Puritans, Great Exodus

Great Puritan Exodus To New England, Founding Of Boston
Author: Palfrey, John G.

Great Puritan Exodus To New England, Founding Of Boston


Whatever might have been the historic development of New England had it
proceeded from the single plantation of Plymouth, it is certain that the
growth and character of the new community were vitally affected by the large
influx of English Puritans who ten years later followed the Pilgrims to these

[See Early Religious Service Of Puritans: To these English colonists in
America, who settled in New England, religious worship was important. When
they left England and escaped the persecutions to which they were subjected,
it was with a peculier sense of gratification that they found themselves able
to worship God in the manner approved of by conscience. The above picture
shows an early religious service of the Pilgrim Fathers in their new home.]

Soon after the departure of the Pilgrims from England, in 1620, King
James I incorporated a successor to that Plymouth Company under whose patent
Plymouth colony was founded. This new company is known as the Council for New
England. The territory granted to the council extended from 40 degrees to 48
degrees north latitude, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The land was
conferred in absolute property, with unlimited powers of legislation and
government. Emigrants to New England were placed wholly under the authority
of this corporation. The great privileges conferred upon the monopoly caused
indignation among James' subjects, but nevertheless the council made numerous
grants to settlers in New England.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction in England increased; in 1625 James was
succeeded by his son, Charles I; at Plymouth the Pilgrim colony was struggling
for existence; at home the Puritans chafed under the growing despotism of
Charles. Out of this unrest came the movement leading to the larger
emigration to New England which Palfrey, the New England historian, describes.

The emigration of the Englishmen who settled at Plymouth had been
prompted by religious dissent. In what manner Robinson, who was capable of
speculating on political tendencies, or Brewster, whose early position had
compelled him to observe them, had augured concerning the prospect of public
affairs in their native country, no record tells; while the rustics of the
Scrooby congregation, who fled from a government which denied them liberty in
their devotions, could have had but little knowledge and no agency in the
political sphere. The case was widely different with the founders of the
Colony of Massachusetts Bay. That settlement had its rise in a state of
things in England which associated religion and politics in an intimate

Years had passed since the severity of the government had overcome the
Separatists, forcing them either to disband their congregations or flee from
the kingdom. From the time when Bishop Williams was made keeper of the great
seal, four years before the death of King James, the high-commission court
again became active, and the condition of Puritans in the Church was day by
day more uneasy. While some among them looked for relief to a happy issue of
the struggle which had been going on in Parliament, and resigned themselves to
await and aid the slow progress of a political and religious reformation in
the kingdom, numbers, less confident or less patient, pondered on exile as
their best resource, and turned their view to a new home on the Western
continent. There was yet a third class, who, through feeble resolution or a
lingering hope of better things, deferred the sacrifices which they scarcely
flattered themselves they should ultimately escape, and, if they were
clergymen, retained their preferments by a reluctant obedience to the canons.
The coquetry of Buckingham with the Puritans, inspiring false hopes, was not
without effect to excuse indecision and hinder a combined and energetic

Among the eminent persons who had reconciled themselves to the course of
compromise and postponement was Mr. John White, an important name, which at
this point takes its place in New England history. White, who since the
second year of King James' reign had been rector of Trinity Church in
Dorchester, was a man widely known and greatly esteemed, alike for his
professional character and his public spirit. The subject of New England
colonization, much canvassed everywhere among the Puritans, who were numerous
in the part of the kingdom where he lived, was commended to his notice in a
special form. Dorchester, near the British Channel, the principal town of the
shire, furnished numbers of those who now made voyages to New England for
fishing and trade; and they were often several months upon the coast without
opportunity for religious worship and instruction. Mr. White interested
himself with the ship-owners to establish a settlement where the mariners
might have a home when not at sea, where supplies might be provided for them
by farming and hunting, and where they might be brought under religious
influences. The result of the conferences was the formation of an
unincorporated joint-stock association, under the name of the "Dorchester
Adventures," which collected a capital of three thousand pounds.

The Dorchester company turned its attention to the spot on Cape Ann where
now stands the town of Gloucester. The Council for New England, perpetually
embarrased by the oppugnation of the Virginia Company and the reasonable
jealousy of Parliament, had recourse to a variety of expedients to realize the
benefits vainly expected by its projectors. In carrying out one scheme, that
of a division of the common property among the associates, the country about
Cape Ann was assigned to Lord Sheffield, better known as a patriot leader
under his later title of Earl of Mulgrave. Of him it was purchased for the
people of New Plymouth by Edward Winslow, when in England on the business of
that colony; and they in turn conveyed to White and his associates such as
site as was wanted for their purposes of fishing and planting.

The Dorchester company had probably anticipated this arrangement by
despatching a party of fourteen persons to pass the winter. They carried out
live stock, and erected a house, with stages to dry fish and vats for the
manufacture of salt. Thomas Gardner was overseer of the plantation, and John
Tilley had the fishery in charge. Everything went wrong. Mishaps befell the
vessels. The price of fish went down. The colonists, "being ill chosen and
ill commanded, fell into many disorders and did the company little service."
An attempt was made to retrieve affairs by putting the colony under a
different direction. The Dorchester partners heard of "some religious and
well-affected persons that were lately removed out of New Plymouth, out of
dislike of their principles of rigid separation; of which number Mr. Roger
Conant was one, a religious, sober, and prudent gentleman."

He was then at Nantasket, with Lyford and Oldham. The partners engaged
Conant "to be their governor" at Cape Ann, with "the charge of all their
affairs, as well as fishing and planting." With Lyford they agreed that he
should "be the minister of the place," while Oldham, "invited to trade for
them with the Indians," preferred to remain where he was and conduct such
business on his own account. The change was not followed by the profits that
had been hoped, and the next year" the adventurers were so far discouraged
that they abandoned the further prosecution of this design, and took order for
the dissolving of the company on land, and sold away their shipping and other
provisions." Another seemed added to the list of frustrated adventurers in New

But Mr. White did not despair of its renewal. All along, it is likely,
he had regarded it with an interest different from what had yet been avowed.
At his instance, when "most part of the land-men returned," "a few of the most
honest and industrious resolved to stay behind, and to take charge of the
cattle sent over the year before. And not liking their seat at Cape Ann,
chosen especially for the supposed commodity of fishing, they transported
themselves to Nahumkeike, about four or five leagues distant to the southwest
from Cape Ann."

White wrote to Conant, exhorting him "not to desert the business,
faithfully promising that if himself with three others, whom he knew to be
honest and prudent men, viz., John Woodbury, John Balch, and Peter Palfrey,
employed by the adventurers, would stay at Naumkeag, and give timely notice
thereof, he would provide a patent for them, and likewise send them whatever
they should write for, either men, or provision, or goods wherewith to trade
with the Indians." With difficulty Conant prevailed upon his companions to
persevere. They "stayed to the hazard of their lives." Woodbury was sent to
England for supplies.

"The business came to agitation afresh in London, and being at first
approved by some and disliked by others, by argument and disputation it grew
to be more vulgar; insomuch that some men, showing good affection to the work,
and offering the help of their purses if fit men might be procured to go over,
inquiry was made whether any would be willing to engage their persons in the
voyage. By this inquiry it fell out that among others they lighted at last on
Master Endicott, a man well known to divers persons of good note, who
manifested much willingness to accept of the offer as soon as it was tendered,
which gave great encouragement to such as were upon the point of resolution to
set on this work of erecting a new colony upon the old foundation."

The scheme on foot was no longer one of Dorchester fishermen looking for
a profitable exercise of their trade. It had "come to agitation in London,"
where some men had offered "the help of their purses," and a man of
consequence, Humphrey, probably from a county as distant as Lincoln, was
already, or very soon after, treasurer of the fund. Matters were ripe for the
step of securing a domain for a colony, and the dimensions of the domain show
that the colony was not intended to be a small one. A grant of lands
extending from the Atlantic to the Western Ocean, and in width from a line of
latitude three miles north of the River Merrimac to a line three miles south
of the Charles, was obtained from the Council for New England by "Sir Henry
Roswell and Sir John Young, knights, and Thomas Southcote, John Humphrey, John
Endicott, and Simon Whitcomb, gentlemen," for themselves, "their heirs, and
associates." Roswell and Young were gentlemen of Devon, Southcote was probably
of the same country, and Whitcomb is believed to have been a London merchant.

Gorges, though not in the counsels of the patentees, supposed himself to
understand their object. Having mentioned the angry dissolution by King
Charles of his second Parliament, and his imprisonment of some of the patriot
leaders, he proceeds to say that these transactions "took all hope of
reformation of church government from many not affecting episcopal
jurisdiction, nor the usual practice of the Common Prayers of the Church;
whereof there were several sorts, though not agreeing among themselves, yet
all of like dislike of those particulars. Some of the discreeter sort, to
avoid what they found themselves subject unto, made use of their friends to
procure from Council for the affairs of New England to settle a colony within
their limits; to which it pleased the thrice-honored Lord of Warwick to write
to me, then at Plymouth, to condescend that a patent might be granted to such
as then sued for it. Whereupon I gave my approbation, so far forth as it
might not be prejudicial to my son Robert Gorges' interests, whereof he had a
patent under the seal of the Council. Hereupon there was a grant passed as
was thought reasonable."

After three months Endicott, one of the six patentees, was despatched, in
charge of a small party, to supersede Conant at Naumkeag as local manager.
Woodbury had preceded them. They arrived at the close of summer. The persons
quartered on the spot, the remains of Conant's company, were disposed to
question the claims of the new-comers. But the dispute was amicably composed,
and, in commemoration of its adjustment, the place took the name of Salem, the
Hebrew name for peaceful. The colony, made up from the two sources, consisted
of "not much above fifty or sixty persons," none of them of special importance
except Endicott, who was destined to act for nearly forty years a conspicuous
part in New England history.

Before the winter, an exploring party either began or made preparations
for a settlement at Mishawum, now Charlestown. With another party, Endicott,
during Morton's absence in England, visited his diminished company at
Merry-Mount, or, as Endicott called it, Mount Dagon, "caused their Maypole to
be cut down, and rebuked them for their profaneness, and admonished them to
look there should be better walking." The winter proved sickly; an "infection
that grew among the passengers at sea, spread also among them ashore, of which
many died, some of the scurvy, others of an infectious fever." Endicott sent
to Plymouth for medical assistance, and Fuller, the physician of that place,
made a visit to Salem.

The New Dorchester Company, like that which had preceded it, and like the
company of London Adventurers concerned in that settlement at Plymouth, was
but a voluntary partnership, with no corporate powers. The extensive
acquaintance of Mr. White with persons disaffected to the rulers in church and
state was probably the immediate occasion of advancing the business another
step. Materials for a powerful combination existed in different parts of the
kingdom, and they were now brought together for united action. The company,
having been "much enlarged," a royal charter was solicited and obtained,
creating a corporation under the name of the "Governor and Company of the
Massachusetts Bay in New England."

This is the instrument under which the colony of Massachusetts continued
to conduct its affairs for fifty-five years. The patentees named in it were
Roswell and his five associates, with twenty other persons, of whom White was
not one. It gave power forever to the freemen of the company to elect
annually, from their own number, a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen
assistants, on the last Wednesday of Easter term, and to make laws and
ordinances, not repugnant to the laws of England, for their own benefit and
the government of persons inhabiting their territory. Four meetings of the
company were to be held in a year, and others might be convened in a manner
prescribed. Meetings of the governor, deputy-governor, and assistants were to
be held once a month or oftener. The governor, deputy-governor, and any two
assistants were authorized, but not required, to administer to freemen the
oaths of supremacy and allegiance. The company might transport settlers not
"restrained by special name." They had authority to admit new associates, and
to establish the terms of their admission, and elect and constitute such
officers as they should see fit for the ordering and managing of their
affairs. They were empowered "to encounter, repulse, repel, and resist by
force of arms, as well as by sea as by land, and by all fitting ways and means
whatsoever, all such person and persons as should at any time thereafter
attempt or enterprise the destruction, invasion, detriment, or annoyance to
the said plantation or inhabitants." Nothing was said of religious liberty.
The government may have relied upon its power to restrain it, and the
emigrants on their distance and obscurity to protect it.

The first step of the new corporation was to organize a government for
its colony. It determined to place the local administration in the hands of
thirteen counsellors, to retain their offices for one year. Of these, seven
besides the governor - in which office Endicott was continued - were to be
appointed by the company at home; these eight were to choose three others; and
the whole number was to be made up by the addition of such as should be
designated by the persons on the spot at the time of Endicott's arrival,
described as "old planters."

A proposal had just been accepted from certain "Boston men" to interest
themselves in the adventure to the amount of five hundred pounds, being a
hundred pounds in addition to what, it appears, they had previously promised,
"and to provide able men to send over."

Unfortunately, no letter had been preserved of those sent by Endicott to
England at this interesting juncture. There are, however, two letters
addressed to him by the company, and one by Cradock, appointed in the charter
to be its first governor. With various directions as to the details of his
administration, they speak of the "propagation of the Gospel" as "the thing
they do profess above all to be their aim in settling this plantation." They
enjoin the keeping of "a diligent eye over their own people, and they live
unblamable and without reproof." They forbid the planting of tobacco, except
under severe restrictions. They order satisfaction to be given to the "old
planters" by the offer of incorporation into the company and of a share in the
lands. They speak of unsuccessful negotiations with Oldham, who asserted a
claim under the patent of Robert Gorges, and give orders for anticipating him
in taking possession of Massachusetts Bay. They direct that persons who may
prove "not conformable to their government," or otherwise disagreeable, shall
not be suffered "to remain within the limits of their grant," but be shipped
to England. They prescribe a distribution of the servants among families,
with a view to domestic order and Christian instruction and discipline. They
enjoin a just settlement with the natives for lands. And they transmit a form
of oaths to be taken by the governor and members of the council.

After the organization under the charter, no time was lost in despatching
a reenforcement of colonists. Six vessels were prepared, and license was
obtained from the lord treasurer for the embarkation of "eighty women and
maids, twenty-six children, and three hundred men, with victuals, arms, and
tools, and necessary apparel," and with "one hundred forty head of cattle, and
forty goats." A committee of the company were careful "to make plentiful
provision of godly ministers." Mr. Skelton, Mr. Higginson, and Mr. Bright,
members of the Council, with Mr. Smith, another minister, sailed in the first
three vessels, which reached Salem about the same time, and were soon followed
by the residue of the fleet. Mr. Graves, another of the counsellors, was
employed by the associates as an engineer. Immediately on arriving, he
proceeded with "some of the company's servants under his care, and some
others," to Mishawum, where he laid out a town. Bright, who was one of his
party, returned to England in the following summer, dissatisfied, probably,
with the ecclesiastical proceedings which had taken place. Smith went for the
present to the fishing-station at Nantasket.

Higginson wrote home: "When we came first to Naumkeag we found about
half-score houses, and a fair house newly built for the Governor. We found
also abundance of corn planted by them, very good and well-liking. And we
brought with us about two hundred passengers and planters more, which, by
common consent of the old planters, were all combined together into one body
politic, under the same Governor. There are in all of us, both old and new
planters, about three hundred, where - of two hundred of them are settled at
Naumkeag, now called Salem, and the rest have planted themselves at
Masathuset's Bay, beginning to build a town there, which we do call
Charleston, or Charlestown. But that which is our greatest comfort and means
of defence above all other is, that we have here the true religion and holy
ordinances of Almighty God taught among us. Thanks be to God, we have here
plenty of preaching and diligent catechizing, with strict and careful exercise
and good commendable orders to bring our people into a Christian conversation
with whom we have to do withal. And thus we doubt not but God will be with
us; and if God be with us, who can be against us?"

Meanwhile, a movement of the utmost importance, probably meditated long
before, was hastened by external pressure. The state of public affairs in
England in the spring and summer of this year had brought numbers to the
decision which had been heretofore approached with sorrowful reluctance, and
several persons of character and condition resolved to emigrate at once to the
New World. It was necessary to their purpose to secure self-government as far
as it could be exercised by British subjects.

Possibly events might permit and require it to be vindicated even beyond
that line. At any rate, to be ruled in America by a commercial corporation in
England, was a condition in no sort accordant with their aim. At a general
court of the company, Cradock, the Governor, "read certain propositions
conceived by himself, viz., that for the advancement of the plantation, the
inducing and encouraging persons of worth and quality to transplant themselves
and families thither, and for other weighty reasons therein contained (it is
expedient) to transfer the government of the plantation to those that shall
inhabit there, and not to continue the same in subordination to the company
here, as now it is."

The corporation entertained the proposal, and, in view of "the many great
and considerable consequences thereupon depending," reserved it for
deliberation. Two days before its next meeting, twelve gentlemen, assembled
at Cambridge, pledged themselves to each other to embark for New England with
their families for a permanent residence, provided an arrangement should be
made for the charter and the administration under it to be transferred to that
country. Legal advice was obtained in favor of the authority to make the
transfer; and on full consideration it was determined, "by the general consent
of the company, that the government patent should be settled in New England."
The old officers resigned, and their places were filled with persons of whom
most or all were expecting to emigrate. John Winthrop was chosen governor,
with John Humphrey for deputy-governor, and eighteen others for assistants.
Humphrey's departure was delayed, and on the eve of embarkation his place was
supplied by Thomas Dudley.

Winthrop, then forty-two years old, was descended from a family of good
condition, long seated at Groton, in Suffolk, where he had a property of six
or seven hundred pounds a year, the equivalent of at least two thousand pounds
at the present day. His father was a lawyer and magistrate. Commanding
uncommon respect and confidence from an early age, he had moved in the circles
where the highest matters of English policy were discussed, by men who had
been associates of Whitgift, Bacon, Essex, and Cecil. Humphrey was "a
gentleman of special parts, of learning and activity, and a godly man"; in the
home of his father-in-law. Thomas, third earl of Lincoln, the head in that
day of the now ducal house of Newcastle, he had been the familiar companion of
the patriotic nobles.

Of the assistants, Isaac Johnson, esteemed the richest of the emigrants,
was another son-in-law of Lord Lincoln, and a landholder in three counties.
Sir Richard Saltonstall of Halifax, in Yorkshire, was rich enough to be a
bountiful contributor to the company's operations. Thomas Dudley, with a
company of volunteers which he had raised, had served, thirty years before,
under Henry IV of France; since which time he had managed the estates of the
Earl of Lincoln. He was old enough to have lent a shrill voice to the huzzas
at the defeat of the armada, and his military services had indoctrinated him
in the lore of civil and religious freedom. Theophilus Eaton, an eminent
London merchant, was used to courts and had been minister of Charles I in
Denmark. Simon Bradstreet, the son of a Non-conformist minister in
Lincolnshire, and a grandson of "a Suffolk gentleman of a fine estate," had
studied at Emanuel College, Cambridge. William Vassall was an opulent
West-India proprietor. "The principal planters of Massachusetts," says the
prejudiced Chalmers," were English country gentlemen of no inconsiderable
fortunes; of enlarged understandings, improved by liberal education; of
extensive ambition, concealed under the appearance of religious humility."

But it is not alone from what we know of the position, character, and
objects of those few members of the Massachusetts Company who were proposing
to emigrate at the early period now under our notice, that we are to estimate
the power and the purposes of that important corporation. It had been rapidly
brought into the form which it now bore, by the political exigencies of the
age. Its members had no less in hand than a wide religious and political
reform - whether to be carried out in New England, or in Old England, or in
both, it was for circumstances, as they should unfold themselves, to
determine. The leading emigrants to Massachusetts were of that brotherhood of
men who, by force of social consideration as well as of the intelligence and
resolute patriotism, moulded the public opinion and action of England in the
first half of the seventeenth century. While the larger part stayed at home
to found, as it proved, the short-lived English republic, and to introduce
elements into the English Constitution which had to wait another half-century
for their secure reception, another part devoted themselves at once to the
erection of free institutions in this distant wilderness.

In an important sense the associates of the Massachusetts Company were
builders of the British, as well as of the New England, commonwealth. Some
ten or twelve of them, including Cradock, the Governor, served in the Long
Parliament. Of the four commoners of that Parliament distinguished by Lord
Clarendon as first in influence, Vane had been governor of the company, and
Hampden, Pym, and Fiennes - all patentees of Connecticut - if not members,
were constantly consulted upon its affairs. The latter statement is also true
of the Earl of Warwick, the Parliament's admiral, and of those excellent
persons, Lord Say and Sele and Lord Brooke, both of whom at one time proposed
to emigrate. The company's meetings placed Winthrop and his colleagues in
relations with numerous persons destined to act busy parts in the stirring
times that were approaching - with Brereton and Hewson, afterward two of the
Parliamentary major-generals; with Philip Nye, who helped Sir Henry Vane to
"cozen" the Scottish Presbyterian Commissioners in the phraseology of the
Solemn League and Covenant; with Samuel Vassall, whose name shares with those
of Hampden and Lord Say and Sele the renown of the refusal to pay ship-money,
and of courting the suit which might ruin them or emancipate England; with
John Venn, who, at the head of six thousand citizens, beset the House of Lords
during the trial of Lord Strafford, and whom, with three other Londoners, King
Charles, after the battle of Edgehill, excluded from his offer of pardon; with
Owen Rowe, the "firebrand of the city"; with Thomas Andrews, the lord mayor,
who proclaimed the abolition of royalty.

Sir John Young, named second in the original grant from the Council for
New England, as well as in the charter from King Charles, sat in Cromwell's
second and third Parliaments. Others of the company, as Vane and Adams,
incurred the Protector's displeasure by too uncomplying principles. Six or
seven were members of the high court of justice for the King's trial, on which
occasion they gave a divided vote. Four were members of the committee of
religion, the most important committee of Parliament; and one, the counsellor,
John White, was its chairman.

A question had been raised, whether the company had a right, and was
legally competent, to convey the charter across the ocean, and execute on a
foreign soil the powers conferred by it. Certain it is that no such
proceeding is forbidden by the letter of the instrument; and a not
disingenuous casuistry might inquire, If the business of the company may be
lawfully transacted in a western harbor of Great Britain, why not under the
King's flag in a ship at sea or on the opposite shore? It cannot be
maintained that such a disposition of a colonial charter would be contrary to
the permanent policy of England; for other colonial charters, earlier and
later, were granted - Sir William Alexander's, William Penn's, Lord
Baltimore's, and those of Rhode Island and Connecticut - to be kept and
executed without the realm.

As to the purpose of the grantor, those were not times for such men as
the Massachusetts patentees to ask what the King wished or expected, but
rather how much of freedom could be maintained against him by the letter of
the law or by other righteous means; and no principle of jurisprudence is
better settled than that a grant is to be interpreted favorably to the
grantees, inasmuch as the grantor, being able to protect himself, is to be
presumed to have done so to the extent of his purpose. The eminent Puritan
counsellor, John White, the legal adviser of the company in all stages of this
important proceeding, instructed them that they could legally use the charter
in this manner. Very probably it had been drawn by his own hand, in the form
in which it passed the seals, with a care to have it free from any phraseology
which might interfere with this disposition of it. Certainly Winthrop and his
coadjutors may be pardoned for believing that it was legally subject to the
use to which they put it, since such was the opinion of the crown lawyers
themselves, when, in the second following generation, the question became
important. In the very heat of the persecution which at length broke down the
charter, the Chief Justices, Rainsford and North, spoke of it as "making the
adventurers a corporation upon the place," and Sawyer, attorney-general in the
next reign, expressed the same opinion - "The patent having created the
grantees and their assigns a body corporate, they might transfer their charter
and act in New England."

He who well weighs the facts which have been presented in connection with
the principal emigration to Massachusetts, and other related facts which will
offer themselves to notice as we proceed, may find himself conducted to the
conclusion that when Winthrop and his associates prepared to convey across the
water a charter from the King which, they hoped, would in their beginnings
afford them some protection both from himself and through him from the powers
of Continental Europe, they had conceived a project no less important than
that of laying, on this side of the Atlantic, the foundations of a nation of
Puritan Englishmen, foundations to be built upon as future circumstances
should decide or allow. It would not perhaps be pressing the point too far to
say that in view of the thick clouds that were gathering over their home, they
contemplated the possibility that the time was near at hand when all that was
best of what they left behind would follow them to these shores; when a
renovated England, secure in freedom and pure in religion, would rise in North
America; when a transatlantic English empire would fulfil, in its beneficent
order, the dreams of English patriots and sages of earlier times.

If such were the aims of the members of the Massachusetts Company, it
follows that commercial operations were a merely incidental object of their
association. And, in fact, it does not appear that, as a corporation, they
ever held for distribution any property except their land; or that they ever
intended to make sales of their land in order to a division of the profits
among the individual freemen; or that a freeman, by virtue of the franchise,
could obtain a parcel of land even for his own occupation; or that any money
was ever paid for admission into the company, as would necessarily have been
done if any pecuniary benefit was attached to membership. Several freemen of
the company - among others the three who were first named in the charter as
well as in the patent from the Council for New England - appear to have never
so much as attended a meeting. They were men of property and public spirit,
who, without intending themselves to leave their homes, gave their influence
and their money to encourage such as were disposed to go out and establish
religion and freedom in a new country.

The company had no stock, in the sense in which that word is used in
speaking of money corporations. What money was needed to procure the charter,
to conduct the business under it, and carry out the scheme of colonization was
obtained neither by the sale of negotiable securities nor by assessment, but
by voluntary contributions from individuals of the company, and possibly from
others, in such sums as suited the contributors respectively.

These contributions made up what is called in the records the joint
stock, designed to be used in providing vessels and stores for the
transportation of settlers. It is true that these contributors, called
Adventurers, had more or less expectation of being remunerated for their
outlay; and for this purpose two hundred acres of land within the limits of
the patent were pledged to them for every fifty pounds subscribed, in addition
to a proportional share of the trade which the government of the company was
expecting to carry on. But a share of the profits of trade, as of the land,
was to be theirs, not because they were freemen, but because they were
contributors, which many of the freemen were not, and perhaps others besides
freemen were.

When the transfer of the charter and of the government to America had
been resolved upon, it was agreed that at the end of seven years a division of
the profits of a proposed trade in fish, furs, and other articles should be
made among the Adventurers agreeably to these principles; and the management
of the business was committed to a board consisting of five persons who
expected to emigrate, and five who were to remain in England. But this part of
the engagement appears to have been lost sight of; at least never to have been
executed. It is likely that the commercial speculation was soon perceived to
be unpromising; and the outlay had been distributed in such proportions that
the loss was not burdensome in any quarter. The richer partners submitted to
it silently, from public spirit; the poorer, as a less evil than that of a
further expense and risk of time and money.

From the ship Arbella, lying in the port of Yarmouth, the Governor and
several of his companions took leave of their native country by an address,
which they entitled "The Humble Request of his Majesty's Loyal Subjects, the
Governor and the Company late gone for New England, to the Rest of their
Brethren in and of the Church of England." They asked a favorable construction
of their enterprise, and good wishes and prayers for its success. With a
tenacious affection which the hour of parting made more tender, they said: "We
esteem it our honor to call the Church of England, from whence we rise, our
dear mother, and cannot part from our native country where she specially
resideth, without much sadness of heart, and many tears in our eyes. Whishing
our heads and hearts may be as fountains of tears for your everlasting
welfare, when we shall be in our poor cottages in the wilderness, overshadowed
with the spirit of supplication, through the manifold necessities and
tribulations which may not altogether unexpectedly nor, we hope, unprofitably,
befall us, and so commending you to the grace of God in Christ, we shall ever
rest your assured friends and brethren." The address is said to have been
drawn up by Mr. White, of Dorchester.

The incidents of the voyage are minutely related in a journal begun by
the Governor on shipboard off the Isle of Wight. Preaching and catechizing,
fasting and thanksgiving, were duly observed. A record of the writer's
meditations on the great design which occupied his mind while he passed into a
new world and a new order of human affairs, would have been a document of the
profoundest interest for posterity. But the diary contains nothing of that
description. On the voyage Winthrop composed a little treatise, which he
called A Model Christian Charity. It breathes the noblest spirit of
philanthropy. The reader's mind kindles as it enters into the train of
thought in which the author referred to "the work we have in hand. It is," he
said, "by a mutual consent, through a special overruling Providence, and a
more than an ordinary approbation of the churches of Christ, to seek out a
place of cohabitation and consortship under a due form of government both
civil and ecclesiastical." The forms and institutions under which liberty,
civil and religious, is consolidated and assured, were floating vaguely in the
musings of that hour.

The Arbella arrived at Salem after a passage of nine weeks, and was
joined in a few days by three vessels which had sailed in her company. The
assistants, Ludlow and Rossiter, with a party from the west country, had
landed at Nantasket a fortnight before, and some of the Leyden people, on
their way to Plymouth, had reached Salem a little earlier yet. Seven vessels
from Southampton made their voyage three or four weeks later. Seventeen in
the whole came before winter, bringing about a thousand passengers.

It is desirable to understand how this population, destined to be the
germ of a state, was constituted. Of members of the Massachusetts Company, it
cannot be ascertained that so many as twenty had come over. That company, as
has been explained, was one formed mainly for the furtherance, not of any
private interests, but of a great public object. As a corporation, it had
obtained the ownership of a large American territory, on which it designed to
place a colony which should be a refuge for civil and religious freedom. By
combined counsels, it had arranged the method of ordering a settlement, and
the liberality of its members had provided the means of transporting those who
should compose it. This done, the greater portion were content to remain and
await the course of events at home, while a few of their number embarked to
attend to the providing of the asylum which very soon might be needed by them

It may be safely concluded that most of the persons who accompanied the
emigrant members of the company to New England sympathized with them in their
object. It may be inferred from the common expenditures which were soon
incurred, that considerable sums of money were brought over. And almost all
the settlers may be presumed to have belonged to one or another of the four
following classes: (1) Those who paid for their passage and who were
accordingly entitled on their arrival to a grant of as much land as if they
had subscribed fifty pounds to the "common stock" of the company; (2) those
who, for their exercise of some profession, art, or trade, were to receive
specified remuneration from the company in money or land; (3) those who paid a
portion of their expenses, and after making up the rest by labor at the rate
of three shillings a day, were to receive fifty acres of land; (4) indented
servants, for whose conveyance their masters were to be remunerated at the
rate of fifty acres of land for each. All Englishmen were eligible to the
franchise of the Massachusetts Company; but until elected by a vote of the
existing freemen no one had any share in the government of the plantation or
in the selection of its governors.

The reception of the new-comers was discouraging. More than a quarter
part of their predecessors at Salem had died during the previous winter, and
many of the survivors were ill or feeble. The faithful Higginson was wasting
with a hectic fever, which soon proved fatal. There was a scarcity of all
sorts of provisions, and not corn enough for a fortnight's supply after the
arrival of the fleet. "The remainder of a hundred eighty servants," who, in
the two preceding years, had been conveyed over at heavy cost, were discharged
from their indentures, to escape the expense of their maintenance. Sickness
soon began to spread, and before the close of autumn had proved fatal to two
hundred of this year's emigration. Death aimed at the "shining mark" he is
said to love. Lady Arbella Johnson, coming "from a paradise of plenty and
pleasure, which she enjoyed in the family of a noble earldom, into a
wilderness of wants," survived her arrival only a month; and her husband,
singularly esteemed and beloved by the colonists, died of grief a few weeks
after. He was a holy man and wise and died in sweet peace."

Giving less than a week to repose and investigations at Salem, Winthrop
proceeded with a party in quest of some more attractive place of settlement.
He traced the Mystic River a few miles up from its mouth, and, after a three
days' exploration, returned to Salem to keep the Sabbath. when ten or eleven
vessels had arrived, a day of public thanksgiving was observed in
acknowledgment of the divine goodness which had so far prospered the

After a sufficient pause for deliberation and conference concerning the
forms of organization of the new society, the subject of an ecclesiastical
settlement was the first matter to receive attention. On a day solemnized
with prayer and fasting, the Reverend Mr. Wilson, after the manner of
proceeding in the year before at Salem, entered into a church covenant with
Winthrop, Dudley, and Johnson. Two days after, on Sunday, they associated
with them three of the assistants, Mr. Nowell, Mr. Sharpe, and Mr. Bradstreet,
and two other persons, Mr. Gager and Mr. Colburn. Others were presently
added; and the church, so constituted, elected Mr. Wilson to be its teacher,
and ordained him to that charge at Mishawum. At the same time Mr. Nowell was
chosen to be ruling elder, and Mr. Gager and Mr. Aspinwall to be deacons.
From the promptness of these measures, it is natural to infer that they had
been the subject of consideration and concert before the landing. But there
was some lingering scruple respecting the innovation on accustomed forms; and
either for the general satisfaction or to appease some doubters, " the
imposition of hands" was accompanied with "this protestation by all, that it
was only as a sign of election and confirmation."

In the choice of a capital town, attention was turned to Mishawum, now
Charlestown. Here, ten weeks after the landing, the first court of assistants
on this side of the water was convened. The assistants present were
Saltonstall, Ludlow, Rossiter, Nowell, Sharpe, Pynchon, and Bradstreet. Three
others were in the country: Johnson, Endicott, and Coddington. The question
first considered was that of provision for the ministers. It was "ordered
that houses be built for them with convenient speed at the public charge. Sir
Richard Saltonstall undertook to see it done at his plantation (Watertown) for
Mr. Phillips, and the Governor at the other plantation for Mr. Wilson."
Allowances of thirty pounds a year to each of these gentlemen were to be made
at the common charge of the settlements, "those of Mattapan and Salem
exempted," as being already provided with a ministry. Provision was also made
for Mr. Gager as engineer, and Mr. Penn as beadle. It was ordained "that
carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, sawers, and thatchers should not take above
two shillings a day, nor any man should give more, under pain of ten
shilllings to taker and giver"; and "sawers" were restricted as to the price
they might take for boards. The use or removal of boats or canoes, without
the owner's leave, was prohibited, under penalty of fine and imprisonment.
Saltonstall, Johnson, Endicott, and Ludlow were appointed to be justices of
the peace, besides the Governor and deputy-governor, who were always to have
that trust by virtue of their higher office. And "it was ordered that Morton,
of Mount Woolison, should presently be sent for by process." Morton had lately
been brought back to Plymouth by Allerton - who incurred much censure on that
account - and, repairing to Mount Wollaston, had resumed his old courses.

A recital of the action of the board of assistants at their first
meetings on this continent will explain the early exigencies of their
administration, and the view entertained by them of their duties and powers.
At a second court, held at Charlestown, the following business was transacted.
It was agreed "that every third Tuesday there should be a court of assistants
held at the Governor's house." It was "ordered that Thomas Norton, of Mount
Wollaston, should presently be set into the bilboes, and after sent prisoner
to England by the ship called the Gift, now returning thither, that all his
goods should be seized upon to defray the charge of his transportation,
payment of his debts, and to give satisfaction to the Indians for a canoe he
unjustly took away from them; and that his house should be burned down to the
ground, in sight of the Indians, for their satisfaction for many wrongs he had
done them from time to time." Mr. Clarke was directed to pay to John Baker the
sum of thirty-eight shillings, for cheating him in a sale of cloth. A stipend
was granted to Mr. Patrick and Mr. Underhill, as military instructors and
officers. The names of Boston, Dorchester, and Watertown were assigned to the
places which still bear them. And it was ordered that no plantation should be
made within the limits of the patent, without permission from a majority of
the Board of Governor and Assistants, and that "a warrant should presently be
sent to Agawam (Ipswich) to command those that are planted there forthwith to
come away."

At a third court, also held at Charlestown, regulations were enacted
against allowing the Indians the use of firearms, and against parting with
corn to them, or sending it out of the jurisdiction, without a license.
Constables were appointed for Salem and Dorchester. The wages of common
laborers were fixed at sixpence a day, and those of mechanics who were
employed in building at sixteen pence, in addition to "meat and drink." Order
was given for the seizure of "Richard Clough's strong water, for his selling
great quantity thereof to several men's servants, which was the occasion of
much disorder, drunkenness, and misdemeanor." The execution of a contract
between certain parties for the keeping of cattle was defined and enforced.
Sir Richard Saltonstall was fined four bushels of malt for absenting himself
from the meeting. Thomas Gray, for "divers things objected against him," was
ordered "to remove himself out of the limits of this patent before the end of
March next." "For the felony committed by him, whereof he was convicted by his
own confession," John Gouldburn, as principal, and three other persons, as
accessories, were sentenced " to be whipped, and afterward set in the stocks."
Servants, "either man or maid," were forbidden to "give, sell, or truck any
commodity whatsoever, without license from their master, during the time of
their service." An allowance was made to Captains Underhill and Patrick for
quarters and rations; and, for their maintenance, a rate of fifty pounds was
levied, of which sum Boston and Watertown were assessed eleven pounds each,
and Charlestown and Dorchester seven pounds each, Roxbury five pounds, and
Salem and Mystic each only three pounds - a sort of indication of the
estimated wealth of those settlements respectively.

The public business proceeded at the next two courts after the same
manner. A restriction, which it seems had existed under Endicott's
administration, on the price of beaver, was removed. A bounty was offered for
the killing of wolves, to be paid by the owners of domestic animals in sums
proportioned to the amount of their stock. Encouragement was given, by a
legal rate of toll, to the setting up of a ferry between Charlestown and
Boston. A servant of Sir Richard Saltonstall was sentenced to "be whipped for
his misdemeanor toward his master"; and bonds were taken for good behavior in
a case of "strong suspicion of incontinency." Sir Richard Saltonst all
wasfined five pounds for whipping two persons without the presence of another
assistant. A man was ordered to be whipped for fowling on the Sabbath-day;
another for stealing a loaf of bread; and another for breaking an engagement
to pilot a vessel, with the privilege, however of buying off the punishment
with forty shillings. The employers of one Knapp, who was indebted to Sir
Richard Saltonstall, and of his son, were directed to apply half of their
wages to the discharge of the debt. An assessment or sixty pounds was laid on
six settlements for the maintenance of Mr. Wilson and Mr. Phillips, of which
sum Boston and Watertown were to pay twenty pounds each, and Charlestown half
as much; and Roxbury, Mystic, and Winnisimmet were charged with six pounds,
three pounds, and one pound respectively.

An epidemic sickness at Charlestown was ascribed to the want of good
water. An ample supply of it being found in Boston, a portion of the people
removed to that peninsula; and there for the first time after their arrival on
this continent, was held one of those quarterly general courts of the Company
of Massachusetts Bay, which were prescribed in a provision of the charter.

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