21,000 immigrants left England for Massachusetts Bay Colony
This period called the Eleven Years Tyrany when King Charles I disbanded Parliament to rule England by himself and Archibiship Laud purged the Anglican Church of Puritans. It
was also an era of economic depression, epidemic disease and many sufferings.
During this period 80,000 people left England. About 25% went to the Netherlands, about
25% to Ireland, 25% to the West Indies islands of Barbados, Nevis and St Kitts and another 25% to Massachusetts Bay Colony
First Puritans to arrive in New England came in 1629
In 1630 Winthrope Fleet arrived with 17 ships carrying about 20,000 immigrants
By 1640 a total of about 200 ships carrying 100 passengers each had arrived
The Great Migration ended as suddenly as it began due to the English Civil War. In fact,
due to the war many Puritans returned to England to participate in the War.
The population in New England doubled every generation for 200 years
Had increased to 100,000 by 1790 and to 1 Million people by 1900.
The children of the Great Migration moved outward to occupy Connecticutt, Rhode Island,
Eastern New Jersey and Northern New York. They also moved to Maine and Nova Scotia, to Canada and to the Pacific
The religious doctrine of the Puritans was harsh and rigorous. They sought to "purify" the
Episcopal Church. They were expected to report the sins of their neighbors in church meetings and cleanse the community. By 1648 in most New England towns church members were 80% of all tax payers.
Those immigrants to New England who did not measure up to the community codes were banished to other colonies or back to England.
Most Puritans paid their own costs of transportation to New England. Most of the males
were literate, had a trade or profession and could begin a fruitful life in the colony.
By examining ship lists of 2,885 immigrants to New England from 1629-1640 it has been
determined Puritans came from every county of England except Westmoreland in the far North and Monmouth on the border of Wales.
It has also been determined over half of them came from one region in the East of England. The geographic center is at the town of Haverhill, near where three counties come together;
Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge. If a circle is drawn with a radius of sixty miles using the town of Haverhill as the center the area reaches east to Great Yarmouth on the coast of
Norfolk, north to Boston in eastern Lincolnshire County, west to Bedford County and Herfortshire County, and south to the coast of East Kent. This is roughly the area described
as East Anglia-Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfortshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Lincolnshire plus parts of Bedfordshire and Kent. The most concentrated region was
Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk which account for nearly half of all immigrants to Massachusetts.
Another area was a triangular area of Kent County bounded by the cities of Dover,
Sandwich and Canterbury. Additionally, another group of Puritans came from a center of migration in the West Country of England near where the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire come together.
Many of those who came from the West Country of England did not remain in the Massachusetts Bay area. They tended to move to Connecticutt, south to Nantuckett or
north to Maine. The West Country Puritans were not accustomed to the same culture as the East Anglians nor were they as strict in their Puritan beliefs.
60% of the Massachusetts town names prior to 1660 were names of towns in East Anglia
When searching for the English home of an ancestor who came to Massachusetts 5 years
before or after 1635 consider looking at the counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. After those counties, then, search Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire,
Bedfordshire and Kent. Next in priority search the parishes within the city of London.
If an ancestor did not stay long in Massachusetts search the counties of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire