The beginnings of European America

PHYLLIS LOGIE By PHYLLIS LOGIE, 13th Apr 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

New Plymouth Colony began with a group of puritan in search of religious freedom and began the foundation of arguably the greatest and most successful nation on earth

Protestants seek religious freedom

The Plymouth Colony was officially known as the New Plymouth Colony. The original group consisted of 102 individuals referred to as Puritans, who left England in search of a safe haven where they would be free to worship outside of the established religion in England without fear of persecution.

The puritans were a group of separatists Protestants who lived mainly in the English counties of Northamptonshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. They were regarded by the reigning King James I as undesirables and because of their beliefs, in 1607, they were subjected to numerous household raids, as a result of which several of their members were imprisoned. The group moved to Holland in 1609 and at first settled in Amsterdam. They later moved to Leiden where they found the religious freedom they were seeking, however it was difficult for them to settle, mostly because of their surroundings.

The Puritans were accustomed to living within a rural village setting that was slow moving and where everyone knew their neighbours. However, Leiden was an industrial and commercial city which moved at a much quicker pace and brought with it its own difficulties.

Although in exile the battle between the English establishment and the separatists raged on and in 1618 William Brewster church elder, published comments that were highly critical of the Anglican Church and as a result forces were sent by King James I to arrest him. He managed to escape and was able to remain in hiding and evade capture until the group was ready to set sail for the New World. Brewster’s comments were in fact the catalyst that brought the group to the decision that they needed to move well away from Europe and out of the reach of King James.

The following year the group applied for and acquired permission from the London Virginia Company allowing them to settle at the mouth of the Hudson River. The journey was funded a group of Puritan businessmen who saw an opportunity to make money. They loaned the Puritans enough money to purchase supplies and pay the passages, with the arrangement that they would begin to repay the debt immediately after their arrival.,

On the 15th August 1620 two ships set sail from Leiden with one hundred and two passengers comprising of 40% adults and 56% family groupings which was led by Pastor John Robinson, William Brewster church elder and William Bradford who over time would serve as Colony Governor on five separate occasions during the life of the Colony.

The two ships were named the ‘Mayflower’ and ‘Speedwell’ and after a series of false starts, including the eventual withdrawal of ‘Speedwell’ the Mayflower finally sailed for the New World. The Pilgrims first port of call was Province town harbour on the 11th November 1620. Upon arrival the group began to question their rights to land and also had concerns regarding how the colony would be governed. A document containing a set of rules called the ‘Mayflower Compact’ was drawn up, agreed and signed all the adult male aboard.

The pilgrims eventually set foot on dry land in Providence town on the 13th November and busied themselves reassembling a small draft boat which they had brought with them to the New World. A few weeks later the Mayflower set sail for Plymouth harbour and on the 17th December, 1620 the ship finally dropped anchor. After their arrival the men spent three days surveying the area for a suitable site on which to finally settle. Eventually they decided on the site of an abandoned Indian village named Patuxet, chosen for its defensive position and the other deciding factor was that it had been cleared by its previous residents.

The Plymouth Colony was one of the earliest settlements in North America and came into existence in 1620 and remained a colony until 1691. At its height, it occupied most of the South-eastern portion of the state of Massachusetts, after which time it was eventually absorbed into the much larger Massachusetts state.

Within the first three months of arrival, over half the congregation died during the first winter. The colony’s eventual success was largely due to the friendliness of the local Indians and the cooperation of the Indian chief Massasoit and the English speaking Squanto. Both were highly suspicious of the new arrivals at first, as a result of their past experiences with earlier settlers, who robbed their sacred family graves, stole their property and murdered their tribesmen.

The locals taught them numerous survival skills such as fishing, hunt and farming techniques. Thereafter the colony grew rapidly and by 1630 their numbers had grown to 300. Thirteen years after that in 1643 the colony boasted a population of two thousands residence, six hundred of whom were described as being of the age and fitness for military service. The numbers steadily rose and by 1690 the English population had risen to 3055 people.

By 1686 the entire region was reorganised under one single government charter, however this did not last. After which a delegation went to England to negotiate the return to the old colonial charter that had previously been nullified. This was refused and instead a new charter was issued, annexing Plymouth Colony to Massachusetts Bay Colony on the 17th October 1691, effectively ending what came into existence as New Plymouth Colony on the 17th December, 1620.


America, Founding Fathers, Mayflower, Native Americans, New Plymouth Colony, New Settlers, New World, Plymouth Colony, Willian Bradford

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author avatar PHYLLIS LOGIE
I am a retired female who has been writing for the past five years. My favorite topics are history and biographies.

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author avatar Songbird B
14th Apr 2011 (#)

You give the most amazing History lessons, Phyllis, and I love history...Great share as always..

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