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Puritans to New England

East Anglian Puritans 1629-1640

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


East Anglia to New England Transplanted Culture:

    Land-Divided land into towns with strips of land held by freemen and communal grazing fields (commons) for each village

    Freemen owned farmland from 50 to 650 acres

 Status of wealthy and poor in a town differed little

Food-boiled or baked beans

 Clothing-simple dark colored attire

 Architecture-"salt-box" houses

 Speech-dialect of using "r"s  yankee twang

    Child naming practices-Names from Bible; first son and daughter named for their parents. Normal to name a child the same name as one who died

    Elite class who doubled as both spiritual and civil leaders

    Puritan ministers could not hold office, yet he was a community leader

    Voting conducted at Town Meetings by Freemen, those who owned land

    Puritans disliked English system of Primogeniture the practice of the eldest son inheriting the entire estate upon his father's death. They preferred giving the eldest son a double portion of all he had

    Rare for Puritans to include anyone in a will who was not immediate family Usually, sons received land and daughters received personal property          A woman could own land if named in a will but would rarely be given land in an estate division.


Dollarhide, William, British Origins of American Colonists 1629-1775, 1997, Bountiful, UT, Heritage Quest Genealogical Services, AGLL

Fischer, David Hackett, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America, 1989, Oxford University Press


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