Слике страница
PDF
ePub

1624. And the following year Lyford and Oldham, who had been banished from Plymouth for disorderly conduct, joined by one Conant, made a temporary residence at Nantasket. Conant was not of the same opinions, precisely, with the people of Plymouth; being less opposed to the rites and forms of the established church of England. Lyford and Oldham were men of no stability of character; the former assumed the clerical office, but was found to be immoral; and the latter openly opposed the civil authority. Both were inimical to the government of that colony. They complained afterwards of persecution, and prevailed with some persons, who considered the Plymoutheans too rigid, to believe they had been severely treated; but they were punished and ordered to leave that jurisdiction, for plotting against the government. After a short residence at Nantasket, these, with a few other persons, who were found, or had lately come to the place, removed thence to Cape Ann, chiefly for the purpose of fishing. Conant, with three others, John Woodberry, John Balch, and Peter Palfreys, characterised as prudent and honest men, left that place in 1626, and settled at Naumkeag, since called Salem; to which he was urged by some characters in England, who were desirous of effecting a permanent settlement in Massachusetts.

About this time William Blaxton, (or Blackstone,) who had been a clergyman in England, settled on the peninsula, where the city of Boston now stands. He continued at that place till the arrival of the company under Governor Winthrop, in 1630, and four or five years after, when he sold his possessions and removed a little south of the patent of Massachusetts. He was an eccentric and unsocial character; neither agreeing with the Church of England, nor with the puritans. He said "he left England to escape the arbitrary conduct of the lord bishops; and Massachusetts, to be free of the rigid discipline of the lord brethren."

In 1628, an important settlement was made at Salem, under John Endicot, who was chief of the plantation, till Governor Winthrop, with many others, arrived in June, 1630, and settled at Charlestown, Boston, and vicinity. After the death of Winthrop, he was Governor of Massachusetts several years, and for one year in the lifetime of that eminent man. Endicot had much energy and decision of character, and was well qualified, in many respects, to build up a new plantation in the wilderness; but he was narrow and rigid in his theological views.

This company came over in pursuance of a plan of Rev. Mr. White and others, who had been then some time preparing

for a colony in New England, to extend the knowledge of the gospel, and to provide an asylum for such as chose or were obliged to flee from ecclesiastical tyranny in England; and it was designed also as preliminary to the removal of larger numbers, which took place in 1629 and 1630. The company which came with Endicot consisted of one hundred; and they were far better supplied than the people of Plymouth were, at their first settlement. Of this party, three brothers, of the name of Sprague, with a few others, soon removed to the spot on which Charlestown has been since built. They found an Englishman living there, by the name of Walford, a black-smith. The Indians were more numerous at this place than in the vicinity of Salem; but they readily consented that the English should reside there, and the chief was mild and friendly in his deportment.

The next year, (1629,) three ships, with two hundred passengers, arrived at Salem; and a part of these also settled at Charlestown, one of whom was Thomas Graves, an eminent engineer. The population of these two places was estimated at three hundred, including those who arrived in 1629; two hundred of them were at Salem, and one hundred at Charlestown. There were four ministers in this company. Mr. Higginson and Mr. Skelton continued at Salem, and were learned and pious men: Mr. Smith, who was of an odd temperament, and supposed, sometimes, to be partially insane, went first to Nantasket, and thence to Plymouth, where he officiated some years; and Mr. Bright, who seems not to have gone to the extreme of non-conformity with the puritans of that period, soon left the country and returned to England.

Higginson and Skelton had received episcopal ordination in England; but holding the established church there, to be greatly corrupt, if not antichristian, they chose to devote themselves anew to the sacred office, by public prayer and by submitting to the imposition of hands by some of the lay brethren, as teacher and pastor. Delegates from the church of Plymouth attended on the occasion, by invitation; not, however, to direct, or to impart any special ecclesiastical power, but to sanction the solemn act and to show their christian affection for the new-formed church. There was no pastor, at this time, over the church in Plymouth, and the delegation was considered by the members, both of that and of the Salem church, simply as an expression of christian fellowship.

The people of Plymouth have sometimes been supposed more decidedly to oppose and condemn the English hierarchy, than those of Salem, and those who came the next year to

Boston; but Mr. Skelton and Mr. Endicot were entirely in sentiment with the Plymouth church, as to the errors and corruptions of the church of England, and of the propriety of a separation from it. They also agreed, as to the real independence of the churches, and of the perfect equality of their ministers or pastors. Governor Winthrop and his associates, who arrived the year following, did not consider the English established church as precisely antichristian, and yet they charged it as being unscriptural, arbitrary and corrupt. And, indeed, the people of Plymouth, through the influence of their enlightened pastor, John Robinson, had become cautious of denouncing the church of England as absolutely unchristian. Winthrop, and others of his company, both of the laity and clergy, coincided in sentiment with the pilgrim church, as to ecclesiastical government, the equal powers of all christian ministers, and the necessity of following the directions of Christ and his Apostles, in opposition to all rites and forms adopted by, and all decrees resting solely on, human authority.

When the company with Higginson and Skelton arrived at Salem, in 1629, there were only eleven houses, one of which was for public use. During that year, several were erected in Salem and in Charlestown, and preparations were made for building more the following season, for the accommodation of those then expected to arrive. Among those who arrived in 1628 and 1629, were some servants of the more opulent adventurers, who proposed to come over in 1630; and of Mr. Craddock, one of the principal undertakers, but who never came to Massachusetts. Such was the condition of the colony, that it was thought best to release them from servitude the next year; and most of them became worthy freeholders in the plantation.

There were few Indians at this time, near Salem, and they were entirely pacific and friendly. They were in fear of other tribes at the eastward, which probably induced them to seek the good will of the English. The Sachems at Saugust, Mistic and Agawam, cheerfully consented to their settlement, and sold them tracts of land for articles of small value. Naumkeag, or Salem, was uninhabited by any of the natives, when Endicot arrived.

The settlement of Massachusetts is commonly fixed in 1630; as it was in that year Governor Winthrop and company, consisting of nearly two thousand souls,* arrived, and settled at

Fifteen hundred came with Winthrop, two hundred just before him, and settled at Dorchester, and there were three hundred at Salem and Charlestown when he arrived.

Charlestown, Dorchester, Boston, Watertown, and Roxbury. The people who settled Dorchester, though of the same religious views and opinions, were not immediately connected with those of Winthrop's company, till after their arrival. They arrived a short time before the larger company, and first pitched on the bank of Charles River, at Watertown; but a part of those associated with Winthrop claimed the place, and they removed the same summer to Dorchester. Seventeen ships were employed in 1630, bringing over passengers, cattle, and stock. They arrived in Salem harbor; but soon moved round to Charles River, and landed the people and goods on the north side. Within two months, however, Isaac Johnson, one of the most opulent of the company, fixed his residence on the southern peninsula, since called Boston; and several others soon followed him. A part of the company, under Sir R. Saltonstal, settled up the river, at Watertown; and Pynchon, and others, soon established themselves at Roxbury.

In this company were two able and pious clergymen; John Wilson, who was the pastor of the Charlestown or Boston church; and George Phillips, minister of the Watertown church. The people of Boston and Charlestown formed but one church. for about two years; and, after a few months, as early as November, the greater part having removed to the Boston side, the public religious meetings were generally held at the latter place. By a public tax, levied on the several settlements, in September 1630, Boston was assessed £11, and Charlestown but £7. Early in 1631, another tax was laid, in which Boston and Watertown paid a similar and the largest sum; Charlestown and Dorchester were next; Salem and Roxbury still lower.

With the church and people, who settled Dorchester, came also two able and pious ministers, Warham and Maverick, who had been pastors of churches in the west of England. Ludlow, Stoughton, Rossiter, and Clap, were distinguished laymen of the same company. And the principal characters with Winthrop were Sir R. Saltonstal, Thomas Dudley, Isaac Johnson, William Pynchon, William Vassall, Simon Bradstreet, Increase Nowell, William Coddington, and Thomas Sharp.

Before this company sailed from England, April 1630, they addressed a letter, signed by Winthrop, Saltonstal, Johnson, Dudley, Phillips, Coddington, and others, to their brethren of the episcopal church; in which they acknowledge the church of England as their mother, blessing God for their birth and education as Englishmen, expressing christian charity for all the pious and good of that community, and desiring their

prayers, for the success of the enterprise in which they had engaged.

The early death of Isaac Johnson, eminent alike for his wealth, and his zeal in favor of the settlement, was a heavy loss. He had devoted all his property, as well as his life, to the building up of a colony in Massachusetts, for the support of pure christianity. The influence of Johnson, arising from his wealth and piety, was so great, that when he died some were ready almost to despair of the continuance of the plantation. His noble consort, who left an abode of abundance and elegance, from her attachment to religion, died soon after their arrival, and some weeks before this worthy man's decease. Her death, probably, hastened his descent to the grave. She was not the only female, in this distinguished company, of confessors and martyrs, who were of noble families. The wives of Humfrey, who came over soon after, of Rev. Messrs. Shearman, Bulkley, and Whiting, were daughters of noblemen; and so was Lady Moody, who resided some time in Massachusetts. And they are honorable examples of the pious sensibility and religious devotion of the female character.

Governor Winthrop, and the eminent men associated with him, in the settlement of Massachusetts, were equally friendly towards the people at Plymouth, as Endicot, Higginson and Skelton had been. The Rev. John Cotton, from whose church several of the Massachusetts company came, and who joined his friends in Boston, in 1633, advised them "to take council with their christian brethren of Plymouth, and to do nothing to injure or offend them." The Rev. Mr. Warham, of the church in Dorchester, also expressed a desire to one of Plymouth church, in 1630, to be on friendly terms with that church and people; and he declared himself satisfied with their ecclesiastical government and proceedings. Similar sentiments of christian kindness continued to be cherished by the principal characters of Plymouth and Massachusetts; and were mutually beneficial to each, till the union in 1692. The great objects of the emigration of the company with Winthrop to Massachusetts, were like those proposed by the people of Plymouth, the enjoyment of religious liberty, and the diffusion of christian knowledge among the native Indians. But the leading men of each colony were too wise to suppose they could live without civil government, or the friendly protection of England. They recognised the authority of the crown, and had patents, or grants from the king, for the territory on which they settled, who claimed the greater part of North America, by virtue of discoveries, which were made by his subjects.

« ПретходнаНастави »