History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts - Samuel Adams Drake - ebook

History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts ebook

Samuel Adams Drake



It is unnecessary to spend words denying the position of Middlesex County in New England history, or to assert its preeminence over some of her sister counties of the commonwealth. The fact is that three separate counties in Massachusetts are entitled to the distinction of " historic counties," and to each of them belongs distinguished and peculiar honor for the parts they have severally borne in the civilization of New England, and in contributing to the patriotism, valor and intelligence of the century. The history is given in twenty-six divisions, beginning with the history of the Massachusetts Company, giving biographies of the leaders, their religious ideas and political ambitions; next treating of the Pequot and King Philip's wars; the period of historic transition from the Colonial to the Provincial government, and the events immediately preceding the Revolution. Naturally the interest in Mr. Drake's narrative centres in the great events attending the outhreak of the Revolution, and we accord high praise to his treatment of the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, the feeling of the country at the beginning of hostilities, and its condition after the investment of Boston.

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History of

Middlesex County,









History of Middlesex County, Samuel Adams Drake

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650841



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THE purpose of an historical introduction to these volumes is, chiefly, to present a narrative of public events which would dispense with frequent repetitions in the histories of the separate towns constituting the county, and thus secure a unity otherwise unattainable. For this design a general outline of the colonial history of Massachusetts was found to be indispensable.

No history of Middlesex could be written that did not largely embody the annals of Charlestown, the parent of all the towns of the county; the important part has, therefore, been related in the introduction, instead of in a separate article.

The history of Brighton, which so long formed a constituent part of the county, was also deemed essential to the general completeness of the work, more especially as the municipality has no separate written history of its own.

Deeming such a course not only equitable, but for the interests of historic truth, the authors of the articles in this work have freely expressed their own views upon controverted questions, but the editor accepts the responsibility only for what is embraced in the introductory chapters.


Melrose, August 20, 1879.




It is not often that so small a political division as a county obtains a history of national significance. For us, the explanation is easy. In New England there is no difference of race, language, or religion to perpetuate distinctions. The county is usually regarded as a convenient subdivision of the territory of a state for the ordinary purposes of government, nothing more. Accident, and accident alone, may have made the ground historic. Family traditions may do something; but it is only in a few instances that a sentimental attachment can be founded on them. The state claims the citizen; the citizen, the state.

But it has happened in the State of Massachusetts that the counties of Plymouth, Essex, and Middlesex, instead of being merely the expansion from a common center of population, were originally distinct political communities, and have, therefore, to some extent, a separate history of their own. Plymouth was a separate colony and government until the accession of William III.

Essex witnessed the laying of the foundations for the colony of Massachusetts Bay; Middlesex, the formal assumption of government, under the royal charter, by men who brought with them to the New World the germ of an independent state.

Thus, these three communities indicate three historic eras. Not merely accidental collections of adventurers, they are the embodiment of great principles which in time became the ruling ideas of a nation.

To New England they indicate not only the boundary between barbarism and civilization, but the centers from which most of her native-born population is derived. In so far as great events may illustrate a history, Middlesex surpasses her sisterhood of original shires. So much is hers of right to claim. It concerns us that the justice of this claim shall lose nothing by our presentation of it.

The History of Middlesex is so interwoven with that of the colony, province, and commonwealth, that it is indispensable to a correct understanding of the relation it bears to each, the causes which led to the settlements of 1628 and 1630, and the principles that animated the settlers, to review such portions of the common history as may guide to an intelligent opinion of the movement which resulted in establishing a second English colony in Massachusetts Bay. It is inseparable from the fact that the settlement of 1630 began upon territory of which the county was subsequently formed, and because the first church, the first formal act of government, were instituted and enacted there. A simple recital of what history has preserved of the principles and acts of the founders of the colony seems, therefore, the appropriate introduction to our subject.

We do not consider it needful to recapitulate the various attempts, successful or unsuccessful, to colonize New England. A knowledge of them is not essential to our present purpose. The founding of the colony of Massachusetts Bay constitutes a distinct and compact chapter of American history, having little or no relation to other attempts except in so far as they directed men's eyes and thoughts to New England when the time was ripe for a more vigorous and more prosperous undertaking. Already a little band of religious exiles had planted themselves in a corner of the Bay, and, by exercising the most heroic fortitude, history records, founded the colony of Plymouth. In point of time, in point of heroism, in respect of aims, civil and religious, that immortal little community takes precedence of every other; and it must ever continue to command the unbounded admiration and respect of posterity.

Plymouth Colony had been in existence four years, and had given such assurance of its ability to sustain itself as to embolden some gentlemen of the West of England to attempt beginning a plantation at Cape Aim. In 1624, these persons formed a joint stock association known as the Dorchester Company, and sent over a number of emigrants to begin the work of planting and fishing, and to prepare the way for those that might come after them. The Rev. John White, a Puritan minister of Dorchester, England, appears prominently as one of the promoters of this enterprise, of which he doubtless considered himself the father. So far as the evidence goes, the Dorchester Company had no other motive than gain. By a permanent settlement they facilitated the fishery and increased its profits.

The handful of settlers at Cape Ann were joined the next year by Roger Conant, a "pious, sober, and prudent gentleman," and by John Lyford, a minister, both of whom had left Plymouth and were then living at Nantasket. Conant was appointed governor of the plantation at Cape Ann, and Lyford was invited to be its minister. Notwithstanding the excellent character given of him, Conant was unable to repress the insubordination of the lawless men sent over by the Company; while the Company, discouraged by heavy losses, very soon determined to sell their ships and abandon the enterprise. They offered a free passage home to England to such as wished to return; but Conant and a few others, upon the assurance of Mr. White that he would procure them a patent and send them men and provisions, decided to remain. Meanwhile, not liking their situation on the sterile cape, Conant and his men removed to Naumkeag, now Salem, where they cleared land, built houses, and awaited the fulfilment of the promise of efficient help. And this was the state of affairs at Naumkeag in 1626.

During the years 1626 and 1627 a movement for planting another colony in Massachusetts Bay was freshly agitated and finally matured. It originated, or is believed to have originated, with the Rev. John White, already mentioned, whose aim was to sustain the weak plantation at Cape Ann, which threatened to dissolve unless speedy measures were taken for its relief.

Through the active, unremitting exertions of Mr. White, several gentlemen of Dorchester, or belonging to the neighborhood, purchased of the Council of Plymouth all that part of New England comprised between a point on the coast line three miles north of the Merrimack River and three south of the Charles, and extending westward to the South Sea. All the lesser grants which had from time to time been made within this territory were considered forfeited, or annulled, by the terms of the new session, which was executed the 19th of March 1628. The grantees took the name of the Massachusetts Company.

The names of the new patentees are Sir Henry Rosewell, Sir John Young, knights, and Thomas Southcoat, John Humphrey, John Endicott, and Simon Whetcomb, gentlemen. Thus early is John Endicott identified with the colony in which he subsequently bore so distinguished a part, in which he was a pioneer, and whose civil and religious government he exerted a commanding influence in molding. Of the six persons named in this patent only Endicott and Humphrey are "known to have emigrated to New England.

Very soon after this patent was obtained the patentees met and chose Matthew Cradock and Thomas Goff governor and deputy-governor. Both of these gentlemen were London merchants, and Goff had been interested in the settlement at New Plymouth. Though neither are mentioned in the 'patent, the position at once assigned them under it renders it probable that their active connection with the Company's affairs began at a very early day.

Within three months a ship was prepared for a voyage to New England to establish the new company in its purchase, and to relieve what remained of Conant's plantation. Captain Endicott was asked if he would go and reside at Naumkeag as governor of the colony, and he promptly replied in the affirmative. He was fully empowered to act as its executive head, — an authority which either ignored or quietly superseded that exercised by Conant over the original plantation. Toward the end of June 1628, Endicott, with a company of emigrants, estimated at about one hundred persons, sailed from Weymouth, in the Abigail, for New England.

Having thus taken the preliminary steps to secure the privileges granted by their patent, the Massachusetts Company began to project measures on a grander scale. Their grant conveyed a title to the soil, but no well-defined powers of government. They were compelled, too, to take cognizance of claims to portions of their grant by former proprietors, some of whom were already, by themselves or by their agents, in occupation of a few points in Massachusetts Bay, and seemed resolved to contest the attempt to dispossess them with which they were now threatened. The carelesseness with which the Council of Plymouth had made all these grants, the loose way in which their boundaries were defined, added other complications.

These considerations determined the Massachusetts Company to apply for a royal charter confirming their former grant, giving them clearly expressed powers of government, and conferring certain other valuable privileges. Through the intercession of Sir Dudley Carleton, Lord Dorchester, the king granted the charter to the original patentees and twenty others, some of whom became distinguished in the affairs of the colony and will be frequently mentioned in the pages of this work. They were Sir Richard Saltonstall, knight, Isaac Johnson, Samuel Aldersey, John Venn, Matthew Cradock, George Harwood, Increase Nowell, Richard Perry, Richard Bellingham, Nathaniel Wright, Samuel Vassall, Theophilus Eaton, Thomas Goff, Thomas Adams, John Browne, Samuel Browne, Thomas Hutchins, "William Vassall, William Pynchon, and John Foxcroft.

The executive power of the new corporation was vested in a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen assistants, seven of whom, with the governor, were authorized to meet in monthly courts for dispatching such business as concerned the Company or the settlements begun by it. The legislative authority was conferred upon this so-called court of assistants, to which were joined all the freemen of the Company. Its four annual meetings were termed the "Great and General Court," — an appellation which has survived all the mutations of time and is still applied to the legislature of the Commonwealth. This Great and General Court was empowered to elect a governor, deputy-governor, assistants, and freemen, the latter being candidates for admission into the body politic with the privilege of speaking and voting upon its affairs. Power was also conferred upon the General Court to establish ordinances, not contrary to the laws of the realm, for settling forms of government, for determining fines, imprisonment, or other legal correction to.be observed or enforced among the colonists. The " chief commander and other magistrates," who should from time to time be over the government of the colony, were invested with absolute power to punish or pardon, and to rule the colonists according to the ordinances made in pursuance of the charter. We recite so much of the terms of this ancient instrument, not only because it is interesting to know how civil government was first legally established in New England, but because this charter remained the organic law until annulled by Charles II. in 1684; and because, further, its abrogation, and the abuses which followed, became a principal cause of precipitating the revolution of 1689 in the colony. The charter, which was brought over in 1630 by Governor Winthrop, with the great seal of England attached, may be seen in the office of the Secretary of State, at Boston.

Having thus prepared the way, the Company in England pursued with energy their plans of colonization. Their charter was more than liberal Religious dissension within the kingdom procured crowds of applicants for transportation across the sea, into a land where a colony had already been founded beyond the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts. Others, impelled by love of adventure, or the hope of bettering their worldly condition, took passage for New England. The difficulties which for twenty years had baffled the wealth, enterprise, and energy of Sir Ferdinando Gorges quickly disappeared; and with them disappeared also the inheritance which this father of New England colonization sought to preserve to his heirs.

In March, 1629 we find the Company in London busy with preparations for sending out a larger number of colonists; with Sir William Brereton, who claimed under the Gorges patent a tract of country lying between the Charles and Nahant, extending twenty miles back into the interior; and with the question of how the company's lands should be divided among the settlers.

They also, at this time, secured the services of Thomas Graves of Gravesend in Kent, an experienced mining and military engineer; and of other persons who would be likely to promote the public welfare in their professions or trades. We now first hear of overtures being made to the Rev. Francis Higginson, a silenced minister of. Leicester, to go out to the new plantation, Mr. Humphrey being sent to Leicester for the purpose of communicating with him. The account of the interview gives so instructive a picture of the condition of a Puritan minister of the time that we transcribe it.

One day two messengers came to the minister's house, and with loud knocking cried out, " Where is Mr. Higginson? We must speak with Mr. Higginson!" His wife entreated him to conceal himself; but he replied that he should acquiesce in the will of God. As he entered the hall where they were waiting the messengers presented him with some papers, saying roughly, " Sir, we come from London, and our business is to convey you to London, as you may see by those papers." Mrs. Higginson burst into tears, while her husband opened the packet, in which he expected to find an order from the High Commission for his arrest.

It proved, however, to be an invitation from the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay for him to embark for New England. In April the Company formally chose officers for the plantation, who were to remain in office one year. Endicott was made, or rather continued, governor; Higginson, Skelton, Bright, John and Samuel Browne, Thomas Graves, and Samuel Sharp were chosen to be his council. The governor and council were directed to choose a secretary, and such other officers as might seem requisite for the management of the plantation. They were also required to take an oath of office, and were empowered "to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable orders, laws, statutes, ordinances," etc., not contrary to the laws of England, for the government of the plantation, reporting from time to time such acts to the Company in England. And this important day's work is called in the records "settling the government in the Plantation of the Massachusetts Bay."

The governor and council of the plantation were to consist of thirteen persons, seven of whom were elected by the Company in England, three by the governor and the seven already elected, and two others by the planters. The twelve persons thus appointed, with the governor, chose one of their number to be deputy-governor.

We suspend our narrative a moment, to remark that the corporation in England was constituted on a similar plan to the India and other great mercantile companies. The India Company received its first charter in 1600, and a renewal in 1609. It was doubtless the model on which the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts were formed into a body corporate. The history of the two companies is, however, very different.

Next in importance to establishing a form of government for the colony was the allotment of lands to the settlers, or "adventurers," as they are called in the records. This difficult question was disposed of in an eminently liberal and equitable manner. The governor and council were authorized to allot two hundred acres of land to every adventurer who had put fifty pounds into the common fund, and proportionately to those who had paid more or less than this sum. If the same were not allotted upon demand, full liberty was granted the adventurer to build where he pleased, provided he did not encroach upon his neighbor and selected his homestead within certain prescribed limits. Those who went over at their own charge, but had no adventure in the common stock, received fifty acres of land for the head of the family, or as much more as the governor and council might think proper to assign them. This method of procedure, the origin of land-titles in the colony, is considered indispensable to relate in connection with its history. The ships, being ready to depart, were dispatched the first week in June, and arrived in Naumkeag harbor on the last days of the same month. A copy of the charter and full instructions were sent to Governor Endicott for his information. The new plantation was now called Salem. A government with authority from the crown of England, having the amplest control over the governed, to all intents independent of the corporation in England, was thus established in the colony. Whoever might be governor in Old England, we regard Endicott's title to be considered the first governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay as indisputable.

One was the creature of the other; but the corporation had conferred upon its creation all the powers of local self-government itself possessed.

At this stage of the affairs of the Company a most important proposal was submitted for its consideration by Governor Cradock. This was that the corporation and its charter should be transferred to New England. A number of gentlemen of condition and estate, among whom we mention John Winthrop, Thomas Dudley, and Isaac Johnson, signified their desire to emigrate to New England, provided the government were removed thither. The subject was debated; an injunction of secrecy placed upon the members; and a committee appointed to take legal advice and make report. On the 29th of August 1629, it was voted, by a show of hands, to transfer the government and patent to New England. No opposition being made by the crown, immediate steps were taken to carry this decision into effect.

The high importance attached by historians to this proceeding gives rise to a multitude of conjectures upon the indifference displayed by the king.

Whatever reason may be assigned, it is evident that neither he nor his advisers foresaw the difficulties to which the removal was the prelude. As for the Company itself, the acts creating a local government for the plantation at Salem are, as Hutchinson remarks, in evidence that they interpreted their charter privileges to mean that the body corporate should continue in England.

Agreeably to the new order of things, at a court held on the 20th of October a new choice was made of governor, deputy, and assistants, from among those who were to go to New England.

John Winthrop was elected governor, John Humphrey deputy, Sir R. Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Thomas Dudley, John Endicott, Increase Nowell, William Vassall, William Pynchon, Samuel Sharp, Edward Rossiter, Thomas Sharp, John Revell, Matthew Cradock, Thomas Goff, Samuel Aldersey, John Venn, Nathaniel Wright, Theophilus Eaton, and Thomas Adams assistants. Some changes took place before the embarkation. Roger Ludlow was chosen in room of Samuel Sharp; Sir Bryan Jansen, William Coddington, and Simon Bradstreet in place of Wright, Eaton, and Goff.

Dudley was subsequently elected deputy instead of Humphrey, who remained, for the present, in England. It is curious to read that the court of assistants, at its very next meeting, was called upon to take cognizance of an act of religious intolerance in the plantation. This was the case of John and Samuel Browne, whose names appear among the patentees, who were members of Governor Endicott's council, and who had been especially recommended to him by the Company as valuable persons for the enterprise in hand. These men were expelled from the plantation by Endicott because they were dissatisfied with the form of religious worship established there; they now claimed redress from the Company for losses sustained by reason of their summary dismissal. Both were attached to the Church of England; both had opposed the entire separation from that church which took place | under Endicott's government. Our attention is called especially to this act for its significant relation to the form of religious worship first receiving the sanction of the colonial government, and as an example of the exercise of the absolute power conferred upon that government. It is not known what satisfaction, if any, the two banished men received, the record is silent upon this subject.

After some discussion about the management of the joint stock affairs, the court adjourned until the 30th of November. It was then proposed that ten persons, five of whom should be "adventurers" and five planters, should take the joint stock at its real value, and assume its management, in consideration of which they should be entitled to half the beaver and other trade in furs, the making of salt, and the sole transportation of goods and passengers, at certain rates, for a term of seven years. Upon investigation, it appeared that the stock had depreciated to the amount of two thirds of all adventured. It was accordingly fixed at this value and taken up by the ten gentlemen whose names follow, and who were usually denominated the "undertakers." It was also ordered that the undertakers should provide a sufficient number of ships, of good force, for transporting passengers at five pounds each and goods at four dollars the ton. These ships were to be ready to sail from London by the first of March 1630.

Governor Winthrop, Sir R. Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Thomas Dudley, John Revell, Matthew Cradock, Nathaniel Wright, Theophilus Eaton, Thomas Goff, and James Young were the undertakers; and thus was consummated Governor Cradock's idea.

The assistants held their last court in England on board the Arbella, at Southampton, the 18th of March 1630. No other public business appears to have been transacted except the substitution of the persons to be assistants, which has already been mentioned.

On the 20th of March, riding at Cowes, near the Isle of Wight, were the Arbella of three hundred and fifty tons, the Ambrose, the Jewel, and the Talbot. The ships all carried an armament, for England was at war with France and Spain.

During the early morning Mr. Cradock, the steadfast and sagacious friend of New England, came on board the Arbella, and, seeing that the wind was favorable, advised the emigrants to improve it.

At ten o'clock the fleet weighed and made sail amid a salvo of artillery in honor of their late governor as he took leave of them. Then, running up the Solent, it came to anchor off Yarmouth.

Besides these vessels there were lying at Southampton, not quite ready for sea, the Mayflower, Whale, William and Francis, Trial, Charles, Success, and Hopewell. In these eleven ships were about seven hundred emigrants, with their cattle, merchandise, and household effects. Never before had so large an embarkation for New England occurred. Its numbers, preparation, and resources bespoke success; it carried its charter and government along with it; and it seemed to possess within itself all the requisites of a patriarchal community. In all things, it offers a striking contrast to the unregarded departure of the Pilgrims from Plymouth ten years earlier.

On the 8th of April, at six in the morning, the fleet again got under sail, passed Hurst Castle, and stood out to sea. Before ten it had cleared the Needles, but losing the wind was obliged to anchor. During the night it again weighed, and by daybreak the next morning was off Portland. This day the colonists were thrown into alarm by descrying eight ships astern, apparently in chase. Every preparation was made for action; but upon the two fleets closing the supposed enemy proved to be English. The fleet passed Plymouth, the Lizard, the Scilly Isles on the morning of the 10th. With a favoring gale to waft them on their course, and with emotions difficult to describe, the emigrants bade adieu to Old England forever.


Having thus far confined our relation to the plainest facts concerning the organization of the body of colonists who were henceforth to make New England their home, it is becoming in us to ask, Who and what were these men? In what way did personal character impress itself upon the various elements of which this new body politic was to be composed, and what was the principal cause which prompted more than a thousand souls a to seek voluntary exile in a wilderness? Sir Ferdinando Gorges tells us that in a very short time numbers of people "flocked thither in heaps," whereas he had hardly been able " for money to get any to reside there." We must first seek a knowledge of the men, afterward of their motives. They molded the destinies of the future commonwealth; and we look back across the centuries with an interest heightened by contemplating the victories she has achieved, a pride commensurate with her greatness of to-day.

Matthew Cradock, the first governor of the Massachusetts Company, was it wealthy London merchant. Hutchinson tells us he was "more forward in advancing out of his substance than any other, being generally the highest in all subscriptions."

To him belongs the honor of the proposal made July 28, 1629, and adopted in the following month, to transfer the government to the settlement itself. Though he never came to New England, Cradock continued to take an interest in the colony, and to seasonably befriend it at home when the charter was in peril. He had establishments at Marblehead, Medford, and Ipswich, where his agent employed his capital in fishing and trading. He also carried on the business of shipbuilding at Medford. Cradock was a member of the Long Parliament in 1640. He died in London, August 27, 1641.

John Winthrop, who, with the commission of governor, brought over the Massachusetts charter in 1630, came of a family long seated at Groton in Suffolk, England. He was bred to the law, the profession of his father and grandfather, and was noted for wisdom, piety, and hospitality. Such was the gravity and steadiness of his character, that at eighteen he was made it justice of the peace.

Chosen governor of Massachusetts at the age of forty-two, he converted his estate, worth £ 600 or £ 700 a year, into ready money, and embarking at Yarmouth April 7, 1630, landed June 12 at -Salem, where the government was transferred to him by Endicott. He was twelve times chosen governor, dying in office, at Boston, March 26, 1649. Winthrop spent his whole estate in the public service. His election by the Company to the office of governor, at its reorganization, sufficiently emphasizes the confidence reposed in him, as it also does the general estimate of his greater fitness for the weighty undertaking in which the corporation had embarked than others who had been earlier identified with it. In the colony his long service as chief magistrate confirms the wisdom of that judgment; for it is evident that, notwithstanding his mistakes, and in disregard of his controlling idea that the people ought to have little share in government, Winthrop continued, by the force of his personal character, his abilities, and his sincere, unselfish devotion to the public welfare, to command the unshaken trust of the majority. In cases where his own opinions differed from theirs Winthrop had great tact in conforming himself with the expressed wishes of the people. We look in vain among his associates for another man so capable of bringing the infant state through the succession of trials which beset Winthrop's early administration of its affairs.

Thomas Dudley, one of the most eminent of the Puritan settlers of New England, was the son of Captain Roger Dudley, who was "slain in the wars." Brought up a page in the family of the Earl of Northampton, he was afterwards a clerk in the office of Judge Nichols, a kinsman of his mother, thus obtaining a knowledge of the law which was of great service to him in his after career. He very early exhibited unusual intelligence, courage, and prudence, qualities which procured for him, at the age of twenty-one, the command of an English company, which he led at the siege of Amiens, under the heroic Henry of Navarre. He was afterwards entrusted with the stewardship of the estate of the Earl of Lincoln, which by judicious management was freed from a heavy load of debt.

With a few others, although he was then fifty years of age, he undertook the settlement of the Massachusetts Colony, and came over as deputy governor in 1630. In 1644, at the age of sixty-eight, Dudley was chosen sergeant-major-general, the highest military office in the colony. He was governor in 1634, 1640, 1645, and 1650, deputy governor or assistant in the intervening years, and from the time of his arrival till his death, which took place at his house in Roxbury July 31, 1033, in his seventy-seventh year, was constantly in the service of the colony. Dudley was a man of sound judgment, integrity, and piety, but he was also strongly imbued with the intolerance and bigotry of his age.

Sir Richard Saltonstall, the first assistant or magistrate named in the royal charter for the colony, came with his family in the fleet of Winthrop, but returned to England in the following spring.

He was a nephew of Sir Richard, Lord-Mayor of London in Queen Elizabeth's time, and was born at the family seat, at Hipperholme, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1586. Saltonstall was a bountiful contributor to the company's resources, and actively befriended them in England. With Rev. George Phillips he was a principal founder of Watertown, Mass. With Lords Brooke, Say and Sele, and other Puritans, he aided in the first settlement of Connecticut. In a letter to Cotton and Wilson, written in 1653, he reproved the tyranny and persecutions in New England, such as fining, whipping, and imprisoning men "for their consciences." His death occurred in England about the year 1658.

Isaac Johnson, esteemed the richest of the emigrants, a landholder in three counties, and called "the greatest furtherer of this plantation," was born about the year 1600. He inherited an estate of £ 20,000 from his grandfather, Robert, of North Luffenham, who became archdeacon of Leicester in 1584. With his wife Arbella, daughter of Thomas, third Earl of Lincoln, the head in that day of the now ducal house of Newcastle, to whom he seems to have been clandestinely united, he came over in Winthrop's ship, the Eagle, which in his wife's honor was rechristened the Arbella. Johnson was one of the founders of the church at Charlestown, and was one of the first to favor Blackstone's proposal to remove from that place to Boston. The Lady Arbella died at Salem a few weeks after her arrival. Her husband, who survived her only a month, was interred at the upper end of his lot in Boston, in what is now known as the King's Chapel Burying-Ground, the first place of interment in Boston.

John Endicott was born in Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England, in 1588. He was one of the six original purchasers of the grant for the settlement of Massachusetts, and led the party that arrived at Naumkeag September 6, 1628. In April 1629, the company chose him governor-of the plantation, in which office he was succeeded by Winthrop when the charter was transferred to New England.

In 1636, he led an expedition against the Pequots. In the same year, the military commissioners adopted his view that the cross in the king's colors savored of popery, and ordered it to be left out. He was deputy-governor in 1641-43; governor in 1644, and from 1649 until his death, March 15, 1665, except in 1650 and 1654, when he was again deputy-governor. In 1645, he was made sergeant major-general of the colony. In 1658, he was president of the colonial commissioners. He was well educated, brave, talented, self-reliant, and patriotic, but intolerant. He displayed wisdom and prudence in secular affairs, and the colony flourished under his administration.

William Pynchon, one of the assistants who came over with Winthrop, was the principal founder of the town of Roxbury, and the first in the formation of its church. In 1636, he led a party to the Connecticut and began the settlement of Springfield, so named from the town in England where he formerly resided. Here he was largely concerned in the beaver-trade, and was for many years a magistrate. This " gentleman of learning and religion" had the temerity to dissent from the Dissenters, and the publication of his " Meritorious Price of our Redemption," in opposition to the then prevalent view of the atonement, caused his deposition from the magistracy and the burning of his book in the market-place of Boston by order of the court, which cited him before it and placed him under heavy bonds for future good behavior. He was forced to explain or modify the obnoxious opinions, and as he was supposed to be " in a hopeful way to give good satisfaction/' the judgment of the court was deferred until the next session, in May 1652. Before that time Pynchon, disgusted with the persecuting and intolerant spirit of those in authority, returned to England, published a new edition of his book with additions in 1655, and died there in October 1662, at the age of seventy-two.

Simon Bradstreet, sometimes called the "Nestor" of New England, was born at Horbling, Lincolnshire, England, in March 1603. He was the son of a Non-conformist clergyman, was bred in the family of the Earl of Lincoln, and after spending a year at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, became steward to the Countess of Warwick.

Having married Thomas Dudley's daughter Anne, afterwards celebrated as a poet, he was persuaded to engage in the settlement of Massachusetts, and arrived at Salem in the summer of 1630. He was one of the founders of Cambridge in 1631, became secretary of the colony, and as a commissioner of the United Colonies in 1653 successfully opposed making war on the Dutch in New York and on the Indians. In 1662, he was sent to England to act as agent for the colony. He was an assistant from 1630 to 1679; governor from 1679 to 1686 and from 1689 to 1692. At the age of eighty-nine he became first councilor, having been in the public service sixty-two years. He was a popular magistrate, and exhibited his good judgment in opposing the witchcraft delusion of 1692, in recommending the surrender of the Massachusetts charter, and on many other important occasions.

Governor Bradstreet died at Salem March 27,1697, aged ninety-four.

Theophilus Eaton, governor of the New Haven Colony from 1639 to his death, January 7, 1658, was born at Stony Stratford, Bucks County, England. He was bred a merchant; was deputy-governor of the East land of the Baltic Company in London, and the agent of King James at the court of Denmark. He was one of the patentees of the Massachusetts Colony, and when in 1637 his intimate friend, Rev. John Davenport, was compelled to quit England, Eaton accompanied him to Boston, and soon afterwards to New Haven, of which he was a founder in 1638. As one of the commissioners of the United Colonies he exerted himself efficiently for the welfare of New England. These quaint lines are inscribed upon his monument in New Haven:—

"Eaton, so meek, so famed, so just,

The Phoenix of our world, here hides his dust.

This name forget, New England never must."

John Humphrey, "a gentleman of special parts, of learning and activity, and a godly man," deserving of especial remembrance for his services in promoting the settlement of Massachusetts, was a native of Dorsetshire, England, a son-in-law of Thomas, third Earl of Lincoln, and was bred to the law, a profession in which he acquired both wealth and reputation. He was one of the six persons who, in 1628, purchased Massachusetts from the Council of Plymouth, and was treasurer of the Company, at whose second meeting he was chosen deputy governor. He did not come over until July, 1634, when, accompanied by his wife and children, he brought over money, goods, and cattle for the colonists. He settled first in Lynn, afterward in Salem; and was an assistant from 1632 to 1641. In October of the last-named year he returned with his wife to England, and died there in 1661. Humphrey's interest in Lord Say's scheme of colonizing the Bahamas had been secured by the promise of an appointment as governor; but he was prevented from going with the expedition that sailed from Boston to take possession at New Providence, where the English found themselves forestalled by the Spaniards.

William Coddington, a native of Lincolnshire, England, and a founder of Rhode Island, came over with Winthrop. He was a prominent merchant of Boston, and for a time treasurer of the colony. He sided with Mrs. Hutchinson against Winthrop and the clerical party, upon whose triumph he removed in April, 1638, with eighteen others to Aquidneck, now Rhode Island, where he was chosen judge, with a council of three elders who were enjoined by a vote of the freemen to be "guided by God's laws." He was governor from 1640 to 1647, when a charter was obtained and the island incorporated with the Providence plantation. After visiting England, he returned in 1651 with a new charter, and was again for a short period governor of the colony. Re-chosen in 1674, he died in office November 1, 1678, aged seventy-seven. Late in life he became a Quaker, and practised that tolerance toward others he had formerly been unable to secure for his own opinions.

William Vassall, one of the original patentees, was the son of John Vassall, an alderman of London, who fitted out and commanded two ships of war with which he joined the royal navy to oppose the Spanish Armada in 1588. He came over with "Winthrop, but returned a month later, revisiting New England in 1635, at which time he was forty-two years of age. After a brief residence in Roxbury he settled at Scituate with others who were dissatisfied with the ecclesiastical policy of the colony. Removing to Jamaica after its capture from the Spaniards, he there laid the foundation of the large estate afterwards enjoyed by his descendants, and died there in 1655. Samuel, his brother, also one of the original patentees of Massachusetts, was an alderman of London, and a member of Parliament in 1640-41. He was the first that refused to pay the tax on tonnage and poundage, levied by Charles I., and suffered an imprisonment of sixteen years for his contumacy.

Increase Nowell, a nephew of Alexander Nowell, Dean of St. Paul's in Elizabeth's reign, was chosen an assistant in 1629, came over with Winthrop, and continued in the public service until his death, November 1,1655. He was a founder of the first church, and a ruling elder until 1632, when he became a founder of the church at Charlestown, then separated from that at Boston. Succeeding Bradstreet as secretary of the colony in 1636, he continued in that office until 1650.

It is assumed that the emigration under the auspices of the Massachusetts Company was a religious movement. Nearly all historians concur in assigning to it this character. Such an assumption, however true in the main, must be taken with allowance. That it was not a concerted movement, like that of the Pilgrims, is sustained by established facts: still, there was a spontaneousness about it which, being taken in connection with the subsequent acts of a majority of the colonists, or of the most influential part, allows of the construction generally given to it. It is not possible to clear away all doubts, but it is possible to place what is known in a light where it may be advantageously reviewed from an impartial standpoint.

The Pilgrims, it will be remembered, were hunted and driven from the kingdom after having formed their congregation. They were wholly separated from the Established Church: they maintained their own organization in Holland. Gain had, therefore, little to do with their history up to this time.

They were a band of religious exiles. Except the Dorchester emigrants, who united in a congregation just before sailing for New England, there is not known to have been any organized body of Puritans in the great movement of 1628-30. As the leaders in this movement expressly disclaimed having separated from the Church of England, such a purpose can hardly be claimed for them. Their departure from the country was a voluntary act.

If the movement was concerted, whence the confusion in regard to the form of worship the colonists meant to adopt when they reached New England? If it were a concerted movement of Puritans to escape from the tyranny of the Church of England, is it probable the state would have looked upon the emigration with the indifference it did? These two questions being clearly answered, determine whether the emigration is to be considered one of a united body of co-religionists, or whether it was composed of the usual mixed constituents in which there was general agreement of religious views.

The first instructive step begins with the declaration of that Rev. John White who has already been referred to as instrumental in founding the plantation at Naumkeag. He says that the original motive of the Cape Ann plantation was purely one for advantage in carrying on the fishery and barter in furs already established on the New England coast. Hitherto the ships engaged in this traffic were obliged to carry out a double complement of sailors, who resorted to some convenient place, and after completing their lading returned to Europe. Experience suggested that greater advantage would be had by establishing a small number of permanent settlers at the point usually visited. These settlers would aid in loading the ships, and, it was hoped, be able eventually to maintain themselves, so as not to be a charge to the adventurers. This proposal, says Mr. White, took so well " that it drew on divers others to join with them in this project; the rather because it was conceived that not only their own fishermen, but the rest of our nation that went thither on the same errand,, might be much advantaged, not only by fresh victual, which the colony might spare them in time, but withal and more by the benefit of their ministers' labors, which they might enjoy during the fishing season; whereas otherwise, being usually upon those voyages nine or ten months in the year, they were left all the while without any means of instruction at all. Compassion towards the fishermen, and partly tome expectation of gain, prevailed so far that for the planting of a colony in New England there was raised a stock of more than £3,000, intended to be paid in five years, but afterwards disbursed in a shorter time."

Colonization was not so much the object of certain numbers who engaged in this movement, the embryo of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, as concern for the religious welfare of the fishermen who might visit it, in the view of the author of the Planter's Plea. Grain, to be sure, is allowed to have had something to do with it. In conjunction with its more practical purposes, Mr. White says, in effect, that the plantation proposed was to be a sort of missionary post to keep the fishermen from forgetting that they were beyond the reach of Christian civilization. This statement, so far as it goes, is in entire harmony with the knowledge we possess of the lawless condition of that class then engaged in the American coast fisheries. It is also in harmony with the idea of the charter granted to the Massachusetts Company.

How the commercial venture failed has already been related. Its failure necessarily involved any collateral purpose or purposes; for the adventurers in England who had advanced the money to carry it on abandoned the project when it became a source of loss instead of profit to them. We hardly need go beyond this fact to arrive at their motive. The "divers others" who had joined with them, and among whom we may class Mr. White, pursued their purpose as narrated in our history of the Massachusetts Company. This history of the Dorchester Company shows that although two ideas might have existed, gain was the dominant one. In closing his relation, which covers the whole period of the settlement in Massachusetts Bay, Mr. White makes the following highly suggestive declaration: — "This is a brief relation of the occasion of planting of this colony. The particulars whereof, if they could be entertained, were clear enough to any indifferent judgment that the suspicious and scandalous reports raised upon these gentlemen and their friends (as if, under the color of planting a colony, they intended to raise and erect a seminary of faction and separation) are nothing else but the fruits of jealousy of some distempered mind, or, which is worse, perhaps, savor of a desperate malicious plot of men ill affected to religion, endeavoring by casting the undertakers into the jealousy of state, to shut them out of those advantages which otherwise they do and might expect from the countenance of authority."

We can add nothing to the force and explicitness of this declaration, made while Winthrop and his company were pursuing their voyage to New England. But we can reinforce it with the letter of instructions to Endicott, in which he is warned against his attempted innovations in religion, and is at the same time cautioned that his superiors are " tender of the least aspersion which, either directly or obliquely, may be cast upon the state here, to whom we owe so much duty, and from whom we have received so much favor in this Plantation where you now reside." We may further reinforce it with the celebrated letter written on board the Arbella, in which the same solicitude is manifested that the intentions of the emigrants may not be misconstrued; and in which they declare themselves members of the Church of England. We believe it only reasonable to conclude that aspersions cast upon the motives of the proposing colonists gave rise to the emphatic denial embodied in the Planter's Plea and in the letter addressed by Winthrop and others to their brethren in and of the Church of England. The idea of separating from the Established Church is equally condemned, equally repulsed, in both documents.

We might easily trace both to the imprudence of Endicott in expelling the two Churchmen from Salem and to the reports spread by them on their return to England. In any case, it is a disavowal of the policy inaugurated by Endicott, from the highest authority.

Speaking for itself, this authority says by the terms of its charter that, in order to govern the colony to be planted so religiously " as the good life and orderly conversation of the inhabitants might invite the natives to the knowledge of the Christian faith which, in the royal intention and in the adventurers' free profession, was the principal end of the Plantation," power was conferred as recited. In other words, in the royal understanding and the royal will the chief end of the colony was the propagation of the gospel among the Indians. It is not to be presumed Charles I. meant the gospel to be propagated in New England according to Puritan ideas or by agencies he had dissolved the Parliament of England and revived the, High Commission to punish and suppress, with greater certainty and freedom; yet this construction is often erroneously placed upon the terms of the charter by those who suppose absolute religious freedom was guaranteed by it.

It is not in evidence, that the principal persons engaged in organizing the Massachusetts Company at first contemplated a transfer of its powers to New England; but, on the contrary, it does appear that this later and grander idea was the sudden outgrowth of conditions not then existing, and therefore not influential in molding the character of the colony as originally planned. The company, no doubt, took advantage of the large disaffection prevailing among the Puritans to carry out their design. It gave them numbers of emigrants of a superior class who were little likely to return to their native country so long as oppression ruled there unchecked. For these the scheme of colonizing in New England offered an escape from that oppression; for them, it was a religious movement.

But was such the intention of its originators? Was the colony meant to be an asylum for Puritan refugees?

Neal attributes the rise of Massachusetts Colony to religious causes and to nothing else. He ascribes the movement to the active agency of the suspended or deprived Puritan ministers. "I have before me," he says, "a list of seventy-seven divines, who became pastors of sundry little churches and congregations in that country before the year 1640, all of whom were in orders in the Church of England."

In the first embarkation, under Endicott, no minister was sent over to the plantation. At the second embarkation ministers were provided, but when a church was organized, as it immediately was, only thirty out of the three hundred old and new planters joined it. When the church was formed at Charlestown, of the seven or eight hundred emigrants there only four persons signed the covenant. We find nothing to prove that either of the three ministers first sent over, Skelton, Higginson, or Bright, exercised any active influence within the councils of the Massachusetts Company.

Higginson was first recommended by letter and came up to London while preparations for the second emigration were in progress. Skelton's connection is referred to a former acquaintance with Endicott. Bright is supposed, on good grounds, to have been a conforming clergyman: he remained only about a year in the colony.

In the first general letter of instructions to Endicott and his council, notifying the appointment of these three ministers, the following passage occurs: "And for that the propagating of the gospel is the thing we do profess above all to be our aim in settling this plantation we have been careful to make plentiful provision of godly ministers; by whose faithful preaching, godly conversation, and exemplary life, we trust not only those of our own nation will be built up in the knowledge of God, but also the Indians may, in God's appointed time, be reduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ." Here is the idea of the founder, Rev. John White, of the charter, of the king, and of the Governor and Company. Surely Endicott could mistake neither the letter nor the spirit of his instructions, for not only were the two Churchmen so often referred to, John and Samuel Browne, named thereinto be members of his council, but he was required by his oath of office to do his best to "draw on the natives of this country called New England to the knowledge of the true God, and to conserve the planters, and others coming hither, in the same knowledge and fear of God."

It is fairly presumable from the small number joining the church there, that a majority of the settlers were altogether unprepared to take so decided a step in departing from the State Church. A certain number, under the lead of the Brownes, gathered together "in a place distinct from the public assembly, and there sundry times the Book of Common Prayer was read unto such as resorted thither." These people came over at the same time with Higginson and Skelton; they certainly did not suspect a design to prevent the free exercise of religion in the colony.

But about this time the aspect of the Company's affairs undergoes decisive change. Whether fearing a revocation of its charter by the crown, or seeing the rapid development of the advanced Puritan idea in the colony, or yielding to pressure which began now to be sensibly felt and which could not longer be resisted, or to all of these causes, combined, we do not undertake to determine; but on the 28th of July, 1629, the highly important proposal to transfer the government to New England is made by Governor Cradock to the court; and those present are desired to consider it "privately and seriously." They are desired "to carry this business secretly that the same may not be divulged."

That this injunction of secrecy could not have been directed at proposing settlers is evident, since the removal was in every way advantageous to them. So far as they were concerned it was the step most calculated to secure confidence in the undertaking, in its prospects, its influence, its stability. On this point, Dr. Belknap very justly remarks of the Massachusetts Bay Colony: "This proved an effectual settlement, and the reasons which rendered it so were the zeal and ardor which animated their exertions, the wealth which they possessed, and which they converted into materials for a new plantation; but principally the presence of the adventurers themselves on the spot, where their fortunes were to be expended and their zeal exerted." It is therefore more probable that the king's interference was the thing to be guarded against in consummating this extraordinary proceeding. The critical condition of affairs within the realm, the terrorism pervading the ranks of the Puritans, the king's jealousy of any infringement of his prerogative, justify the opinion that the movers for the transfer of the charter felt they were taking a doubtful, if not a dangerous step. Still, they were allowed to pursue their purpose without molestation to the end.

One month after the proposal of Governor Cradock, an agreement was entered into, at Cambridge, between twelve of the most influential members of the Company in which they mutually pledged themselves to remove with their families to New England provided the government and patent were legally transferred thither. In this agreement the signers, Saltonstall, Dudley, Vassall, West, Johnson, Humphrey, Sharp, Nowell, Winthrop, Pynchon, Brown, and Colbron say they have weighed the greatness of the work in regard to the consequence, God's glory and the Church's good. These men were the soul of the enterprise. Two days afterward the transfer was voted. The reorganization of the company proceeded, and Winthrop now became its head. Now if it should be asked what church was to be advanced, in the intent of the signers, the question is answered by a reference to the declaration of these same men, by their chief, or under their own hands, that they were still of the Church of England. We cannot therefore, justly assume what they so constantly deny, that their motive was to establish a Puritan church; for if this be admitted the charge of systematic duplicity is fully sustained. If the repeated declarations of the authors of the enterprise are to be believed, then the claim that it was s religious movement, within the meaning of Hubbard, Prince, Neal, and others, lacks proof. If, under a general and sounding declaration that the chief end of the colony was to propagate the gospel among the savages a different purpose was concealed, the most revered leaders in the colony must descend from the high pedestals on which posterity has elevated them.

It is not evidence to say that their subsequent acts determine their motives; or that their real purpose was understood. So long as they themselves deny each and every such assumption, neither of these things can be proven. It does not appear that they were compelled to mask their real purpose in order to insure its success, for they had the royal countenance and a charter under the great seal of England. Not even the old restrictions upon emigrants were enforced in this case. All their preparations were made under the eye of the crown officers, and proceeded at several ports. The whole movement was organized in broad daylight.

We gather from the somewhat perplexing and contradictory testimony that the Massachusetts Company originally embarked in its scheme of colonization as a commercial venture; that they were willing to employ all means that promised to promote that object without much regard for the religious preferences or professions of intending emigrants. To found a successful colony was their object. Puritans or Churchmen were equally welcomed to join with them. The Puritans eagerly seized the opportunity of escape from the tyranny of the State Church, and by their superior numbers, wealth, and influence possessed themselves not only of the government of the Company, but the direction of the civil and ecclesiastical affairs in the colony. Those who were dissatisfied were compelled to yield to the logic, the force of events.

They constituted a respectable number. A hundred or more returned to England as soon as they found the government was to be founded on the most advanced Puritan idea; others withdrew to the plantations farther north, where more liberal opinions prevailed. We deem it hardly consistent with these results to claim a religious impulse as the controlling motive of the originators of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay. Notwithstanding their coup d'état, the Puritans were very far from forecasting the horoscope of the future, which in a few short years produced irreconcilable antagonisms with the throne; which led so directly and inevitably to the loss of their extraordinary political privileges.

It is therefore claimed that while the Puritan element was largely in the ascendant among the colonists, its later development was not directed by any well-matured or even half-formed purpose at the beginning of the emigration. The few who, like Francis Higginson, held advanced opinions relative to separating from the Church of England were chiefly concerned lest they might be stopped by the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. But the king, looking upon the emigration only as a vigorous and probably successful effort to plant a colony where so many failures had taken place, did not require the enforcement of the statute until the following year; and, as Sir F. Gorges tells us, then only in consequence of the complaints that came out of New England of the "divers sects and schisms that were amongst them." The restrictions were applied with more and more rigor as the policy, civil and religious, of the colonists became more and more pronounced, until, in 1633, Cotton, Hooker, and Stone with great difficulty escaped from the country. The enforcement of the Act became more severe in succeeding years, and was at last strengthened by royal proclamation, in 1637, "To restrain the disorderly transportation of His Majesty's subjects to the colonies without leave."

We do not find in these proceedings evidence that the king quietly ignored the transportation of his Puritan subjects by the Massachusetts Company, or any degree of indifference on his part as to the religious government they might establish in New England. The men who had an ulterior purpose were only too strongly impressed with the danger of undergoing the royal suspicion, and, like Higginson, wrote home to their friends: "I would counsel you to come quickly, and that for two reasons; first, if you linger too long, the passages of Jordan, through the malices of Satan, may be stopped that you cannot come if you would."

Such declarations were doubtless evolved from the consciousness of the writers, but are little in harmony with the assertions of White, Winthrop, Dudley, and the Company's own records.



It is insisted by some writers that a marked difference must be observed between the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonists in respect to their religious views. They insist, too, upon the distinction; between Puritan and Separatist as one which ought not to be lost sight of in considering the religious status of the respective colonies.

For the purpose of fixing this difference, the Pilgrims, they say, are to be. called Separatists, or Independents, and the Bay colonists, Puritans, or simply Non-conformists. It such diversity really existed it should unquestionably be expressed in history: if only a distinction without difference, the purpose of perpetuating it does not appear entitled to the grave consideration demanded for it.

We have earnestly sought to fix this line of demarcation between the so-called Pilgrim and Puritan colonists, and must regard it as purely imaginary. The name of "Pilgrim" is wholly without special religious significance. A man may be a Hindoo, Mahometan, Catholic, or even Protestant pilgrim, if he travels to any holy place.

Thus the designation does not in any way definitely fix the religious character of the Mayflower's heroes and heroines. We discard it, therefore, in any such connection, using it only to distinguish the Plymouth colonists, for whom it is the received familiar title.

Speaking of the division of the old Virginia patent out of which arose the body known as the Council of Plymouth, Dr. Jeremy Belknap says: "Before this division was made, a number of families who were styled Puritans on account of their seeking a further reformation of the Church of England, which they could not obtain, and who had retired into Holland to avoid the severity of the penal laws against Dissenters, meditated a removal to America."