GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2007-04 > 1175896468
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Shawmut - Boston Beginnings - book by HenryCabot Lodge
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 17:54:28 EDT
Boston & The Puritans
Boston by Henry Cabot Lodge
John White, clergyman of Dorchester, England, a man of serious mind, as men
were in thosedays, was troubled by the godless life of those among his
parishioners - and they were nota few - who were engaged in the fisheries. He
conceived the scheme of forming a little
settlement within the territory of the Council for New England, where
be better supplied with provisions, money made by trade, and religious
instruction given to
both the fishermen and the settlers.
For this pious and frugal scheme he raised 3,000 pounds; a vessel was bought,
and a fishing
station or settlement established at Cape Ann near the present city of
The little venture did not prosper. The money in stock melted away, no new
came in, and after three years the Association dissolved their company, and
property they had. The causes of the failure may be learned from White
himself, but they
were common to new settlements, and are not now of moment.
The sinking of the little fortunes of the Dorchester Associates in the vast
sea of colonial
losses and mishaps would not be worth remembering were it not for the thread,
slender withal but yet distinct and strong, which connects them with
successors of a very similar
character. The people in England who were shortly to furnish the force to
move the English world, were the hard-working, God-fearing men who took life and
religion and politics very seriously, and who urged, in persistent
fashion, that matters in England both in Church and State were in evil
plight, and in sore need of reform. Whenever in that first half of the seventeenth
century in England we come across these men, we may know that, whether wisely
or unwisely, something was actually and effectually done, and that we have got
clear of the court atmosphere of lies and vacillations, of halting action and
In the founder of the little Dorchester company we have one of these earnest
men, full of serious purpose, troubled about many things, and striving much,
whom the world knows as
With such a promoter as John White there were sure to be some followers of
like character; and when the little enterprise went to pieces there were four
"prudent and honest men" who remained.
NAUMKEAG - SALEM.
Headed by Rober Conant, a man still clear to us as possessed of leadership
and force, these four went southward and westward from Cape Ann and settled at a
place called Naumkeag, to be better known in future as Salem. To these men,
if they would stay, as stay they did in very manful fashion, the Rev. John
White promised aid, support and a patent. How much he had to do with what
followed is not perfectly determined, and is now of little consequence; it suffices
that he kept his word.
Then during the silent period of the records of the Council for New England a
patent for lands was obtained, only to be soon lost sight of and overshadowed
by a Royal Charter.
Just how this Charter was secured no one has ever known; but greater forces
this movement than had ever been summoned as yet to any colonizing of the new
p.13 The Puritans & the New World.
It passed the seals March 4, 1629, a date to be made widely memorable by one
of its descendants; for the Charter of a trading company thus obtained was
destined to become the fundamental law of a State, and the first of the written
constitutions which have become the corner-stones of American systems of
It was not by accident that the Charter came to these large results. Both the
Charter and its purposes were part of a well-matured plan and nearly a year
before it passed the seals the promoters had fitted out an expedition under the
direction of John Endicott, who established headquarters at Salem, with a
commission as Governor of the colony in New England.
At home the Company had another governor, Matthew Cradock; and he it was who
in July, 1629, read certain propositions, conceived by himself, for the
purpose of inducing persons of worth and quality to transfer themselves and families
to the plantations.
John Winthrop and Richard Saltonstall.
These propositions were the subject of much careful and secret consideration,
and resulted, as was undoubtedly intended by the promoters in the agreement
at Cambridge, which was signed by John Winthrop and Richard Saltonstall, and
other leaders, and which also resulted in the transfer of the title of the
company itself to New England.
This was the last of the preliminary steps toward the establishment of an
independent government in America; and the men who put their names to this
agreement were persons of such standing and importance in the community as to prove
beyond any doubt that no mere trading-venture or voyage of discovery was
intended. The signers of the agreement were country gentlemen and merchants well
born, well connected,
p.14 JOHN WINTHROP, SIR RICHARD SALTONSTALL & MR. ISAAC JOHNSON
persons of reputation and substance; while their followers whom they took
with them were drawn from the hardy yeomanry of England, and from the thrifty
mechanics and shopkeepers of her towns. After the arrangement had been made to
transfer the Charter of the Company, the Court of Assistants elected a new
governor in the person of John Winthrop with Sir Richard Saltonstall, Mr. Isaac
Johnson (who married the daughter of the Earl of Lincoln), and John Endicott,
among the Assistants.
The Puritan Party.
The purpose of the organization thus effected, though secret at the time, is
now abundantly clear. The Puritan party were coming slowly to the conclusion
that reforms in England, both in Church and State, were impossible. With
Strafford at the head of the army and Bishop Laud in control of the Church, with sh
ip-money, forced loans, and illegal taxes; with Parliament dissolved and the
King's purpose proclaimed of ruling without one, there seemed little hope in
the Old World for the liberty-loving and religious men who made up the bulk
of the Puritan party. For this reason they went forth to the New World to
find a place of refuge for the people thus threatened and opposed.
"God provided this place to be a refuge."
As John Winthrop said, in his "Reasons to be considered for justifying the
undertakers of the intended plantation in New England":
"God hath provided this place to be a refuge for many whom He means to save
out of the general callamity & seeing the Church hath noe place left to flie
into but the wildernesse, what better worke can there be, than to goe & provide
tabernacles & foode for her against she comes thether."
With the Charter in hand, the governor and company
p.15 FOUNDING THE TOWN.
THE WINTHROP FLEET OF 1630
finally started with a small fleet of eleven or twelve ships about the 1st of
April, 1630. Before going, they addressed a noble letter to those whom they
left behind, in which they took leave, with sorrow and affection of their
country and of the Church of England, which they called their "dear mother." With
this farewell they sailed; and after seventy-six days, the ship "Arbella" and
her consorts came to anchor off Salem, where Endicott received them and turned
the government over to John Winthrop.
There were gathered already at Salem some three hundred settlers. With
Winthrop came seven or eight hundred, increased very shortly to a thousand, by some
additional vessels; and this was soon after followed by a second thousand. No
such attempt at settlement had been seen before on the American continent.
It was not the longing for adventure, but the transfer of a people, a
government and a
Church; and this it is which separates it from all other colonizing
undertakings in America at their inception and which made the Massachusetts settlement
from the beginning such a moving force in American history.
The little colony at Salem had had its sufferings like its predecessor at
Plymouth and the arrival of John Winthrop with his fleet was, as one may readily
suppose, welcome enough; but Salem did not suit the newcomers for a place of
settlement and the establishment of at town. They moved farther south along
the coast until they came to the spot where the village which became afterward
the city of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was planted and which is now included
in the larger city of Boston.
Here they established a settlement; and on the 30th of July, 1630, John
Winthrop, Dudley, Johnson and the pastor,
John Wilson, adopted and signed a simple church covenant, which was the
foundation of the independent churches of New England. Here too, at Charlestown,
was held the first Court of Assistants; and everything seemed to point to the
permanency of the town as the capital of the Puritan State. A comparatively
trivial cause led to a removal. The change of climate and exposure brought its
inevitable result to those unused to such trials in the form of illness and
death. Isaac Johnson died and his wife, the Lady Arbella, as well as many others,
leaders in the colony; while in addition to these sorrows, provisions grew
scarce and the springs on which they depended for water began to fail. It was
this lack of water which finally drove John Winthrop to leave Charlestown and
establish his future city on the three-hilled peninsula across the Bay. In the
early records of Charlestown the story of the
removal across the river is briefly told, and the statement there made
connects the infant Commonwealth with those early settlers, the waifs and stray of
the Church of England expedition, who had already established themselves about
the harbour. The record says, -
"In the meantime, Mr. Blackstone, dwelling on the other side of the Charles
River, alone, at a place by the Indians called Shawmutt, where he had only had
a cottage, at or not far off the place called Blackstone's Point, he came and
acquainted the Governor of an excellent spring there; withal inviting him and
soliciting him thither. Whereupon, after the death of
Mr. Johnson and divers others, the Governor, with Mr. Wilson, and the
greatest part of the church removed thither; whither also the frame of the Governor's
p.17 FOUNDING THE TOWN OF BOSTON.
at this town, was also (to the discontent of some) carried; where people
began to build there houses against winter and this place was called BOSTON.
Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth
The Winthrop Fleet of 1630
Full book transcribed by Janice Farnsworth - Notepad format sent on request.
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