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Winthrop's Fleet landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630, with the first mass exodus of Puritans from England. There were a 1,000 settlers in that first group of settlers. Two hundred died that winter and two hundred more returned to England the following spring. But, in the next ten years, 20,000 persons, most from England and most of the Puritan philosophy, immigrated to Massachusetts to form the backbone of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. And, then, it was over. There was hardly any further migration into New England until after the Revolution. Virtually all growth of the colony after 1640 was by natural reproduction, which is why once you've found yourself a descendant of a pre-Revolution New Englander, you very likely have a bunch of immigrant ancestors.
John Winthrop was their leader, until his death in 1649. A man of some wealth, he helped to finance the first expedition and his money fed many of those first settlers in that first year.
They landed at present day Salem, but almost immediately moved to the present day site of Boston harbor. Within a couple of years, a new extension, that of Charlestown, was created. Ezekiel Richardson, our ancestor, was in Winthrop's fleet and was a founder of the church in Charlestown. Within ten years, the colony had spread into small settlements in Woburn, Lexington, Concord, Cambridge, Watertown, and others that can be seen on a map today, all within a 30-50 mile radius of Boston.
Within a few short years, this industrious and hearty group of pioneers
had established a successful and thriving colony in the New World.
By 1640, The Great Migration was over. Charles I summoned Parliament in 1640 for the first time in 11 years, opening the possibility of major political and religious change at home. Within short order, England was on the verge of civil war and efforts by folks to emigrate were discouraged. By 1650, Oliver Cromwell had executed King Charles and the English Revolution had quieted down. Commensurate with these events, the impact of Puritanism in England was pretty well finished. As a result of these events in England, immigration to the colony slowed to a trickle after 1640. Virtually all growth in New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine) from this point up to the revolution was a natural reproduction from the 20,000-26,000 or so Puritan immigrants of 1630-40. The population doubled approximately every 28 years. Immigration began into the area again after the Revolution, climaxed by the great immigration of the 1840's and 1850's from Ireland as a result of the potato famine.
Estimates of the population of New England, generated primarily internally
after 1850, are:
From Massachusetts, many of these pioneers migrated to Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire. When you find you have an ancestor to pre-revolution times in New England, the odds are that you will find several generations of your ancestors being American-born back to the original Puritan exodus of 1630-40. You will find your families interweaving and intermarrying with other New England families, so that you may very well have multiple original Puritan immigrants.
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See my page on Our English / Puritan Heritage for that side of the story!
|General History / Heritage of the Colony|
New England Naming Patterns - fairly scholarly, but very interesting for genealogists.
Here is a nice collection of Colonial America Links.
Visit the New England Page for all kinds of info and links about New England genealogy.
The Department of Housing and Community Development has put up a web with each city of Massachusetts listed, the county it is in, a brief history and many facts about the town, from census data to local government addresses.
See my own Timeline of Colonial America.
The Winthrop Society Home Page has "tentative" passenger lists and more, about Winthrop's Fleet.
The Roger Williams Family Association Home Page - not exactly Mass, but.... somebody might want to know where to find it.
The Index to Massachusetts Towns gives a bit of history and descriptive data for each town in Massachusetts
The MIT Zip Code directory will give you counties for a town, but it is based on current names and current situations.
Essex County Deeds are on-line - copies of original documents! (Go to Deeds On-Line for the old stuff, the Search function is for modern stuff.)
Essex County Genealogical Society - Providers of the The Essex Genealogist
The Essex Antiquarian - (commercial page) - Published 1897-1909, Index given here, now in the process of being published in 13 volumes.
The Groton Newsletter Page - chock full of information on Groton ancestors.
Billierica Information is available at The New England Yankee Page, shareholder lists and so on.
The Plymouth Colony site - NOT just for Pilgrims... anyone who was from the Plymouth Colony.
The Tisbury and Martha's Vineyard History Page has some interesting material on that area.
ancestry.com has several databases available with lots of genealogical interest. One is the Dictionary of New England Genealogy. They also have a rather large gedcom database contributed by folks, many of which contain descendants, and ancestors, of Massachusetts Bay Colonists. Ancestry.com is a pay service, but reasonable, and worth it, in my books. Some of their databases are free, and they usually have fixed number of free data bases, as well as a rotating list of free data bases.
The New England History and Genealogy Free Books Online Effort is a truly noble effort to place various books on-line, including Mass county histories, vital records and genealogies. The works have all been scanned in and so are therefore copies of the originals, not transcriptions. Although there is a lot of material here, this kind of database is much harder to work with than with ancestry.com or genealogylibrary.com, which are transcribed records.
|New England Indian History - Pequot War & King Philip's War|
These pages have an excellent description of the Indian history of
New England from 1620-1676 and beyond, with detailed descriptions of the
Pequot War and King Philips War.
The Pequots - a detailed description of the Pequot War
The Massasoit Page - including a trancription of a book about the Indians of New England and a genealogy database of the Massasoit Indians.
|Way of Life|
The Massachusetts Inquirer is an interesting page. It presents many of the happenings of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in a newspaper format. And some of the "articles" will bring a chuckle or two.
The Salem Witch Museum Page - A good place to start your research on this episode in Puritan history
|Slavery in New England|
Slavery was indeed in existence in New England with the Puritans.
I have found references to slaves in several of my ancestors wills, some
giving freedom, some giving property or income for life.
For a whole bunch of history regarding the History of its neighbor,
the Plymouth Colony, but also more links to Massachusetts as a whole, visit:
The Plymouth Colony Archive Project has transcriptions of original documents, including the estate papers of my ancestor, William Kemp, father of Patience (Kemp) Seabury.
Here is a commercial site with books on early New England history (I'm not affiliated.)
Library of Congress Collection regarding Massachusetts genealogy Most of these should be findable on an LDS microfilm.
Massachusetts: There She Is--Behold Her, Henry F. Howe. 1960
The Great Migration Begins, Immigrants to New England 1620-1633, Robert Charles Anderson. Detailed of every documented English immigrant to American before the end of 1633, including Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony settlers. Absolutely essential reference for this class of immigrants.
New England's Generation, by Virginia Dejohn Anderson. The Great Migration and the formation of society and culture in the seventeenth century. Citing specific examples of immigrants, the author gets into the lifestyles of the immigrants. Very interesting. Available from the NEHGS.
The New England Historical and Genealogical Society is the richest resource available for New England research. The NEHGR is fundamental to New England research.
A list of Massachusetts church records and the correlating LDS film numbers are at the Massachusetts Congregational Churches.
The Puritan Experiment New England Society from Bradford to Edwards" by Francis J. Bremer, Revised Edition, University Press of New England 1995
History of Woburn, Middlesex Co, Mass, Samuel Sewall, 1868. Should be on LDS film.
Historic Homes and Places and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, William Richard Cutter, A. M. 1908. Should be on LDS film. (Has long and detailed biographies of both the Baldwin and Richardson Families.)
A Surname Guide to Massachusetts Town Histories by Phyllis O. Longver & Pauline J. Oesterlin, Heritage Books, Inc publ 1993
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Some Historical Notes
What Was the Saybrook Platform?
Following is an example of what the Saybrook Platform was and how
it affected our Puritans forebears, from "The Backus Families of Early
New England", by Reno W. Backus, 1966.
The Norwich pastor presented the Platform to his congregation without mentioning the proviso, hoping for acceptance. The church had been of "independent Congregational order....and jealous of extraneous influences, whether civil or ecclesiastical. The members...denied the jurisdiction of magistrates and presbyteries." (78) Hearing their pastor urge acceptance of the Platform, the two Norwich Representatives in the Assembly, Richard Bushnell and Joseph Backus, rose in meeting, vigorously stated their objections to the plan, and told of the proviso permitting them to take independent action. Dissension in the church was long and painful; the pastor was eventually dismissed, a new pastor installed in 1717, and at the same time, the church "renounced the Saybrook Platform as their code of faith."
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Copyright, Norris Taylor, Jr. 1998