Peter decided to emigrate to New England.

He made an initial Atlantic crossing, departing Southampton aboard the Confidence on April 24, 1638, accompanied by his two oldest children, Thomas, age 15 and Elizabeth 13 and three servants. Members of the afore-mentioned Haynes family (in the Middle Ages and Renaissance Heritage page) were on the same ship. He explored the area around Watertown and was granted some seventy acres of land. Having decided to relocate permanently to the New World, he sailed back to England and returned to America in 1639 aboard the ship Jonathan, with his children Nicholas, Dorothy, Abigail, and Peter, several friends and servants. It must have been a difficult sailing as the wife and infant daughter of one of the servants died during the passage as did the grandmother of one of the friends, a Richard Barnes. Peter is considered one of the founders of Sudbury, Massachusetts, where he eventually settled. He occupied numerous civic posts including surveyor, constable, deputy to the General Court and judge. Two of his daughters and one son married children of Walter Haynes (see “The Haynes’s in America on the Inland Migration page). Peter died on September 23, 1657.[29]

Of the six offspring of Thomas and Elizabeth, eldest son Thomas Noyes (1623-1666) was the most prominent. One historical account describes him thus:

“[he] was a prominent man in the colony, one of the principle surveyors, and often called on to lay out farms in Sudbury and adjacent towns. He was a selectman for twelve years, and was authorized to marry in Sudbury was called Ensign as early as 1658, and Lieutenant in 1665 he was second in command under Capt. Hugh Mason, whose company was ordered to march against the Dutch at the ‘Monhatoes.’ In pay for his service in this campaign he was granted 250 acres of land in what is now Worcester. He also owned land in Newbury…”[30]

The Noyes and Haynes lines merged with the marriage of John Haynes and Dorothy Noyes, whose descendants are chronicled shortly (see “The Haynes’s in America”on the Inland Migration page).

The Billings’s

The Billings family presents an especially vexing problem for family historians. The surname is terribly common: an important index to New England family names records nearly 2,000 individuals with the Billings surname.[31] Worse, still, errors regarding birth place, dates of birth and familial relationship for the European and Colonial Billings were accepted as fact and repeated in centuries of genealogies.[32]

Given the uncertainties of earlier ancestors, I’ll begin the Billings ancestry with the first member of the family who can reliably be placed in the Jackson line: Nathaniel Billings (1600-1673).[33] He was Bonnie Jackson’s 8 th great-grandfather. Nathaniel arrived first in New Hampshire in 1639 then moved on to Massachusetts. He is regarded as one of the founding fathers of Concord, Massachusetts. Some records indicate he married Jane Hastings (1604-17??) in 1640 others suggest they were married prior to their arrival in America. He eventually came to own some fifty acres of property. The couple had two sons, John Billings (1640-1704) and Nathaniel, Jr.

Nathaniel Billings, Jr. (1640-1714) married Jane Goodenow Banister (1658-1708) in 1679. They had five children between 1680 and 1690. Following Jane’s death, he married Lydia Luxford (1647- ?) (her second marriage, as well) in March of 1709. Nathaniel drowned on August 27, 1714 while fetching drinking water from a spring. He was 74 years old. The Billings’ property at this time is the same area where some 150 years later Henry David Thoreau settled while authoring Walden or, Life in the Woods.

Nathaniel Jr. and Jane’s fourth son, Nathaniel Billings III (1688-1750), was born May 29, 1688 in Concord, Massachusetts. He married Hannah Whitney (1687-1768), a Watertown, native, in October of 1708. Hannah was a descendent of above-mentioned Ruth Reynolds (1623-1662) and John Whitney (1621-1692), who had sailed for Massachusetts in the Spring of 1635 on the ship Elizabeth and Ann and were among the first settlers in Watertown.

The second son of Nathaniel and Hannah, Thomas Billings (1712-1790) (Bonnie’s 5 th great-grandfather), was born in Concord on May 9, 1712. He married Sarah Fay (1710-1800) in 1731. Sarah’s great-grandfather, David Henry Fay (1620-1655) had brought the family from England to the Boston area in 1655 or 1656. Thomas and Sarah’s fifth child, Silvanus, was born in Westborough in 1745 his history will be discussed below in the Union of the Tucker and Billings Lines page.


Massachusetts historical legal documents and laws

Mayflower Compact: Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth, 1620. An agreement drawn up by the Plymouth colonists in which the signers agreed to pledge allegiance to the King of England, govern the settlement by majority rule, allow every freeman the equal right of participation in the colony's government, and elect a governor annually.

Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641. "Perhaps no other writing from the Puritan Era had so far-reaching an effect as this document, which laid the foundations of Massachusetts liberties, for which New Englishmen fought against the Empire in the 1680's and during the American Revolution, and which became a pattern of the United States Constitution. It is remarkable as a code of law, in that it lays out a structure of jurisprudence in terms of liberties rather than restrictions. In this it echoes the Magna Charta, and foreshadows our Bill of Rights. Drawing upon the Magna Charta and English Common Law, it was largely the work of one man, the remarkable Puritan thinker and writer, Nathaniel Ward."

The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes Concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusets (Selections), 1648. This is not the whole book, but does contain most topics of general interest, such as capital crimes, laws concerning strangers, Anabaptists and Jesuits and more.

Penalty for Keeping Christmas, 1659. Law that banned the celebration of Christmas.

Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1691. This charter expanded the original colony of Massachusetts Bay and provided for the Governor's appointment by the Crown rather than election, and at the same time broadened the Governor's powers.


Massachusetts

One of the original 13 colonies and one of the six New England states, Massachusetts (officially called a commonwealth) is known for being the landing place of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. English explorer and colonist John Smith named the state for the Massachuset tribe. Boston, the state capital, was a hotbed of activity, including the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party, during the American Revolution. In addition to its revolutionary spirit, the state is known for sparking the American Industrial Revolution with the growth of textile mills in Lowell, and for its large Irish-American population.

Date of Statehood: February 6, 1788

Did you know? The chocolate chip cookie was reportedly invented in 1930 at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts. In 1997 it was designated the official cookie of the commonwealth.

Capital: Boston

Population: 6,547,629 (2010)

Size: 10,554 square miles

Nickname(s): Bay State

Motto: Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem (𠇋y the sword we seek peace, but peace only underliberty”)


Governor William 

William Bradford (1590-1657) was a leader of the Separatist congregation, a key framer of the Mayflower Compact, and Plymouth’s governor for 30 years after its founding. He is credited with drafting major parts of Plymouth’s legal code and creating a community focused on religious tolerance and an economy centered on private agriculture.

Born in England, he escaped with the Separatists to the Netherlands in 1609 when he was still a teenager to avoid persecution. Bradford kept a voluminous journal chronicling the Mayflower’s voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony that was published under the title Of Plymouth Plantation. It is considered one of the most important firsthand accounts of early New England.

Did you know? William Bradford’s descendants include chef Julia Child, Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, and Noah Webster, creator of Webster’s Dictionary.


European settlement

Prior to 1685 there were two separate colonies within the boundaries of present-day Massachusetts. The area around Plymouth and Cape Cod, settled by the Pilgrims, was known as Plymouth colony, or the Old Colony. By the mid-1640s its population numbered about 3,000 people. The colonists who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower were a small group of Separatists who had fled to Holland from England to practice their religion without official interference. Economic hardship and a desire to establish an identity free of Dutch influence prompted them to seek out America. The Pilgrims were never granted a royal charter their government was based on the Mayflower Compact, a document signed by 41 male passengers on the Mayflower five weeks before their arrival in the New World. The compact was hardly democratic, since it called for rule by the elite, but it established an elective system and a basis for limited consent of the governed as the source of authority. The Old Colony was rapidly overshadowed by its Puritan neighbour to the north, the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Puritanism was persecuted in England because it sought ecclesiastical reform within the Church of England structure (rather than the Separatists’ dissociation from it). They were not advocates of religious tolerance, as other Protestant groups and radical thinkers discovered. Many with differing religious views—including Roger Williams of Salem and Anne Hutchinson of Boston, as well as unrepentant Quakers and Anabaptists—were banished, and a few were executed. The Massachusetts Bay Colony expanded rapidly. By the mid-1640s it numbered more than 20,000 people, and it began absorbing settlements in Maine and New Hampshire. The government of the colony was based on a providential interpretation of the royal charter granted by King Charles I, which was transferred to the new settlement by its governor, John Winthrop. The exhortation by Winthrop, “For wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty uppon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us,” underlines the strength of conviction of the Puritan mission.

The Puritans essentially established a theocracy, with close ties between the government and the clergy. The leaders felt comfortable not only in establishing patterns of government by interpreting the colony charter but also in interpreting the will of God for the people. However, the arrangement fell short of its purpose. When in 1634 Winthrop refused to call a meeting of the General Court, the freemen demanded to see the charter. He acceded, divulging his infringement on the rights of the legislature, and a bill was quickly passed that vested governmental power in the freemen.

The Puritan government often operated as an independent state, to the point of minting its own money and even conducting its own foreign affairs. Great Britain, after neglecting the colony for many years, revoked the company charter and in 1691 set up a royal colony that united Massachusetts with the former colonies of Plymouth and Maine and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. In this new Massachusetts, the franchise was given only to those who owned property or paid taxes. Continued lack of interference from Great Britain allowed the colonists to gain a tradition of self-reliance and self-government. Maine remained a part of Massachusetts until 1820, when it was established as a separate state.

Settlers feared the reputedly hostile Native Americans of Massachusetts, but until 1675 relative peace prevailed because of a pact with Massasoit, chief of the Wampanoag people. This accord was ended by Metacom (known to the English as King Philip), Massasoit’s son. His open warfare, King Philip’s War (1675–76), ended with his own death, but only after hundreds of settlers had been killed and some 50 towns raided in southeastern and central Massachusetts. Repeated expeditions against the Native Americans were common in the 18th century, as Massachusetts men joined with British troops to fight the French and their Indian allies.

Commercial and industrial expansion marked 18th-century Massachusetts and resulted in the rapid settlement of new communities, many spurred by speculation. Between 1692 and 1765, 111 new towns and districts were incorporated, while the population increased to 222,563.


Massachusetts Bay Colony - History

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was a settlement established by the English along the east coast of North America during the seventeenth century it is the area which is known as present-day Boston along with parts of Salem. The local officials claimed to own the territory, although it was never governed by colonialists. The area that were part of New England include: Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. At that time, the territory is believed to have extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

New England

The colony was built by the Massachusetts Bay Company. One of the company’s investors was Dorchester Company, despite its reputation of having been a failure. Dorchester Company was given the rein to manage Cape Ann, a fishing village at that time, the venture proved to be unprofitable that people who financially supported the Dorchester Company, no longer backed the company by 1625. Four years later, in 1628, people began migrating to New England which made the settlement successful. The influx of were composed mostly of Puritans.

The government was influenced by Puritan religious leaders. Although the governor was elected by the people, the election was said to have been influenced by religious officials. Voters were being questioned about their religious views before they were permitted to cast a vote. The colony officials were not open to other religious views, which included Quakers, Baptists and Anglicans. Puritans did not celebrate holidays, not even Christmas, because of their belief that these holidays had pagan roots.

Economics & Diplomacy

When it came to the economy, the Massachusetts Bay Colony maintained had a successful economic growth. They were involved in trade with England and the West Indies. The colony did not have enough “cash”, which led them to institute minting in 1652. Political challenges became a hindrance for the people that, in 1686, King James II established the Dominion of New England which placed the colonies under the control of the crown.

The relationship with the native population offered hope and colonial officials gave them the respect expected. But because of cultural differences, two wars emerged from their misunderstandings: the Pequot war which took place for two years from 1636 to 1638, and King Phillip’s war which lasted for a year from1675 until 1676. In the second war between the native Americans and the colonizers, the natives living in the southern part of New England were killed and driven out. Some were “pacified.”

During the early years of the Colony, life was difficult. Early colonizers lived in rudimentary structures such as dugouts, wigwams and huts with dirty floors made from daub and wattle. After a few years, there was a marked improvement in the construction of homes. They began to use materials which included clap boards, flat timber roofs, and wooden chimneys.

People with money added convenience to their homes, such as a lean-to, which provided additional space for a bigger kitchen. They included extra rooms and an attic. The interior designs of the colonizers improved over the years. Plaster walls and wainscoting were used as more expensive homes began to be built.


Settlers at Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony (1623)

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The settlements formed by these squatters and stragglers were quite unauthorized by the New England Council, which owned the title to the soil. As this Council had accomplished very little under its patent, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, its most active member, persisted in his efforts to found a colony, brought about a general distribution of the territory among its members, and obtained for himself and his son Robert, the section around and immediately north of Massachusetts Bay. An expedition was at once launched. In September, 1623, Robert Gorges with six gentlemen and a well-equipped and well-organized body of settlers reached Plymouth, — the forerunners, it was hoped, of a large number to come. This company of settlers was composed of families, the heads of which were mechanics and farmers, and with them were two clergymen, Morrell and William Blackstone, the whole constituting the greatest enterprise set on foot in America by the Council. Robert Gorges, bearing a commission constituting him Governor-General over all New England, made his settlement at Weston's old place at Wessagusset. Here he built houses and stored his goods and began the founding of Weymouth, the second permanent habitation in New England and the first on Massachusetts Bay. Unfortunately, famine, that arch-enemy of all the early settlers, fell upon his company, his father's resources in England proved inadequate, and he and others were obliged to return. Of those that remained a few stayed at Wessagusset one of the clergymen,William Blackstone, with his wife went to Shawmut (Boston) Samuel Maverick and his wife, to Winnissimmet (Chelsea) and the Walfords, to Mishawum (Charlestown). Probably all these people were Anglicans some later became freemen of the Massachusetts colony others who refused to conform returned to England but Blackstone remained in his little cottage on the south slope of Beacon Hill, unwilling to join any of the churches, because, as he said, he came from England to escape the "Lord Bishops," and he did not propose in America to be under the "Lord Brethren."

In September 1623, a second colony was created on the abandoned site at Wessagusset, led by Governor-General Robert Gorges. This colony was rechristened as Weymouth and was also unsuccessful, and Governor Gorges returned to England the following year. Despite that, some settlers remained in the village and it was absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.

Gorges arrived in Massachusetts in September 1623, only four months after Weston's colony collapsed. Instead of founding his colony at the location described in the patent, he chose the abandoned settlement at Wessagusset. It was rechristened Weymouth after Weymouth, Dorset, the town where the expedition began. Over the following weeks, he visited Plymouth and ordered the arrest of Thomas Weston who had arrived in that colony in the Swan.

After wintering in Weymouth, Gorges abandoned his new colony in the spring of 1624 due to financial difficulties. Most of his settlers returned to England, but some remained as colonists in Weymouth, Plymouth, or Virginia, and William Blaxton settled in Boston. The remaining Weymouth settlers were supported by Plymouth until they were made part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.

From Cook, Lewis Atwood, ed. (1918), History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1622�, 1, New York, NY: S. J. Clark Publishing Company, p. 290 GoogleBooks

A few months after the disappearance of the Weston colony, probably in early September, 1623, another expedition sailed up the Fore River and landed at the deserted plantation. It was led by Robert Gorges, a son of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, acting under a charter from the Plymouth Company. The men who came with Captain Gorges were of a different type from those sent over by Weston the year before, one of them being Rev. William Morrell, a minister of the Church of England. The charter gave them "ten miles of the coast on the northeast side of the Massachusetts Bay and extending thirty miles inland." In selecting the place to begin his settlement, Gorges no doubt thought Wessaguscus was covered by the grant. Says Gilbert Nash: "They chose their ten miles evidenly to include the entrance to Boston Harbor, and this mistake, if mistake it were, was the cause of much trouble in the future." Mr. Nash says further: "The plan of the colony was projected upon a scale of magnificent proportions and with machinery sufficient to conduct the affairs of an empire. Captain Gorges was named as GovernorGeneral, with a general oversight of the company's officers in America, and authority by commission to carry out his plans. Associated with him in the government were Capt. Francis West, admiral Christopher Levet, Esq., perhaps the chief judicial officer, and such others as the Governor-General chose to appoint, any two of whom, with himself, were empowered to transact any business necessary for the government of the colony. The governor of Plymouth, for the time being, was constituted a member of the government."

As soon as Governor Bradford of Plymouth learned that the company had arrived at Wessaguscus, he made arrangements to visit the colony. Before he had time to put his design into execution, Gorges, while on a tour of inspection over his grant, encountered bad weather and took refuge at Plymouth. After remaining there a few days he returned by land to his settlement. Upon his arrival there it appears he for the first time exercised his authority as governorgeneral by causing the arrest of Thomas Weston, who had come into Plymouth Bay on the Swan, and ordering him and his vessel to be sent around to Wessagus. Not long after this he returned to England, with a considerable portion of his company, "thoroughly disgusted with the work of founding an empire in the New World."

After the departure of Gorges, some of his colonists went to Virginia, Rev. William Morrell took up his temporary abode at Plymouth, and a few remained at Wessaguscus. In fact the settlement made by Gorges at Wessaguscus was never entirely broken up. Mr. Morrell went back to England in 1624 and the same year a number of emigrants from Weymouth, England, joined the little band on the shores of the Fore River. With them came a non-conformist minister by the name of Barnard, who remained in the settlement until his death. The records of the colony for the next few years are meager, though there is an occasional mention of the settlement at Wessaguscus, indicating continual though small accessions to the number of inhabitants. Governor Winthrop visited the place in 1632 and was "liberally entertained by those residing there," and in the next year Wessaguscus is mentioned as "a small village." All the evidence tends to show that the Gorges settlement was permanent and therefore the second settlement in Massachusetts.


Watch the video: 13th December 1636: The Massachusetts Bay Colony organises a formal militia (January 2022).