Materials for a powerful combination existed in different parts of the kingdom, and they were now brought together for united action.
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.
But Mr. White did not despair of its renewal. All along, it is likely, he had regarded it with an interest different from what had yet been avowed. At his instance, when “most part of the land-men returned,” “a few of the most honest and industrious resolved to stay behind, and to take charge of the cattle sent over the year before. And not liking their seat at Cape Ann, chosen especially for the supposed commodity of fishing, they transported themselves to Nahumkeike, about four or five leagues distant to the southwest from Cape Ann.”
White wrote to Conant, exhorting him “not to desert the business, faithfully promising that if himself with three others, whom he knew to be honest and prudent men, viz., John Woodbury, John Balch, and Peter Palfrey, employed by the adventurers, would stay at Naumkeag, and give timely notice thereof, he would provide a patent for them, and likewise send them whatever they should write for, either men, or provision, or goods wherewith to trade with the Indians.” With difficulty Conant prevailed upon his companions to persevere. They “stayed to the hazard of their lives.” Woodbury was sent to England for supplies.
“The business came to agitation afresh in London, and being at first approved by some and disliked by others, by argument and disputation it grew to be more vulgar; insomuch that some men, showing good affection to the work, and offering the help of their purses if fit men might be procured to go over, inquiry was made whether any would be willing to engage their persons in the voyage. By this inquiry it fell out that among others they lighted at last on Master Endicott, a man well known to divers persons of good note, who manifested much willingness to accept of the offer as soon as it was tendered, which gave great encouragement to such as were upon the point of resolution to set on this work of erecting a new colony upon the old foundation.”
The scheme on foot was no longer one of Dorchester fishermen looking for a profitable exercise of their trade. It had “come to agitation in London,” where some men had offered “the help of their purses,” and a man of consequence, Humphrey, probably from a county as distant as Lincoln, was already, or very soon after, treasurer of the fund. Matters were ripe for the step of securing a domain for a colony, and the dimensions of the domain show that the colony was not intended to be a small one. A grant of lands extending from the Atlantic to the Western Ocean, and in width from a line of latitude three miles north of the River Merrimac to a line three miles south of the Charles, was obtained from the Council for New England by “Sir Henry Roswell and Sir John Young, knights, and Thomas Southcote, John Humphrey, John Endicott, and Simon Whitcomb, gentlemen,” for themselves, “their heirs, and associates.” Roswell and Young were gentlemen of Devon, Southcote was probably of the same county, and Whitcomb is believed to have been a London merchant.
Gorges, though not in the counsels of the patentees, supposed himself to understand their object. Having mentioned the angry dissolution by King Charles of his second Parliament, and his imprisonment of some of the patriot leaders, he proceeds to say that these transactions “took all hope of reformation of church government from many not affecting episcopal jurisdiction, nor the usual practice of the Common Prayers of the Church; whereof there were several sorts, though not agreeing among themselves, yet all of like dislike of those particulars. Some of the discreeter sort, to avoid what they found themselves subject unto, made use of their friends to procure from Council for the affairs of New England to settle a colony within their limits; to which it pleased the thrice-honored Lord of Warwick to write to me, then at Plymouth, to condescend that a patent might be granted to such as then sued for it. Whereupon I gave my approbation, so far forth as it might not be prejudicial to my son Robert Gorges’ interests, whereof he had a patent under the seal of the Council. Hereupon there was a grant passed as was thought reasonable.”
After three months Endicott, one of the six patentees, was dispatched, in charge of a small party, to supersede Conant at Naumkeag as local manager. Woodbury had preceded them. They arrived at the close of summer. The persons quartered on the spot, the remains of Conant’s company, were disposed to question the claims of the new-comers. But the dispute was amicably composed, and, in commemoration of its adjustment, the place took the name of Salem, the Hebrew name for peaceful. The colony, made up from the two sources, consisted of “not much above fifty or sixty persons,” none of them of special importance except Endicott, who was destined to act for nearly forty years a conspicuous part in New England history.
Before the winter, an exploring party either began or made preparations for a settlement at Mishawum, now Charlestown. With another party, Endicott, during Morton’s absence in England, visited his diminished company at Merry-Mount, or, as Endicott called it, Mount Dagon, “caused their Maypole to be cut down, and rebuked them for their profaneness, and admonished them to look there should be better walking.” The winter proved sickly; an “infection that grew among the passengers at sea, spread also among them ashore, of which many died, some of the scurvy, others of an infectious fever.” Endicott sent to Plymouth for medical assistance, and Fuller, the physician of that place, made a visit to Salem.
The New Dorchester Company, like that which had preceded it, and like the company of London Adventurers concerned in that settlement at Plymouth, was but a voluntary partnership, with no corporate powers. The extensive acquaintance of Mr. White with persons disaffected to the rulers in church and state was probably the immediate occasion of advancing the business another step. Materials for a powerful combination existed in different parts of the kingdom, and they were now brought together for united action. The company, having been “much enlarged,” a royal charter was solicited and obtained, creating a corporation under the name of the “Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.”
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history