After the organization under the charter, no time was lost in dispatching a reinforcement of colonists.
Continuing The Great Puritan Migration to New England,
our selection from History of New England by John G. Palfrey published in 1890. The selection is presented in eight easy 5 minute installments. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
Previously in The Great Puritan Migration to 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 dispatching a reinforcement 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, whereof 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 defense 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?”
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