Search billions of records on

City of Derby
New Haven County

History of the Colony of New Haven Connecticut

History of the Colony of New Haven to it's Absorption into Connecticut
by Edward Elias Atwater

Chapters 1-2

Introduction    Chapt. 1-2    Chapt. 3-5    Chapt. 6-8   
Chapt. 9-10    Chapt. 11-12    Chapt. 13-14    Chapt. 15-16   
Chapt. 17    Chapt. 18-19    Chapt. 20-21    Appendix 1-7

Page 1


THE MIGRATION to New England in the seventeenth century is to be attributed to the discomfort experienced by the English Puritans in their native land, rather than to any attractiveness in this transatlantic wilderness. It is difficult for those who. from their earliest remembrance have been surrounded with the security, beauty, and plenty enjoyed by the posterity of these colonists, to conceive of the same territory as it was seen by their ancestors when they arrived, or as it presented itself to the eye of imagination when they decided to emigrate. New England is to its present inhabitants their pleasant home; but the Englishmen, who in the seventeenth century were uncomfortable in England, loved England as their dear native land, and thought of America as a foreign country, and as such,

Page 2

destitute of the attraction and charm which appertain to the idea of home.

Moreover, emigration to the New World was not merely exile from a land they were reluctant to leave: it was exposure to suffering by cold and hunger, to peril of death by shipwreck, by wild beasts, and by treacherous savages. Such liabilities are, indeed, not unattractive to men in whom the love of adventure predominates; but the English Puritans were in general as free from that restlessness of mind which seeks relief in excitement as any people in the world. Their theology furnishing a central Being whom they acknowledged as infinitely their superior, they were content to rest in him, and so had inward peace. Religion, inclining them to sobriety and industry, fostered the love of home, of security, and of comfort. Individuals among them may have been susceptible to the love of adventure; but, as a class, the planters of New England were not men naturally inclined to desert their homes, and expose themselves to hardships and perils on the ocean and in the wilderness. On the contrary, their training had been such as inclined them to remain in their native land. This, is true, even of the unmarried men; but the reluctance to emigrate was, of course, far greater when one must expose wife and children to hardships they were less able than himself to endure.

If the settlement of New England had been the result of mere adventure, its history would have had so little connection with that of the mother- country, that its relation might properly commence with the first arrival of colonists; but actually there is such a continuity of history between the emigration and the

Page 3

influences which led to it as requires the historian of a New England colony to discourse of England more than the mere title of his work would seem to justify. To relate the history of New Haven, therefore, one must go back to an earlier date than its actual settlement.

The contest between arbitrary and constitutional government, which had never ceased in England after King John signed the Magna Charta, raged with unusual violence while the throne was occupied by the Stuarts. The reign of the Tudors had been a period of comparative rest; the Wars of the Roses having so weakened the great barons, who in earlier times made and deposed kings at their pleasure, and the introduction of artillery having so strengthened the monarch against an enemy destitute of these engines of destruction, that, from Henry the Seventh to Elizabeth, there was but faint resistance to the will of the sovereign by the hereditary lords who sat in the upper house of Parliament. By the transfer of the supremacy of the Church, another check on. the royal prerogative had been removed; so that the lords spiritual, who in the olden time had been as little dependent on the king as the lords temporal, were now subservient to the power which placed them in office. The Tudors, therefore, transmitted to their successors a more arbitrary sceptre than had been wielded by earlier kings.

But the time of the Stuarts was less favorable than that of the Tudors for maintaining a theory and practice of government which contravened the rights of the subject. Formerly the great barons had come to Par-

Page 4

liament followed by hundreds of archers and spearmen ready to back their lords in any contest which might occur; but the barons only, and not their retainers, had presumed to put to question the conduct of the overlord. Out of the decay of this feudal baronage, there had gradually grown up a new antagonist to despotism, which, exhibiting considerable power in the reign of Elizabeth, vigorously encountered the house of Stuart at its accession, and suffered no permanent defeat till it had brought a king of England to the scaffold.

The change in the tenure of land whereby the vassal had become a farmer and in some instances a freeholder; the growth of towns by the increase of manufactures and of commerce; the intellectual activity awakened by the revival of learning, by the new art of printing, by the reform in theology, and by the revolutionary transfer of the supremacy of the Church, had conspired to lift the common people into a higher position. With this elevation of the common people, the House of Commons rose in importance. The shires and towns, which originally were invited to send representatives to Parliament, that through them they might give consent to taxes which the king wished to levy not only upon the greater lords, but upon the whole population, at first sent men, who, having no ambition to figure as legislators, gladly retired to their homes as soon as they had voted the supplies required. But consent to taxation was sometimes accompanied with a statement of grievances; and afterward, when the Commons had grown in power and courage, was withholden till a promise of redress had been obtained. At first the Commons were content if laws were enacted by the

Page 5

royal authority in accordance with their petitions, but afterward required that the order of proceeding should be reversed, so that all legislation must originate and receive its final shape in Parliament.

Whatever resistance had been offered to arbitrary government during the reign of the Tudors, had proceeded, not chiefly, as in earlier times, from the House of Lords, but chiefly from the House of Commons, representing a power already great and constantly increasing. There had been a change, moreover, in the mode in which acts of despotism were resisted; for the king no longer found his subjects arrayed in arms against him, but meeting him, whenever he asked for another supply of money, with a demand for further restriction on his prerogative. Elizabeth, the last of the Tudors, found this disposition of the Commons so annoying, that she avoided, as much as possible, giving occasion for such conflicts; well knowing that the Crown, if dependent on Parliament for supplies, could obtain them only by concession. By avoiding as much as possible the waste of war, by conducting into her exchequer every stream of tribute which could be controlled without the aid of the Commons, she hoped to render herself independent of Parliaments, and would probably have succeeded but for the wars forced upon her, in the last half of her reign, by Mary of Scotland and Philip of Spain.

This new antagonist to arbitrary government, which had become somewhat formidable to the last of the Tudors, continued to increase in courage and strength under her successor. But not only was the age in which the Stuarts reigned less favorable than that of the

Page 6

Tudors to the theory and practice of arbitrary government, but the two families differed in their ability to cope "with this new antagonist as much as their respective eras differed in the kind of ability required. If the two families could have changed places, the Stuarts might perhaps have been competent to deal with such Parliaments as assembled in the reign of Henry the Seventh; and the Tudors would certainly have shown more tact than the Stuarts did in contending against the English people of the seventeenth century.

This contest between the Stuarts and the English people, on account of its bearing on emigration to New England and the commencement of a new colony at New Haven, we shall briefly review.

James the First ascended the throne of Elizabeth in the belief that by the ordinance of God he was entitled to govern without regard to the will of his subjects. He had already declared, in his work on "The True Law of Free Monarchy," that, "although a good king will frame his actions to be according to law, yet he is not bound thereto but of his own will and for example-giving, to his subjects." At a later date, he said in a speech in the Star-Chamber, "As it is atheism and blasphemy to dispute what God can do, so it is presumption and a high contempt in a subject, to dispute what a king can do, or to say that a king cannot don this or that." Some writers attribute to him, and some to his son Charles, the saying, "I will govern according to the common weal, but not according to the common will." If James did not originate, he would doubtless have been willing to adopt, this form of words.

Page 7

But, though the new king was known to entertain such a theory of kingship, he was received by those of his subjects who held the opposite sentiments with joy and hope; for he was no more objectionable in this respect than Elizabeth, and they confidently expected that he would so exercise his prerogative as to relieve them from one of the most galling of their burdens. The Tudors had transferred the supremacy of the Church from the pope to the king, but had shown themselves as arbitrary in their ecclesiastical as in their civil supremacy, legislating without the concurrence of clergy or laity, and enforcing the strictest conformity, to the established ritual. The spirit in which Elizabeth ruled the Church may be inferred from the note she sent to the Bishop of Ely, when he demurred to a proposal that he should surrender a portion of Jus garden because a favorite of the queen desired that site for a new palace. "Proud prelate," she wrote, "you know what you were before I made you what you are. If you do not immediately comply with my request, by God, I will unfrock you." With similar tyranny she had refused every application for the relief of persons who had scruples in regard to some of the ceremonies prescribed in the ritual of the Church. These Puritans hoped, that as James had been educated in Scotland, where the Church itself had controlled its own reformation, and had carried the reform farther than the Tudors had been willing to carry it in the Church of England, they should find the new king friendly to their wish for further progress in the work of amendment. Possibly, if they had been of the same political principles with the king, they might have obtained some concessions.

Page 8

But he well knew that the Puritans were to a man of the popular party, and constituted its strength, and that on the other hand the opponents of further reform in the Church were supporters of the royal prerogative. His choice between the parties was soon made, and at the Hampton Court Conference, in the first year of his reign, was fully declared. In his journey from Scotland, a petition signed by eight hundred and twenty-five English clergymen from twenty-five counties had been presented to him, asking for a conference in regard to ecclesiastical abuses. In response to this petition, four of the leading Puritan divines, selected by the king, were invited to meet some dignitaries of the Church opposed to all change, in a conference before the king as moderator. But the conference was so conducted as to show that the king had already decided the matter adversely to the Puritans. The first day they were not admitted to his presence, the time being spent in preliminary consultation between the king and the bishops. On the second day, after the Puritans had stated their case, and their opponents had replied, the king, forgetting his position as moderator, took up the argument for conformity, and so "peppered" the Puritans, to use his own expression, that they were dismayed and put to silence.

All that the petitioners could obtain, as the result of this conference, was that candidates for confirmation should be previously instructed by means of a catechism to be prepared for that purpose, that a new translation of the Scriptures should be provided, that the Apocrypha should be distinguished from the canonical Scriptures, that a few explanatory words should be in-

Page 9

serted in the Articles of Religion, and that the enforcement of uniformity might be delayed to give time for the resolution of doubt and the settlement of conviction.

In his interview with the bishops, previous to the admission of the Puritan clergymen, the king had propounded the prejudice he himself entertained against private baptism by persons not in orders, and the Churchmen had consented that it should be restricted to cases of necessity. His own objection to conformity to the Church of England being thus taken away, he had no regard to the scruples of others. As between the two Churches of England and of Scotland, he avowed his preference for the former, narvely admitting that the preference issued from his political principles, rather than from his religious convictions. "No bishop," said he, "no king." "A Scottish presbytery agreeth as well with monarchy as God with the devil."

But James had no occasion for instituting such a comparison in reply to the petitioners; for the petition expressly disavowed a wish for "parity," and asked only for changes not affecting the constitution of the Church. The Puritans had not yet become disaffected toward episcopacy; and, if James had granted them relief from the grievances mentioned in their petition, there would have been less of extravagance in the flattery of the courtiers who styled him the Scottish Solomon. As it was, he resembled Rehob'oam rather than Solomon; driving the Puritans into such hostility to prerogative, both royal and episcopal, that nothing less would content them than "a church without a bishop, and a state without a king." It appears from

Page 10

"Certain Considerations Touching the Better Pacification and Edification of the Church of England," written by Lord Bacon, and "dedicated to his most excellent majesty," that James, like Rehoboam, came to his decision in opposition to wise counsel. Bacon says, "These ecclesiastical matters are things not properly appertaining to my profession; but finding that it is in many things seen that a man that standeth off and somewhat; removed from a plot of ground doth better survey it and, discover it than those which are upon it, I thought it not impossible, but that I, as a looker- on, might cast mine eyes upon some things which the actors themselves, especially some being interested, some being led and addicted, some declared and engaged, did not or would not see." He inquires, "Why the civil state should be purged and restored by good and wholesome laws made every third or fourth year in parliament assembled, devising remedies as fast as time breedeth mischief; and contrariwise the ecclesiastical state should still continue upon the dregs of time, and receive no alteration now for these five and forty years or more. But if it be said to me that there is a difference between civil causes and ecclesiastical, they may as well tell me that churches and chapels need no reparations, though castles and houses do: whereas, commonly, to speak truth, dilapidations of the inward and spiritual edifications of the church of God are in all times as great as the outward and material."

The first parliament in the reign of the new king met a few weeks after the conference at Hampton Court. A majority of the lower house were in full sympathy with the Puritan clergy in desiring further reformation

Page 11

of the Church; and some who were personally indifferent to the ceremonies and other matters in controversy were disposed to side with the aggrieved party, either on the ground that rings, surplices, and crosses were important to those who esteemed them important, or that, by favoring the Puritans, they might obtain from them more aid in the impending contest between the Crown and the Commons. The speaker, in his first address to the king, took occasion to affirm that "by the power of your majesty's great and high court of parliament only, new laws are to be instituted, imperfect laws reformed, and inconvenient laws abrogated;" that "no such law can be instituted, reformed, or abrogated, but by the unity of the Commons' agreement, the Lords' accord, and your majesty's royal and regal assent;" that "this court standeth compounded of two powers; the one ordinary, the other absolute: ordinary in the Lords' and Commons' proceedings, but in your highness absolute, either negatively to frustrate or affirmatively to confirm, but not to institute."

In making up the roll of the House, it was found that the king had already decided that one of the persons returned as elected was ineligible, and had ordered a new election, so that there were two claimants of the seat. The House insisted on its privilege of determining its own membership in all cases of contested elections, but compromised with the king by excluding both claimants with the consent of the first chosen, and ordering a third election. With great copiousness of courteous speech they established so firmly the privilege of the House to determine contested elections, that it has never since been brought in question.

Page 12

On the 13th of June, a committee reported a form for a petition to his majesty, in which they say, "We have thought it expedient, rather by this our humble petition to recommend to your majesty's godly consideration certain matters of grievance resting in your royal power and princely zeal, either to abrogate or moderate, than to take the public discussing of the same unto ourselves; to the end (if it so seem good to your highness) we may from the sacred fountain of your majesty's most royal and religious heart, wholly and only derive such convenient remedy and relief therein as to your princely wisdom may seem most meet. The matters of grievance (that we be not troublesome to your majesty) are these: the pressing the use of certain rites and ceremonies in this Church, as the cross in baptism, the wearing of the surplice in ordinary parish churches, and the subscription required of the ministers further than is commanded by the laws of the realm; things which, by long experience, have been found to be the occasion of such difference, trouble, and contention in this Church, as thereby divers profitable and painful ministers, not in contempt of authority or desire of novelty, as they sincerely profess and we are verily persuaded, but upon conscience toward God, refusing the same, some of good desert have been deprived, others of good expectation withheld from entering into the ministry." It is not certain that this petition was ever presented to the king; but he must have known that it was on the way, when, on the 26th of the same month, he sent a letter to the House declining to receive a subsidy, which all the world knew would be granted only in return for the redress of grievances.

Page 13

Meantime the House had sent to the king a letter styled "An Apology Touching Their Privileges," in which they complain, with great copiousness of respectful language, of the wrong which had been done to his majesty by misinformation, touching the estate of his subjects and the privileges of the House, and "disclosing unto your majesty the truth of such matters as hitherto by misinformation hath been suppressed or perverted."

On the 7th of July the House was prorogued; and when it again assembled in November, 1605, the discovery of the gunpowder-plot had hushed the strife between the Puritans and the king, uniting all Protestants in a common enmity against Papists. But in subsequent sessions the Commons found so many grievances to be redressed before supplies could be granted, that the king preferred to dissolve the Parliament in February, 1611, rather than fill his exchequer by further sacrifices of his prerogative.

In April, 1614, having first by private negotiation secured a promise of aid from some who had been leaders of the popular party, the king ventured to call his second Parliament, but the experiment proved a failure; the Commons, even after the king had sent a message requesting that a supply might be granted and threatening to dissolve the Parliament if they refused, voting to postpone supply till their grievances were redressed. The Parliament was accordingly dissolved just two months after it began to sit.

The Parliament which assembled in January, 1621, was at first on good terms with the monarch, who in the opening speech, acknowledging that he had been misled by evil counsellors, made fair promises for the

Page 14

future. The two parties were drawn together by their common sympathy with the king's son-in-law, the Elector Palatine, involved in a quarrel with the German emperor, which threatened to deprive him of his hereditary dominions. The king naturally desired to assist the husband of his daughter and the father of her children to preserve his patrimony; and the people sympathized with the elector as the champion of Protestantism, overborne by the combined forces of Romanism. The Commons at once voted supplies for carrying on war in aid of the elector. But, before the expiration of the year, the king and the Commons were again at variance; he rebuking them for meddling with matters of state which did not concern them, and declaring himself "very free and able to punish any man's misdemeanors in Parliament, as well during their sitting as after;" and they responding with a formal protest as follows: viz., "That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England; and that the arduous and urgent affairs concerning the king, state, and the defence of the realm and of the Church of England, and the making and maintenance of laws and redress of mischiefs and grievances which daily happen within this realm, are proper subjects and matter of counsel and debate in Parliament; and that, in the handling and proceeding of those businesses, every member of the House hath, and of right ought to have, freedom of speech to propound, treat, reason, and bring to conclusion the same; that the Commons in Parliament have like liberty and freedom to treat of these matters in such order as in their judg-

Page 15

ments shall seem fittest; and that every such member of the said House hath like freedom from all impeachment, imprisonment, and molestation (other than by the censure of the House itself), for or concerning any bill, speaking, reasoning, or declaring of any matter or matters touching the Parliament or Parliament business; and that, if any of the said members be complained of and questioned for any thing said or done in Parliament, the same is to be showed to the king, by the advice and assent of all the Commons, before the king give credence to any private informations."

This formal protest having been recorded in the journal of the House, the king erased it with his own hand, and a few days afterward dissolved the Parliament.

The next Parliament met in February, 1624, was prorogued in May, and did not again assemble, being dissolved by the king's death on the 27th of March, 1625. During its brief session, unusual concord prevailed between the king and the Commons, by reason of war with Spain, which religious animosity rendered popular; and the more so, that the war had been preceded by an apprehension that a Spanish princess would become the wife of the heir to the British crown. The Commons voted large supplies for carrying on the war, and with the more alacrity, because the king had himself proposed that the money should be put into the hands of a committee of Parliament, to be expended by them, and not into the royal exchequer.

Charles the First was constrained by his need of money to call a Parliament immediately upon his accession, but soon quarrelled with the Commons, as his

Page 16

father had done, about his prerogative and their privileges. Putting an end to their sessions, he called another Parliament in the succeeding year, but with no improvement in the state of feeling between the king and the Commons; and in a few months the second Parliament of this reign came to an end. The king, left without revenue by the refusal of Parliament to vote supplies, not only laid and collected arbitrary taxes, but exacted from the nobility, the gentry, the clergy, and the merchants, forced loans. Those who refused to lend were imprisoned, and, when they claimed their liberty by habeas corpus, found that Magna Charta was of no avail against the will of the king.

In this state of things, Charles called his third Parliament in 1628; being constrained to such a course by the insufficiency of the revenue collected by illegal means. When the Commons assembled on the i7th of March, they came with the determination not to vote supplies unless the king would promise to put an end to his arbitrary measures. Early in the session, they passed the following resolutions, without a dissenting voice:-

"1. That no freeman ought to be committed or detained in prison, or otherwise restrained, by command of the king, or the Privy Council, or any other, unless some cause of the commitment, detainer, or restraint be expressed, for which by law he ought to be committed, detained, or restrained. 2. That the writ of habeas corpus cannot be denied, but ought to be granted to every man that is committed or detained in prison or otherwise restrained by command of the king, Privy Council, or any other; he praying the same. 3. That if a freeman

Page 17

be committed, or detained in prison, or otherwise restrained, by command of the king, Privy Council, or any other, no cause of such commitment, &c., being expressed, and the same, be returned upon an habeas corpus granted for the said party, that then he ought to be delivered, or bailed. 4. That the ancient and undoubted right of every freeman is, that he hath a full and absolute property in his goods and estate; and that no tax, tallage, loan, benevolence, or other like charges, ought to be commanded or levied by the king or his ministers, without common assent of Parliament."

A few days after this declaration of the right of English subjects, they presented a petition to the king, in which they showed how all these rights of the subject had been recognized in Magna Charta, and in acts of Parliament subscribed by his majesty's royal predecessors; declared that they had all been violated of late by forced loans, by imprisonment without cause shown, by disregard of the writ of habeas corpus, by billeting soldiers and mariners in private houses, and by the unnecessary establishment of martial law. The petition closed with a prayer that such illegalities and wrongs might cease.

The answer of the king was regarded as evasive; and both houses of Parliament joined in a request that his majesty would return a more explicit reply to the Petition of Right. Charles, thus harassed, came into the House of Lords, commanded the Commons to attend upon him there, and gave his assent to the petition in the customary form, declaring that in his former answer he had had no intention of withholding any thing conceded in the latter. Three days later, to accelerate a

Page 18

vote of supplies, he expressed his willingness that the Petition of Right should be recorded, not only in both houses of Parliament, but in all the courts of Westminster, and that it should be printed for his honor, and the content and satisfaction of his subjects.

The Commons, pleased with such a triumph of law over autocracy, immediately voted a liberal sum for supplying the king's necessities, and were proceeding to pass an act for a further supply by a grant of tonnage and poundage, when the incorrigible Stuart, learning that the grant was to be accompanied by a remonstrance against the illegal collection' of the tax before it had been granted, prorogued the Parliament in a speech in which he denied that in giving assent to the Petition of Right he had debarred himself from exacting tonnage and poundage by virtue of his royal prerogative, and commanded all present to take notice, that the interpretation he was giving to the instrument was its true meaning and intent; adding, "But especially you, my lords the judges, for to you only, under me, belongs the interpretation of laws." After the prorogation this violent speech was, by the king's command, entered on the journal of the House; and by the same authority it was printed along with the Petition of Right and the unsatisfactory answer it had at, first received, no mention being made of the explicit assent afterward given in the customary formula of royal ratification.

When the Parliament again assembled on the 2Oth of January, 1629, the nation was greatly irritated, not only by the collection of tonnage and poundage and other illegal taxes, but by the excessive and cruel punishments

Page 19

unjustly, and without warrant of law, inflicted by the Star-Chamber and the High Commission. Hitherto the questions at issue between the king and the Commons had pertained chiefly to civil rights; but, during the contest, the assertors of civil rights and the advocates of further reform in the Church had more and more coalesced; the Puritans being to a man opposed to despotism, and the leaders of the popular party, if they had no positive and earnest convictions in regard to the religious questions at issue, taking sides with the Puritans because the Puritans had taken sides with them.

Silmlar reasons had drawn the king into a closer connection with those Churchmen who insisted on the retention of the ceremonies obnoxious to Puritans, and on the enforcement of an absolute conformity. The king favored such men as Land and his coadjutors in their churchmanship, because they supported him in his attemp to trample upon the constitution and the laws. Through Land, who since the death of the Duke of Buckingham had become his principal adviser, Charles enjoined upon the clergy to preach the merit of paying taxes and making loans not authorized by Parliament. When Archbishop Abbot refused to license the printing of one of the sermons thus originated, he was suspended from the functions of his office, and his authority was transferred to a commission over which Land presided.

The two parties being thus at variance on ecclesiastical as well as on political questions, Parliament had no sooner assembled than the Commons began to seek the redress of grievances relating to religion, as well as of such as related to person and property. It had been

Page 2O

discovered that in the negotiations for the marriage of Charles with Henrietta Maria, both he and his father had secretly signed a promise that not only the queen and her attendants, but all Englishmen as well, should be exempt from the operation of the laws of England which prohibited the exercise of the Roman Catholic worship. It was seen that the Church of England, under the direction of Laud, was drifting toward the Church of Rome, and thus becoming more unsatisfactory to Puritans than it had been under the administration of Abbott. The latter prelate had been lenient toward those who had conscientious scruples about ceremonies: taud, on the other hand, not only exacted the most rigid conformity to the ceremonies legally required, but procured an order of the king's privy council, ordaining changes in the position and furniture" of the communion-table, exceedingly unpalatable to those who already experienced sufficient difficulty in overcoming their scruples and persuading themselves to conform.

On the 25th of February a committee previously appointed for the purpose made a report on religious grievances. They complained, among other things, that books in favor of popery were licensed by the bishops, and books against popery were suppressed; that candlesticks were placed on the communion-table, which they said was now wickedly called a high altar; that pictures, images, and lights were used in the worship of the Church; that clergymen celebrating divine service crossed themselves at every change of posture, and in time of prayer turned their backs toward the people, as if the eastward position were essential; that, these ritualistic practices being enjoined upon them by their bishops, learned,

Page 21

orthodox, and pious ministers, who could not in conscience obey the injunction, were brought to grief for disobedience.

The king, enraged at this attack upon his hierarchical allies, endeavored to prevent action on the report by ordering the speaker to pronounce the House adjourned. But, the House claiming that it could be adjourned only by its own act, some of the members held the speaker in the chair, while others locked the door, and brought the keys to the table. The speaker declaring that he dare not and would not put to vote any motion, seeing that the House was adjourned by the king's command, one of the members read a protest to which others assented, and the House then adjourned itself to the l0th of March. On the loth of March the king dissolved the Parliament, in a speech in which he threatened with his vengeance those vipers, as he called them, who had been most active in resisting his adjournment of the House of Commons.

His third Parliament being thus brought to an end, Charles was by this time so disgusted, that in a proclamation issued twelve days afterward he said, "We have showed, by our frequent meeting our people, our love to the use of Parliaments; yet, the late abuse having for the present driven us unwillingly out of that course, we shall account it presumption for any to prescribe any time unto us for Parliaments, the calling, continuing, and, dissolving of which is always in our power." So deep-rooted was his dislike, that eleven years intervened be tween his third and his fourth Parliaments, during which time he levied taxes, and exacted benevolences and loans at his pleasure, punishing with imprisonment and heavy

Page 22

fines those who refused to open their purses at his arbitrary demand.

The Puritan emigration from England, for which we are endeavoring to account, commenced while Charles was holding his third Parliament. Plymouth had, indeed, been settled before this time and before Charles came to the throne; but the Pilgrims who planted that colony had been already exiles from their native land for twelve years before they crossed the ocean. The successful prosecution of that enterprise for eight years had now demonstrated the feasibility of establishing such plantations on the American coast, and had suggested to the Puritans oi England that by emigrating to America they might not only escape from their foes, but establish, in a new world, those principles of civil freedom and pure worship for which they were contending with little success in their native- land.

The first company who left their homes in the mother-country to establish a Puritan plantation in New England sailed in 1628, and, under the leadership of Endicott, established themselves at Salem. They had been twice re-enforced, when a much larger company came with Winthrop in 1630, and settled first at Charlestown, and afterward at Boston. To induce Winthrop and other gentlemen of capacity and wealth to engage personally in this enterprise, the Company of Massachusetts Bay generously offered to transfer to New England the government of the plantations which had been or might be formed there, by electing a majority of its directors and its governor from among those who would engage to emigrate with their families and estates.

Page 23

From this time onward the current of emigration was broad and rapid, stimulated as well by the descriptions of the New World which the first adventurers sent back as by the troubles in the mother-country. So general was the interest in these reports that three editions of "New England's Plantation" by Rev. Francis Higginson, who arrived in Salem in 1629, were printed during the following year. The stream thus set in motion did not cease to flow till the civil war had given the Puritans hope of relief without exile from their native land.

The project which resulted in the establishment of a colony at New Haven was undertaken in 1636. Seven years had then elapsed without a parliament; the king was evidently determined not to call another: without a parliament no check could be put on arbitrary government. To all other illegal methods of replenishing the exchequer, including the sale of monopolies, the demand of loans and benevolences, the collection of tonnage and poundage, the imposition of arbitrary and excessive fines, another had now been added called ship-money; the first writ for levying it in London being issued in 1634, and the exaction being extended to the whole country in the following year. The tax was small in amount; for John Hampden (who, having already suffered imprisonment for not submitting to a forced loan, now refused to pay ship-money) was a man of large wealth, and yet was assessed at only twenty shillings. But, though small in amount, this new tax excited earnest indignation in the minds of thoughtful patriots, because it was laid without the consent of those who were to pay it.

Page 24

The Star-Chamber, instead of relaxing its severity, had of late in numerous instances punished with ruinous fines, and with imprisonment of which no one could foresee the end, those who resisted the exactions of the government, or even ventured to speak of them with too strong disapproval. Thus in 1630, Richard Chambers, a merchant of London, smarting under a sense of the wrong he suffered in having a bale of silk confiscated because he would not pay the duty illegally demanded, was heard to say that merchants had more encouragement, and were less screwed and wrung, in Turkey than in England. For this ebullition of temper he was fined two thousand pounds. In the same year Alexander Leighton, a Scotch clergyman, was sentenced, for publishing a book entitled, "An Appeal to the Parliament; or, Sion's Plea against Popery," to be twice publicly whipped, to stand two hours in the pillory, to have his ears cut off, to have his nostrils slit, to be branded in the cheek with the letters S.S. to denote a sower of sedition, and to be imprisoned for life. He lay in prison ten years, and until he was released by the Long Parliament. In 1634 Prynne, a Puritan lawyer, being prosecuted before the same tribunal for publishing a book against plays, masquerades, &c., which was thought to reflect severely upon the royal court where such amusements were in vogue, was sentenced to pay a fine of five thousand pounds, to stand twice in the pillory, to lose his ears, and to remain a prisoner for life. He employed the leisure of his prison in writing another book, for which he suffered, by decree of the Star-Chamber, another mutilation. This second punishment, however, did not take place till after the com-

Page 25

pany, which planted the colony of New Haven, had left behind them the shores of England.

The High Commission, which had cognizance of ecclesiastical offences, punished the Puritans for disobedience to bishops, as the Star-Chamber did for offences against the royal prerogative. This tribunal did not, indeed, mutilate its victims, and so far forth was less inhuman than the Star- Chamber. The fines which it exacted from non-conformists for their irregularities were not so large as the fines imposed by the other court, or by this same court in cases of immorality committed by rich men; but the reason doubtless was, that the non-conformists were men of moderate means. Those who suffered for non-conformity were, in many cases, clergymen withqut income save what they derived from their benefices. To such a man, the sentence of the ecclesiastical court, ejecting him from his living, was as severe as a ruinous fine would be upon a merchant. But, in truth, fines and imprisonment were often added to the sentence of deprivation which took from the clergyman and his family their daily bread. For example, Peter Smart, a prebendary of Durham, having inveighed in a sermon against innovations recently made in his cathedral, such as the change of the communion-table into an altar, and the restoration of some images and pictures which had been removed in the reign of Elizabeth, was fined five hundred pounds, committed to prison, and ordered to recant. For neglecting to recant, he was fined again, deprived of his prebend, degraded from orders, and excommunicated.(*) He was at last released by the Long Parliament, after eleven years confinement.

(* Fuller's Church History)

Page 26

The elevation of Laud to the primacy, in 1633, increased the troubles of the Puritans. Abbot had shielded them in his own diocese, and had encouraged, at least indirectly, other bishops to do likewise. But now there was no such shield in any diocese from the fury with which Laud assailed, not only all who deviated in any particular from the ceremonies prescribed by law, but even those who, being careful to conform in all things legally required, opposed the change's in the furniture, and services of the church, ordained by the Privy Council at the instigation of Laud. Puritan clergymen in larger numbers than before were imprisoned. Some, having reason to expect a similar fate, concealed themselves and, when opportunity offered, secretly embarked for New England. It was under pressure of this kind that most of the ministers who came over between 1628 and 1640 decided to leave their native land.

Though the clergy were more exposed than the laity to the storm of persecution, the latter were not exempt. If the spies of the High Commission discovered a conventicle, - as a worshipping assembly in which the ceremonies did riot - conform to those of the Church of England was called, - not only the officiating minister, but all who were present, were seized, and imprisoned till on their oaths they had purged themselves of all non-conformity, or till the court was pleased to release them.

Such was the condition of England which induced the Puritan emigrants to exile themselves from their native country, and encounter the perils of the'sea and of the wilderness. Colonization produced by such

Page 27

causes peopled New England with a superior population. The colonists were, as a class, intelligent, moral, religious, heroic. "God sifted a whole nation, that he might send choice grain over into this wilderness."(*)

(* William Stoughton, Election Sermon, 1668)

Page 28


ON the sixth day of October, 1624, a general vestry was holden in St. Stephen's Church, Coleman Street, London, for the election of a new incumbent; this being one of the few parishes in England where the right of presentation is vested in the parishioners. Of seventy-three votes, John Davenport, a curate in a contiguous parish, received all but three or four. He had held this curacy about six years, and was now regarded as one of the ablest preachers in the city. "He was reported," says the Bishop of London, in reply to a letter in which Sir Richard Conway interceded for Davenport's induction, "to be factious and popular,(*) and to draw after him great congregations and assemblies of common and mean people." Endowed with imagination, earnest in his piety, Calvinistic in his theology,- possessing the full strength of manhood with no abatement of the fervor of youth, he was a great favorite with the merchants, tradesfolk, and artisans, whose dwellings were in Coleman Street and other

(* The bishop meant that Davenport did not stand for the king's prerogative)

Page 29

streets since surrendered entirely to business. His admirers were almost universally of that class of Englishmen whose representatives in Parliament so much displeased King James by presenting a list of grievances whenever he asked for money. Therefore to be popular, whether it means to be on the side of the people or to be regarded by the people with favor, was to be suspected at court.

It was soon found that something stood in the way of Davenport's induction. The young preacher had been traduced to the king as a Puritan, or as puritanically affected; and the king had spoken of him to the bishop of London in such terms that the bishop was unwilling to induct him into the benefice to which he had been elected. The charge pf puritanism, if it meant that Davenport did not conform to all the prescribed ceremonies of the Church, had no foundation at this early date. The accusation had probably proceeded from one of the king's pages, who, having been reproved by Davenport for profane swearing, either innocently adjudged him for that reason to be a Puritan, or revengefully applied an opprobrious epithet to prejudice his reprover in the king's esteem.

Davenport's friends, however, were not all "ommon and mean people." At his solicitation, seconded by that of Lady Mary Vere, his cause was undertaken by her brother-in-law Sir Richard Conway, principal secretary to his majesty) who conciliated the king, and persuaded the bishop to proceed to the induction, which took place before the date of the following certificate, indorsed in the handwriting of Davenport on a copy of "The Thirty-Nine Articles," now in the library of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester:-

Page 3O

Novemb. 7th 1624 "John Davenporte, Clerk, Vicar of St Stephen's in Coleman Street, London, did, this day above written, being Sunday, publiquely read this booke of Articles herein Contayned, being in number 39 besides the ratification, and declared his full and unfeigned assent and consent thereunto in the tyme of morning Prayer, next after the Second Lesson, before the whole Congregacion. As also the sayd John did, the same day, administer the Holy Communion in the sayd parish, in his surplis, according to ye order prescribed by ye Church of England; in the presence of these whbse names are here underwritten."

The certificate is signed by one of the church-wardens and seven other parishioners, and was doubtless given on the first Sunday after his induction.

The first two or three years of Davenport's incumbency were prosperous and comparatively peaceful. So far as can be ascertained, he conformed as faultlessly as in his curacy at St. Lawrence's, where, as he declares in a letter to Secretary Conway, he "baptized many, but never without the sign of the cross; monthly administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but at no time without the surplice, nor to any but those that kneeled."

In 1627 he brought himself into trouble by uniting with other ministers in a circular letter soliciting contributions for the oppressed Protestants of the Upper Palatinate. Laud, who was now the principal adviser of the king, was displeased with the signers of the letter for such sympathy with Presbyterians, and caused them to be reprimanded in the Star-Chamber.

The translation of Laud in 1628, to the see of London, brought greater peril of collision between him and the Calvinistic vicar of St. Stephen's. What was Daven-

Page 31

port's first offence, is not known; but how soon he was summoned before the High Commission, appears from the following extract from one of his letters to Lady Vere:-

"LONDON, June 30, 1628.

"MADAM, - Since my recovery out of a dangerous sickness, which held me for a week or a fortnight before Shrovetide to as long after Easter, for which I return most humble thanks to the God of my life, the Father of mercies, I have had divers purposes of writing to your honor, only I delayed in hope to write somewhat concerning the event and success of our High Commission troubles; but I have hoped in vain: for to this day we are, in the same condition as before, delayed till the finishing of this session in Parliament, which now is unhappily concluded without any satisfying contentment to the king or commonwealth. Threatenings were speedily revived against us by the new Bishop of London, Dr. Laud, even the next day after the conclusion of their session. We expect a fierce storm from the enraged spirit of the two bishops. Ours, as I am informed, hath a particular aim at me upon a former quarrel: so that I expect ere long to be deprived of my pastoral charge in Coleman Street But I am in God's hands, not in theirs; to whose good pleasure I do contentedly and cheerfully commit myself.(*)"

In January, 1631, he was required to answer certain charges brought against him by Timothy Hood, some time his curate. Hood had been dismissed for not complying with the requirement that he should reside within the parish, and, according to Davenport's relation of the case, had become incensed against him for that reason. One of the charges was, that the vicar had sometimes administered the sacrament to communicants who did not kneel, and the accusation was brought to a fine edge by the specification of Mrs. Davenport as one of the said communicants.

(* Birch MSS., 4275)

Page 32

The vicar replied to this objection against him, that the parish contained about fourteen hundred communicants, and that, the chancel being small, it was a matter of necessity to administer to the communicants from pew to pew, and that the pews were sometimes so filled that it was impossible to kneel; that when he had observed some to sit, that might conveniently kneel, he had advised them to kneel; that, in case of refusal to kneel, he had refused to administer the sacrament to the party so refusing. The specification concerning his wife, he meets by testifying that she had received the sacrament at his hand, kneeling, many times, and that the curate had "not acquainted him, the said John Davenport, that he observed any such thing concerning his wife" as was charged.

It is evident from this disingenuous but doubtless literally true statement, that some of Davenport's parishioners, including his own wife, were at this time non-conformists, and that he had winked at their irregularity. It does not appear, however, that he himself had any scruple about kneeling, or had personally omitted any required ceremony.

The complaint seems to have resulted in nothing worse than a private admonition from his bishop. It was probably the conference between Laud and Davenport in reference to this complaint to which the prelate referred, when, in his report of the diocese of London for that part of the year 1633 which elapsed before his elevation to the primacy, he said, "Since my return from Scotland, Mr. John Davenport, vicar of St. Stephen's in Coleman Street (whom I used with all moderation, and about two years since thought I had

Page 33

settled his judgment, having him then at advantage enough to have put extremity upon him, but forbore it), hath now resigned his vicarage, declared his judgment against conformity with the Church of England, and is since gone (as I hear) to Amsterdam." To his moderation with Davenport in reference to the complaint of Hood, the prelate again referred in his defence, when on trial for his life, before the Long Parliament. One charge being, that he had forced Davenport to flee from his parish and from the country, he said in reply: "The truth is, my lords, and 'tis well known, and to some of his best friends, that I preserved him once before, and my Lord Vere came, and gave me thanks for it."

About one year after Davenport had escaped from this danger, Laud discovered the existence of a company, whose design was to purchase such advowsons as, having been impropriated to laymen in the time of Henry the Eighth, were now for sale, in order that the trustees, or, as they were styled, feoffees, of the company might present for induction men whom they regarded as orthodox, that is, as Calvinists. The company had been in operation for some years, and had already purchased several impropriations with money contributed for that purpose. The discovery of the project excited Laud vehemently. He hated Calvinists, whether conforming or non- conforming; partly for their theology, and partly for their almost invariable adhesion to the popular side in the contest between the Commons and the king. It was part of his plan of administration to exclude them from preferment; so that this company was, in his estimation, an organized

Page 34

attempt to frustrate his plans. Davenport was one of the feoffees t>f this company, and, as such, participated in the heavy displeasure of the man who in the king's name ruled both Church and State. He and his associates were apprehensive that they might be proceeded against in the Star- Chamber, and punished with ruinous fines; but Laud, having caused the corporation to be dissolved and its property to be confiscated, abstained from further vengeance. When the prosecution was brought to an end, Davenport recorded in his Bible his thanks to God for deliverance from the thing he feared.

The policy of excluding Calvinists from church preferment, even if faultless in their conformity, naturally forced conforming clergymen of that school of theology into closer sympathy with non-conformists, and into a wider estrangement from Laud and his associates. Doctrinal Puritans, as Calvinists were now called, finding themselves proscribed by their ecclesiastical superiors, began to feel the force of the reasons which the ceremonial Puritans alleged for not conforming. Perhaps the suppression of the company of which he had been a trustee, and the confiscation of its property, turned the scales with which Davenport weighed these reasons. However this may be, it appears from his own testimony that he was first staggered in his conformity, and afterward fully taken off, by set conferences and debates, which himself and sundry other ministers obtained with Mr. John Cotton, then driven from Boston [in Lincolnshire] on account of his non-conformity.

For several months he absented himself from the communion-service celebrated monthly in his church,

Page 35

but might perhaps in time have relapsed into conformity. The tidings which came on Sunday, Aug. 4, 1633, that the old Calvinistic Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, was dead, seem to have brought him to a decision. Abbot had been decidedly friendly to Calvinists who conformed, and not very severe against those who were guilty of some slight aberrations from the ritual. His brother, Sir Maurice Abbot, afterward lord mayor, was a parishioner of St. Stephen's, and had sometimes, spread over Davenport the shield of the archbishop's protection. But the primate was now dead, and the succession of Laud cast its shadow before. On Monday Davenport left the city; and on Tuesday Laud, returning from his missionary tour to Scotland, was saluted by the king as "my Lord of Canterbury." Davenport, after lying in concealment for about three months, escaped to Holland "disguised in a gray suit and an overgrown beard."(*)

We learn from one of his letters to the representative of the king of Great Britain, resident at the Hague, that when he went into that country he intended to remain only three or four months and then return to his native land. He cannot have expected that the storm which had driven him into exile would so soon subside entirely, or even sufficiently to permit him to resume his work as a Puritan preacher in England. Some thoughts may. have been in his mind of undertaking in 1634 what he accomplished in 1637. He had been interested in the Massachusetts Bay Company as early certainly as 1629, having contributed money to procure the charter which the king signed in that year, and had continued from

(* Letter of Stephen Goffe, dated 1633, Dec. 16/26)

Page 36

that time to meet with its directors and to act on its committees. A short absence might be considered expedient to allow the vigilance of his enemies to abate before he should organize an expedition. Nevertheless any project of leading a colony from England to America, which he may have entertained when he landed in Holland, was so vague that he listened to a proposal to settle permanently in Amsterdam.

If for a time he cherished the thought of finding a home in Holland, he had doubtless relinquished it as early as 1635, for in that year his family returned to England. He followed them, probably in the summer or autumn of 1636; for the organization of a company of emigrants was so far forwarded in January of the following year that they had chartered a vessel, "made ready all their provisions and passengers, fitting both for the said voyage and plantation, and most of them thereupon engaged their whole estates."

While these preparations were in progress, Davenport doubtless kept himself out of sight as much as he conveniently could, both on his own account, and for the sake of the expedition. Years afterward, Laud, alluding to him and his escape to New England, exclaimed, "My arm shall reach him even there." If it had been known that those who had chartered "the good ship Hector," to carry them to New England, and had engaged their whole estates in preparing for the voyage, were to have the former vicar of St. Stephen's as their leader, their undertaking might have been extinguished with as little regard to the rights of property

(Petition of the Owners and Freighters of the Good Ship called the Hector of London. State Papers: Colonial.)

Page 37

as that of the feoffees had been. It did, indeed, become known at last that Davenport had returned. The vicar-general of the Bishop of London, reporting his visitation of the diocese, writes from Braintree, March 6, "Mr. Davenport hath lately been in these parts, and at Hackney, not long since. I am told that he goeth in gray, like a country gentleman." We may infer from what this reporter relates, that Davenport had not shown himself much in public, and, from his silence in reference to the expedition to New England, that he had heard nothing of Davenport's connection with it.

About twelve months before Davenport fled from London, Samuel Elaton and John Lathrop,(*) two non-conforming clergymen, were imprisoned by the High Commission for holding conventicles. With the connivance of the jailer, Eaton continued to hold conventicles after his incarceration, as appears from a document preserved among the English State Papers, and here subjoined:-

"To the most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, his grace, Primate and Metropolitan of all England:-

"Humbly sheweth:- The most humble petition of Francis Tucker, Bachelor of Divinity, and prisoner in Newgate for debt. That whereas there is one Samuel Eaton, prisoner in Newgate, committed by your grace for a schismatical and dangerous fellow; that the said Eaton hath held divers conventicles within the said gaol, some whereof hath been to the number of seventy persons or more, and that he was permitted by the said keeper openly and publicly to preach unto them; and that the said Eaton hath often-

(* Lathrop had formerly been vicar of Egerton in Kent, but now was the teacher of a congregation of Separatists in London. Egerton had become a stronghold of Puritanism.)

Page 38

times affirmed in his said sermons that baptism was the doctrine of devils, and its original was an institution from the devil; and oftentimes he would rail against your grace, affirming that all bishops were heretics, blasphemers, and antichristian. That the said keeper, having notice hereof by the petitioner, who desired him to be a means that these great resorts and conventicles might be prevented, and that he would reprove the said Eaton for the same, and remove him to some other place of the prison. That hereupon the said keeper, in a disdainful manner, replied that the petitioner should meddle with what he had to do; and if he did'dislike the said Eaton and his conventicles, he would remove the petitioner into some worse place of the prison. That at this time there was a conventicle of sixty persgns or more; that the said keeper coming into the room where the conventicle was, and the said Eaton preaching unto them and maintaining dangerous opinions, having viewed the said assembly, he said there was a very fair and goodly company; and staying there some season, departed without any distaste thereat, to the great encouragement of the said Eaton and the said persons to frequent the said place. That the said keeper had a strict charge from the said commission to have a special care of the said Eaton; and that since, the said keeper hath several times permitted him to go abroad to preach to conventicles appointed by him, the said Eaton. That daily there doth resort to the said Eaton much people to hear him preach. That the said petitioner reproving the said keeper for the said contempt, he thereupon abused him with uncivil language, and further, caused the said Eaton to abuse the petitioner, not only with most abusive words, but also with blows."

Eaton and Lathrop were probably released on bail, for the court after calling them several times finally decreed, Feb. 19, 1635, that for their contempt in not appearing to answer charges touching their holding conventicles, their bonds should be certified, and they attached and committed. Lathrop, fortunately for him, was already in New England, having arrived at Boston with thirty-two of his congregation Sept. 18, 1634.

Page 39

Eaton, having lain in concealment till the return of Davenport from Holland, became his associate in the voyage to America. Perhaps he was drawn into such association by personal friendship, as well as by the peril to which they were exposed in common; for both were natives of Coventry, where Baton's father, a beneficed clergyman, had been the religious teacher and guide of Davenport's childhood and youth.

Theophilus Eaton, an older brother of Samuel Eaton, was so nearly of the age of Davenport that they had been schoolmates and intimate friends in Coventry. Intended by his parents for the church, he had become a merchant in London. Respected for his character and for his success in business, he was elected at an early age Deputy Governor of the Fellowship of Eastland Merchants, and sent by them, as their agent, to superintend their affairs and promote their interests in the countries bordering on the Baltic. Returning after an absence of three years, he became a parishioner of his friend, the vicar of St. Stephen's. Already so much a Puritan that he had scrupled when abroad at the lawfulness of drinking toasts, he was probably, when Davenport resigned his vicarage, as far advanced as he in nonconformity. The idea of expatriation had, perhaps, become less repulsive to his mind by reason of his long connection with the company of Massachusetts Bay, of which he was one of the original patentees, and to which he, like Davenport, had liberally given time and money. The acquaintance he had made with the court of High Commission through the recent experience of his brother Samuel, and perhaps through personal experience as his brother's bondsman, would naturally incline him to put

Page 40

himself and his children beyond its jurisdiction. He not only joined the expedition, but acted so important a part in its history, that he and Davenport have been styled its Moses and Aaron.

Theophilus Eaton was living at this time with his second wife, whose daughter by a former husband was married to Edward Hopkins, a Puritan merchant of London. Hopkins much esteemed his wife's stepfather, and resolved to accompany him to America. Two young men, David Yale and Thomas Yale, sons of Mrs. Eaton, were also of the company.

John Evance, a London merchant and a parishioner of St. Stephen's, was present at the general vestry when Davenport was elected vicar in October, 1624. He had been married in May of the same year to Anne Young. It has been assumed by some writers that many of the New Haven planters had been parishioners of Davenport in London. He was so popular and prominent a preacher, that probably all of the company who had lived in London had heard him preach; but of the seventy-three persons present at the general vestry in October, 1624, only one is known to have come with Davenport to New Haven. Theophilus Eaton may have been a parishioner thus early; but, even if so, was probably absent at that time in the East countries. Other New Haven names than those of Evance and Eaton are found on the parish register of St. Stephen's; but the names are such as might be found elsewhere in England, and most of the persons who brought them to America are known to have crossed the Atlantic at an earlier or a later date than Eaton, Evance, and Davenport.

Page 41

Besides these who were related to Davenport, as his former parishioners, or to Theophilus Eaton by family ties, several citizens of London joined the company. Not all of them can now be distinguished from those who came from other parts of the kingdom, but there is more or leas, authority for including in such a list the names of Stephen Goodyear, Richard Malbon, Thomas Gregson, William Peck, Robert Newman, Francis Newman, and Ezekiel Cheever.

The London men with their families forming the nucleus of the company, other families or companies from the rural counties became united with it. One group of families came from Kent, or, in other words, from the diocese of Canterbury, which, three years before, by the death of Archbishop Abbot, had fallen under the immediate administration of Laud. Abbot was, like the Puritans, a Calvinist in his theology; like them he was in sympathy with the reformed churches of the Continent, continuing to tolerate the French refugees, who from the time of Elizabeth had maintained worship according to the forms of their own church within his diocese and even in the basement of his cathedral; like them he believed in the sanctification of the Lord's day, preventing the reading, in the parish church of Croydon where he was residing at the time, of King James's proclamation which allowed and encouraged athletic games on the afternoon of Sunday. It was natural that a man so much in sympathy with the Puritans should deal leniently with them in regard to their deviations from ritual regularity. He was loath to deprive the Church of its most instruc-

Page 42

tive and influential preachers, and hoped by mild treatment to bring them back to conformity.

Upon the accession of Laud, there was an immediate and radical change in the administration of the diocese. In the reports which he rendered annually to the king, the primate complains, both in 1634 and 1635, of a part of Kent around Ashford, as specially infected with distemper against the Church. In his account for 1636, he said, -

"I have every year acquainted your majesty, and so must do now, that there are still about Ashford and Egerton divers Brownists and other Separatists. But they are so very mean and poor people, that we know not what to do with them. They are said to be the disciples of one Turner and Fenner, who were long since apprehended by order of your Majesty's High Commission Court. But how this part came to be so infected with such a humor of separation, I know not, unless it were by too much connivance at their first beginning. Neither do I see any remedy like to be, unless some of their chief seducers be driven to abjure the kingdom which must be done by the judges at the common law, but is not in our power."

On the margin of the paper containing this account the king wrote, "Inform me of the particulars, and I shall command the1 judges to make them abjure." Among the English State Papers is a "Book of Rough Notes" by the king's secretary, containing these and other memoranda:-

"1636 JAN. 6.- Proceedings of the Council at their several meetings during this month beginning this day.

"JAN. 21.- A catalogue of books written by anabaptists.

"That the statute of abjuration may be put in execution against some principal men. That the judges be spoken with against Fenner and Turner.

Page 43

"Speak with Lord Keeper and Mr. Attorney to draw a proclamation for altering the style or date of the year to begin in January.

"JAN. 25.- To mind the Lords and Lord Keeper to speak with the judges and Mr. Attorney about altering the date of year [of] our Lord; that it may begin the first of January as in other kingdoms.

"And about putting the statute of abjuration; to be put in execution againsttPenner and Turner.

"Mr. Attorney is to speak with the judges about the date [of] beginning the new year."

From these documents it is evident that the attention of Laud was turned in 1636, and the beginning of the following year, to the Separatists about Ashford and Egerton in Kent, and that he attempted to have the statute of abjuration put in execution against them. Such a movement of one so powerful and so relentless accounts for the emigration of the Kentish men, who, according to tradition, came with Davenport, or two years later with Whitfield, bringing so many family names identical with the names inscribed in the churchyards of Kent.(*)

Another company came from Hereford, a shire in the West of England, bordering pn Wales. The particular events which moved them to leave their homes at that time are yet to seek; but it is known that they left

(* The writer may be excused for specifying two brothers of his own name, whose ancestral home, though in another parish, was less than two miles from Egerton Church and in full view of its massive tower. Joshua Atwater, the elder of the two, had established himself as "a mercer" at Ashford. David Atwater, from whom all in America who bear that family name are descended, had not completed his twenty-second year when he landed in America. They had buried their father in November, 1636, and their mother in the following January; and, being thus liberated from filial duties, joined the expedition with their sister, the only surviving member of the family besides themselves.)

Page 44

under the influence and guidance of Peter Prudden, a clergyman of Hereford, well known to all of them by reputation, if not by personal knowledge of him as a preacher and pastor. Probably they learned through him of the expedition originated by Davenport and his friends; and became, through his agency, members of the association which, leaving London in April, 1637, founded New Haven in April, 1638. The fact that after they had belonged to the association more than two years, after they had resided some months in the new plantation, after some of them had built for themselves houses, and had left behind them the hardest of the hardships incident to such an enterprise, they separated themselves from their associates, removed to Milford, and settled in a town by themselves, with Prudden for their minister, evinces the strength and permanence of their attachment to the man whom they followed in leaving their homes in England. The Herefordshire people, for reasons which will appear hereafter, can be with more certainty distinguished from their fellow-passengers, and grouped together, than those from Kent or those from London.

History of the Colony of New Haven - End of Chapters 1-2

Introduction    Chapt. 1-2    Chapt. 3-5    Chapt. 6-8   
Chapt. 9-10    Chapt. 11-12    Chapt. 13-14    Chapt. 15-16   
Chapt. 17    Chapt. 18-19    Chapt. 20-21    Appendix 1-7

USGenWeb City of Derby CT Home Page & Search

Search billions of records on