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Origin of the Settlement of New England.—Bigotry and superstition began to lose some ground in England, as early as 1550. And the persecutions and sufferings of the early martyrs of religious freedom have been the subject of many massy volumes. In 1549, a liturgy had been prepared by the bishops, and a law passed both houses of Parliament, “that all divine offices should be performed according to it.” The clergy were ordered to conform to the liturgy, under pain of fines and imprisonment. And, as has always since been the case, among all sects, the new sect, then denominated Puritans, grew more numerous, in proportion as the severity of persecu. tion increased.
In 1607, a congregation fled from England into Holland, and in 1608, were joined by others, and a church was there established, according, as they believed, to the principles of the primitive church of Christ; having Mr. John Robinson for their pastor. Their removal from England into Holland was attended with the greatest difficulties, and though overlooked by the chief historians, who have written upon their history, is certainly among the first articles that should be related. It formed a part of a Manuscript History, written by Mr. William Bradford, one of their number, which, though since lost, was in possession of Governor Hutchinson, who copied this valuable part into his “summary of the affairs of the colony of New Plymouth," which is as follows.
* There was a large company of them proposed to get passage at Boston in Lincolnshire, and for that end had hired a ship wholly to themselves, and made agreement with the master to be ready at a certain day, and take them and their goods in at a convenient place, where accordingly they would all attend in readiness. So, after long waiting and large expense, though he kept not the day with them, yet he came at length and took them in, in the night. But when he had them and their goods aboard he betrayed them, having beforehand complotted with the searchers and other officers so to do, who took them and put them into open boats, and then rifled and ransacked them, searching them to their shirts for money, yea, even the women, further than became modesty, and then carried them back into the town, and made them a spectacle and wonder to the multitude, which came flocking on all sides to behold them. Being thus first, by the catch-poles, rified and stript of their money, books, and much other goods, they were presented to the magistrates, and messengers sent to inform the lords of the council of them, and so they were committed to ward. Indeed the magistrates used them courteously, and showed them what favor they could, but could not deliver them till order came from the council table; but the issue was, that after a month's imprisonment, the greatest part were dismissed, and sent to the places from whence they came, but seven of the principal men were still kept in prison and bound over to the assizes. The next spring after, there was another attempt made, by some of these and others, to get over at another place. "And so it fell out, that they heard of a Dutchman at Hull, having a ship of his own belonging to Zealand. They made agreement with him, and acquainted him with their condition, hoping to find more faithfulness in him than in the former of their own nation. He bade them not fear, for he would do well enough. He was by appointment to take them in, between Grindstone and Hull, where was a large common, a good way distant from any town. Now against the prefixed time, the women and children, with the goods, were sent to the place in a small bark, which they had hired for that end, and the men were to meet them by land; but it so fell out, that they were there a day before the ship came, and the sea being rough and the women very sick, prevailed with the seamen to put into a creek hard by, where they lay on ground at low water. The next morning the ship came, but they were fast and could not stir till about 1100n. In the mean time, the ship-master, perceiving how the matter was, sent his boat to get the men aboard, whom he saw ready, walking about the shore, but after the first boat full was got aboard, and she was ready to
for more, the master espied a great company, both horse and foot, with bills and guns and other weapons, for the country was raised to take them. The Dutchman seeing that, swore his coun. try oath, Sacramente,' and having the wind fair, weighed anchor, hoisted sails, and away. After enduring a fearful storm at sea, for fourtoen days or more, seven whereof they never saw sun, moon nor stars, and being driven near the coast of Norway, they arrived at their desired haven, where the people came flocking, admiring their delive. rance, the storm having been so long and sore, in which much hurt had been done, as the master's friends related to him in their congra. tulations. The rest of the men that were in greatest danger made a shist to escape away before the troop could surprise them, those only staying that best might be assisting unto the women. But pitiful it was to see the heavy case of these poor women in distress; what weeping and crying on every side-some for their husbands that were carried away in the ship, others not knowing what should become of them and their little ones, crying for fear and quaking with cold. Being apprehended, they were hurried from one place to another, till in the end they knew not what to do with them; for, to imprison so many women with their innocent children for no other cause, many of them, bat that they would go with their husbands, seemed to be unreasonable, and all would cry out at them; and to send them home again was as difficult, for they alleged, as the truth was, they had no homes to go to, for they had either sold or otherwise disposed of their houses and living. To be short, after they had been thus turmoiled a good while, and conveyed from one constable to another, they were glad to be rid of them in the end upon any terms, though in the mean time, they, poor souls, endured misery enough."
After remaining several years in Holland, they began to fear that their company would finally become lost, by their connection with the Dutch, and their efforts to establish the true religion also lost. Some of their young men had already engaged in the military service of the Dutch, and marriages with their young women had
taken place. These things caused much grief to the pious forefathers; more especially because the Dutch were dissolute in their morals.
Under these considerations, their thoughts were turned towards America ; but never so far north as New England. Sir Walter Ra. leigh was about this time projecting a settlement in Guiana, and this place was first taken under consideration. Here a perpetual spring was promised, and all the beauties of a tropical summer. But considering the diseases which were so fatal to Europeans, and their near vicinity to the Spaniards, the majority were against a removal thither.
At length they resolved to make their settlement in north Virginia, and accordingly they sent agents to England to obtain a grant from the Virginia company, and to know whether the king would grant them liberty of conscience in that distant country. The Virginia company were willing to grant them such privileges as were in their power, but the bigotted James would agree no further than “to connive at them, provided they should conduct peaceably.”
The agents returned the next year, 1618, to the great discouragement of the congregation. Resolved, however, to make another trial, agents were sent again the next year, and after long and tedious delays a grant was obtained, under the scal of the company, which, after all this great trouble and expense, was never used.
Notwithstanding, their removal was not given up, and they made ready for their voyage with what expedition they could.
It was agreed that a part should go before to prepare the way; and accordingly, two ships were got ready, one name the Specdwell, of sixty tons, the other the Mayflower, of one hundred and eight tons. They first went from Leyden to England, and on the fifth of August, 1020, they left Southampton for America; but they were twice forced to return by reason of the bad state of the lesser ship.
It was now agreed to dismiss the Speedwell, and they embarked on board the Mayflower, and, on the sixth of September, again sailed on their intended voyage.
Such were the transactions, and such the difficulties attending this persevering company of pilgrims (as they are truly called,) in the great attempt to settle a colony in America. As no particulars are preserved of their voyage, we may now leave them until they appear on
Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. After some difficulties, in a voyage of two months and three days, they fell in with the land of Cape Cod on the ninth of November. Finding themselves further north than they intended to settle, they stood to the southward; but soon finding themselves nearly encompassed with dangerous shoals, the captain took advantage of their fears, and bore up again for the cape; and, on the 10th of November, anchored in Cape Cod harbor.t
* It is related that in a storm a beam of the ship was thrown out of its place, and that they began to despair, but some gentleman having a large iron screw, it was again forced into its place.
# The captain of the ship was hired by the Dutch to land them thus far north, because they claimed the country at Hudson's river, and were unwilling that the English should get any footing there.
On observing their latitude, they found themselves out of the limits of the south Virginia company; upon which it was hinted by some that they should now be under no laws, and every servant would have as much authority as his master. But the wisdom that had conducted them hither was sufficient to provide against this evil; therefore, an instrument was drawn and signed, by which they unanimously formed themselves into a body politic. This instrument was executed November the 11th, and signed by forty-one persons; that being the number of men qualified to act for themselves. Their whole number consisted of one hundred and one. * John Carver was chosen governor for one year.
* It will no doubt be ever interesting to posterity to know the first form of government ever drawn up in this country, and the names of those who first ventured upon the great undertaking of settling in America. Both are here presented to the reader, as they are found in Mr. Prince's New England Chronology:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are under written, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith, &c.:
"Having undertaken, for the glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politick, for our better ordering and preservation, and fartherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue bereof, to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony. Unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France and Ireland, the XVIII, and of Scotland the LIV. Anno Domini 1620.” 1. Mr. John Corver,*
23. Francis Eaton,*
3 2. William Bradford,*
24. James Chilton,
3 3. Mr. Edward Winslow,*
25. John Crackston,
2 4. Mr. Wm. Brewster,*
26. John Billington,
4 5. Mr. Isaac Allerton,*
27. Moses Fletcher,
1 6. Capt. Miles Standish, *
28. John Goodman, 7. John Alden,
23. Degory Priest,
1 8. Mr. Samuel Fuller,t
30. Thomas Williams, 9. Mr. Christopher Martin,*}
31. Gilbert Winslow, 20. Mr. William Mullins,* i
32. Edmund Margeson,
1 11. Mr. Wm. White,*
33. Peter Brown,
1 12. Mr. Richard Warren, t
34. Richard Britterige,
1 13. John Howland, (in Carver's 35. George Soule, (of Mr. Winfamily.).
sloro's family.). 14. MIr. Stephen Hopkins,* 8 36. Richard Clark,
1 15. Edward Tilly,* 2 37. Richard Gardiner,
1 16. John Tilly,*
38. John Allerton,
1 17. Francis Cook, f
39. Thomas English,
1 18. Thomas Rogers,
40. Edward Dorey, 19. Thomas Tinker,
41. Edward Leister, 20. John Ridgdale.
(both of Mr. Hopkins' family.) 21. Edward Fuller,*
3 22. John Turner, 3
101 The above names having this mark * at the end brought their wives with them. Those with this † did not. Those with this į died before the end of March. The figures at the end of the names denote the number in each family. .