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MACMILLAN & CO., Limited 










Professor of History, Washington University, St. Louis. 

Author of the Reconstruction of the English 

Church, Pan-Germanism, Etc. 


Published by The Macmillan Company , 

AU rights reserved. 

* V 

Copyright, 1918 


Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1918. 


* I 










I have attempted a new study of the Pilgrims and their 
history from the sources. While I was unable to find 
much new evidence of prime importance, I have perhaps 
been able to exclude from further consideration the 
possibility of ascertaining information about the Pilgrims 
from the evidence concerning the Puritan Movement in 
England from 1580 to 16 10, and from that regarding the 
history of the Established Church for the same period. 
But I have been able to place the older material about 
the Pilgrims in its relation to the more recent evidence 
concerning English church history, and have as well 
utilized for the first time the Plymouth First Church 
records and many Plymouth wills, which contain much 
of great value on economic and social history. No further 
accession of evidence is now probable and it is therefore 
an important fact, though due to no merit of mine, that 
the narrative presented in these pages possesses a certain 
aspect of finality. A new study of old evidence and the 
use of some new material has made possible certain 
differences in interpretation, in emphasis, and in judg- 
ment, the importance of which must not be unduly 
exaggerated. I have felt it possible to show that the 
Pilgrims were not subject to active persecution in Eng- 
land from Church or State; that Robinson's Congrega- 
tion at Leyden was considerably smaller than most 
students have estimated; and that the really significant 
achievement was not the emigration itself, but the 
economic success of the years 1621 to 1627. Indeed, the 
Plymouth wills make it now possible to claim that the 

viii Preface 

colony was an economic success in the literal sense of the 
word and that poverty and hardship did not continue at 
Plymouth as long as has not infrequently been implied. 
It has also been possible to define rather more exactly the 
relation of the Pilgrim Church to the Puritans in England 
and to other Protestant Sects in New England. 

At the same time, perhaps the chief excuse for this 
volume lies in the lack hitherto of a consistent attempt 
to present the story as a whole, with serious attention to 
proportion, emphasis, and perspective. Such valuable 
books as those of Dexter, Arber, or Ames have empha- 
sized only one period or one aspect of the story, while in 
other books the genealogical information has fairly 
dwarfed the narrative. I have therefore sought to treat 
each section of the narrative adequately, and in particular 
to devote considerable space to the period after 1627, 
partly because the heritage of most importance to us 
seems to be that of this particular period, and partly 
because comparatively little attention has hitherto been 
paid to it. While our genealogical information about 
the Pilgrims' immediate descendants is vast in bulk and 
frequently entertaining and vital, I have felt it important 
to emphasize the political narrative and to subordinate 
all genealogical detail. 

The conclusions of most importance are frequently to 
be reached only by elaborate inference and deduction 
from indirect evidence and are sometimes in the end no 
better than presumptions and probabilities resting upon a 
lengthy process of conjecture. To attempt to give, even 
in important instances, the whole train of logic and the 
evidence on which it is based, is to create a critical 
apparatus of quotations, references, and speculations 
wearisome and vexatious to the general reader and not 

Preface ix 

really necessary for critical students. In such a mass of 
inference, the Pilgrims and their history have sometimes 
been lost to sight. It has become increasingly common in 
books on the Pilgrims to reproduce as many of the old 
abbreviations and contractions as can be provided in 
modern type with the result that a familiar and simple 
idea is presented to the reader in such strange guise that 
he fails to recognize it. Nor does such meticulous accu- 
racy serve any real purpose. I am not aware of any 
passage the meaning of which is in doubt or from which 
additional information can thus be extracted. Fre- 
quently, too, such reproductions raise in the minds of 
readers unskilled in research a presumption of a critical 
judgment and of an extent of information in the author 
which are not always realized. I have preferred to 
subordinate the critical apparatus to the narrative 
proper and to reproduce in citations what Bradford or 
others would have had printed rather than exactly what 
they wrote. 

This is the fifth in a series of related monographs which 
I am attempting to write on the constitutional and ad- 
ministrative history of the Tudor and Stuart periods in 
England. This particular volume, though not without 
relation to my previous books, the Reconstruction of the 
English Church and the High Commission, is primarily a 
part of the treatment of the period between 1610 and 
1640, upon which my studies have already been pros- 
ecuted at considerable length, but on which as yet noth- 
ing has been published, partly because the war has 
temporarily suspended access to the English archives, and 
partly because it has also made difficult the publication 
of technical books which appeal only to a very limited 
number of readers. I am venturing thus to call attention 

x Preface 

to my continued interest in Stuart history because the 
character of the research itself, aside from fortuitous 
interference, may require some years of work still before 
the more important volumes can be finished. 

I have already made repeated acknowledgments in 
my previous books of my indebtedness to many foreign 
scholars and archivists, but I cannot close this preface 
without acknowledging once more, in this of all books, 
the influence upon me as a student of Edward Channing. 
To no single man, out of many in Europe or America to 
whom my indebtedness is great, do I owe so much. 

Roland G. Usher. 

Washington University, 
Easter, 191 8. 


Chapter Page 

i. scrooby and austerfield i 

II. The Exodus from England 17 

III. The Hardness of Life in Holland 33 

IV. The Critical Decision 45 

V. Ways and Means 56 

VI. The Voyage 68 

VII. The First Year 83 

VIII. The Problem of Subsistence 94 

IX. Standish and the Problem of Defence no 

X. The Tares in the New English Canaan 127 

XI. The Year of Deliverance — 1627 142 

XII. The Great Achievement 157 

XIII. New Plymouth in New England, 1627-1657 168 

XIV. The Dominant Note at Plymouth 183 

XV. Government and Administration, 1627-1657 202 

XVI. Economic Privilege, 1627-1657 220 

XVII. Social Life, 1627-1657 239 

XVIII. Tendency after the Death of Bradford 256 

XIX. The Loss of Political Independence 275 

Appendix 293 

Index 3°5 


Manor House at Scrooby Frontispiece 

Map of the Scrooby Region Facing page 6 

Portion of Capt. John Smith's Map of New 
England, 1614 " " 48 

Contemporary Cut of Ships of the May- 
flower Type " " 64 

The Mayflower Compact: from Bradford's 
History " " 74 

Elizabeth Paddy Wensley " " 176 

Madame Padishal " " 250 

Edward Winslow. Painted in London in 1 651 " " 256 





In the autumn of x£oj5, about fifty or sixty men and 
women began to gather weekly for devotional exercises 
in the chapel of an old Manor House at Scrooby, in 
northern England, about forty-five miles south of the 
city of York. They thanked God that they had been 
vouchsafed a glimpse of the true Light and walked 
no longer in darkness; that they were separated from 
that abomination of Anti-Christ, the Church of Eng- 
land. They assured each other of their ability and 
willingness to bear with all fortitude the persecution 
and travail sure to be entailed by this obedience to 
"the Ordinances of God." There were among them 
none of wealth, birth, or learning as those words were 
then or are now used; they professed religious ideas 
maintained by a few hundreds at most in the British 
Isles, if not in the world; they lived in a part of Eng- 
land not then considered important; they were simple 
farmers, tilling the open fields of an old hunting park, 
between moors and fens alive with game. Their little 
assembly was too insignificant to attract the attention 
of the Puritans in southern England or to rouse the 
officials of the Established Church to more than a 
spasmodic and perfunctory hostility. But they took 

2 The Pilgrims and their History 

courage from the words in Ecclesiastes : "the race is 
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither 
yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of under- 
standing, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and 
chance happeneth to them all." And they were right. 
Among them were the leaders of a mighty movement — 
the emigration of Englishmen to the New World in 
search of homes. They were the true progenitors of 
the westward march of the Anglo-Saxon race, a group 
of men and women worthy of becoming the ancestors 
of a virile nation of one hundred millions of souls. 

The spiritual origin of the Pilgrim movement * lay 
in the impulse toward freedom of thought which was 
itself the root of the Protestant Reformation. The 
historical and literary study of antiquity, the new 
knowledge of the classic languages, the new texts of 
the Scriptures proved to Lutherans and Calvinists 
that the^iPapacy of 152 1, its hierarchy and usages, was 
not warranted by the Scriptures. Christianity had 
been defiled, its pristine purity sullied by the introduc- 
tion through the agency of the Popes of pagan ritual 
and ceremony. The task of the reformers was clear: 
to reject the innovations of the Pope, to abjure him as 

1 "As applied specifically to the early settlers at Plymouth, 
Pilgrim first appeared in 1798 and Pilgrim Fathers in 1799." 
Bradford and others had used the word pilgrim, but not as a 
generic historical designation. From about 1800 till the middle 
of the nineteenth century, the term was applied indiscriminately 
to all early New England settlers, but was then by more critical 
students limited to Plymouth colonists. This usage of the term 
Pilgrim has been consistent for not more than forty years. See 
interesting information on this point collected by Albert Mat- 
thews in Publications of the Colonial Society of Mass., XVII, 

Scrooby and Austet 'field 3 

the Man of Wrath, and to establish once more on 
earth in all its pristine purity the primitive Church of 
Christ. In convincing their own followers of the verity 
of this great discovery, they found the most cogent 
evidence in the Scriptures themselves. Read the Bible, 
they besought the men of their own time. Read and 
see that there is nowhere mention of Pope or hierarchy, 
of this ceremony or that practice, of copes or indul- 
gences. Read and see that we are right and that the 
Pope is wrong and a usurper, the untrustworthy serv- 
ant in the vineyard of the Lord, who shall be thrown out 
by the servants when the Lord shall come. 

It became, however, speedily necessary that the re- 
formers themselves should define with some precision 
what form of discipline and doctrine Christ had insti- 
tuted. Once this definition had been promulgated, once 
Calvin, Luther, and Zwingli, Knox, Cranmer, and 
Whitgift had made up their minds, they becan. 3 one and 
all convinced that the Scriptures could be understood 
only by those to whom God had vouchsafed the truth. 
Accordingly, the new reformed organizations insisted 
upon a conformity with their own particular practice and 
belief no less rigid than that against which they protested, 
and each expelled from its ranks without mercy or hesita- 
tion those who ventured to differ from it in the interpreta- 
tion of primitive Christianity. In England the peculiar 
circumstances under which the Reformation was begun, 
the character of Henry VIII and of his daughter, Eliza- 
beth, the peculiar temperament of the English people, 
resulted in a compromise between the old forms and the 
new platform. After a good deal of hesitation, a few 
sweeping changes in doctrine and discipline were affirmed, 
but, while many of the observances of the Roman 

4 The Pilgrims and their History 

Catholic Church were definitively abandoned, in out- 
ward appearance the old service and the old discipline 
still predominated in the observances of the Established 
Church of Elizabeth. The Pope was expelled but the 
hierarchy remained. 

The little group of people, who separated from the 
Established Church with such consecration and serious- 
ness in the autumn of 1606, had thoroughly grasped the 
injunction of the reformers to read the Scriptures for 
themselves. Their strong and practical minds quickly 
appreciated the inconsistency of a liberty of thought 
and expression which permitted the laity to find in the 
Scriptures only the material they were told was there, 
and which denominated all further examination into the 
truth as " unholy prying." They opened their eyes and 
saw in the Bible proof that the Church was not yet 
purified, that the reformers were no more infallible in 
their interpretation of Scripture, no more consistent in 
practice, nor more liberal in attitude than the " Bishop of 
Rome" whom they rejected with such determination. 
The Reformation had not been thorough, the Pope him- 
self had been abjured but not his " detestable enormities." 
They found in the Scripture no more warrant for the 
bishops and deans of the English Established Church 
than for the Pope and his cardinals. They saw no more 
proof in the New Testament of the validity of a prayer- 
book and canons than they found for the mass and 

Scrooby was hardly a favorable environment for so 
radical a Protestant movement. Situated about forty- 
five miles south of the city of York and about fifty miles 
north of Lincoln, along the great highway leading from 
London to Edinburgh, within easy ride of the old Sher- 

Scrooby and Auster field 5 

wood Forest long connected by legend with Robin Hood, 
there lay to the north and west of Scrooby great districts 
in which the Roman Catholics were at the time of 
Elizabeth's death in the overwhelming majority. In the 
immediate vicinity of Scrooby were powerful Catholic 
families. From this district had come the Pilgrimage of 
Grace and the Rising of the North. From it the leaders 
of the Bye Plot had confidently expected support and it 
was not yet certain in 1605 that the fears of a Catholic 
rising were entirely groundless. Indeed, the Protestants 
in the North of all descriptions had commonly preferred 
to bury their own differences and present a determined 
front to the Catholic majority who had not yet accepted 
the fact of the Reformation. 

About Scrooby we know a great deal, thanks to its 
location upon the great highway between London and 
Edinburgh. 1 The officials who collected the information 
for Domesday Book recorded its existence as a part of 
the property of the Archbishopric of York, but it was not 
in 1606 and indeed never had been since the Norman 
Conquest an agricultural or industrial district in any 
proper sense of the word. It was in fact a hunting lodge, 
located upon a tongue of fenny land, thrown out in the 
midst of the moors, broad lakes, and swamps of the lower 
Trent valley. It was also a sort of halfway-house used by 
official travelers, north and south, and an occasional 
residence of the Archbishop of York or his officials when 
occupied with affairs in the southern part of the Province. 
A good many notables, first and last, slept there from the 
Conquest down to the time when Margaret Tudor paused 
overnight on her journey north to marry James IV, 
from which marriage was to spring the union of England 
1 See the notes at the end of the Chapter. 

6 The Pilgrims and their History 

and Scotland. In the early sixteenth century there was 
a good deal of hunting at Scrooby. Wolsey himself 
spent a whole month in the house. The custom had been 
for the Archbishop to travel with his servants, furniture, 
linen, and plate and set up for a time his establishment in 
the great Manor House, and, when His Grace pleased, he 
departed bag and baggage and left the empty house and 
its outbuildings in the care of a Receiver or Bailiff. 

The population at Scrooby consisted therefore of the 
small tenant farmers and their laborers, connected more 
or less immediately with this estate of the archbishops, 
and living around the Manor House, subject in civil as 
well as in economic matters to the authority of the 
Archiepiscopal Receiver or Bailiff. There was of course 
no leisured class; men of any education at all were few; 
and the little district boasted no residents of wealth, 
birth, or station. ' For all that it was a place of some 
consequence and of considerable size. Leland, the 
official historian of Henry VIII, found at Scrooby a great 
house of two courts, built of timber and brick, standing 
on a plot of some six or seven acres, the whole surrounded 
by a deep moat, As the years elapsed, the Manor House 
fell into decay, perhaps because the game became less 
abundant and the House less used; toward the middle of 
the century the number of buildings were certainly 
fewer; and, when James I on his progress to London in 
1603 noted it as a useful hunting lodge, he also remarked 
upon its "exceeding decay." 

There is today little left at Scrooby to tell of these 
times. Except for the slender gray spire of St. Wilfred's 
Church and a few parts of the present stone farmhouse, 
there is nothing left which the eyes of Brewster or Brad- 
ford might have seen of the great estate on which Wolsey 


Scrooby and Austerfield 7 

amused himself and which Elizabeth and James I 
coveted. The very earth is different. The moors and 
fens have been drained and ploughed; the game has 
departed, leaving only the lark and the cuckoo behind; 
the tangled thickets are now waving fields of grain, dotted 
by scarlet poppies and fringed with hawthorn, wild roses, 
and honeysuckle. Here and there only is an untamed 
spot, where the brilliant yellow of the gorse against the 
dark green of its own foliage gives us a suggestion of the 
sort of landscape the first Pilgrims left behind them. 
In this town of Scrooby, there had come to live about 
157 1 a certain William Brewster and his wife, with a 
small son some five years old. About him we know noth- 
ing prior to his appointment by Archbishop Grindal in 
1575 to the office of Receiver and Bailiff of the Manor of 
Scrooby and "all liberties of the same in the County of 
Nottingham. " He became not only the Archbishop's 
agent in the management of his farms and in the collec- 
tion of rents, but also the civil authority, for this par- 
ticular district was legally and administratively exempt 
from the County of Nottingham. He must also have 
exercised such ecclesiastical jurisdiction as there was 
when the Archbishop and his commissaries were not 
themselves present. Some seventeen little groups of 
people in villages lived on the large domain and of them 
his position made him practical ruler. Although Grindal 
agreed to pay him only £3 6s. 8d. in money a year, the 
position was calculated to be worth not less than £170 a 
year, the equivalent today of about $4000. In 1588, this 
William Brewster was appointed Postmaster under the 
Crown; Scrooby was made a posthouse on the road to 
York and it became his duty to provide horses for the 
Queen's messengers, and such privileged travellers as 

8 The Pilgrims and their History 

rode post, and to keep an inn where they might remain 
until it became convenient to pursue their journey. 

It is obvious therefore that the father of the famous 
William Brewster was a man of some substance and 
position, easily the most prominent individual in the 
little village and its immediate environment. The boy 
tasted somewhat of this modest affluence, was prepared 
somehow or other for the University, and matriculated at 
the college of Peterhouse at Cambridge in December, 
1580. He began residence at the great Puritan Univer- 
sity of England, although not at its most radical college 
nor under the instruction of the most erudite and mag- 
netic of Puritan teachers. But its atmosphere was 
electric at just this time with radical tendencies. Peter 
Baro, eminent as a Calvinist, was Professor of Divinity; 
William Perkins, whose books Brewster later owned, was 
lecturing at this time; and at least four notable Puritans 
and Separatists were in residence — Udall, Penry, Green- 
wood, and George Johnson. There is no record that 
Brewster ever received a degree and it is indeed not clear 
whether he remained at the University two years or only 
a few months. We do know from Bradford l that he 
achieved there a firm knowledge of Latin and "some 
insight into Greek," that he there became inoculated with 
radical religious ideas, and was " first seasoned with the 
seeds of grace and vertue." This probably denotes 
Brewster's own belief that his radical views originated in 
Cambridge. The autumn of 1583, however, saw him in 
London as a member of the household of William Davi- 
son, at this time a man of some consequence at Court, 
serving in various administrative and diplomatic capac- 
ities. How Brewster became connected with him, 
1 See the note at the end of the chapter on the Bradford History. 

Scrooby and Auster field 9 

exactly in what capacity he "served" him, we do not 
know. Bradford is our only informant, and, while he 
makes it clear that the relationship was close, he does 
not show good reason to suppose that Brewster was 
anything more than a sort of confidential attendant, 
something better than a valet but a good deal less im- 
portant than a secretary, a position which, if not menial, 
could hardly be called official. Certainly, he won 
Davison's confidence and demonstrated a certain ability. 
How closely he followed his patron in his many expedi- 
tions and journeys we have no means of knowing. 

He must have seen a good deal of England and Scot- 
land, something of court life, much of London, and 
certainly accompanied Davison on one or more of his 
important diplomatic missions to the Netherlands in 
1584 and 1585-86. Bradford alludes in an account 
written half a century later to a long ride across the 
Eastern Counties on the way back from Holland, when 
Davison placed around Brewster's neck the great gold 
chain presented to the Ambassador by the States Gen- 
eral, and bade him wear it as they fared on towards 
London. Undoubtedly, this was one of the few incidents 
of that time which stuck clearly in Brewster's own 
memory, and which he told and retold in those long 
evenings of quiet and amiable conversation at Plymouth. 
In 1587, on the disgrace of Davison after the execution of 
Mary Stuart, Brewster remained with him for some little 
time — perhaps attending him while he was in the 
Tower — and then returned to Scrooby, urged apparently 
by the illness of William Brewster, Senior. At any rate 
he was acting as his father's deputy in January, 1588-89, 
and at his father's death in 1590 continued to dis- 
charge the functions of Master of the Post and of Re- 


10 The Pilgrims and their History 

ceiver and Bailiff. After some little misunderstanding 
and difficulty, he was confirmed in the position of Master 
of the Post, which he retained until 1608. He married in 
1 59 1 or 1592 and had three children before the exodus to 
Holland, the first, born about 1593, named Jonathan, a 
Biblical name not then common as a Christian name; a 
second child, born about 1600, called Patience; and a 
third, who seems to have been born just before the 
flight to Holland, named Fear. Both girls lived to reach 
Plymouth. About this time Brewster's mother, Pru- 
dence, died. Other relatives he does not seem to have 

There is little reason to doubt that Brewster was the 
leading spirit in gathering the little group of people which 
was afterwards organized as a Church and which finally 
took up its permanent abode at Plymouth. Exactly how 
and when it was organized we do not know. The usual 
form of Puritan growth in southern England was the 
gathering of a classis of ministers who then proceeded 
to convert the laity and to draw them together into 
churches. In many cases some wealthy man or woman of 
rank appointed to benefices, of which they owned the 
advowson, Puritan clergymen whose energy and mag- 
netism soon converted the laity. Possibly the influence 
of two radical ministers was responsible for the group at 
Scrooby. Richard Clifton was minister at Babworth, 
some seven or eight miles south of Scrooby, and had 
developed as early as 1595 pronouncedly radical ideas. 
About ten miles east of Scrooby, at Gainsborough, was 
located John Smyth, once Fellow of a Cambridge College, 
who professed even more radical notions about govern- 
ment and doctrine. 1 Members of the later Scrooby group 

1 Much information about Clifton and Smyth will be found in 

Scrooby and Auster field n 

certainly worshipped from time to time with these 
groups in the ten years following 1595; probably both 
ministers officiated occasionally in the Manor House 
at Scrooby, but the nucleus of the famous Plymouth 
Church was a little group of laymen gathered together by 
the magnetism and high personal example of Brewster 

They did not at first renounce the Established Church 
nor refuse to attend its services, and had for the first ^<f 
years or months no minister, teacher, creed, or organiza- 
tion of any sort. Apparently they met at first with the 
utmost informality on Sunday afternoons or during the 
week. Later meetings were begun on Sunday forenoon, 
but such Puritan preachers as happened to be travelling 
through Scrooby or whom they could induce to come to 
them for a time from a little distance were their utmost 
reliance, and the expense was borne, Bradford hints, very 
largely by Brewster himself. Not until the autumn of 
1606 did they conclude to separate from the Established 
Church and organize a Church of their own. Bradford 
explicitly declares that the Plymouth Church was 
created at Scrooby, 1 but in the light of its later history at 
Leyden it is hardly likely that they had reached any 
more definite conclusion than that the Established 
Church was not warranted by Scripture and that they 
must separate from it forthwith. Indeed, a phrase from 
their Church Covenant of Leyden days quoted by Win- 
slow reveals a decided fluidity of opinion about organiza- 
tion and discipline. "We promise and covenant with 
God and one with another to receive whatsoever light 

Mr. Champlin Burrage's useful, if discursive, Early English Dis- 
senters, two volumes, Cambridge, 191 2. 
1 History, 14. 

12 The Pilgrims and their History 

or truth shall be made known to us from his written 
Word." Of the personnel of the group at this time we 
know only too little. 1 It comprised only a minority of 
the people actually living at Scrooby, with an indeter- 
minate number from nearby villages — certainly by 1607 
Clifton himself and some of his group from Babworth, 
and less probably some of Smyth's congregation at 
Gainsborough, the majority of which (with perhaps some 
of Clifton's Church) had already migrated to Amster- 

One extremely important recruit now came to them, 
who had been converted to Puritanism by Clifton, 
William Bradford, a young lad, not over eighteen years 
old at this time, and perhaps not more than sixteen. 2 
His father, then dead, had been a substantial farmer in 
the neighboring village of Austerfield, was one of the 
two residents who were assessed for subsidy, and ap- 
parently therefore owned some considerable property in 
land and goods. The boy's uncles and cousins were all 
honest farmers of more or less property and had cordial 
relations on an evident equality with the best families of 
the hamlet of Austerfield and the surrounding villages. 

1 Most elaborate researches by Dr. Hunter and by Rev. H. M. 
Dexter and his son, Morton, have identified as residents at Scrooby 
or Austerfield only Brewster, Bradford, and "a bare possibility," 
one George Morton. 

2 The date of birth we do not know. Mr. Dexter, after correctly 
quoting the date of Bradford's baptism from the register — "the 
XlXth day of March, Anno dm. 1589." — unaccountably trans- 
poses it into New Style as March 19-29, 1588-89. It should be 
of course March 19-29, 1589-90. Dexter, England and Holland 
of the Pilgrims, 389. Dates of the month in this volume have been 
kept Old Style; those of the year however, in accordance with 
common historical usage, have been changed to New Style. 

Scrooby and Austet -field 13 

While still a child, young Bradford was intended by his 
uncles, who became his guardians after the father's death, 
for " affairs of husbandry" upon attaining his majority 
and receiving his inheritance, but, as he tells us, being 
somewhat weak in body, his thoughts turned elsewhere 
and his study of the Bible combined with the magnetism 
of Clifton converted him to Separatism and made him a 
member ^ftKe ~Scrooby group. 

About this time there came to them a young man of 
about thirty, possessed of two Cambridge degrees, who 
had also been Fellow of Corpus Christi College — John 
Robinson. His earlier career is in many ways still 
obscure. 1 He seems to have remained at Cambridge 
until about 1603, and then to have been presented to a 
benefice in the Established Church in or near Norwich, 
where he came into contact with one of the strongest 
bodies of radical Protestants then in England. Perhaps 
he was suspended for non-conformity, but was at any 
rate chosen in 1603 preaching Elder of St. Andrews, 
Norwich, and stayed there till 1606 or 1607, tormented 
with doubts and spiritual misgivings. For a while he 
may even have made some effort to meet the technical 
requirements of the Established Church. He paid a 
visit to Cambridge and there heard two sermons about 
the Light and the Darkness " between which God hath 
separated" and "the Godly hereby are endangered to be 
leavened with the others wickedness." He determined 
to leave the Established Church and drifted somehow 
from Cambridge back to Norwich and thence to Lincoln- 
shire and Scrooby. There he joined this little congrega- 
tion of men and women who "shooke of this yoake of 
antichristian bondage and as the Lords free people, 
1 C. Burrage, A Tercentenary Memorial, Oxford, 1910. 

14 The Pilgrims and their History 

joyned them selves (by a covenant of the Lord) into a 
church estate in the felowship of the gospell to walke in 
all his waves, made known, or to be made known unto 
them, according to their best endeavours, whatsoever it 
should cost them, the Lord assisting them. And that it 
cost them something this ensewing historie will declare/' 1 

Bibliographical Notes 

Until the middle of the nineteenth century nothing was 
known of the origin of the Pilgrims in England. Bradford's 
History of Plimouih Plantation had been used by Nathaniel 
Morton in his New England's Memorial, 1669, and by Prince, 
the author of the well known Annals, but Bradford gave 
neither names nor details about their English residence. 
Nor did any of the Pilgrims leave behind in writing or oral 
tradition any clue. In 1842, Mr. Savage, editor of the papers 
of John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts Bay, inter- 
ested in this problem the Rev. Joseph Hunter, the noted 
antiquarian and student of the history of northern England. 
In 1849, Dr. Hunter was able to announce that the 

1 Bradford, History, 13. The reproduction of the abbrevia- 
tions and typographical peculiarities of the manuscripts and older 
printed books has not been carried in this volume as in some of 
those recently published about the Pilgrims to a point of meticulous 
accuracy. If we are to write u for v, w for w, ye for the, yt for 
that, we must also decline to expand the common contractions. 
The truth is that we cannot with modern type reproduce the 
manuscripts and books with exactitude and it therefore has seemed 
better to follow the practice of scholars in general and print what 
the author meant to write. Spelling and punctuation have been 
scrupulously followed but all the abbreviations and contractions 
have been consistently expanded. It should be more generally 
known that the y in ye is an old diphthong for th, and in quoting 
Bradford I have so rendered his text, on the ground that the and 
not ye was what Bradford thought he was writing. 

Scrooby and Austet -field 15 

main facts were established, substantially as related in this 

To make definitely sure nothing had been missed, Dr. H. 
M. Dexter, a wealthy Congregationalist minister of New 
Haven, Conn., devoted most of his life to untiring researches 
upon the Pilgrim history previous to the migration to Amer- 
ica. Archives in England and Holland, public and private; 
church registers without number; all repositories of any sort 
within a wide range of Scrooby or Leyden; all American col- 
lections; the vast pamphlet literature of the period, directly 
and indirectly concerned with non-conformist history, all 
were tirelessly ransacked. Not less than thirty years of work 
is represented by the volume, finished and published by the 
son after the father's death, The England and Holland of the 
Pilgrims, Boston, 1905, xiv, 673. The volume contains not 
merely all definitely ascertained facts about the Pilgrims, but 
also the entire residuum of this extensive research in facts 
about them possibly relevant, about places they may have 
visited, men they may have known, books they might have 
read, and such information about the events of English and 
Dutch history as in any degree of probability they might have 

The present author felt that the records of the more 
general Puritan movement between 1600 and 16 10 must 
contain something of importance with reference to the 
Pilgrims, and that the history of the English Church at large 
would shed extensive light at least upon the charge, so 
universally believed, that the Pilgrims were persecuted and 
" harried from the land " by Archbishop Bancroft and James I. 
To his surprise, elaborate researches in the manuscript and 
printed literature only established more and more firmly the 
negative but excessively significant fact, that the authorities 
at London can not be shown to have known even of the 
existence of the Church at Scrooby. There seems now to be 
no collection of material in England, Holland, or America, 
even remotely relevant, that has not been thoroughly ran- 

1 6 The Pilgrims and their History 

sacked for Pilgrim material. Something like finality may 
therefore be assumed for the main features of the narrative as 
given in this volume. 

The Bradford History. The only title used by Bradford 
was Of Plimoth Plantation. It was written at Plymouth in 
1630 and subsequent years from his own notes and recollec- 
tions as well as from letters and from oral testimony. Used 
in manuscript in the seventeenth century by Morton and in 
the eighteenth century by Prince, the manuscript disap- 
peared, carried off perhaps during the Revolution by some 
American Tory refugee or by some British soldier, and was 
finally discovered in 1854 in the Library of the Bishop of 
London at Fulham Palace. The manuscript is now in the 
State House at Boston. The full text was published in 1856 
with notes by Charles Deane by the Massachusetts Historical 
Society. A photographic facsimile edition appeared in 1896. 
The State of Massachusetts published in 1898 a careful re- 
print, which contains a number of corrections of Deane's 
transcript and adds some sixteen lines omitted. While 
Deane's notes are invaluable, his edition is long since out of 
print and is accessible only in the larger libraries. References 
in the footnotes of this book are therefore to the official edi- 
tion of 1898. So much of the narrative depends solely on 
Bradford's authority and the date is generally so direct a 
guide to the passage referred to, that page references to 
Bradford have been given only for particularly important or 
elusive facts. A reprint of the text of the official edition of 
1898, with notes by W. T. Davis, was published in New York 
in 1908 in the series Original Narratives of Early American 
History. The most recent edition, with elaborate notes by 
W. C. Ford, sumptuous letter press and illustrations, was 
printed by the Massachusetts Historical Society in 191 2 in 
two volumes. 



No sooner was the little congregation "gathered" 
than persecution began. Not indeed by Church and 
State; the orthodox majority at Scrooby and the nearby 
villages, the friends and relatives of the Separatists, raised 
vehement objection to the new Church. Numerous too 
they were compared to the new congregation, for we 
can be quite sure that prior to this time there was no 
trace of Puritanism or Separatism in the district, and 
that after the migration of the little church the popula- 
tion was orthodox enough. 1 Behind this opposition was 
something akin to indignation that any Protestants 
should turn traitor to the great cause in the face of the 
Catholic majority in Northern England, and so cherish 
their own particular angle of thought as to decline to 
cooperate against that common enemy, the Scarlet 
Woman. But there was also behind it much honest 
dislike that these relatives and neighbors should presume 
to stand apart in Pharisaical attitudes as holier and 
wiser than the rest. 

Was not the Church which their fathers had accepted 
good enough for these? Was this William Brewster, 
to whom they had so long paid their rents, and whose 

1 Cotton Mather in his life of Bradford in the Magnolia no 
doubt accurately represents the oral tradition at Plymouth about 
those left behind at Scrooby. "The people were as unacquainted 
with the Bible as the Jews seem to have been with part of it in 
the days of Isaiah; a most ignorant and licentious people." 


1 8 The Pilgrims and their History 

orders they had so long accepted, who had grown up 
among them from a child, to be rated then as a prophet 
and wiser than the learned in London, Oxford, and Cam- 
bridge? Was this pale and puny youngster, William 
Bradford, who in truth declared himself too weak and 
too proud to hold the plow, like his honest father and 
grandfather, now to stand forth as instructor and leader 
in the deepest experiences men can have? Their hos- 
tility was outspoken and frank; the scoffing and jeering 
frequent and biting. All made a deep impression on 
Bradford. He could scarcely credit the testimony of his 
eyes and ears. A great light had shone upon him, 
clarifying his mind and uplifting his soul, and now his 
relatives and friends made this most sacred of expe- 
riences the subject of derision, made religion itself a 
"byword, a moking-stock, and a matter of reproach. " 
He could neither excuse nor entirely forgive it. It was 
too unwarranted, too unjust. He resented the prying, 
spying, watching which became its constant expression. 
The importance of this hostility of the little community 
must not be underestimated, if we are to grasp one of the 
really significant reasons why the Pilgrims concluded 
life in England to be unbearable. Such daily nagging, 
scoffing, and deriding was to them the most difficult of 
persecutions to endure. 

From the authorities at London and from the ec- 
clesiastics at York had thus far come neither reproaches 
nor interference. 1 The Archbishop of York, for the 

1 There is absolutely no evidence in the records, civil or ec- 
clesiastical, that the existence of the Scrooby group was known 
at Whitehall or at Lambeth, before the attempt to flee in 1607 led 
to the report by the Magistrates of Boston to the Privy Council. 
Nor was importance attached to their existence then. 

The Exodus from England iq 

previous decade, Matthew Hutton, was one of the most 
tolerant of Anglican clergy and too much in sympathy 
with Puritan objections to the established order, to 
interfere with so peaceable a congregation, located in so 
out of the way a place. Like most of the Northern clergy, 
he felt that the profession of the essentials of Protestant 
faith was all that should be expected or exacted in the 
face of the Catholic majority. The definite judgment 
had long been maintained at London, that, so far as the 
laity was concerned, no interference with conduct, belief, 
or practice was to be attempted by the constituted au- 
thorities, except for breaches of the peace or opposition 
to the temporal authority of the Crown. As a little body 
of laymen, who had until 1605 or 1606 openly attended 
the services of the Established Church, who were more- 
over residents of a tiny district exempt both from the 
county of Nottingham and from the jurisdiction of the 
regular ecclesiastical courts at York, ruled only by 
the personal authority of the Archbishop as Lord of the 
Manor, the Scrooby congregation had attracted no at- 
tention and had certainly not been molested by the 

Now however in 1607, the ecclesiastical authorities at 
York instituted proceedings of inquiry into the reports 
and complaints which the hostile majority of the Scrooby 
district disseminated. 1 Hutton was dead and a new prel- 

1 This is a point of much interest and importance. We have no 
positive information other than inferences from Bradford and the 
meagre court records at York, and what we know about the rou- 
tine work of the High Commission, as shown by material utilized 
in Usher's Rise and Fall of the High Commission, pp. 380, Oxford, 
1 913. The entries in these cases are entirely formal; prosecution 
ex officio was commonly assumed by the court in such cases because 
informants refused to prosecute; the failure to utilize the full 

20 The Pilgrims and their History 

ate that knew not Joseph ruled in his stead; at Canter- 
bury and at London the new dispensation of Bancroft 
had determined to put pressure upon the non-conformists, 
in order to force them either to accept the Church or to 
leave it. The orders had therefore gone forth to in- 
vestigate promptly and thoroughly all complaints of 
divergence from the Prayer Book and Canons of 1604. 
We accordingly find at least five members of the new 
Church summoned before the Ecclesiastical Commis- 
sioners of the Province of York — Gervase Neville in 
November, 1607, and in the month of December Richard 
Johnson, William Brewster, Robert Rochester, and 
Francis Jessop of Worksop, a village about nine miles 
from Scrooby. Perhaps others were also cited but there 
is no mention in the ecclesiastical records of Clifton, 
Robinson, or Bradford, nor were any other persons 
than these named accused of Separatism or Baroism. 
The excellence and completeness of the ecclesiastical 
records at York for this period, the record of proceedings 
against the five named, make it probable that no other 
proceedings were actually instituted. 

Neville was arraigned by the High Commissioners 
on November tenth, and charged with membership in a 
sect of Baroists and Brownists, with maintaining erro- 

possibilities of fines, excommunication, and attachment, the 
failure to follow up the regular routine subsequent to citation are 
inconsistent with the initiative by the authorities in opening the 
case. When a decision to prosecute came from above, particularly 
when it came from London, action was prompt, thorough, and 
severe. Failure to follow up a case almost invariably means that 
the information was a presentment by individuals. The well 
attested animus of the people at Scrooby and the inferences from 
the records seem therefore fully to warrant the statement in the 

The Exodus from England 21 

neous opinions and doctrine repugnant to the Holy 
Scriptures and the Word of God. He seems to have first 
denied the charge and then to have proved it, by stoutly 
informing the Archbishop and his officials that they were 
an anti-Christian hierarchy, with other remarks which 
they declared in the indictment to have been irreverent, 
contemptuous, and scandalous. They committed him 
to jail in the Castle of York for trial and further pro- 
ceedings. The others were not tried because they were 
not apprehended. Legal summons were served upon 
them by an officer of the court sometime in November, 
and they all promised to appear on December first. 
They judged it expedient, however, to absent them- 
selves, and on the twenty-second of April the court rec- 
ords prove that they were still at large. Bradford ex- 
plains this. "For some were taken and clapt up in 
prison, others had their houses besett and watcht night 
and day, and hardly escaped their hands; and the most 
were faine to flie and leave their howses and habitations 
and the means of their livelehood." 

It must be owned that from what we know of the 
activity of the High Commission elsewhere, the treat- 
ment the Scrooby congregation received was far from 
severe. 1 Indeed Neville was handled with considerable 
charity. The procedure of the Commission had for 
nearly a generation insisted that the culprit should take 
the oath ex officio, and should not be allowed under any 
circumstances to testify without taking it; if he stead- 
fastly refused, he was to be committed tc prison until 
such time as he did take it, and should thereupon be 

1 This again is a point of importance and the evidence about 
the Commission's practice, on which it is based, is considerable in 
amount, of unimpeachable quality, and varied in character. 

22 The Pilgrims and their History 

tried, fined, and imprisoned for his offence. Not long 
before Greenwood, Penry, and Udall, all of whom had 
been at Cambridge in Brewster's time, had been exe- 
cuted for this very crime of Separatism in London. 
Yet Neville was permitted to testify without taking the 
oath, and, though committed to prison for a time, was, 
after no long confinement, released without further 
examination or trial. He reached Amsterdam either with 
the Scrooby party or soon after. The proceedings against 
Brewster, Johnson, and Rochester were the merest 
routine. Even after several months' failure to appear, 
they were not adjudged contumacious and excommu- 
nicated, nor was the assistance of the temporal au- 
thorities sought to apprehend them. That much indeed 
was commonly done by the High Commission or the 
ecclesiastical courts in any case, however insignificant, 
where the culprit declined to appear. The Puritans in 
the South in fact completely disregarded such simple 
steps as these. Hundreds of the laity, both Churchmen 
and Puritans, cheerfully endured much severer treat- 
ment than this without qualms of any sort, as the records 
of the High Commission and of the Consistory Courts 
demonstrate at large. 

Whatever others would have thought of it, the men 
and women at Scrooby objected to it vehemently; but we 
shall only partly understand their decision to leave 
England if we see in the exodus a mere flight from im- 
placable authorities, or the simple expression of the fear 
of the consequences likely to be visited upon them for 
remaining in England. It is a great error to stress the 
hostility of the Church toward them and say that they 
were harried from the land. This action by the Church 
officers seems merely to have hastened the crystallization 

The Exodus from England 23 

of their own religious dissatisfaction with conditions in 
England, for they went voluntarily. The Pilgrim move- 
ment was in truth a crusade for righteousness, a search 
for Utopia, a pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Their 
sufferings are those of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress; 
their trials and tribulations those which they believed all 
who follow the Lord Jesus truly must expect to endure. 
They were seeking no mere temporal peace, no mere 
freedom from courts and bishops in a temporal sense, no 
mere toleration of non-conformity, but a pure and 
congenial atmosphere uncontaminated by heresy and 
anti-Christ. "Their desires were sett on the ways of 
God and to en joy e his ordinances." The same impulse 
which now led them to leave England later caused them 
to leave Holland. 

England was unclean. It was dangerous to remain 
there longer, for those who would worship God in all 
sincerity and purity must guard against the pollution and 
contamination of the Beast. They must not only them- 
selves obey God's Ordinances, but they must steadfastly 
refrain from contact with those who derided and denied 
them. How could the new Church then remain at 
Scrooby, where the majority of the people opposed and 
resisted the Word of God, truly preached? How could 
they stay in England where the law of the land main- 
tained in existence a vain hierarchy of anti-Christian 
prelates and forbade the worship of God according to His 
Ordinances? The vital objection to the Established 
Church was not so much its activity in persecution as its 
existence. To Robinson and Brewster the chief difficulty 
lay in the temporality of the Church — the hierarchy of 
Bishops and Deans, the laws and advowsons, the courts 
and judges, the ritual, ceremony, and apparel. It was 

24 The Pilgrims and their History 

all a relic of Paganism, there was no warrant in Scripture 
for any of it. It had been foisted upon an unsuspecting 
Church by the Papacy, but to accept it now when the 
Light had been separated from Darkness, when the 
revelation of Christ was seen, was to renounce salva- 
tion. To remain in contact with it was to risk de- 

In one breath the leaders at Scrooby condemned the 
Established Church and the Puritan party in southern 
England. Indeed the latter were more guilty, if any- 
thing, than the prelates. They had seen the Light but 
had not followed it; the Truth had been revealed to them 
but they had chosen rather to walk in darkness, to soil 
themselves with pollution and to consort with the un- 
clean, to hold rectories and cures in the Church of anti- 
Christ, to accept money for reading the Prayer Book, for 
wearing the vestments, for celebrating the communion. 
The very fact that the Puritan ministers strove so 
vigorously to remain in the Church, to secure the con- 
nivance of the Bishops at a few "irregularities," was 
sufficient in the eyes of these men to condemn them 

The breakdown of the Puritan movement after 1604, 
the failure of the leaders to maintain a solid front against 
the Established Church, their acceptance of the Canons 
of 1604 and the Visitation Articles issued in 1605, the 
willingness of the majority to remain "unseparated," 
were indeed the significant causes of the separation of the 
Pilgrims from the Church and of their exodus from 
England. There was no longer hope of any regeneration 
in the Church itself. The influence of Bancroft with the 
King, the definiteness of the new Canons, made further 
reform from within improbable. Nor was there hope of 

The Exodus from England 25 

regenerating the Puritan party. They had sold their 
heritage for a mess of pottage. There was no one left in 
England with whom the Pilgrims might hope to have 
communion. They were surrounded by scoffers and 
scorners, by the emissaries of anti-Christ, and by the 
Puritans who compromised truth in order to retain their 
stipends. All was wrong, all was uncongenial, unclean, 
and from it they fled. 

The different view it is now possible to take of the 
general .rjoJiev^ of Bancroft and of the beliefs and actions 
of the Puritan party in general is therefore a genuine 
contribution to an understanding of the Pilgrim move- 
ment and of the true impulse behind it. 1 When it was 
supposed that Bancroft's regime was one of great harsh- 
ness and injustice, in which the most learned of the 
English clergy were ruthlessly deprived and driven from 
the Church, the emigration of the Pilgrims seemed to be 
logically enough the direct result of ecclesiastical per- 
secution. They left England because they were not 
allowed to stay, because men of their opinions were 
persecuted by Church and State alike. As a matter of 
fact, the Puritan clergy were not persecuted nor did they 
leave the Church. Some sixty were temporarily deprived 
or suspended in 1604 and 1605, of whom the great ma- 
jority soon conformed, accepted the tests prescribed by 
Bancroft, and continued to preach in their parishes 
without molestation. In the history of the Pilgrims 
there is no more vital and important fact than this — 
that the overwhelming majority of the Puritans ac- 

1 The evidence for this general view of the Established Church 
and of the Puritan party in England at this time has been developed 
in Usher's Reconstruction of the English Church, 2 vols., New York 
and London, 1910. 

26 The Pilgrims and their History 

cepted the Established Church and remained members 
of it, read its Prayer Book, and performed voluntarily 
its ceremonies. They were the fathers of the men who 
came to Boston, Salem, New Haven, and the River 
Towns. Assuredly, we shall never grasp the story of the 
early years in New England nor understand why Plym- 
outh did not grow in numbers, as successive waves of 
Puritans reached America, unless we bear constantly 
in mind that the Pilgrims voluntarily left England to 
avoid contact both with the Church and with the Puri- 
tans who accepted it. Indeed, the Puritans and Bishops 
taunted the Pilgrims with running away from a persecu- 
tion which did not exist, with silly fears of little things, 
with an insistence upon indifferent matters. One and all 
the Separatists denied stoutly that they left because they 
were afraid, because they were driven out, or because the 
temporal persecutions were severe. One and all they 
asseverated solemnly their deep conviction that associa- 
tion with Church or Puritans was dangerous to spiritual 
welfare, was a compromise with Truth, a failure to ob- 
serve God's Ordinances. 1 

If go they must, the Scrooby congregation could not 
long doubt whither to turn. The probable location of 
the Promised Land was already clear. Two years before 
Smyth's congregation had gone from their own little 
district to Holland, and had found there, as they well 
knew, spiritual comfort and a congenial environment. 
The fact that these neighbors of theirs, farmers like 

1 The controversial literature is full of material on this point. 
See in particular Confessio Fidei Anghrum Quorundam in Belgia 
Exulantium, etc., 1598, preface; supposedly the work of Ainsworth 
and Johnson; and Robinson's Answer to a Censorious Epistle, 
1608; Ashton, Works of John Robinson, III, 405-420. 

The Exodus from England 27 

themselves, had made a livelihood in Holland proved to 
the leaders that the migration was not, as the rank and 
file thought, an adventure almost desperate, but one in 
all probability certain of success. The exodus seems to 
have been decided upon in the spring or early summer of 
1607, and for it they soon completed their simple prepara- 
tions. Land and houses most of them did not own, for 
they were tenants at will of the Archbishop. Such prop- 
erty as Brewster had he converted into money; and the 
rest followed his example. Household goods, clothing, 
books, they proposed to take with them. How many 
went is not known. Bradford's description of the journey 
to Holland is scarcely consistent with a movement of less 
than one hundred people, and the number of the con- 
gregation in Holland in later years makes this seem a 
probable estimate. The law forbade them to leave 
England, to carry money of any sort out of the kingdom, 
or to export goods without written authorization. It 
was extremely difficult to secure permission to emigrate 
without any intention of returning, carrying both money 
and goods. That was a permanent loss to the realm of 
which the authorities did not approve. Certain that 
permission to emigrate would be refused, primarily on 
economic grounds, they resolved to go without permis- 
sion, and were forced therefore to flee like "criminals or 

"A large company of them" travelled overland to 
Boston in Lincolnshire, and there quietly arranged with a 
certain shipmaster to convey them and their goods to 
Holland. After considerable waiting at the out of the 
way place appointed, he finally appeared at night, took 
them on board, and then, to their astonishment and 
indignation, betrayed them to the customs' officers and 

28 The Pilgrims and their History 

searchers of the district. The latter rowed them ashore 
in small boats, searching both them and their goods with 
great thoroughness for the forbidden gold and silver, 
proceeding with the women so far that the men were 
highly indignant. Landed at the town, they were 
paraded into the market place, "a spectacle and wonder 
to the multitude which came flocking on all sides to 
behould them." This too the high-spirited Bradford could 
scarcely endure. Then their books and goods having 
been taken away, they were led before the magistrates, 
who committed them to honorable confinement, probably 
in the houses of some of the townspeople, while messen- 
gers hurried to London to ask the Privy Council for 
instructions as to further proceedings with them. They 
were used meantime with great courtesy, as even Brad- 
ford must confess, and were shown such leniency and 
favor as was possible. The Privy Council considered 
their offence unimportant, and sent orders for their 
release, so that after about a month's detention they 
were all sent back to their homes, except seven of the 
leaders who were kept at Boston to be turned over to the 
assizes. Of the latter Brewster was one. If they ever 
appeared before the judges, they were released, for we 
have no knowledge of subsequent trial, conviction, or 

Indeed, a number of the party successfully reached 
Holland in the autumn of 1607 and some months later 
the rest of the contingent tried again to escape. They 
arranged with a Dutch captain, who owned his ship, to 
take them on board south of the Humber, where the 
coast was shelving and deserted. Thither the women and 
children with the baggage travelled in a boat or boats, 
apparently down the river Idle to the Trent, to the 

The Exodus from England 29 

Humber, and thence along the coast, while the men 
walked overland. The boats arrived a day before the 
ship, and, the sea being extremely rough and the women 
in consequence very sick, they put it into a little creek 
nearby to wait, until the gale should have blown itself 
out. The next morning according to arrangements the 
ship did come. The men also arrived, but the boats with 
the women and children were stuck fast on the shoals of 
the creek and their utmost endeavors could not move 
them. The shipmaster began to take the men on board, 
while waiting for the tide to come in, and the first boat 
load had already reached the ship, when suddenly a 
numerous and motley crowd from the country side, some 
on horseback, most on foot, some with muskets and some 
with older weapons, were seen approaching in the dis- 
tance. The news had spread that somebody was escap- 
ing. The Dutch captain waited to learn no more, but 
weighed anchor, hoisted his sails, and departed, carrying 
the men who had gotten aboard, leaving the rest on 
shore, and the wives and children stranded in the creek. 
The latter were by no means the most distressed at the 
happening, because those on board had no money, no 
clothes but those on their backs, and were as much con- 
cerned at leaving their wives and children behind them 
as the latter were at being left. Bradford, Brewster, and 
the leaders were still on shore, however, like good gen- 
erals, and, sending the majority of the men off to escape 
arrest, remained to take care of the women. The latter 
were weeping and crying, some for their husbands who 
had been carried away in the ship, others for fear of the 
consequences of the arrest, others again " melted in teares 
seeing their poore litle ones hanging aboute them crying 
for f eare and quaking with could. ' ' Thus these dangerous 

30 The Pilgrims and their History 

conspirators were captured by the formidable force sent 
out after them. 

Once taken, the local authorities were nonplussed to 
know what to do with them. The constables apparently 
hurried them around from one Justice of the Peace to 
another, from this court to that, only to make up their 
minds that the simplest escape from the dilemma was to 
connive at their departure for Holland. The Bishops 
and their commissaries, of whose hostility to the Pilgrims 
so much has been written, are not mentioned by Brad- 
ford, nor is there evidence to show their knowledge of 
the Scrooby congregation's flight. The only evidence 
concerns the officious meddling of minor local civil 
officials. E^en they do not communicate with the 
ecclesiastical authorities nor the latter with them: they 
informed the Privy Council the first time, but not the 
second, and received from London orders to release the 
captives, not to punish them. Surely there is here no 
proof that State or Church was anxious to persecute the 
Pilgrims or drive them from England. A half-hearted 
attempt was made to keep them at home, but in the end 
they escaped with the connivance of the local authorities 
and without interference from Lambeth or London. 

Thus in one way or another, after considerable anxiety 
and temporary suffering, all arrived safely in Amsterdam. 
Brewster and Bradford came among the last, having 
stayed to make sure that the weakest and poorest should ' 
successfully cross. Clifton arrived in August, 1608, 
and it seems probably that that month marked the end 
of the exodus. Real danger only the men who sailed 
away with the Dutch captain seemed to have encoun- 
tered. Their ship met a great storm in the North 
Sea and for fourteen days was driven hither and 

The Exodus from England 31 

thither at the mercy of wind and waves. For one entire 
week, they saw neither sun, moon, nor stars, and were 
unable indeed from the crude instruments they carried 
to make out where they were. Even the sailors were 
frightened, and once, with shrieks and cries, declared that 
the ship was sinking. The Pilgrims, according to Brad- 
ford, fell on their knees and prayed with such fervor and 
faith, that the ship weathered the storm and finally 
made port. United once more in Amsterdam, they held 
solemn services of humiliation and thanksgiving for 
their deliverance from the hand of the Spoiler. 



Doubts of their ability to make a living in Holland had 
caused the emigrants many misgivings before the exodus, 
but the economic opportunities for such as they at 
Amsterdam were numerous, and the experience of other 
religious refugees from Germany and France, as well as 
from England, had demonstrated the feasibility of the 
experiment. Holland had made great strides in com- 
mercial development during the sixteenth century and 
no city had benefited from the general prosperity more 
than Amsterdam. The growth of the herring trade, the 
shift of the cloth industry from Flanders to Holland 
after the fall of Antwerp, the rapid increase of the 
Dutch merchant marine, plying between Europe and 
the East and West- Indies, had created a great demand 
for unskilled labor of all sorts and kinds. Nowhere in 
Europe was there at that time a community in which a 
hundred pairs of hands could be more quickly or easily 
put to work. 

All this the leaders of the Scrooby Church saw when 
they held council together in the summer and autumn of 
1608 and debated earnestly arrangements for permanent 
residence. But these economic opportunities were to 
their thinking more than offset by the religious dis- 
advantages. Amsterdam was "the Fair of all the Sects 
where all the Pedlars of Religion have leave to vend their 
Toyes." They knew themselves to be welcome, but they 
saw received with equal eagerness Anabaptists, Socinians, 


The Hardness of Life in Holland 33 

Jews, Arians, and Unitarians, heretics quite beyond the 
possibility of salvation, with whom contact was even 
more dangerous and contaminating than with Papists 
and Episcopalians. To fill their cup of woe to the full, 
they concluded regretfully that the English Separatist 
Churches of Johnson, Ainsworth, and Smyth, were in 
grave danger of falling from Grace, and that the Dutch 
Reformed Churches were blind to the Light in the Word 
of God. These could not be congenial associates. They 
decided to seek some place where there were neither 
heretics nor English, some place where they should live 
as nearly as might be alone, and observe together the 
Ordinances of God whose perpetuation was the prime 
motive of their exodus from Scrooby. 

After some hesitation they pitched upon Leyden as 
a permanent residence, 1 attracted by the fame of its 
University, by favorable economic opportunities in a 
flourishing city of fifty thousand people, given over to 
the manufacture of cloth, and in particular by the ab- 
sence at Leyden of other religious malcontents. The 
Dutch Reformed Church they would have to contend 
with, but the cosmopolitan heretics at Amsterdam and 
the quarrelling English Separatists they would thus leave 
behind. An application to the magistrates at Leyden in 

1 Beyond the few inaccurate brevities in Mather's Magnalia and 
Prince's Annals, nothing was known about the Pilgrims at Leyden 
till the researches of George Sumner in 1842 and H. C. Murphy in 
1859. The publication of Bradford's History in 1856 helped little 
for he gives no direct description of the life at Leyden, nor were 
Robinson's theological treatises of value for the narrative, the 
conditions of life, the membership, and the like. Our present 
knowledge, however, is the result of the elaboration of Sumner's 
and Murphy's researches by Dr. Dexter and his son in no less than 
eleven visits to Leyden. 

34 The Pilgrims and their History 

December, 1608, or January, 1609, for permission to emi- 
grate thither in the following May was granted appar- 
ently without objection on February 12, and in the spring 
some hundred or more went thither under the leadership 
of Robinson. Clifton, their first minister, remained 
behind with some of the congregation, who were ac- 
credited to the Ancient Church of Johnson and Ains- 
worth. 1 

Unfortunately we know relatively little about the 
Pilgrims at Leyden despite the almost incredible diligence 
of Dr. Dexter and his son. The names of one hundred 
and fifty-two men, women, and children have been 
discovered who were certainly members of Robinson's 
Church and the names of seventy-two who were in all 
probability associated with the Church. The greatest 
probable maximum number of persons, men, women, and 
children, from 1609 to 1620 is four hundred and seventy- 
three. 2 At Leyden were also one hundred and sixty-nine 
English people during this period who may conceivably 
have been associated with the Church but whose connec- 
tion is not demonstrable. From a possible four hundred 
and seventy-three and a less possible six hundred twenty- 
six came the thirty-five who eventually sailed on the 
Mayflower. In the Dutch records are also evidence of 
some score of marriages and many births and deaths; the 
places of residence of a considerable number of Robin- 
son's congregation have been established with some 
certainty. Thirty-three of the men became citizens of 
Leyden before 1620. In 16 10 the little group bought a 
rather considerable house, in whose upper story Robinson 

1 The best and most recent account of these Separatist Churches 
is C. Burrage, Early English Dissenters, Cambridge, 191 2. 

2 See Appendix A on the number of Robinson's Church. 

The Hardness of Life in Holland 35 

and his family lived, and in whose lower rooms the 
congregation met. This was their church. Some in- 
dividuals purchased land from time to time; some 
bought houses; others built them; but beyond these bare 
details very little is known about the great majority of 
members and still less can be definitely established about 
their experiences together. 

Certainly they found the life hard and the atmosphere 
uncongenial. After about seven years' residence — a 
time long enough to give the experiment a fair trial — • 
they concluded that their conception of the Church 
could not be perpetuated in Holland, because of the 
unfavorable economic conditions and because of their 
inability to control civil and religious affairs. The un- 
conscious pressure of an established community upon 
the fluid organization of the little congregation was too 
great to be withstood. It is upon this aspect of the life 
that Bradford lays greatest stress in his summary of the 
reasons for leaving Ley den. They seem to have had 
little difficulty in finding work, but extraordinary dif- 
ficulty in winning more than a bare existence. The 
members of the Scrooby Church had been small farmers 
and husbandmen, perhaps nothing more than laborers 
on the farms of others, and they now found themselves 
in a maritime and industrial community without skill 
in the various enterprises conducted there and without 
the necessary capital to undertake others of their own. 
Indeed the only occupation they understood, agricul- 
ture, was not possible at Leyden. The skilled trades 
and highly remunerative occupations were controlled 
by craft guilds in the interests of their existing mem- 
bers, and the requirements for admission, rigidly main- 
tained, invariably insisted upon Dutch citizenship, 

36 The Pilgrims and their History 

some little capital, and much experience. For those 
who were neither citizens nor had capital to invest such 
trades were out of the question. 

Practically all found themselves condemned to labor 
extremely hard for small wages in the least skilled crafts. 
Some twenty became say weavers, making a sort of 
coarse thick cloth not unlike a very inferior quality of 
heavy blanket; eight became wool-combers; four or five 
became merchant tailors, wool carders, fustian weavers, 
hat makers, printers, while the remainder of the com- 
pany in ones and twos were distributed among some 
forty other occupations. Nearly all of these involved 
hard manual labor for from twelve to fifteen hours a 
day. William Bradford became a fustian weaver. The 
only other thing we know about his life at Leyden is his 
marriage, December 10, 1613, at Amsterdam, to Dorothy 
May, a young girl of sixteen. She was the daughter of 
Henry May of Wisbeach, Cambridgeshire, England, 
who was probably a prominent member of Ainsworth's 
Church and who himself witnessed the banns at Amster- 
dam on November 9, 1613. She accompanied Bradford 
on the Mayflower but was drowned at Province town. 
Their only son, John, remained at Leyden, but reached 
Plymouth in 1627. Edward Winslow became a printer; 
Isaac Allerton a tailor; Robert Cushman a wool-comber; 
Jonothan Brewster, the eldest son of William, a ribbon- 

When William Brewster first came to Holland, he 
seems to have brought with him a larger sum of money 
and more household goods than the majority and was 
able with difficulty to eke out subsistence for s*me years 
from his slender capital. In 16 g^ forced to earn money 
in some way and unable to perform the heavy manual 

The Hardness of Life in Holland 37 

labor required by most of these occupations, he became 
a printer in partnership with another member of the 
congregation, Thomas Brewer, apparently not one of 
the Scrooby Church, but a later acquisition. The press 
did no job printing, as it is now called, nor did they 
keep an open shop where books were for sale, nor did 
they print books intended for circulation in Holland. 
The object was the publication in English of books in- 
tended for circulation in England, but prohibited by 
the Government. The edition, once prepared, was 
shipped to London to be sold by their Separatist and 
Puritan friends. Not more than sixteen volumes * repre- 
sent their labor in the three years 1617, 1618, 1619, 
proving that the plant was by no means a large one and 
hardly a remunerative business. In 16 19, Brewster 
printed David Calderwood's Perth Assembly, a descrip- 
tion of ecclesiastical affairs in Scotland highly uncompli- 
mentary to the English King and his ministers. The 
English Ambassador, Dudley Carlton, at once com- 
plained to the Dutch authorities and insisted that 

1 Mr. Dexter gives 16; Arber lists 15; Rev. O. G. Crippen lists 9 
in the Congregational Historical Society 's Transactions, December, 
1 901, iio-iii. The results of Pilgrim research have yielded so 
meagre a return for so excessive an amount of labor, that students 
have tended to regard conjectures not obviously unwarranted as 
interesting and important. Indeed, it is to be feared that Dexter, 
Arber, and Ames have all more than once assumed bare possibili- 
ties to have been already demonstrated as truths. So in this case. 
Only two books bear Brewster's name; two more he admitted 
printing; two others Carle ton, the English Ambassador, said that 
Dutch printers believed he printed. We have a definite total of 
four and a probable total of six. The rest listed by Arber and 
Dexter bear no imprint or mark of identification and cannot be 
demonstrated by evidence ever to have been printed in Holland, 
to say nothing of tracing them to the Pilgrim Press. 

38 The Pilgrims and their History 

Brewster had broken the Dutch law by printing and ex- 
porting the book. Escaping the bailiffs with the aid of 
his friends, he migrated with his family to England, where 
he seems to have lived from July, 16 19, until the May- 
flower sailed. Brewer was apprehended, but eventually 
escaped serious penalty, primarily because the Uni- 
versity of Leyden, on whose books he was enrolled as a 
scholar, was induced, perhaps by Robinson, to treat 
his case as one of university privilege. At all events, 
no more books were printed. 

The net result of seven years of hard toil was dis- 
couraging — a bare subsistence. Upon the economic 
difficulties they shouldered their disappointment in the 
growth of the Church. The increase seems to us con- 
siderable. Not more than one hundred and twenty-five 
all told, men, women, and children, had come to Leyden 
and within ten years their number had perhaps doubled. 
At all events they were bitterly disappointed. They 
had expected the Ordinances of God, duly performed, 
to attract more adherents from England and from Hol- 
land. They felt sure that the solution of the economic 
problem would increase their number many fold and 
thus assure the permanence of the organization. For, 
argue as they might, they could not but admit that its 
permanence was threatened at Leyden. Though the 
adults were in the prime of life, they realized that they 
could not continue for many years such hard manual 
labor. The subsistence of the little community also 
made imperative work by the younger members, even 
by the children; all did some sort of manual labor, which 
had upon body and mind no less disastrous effects in the 
seventeenth century than it has now; and, while many 
of the children had borne cheerfully these heavy bur- 

The Hardness of Life in Holland 39 

dens, others had left home and become soldiers or sailors, 
and still others "some worse characters tending toward 
dissoluteness and the danger of their soules." Thus in 
one way or another, physically and morally, the strength 
of the little community was being sapped, its member- 
ship here and there drifting away, and its integrity as a 
community so sorely threatened that the leaders realized 
that its permanence could not be predicated at Leyden. 

The road to economic success in Holland was all too 
clear. If they would but become Dutch citizens, join 
the Dutch Church, use the Dutch language, and re- 
nounce their English characteristics permanently, the 
craft guilds would open their doors, more remunerative 
employments would become possible, and some definite 
and permanent share of the great prosperity of the little 
country would be theirs. Incontestably, the price of 
permanence was the loss of their integrity as a group 
of Englishmen, speaking English, living in accordance 
with English customs, holding their services in the 
English language, and maintaining on alien soil as their 
most precious possession their identity as Englishmen. 
Already by 1620 thirty- three members of the Church 
had become Dutch citizens; many of the children used 
Dutch in preference to English; the adequate education 
of the children was possible only in the Dutch schools; 
and they saw that longer residence would make inter- 
marriage inevitable. From all of this they shrank. 

Yet as students we must see within these economic 
considerations the great spiritual truth which inter- 
penetrates them, for the psychology of the Pilgrims is 
the most essential fact to grasp in their history. With- 
out it we shall continually miss the key to the significant 
decisions. The rigid maintenance of separation from 

40 The Pilgrims and their History 

the English Established Church had been their main 
object in leaving England, but they now sought as well 
some environment in which their views of the intentions 
of Christ in regard to Church government could be 
developed and made permanent. They saw their chil- 
dren already less firm in the faith than themselves. 
They feared that the weakness of the flesh would cause 
many to forsake the Ordinances of God and either re- 
turn to England to the bondage of the Established 
Church, or join the Dutch Churches in order to insure 
themselves something better than bare subsistence in 
exchange for a life of drudgery. Only in comparative 
isolation, they saw, away from the influence of other 
churches and governments, could they hope to create a 
permanent community where religious ideals and church 
government should be maintained in accordance with 
what they believed to be the Divine Revelation. 

While at Leyden their ideas on government and doc- 
trine had crystallized. There is no certainty that at 
Scrooby a Minister had been definitely "called" and 
church officers elected. We know nothing of decisions 
in regard to doctrine. Robinson joined them just be- 
fore the emigration, and was himself so young a man 
and his convictions so recently achieved, that only in 
time did he reach definitive conclusions. Indeed it is 
at Leyden that the Pilgrim Church as we now speak of 
it was organized. Robinson then became formally 
Minister, Brewster was chosen Elder, while the deluge 
of controversies into which they were at once plunged 
compelled them to crystallize their notions of govern- 
ment and doctrine. 1 With the Dutch Reformed Church, 

1 These seem to have been vague and fluid. "In what place 
soever, by what means soever, whether by preaching the gospel 

The Hardness of Life in Holland 41 

debating eagerly over the controversy between Arminius 
and Gomarius, they came at once into contact, and upon 
both of those theological distinctions they had to sit 
in judgment. The English Separatist Churches, too, 
at odds with each other and riven by internal dissen- 
tions, appealed to the new congregation for confirmation 
and support. Many and long were the discussions and 
arguments in the great house. Robinson was a really 
remarkable man of keen intellectual perceptions and 
wide learning, a leader in the truest and best sense of 
the word. 1 A man of great energy, a constant student, 
a diligent author, he played a decided part in all these 
controversies and speedily developed and organized 
his own ideas and with them those of his congregation. 
At the same time it is perhaps gratuitous to assume that 
Robinson's books represent literally the notions which 
Brewster and Bradford brought to Plymouth. They 
were hardly as advanced as he and were scarcely able 
to have deduced any such logical and complete array 
of theological opinions as are to be found in his books. 

At the same time, from his books and from the Separa- 
tist literature in general, we can form some idea of Pil- 
grim worship, government, and theology at this time. 2 

by a true minister, or by a false minister, or by no minister, or 
by reading, conference, or any other means of publishing it, two 
or three faithful people do arise, separating themselves from the 
world into the fellowship of the gospel and covenant of Abraham, 
they are a Church truly gathered, though never so weak — a house 
and temple of God rightly founded upon the doctrine of the 
apostles and prophets, Christ himself being the cornerstone." 
Ash ton, Works of Robinson, II, 232-3. 

1 Ozora S. Davis, John Robinson, The Pilgrim Pastor. Introduc- 
tion by Professor Williston Walker. Boston, 1903. 

2 Walter H. Burgess, John Smith, the Se-Baptist, Thomas Helwys 

42 The Pilgrims and their History 

The Service began with an entirely extemporaneous 
prayer by the Pastor or Teacher, no book or form of 
words being permitted. Then followed the reading of 
two or three chapters of the Bible in English, with a 
liberal paraphrase of the passage by the Teacher or 
Elder. A psalm was then sung in English without the 
accompaniment of any musical instrument. Next came 
the sermon, in which the Pastor expounded Doctrine or 
explained the application of Scripture to their individual 
conduct. A second psalm was sung or perhaps several, 
after which at stated times the Lord's Supper and Bap- 
tism were performed. Lastly a collection Was made, the 
proceeds of which were devoted to the salaries of the 
officers and the needs of the poor. They used the Geneva 
Bible and Ainsworth's translation of the psalms in prose 
and meter, published in London in 1612. This they 
brought to Plymouth with them and used it there until 
1696. It contained beside "singing notes, graver and 
easier French and Dutch tunes." Winslow wrote later 
with great enthusiasm of the volume of tone and the 
fervor of the singing at Plymouth. 

Questions of discipline were commonly disposed of 
after the Sunday service by the Pastor and Elder, with 
the cooperation of .the Church. They attempted to 
govern themselves and as far as possible to make the 
intervention of the Dutch authorities unnecessary. Dis- 
putes with each other, whatever the occasion, economic 
as well as theological, they decided in this Church meet- 
ing or by private conversation between Robinson and 

and the First Baptist Church in England, with Fresh Light upon the 
Pilgrim Fathers' Church, London, 191 1, pp. 364, gives special 
detail about Smith's Church at Gainsborough, and believes him the 
leader and originator of the Scrooby Church and its ideas. 

The Hardness of Life in Holland 43 

those involved. Bradford boasts that they never both- 
ered the magistrates of the city, meaning no doubt that 
this government was almost invariably successful. He 
also praises Robinson's wisdom in settling disputes. 
The Church was distinguished from the other Separatist 
Churches by the extent of the power possessed by the 
members of the Church in contra-distinction to the 
officers. The Pastor and Elder submitted to a majority 
vote all questions of importance and very many of no 
great significance. 1 The tendency at Amsterdam was 
toward an increase of the power of the officers, once 
elected, and the reduction to a minimum of the power 
of the congregation. To Johnson and Ains worth, the 
people were ignorant of affairs and their decisions largely 
unintelligent or inexpedient. Discussions in meeting led 
to vehement quarrels and noisy disputes without com- 
mensurate result and some glib talker often succeeded 
in carrying a vote contrary to the intentions of the of- 
ficers. Robinson and his followers, however, declared 
these objections of no moment and even permitted a 
discussion of the officers' conduct and their censure by 
majority vote of the members on any occasion. 

Upon doctrine, their views were at once less original 
and less precise, a natural corollary of their complete 
absorption in the question of church government and 
the proper type of worship. They no doubt followed 
Robinson in his espousal of conservative Calvinism, ac- 

1 See Robinson's On Religious Communion, Private and Public, 
1614. This is the most elaborate statement of his earlier ideas. His 
lust and Necessarie Apologie, 1619, compares the practice of 
his congregation with that of the Dutch Reformed Churches and 
indicates their practice at the moment of emigration. Further 
light comes from the note drawn up for the Virginia Company 
quoted in Bradford's History, 44, 45 (Edition of 1898). 

44 The Pilgrims and their History 

cepting fully the doctrine of the Elect, of Predestination, 
and all that they involved. They also championed the 
right of investigation in the Scriptures for all individuals 
and soon found that this type of defense for their own 
secession from the Papacy and the Established Church 
involved permission to their own members to differ 
from the Minister and the majority in their reading of 
Scripture. Insensibly the influence of the Dutch and 
English churches near them were modifying the ideas 
of the rank and file, and stimulated a searching and 
reading, a discussing and propounding, which not only 
led " unstable wills and feeble intelligences" into dan- 
gerous waters but tended to keep constantly alive active 
controversy as to the validity of their own fundamental 
conclusions. Their own position contained the seeds of 
dissension and dissolution. They saw the Separatist 
congregations at Amsterdam, one after another, dis- 
solved by the gradual defection of their members or 
violently rent asunder by disagreement. They saw 
the Dutch churches threatened with schism over the 
Arminian controversy. Europe was too crowded with 
churches and contentions. While they remained there, 
dispute and recrimination, quarrelling and defections 
of members would continue, if indeed they escaped 
the fate of Ainsworth's and Smyth's churches. They 
must find a place where they might isolate the fickle 
and inconstant minds of the majority from other influ- 
ences. "The place they had thoughts on was some of 
those vast and unpeopled countries of America, which 
are frutful and fitt for habitation: being devoyd of all 
civill inhabitants; wher ther are only salvage and brutish 
men, which range up and downl itle otherwise than the 
wild beasts of the same." 



Probably for some weeks, if not months, in the winter 
of 1 616-17, exceedingly active discussions took place 
in the great house on the Kloksteeg which they used 
as an assembly hall. Many were terrified at the very 
idea of the New World and alleged the danger of ship- 
wreck, the bad sanitation of ships at that time, famine, 
nakedness, and want. 1 Some supposed that "the change 
of air and diet" and, curiously enough to us, the drink- 
ing of water would infect their bodies with loathsome 
diseases. 2 Some, drawing no doubt upon the highly 
imaginative accounts of the early authors upon America, 
declared that the Indians flayed men with the shells of 
fishes, and cut off steaks and chops, which they then 
broiled upon the coals before the victim's eyes. From 
these terrifying images, the objectors passed to the great 
sums of money needed to outfit the expedition and the 
very pregnant argument that, if it had been difficult 
for them to make a living in a rich and populous country 
like Holland, what could they expect of a new world 
peopled only by Indians and Spaniards. Nor did they 
fail to dilate upon the lamentable failure of many at- 

1 Bradford is our chief authority. Winslow's account in his 
Hypocrisy Unmasked, London, 1646, is brief and adds little of 

2 Nevertheless, Bradford writing in 1643, records his surprise 
that the change of air and food, the "much drinking of water," 
afl of them "enemies to health," should not have been fatal to 
most of them. History, 494. 


46 The Pilgrims and their History 

tempts to settle the New World nor to expatiate upon 
the cruelty of the Spaniards and their treatment of the 
French Huguenots in Florida. 

Bradford has eloquently phrased the argument of the 
majority to which he belonged. "It was answered, that 
all great and honourable actions are accompanied with 
great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and over- 
come with answerable courages. It was granted the 
dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties 
were many, but not invincible. For though their were 
many of them likly, yet they were not cartaine; it 
might be sundrie of the things feared might never befale; 
others by providente care & the use of good means, 
might in a great measure be prevented; and all of them, 
through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, 
might either be borne, or overcome. True it was, that 
such atempts were not to be made and undertaken 
without good ground & reason; not rashly or lightly 
as many have done for curiositie or hope of gaine, &c. 
But their condition was not ordinarie; their ends were 
good and honourable; their calling lawfull, & urgente; 
and therfore they might expecte the blessing of God in 
their proceding. Yea, though they should loose their 
lives in this* action, yet might they have comforte in 
the same, and their endeavors would be honourable. 
They lived hear but as men in exile, & in a poore condi- 
tion; and as great miseries might possibly befale them 
in this place, for ye 12. years of truce were now out, & 
ther was nothing but beating of drumes, and preparing 
for warr, the events wherof are allway uncertaine. 
The Spaniard might prove as cruell as the salvages of 
America, and the famine and pestelence as sore hear as 
ther, & their libertie less to looke out for remedie." 

The Critical Decision 47 

Having thus threshed out the general issue of going 
to the New World, a solemn vote was taken and a ma- 
jority voted in the affirmative. The debate now turned 
to the wide field of the superior advantages of one loca- 
tion over another. A minority, small in numbers but 
considerable in influence, was exceedingly anxious to 
settle in Guiana or in some part of the West Indies not 
yet occupied by Spaniards. 1 The fertility of the tropics 
would guarantee the subsistence of the colony; the cli- 
mate would make unnecessary many of the provisions 
for comfort which a colder climate would make impera- 
tive; perhaps from the precious metals, unquestionably 
from trade, the wealth of the little community might 
be assured and its permanence guaranteed. The ma- 
jority feared death from tropical diseases and the hos- 
tility of the Spaniards. Neither party thought James- 
town and the Chesapeake desirable. Why should they 
have fled from England, if now, after having suffered 
and sacrificed so much, they were to transplant them- 
selves to a colony in which Episcopacy was already es- 

The alternative plan to settlement in the West Indies 
at last reached expression in a definite determination, 
as Bradford says, "to live as a distincte body by them- 
selves" in the general territory assigned to the Virginia 
Company by the royal charter, but in comparative isola- 
tion from the settlements already made. Protection 
from the Indians and from the Spanish they must have 

1 Raleigh's account of Guiana was not that used by the Pilgrims. 
Mr. Deane suggests in his notes to Bradford's History that Robert 
Harcourt's A Relation of a Voyage to Guiana, made in 1609, pub- 
lished in 1613-14, is the most probable source of their information. 
Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th Series, III, 27. 

48 The Pilgrims and their History 

and it must come from some organized nation. Their 
marked desire to preserve their nationality, to perpetuate 
their English speech and habits, to prevent # their chil- 
dren from becoming Dutchmen made residence in Eng- 
lish territory a foregone conclusion. But they were 
anxious that this residence under the English flag should 
be nominal and not result in control by the state, which 
might in its own turn entail supervision from the Eng- 
lish Church. Independence in ecclesiastical affairs they 
were determined to obtain and they saw clearly that it 
would involve a much more extended independence in 
temporal affairs than they could ever enjoy in England 
or in Holland, or indeed anywhere except in the isolation 
of a new country. For this reason the decision taken 
to go was at the same time a definite decision to take up 
permanent residence in the New World. 

They saw at the outset therefore that everything 
would turn upon the question of subsistence. * Their 
plan was simple but practical and was entirely in con- 
formity with the definite knowledge already attained 
about the locality. For a great many years, relatively 
small ships had been accustomed to sail across the At- 
lantic from England, Holland, and France to fish on the 
Grand Banks for cod, to buy furs from the Indians in 
exchange for trinkets, and to return again in the autumn 
with a cargo of salt fish and pelts, which was without 
difficulty sold at a fair profit. Why should not a resident 
colony support itself upon precisely the same traffic? 
The men of the colony would spend the greater part of 
their time, not upon shore in the town and in the fields, 
but away from home engaged in trade. Houses there 
would be to build, fields to be tilled, conveniences must 
be made, no doubt clothing woven and prepared, but 







» j ! 

The Critical Decision 49 

subsistence was not to depend upon the efforts of the 
colonists in America. 1 This was indeed a sound plan, 
entirely in accordance with the experience of Europeans 
in Northern America, and merely demanded of the Pil- 
grims the ability to do what others had done before 
them. Such examination as they made convinced them 
that the outlay of money, ordinarily involved in such a 
trading venture, was small and such as they them- 
selves and their immediate friends could subscribe. The 
financing of the expedition was therefore not the as- 
pect about which they needed most to concern them- 

The vital issue seemed rather to be their ability to 
establish in the New World the kind of a political and 
ecclesiastical community they had in mind, free from 
interference from Europe or from resident authority in 
America. Argue as they would, they could not con- 
vince themselves that some kind of formal permission 
from the King would not be essential to ensure any 
degree of religious toleration. Their presence in the 
New World could hardly be kept secret and they feared 
that, if they landed without authorization, subsequent 
investigation would entail supervision and claims to the 
exercise of civil and ecclesiastical authority, which they 
had no intention of recognizing. Better to stay in 
Holland or return to England than incur the perils and 
expense of a voyage to America, only to find themselves 
under that same comparative constraint, from which 

1 This important point has not been sufficiently emphasized. 
See Bradford's own statements, History, 55, 72; the conditions 
with the Adventurers, quoted, id., 57; Robinson's letter, quoted 
id., 60; Cushman's letters, quoted, id., 65, 67; Winslow, Hypocrisy 
Unmasked, 89, 90, London, 1646. 

5<d The Pilgrims and their History 

they had fled in England, and which they found still 
unsatisfactory in Holland. 

They felt, too, that there was more than a fair chance, 
that consent might be obtained to such an arrangement 
as they had in mind, because of the importance in the 
London branch of the Virginia Company of Sir Edwin 
Sandys. 1 The Brewsters, father and son, had been 
postmasters at Scrooby during the period when the 
father of Sir Edwin had been Archbishop of York, and, 
while we may not perhaps assume that they had been 
friends of Sir Edwin as a boy, Brewster was at least 
known favorably to Sandys as a man of tried probity 
and ability. That Sandys had, like his father, strong 
leanings toward Puritanism was of course well known 
to them, and upon that fact they undoubtedly counted 
to enlist his sympathy in their project. Brewster should 
vouch for the seriousness of their purpose and . their 
probable ability to found and maintain a colony. That 
the Virginia Company was more than anxious for Col- 
onists they well knew; that it was more than ready to 
pay the expense of transporting to America those who 
were willing to go, they were also aware; they them- 
selves therefore, who were not asking at this time finan- 
cial support but merely the permission to "plant," ought 
consequently to receive a hearty welcome and liberal 
treatment. While they recognized that their compara- 
tive freedom under the Company's jurisdiction would 

1 Arber has elaborately reprinted in his Story of the Pilgrim 
Fathers, all the relevant material concerning the negotiations with 
the State, with the Virginia Company, with the Council for New 
England, and with the Adventurers. His attempts at meticulous 
criticism, however, should be carefully scrutinized, as should those 
of Ames, in his Log of the Mayflower, on this same phase of the 

The Critical Decision 51 

be entirely dependent upon their ability to finance the 
enterprise themselves, they entertained at this time 
no doubts upon this point. 

In the summer and autumn of 161 7, Deacon John 
Carver and Robert Cushman went to London to open 
negotiations with the Virginia Company, and carried 
with them Seven Articles, which were to explain the 
notions of the intending planters about religious con- 
formity and toleration. 1 They would subscribe to the 
Thirty-nine Articles in the same sense in which the 
" Reformed Churches where we live and also elsewhere " 
accepted them. They would acknowledge the doctrine 
taught in the Church of England and its fruits and 
effects "to the begetting of saving faith in thousands in 
the land, Conformists and Reformists as they are called; 
with whom also, as with our brethren, we did desire to 
keep spiritual communion in peace; and will practise 
in our parts all lawful things." This vagueness as to 
the identity of those who were saved and of those with 
whom the Pilgrims proposed to keep spiritual com- 
munion was intentional. They would accept the royal 
supremacy without reservation, but added a not wholly 
fortunate clause, stating that "in all things obedience is 
due unto him either active, if the thing commanded be 
not against God's Word, or passive if it be, except par- 
don can be obtained." This certainly left them to judge 
whether the royal commands possessed or lacked Scrip- 
tural warrant. Similarly, they accepted the power of 
the Bishops and its lawfullness to govern the Church 
"civilly," and in so far as they derived that authority 
from the King, denying that ecclesiastical authority 

1 State Papers Colonial, I, No. 43. Copy. Most of the corre- 
spondence referred to in the text is quoted by Bradford. 

52 The Pilgrims and their History 

could be exercised which the civil magistrate did not 

The remarkable fact about these Articles is that Sir 
Edwin Sandys felt such statements would meet the ap- 
proval of the King and the ecclesiastics. Carver and 
Cushman conducted themselves in a manner thoroughly 
agreeable to the authorities of the Virginia Company, 
who wrote in November an encouraging letter to Robin- 
son and Brewster at Leyden. This drew from them in 
return rather more specific and open statements of their 
intentions and motives. They enlarged upon their 
industry and frugality, upon their readiness and ability 
to undergo hardship and misfortune with patience and 
equanimity. "It is not with us as with other men 
whom small things can discourage or small discontent- 
ments cause to wish them selves at home againe." The 
trials and privations of the New World did not terrify 
them, nor would the failure of the proposed colony be 
due to their remissness or want of diligence. They spoke 
in addition quite frankly of their Separatism. "We 
are knite togeather as a body in a most stricte & sacred 
bond and covenante of the Lord, of the violation wherof 
we make great conscience,' ' and which they felt made 
them mutually responsible for each other's welfare and 
safety, and thus more than ordinarily satisfactory as 
prospective colonists." This letter too met with ap- 
proval. The Seven Articles seem to have been shown 
to several members of the Privy Council in the month 
of December, 1617, or at the latest very early in January, 
1 6 18, for we find Robinson and Brewster writing late 
in that same month a further message of explanation to 
an eminent member of the Virginia Company, Sir John 

The Critical Decision 53 

Three points, they say, had been raised by members 
of the Privy Council; their answer makes it evident 
that these concerned the institution of Bishops, the 
Sacraments, and their willingness to take the oath of 
Supremacy without qualification or reservation. They 
enclosed two replies, a brief statement which they 
thought more likely to meet approval, and a much more 
explicit statement which they feared the Bishops might 
not like; they requested their sponsors to choose between 
them. The most that they would concede in regard to 
the Church authorities was an acceptance of the provi- 
sions of the French Reformed Churches according to 
their public confession of faith. The Oath of Supremacy 
they agreed to take without reservation, if the authorities 
insisted upon it, but they indicated their preference for 
the Oath of Allegiance, a form expressly intended for 
Catholics who were attempting to make mental reserva- 
tions in regard to the authority of the Pope, and to 
which therefore the Pilgrims would be able to subscribe 
with eminently clear consciences. These two points 
comprised the shorter form. The larger form particu- 
larized certain points in which they differed from the 
French Churches, and which proved beyond all possible 
question that the Congregation elected the Church 
officers, and that the government of the Church had 
nothing to do with Bishops nor provided any place for 

The letter with its enclosure was forwarded to a well- 
known Separatist at London, Sabine Staresmore, who 
delivered it about the middle of February to Wostle- 
holme. The latter read both the letter and its enclosures 
in Staresmore's presence, and then asked him, "who 
shall make them,' , meaning of course the ministers. 

54 The Pilgrims and their History 

cc l 

I answered His Worship that the power of making 
was in the Church to be ordained by the Imposition of 
Hands by the fittest instruments they had. It must either 
be in the Church or from the Pope and the Pope is Anti- 
christ.' 'Ho!' said Sir John, 'What the Pope houlds 
good (as in the Trinitie) that we doe well to assente to 
but, said he, we will not enter into dispute now.' " He en- 
couraged Staresmore to believe that what they wished 
could be obtained, but he told him quite frankly that it 
was utterly useless to present those documents. 

Sometime during the next two months Sir Edwin 
Sandys, Sir Robert Naunton, then Secretary of State, 
and perhaps some other gentlemen, broached this ques- 
tion to the King. James asked how they expected to 
support themselves when they got to America. And 
their friends replied by fishing, " to which he replied with 
his ordinary asseveration, 'So God have my soul! 'tis an 
honest trade! it was the Apostles' own calling!'" He 
gave the gentlemen to understand that the idea met his 
approval. Sometime later, probably during the summer 
of the year 1618, he asked them to confer about it with 
the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London. 

Early in the autumn of this same year, the Church at 
Leyden learned of the unfortunate case of Francis Black- 
well. He had been an Elder in the Ancient Church of 
Johnston and Ainsworth at Amsterdam, with which they 
had already had so many dealings, and from which had 
come Bradford's bride and possibly other members of 
their own Church. When theological dissensions had 
riven the organization, Blackwell and part of the mem- 
bers had decided to try their fortunes in Virginia, and 
had journeyed to London preparatory to embarkation. 
There they had attended "a conventicle," had been 

The Critical Decision 55 

apprehended, and found themselves in jail. This Black- 
well's friends in London and Leyden could well have 
forgiven him had he not, as Bradford says, " glossed" 
with the Bishops, denied his Separation from the Church 
of England and its validity, and taken the oaths tendered 
him. The Bishops gave him their blessing, released him 
from jail, and sent him on his way to Virginia. Stares- 
more, whom Blackwell also implicated, wrote from the 
Counter Prison in intense indignation to Carver at 
Leyden. They also remembered that Johnston, Studley, 
and two other leaders of this same group of Separatists 
in 1597 had been shipped by the Privy Council to New- 
foundland with a trading company, on the condition 
that they should never be allowed to return. When the 
venture failed, they had returned with the remnant of 
the colonists and had escaped to Amsterdam. 1 

The King's request that they should confer with the 
Archbishop and the Bishop of London therefore roused 
the suspicions of the leaders at Leyden. They decided 
now to give up any attempt to secure an explicit recogni- 
tion of their religious non-conformity before leaving 
Holland. "If after wards ther should be a purpose or 
desire to wrong them, though they had a seale as broad as 
the house flore it would not serve the turn; for ther 
would be means enew found to recall or reverse it." 
Indeed they much regretted what they had already done 
and such incomplete revealings of their identity as had 
already been inevitable. The all important thing now 
was to confess nothing further, either of their intentions 
or their personnel. 

1 Privy Council Register, New Series, March 25, 1597. Hakluyt, 
Voyages, Ed. 18 10, III, 242-9. 



None the less, throughout the autumn of 1618 and a 
considerable part of the winter of 161 9 the discussions at 
Leyden continued. 1 In April, Cushman and Brewster 
again opened negotiations with the Virginia Company, 
but found considerable difficulty for a time in reaching 
any conclusion, because of the internal dissensions within 
the Company itself, until these were finally settled toward 
the end of April by the election to the Treasurership of 
Sir Edwin Sandys. His advent resulted in favorable 
action by the Company on May 26 on the Pilgrims' 
request for a charter, for which they applied in the name 
of Mr. John Wincob, "a religious gentleman belonging 
to the Countess of Lincoln. " A patent to him was sealed 
on June 9, 16 19. Technical anonymity was thus secured, 
but their connection with him was no doubt known to a 
considerable number of people. How far they proceeded 

1 The exact chronology and the sequence of events in this, as in 
the preceding chapter, can not be established by direct evidence. 
Arber in his Story of the Pilgrim Fathers and Ames in his Log of 
the Mayflower have made elaborate attempts to construct a de- 
tailed narrative, but the student should remember that neither 
has succeeded in most cases in suggesting solutions which are 
better than bare possibilities. The account in the text is based 
upon a fresh study of the material and differs somewhat in chro- 
nology and in sequence of events from the accounts hitherto pub- 
lished, but makes no pretensions to a finality which the character 
of existing material and the actual lack of evidence makes im- 


Ways and Means 57 

during the summer of 16 19 with their plans to utilize 
this patent is not known, but in the autumn news was 
sent them by Cushman in London of the extremely 
unfortunate results of the expedition to Virginia of 
Blackwell and their old Amsterdam friends which caused 
them to change their minds. The voyage had been long 
and tedious; so many had gone upon the ship that "they 
were packed together like 'herrings " ; voyagers and crew 
had died for want of fresh water, from over-crowding, 
from lack of proper food. Blackwell was dead, wrote 
Cushman, the captain likewise; and the survivors had 
returned "with great mutterings and repinings amongst 

Undoubtedly this news convinced the Pilgrims that 
their original plans could not be executed. A larger 
vessel would be essential and more considerable supplies 
of food and clothing, enough indeed to carry them well 
through the first year. Their own resources and the very 
limited financial competence of their immediate friends 
in Leyden and London were unable to cope with such a 
problem, and they concluded definitely that they must 
secure the cooperation of a body of men, resident in 
England or in Holland, sufficiently wealthy to provide 
the necessities, and sufficiently interested in the venture 
to insure the continuity of their assistance. 1 They must 
aim at more than subsistence. They must attempt a 
venture which would produce a profit. 

They now received from Dutch capitalists or magis- 
trates in January, 1620, an offer of conveyance to the 
New World, with a guarantee of continuous and adequate 

1 Such statements as this can not be supported by direct evidence 
but are implied by the sequence of events definitely established 
by the correspondence in Bradford. 

58 The Pilgrims and their History 

support of so generous and definitive a nature that they 
scarcely dared refuse it. A suggestion was also made that 
they settle upon somewhat similar terms on the island of 
Zeeland at the mouth of the Rhine. Obviously, the fact 
that they were looking for capital to support a venture in 
America had leaked out in Holland. It was also known 
in London. In February or March there arrived at 
Leyden Thomas Weston, a London merchant, a Puritan 
if not a Separatist, a man already acquainted with some 
of them, and perhaps associated with their escape from 
England in 1608 or with the dissemination of books from 
the Brewster press. In his own name and that of other 
merchants, his friends, he promised them support for 
their voyage, drew up definite articles which they deemed 
favorable, and in particular gave them his personal 
guaranty that they should "neither feare wante of 
shipping nor money, for what they wanted should be 
provided." * He proposed no formal incorporation, for 
that would have disclosed necessarily the identity they 
were so anxious to conceal, but merely a voluntary asso- 
ciation of the capitalists and the intending colonists. 
A patent this group of men already had, granted by the 
x Of Weston's motives for this proposition we are utterly ig- 
norant. The attempt of Ames, W. T. Davis, and others to ex- 
plain his action is an excellent illustration of ingenuity overreach- 
ing itself. They couple this difficulty with the settlement at Plym- 
outh instead of on the Hudson and "demonstrate" that Weston 
and Gorges planned to steal the colony, got it on board as best 
they could, and then bribed the captain to land it within the ter- 
ritory of the Council for New England, instead of in that of the 
Virginia Company. The only direct evidence associated with 
Plymouth, that of Secretary Morton, writing just before 1669, de- 
clares that the Dutch bribed Jones to land them outside the limits 
of their Patent! Both have been rejected by Arber, Dexter, and 
conservative students generally. 

Ways and Means 59 

Virginia Company on February 2, 1620, to John Peirce 
and associates. While the use of this involved the 
abandoning of the Wincob patent already secured, it 
afforded complete anonymity, for the Pilgrims were in no 
way connected with the grantees at the time the patent 
was drawn. 1 

Weston proposed a partnership to last seven years for a 
venture in America of the type already decided upon by 
the Pilgrims. They should establish a permanent trading 
post at which they should live, from which as a base of 
operations they should trade with the Indians for furs, 
fish on the Grand Banks, cut lumber in the forests, and 
perhaps collect sassafras and other roots then salable in 
England. At this work the great majority should be 
employed. The rest were to build houses, till the ground, 
and insure the permanence of the trading post. The 
Adventurers, as capitalists were then called, were t<$*^~ 
contribute money, or provisions, or goods for trading, 
and thus finance the enterprise. Every colonist, oi^ 
planter, as they were commonly called, was to be rated 
at ten pounds; every adult he took with him over sixteen 
years of age should also be rated at ten pounds or one 

1 Winslow in Hypocrisy Unmasked, pp. 89, 90, London, 1646, 
can be interpreted so as to imply the contrary. The records of 
the Virginia Company, the fact that the Pilgrims' negotiations 
with Weston were certainly subsequent to the request for the 
Peirce Patent, if not to its granting, the subsequent actions of 
Peirce himself, make the statement in the text seem more prob- 
able than other conjectures. We must not forget that Winslow 
and Bradford wrote long after these events, probably without the 
aid of memoranda taken at the time. The unreliability of human 
memory is well attested by the formal deposition of Miles Standish 
on oath in 1650, in a law suit to determine the priority of a land 
title, that he visited Boston Harbor in the summer of 1620! Good- 
win, Pilgrim Republic, 237, note. 

60 The Pilgrims and their History 

share of this joint stock. Money, or provisions, or goods 
contributed by the planters or capitalists should also be 
rated in multiples of ten. Thus the joint stock would be 
created and on the basis of these shares the individual 
Adventurers and colonists should eventually participate 
in the proceeds. 

Druing seven years the houses, goods, food, apparel, 
and the like should belong to the company as a whole 
and should be called the common stock, from which all 
members of the colony in America should be provided 
with necessities. Naturally they should do what they 
could in America to add to this common stock and the 
Adventurers pledged themselves to supply the remainder. 
The proceeds of the trading and fishing were to be sold 
in England for the benefit of the partnership, and it 
was expected that the profits of the first seven years 
would be sufficiently considerable to offset the original 
investment, the subsequent necessary payments for the 
maintenance of the colony in America, and afford be- 
sides a reasonable profit to the Adventurers. During 
the seven years the colonists should work iour days a 
week for the Adventurers and, two days for themselves, 
the latter to be spent in improving the permanent plant 
in America. When the question was raised as to what 
notion of diligence and of effective cooperation the 
merchants had, Weston gave them to understand that 
he and his associates would gladly leave the question 
of diligence to their own consciences. At the end of 
seven years the colony itself, the houses and improved 
lands, should become the property of the colonists. The 
unimproved land should be divided between the Adven- 
turers and the Planters, each to dispose of its share as 
best it could, and the profits in money, in goods, or in 

Ways and Means 61 

chattels should be distributed proportionately to the 
shares contributed by each Adventurer or colonist in 
money, goods, or his own value as a laborer. These 
terms were accepted. A paper stating the conditions 
was signed by the officers of the Church and by Weston 
for his associates, and a day was set for the payment 
of the money and goods which the Leyden members 
were to contribute. The Dutch offer was now re- 

They now fell in April to a discussion of the very per- 
tinent issue, how many could go and how many were 
willing to go. Even with the cooperation of the mer- 
chants, they saw that only a part of the Church could 
migrate and decided that, if the major part voted to go, 
Robinson, the Minister, should go with them, but that, 
if only a minority voted to leave, Brewster, the Elder, 
should accompany them. Explicitly they provided that 
each part was to form "an absolute Church of them- 
selves" so long as they should be separated. The mi- 
nority wished no questions raised as to the authority 
over them of the majority. After a long solemn meet- 
ing, a day of humiliation and perhaps another of fasting, 
after a sermon by Robinson many hours long, the vote 
was cast, and showed two parts nearly equal, the larger 
of which had elected to stay. They agreed together 
however that if the venture should succeed the majority 
should come at once to America, and on the other hand, 
if it should fail, the minority should return to Leyden 
with all speed. Now they fell to work upon the neces- 
sary arrangements. Property was sold, money collected, 
goods donated, both by those who were to go and those 
who were to stay. This during April and May, 1620. 
At the end of April or early in May a small ship of sixty 

62 The Pilgrims and their History 

tons, the Speedwell, was bought and refitted at Delfs- 

Meantime Weston had returned to London and had 
communicated to his associates the terms of the agree- 
ment. They pointed out at once that there was no 
collateral whatever to insure the repayment of the capi- 
tal; inasmuch as the land and buildings were to become 
the property of the colonists at the end of seven years, 
a discharge of the indebtedness depended entirely upon 
the making of a profit in the meantime. While they 
seem to have had no doubts of the moral responsibility 
of the Pilgrims l and their willingness and readiness to 
labor hard in the common interest, they did very strongly 
question their ability to earn so great a profit. To put 
the venture upon a business basis, the objectors insisted 
that the tangible property at the end of the seven years, 
the improved lands and the houses, as well as the goods 
and chattels, must be subject to division or sale in the 
interests of Adventurers and Planters alike. Even then 
the merchants would risk much, for, if the venture was 
unsuccessful, they might still lose everything, although 
it was at the same time clear that, if the venture suc- 
ceeded, they would on this basis make a much larger 
profit than they were entitled to under the existing 
agreement. They further insisted that the entire efforts 
of the colonists for the whole seven years must be de- 
voted to the venture. The two days of work for them- 
selves seemed to the merchants a loophole through 

1 It becomes now proper to speak of "the Pilgrims." It is cer- 
tainly uncritical to term either the Scrooby emigrants or Robin- 
son's Congregation as a whole "the Pilgrims" or "the Pilgrim 
Church"; until those who were finally to go had been separated 
from the rest, the true Pilgrim body had not come into existence. 

Ways and Means 63 

which all profit would escape. Weston and Cushman, 
the Pilgrims' representative, did their best to convince 
the recalcitrant merchants, but in the end Cushman 
agreed to these terms. The Adventurers then elected 
a President and Treasurer and subscribed the necessary 
money and goods. Christopher Martin was chosen 
Treasurer and was to proceed with the colonists to 
America as representative of his associates. 

When the news of Cushman's concessions reached 
Leyden, active discontent burst forth. The great ma- 
jority of the Leyden Church had been agriculturalists in 
England and were familiar with the difference in status 
under the old manorial system of a tenant or villein, who 
had a right to a portion of his time for himself, and that 
of the serf who had no time to himself, had no property, 
and was without prospect of any. What Cushman had 
agreed to was something closely akin to serfdom; their 
legal status in America would be doubtful and compli- 
cated and certainly not that of freemen during the 
seven years. They were familiar with the practice in 
Holland and England of apprenticeship for seven 
years. 1 They also knew of the existing practice by 
which emigrants sold their labor for seven years to 
the capitalists who financed their voyage. The Leyden 
group were not in the least minded to land in America as 
indentured servants. They felt themselves no common 
laborers. As free men and not otherwise would they 
land. They must be further assured of possession at 
the end of the seven years of the improved lands and 
buildings which their labor had created. Some who had 
expected to go now withdrew; some who had paid in 
money wished it returned; a number of the more promi- 
1 Bradford, History, 58-62. 


64 The Pilgrims and their History 

nent declared flatly that they would never leave Leyden 
under such conditions, and, taking refuge in the fact 
that Cushman had no explicit authority to sign such 
an agreement, declared it accordingly invalid. Of this 
decision they promptly informed Cushman and Weston 
in vigorous letters of protest and a long list of objections. 
Thus matters came to a stand in Leyden. 

In London, too, matters were at a stand. The plan 
of operations, based upon the experiences of BlackwelPs 
company, called for a simultaneous sailing of the Leyden 
colonists in the Speedwell from Holland and of the Eng- 
lish group from London, for a meeting at Southampton, 
and a continuation at once of the voyage across the 
Atlantic, without delay or opportunity for investigation 
by the English authorities. Ostensibly certain mer- 
chants, one John Peirce and others, were shipping across 
the Atlantic in traditional style two cargoes of hired 
laborers. In Holland the Speedwell had been bought 
and fitted out, but in London nothing had been done 
towards procuring and fitting out the larger ship upon 
which the majority of the colonists expected to make 
the voyage. From Leyden came urgent letters pointing 
out the necessity of immediate action, so that the summer 
season, the favorable time for settlement, might be 
utilized, and so that they should not suffer want in 
Holland now that their property had been sold and 
their preparations made. 

Weston and his associates remained undecided and 
on the tenth of June Cushman wrote a most discourag- 
ing letter to the group at Leyden, saying that nothing 
had been done, that they had underestimated the ex- 
pense and difficulty of the venture, and could not land 
in America any such number of people with any such 


Ways and Means 65 

amount of goods and food as they required. On that 
same day, however, apparently Saturday, the tenth 
of June, he succeeded in convincing Weston of the 
necessity of immediate action. That afternoon, they 
took a refusal of a very fine ship of about one hundred 
and twenty tons, and either that same afternoon or 
early on Monday were offered a much larger ship of 
one hundred and eighty tons, none other than the 
famous Mayflower, owned by one of the Adventurers, 
Thomas Goffe. A Captain Christopher Jones and an 
experienced mate were also hired. The provisioning 
of the ship went forward rapidly, the preparation of the 
company at London to sail upon her proceeded promptly, 
and by the middle of July all was ready. 

Meanwhile, at Leyden, after a day of humiliation 
spent at Robinson's house, with prayer, fasting, the 
singing of psalms, a long sermon, much discussion, and 
probably some sort of farewell feast, they set forth on 
July 21-31, 1620, Friday, for Delf shaven, passing down 
the Vliet on canal boats, a journey of about twenty-four 
miles. Transshipping their belongings to the Speedwell, 
they spent the night in "friendly entertainment and 
Christian discourse, " and on the next day took leave on 
the dock of such friends from Leyden and Amsterdam 
as had come to see them depart. They then went on 
board, and Robinson, " falling downe on his knees, 
(and they all with him), with watrie cheeks commended 
them with most fervente praiers to the Lord and his 
blessing. And then with mutuall imbrases and many 
tears, they tooke their leaves one of an other; which 
proved to be the last leave to many of them." 

A fair wind carried them in four days to Southamp- 
ton, where they found the Mayflower, which, sailing 

66 The Pilgrims and their History 

from London on July 15-25, had been there a week 
waiting for them. They also found Weston and Cush- 
man, both most anxious that the articles as amended 
by the merchants should be signed by the principal 
members now arrived from Leyden. Long argument 
only developed excessive obstinacy on both sides and 
Weston finally, becoming very angry, told them "to 
look to stand on their own legs," and left for London 
without paying the port dues of nearly £100. Appre- 
hensive of investigation by the authorities and the dis- 
closure of their identity, they quickly sold some firkins 
of butter, raised the money, and thus cleared port. 
Their fears of ecclesiastical and temporal interference 
proved unfounded, for no investigations were made or 
questions asked at London, Southampton, Dartmouth, 
or Plymouth. At about this time Captain John Smith, 
who had done so much for the first colony at Jamestown, 
made some overtures to the Pilgrims. Good advice and 
information about conditions on the Atlantic coast he 
claims that he offered and that they rejected. Possibly 
he offered to go with them. At any rate they negatived 

On the third of August (3-10) all was at last ready. 
They indited a final letter to the merchants at London, 
defended themselves as well as they might for not having 
signed the revised agreement, and offered to add to the 
conditions signed at Leyden a clause continuing the joint 
stock beyond the seven years, if "large profits" had not 
then been made. As Bradford notes in the margin of his 
History, it was well for them that the offer was not ac- 
cepted. The company was then assembled and a long 
letter of counsel, advice, and encouragement, written by 
Robinson, was read to them; each individual was assigned 

Ways and Means 67 

his place in one of the ships; a Governor and two or three 
assistants were chosen for each ship, to have authority 
for the voyage, to distribute provisions, and generally to 
assist the officers of the ship. On the fifth (August 5- 
15) they set sail, but had not proceeded very far down 
the Channel, when Reynolds, the Captain of the Speed- 
well, complained that the ship was leaking. After search 
and discussion, they put in at Dartmouth, where the 
ship was overhauled from stem to stern and the leak 
mended. They again set sail and were scarcely out of 
sight of land when again Reynolds complained that the 
ship was leaking badly. Putting back to Plymouth, 
finding no important leak, they adjudged the ship faulty 
and, after some hesitation, took from her so much of the 
cargo and as many of the people as they could crowd into 
the Mayflower, and sent her back to London with some 
eighteen or twenty whose courage had already weakened. 
Later the truth came out. The refitting of the Speedwell 
in Holland had been badly done: the masts and sails were 
too large and overstrained the ship; when she was sold 
afterwards in London and refitted, she proved perfectly 
seaworthy. The Pilgrims later believed that the Captain 
and sailors of the Speedwell regretted their agreement to 
remain a year in the colony and crowded the ship with 
sail so that she might leak and be sent back. Certainly 
no one fact contributed so much as this to the difficulties 
of the colony in its first year. The successful execution of 
the original plans became now problematical in the 
extreme. On Wednesday, September 6-16, they finally 
left Plymouth and saw the coast of England sink out of 
sight, for the last time for most of them. 



There sailed from Plymouth on the Mayflower that 
sixth of September, 1620, one hundred and two passen- 
gers whose identity has been of greater interest to 
posterity than that of any other emigrants in history. 
The elaborate researches of the last half century have 
established many definite facts and a large number of 
highly probable conjectures about them. Only William 
Brewster and William Bradford can be traced from 
Scrooby and Austerfield in England to Leyden, and 
thence to Plymouth. Thirty-three others of the Leyden 
congregation, including children, sailed on the Mayflower, 
the other sixty-seven coming from England. Despite 
the numerical preponderance of the newer element, it 
was nevertheless always true that the Leyden contingent 
was the backbone of the colony. Among them were 
Brewster, Bradford, Carver, Winslow, Allerton, and 
their families. Among those sailing from London were 
Cushman, who returned with the Speedwell; Standish 
and his wife; Christopher Martin, one of the Adven- 
turers, with his wife and two servants; Master William 
Mullins, another of the Adventurers, with his wife and 
two children, one of whom was Priscilla, and a servant; 
Master Stephen Hopkins and his wife, three children and 
two servants; and John Billington, with a wife and two 
children. The others were people of less interest. Among 
them were five children "bound" or apprenticed, two to 
Carver, two to Brewster, and one to Winslow. 


The Voyage 69 

It seems probable that the Mayflower passengers were 
thus distributed in their English homes. From the 
north of England came twenty-six; from eastern England 
forty-six; from southern England twenty-seven; from 
London seventeen; from central England seven; while 
the homes of fourteen are not yet ascertainable. 1 The 
vast majority, seventy-seven, came from four districts: 
from Norfolk thirty- two; from Kent seventeen; from 
London seventeen; and from Essex eleven. It is there- 
fore clear that the majority of the Mayflower passengers 
not only did not come from Scrooby, but did not even^ 
come from northern England. The adult males num- 
bered forty-four, the adult females nineteen, the young 
boys and girls under age thirty-nine, or about forty per 
cent of the whole number. There were twenty-six mar- 
ried men and eighteen married women, twenty-five 
bachelors and one spinster servant. There is every 
reason to suppose that only two of the adults were over 
fifty years old and only nine over forty. The mortality 
of the first year fell heavily upon them and left the colony 
in the hands of young men. Bradford was thirty-one, 
Winslow twenty-five, Allerton thirty- two, Standishv j 
thirty-six, and Alden only twenty-one. The Pilgrim 
Fathers scarcely deserved the appellation. 

Of the ship on which they sailed we know little, for 
Bradford and Winslow merely refer to her as "the ship" 
or "the larger ship" and do not even give her name, but 
they do tell us enough to infer much about the general 
type of ship to which she belonged. She must have been 
about ninety feet long and twenty-four feet wide, carry- 

1 Dr. Dexter's geographical divisions are not those commonly 
denoted in England by the terms northern, southern, and the like. 
Dexter, England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 650. 

70 The Pilgrims and their History 

ing a crew of between fifteen and twenty men. Of her 
three masts, the fore and main masts were square rigged 
without a jib, while the mizzen mast carried a lateen sail. 
A high forecastle and a high poop deck left the middle of 
the ship low. Broad of beam, short in the waist, low 
between the decks and in her upper works none too tight, 
she was what was known as a "wet" ship, and, being on 
this voyage heavily laden and therefore low in the water, 
shipped more seas than usual. At the same time, so 
far as the Pilgrims were concerned, she was a decidedly 
large, well constructed vessel entirely able to weather 
the storms and sufficiently commodious to prevent any 
danger from overcrowding. There was undoubtedly no 
room to spare and from a modern point of view they 
must have been decidedly cramped. They carried to be 
sure no young cattle, and the poultry, swine, and goats, 
which they possibly had, were penned up forward. Be- 
tween decks much of the space was occupied by a shallop, 
about thirty feet long when put together, but which they 
were carrying in pieces. The passengers were distributed 
aft in cabins and bunks, not in hammocks, while the 
crew lived forward. No furniture is known to have been 
brought. A whole fleet of ships, each several times 
larger than the Mayflower, would have been necessary to 
transport the supposedly genuine pieces which have 
been claimed of Mayflower origin. 

The staples of food were certainly bacon, hard tack, 
salt beef, smoked herring, cheese, and small beer or ale, 
for the Pilgrims were not total abstainers and followed 
the practice, then universal in Europe, of a moderate use 
of liquor. For luxuries they carried butter, vinegar, 
mustard, and probably lemons and prunes. Gin they 
also had and either brandy or Dutch schnapps. The 

The Voyage 71 

food was given out each day by the Governor and 
assistants of the ship and must have been eaten cold. 
The only opportunity for cooking consisted of a frying 
pan held over a charcoal fire, or a kettle suspended on an 
iron tripod over a box of sand. Much cooking for one 
hundred and two passengers and a crew of twenty or 
more seems highly improbable. There was also little 
opportunity for bathing or washing and when they 
reached America they must have been in sore straits for 
clean clothes. To cleanliness however they attached 
great importance and no doubt achieved a greater 
measure of it than was common at that time. 

We know nothing about the voyage except the little 
Bradford tells us, which is enough to prove definitely 
that comparatively few incidents distinguished it. The 
wind was fair for a good many days and they suffered 
nothing more than seasickness. In mid-ocean they 
encountered cross winds and storms, during one of which 
the main beam of the ship sprang out of place and 
cracked a little. A consultation was promptly held as 
to the advisability of continuing the voyage and some 
were in favor of returning to England, but they produced 
a great iron jack from the hold, forced the beam back 
into place, and made it fast with ropes and timber 
braces. The officers and crew vouched for the soundness 
of the ship below the water line, pointed out that the 
voyage back to England was as long and perilous as the 
continuation to America, and promised to do what they 
could to make the upper works a little tighter. They 
stoutly affirmed that there was no real danger and so the 
outcome proved. Although delayed by high winds and 
seas, they came without further incident in sight of land 
on November 9. 

72 The Pilgrims and their History 

The sailors at once identified the shore as Cape Cod 
and all knew at once that they were considerably north 
of the most northern limit of their patent, and that the 
Hudson River, which they had originally in mind, lay 
considerably to the south and west. They promptly 
turned south and, after some half day's sailing, found 
themselves among the shoals and breakers of the passage 
around Cape Cod. The Captain * extricated the ship 
promptly and a consultation was held upon the vital 
question whether or not to go forward. They decided 
to return to Cape Cod and to found their settlement 
somewhere on what we now call Massachusetts Bay, 
entirely conscious that they were thus abandoning 
their patent. 

The reasons for this momentous decision have excited 
much curiosity and interest and have resulted in much 
speculation and conjecture, for the Pilgrims themselves 
tell us merely of the season of the year, the ship some- 
what damaged by the voyage, the food running low, 
and the anxiety of Captain and crew to reach some 
haven for the winter without unnecessary delay. Be- 
yond the fact that the mariners were insistent upon a 
speedy solution of the problem of settlement, we get no 
hint from Winslow or Bradford that any influence was 
at work other than the minds of the Pilgrims. Nathaniel 
Morton, writing in 1669 presumably from oral tradition 
at Plymouth, states explicitly that Dutch intrigue was 
responsible for this abandoning of the first patent, and 

1 R. S. Marsden in the English Historical Review, XIX, 669 ff. 
has exhaustively considered the question of the identity of "Cap- 
tain Jones" and successfully raises the presumption that he was 
one Christopher Jones, and not Thomas Jones, a notoriously bad 

The Voyage 73 

later students have suggested a plot between Weston 
and Gorges to "steal" the colony from the Virginia 
Company. Both of these conjectures are of course 
based upon the assumption that nothing but treachery 
and terror could have induced the Pilgrims to land in 
New England without patent or authorization; both 
entirely disregard the failure of Bradford or Winslow 
to express the slightest concern for the change in plans. 
Bradford indeed explicitly says that the Compact, 
which they presently signed, was as legal and useful as 
the patent itself, and that they thought so at the time. 
If such was their attitude, certainly no treachery on the 
part of Jones or Weston is an essential premise of an 

Is it not more likely that the patent was intended to 
legalize their departure from England, to secure the 
acquiescence of the authorities in their emigration? 
Must we not also remember that the patent gave them 
individually no rights in America whatever, but con- 
ferred all the privileges upon the merchants, with whom 
they had so decidedly quarreled at Southampton? If 
it was true that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth with- 
out legal authority, they would have been equally de- 
void of legal authority in their own persons within the 
territory of the Virginia Company. It would have 
been possible for the merchants at any time to decline 
to recognize them longer as associates, to claim that 
they never had been their associates. What the Pil- 
grims wished was a grant of land in their own persons * 
and they did not rest until they secured it. Moreover, 
the Virginia Company was either Episcopalian or un- 
separated and the Pilgrims could scarcely have regretted 
escaping its jurisdiction. Possibly, too, they knew that 

74 The Pilgrims and their History 

the Council of New England was about to be created, 
that the new company would be anxious for colonists, 
that Weston did know the grantees, and that a new 
charter on far better terms might be secured for a colony 
already planted in the New World. These are conjec- 
tures and for them there is nothing better than inherent 
probability. But are they not at least as probable as 
^the elaborate structures of plots and treason hitherto 
suggested as explanations for this important step? 

As the Mayflower returned along Cape Cod a number 
of the company, who had come on board at London, 
informed the leaders with no mincing of words, that the 
abandoning of the original patent left the leaders with- 
out authority over them, and that they should take the 
first opportunity to secure their freedom. To put an 
end to such murmurings — for the leaders did not for a 
moment suppose that they were providing themselves 
with legal authorization — a solemn Compact was drawn 
up and signed by forty-one adult males of the Company. 

In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are under- 
write^ the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, 
King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, 
& Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c. Haveing under- 
taken, for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian 
faith, and honour of our king & countrie, a voyage to plant 
ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by 
these presents solemnly and mutualy in ye presence of 
God, and one of another, covenant & combine ourselves to- 
geather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering 
& preservation & furtherance of ye ends aforesaid; and by 
vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just & 
equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from 
time to time, as shall be thought most meete & convenient 

J 45 * 
; l .to 


II ^ 



****** \VM\X' 1 



* vH ^^> t^*c « ^ S * * £ i\ * c 

? { i 

Mi i 

"wis?* 4 ' 



The Voyage 75 

for ye generall good of ye Colonie, unto which we promise all 
due submission and obedience. In witnes wherof we have 
hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye n. of 
November, in ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord, 
King James, of England, France, & Ireland ye eighteenth, 
and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. An p : Dom. 1620. 

On November 11-21, the Mayflower anchored safely 
in Provincetown Harbor and the leaders began definite 
consideration of the sort of location required for the 
future colony. They were to establish a permanent 
trading post, which should maintain itself by fishing 
and bartering beads, toys, and cloth with the Indians 
of the district. Astonishing to relate, not one of the 
passengers had ever fished nor, so far as we know, with 
the exception of Standish, had any of them fired a gun 
by anything better than accident. All had been farmers 
in England, accustomed to the open fields and broad- 
cast sowing, and in Holland all had followed some trade 
or other. They were indeed so ignorant that they dis- 
covered spices in the thickets of Cape Cod and in the 
first few weeks shot a bird which they took to be an 
" eagle" and were frightened by "lions." They were 
absolutely unprepared for the conditions they actually 
found and brought really nothing except good constitu- 
tions, loyalty to each other, good sense, patience, for- 
bearance, and devotion to a high religious ideal. They 
lacked everything but virtue. 

Nor had they brought with them the most necessary 
supplies. Food they could not bring in large quantities 
and they expected to depend upon the Indian corn or 
maize, and were aware that they must obtain a supply 
for planting from the Indians. They brought, however, 
peas, beans, and seed for growing onions, turnips, pars- 

76 The Pilgrims and their History 

nips, and cabbages. There was also a large stock of 
salt, some clothing, some trinkets, and presents for the 
Indians, and a few boots and shoes, brought by Mullins, 
the father of Priscilla. Simple culinary utensils of pewter 
or woodenware they brought with them, andirons, 
candle molds, and the like. For wood cutting, cooper- 
ing, and carpentry they brought an elaborate set of 
tools, as well as equipment for a blacksmith's shop, and 
an anvil. Guns, swords, and powder, with some side- 
armor, breastplates, and cannon they also brought. 
Everything considered, a remarkably adequate supply. 
For agriculture they possessed only a few hand tools. 
They brought no beast of burden, no plows, carts, or 
harness of any description. For fishing they were pro- 
vided only with nets and hooks so large that they could 
not catch cod with them. Indubitably they were not 
adequately equipped to found a colony, which would 
depend entirely for subsistence upon what it might raise 
in the New World. They were equipped to build houses, 
cultivate gardens, catch fish in nets, and trade with the 
Indians for furs. To find a location for such a colony 
was now their task. This can not be too carefully borne 
in mind. Had they been looking for a site for a settle- 
ment colony, which should depend primarily upon its 
own labor in America for subsistence, they would prob- 
ably not have pitched upon Plymouth. 

They went ashore at once, and, wading and splashing 
through the shallow water, first set foot on the soil of 
the New World. 1 Fifteen or sixteen of the adult men, 

1 In the eighties appeared in London an historical work by the 
author of Jzdamerk, a Mrs. J. B. Webb-Peploe, en tided, the 
Pilgrims of New England. Some notion of the possibilities of 
historical ignorance can be had from it. They land upon a pre- 

The Voyage 77 

well-armed, wandered about the shores of Provincetown 
Harbor for the greater part of the day, and we may well 
imagine with what mingled curiosity, elation, expect- 
ancy, and alarm these agricultural laborers and artisans 
from the domestic industry of Holland went out in the 
guise of explorers, adventurers, and soldiers. The loca- 
tion, however, was neither romantic nor adventurous. 
They soon saw that the land was a narrow neck of sand, 
interspersed with marshes and large ponds, certainly 
not the place for their settlement. On the thirteenth, 
they brought out the shallop and found many days' 
labor required before it could be seaworthy. Meanwhile 
the women washed clothes in the ponds, the men and 
children took exercise on shore, and several expeditions 
were made in the neighborhood. 1 The first, on No- 
vember 15, led by Standish, Bradford, and Hopkins 
saw traces of game, of Indians, of previous Europeans, 
and marched up hill and down dale with great toil and 
fatigue. The unaccustomed armor chafed them, the 
weight of the guns tired them, and breaking through 
the heavy underbrush "tore our very armor to pieces." 
Some Indian fields, an Indian grave, the planks of a 
wrecked ship made into a rude house, an iron ship 

cipitous granite strewn shore amid dashing surf, mountains high, 
in which the authoress instinctively bathes deep; they hunt wild 
horses (of which there were none, wild or tame in English America 
before 1624), and elect Carver President. The hero is an English- 
man with sons named Heinrich and Ludovico! 

J The winters of 1620-1622 were exceptionally mild; so were 
those of 1630-163 1, while in 1645-1646 plowing was going on 
in February. The winters of 1637-38 and of 1641-42 were 
the coldest in forty years. Plymouth harbor was frozen solid 
and was crossed by oxen and carts for five weeks. It is fortunate 
they did not meet this sort of weather that first year. 

78 The Pilgrims and their History 

kettle, such were the specific evidences of human habita- 
tion. Several caches of corn which they found, they 
took, for which they afterwards scrupulously paid. 

Finally the shallop was ready and on November 27 
the first trip was made under the leadership of the cap- 
tain of the Mayflower, Weather conditions were highly 
unfavorable; snow fell, a cold wind chilled their bones, 
and the rowers in the boat were soon covered with ice 
from the driving spray and sleet. They coasted along 
to the Pamet River, which they at first thought a good 
site, found more caches of corn, more woods, sand bars, 
and ponds, and returned impressed more than ever 
with the unsuitability of the neighborhood and with 
the necessity of finding at once a permanent site. On 
December 6-16, the second expedition departed, in 
weather so cold that the spray from the oars froze on 
their clothes and one of their number nearly died of 
exposure. Far down Cape Cod they sailed and, after 
seeing more Indians in the distance, investigating empty 
wigwams, graves, and further caches of corn, they 
landed for the night and barricaded themselves, a little 
company of eighteen men, six of whom were from the 
crew of the Mayflower. At midnight they were dis- 
turbed by dreadful noises which they took to be those 
of wolves, but at daybreak further outcries aroused them 
and soon Indians were upon them. They were unpre- 
pared. Most of them had carried their armor and guns 
down to the water's edge in preparation for sailing and 
only Standish, Bradford, and a couple more had re- 
tained their fire arms. Two of them fired, checking the 
Indians for a moment, the other two holding themselves 
in readiness. The rest in considerable disorder and fear 
hurried for their own weapons, which they recovered 

The Voyage 79 

without real difficulty, the Indians manifesting no real 
desire to meet the White Man in the open. From the 
trees the Indians continued to shoot arrows. From their 
own cover the Pilgrims returned musket fire. The chief 
of the Indians stood well forward under a tree and de- 
liberately shot at the leaders with his arrows. They 
took equally deliberate aim at him, and after three 
misses, finally hit the tree above his head, whereupon 
he gave a great "shrike" and took to his heels. This 
ended the first encounter, as they called it, a fact which 
thrilled these simple countrymen inexpressibly. 

December 8-18 was a hard day. They stood along the 
coast, steered toward the mountain of Manomet, which 
the sailors had pointed out from the ship at Provincetown 
as the landmark of the good harbor indicated on Smith's 
map. After some two hours' snowfall, the sea grew rough 
and the waves sufficiently violent by the middle of the 
afternoon to break the hinges of the rudder, so that two 
men with oars steered the shallop. At length, the look- 
out cried that he saw the harbor, and, crowding on more 
sail in an attempt to make the harbor before dark, they 
overtaxed the rigging; the mast split in three pieces, the 
sail dragged overboard, and they barely escaped cap- 
sizing. They were however near the entrance of Plym- 
outh harbor and their diligence at the oars and the 
flood tide carried them through the harbor's entrance. 
Again they found themselves imperilled by the breakers, 
but the presence of mind of one of the sailors, who told 
them to pull sharply, the promptness of their own action, 
once more saved the little craft, and they soon ran into 
calm water under the lee of Clark's Island. After some 
hesitation, a few of the bolder spirits ventured ashore 
and, despite the sleet and wind, kindled a fire, of which 

80 The Pilgrims and their History 

they were presently extremely glad, for the wind shifted 
about midnight, the temperature fell sharply, and they 
had all been wet to the skin for the greater part of the 
day. This was Friday, December 8-18. 

All night it rained. In the morning the rain con- 
tinuing, apparently they marched around Clark's Island 
and there stayed all day. On Sunday, December 10-20, 
they rested. It was not until Monday December 11, Old 
Style, December 21, New Style, that they landed from 
the shallop somewhere on Plymouth harbor. Astronom- 
ical calculation shows that the tide was flood and that 
they could, despite the flats, have landed anywhere along 
the sandy shore. This date has been accepted for the 
greater part of the nineteenth century as the technical 
landing of the Pilgrims. 1 The weather was mild and 
sunny, there was no snow, and the ground was not even 
frozen. All the women and children and the great bulk 
of the men being still at Provincetown on the Mayflower, 
only eighteen men went ashore from the shallop on this 
day, of whom ten were Pilgrims: Standish, Bradford, 
Carver, Winslow, John and Edward Tilley, Howland, 
Warren, Steven Hopkins, and Edward Dotte. There 
were with them also two hired seamen not of the May- 
flower crew, two of the mates of the ship, the master 
gunner, and three sailors. After sounding the harbor 
and exploring the shore at some length, they concluded 
that they had found a satisfactory location and returned 
to Provincetown, arriving December 13-23. Two days 

1 The anniversary speeches delivered at various dates are by 
no means devoid of interest and value and many will well repay a 
reading. A very nearly complete list has been compiled by Albert 
Matthews, and was printed in the Publications of the Colonial 
Society of Massachusetts, XVII, 387-392. 

The Voyage 81 

later the Mayflower sailed for Plymouth, but, because of 
the contrary wind, was unable to make harbor until 
December 16-26. The next day was Sunday, the first 
day of worship at Plymouth, conducted certainly on 
shipboard by Elder Brewster, and consisted no doubt of 
the singing of psalms, of heartfelt prayers, of the reading 
of the Scriptures and the expository work which was all 
that Brewster attempted. Thus ended the long pil- 
grimage from the Old World to the New. " May not and 
ought not the children of these fathers rightly say" wrote 
Bradford, "our faithers were Englishmen which came 
over this great ocean and were ready to perish in this 
willdernes but they cried unto the Lord and he heard 
their voyce and looked on their adversitie." 

Bibliographical Notes 

Appearance of the Pilgrims. There is nothing which the 
student so much regrets as the entire absence of information 
as to the personal appearance of the Pilgrims. It is not 
merely true that we have no accurate or extensive informa- 
tion, we have literally not a suggestion as to whether Brad- 
ford was tall or short, thin or stout, black haired or light 
complexioned. Nor do we know what clothes they wore 
when they landed. Certainly not the hats, cloaks, and shoes 
characteristic of England half a century later. The numerous 
pictures can not longer be considered correct in detail and 
some of them represent scenes which can not now be shown to 
have taken place at all. One authentic portrait only exists, — 
of Edward Winslow, painted in London in 1651, five years 
after leaving Plymouth. The women, of whom so much has 
been written and imagined, appear in the contemporary ac- 
counts of Bradford and Winslow as mere names. From their 
own contemporaries we have not the slightest hint as to 
their character, influence, intelligence, or appearance. The 

82 The Pilgrims and their History 

critical scholar must confess this entire absence of material 
for the little details so much desired by posterity. Yet, 
after all, remarkable characters for sanity, intelligence, high 
devotion to Christian ideals are limned for us by the authentic 
narrative. The knowledge of their stature, weight, costume, 
and the color of their hair could add nothing to our estimate 
of their true worth. 

Genealogical Bibliography. — Those who are anxious posi- 
tively to establish their descent from the Pilgrims will do well 
to attempt no researches themselves, unless already skilled 
at such work, but to communicate with G. E. Bowman, 53 
Mt. Vernon St., Boston, who has made the study of Pilgrim 
families and genealogy his life work. For those, however, 
willing to be content with something less than certainty, the 
Mayflower Descendant, a quarterly journal; Pilgrim Notes and 
Queries, eight monthly issues a year, both edited by Mr. Bow- 
man, will usually give some clue to family relationships. 
Goodwin's Pilgrim Republic gives commonly full data cover- 
ing the immediate descendants of known Pilgrims. The New 
England Historical and Genealogical Register, Peirce's Colonial 
Lists, Boston, 1881, the (English) Congregational Historical 
Society's Transactions, London, 1901, the various publica- 
tions of the Massachusetts Historical Society, of the Amer- 
ican Antiquarian Society, of the Colonial Society of Mas- 
sachusetts, of the Old Colony Historical Society, are all 
valuable. There are also the Pilgrim Newsletter, Providence, 
R. I., published since 1909; and the Society of Mayflower 
Descendants of Illinois, which has published material since 
1900. Much use must be made of the histories of great Eng- 
lish and American families, of state, town, and county records, 
all too numerous to be mentioned here, as well as of all the 
Pilgrim sources which have been and will be referred to in 
this volume. Such researches commonly lead the student far 
afield into unexpected places, which is their chief charm for 
most genealogists. 



The first stage of the great enterprise thus successfully 
accomplished, the difficulties in their path one after 
another surmounted, a greater problem now loomed 
before them — how could the transition from ship to 
shore be safely made and the colony established on the 
soil of the New World. 1 Monday, December 18, found 
the Pilgrims early ashore. That day and the two suc- 
ceeding were consumed in eager and thorough explora- 
tions of the harbor, the rivers, the forests, and the soil. 
On the twentieth a vote was taken and the majority 
elected to build the new settlement on what Bradford 
called the "first site," evidently that selected by the 
leaders who came in the shallop a week or more previous. 
The name, Plymouth, they found on Smith's map of New 
England and retained it. 

The site was well adapted for a permanent fishing and 
trading factory. Though the Mayflower was compelled 
to lie in the outer harbor on account of the shallow water 
at low tide, the harbor was deep enough for a ship of no 

1 Our information for this section of the narrative is singularly 
full and reliable. They sent back to England in the Fortune a 
detailed Relation of all that had happened since landing. It was 
printed in 1622 and was almost certainly written by Winslow and 
Bradford. It is conveniently reprinted in Arber's Story of the 
Pilgrims, together with Winslow's Good News from New England. 
Bradford's History adds important information on points not 
covered by these narratives, and on others, like the "general sick- 
ness," which they deemed it better to omit in 162 1. 


84 The Pilgrims and their History 

more than eighty tons to anchor near the shore. The 
second fact which impressed them was the number of 
fish they saw and the larger amount they conjectured 
would be present in the proper season. Whales they had 
seen off Provincetown; they had been told by the crew 
of the vast profit from the sale of the oil, and they judged 
in the sublimity of their ignorance that it would be easy 
to kill one. Seals also they saw and deemed valuable. 
Thus two prime requisites were answered. The amount 
of cleared land, on either side of what came to be called 
the Town Brook, also attracted them to the site. A good 
many acres of corn fields of the Patuxets, dead from the 
plague of three years before, were unused, and, after 
testing the soil, they concluded it to be rich and suffi- 
ciently deep. The small rivers and brooks emptying into 
the harbor provided an abundance of water, while at a 
distance of one-eighth of a mile stood abundant timber 
for their houses and for the cut lumber, which they ex- 
pected to export to England, where wood was scarce and 
expensive. Furthermore, the site was protected by 
Nature, for on the east the harbor, and on the south the 
town brook in a little ravine prevented attack by the 
Indians. On the west an abrupt hill, one hundred and 
sixty-five feet high, gave them a location for their cannon 
commanding the only easy approaches to the new town 
from the open fields to the north. 

After two days of storm and rain they set to work, on 
December 23, and for three days cut timber with great 
diligence. The difficulties of their task were considerable, 
for their headquarters, the Mayflower, was one and one- 
half miles from shore, and they must row back and forth 
constantly. They were compelled to carry the timber 
itself an eighth of a mile from the woods without draught 

The First Year 85 

animals to assist. There were in all only forty-four adult 
men, many of whom were by this time ill. The first 
Christmas therefore was spent in hard work, for, like 
most Protestant bodies of the time, the Pilgrims declined 
to celebrate the day because they could find no warrant 
for it in the Scriptures. Two more days of rain interfered 
with the work, but on the twenty-eighth they laid out the 
town along the brook, and assigned locations for a 
"common house," to be used as an assembly hall, and 
for several dwelling houses. After more rain and cold 
during the first week in January, the work went on at a 
more rapid rate and without intermission. Jones and 
his men went out in the shallop and after some ado 
caught three seals and one codfish. Apparently an 
expedition, whose prime object was the catching of fish, 
had arrived with no practical knowledge of the sort of 
fishing which New England afforded. On January 7, to 
facilitate the work, the company was divided into nine- 
teen "families," thus putting the boys and servants 
under the supervision of the older married men. 

So rapidly had they worked that by January 9, the 
frame of a "common house," twenty feet square, had 
been built of rough logs and the cracks filled in with 
mud. The roof they built in the succeeding days of 
thatch, after a fashion still common at Scrooby and 
Austerfield. On the fourteenth at about six in the morn- 
ing, the lookouts on the Mayflower saw the new house on 
shore afire, but, the tide being out, the shallows and the 
high wind prevented their sending aid for some little 
time. A spark from a match in the house had set fire to 
the thatch, the high wind produced a quick blaze, which 
soon burned itself out without damage to the roof tim- 
bers or the frame. The house was packed with the beds of 

86 The Pilgrims and their History 

the majority of adult men, including several, like Carver 
and Bradford, who were very sick. All escaped from 
the burning building and regarded it as a special act of 
Providence, that the loaded muskets beside most of the 
men had not been discharged by the fire. The day being 
Sunday, no work could be done to repair the roof, and 
the rain poured dismally from a cheerless sky upon them, 
shivering in their roofless house throughout that long 
Sabbath. A week later the roof had been replaced and 
service was held on land by Elder Brewster for the first 
time. Gradually now as the weather permitted, and as 
the sheds and log cabins on shore were finished and 
thatched, the stores were moved from the ship to the 
shore, carried up the steep bank, and placed as they 
believed in safety. On the twenty-first of February, two 
cannon were gotten ashore by the help of the crew and 
located on the hill. Traces of Indians had been seen and 
the colony was alarmed. 

Meanwhile, — indeed ever since the landing at Prov- 
incetown — a considerable number had been ill, and by 
February what Bradford calls the "general sickness " 
had stricken practically all the members. As their 
surprisingly good health on the voyage had been the 
result of the extremely careful arrangements, so now the 
cause of the "general sickness" seems to have been 
careless exposure, though not to the severity of New 
England weather, for the winter of 1620-162 1 and the 
two succeeding winters were singularly open and mild. 
Both Provincetown and Plymouth harbors were so 
shallow that the Mayflower was anchored a long distance 
.from shore, and a considerable number of Pilgrims waded 
back and forth, to the small boats every day, became 
thoroughly wet in the process, and had no satisfactory 

The First Year 87 

method of drying their clothes. The women, again, 
misled by the mild weather, washed clothes several days 
in the ponds at Provincetown and caught severe colds. 
The explorations in the open boat, the expeditions on the 
wet shore, resulted in further exposure. The result seems 
to have been tuberculosis of a surprisingly contagious and 
rapid type, called sometimes galloping consumption. 1 
Whatever it was, the Pilgrims certainly caught it from 
one another and in December, six died, in January, eight 
more, in February, seventeen, and in March, thirteen. 
So dire was their distress that, during these months, no 
more than six or seven were well at a time, and only 
Brewster and Standish entirely escaped illness. On 
some days two or three died, and tradition has it that the 
graves accumulated so fast, that the Pilgrims leveled 
them with care, lest the Indians should be able to count 
and discover how greatly the little colony was weakened. 
Their devotion to each other during these exceedingly 
trying months is beyond all praise. Those who were able 
labored unsparingly night and day, carrying wood, 
making fires, preparing food, making beds, washing 
clothes, performing, as Bradford says, "willingly and 
cheerfully services which dainty stomachs could hardly 
endure to hear named." 

The crew of the ship showed little sympathy for the 
Pilgrims in their extremity and even denied them a share 
of the few comforts they themselves possessed. Bradford 
therefore notes with considerable satisfaction the godless 
conduct of the crew when the disease fell upon them. The 
Pilgrims now ministered to their needs as best they 

1 Edward E. Cornwall, M. D., in New England Magazine, New 
Series, XV, 662-667. They were also much troubled by sciatica, 
rheumatism, and inflammatory rheumatism. 

88 The Pilgrims and their History 

could, and so affected the boatswain, who, as Bradford 
notes, had often "cursed and scoffed at the passengers," 
that he cried out to them, "O, saith he, you I now see 
show your love as Christians unto one another, but we 
let one another lie and die like dogs." In all, forty-six 
died and only fifty-six were left alive of the original 
company. At the end of the first year, the number of 
survivors was fifty-one, twenty-three adults: — Bradford, 
Edward and Gilbert Winslow, Brewster and his wife, 
Allerton, Standish, Hopkins and his wife, Fuller, the 
surgeon, John Alden, and twelve others. Only one of the 
nine servants survived; only four out of fourteen wives; 
but ten out of eleven girls and fifteen out of twenty-one 

About the middle of March, when many had barely 
recovered from the worst ravages of disease, the men met 
at the common house to decide what action, if any, 
should be taken in regard to the Indians. Suddenly they 
saw walking down their little street, a solitary Indian, 
who advanced boldly and called out to them in English, 
welcome. He was entirely naked except for a leathern 
girdle and carried only a bow and two arrows. They 
stopped him as he was about to enter the common house, 
but he explained in broken English that he was a chief 
of Monhegan in Maine, where he had learned English 
from the crews of the fishing vessels. His name was, he 
said, Samoset. He talked with them pleasantly and at 
great length, and as the wind began to be sharp, they put 
a cloak about him. Presently he asked for beer. They 
took him to dinner and gave him some "strong water," 
with biscuit, butter, cheese, something they called 
pudding, and some duck, all of which surprised him not 
at all. He proceeded to tell them after dinner a great 

The First Year 89 

deal about the Indians of the district. In particular that 
the Indian name of Plymouth was Patuxet, that the 
whole tribe had died in a plague four years before, and 
that their nearest neighbors were a tribe of about sixty 
warriors. At night they would gladly have gotten rid of 
him, but, as he showed no inclination to leave, they 
determined to send him aboard the Mayflower. They 
were unable to get the shallop across the flats, and so 
lodged him with Steven Hopkins and watched him with 
care. In the morning he departed with many friendly ex- 

Two weeks later he returned with five tall savages, 
whom the Pilgrims entertained as best they could, much 
embarrassed because the day was Sunday and the Indians 
insisted upon dancing and singing. After a short but very 
friendly visit, they departed, Samoset remaining again 
overnight. On March twenty-second, a fine spring day, 
he came back once more, bringing with him the sole 
survivor of the Indian tribe which had formerly lived at 
Plymouth, a man called Squanto by Bradford, and 
Tisquantum by Winslow. 1 He had been captured some 
years before by an English captain, carried to London, 
brought back by the English to Newfoundland, whence 
Captain Dermer in a voyage the year before the Pilgrims 
landed had brought him back to Cape Cod. The two 
Indians brought news that Massasoit, the sachem of the 
tribes of Pokanoket, was on his way with his warriors to 
pay a ceremonial visit. 

After about an hour of great excitement, some sixty 

1 Goodwin, Arber, and others have chosen to follow Winslow 
instead of employing the more familiar Squanto. I see no valid 
reason for supposing Winslow more accurate than Bradford in 
transliterating the Indian's name or in representing Pilgrim practice. 

9<d The Pilgrims and their History 

Indians appeared on the hill beyond the town brook, and, 
after some preliminary negotiations by Squanto, Edward 
Winslow, wearing armor and side-arms, clambered down 
the ravine to the ford of the brook, marched up the hill, 
and stayed several hours alone with the Indians. He 
presented Massasoit with two knives and a copper chain, 
with some sort of jewel attached, gave his brother a 
knife, and provided both with "strong water," biscuits, 
and butter. The "Emperor" ate and drank with relish 
and distributed what was left to his followers. After 
further speeches on either side, Massasoit with some of 
his warriors started down to the town brook. Standish, 
Allerton, and six men, armed with muskets, saluted, re- 
ceived him, and marched with such ceremony as they 
might up the street to one of the houses, in which they 
had placed a green rug and some cushions. Having 
seated the "Emperor," Governor Carver came to visit 
him, escorted by a small body guard, to the blowing of a 
trumpet and the beating of a drum. He kissed the 
Indian's hand and was kissed in return; they drank 
"strong waters" together, which made Massasoit "sweat 
for a great time thereafter." They fed him a liberal 
supply of meat, and then concluded with him what they 
called a treaty of friendship and amity. The business 
thus ended, Massasoit was courteously conducted to the 
brook and departed, Winslow now returning to his 
friends. Samoset and Squanto remained as guests of the 
colony for some little time, Samoset eventually taking 
up his residence with them. 

On March 23, Carver was reelected Governor for the 
coming year, but in the following month was apparently 
sunstruck on one of the warm spring days, and, weakened 
by illness and over-exertion, died. William Bradford 

The First Year 91 

was elected Governor in his stead. More eloquent 
testimony of the great value of Bradford's services dur- 
ing the past three months could not have been given. 
In England he had been but a lad, and in Holland had 
played no considerable part in the life of the Church that 
we can now trace. The voyage and the first few months 
at Plymouth displayed convincingly his great executive 
ability, and that calm, impartial mind to which Plym- 
outh was to owe so much. Shortly before Carver's 
death, the Mayflower left for England and the Pilgrims 
were now thrown upon their own resources. 

Under the guidance of Squanto they planted about S 
twenty acres of Indian corn. The amount of labor 
involved was prodigious for twenty-one men and six 
large boys, all of whom had been sick the greater part 
of the winter. Goodwin has calculated that one hundred 
thousand holes were dug with a hoe or mattock; as they 
buried in each two or three alewives, caught in the town 
brook, they must have carried up the steep banks into 
the fields some forty tons of fish. A part of the labor of 
planting, which Squanto taught them, was the necessity 
of watching the corn fields to keep the wolves from dig- 
ging up the alewives. The summer was occupied with 
expeditions to the neighboring Indian tribes for trade in 
corn and furs, and in the cutting of a great supply of 
clapboards, which was considerable enough entirely to 
fill the Fortune when she arrived in the autumn. It must 
be remembered that these clapboards had to be cut by 
hand with axes and saws and were then carried on the 
Pilgrims' backs into Plymouth and stored. In addition, 
they completed during the summer seven dwelling houses 
and four buildings for common purposes, including the 
common house and store houses. So prodigious an 

92 The Pilgrims and their History 

amount of manual labor will show how very seriously the 
Pilgrims took the pledge in their contract to labor four 
days for the merchants and two for themselves. In 
September, Standish, Winslow, Squanto, and eight men 
made a trip to Boston Harbor, which they very much 
admired, and sailed home well content with a con- 
siderable number of beaver skins which they expected to 
export to England. 

It is difficult to imagine exactly what Plymouth must 
have looked like in its first year, but with the aid of a 
little plan left us by Bradford and the rather explicit 
testimony of their writings, we can picture to ourselves a 
small plateau of land, lying about thirty feet above the 
harbor, and sloping back to Fort Hill, one hundred and 
sixty-five feet high. "The street," as they called it (now 
Leyden Street), ran directly toward Fort Hill, at some 
little distance from the town brook, to the path which 
led up the steep incline. On the left-hand side, approach- 
ing from the harbor, came first the Common House, then 
lots assigned to Brown, Goodman, and Brewster succes- 
sively; on the right-hand side, lots assigned to Fuller, 
Howland, and Hopkins. A highway at right angles to 
"the street" here intervened. The remaining space to 
the foot of the hill was divided into four lots on the left 
of the street, worked by Billington, Allerton, Cook, and 
Winslow, while the land on the right side of the street 
was divided into two larger lots, one held by Bradford and 
the other by Standish and Alden. 

On these twelve lots were standing seven houses of 
logs, stuffed with mud, with heavy thatch roofs. The 
windows were made of oiled paper and the doors were 
probably hung on crude hinges of iron. Out beyond the 
houses, to the right of the street, lay the corn fields of the 

The First Year 93 

old Patuxets, and, on the other side of the brook, were 
also corn fields, though it seems likely that at this time 
the Pilgrims did not utilize them. The landing place 
from the ships lay well to the right of the street along the 
harbor, the famous rock, the only rock of any size (with 
one exception) within a considerable radius of Plymouth. 
The Pilgrims landed in reality, not upon a rockbound 
coast, but upon sandbars and mud spits, and this rock 
was the only landing place at which they could disembark 
without wading through the shallows. 1 

And now in the autumn an abundant harvest was 
reaped, and, with the houses thus completed and the 
fifty-one survivors in excellent health, a celebration was 
held. The first Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a 
plentiful supply of wild fowl, deer, and hasty pudding. 
Probably none of the butter, cheese, and biscuits brought 
from England were left at this time, though no doubt 
brandy and schnapps were still on hand. Some modern 
admirers of the Pilgrims will be surprised and perhaps 
distressed to learn that this historic feast was graced by 
the presence of Massasoit and his entire tribe. It lasted 
at least three days, and included not only several hearty 
meals but drilling, simple sports, and dancing and singing 
by the Indians, who played by far the most considerable 
and insistent parts. Not improbably the first Thanks- 
giving dinner much more nearly resembled an outdoor v < 
barbecue, attended by the entire population, than a 
grimly decorous meal, eaten solemnly by each family in 
its own house. 

1 Bradford and Winslow mention repeatedly during this first 
year wading ashore from the small boats and their inability to get 
ashore when the tide was out; evidently it was some time before 
they began to use the rock as a landing place. 



Scarcely was the first Thanksgiving feast over than 
the problem of subsistence was raised anew by the ar- 
rival of the Fortune from England on November 20-30, 
1 62 1, with thirty-five new colonists, sent out by the 
Pilgrims , associates, but without tools, clothes, or food. 
For the succeeding two years the colonists were never 
for a moment free from the danger of starvation. In- 
deed, in the summer of 1623, the second band of new- 
comers, who landed from the Anne, found their friends 
"in a very low condition." "Many were ragged in 
aparel and some litle beter than halfe naked. . . . For 
food they were all alike save some that had got a few 
pease of the ship that was last hear. The best dish they 
could presente their freinds with was a lobster or a 
peece of fish, without bread or anything els but a cupp of 
fair spring water." 1 Winslow declared that he had often 
seen men staggering at noon from weakness induced by 
hunger. 2 Grimly the Pilgrims comforted themselves in 
the absence of bread with the words of Deuteronomy, 
that "man liveth not by bread only but by every word 
that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth a man 
live." 3 

For six years, from 1621 to 1627, questions of sub- 

1 Bradford, History, 175. 

2 Winslow, Good News from New England, reprinted in Arber, 
Pilgrim Fathers, 581. 

3 So quoted by Bradford, 175. 


The Problem of Subsistence 95 

sistence and of trade, explorations, negotiations with the 
merchants, visits to and from the Indians, threatened 
quarrels with Indians and other white men continued to 
engross the attention of the Pilgrims and constitute a 
narrative difficult to follow as it happened day by day 
without loss of perspective and of a sense of proportion. 
The essential unity of the story can, however, be pre- 
served by dealing in a topical fashion with the serious 
problems in the chronological order of their solution. - 
The first three years, despite explorations, relations with 
the Indians, and other distractions, were almost entirely 
devoted to the question of subsistence. This happily 
was solved in 1623, to bother them no more. In that 
year, the Indian problem, never before dangerous or 
pressing, came suddenly to a head, demanded prompt 
action, and was also successfully and adequately met. 
While the Pilgrims had been by no means alone on the 
coast since 1620, it was not until 1624 and 1625 that 
attempts were made to sow civil and ecclesiastical dis- 
cord at Plymouth and to induce the English authorities 
to undertake the supervision and examination the Pil- 
grims had from the first sincerely dreaded. These dan- 
gers past, their relations with the merchants, never 
satisfactory, came to an open breach in 1625 and neces- 
sitated in 1626 and 1627 a thorough reorganization of the 
little colony. Clarity and unity have therefore dictated 
the treatment of the problem of subsistence first, and it 
has been followed by consecutive and logical analyses of 
Indian relations, of the episodes of Lyford and Morton, ' 
and of the tangled negotiations with the merchants, 
from the original agreement signed at Leyden to the 
dissolution of the Merchant Adventurers and the creation 
of the Undertakers. While not free from objection, this 

96 The Pilgrims and their History 

treatment seems to meet in some measure the various 
requirements of a history which shall be something better 
than a brief annalistic sketch. 

The sufferings at Plymouth have been only too little 
emphasized by the students of American history. So 
much has been said about the starvation at Jamestown 
that it is time we realized that the privation at Plym- 
outh was as great and the devotion and forbearance 
greater. The explanation of these three years of suffer- 
ing is not far to seek. The original plans, so carefully 
thought out in Holland for the little colony, had re- 
garded as perilous a settlement colony which should 
maintain itself from the first upon the proceeds of its 
own labor. They had therefore decided to found a 
permanent trading post, supported during the first 
years of its life by supplies sent out regularly from Eng- 
land by the Adventurers, and paid for by the proceeds 
of the fish, furs, and lumber which the colony would 
return. The Pilgrims had felt able to pledge themselves 
to work four days in the week for the merchants, because 
they fully expected the latter to bear the real burden 
of supporting the colony, while they were working out 
their indebtedness. In addition, Robinson and the 
leaders had laid great stress on the importance of owner- 
ship by the colonists of one or more ships of from sixty 
to one hundred tons burden, so that their range of trad- 
ing might be wide, and so that thus the ships themselves 
might carry the proceeds to England and bring back the 
provisions upon which the new colony was to depend. 
It seemed indeed a definitely safe venture: — nothing 
more than conducting from the New World the sort of 
trading voyage annually prosecuted from England and 
Holland by literally hundreds of fishers and traders. 

The Problem of Subsistence 97 

From the first a profit was expected in excess of the cost 
of maintenance, so that in the course of seven years the 
debt of the Pilgrims to the merchants would be entirely 
extinguished, and they would then be at liberty to utilize 
the entire proceeds of the trade for their own support; 
this they would still expect to draw from England as they 
had in the early years. 

The Speedwell was accordingly bought in Holland 
"to transport them, so to stay in the cuntrie and atend 
upon fishing and such other affairs as might be for the 
good and benefite of the colonie when they come ther." A 
captain and crew were hired to remain with the Pilgrims 
for a year while they were learning to operate the vessel. 
It was not until the spring of 162 1 that the full scope of 
the calamity became clear which the return of the Speed- 
well had involved. It was not until the fifty survivors 
found themselves practically marooned in Massachu- 
setts Bay that they entirely realized how radical a 
change of plan had been forced upon them, that they 
were now to attempt in fact the experiment which they 
had deemed in Holland too perilous possibly to succeed. » 
The original plan had miscarried. Nor did they ever 
receive that prompt support from the Adventurers in 
England which they had felt it so important to secure 
when the original contract was prepared. The Fortune 
arrived in 162 1 indeed, but with no food. The Anne 
came in 1623 but brought food only for its own pas- 
sengers, and the subsequent ships brought no assistance 
except cattle. Both features of the original plan thus 
entirely failed. Here unquestionably lay the true dif*- 
ficulty of the Pilgrims. Had they expected to subsist 
from the first on what they could raise, not only would 
their equipment have been different, but the first con- 

98 The Pilgrims and their History 

tract with the merchants would have been as unac- 
ceptable to them as the second, and probably would have 
been deemed entirely unnecessary. 

The great practical difficulty, however, presented by 
the problem of subsistence in these first years was the 
, constant necessity of feeding more mouths than they 
had calculated upon. During the spring and summer of 
162 1, the supply of food, though never ample, seems 
somehow to have sufficed. Although provisions were 
low when the Mayflower reached Cape Cod, the death 
of half the company and of a considerable number of 
the crew made it possible for the survivors to hold out 
on an amount of food entirely insufficient for the original 
emigrants. In the autumn of 162 1, their diligent labor 
was rewarded with a harvest, more than sufficient for 
all of their own needs for the coming year, and they 
celebrated the autumn festival in the true spirit of thank- 
fulness. But within a few weeks the Fortune landed 
thirty-five new colonists, sent over by the Adventurers 
with neither tools, nor clothes, nor food. The labor of 
fifty active men and women was scarcely to be expected 
to suffice for the sustenance of thirty-five extra mouths, 
who had contributed nothing to the work of raising the 
food. Want at once stared the colony in the face. Half 
rations became imperative, and indeed it was doubtful 
whether the food could be made to hold out until the 
following harvest. They seem to have expected a ship 
from England with large supplies of food in the spring 
of 1622. Instead there arrived seven more men, the 
forerunners of a colony sent out by Weston on another 
ship, and whom he asked the Pilgrims to shelter and 
feed for the time being. Soon Weston's new colony it- 
self appeared at Plymouth, some sixty husky men, who 

The Problem of Subsistence 99 

brought their own food to be sure, but who insisted upon 
levying toll on the Pilgrims' growing corn to supplement 
their own diet. There was thus constant necessity dur- 
ing the first two years of stretching the food supplies 
to meet entirely unforeseen emergencies. Nor should 
we forget that the entertainment of the Indians was 
a great drain on the slender resources of a community \y 
numbering only about fifty. Constant presents to 
Massasoit of food and occasional entertainment of 
anywhere from five to ninety Indians was no small item 
with a larder so insufficiently stocked. 

All this would perhaps have been less serious had 
there been available any other source of supply in 
America for such food as the Pilgrims had been accus- 
tomed to eat. That none such existed the year 1622 
proved only too definitely. In May, after the colony 
had been long upon short allowance, the food was lit- 
erally gone, and desperate attempts were made by 
Bradford, Winslow, and Standish to discover some new 
supply. Nothing has more puzzled their biographers 
than this fact, that, in a land fairly alive with game, 
the waters of which were crowded with fish, the shores 
of which were strewn with lobsters, clams, eels, and 
oysters, in whose woods and fields grew quantities of 
edible berries, the Pilgrims literally starved. Perhaps 
one might say that our amazement results from the fact 
that they felt themselves to be starving when forced to 
eat shell fish and game. Some have supposed that the"" 
truth lay in their inability to catch the fish or kill the 
game, and it seems indeed extraordinary that they pos- 
sessed no nets strong enough to hold cod and the other 
large fish which abounded, and on the other hand no 
hooks small enough to catch the fish which teemed in 

ioo The Pilgrims and their History 

New England waters. They came from a land of hunters 
to a land of game; they sailed from a land of fishermen 
for a land of fish; and seem to have been neither pre- 
pared nor able to kill the one or catch the other. 

Certainly it was not for lack of firearms or of powder, 
because in 1622, when the need for food was greatest, 
Standish spent a good deal of time drilling small com- 
panies of men and allowed them to fire volleys and salutes 
in the course of the manceuvers. If powder was too 
scarce to be used in getting food, surely it would not have 
been burned in practice drills. We must perhaps remem- 
ber that the small arms of the seventeenth century were 
exceedingly inaccurate in bore, and consequently that 
it was most difficult to hit an object at any distance, 
and particularly difficult to hit a moving object. The 
Pilgrims moreover had, with one or two possible excep- 
tions, never used firearms, and needed a year or two of 
practice to become accustomed to their muskets. In 
their first encounter with the Indians, they tell us of 
potting at the Indian chief only half a musket's shot 
distance and of missing him again and again. They 
improved, however, for Winslow reports hitting a crow 
at eighty yards and a duck at one hundred and twenty 
yards, and in the autumn of 162 1 four men killed enough 
game in one day to feed the whole colony for a week. 
Whatever the difficulties may have been in the first 
months, they were certainly overcome. 1 

We must perhaps ascribe something to the English- 
man's well-known insistence upon his European diet 
and to his extraordinary dislike to accept any radical 

1 Bradford told De Rassieres in 1627 that three men in a shallop 
could catch as much cod in the harbor in three hours as the whole 
colony could eat in a day. Goodwin, The Pilgrim Republic, 307. 

The Problem of Subsistence 101 

change in it. There seems to be no doubt whatever that 
the Pilgrims resolutely refused to eat anything but the 
food to which they had been accustomed, until actual 
hunger drove them to it. Like all Europeans of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, their common 
drink in England . and Holland had been small beer 
and they could not at first believe that the drinking of 
water would not be followed by terrible diseases. 1 Some 
considerable persuasion even seems to have been neces- 
sary on the part of the leaders to induce some to try the 
experiment at all. Previous experience had accustomed 
them to bread as the chief staple of diet and they seem 
to have believed it impossible to maintain health, unless 
one-half qr two-thirds of all they ate was bread. They 
therefore seem to have eaten their bread in the accus- 
tomed proportion as long as it lasted, and then to have 
considered that a diet of shell-fish, water, berries, and 
game was literally starvation. 

Otherwise it is difficult to explain the extraordinary 
efforts made to eke out the slender stores of grain which 
they possessed and to replenish them even at exorbitant 
cost. Expeditions were sent out to buy corn from the 
Indians and with some success, but the shallop was so 
small that the radius within which they could cruise 
prevented them from collecting any considerable amount 
of grain. The Speedwell would have allowed them to 
cruise from the St. Lawrence to the Hudson and to have 

1 Among objections made by those who returned to England 
stood prominently: "6. ob: die water is not wholsome." To 
which Bradford replied: "Ans: if they mean, not so wholsome 
as the good beere and wine in London (which they so dearly love) 
we will not dispute with them; but els, for water, it is as good as 
any in the world (for ought we knowe), and it is wholsome enough 
to us that can be contente therwith." -History, 194-195. 

102 The Pilgrims and their History 

tapped the abundant supplies of the Connecticut In- 
dians. Some attempt was made to encourage the resi- 
dent Indians to plant more corn on the expectation of 
selling it to the Pilgrims, but the tribes in the neighbor- 
hood had been too much decimated by the plague to 
sow any considerable area of ground. From the English 
fishing ships in Massachusetts Bay some food was pro- 
cured during the summer of 1622. From the ships that 
put in at Plymouth something more was had, but from 
all of these sources only a very small total. 

Nothing is perhaps more admirable in the whole an- 
nals of the Pilgrims than their generosity, magnanimity, 
and forbearance in these two critical years. They were 
under no obligation to feed and house Weston's seven 
men or to show hospitality to his colony of sixty when 
they appeared in July, 1622. Weston himself had al- 
ready sold his interest in the Adventurers, and had 
quarreled with the Pilgrims so decidedly before they 
left England, that they could scarcely have been blamed, 
if they had felt that under the circumstances they could 
hardly share their pittance with him. But they made 
no protest and indeed sought to assist him in every way. 
Those of his men who were sick were kept at Plymouth 
until Fuller, the Pilgrims' doctor, had cured them. 

The harvest of 1622, while reasonably good, again 
proved insufficient, largely because the depredations 
made upon the young growing corn by Weston's men and 
by the Pilgrims themselves had reduced its quantity. In 
the spring of 1623 actual starvation again was in pros- 
pect. The leaders now came to the conclusion that the 
true difficulty lay in the "common course and condi- 
tion," in the contract with the Adventurers, and in the 
peculiar social and economic conditions which had re- 

The Problem of Subsistence 103 

suited from it. Having rejected the revised agreement 
with the merchants, they had considered themselves the 
more obligated to observe the original stipulations. The 
Pilgrims, the Adventurers who came with them, and 
the laborers and servants had worked together for the 
common interest; all food and all supplies had been held 
in common; all the proceeds of the trading became com- 
mon property. While the common stock by no means 
precluded the devotion of the entire labor of the little 
community to the raising of food, they had worked 
faithfully and conscientiously in the dressing of lumber 
and in the collection of furs, for the leaders were anxious 
to prove that under the first contract profit was possible. 
Then, in November, 1621, Cushman had arrived on the 
Fortune and had at last induced them to accept and sign 
the revised articles with the Adventurers, by which ac- 
cordingly the work of the two succeeding years had been 
regulated. They were now bound to devote the whole 
of their time to work for the common stock, with a 
definite implication that the collection of goods to return 
to England was on no account to be suspended. This 
the Pilgrims accepted seriously. Their diligence must 
have been great and certainly a good half of their labor, 
if not more, went into the "many other imployments" 
which Bradford mentions. 

The leaders now concluded that they could make 
profit for the Adventurers if supported from England, or 
that they could easily maintain themselves from the 
fruits of their labor in New England, if only the colony 
gave its entire time to the problem of sustenance. 1 

1 Bradford thus translated Seneca: 

"A greate part of libertie is a well governed belly and to be v_ 
patiente in all wants." 

104 The Pilgrims and their History 

They could spend six days a week in the employ of the 
merchants only at the grave risk of starvation. It was 
clear by this time that no regular supplies of food were 
to be looked for from England and they therefore deter- 
mined to abandon work in common for a new system. 
As much land was alloted to each man and his family as 
it was thought he could possibly till; each was to retain 
for his own use the entire proceeds, but was on the other 
hand to be responsible for his own sustenance. 1 A great 
gain was immediately visible in the spring of 1623 in the 
amount of labor expended as well as in its efficiency. 
Many energetic and capable men had been unwilling to 
work as hard as they could, since they had realized that 
their energy would merely relieve the indifferent and the 
lazy from the necessity of working at all. Others had 
therefore shirked and had done as little work as they 
could, with the confident knowledge that the common 
store of food would give them as much to eat as the 
others had, and that the leaders were far too conscien- 
tious and merciful to allow even the laggards to starve. 
Those who had not worked before now began under the 
new system to work. Those who already worked, worked 
more; those who had done well, worked better. 2 

Moreover, the wives and children had complained of 
labor in the fields; several of the men had demurred at 
allowing their wives and young children to work for 
Adventurers in London and servants in America, and for 
young unmarried men whom they felt well able to look 
after themselves. Now the women and children gladly 
worked in their own fields and gardens, and felt no 
indignity nor grudged the pains. Thus in all these ways 

1 Bradford, History, 162-164. 

2 Winslow, Good News from New England, in Arber, 575-581. 

The Problem of Subsistence 105 

an immense gain in the quantity and quality of labor 
devoted to the problem of subsistence was made. The 
whole colony in the year 1623 devoted its prime efforts 
to the harvest, with the very satisfactory and clear 
result that all doubts as to its future ability to maintain 
itself vanished. To anticipate a little, after 1623 no 
more considerable bands of new settlers arrived who 
brought no food. The newcomers formed also a smaller 
proportion of the colony than had the Fortune emi- 
grants and therefore were a less serious problem. The 
artificial drains on the food supply ceased at the very 
time when they might more easily have been met. The 
satisfaction of the people under the new system was 
immeasurably greater, despite the fact that they had not 
been given ownership of the land, but merely the right 
to use it for a limited time. 

Perplexities and fears continued still throughout the 
summer of 1623. After so great an amount of corn had 
been planted, drought set in for six weeks; during June 
and July practically no rain fell; and some of the colony 
began to despair, for much of the corn began to shrivel 
and wilt. There came news that a ship with supplies 
had been sent them from England but had been forced 
to turn back. Even the most courageous seem to have 
faltered a little during these trying weeks. Finally a day 
of fasting and humiliation was set. The Pilgrims as- 
sembled in the little meeting room on Fort Hill and 
prayed there continuously and fervently for eight or nine 
hours as the Scripture directed, " without ceasing." 
On the next morning gentle showers began and continued 
practically a fortnight. The harvest was saved. It is 
difficult for us to understand the theological significance 
they attached to this incident. It seemed to them lit- 

106 The Pilgrims and their History 

erally a miracle wrought by God in their favor to 
indicate His blessing upon their enterprise. Just as the 
drought itself, with the months of famine which had pre- 
ceded it, had signified the curse of God upon them, His 
desire to inform them that their enterprise did not meet 
His approval, so now elation, confidence in their correct 
reading of God's intention, came to them and never left 
them. From this moment they were convinced that God 
intended the enterprise to succeed. 

When therefore, toward the end of July, the Anne 
arrived, and some days after, the Little James, the new- 
comers found a colony alert, full of determination and 
hope, little regarding the ragged state of their European 
clothes and their lack of certain staples of diet, which 
two years before they had considered essential. The 
newcomers* were partly people sent by the Adventurers, 
partly members of the Leyden congregation who had 
come over to join their friends, and partly "particulars," 
who had paid their passage to the Adventurers, and who 
wished to settle somewhere in the vicinity and govern 
themselves. Now arose a burning question. The old 
settlers were very unwilling that the newcomers should 
be received on any basis which recognized their right 
to share in the new crop, for fear of a repetition of their 
fate in 162 1 and 1622. The newcomers saw the condition 
of the old settlers and their lack of European food, and 
were afraid that, if the supply, which they had brought 
to last them until the following spring, should be shared 
with the old settlers, they too would be reduced to clams 
and Indian corn in the near future. This seemed to them 
akin to starvation. There were those too, particularly 
the men sent out by the Adventurers, who had expected 
to find rude houses, woods, and Indians, but who had 

The Problem of Subsistence 107 

also looked forward to good food and plenty of it, with 
cattle, milk, meat, beer, and the other staples of English 
diet. They were not at all sure that they wished to 
remain in the colony on any terms, and some of them 
were so outspoken and disagreeable, that Bradford sent 
them back to England when the ship returned. 

After heated discussion, a settlement was at last 
reached. The old settlers should retain their crop entire, 
each man his own planting, should have no share in the 
new supply brought on the Anne but should be in no 
sense responsible for the maintenance of the newcomers. 
The newcomers were allowed to keep the entire supply 
of food they had brought, and gladly sacrificed any 
expectations they might otherwise have entertained of 
sharing in the supplies of the old settlers. They were 
allotted land to till, the produce of which they should 
keep. The "particulars," who came on their own account 
and who had had visions of building great houses in 
pleasant situations and of becoming suddenly rich from 
the fish and fur trade, speedily saw the error of their 
assumptions and came to terms with the colony. They 
received allotments of land within the limits of the 
town, agreed to acknowledge the authority of the 
Governor and the Assistants, and to obey all laws which 
had been made. They were freed from any obligation to 
collect furs or lumber in accordance with the agreement 
the Pilgrims were still observing with the merchants, but 
were accordingly debarred entirely from the right to 
trade with the Indians, so long as the contract with the 
merchants should endure. They were to pay a tax of one 
bushel of maize for every male more than sixteen years 
old. Eventually most of them became members of the 

108 The Pilgrims and their History 

The abundant harvest of that year put an end for all 
time to the fears of the ability of the colony to maintain 
itself, so long as its real strength and energy was given 
to the problem of subsistence. The credit for the solu- 
tion of the problems of the first years belongs undoubt- 
edly to William Bradford. As Brewster had been the 
outstanding figure of the English period, as Robinson 
had dominated the group at Ley den, so Bradford at 
once became the leader after the landing at Plymouth. 
While we must not forget the effective work of Carver, 
the undoubted influence of Brewster, or the able co- 
operation of Allerton, Winslow, and Standish, Brad- 
ford towers above them all as the true hero of the first 
years. The work of the Governor at that time must 
have been difficult and laborious in the extreme. He 
was foreman of a band of laborers and must allot them 
their tasks. He was an overseer, who must see that they 
performed them duly and well. He was storekeeper, 
receiving the proceeds of the work, doling out day by 
day supplies from the common stock. He was mag- 
istrate and policeman, rendering decisions, arresting 
offenders, punishing them himself. But beyond all 
question, his labors as foreman and overseer in the first 
three years took time, strength, tact, and patience to 
an extraordinary degree. 

One last fright they had late in the fall of 1623. The 
harvest had been reaped and piled in the storehouses. 
Gorges's ship was in the harbor on its way back to Eng- 
land from Virginia. The seamen were on shore roister- 
ing, as Bradford says, in one of the houses, and had 
built a great fire because of the cold weather. The 
chimney was not sufficiently well constructed to resist 
the heat; the thatch burst into flames; and three or 

The Problem of Subsistence 109 

four houses were burned. The house, in which the fire 
started, was next the storehouse in which were all the pro- 
visions and the goods for trading with the Indians. Some 
would have thrown them out into the street, but others 
feared theft. So a trusty company was placed within, 
and the rest of the Pilgrims extinguished the sparks as 
they fell. In the midst of the tumult, a voice was heard 
that bade them look about them, for all near them were 
not friends. Shortly after smoke was seen rising from 
a shed near the end of the storehouse. There they found 
a firebrand, a yard long, thrust well into the refuse. Once 
more, they felt the judgment of God was in their favor. 

Pory's Description of Plymouth in 1622. When this volume was 
about to go to press, appeared Mr. Champlin Burrage's John 
Pory's Lost Description of Plymouth Colony in the Earliest Days of 
the Pilgrim Fathers. . . . Boston and New York, 19 18, pp. xxiv + 
65. Edition limited to 365 numbered copies. Pory's brief letter 
(pp. 35-44) is by no means our earliest information about Plym- 
outh, as Mr. Burrage seems to imply in his preface, for Mourt's 
Relation was written in 162 1 and was published in London in 1622, 
but it is the first account by an outsider and was written in Jan. 
and Feb. 1622-23 about a visit in the previous June or July. The 
only interesting fact about it is Pory's omission of any information 
about the inhabitants or the conditions of life. True, we learn that 
they are a virtuous people, have built a strong stockade and fort, 
and are at peace with the Indians. But not a suggestion of their 
Separatism, of their straits for food, of their active dislike for the 
diet of fish, shellfish, game, and berries about which Pory discourses 
so volubly. He repeats Bradford's boast that the climate was so 
healthful that none had died for a whole year. This was the literal 
truth but concealed the fearful mortality of the first six months. 
Either they were able to hide from him the real condition of the 
colony as Bradford has described it or they persuaded him he 
could render them very material assistance by silence. Pory's 
letter to Bradford (History, 153-154) makes us practically certain 
that this letter tells not what he saw at Plymouth but what he and 
they judged it expedient should be believed in England. 



In the same year in which the problem of subsistence 
was so happily solved, another was disposed of, to bother 
them no more, the problem of defence. No phase of the 
adventure had so appalled the congregation of Robin- 
son at its meetings in the large house at Leyden as the 
wilderness and its savage inhabitants. All the imagina- 
tive vagaries of Vespucius and the Spanish tales of 
Aztec and Peruvian barbarism came to them magnified 
and distorted in books about America which the credu- 
lous in sixteenth century Europe eagerly devoured. They 
saw illimitable forests and splendid fields, filled with 
furious hordes of savages, whom they seem to have sup- 
posed a sort of combination of all the monstrosities in 
the travelogues of medieval Munchausens. To be sure 
from fishermen and explorers who had actually been in 
America far less terrifying tales came to them. The 
congregation at Leyden was divided as to which should 
be credited, and even those who had scouted wild stories 
and had in consequence departed for America had not 
been without misgivings. As they stood on the deck of 
the Mayflower and inspected the quiet shores of Cape 
Cod, they shuddered as they thought of the possibilities. 
Bradford voiced this fear in no uncertain tones. Such 
fears were not unnatural in honest yeomen and peasants 
who had spent their lives behind the plow, loom, or 
printing press, who had never smelt powder fired in 
earnest, or seen beasts wilder than the North country 

Standish and the Problem of Defence in 

cattle, nor life more dangerous than ruminative agricul- 
ture in the fens of the Trent, or manufacturing in peace- 
ful Leyden. Wars and the rumors of wars in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries had stalked about, 
knocking their heads upon the clouds, but real danger 
and adventure had passed the Pilgrims by. 

Their apprehensions had found expression in an 
armament disproportionate to their means. They seem 
to have brought sufficient equipment for eighteen or 
twenty men, that is, for fully one-third of all the male 
passengers: quilted cotton coats for armor (the thickets 
of Cape Cod could scarcely have torn steel breastplates), 
several cannon, muskets of the older pattern, fired with 
lighted tow, and some snaphances, exploded by a flint 
which struck a spark in a pan of powder, all far more 
modern pieces than those commonly used in Europe for 
half a century. They had also secured the services of a 
professional soldier, an item of expense by no means 
negligible in their case. To talk thus about arms and 
the problem of defense for a little community of one 
hundred people, who found to oppose them Indian tribes 
of no more than fifty or sixty men, seems an exaggeration 
of language. We shall find warlike expeditions of six 
men, conspiracies threatening the life of the colony ex- 
tinguished by eight men, battles fought, one might say, 
by Standish alone, like the first encounter. But weak 
as the Indians were, they were still sufficiently numerous 
to be a matter of concern to the Pilgrims. We must not 
forget that, after the " general sickness" of the winter 
of 1620-21, the little colony only mustered twenty-one 
men and six boys, and, even after the coming of the 
Fortune numbered not more than fifty, while even in 
1630 the male population able to bear arms scarcely 

ii2 The Pilgrims and their History 

exceeded one hundred and fifty. If we think less of 
figures than of facts, less of the men concerned and 
more of the issues at stake, less of the safety of a single 
colony and more of the persistence of a certain trend of 
thought and of a certain example, we shall perhaps at- 
tain that measure of interest, in these first details with 
the Indians, which the Pilgrims themselves experienced. 1 
The joyful fact was soon clear to them that they were 
in no danger of being scalped the moment they set 
foot on shore. The Indians seen in the first explorations 
ran with such celerity that the Pilgrims scarce caught 
sight of them. The First Encounter passed off with- 
out real danger, so that they were much emboldened 
and resolved in the future to show a stiff front. As the 
weeks passed, they concluded that the Indians of the 
vicinity really were peaceably disposed. Again and 
again two or three men had been alone in the woods or 
fields, had seen Indians sometimes nearby, sometimes 
at a distance, but had not been molested. The coming 
of Samoset and Squanto showed that there were many 
Indians who had seen white men before, who had re- 
ceived kind treatment, and were well-disposed. They 
learned also of others, like the Nausets, from whom 
Captain Hunt had kidnapped several men and carried 
them to England, and who were in consequence hostile 
to all white men. The traders and fishermen, French 
and English, who had voyaged up and down the coast 

1 The contemporary accounts written in the first four years deal 
at inordinate length with the Indians, their manners and customs, 
and with the events related in this chapter. The reader will find 
them conveniently reprinted in Arber's The Pilgrim Fathers. An 
older edition is Young's Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. There 
have been various special reprints for bibliophiles. 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 113 

for some decades, had thus made themselves known, 
but in the main their legacy to the Pilgrims was one 
of friendship and reliance upon the white man's good 

Indeed, during the first two years the Pilgrims seem 
to have been in no danger whatever from Indian hos- 
tility. The real danger lay in the probability that the 
Indians would consume their entire supplies of food. 
Far from it proving true that the Indians preferred 
roasted collops of human flesh, as the Pilgrims had be- 
lieved in Holland, their liking for beer, strong water, 
biscuits, butter, and such other things as the Pilgrims 
could ill afford to dispense in large quantities, made 
their friendship more burdensome and really more dan- 
gerous to the immediate future of the colony than their 
enmity would have been. One village, some fifteen 
miles from Plymouth, in particular annoyed them by 
the continual resort of its population to Plymouth for 
food, lodging, and diversion. From fifty to one hundred 
Indians, male and female, might appear at any moment 
without warning and expect to be fed for two or three 

From Squanto, Hobomok, and others, the Pilgrims 
soon learned the main facts about the Indians in New 
England. The Confederacy to which the Plymouth 
Indians had belonged was the Pokanoket, of which 
Massasoit was sachem, with residence at Sowams (now 
Warren) on Narragansett Bay. It included the small 
tribes of southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Rhode 
Island, numbered perhaps three thousand warriors 
before the plague of 16 17, and only about three hundred 
after the visitation. The Patuxets at Plymouth had 
entirely disappeared in the plague and Massasoit's own 

ii4 The Pilgrims and their History 

tribe now numbered only about sixty warriors. To 
the north of them, around Weymouth, Boston, and 
Newton, was the Massachusetts Confederacy, composed 
of a considerable number of small tribes, which had 
been so decimated by the plague that scarcely one hun- 
dred warriors were left and its allegiance had been trans- 
ferred to Massasoit. Further north in northeastern 
Massachusetts, southern New Hampshire, and the 
southern corner of Maine were the Pawtuckets, who 
had also been so decimated by the plague as practically 
to disappear from history by 1620. Central Massachu- 
setts contained a few scattered and disorganized tribes, 
vassals of the Mohawks, while western Massachusetts, 
the whole of Vermont, and northern New Hampshire 
were vacant, having been depopulated in all probability 
by the Mohawks to furnish a hunting preserve. 

From Narragansett Bay along Long Island Sound to 
the Hudson and as far north as the present boundary of 
Massachusetts was the most densely populated Indian 
district north of Mexico. Here were at least two power- 
ful Confederacies, numerous, capable, and untouched by 
the plague — the Pequod Confederacy around the Con- 
necticut River and the Narragansetts to the east of 
them. The total Indian population of New England in 
1620 did not exceed fifty thousand and was perhaps not 
greater than twenty-five thousand, the great majority 
being in these two Confederacies and therefore in a 
district considerably removed from Plymouth. The 
Pilgrims did not know at this time the general distribu- 
tion of Indians in the United States or realize that the 
powerful tribes of New England, rumors of whose 
prowess alarmed them, were after all weak, undeveloped, 
negligible, compared to the Iroquois nations, the Chero- 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 115 

kees, and the Creeks. In truth, the Indians of the 
Atlantic coast were weak in numbers, inferior in develop- 
ment, backward in civilization compared to the Indian 
tribes of the interior. The Pilgrims stumbled upon a 
location where the aborigines were singularly weak, 
disorganized, and inferior in quality even for the Indians 
of the coast. Thanks to this fact and to the great plague 
of 161 7, the question of defense was simplified. 

Mere protection however would scarcely suffice. The 
Pilgrims saw at once that friendly relations with the 
Indians alone could create that profitable and con- 
tinuous trade upon which such expectations had been 
built. Reasons of conscience also operated powerfully. 
They felt, as few Europeans did, the necessity of treating 
the Indian in accordance with the same ethical standard 
which they applied to each other. They attempted a 
scrupulous honesty and fairness which certainly exceeded 
the boasted ethics of Roger Williams and William Penn, 
both of whom in conspicuous instances over-reached the 
Indians in ways which most of us today would scarcely 
consider good business ethics. The Pilgrims even went 
so far as to hunt out and reimburse, the owner of a kettle 
of corn, which they took on one of their first expeditions 
along Cape Cod. 

The Indian occupancy of Plymouth it was not neces- 
sary for them to extinguish by purchase or payments. 
Squanto was the only survivor and he lived with them 
until his death, well satisfied with the situation. Nor so 
far as we know did the other Indians subsequently raise 
claims. Many years later the extension of Plymouth 
beyond the limits of the original Patuxet occupancy did 
produce friction with Philip. The theoretical question of 
the justification of depriving the Indians permanently of 

n6 The Pilgrims and their History 

their land caused the Pilgrims some considerable thought, 
but they answered it as nearly all Europeans have. They 
saw how slight was the attachment of the Indian to any 
particular piece of land; they sensed his lack of the con- 
ception of ownership; they realized that in the strictest 
sense no Indian ever used the land or developed its 
possibilities. They concluded that God had not brought 
them there without purpose, and that the conversion of 
the Indians would be more than ample compensation for 
the cession to them of a part of a domain too vast for the 
Indians to occupy. As Cushman wrote, the Indians "do 
but run over the grass as do also the foxes and wild 
beasts. They are not industrious, neither have they art, 
science, skill or faculty to use either the land or the com- 
modities of it." 1 

The treaty, if such it can be called, made with Massa- 
soit in March, 162 1, was a simple reciprocal agreement of 
mutual aid and friendship. His people were not to hurt 
the Pilgrims nor would they injure his tribe. If any 
made war upon him unjustly (the Pilgrims were careful 
to specify the injustice of the war) they would help him. 
"If any did war against us" (and in this case Winslow 
left out unjustly) "he should aid us." They would each 
leave their arms behind when they approached the 
other's settlements. Thefts of tools or of food should be 
promptly restored and compensated. Offenders on either 
side were to be delivered up and they promised him that 
King James would esteem him as a friend and ally, all of 
which seemed to impress Massasoit. In the following 

1 R. Cfushman]. Reasons and Considerations touching the Law- 
fulness of Removing out of England into the Parts of America (1622). 
See also, "General Considerations for Planting New England" in 
Young's Chronicles of Massachusetts Bay, 275-276. 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 117 

June or July, Winslow, Hopkins, and Squanto were sent 
on an embassy to Massasoit, partly as a visit of friendship 
to confirm and strengthen the agreement of March, 
partly because the Pilgrims were exceedingly anxious to 
see for themselves the size, location, and condition of 
Massasoit's tribe and of the country beyond Plymouth. 
Presents for the " Imperial Goveror," as Cushman 
called him, they carried, — a trooper's red cotton coat 
which they trimmed with lace, a copper chain and some 
other small things. This expedition to visit an unknown 
and questionable friend required perhaps more courage 
on the part of these men, who were not so many years 
before simple farmers and artisans, than we are inclined 
to credit. 

Friendly treatment they everywhere met. Indeed the 
courtesy of the Indians was embarrassing. Some insisted 
upon carrying them across brooks, were anxious to carry 
their guns, accouterments, clothing, and the like, which 
the Pilgrims were afraid to entrust to them for fear they 
should carry them too far. After Massasoit had been 
informed of their coming and had returned to his chief 
abode, he welcomed them after the Indian ceremony, re- 
ceived the message, put on the coat and chain, and was 
exceedingly pleased in his simple way at the treatment. 
He then made a speech, of which Winslow tells us some- 
thing, much of which seemed to consist of the statement 
that he was chief of such and such a place. Was not the 
town and the people his? Whereupon the whole assem- 
bly answered in unison that that was true, they were his. 
Thus he continued through the list of places of which he 
owned authority, and he repeated this series of state- 
ments some thirty or forty times, so that Winslow re- 
marks, "As it was delightful, it was tedious unto us." 

n8 The Pilgrims and their History 

They then smoked together and Massasoit wondered that 
King James should be able to live without a wife, the 
poor queen having died the year previous. It grew late, 
the hungry Pilgrims longed for a substantial evening meal 
after their day's tramping and the long ceremony and 
speeches, but Massasoit offered them nothing, the reason, 
as they subsequently learned, being that there was 
nothing in the village to eat. He offered them however a 
share of his bed, a sort of framework about a foot ele- 
vated from the ground, upon which boards had been 
laid, with a mat of rushes upon them. He and his wife 
disposed themselves at one end and offered the Pilgrims 
the other. Two more Indians presently came and 
squeezed upon the framework, "so that we were worse 
weary of our lodging than of our journey." 

Apparently no breakfast was served. At length, about 
one o'clock, Massasoit appeared with two fish he had 
shot in the stream with arrows. These were boiled and 
served, but, inasmuch as forty Indians beside the Pil- 
grims partook of this bountiful feast, their hunger was 
scarce assuaged. Massasoit, who seems to have enjoyed 
his own entertainment, was importunate and urged the 
Pilgrims to remain several days. But they determined to 
return to Plymouth, for the hardness and straightness of 
Massasoit's bed, the yelling and howling of the savages, 
the lice, fleas, and mosquitoes, made them doubt their 
ability to sleep while they remained. They were already 
so weak from lack of food and sleep, that they were 
afraid if they tarried longer, they would not have strength 
to reach Plymouth. They thus took their leave, to 
Massasoit's grief and surprise, and some miles away were 
entertained by other Indians with fish, a handful of meal, 
and some tobacco. At length, that night, they reached a 

Standish and the Problem of Defense 119 

river, where, despairing of anything to eat, they sent 
Hobomok ahead to beg Bradford to send out food to 
meet them. The Indians with them, however, caught a 
goodly store of fish that night, so that they had now 
plenty to eat, and thus, a day or two later, came back to 
Plymouth safe, but wet, weary, and footsore. This 
experience has been told at greater length partly because 
Winslow's account of it is so full, and partly because it is 
entirely typical of the Pilgrims' many experiences with 
these Indians. 

In August, 162 1, a tale was brought to Plymouth 
that one Corbitant, one of Massasoit's sub-chiefs, was 
plotting against him with the Narragansetts. Hobomok 
and Squanto were sent to find out the truth and word 
was presently brought back, that they had been captured 
by Corbitant, who intended to kill them both, for, as he 
told the Indians, if Squanto were dead, "the English 
had lost their tongue." Hobomok, who brought the 
word, told of breaking away from the circle of Indians 
and of seeing Squanto in their hands with Corbitant 
holding a knife to his heart. Upon this news the Pil- 
grims without hesitation determined to save Squanto 
if they might, and to avenge him if he were dead. They 
well realized that it would never do to allow the Indians 
to suppose for a moment that they were intimidated. 
They thus marched, ten men in all, on a rainy day, and, 
reaching Corbitant's little town, surrounded his house. 
The savages were exceedingly frightened and rushed 
around much distraught. Corbitant however was not 
there, Squanto was safe; and, taking him with them, 
they fired a couple of volleys to terrify the inhabitants 
and returned to Plymouth. In September, another 
voyage of exploration and intimidation was undertaken 

120 The Pilgrims and their History 

along Massachusetts Bay to the Massachusetts Indians 
whom they found demoralized and frightened. With 
some little difficulty, they reassured them and succeeded 
in exchanging a number of trinkets for a good many 
score of beaver skins. Squanto, Indian-like, wished to 
steal the clothes from the Indians' backs, a proposal 
indignantly rejected by Standish. But the Indians did 
not hesitate to sell their clothes, and the Pilgrims owned 
that the women, who decorated their bare bodies with 
twigs and leaves, were really more modest in their car- 
riage than a good many Englishwomen they had known. 
Thus passed without danger or other incident the year 

Early in 1622 a rattlesnake skin stuffed with arrows 
was brought into Plymouth by a messenger from Canoni- 
cus, chief of the Narragansetts, which Squanto ex- 
plained was a challenge to war. After some debate, 
Bradford stuffed the skin with powder and bullets and 
sent it back by the messenger. The Indians seem to 
have been afraid of it and to have passed it around from 
hand to hand, until it was finally returned to Plymouth 
unbroken. Nothing came of it, but the Pilgrims felt it 
wise to erect pallisades around the little village. They 
began at the harbor and built a good sized stockade 
of dressed timber along the north side of the town, and 
thence along the north side of Fort Hill to the town 
brook, a distance in all of half a mile. The town brook 
ran through a rather steep and deep ravine and itself 
afforded natural protection on one side. There were in 
the pallisade four flanking bastions from which musket 
fire could rake the whole front. In these were the gates. 
Standish also arranged the fifty men now at Plymouth 
into four companies, each with an officer, put them 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 12 1 

regularly through certain evolutions, taught them to 
volley fire, and gave such additional instruction as there 
was time for. One squad was detailed as a fire battalion 
to put out fires should the Indians attempt that method 
of attack. During the spring further alarms of the 
hostility of Massasoit and of the Massachusetts Con- 
federacy made them rather thankful for their stockade, 
even though the disquieting rumors proved to be un- 

In June they began building a fort, which they did 
not however succeed in finishing, perhaps because the 
remainder of the year passed quietly and uneventfully, 
except for the death of Squanto from sickness on an 
expedition to collect grain. His death proved a real 
loss despite his faults, of which they had for some time 
been aware. He would go to an Indian and tell him 
that the Pilgrims intended to kill him but that he could 
control the Pilgrims, and, if sufficiently propitiated, 
would save the man's life. He also told them that the 
Pilgrims kept the plague buried in the storehouse, which 
at their pleasure they might loose upon the Indians and 
destroy them. No doubt a certain profit accrued to 
him from these transactions and perhaps a certain fric- 
tion between the Pilgrims and the Indians resulted, but 
unquestionably his assistance more than outweighed 
these disadvantages. 1 

In 1623 the only danger which the Pilgrims ever ex- 
perienced occurred. A conspiracy, if we may dignify 
it by so large a name, seems to have been hatched be- 
tween a number of the petty chiefs of the district and 
was intended to unite the Indians between Boston and 

1 What is known about Squanto had been brought together by 
C. F. Adams in Three Episodes of Massachusetts History, 23-44. 

122 The Pilgrims and their History 

Narragansett Bay. The object was nothing short of the 
extermination of all the English, and as to the reality 
of the conspiracy there is perhaps no doubt. Whether 
the Indians could have executed it may well be queried. 
The cause of the trouble lay in the unfair treatment of 
the Indians by Weston's men at Weymouth. They stole 
food and skins from them, put them in the stocks, 
whipped them, — whipping the Indians always deemed 
a most degrading and extreme punishment. This in 
the days of their plenty and arrogance. As the winter 
had progressed and the food had become scarce, they 
had been glad to work for the Indians, carrying water 
and wood, tasks considered by the Indians unworthy 
of a man and fit only for women. This led the fiercer 
to despise them, so that they would come boldly into 
the camp, take their food out of the pot, and eat it be- 
fore their faces. They stole the Englishmen's clothes, 
sometimes coming at night and snatching the blankets 
off of them, leaving them shivering on the ground. Such 
ill treatment of the Indians on the one hand, and such 
craven cowardice on the other provided the fuel from 
which this plot sprang. 

Knowledge of it came to the Pilgrims from Massasoit. 
Standish indeed had noticed the insolence of the Indians 
as early as March, 1623, when they expected no par- 
ticular treachery and certainly no concerted action. 
A chief named Wituwamat, one of the few remaining 
Massachusetts Indians and a "notable insulting villain ,, 
according to Winslow, boasted before Standish of his 
own valor, of the number of English and French he had 
slain, and of their weakness, because "as he said, they 
died crying making sour faces more like children than 
men." He then presented a dagger to a chief in Stan- 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 123 

dish's presence, and delivered a long speech most of which 
Standish did not understand. His behavior however 
made its substance quite clear. Another savage seems 
to have been affected by this display and undertook to 
kill Standish that night, a fact the latter seems to have 
learned. There was nothing to do but to keep awake and 
Standish accordingly walked all night to and fro in 
front of the fire, the Indian asking continually why he 
did not sleep and Standish as regularly replying that 
he knew not why. Such incidents however the Pilgrims 
judged it wise not to deem serious. 

The middle of the month of March word was brought 
to Plymouth that Massasoit was dangerously ill and 
Bradford detailed Winslow with one John Hampden, 
" Gentleman of London," who was wintering at Plym- 
outh, to make a visit of condolence and sympathy. 1 
The news reached them on their journey that Massasoit 
was already dead, and when the}' reached his village 
they learned that he was so ill that he was not expected 
to live. The wigwam was crammed with people, in the 
midst of which were the medicine men making a tre- 
mendous noise, while six or eight women were rubbing 
Massasoit diligently "to keep the heat in him." With 
some ado Winslow succeeded in putting an end to this 
treatment and managed to administer some of the 
simple but powerful drugs which he had brought with 

^pon the identification of this "gentleman" with the John 
Hampden, one Joseph Crowell, a shopkeeper at Plymouth, based 
a historical drama in five acts, written during the Revolution. 
Pocahontas appears as the daughter of Massasoit and with her 
Hampden falls in love. The Epilogue is delivered by Elder Brews- 
ter who prophetically sees new States arise and George Washington 
at their head "a shining Chief." Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc, 2nd 
Series, III, 431, note. 

124 The Pilgrims and their History 

him. Massasoit seems to have been suffering largely 
from acute indigestion and auto-intoxication, induced 
by too liberal eating. He was none the less suffering 
great pain and would perhaps have died if Winslow's 
simple ministrations had not been effective. The prompt- 
itude of his recovery produced a marvelous impression 
of the Pilgrims' power and skill upon Massasoit and 
upon his tribe and led him to reveal to Hobomok, be- 
fore the Pilgrims left, the expected conspiracy. 

On the twenty-third of March, the annual "court 
day," the Pilgrims considered the course to be taken 
to thwart it and finally delegated authority to Bradford, 
Allerton, and Standish to deal with it as they thought 
best. Standish was deputed eventually to rescue the 
Weymouth colony. He took with him eight men, de- 
clining a larger company on the score that more would 
arouse suspicion and precipitate the execution of the 
conspiracy before he could capture the leaders or warn 
Weston's men. The Pilgrims left behind set to work 
to complete the unfinished fort. Toward the end of 
March then Standish appeared at W T eymouth, found the 
settlement unguarded, and broke the news to them of 
their danger. The Indians soon learned of his arrival and 
came in to see him. One bold fellow told Hobomok that 
he knew Standish had come to kill him and the other 
Indians. " Tell him we know it, but fear him not, neither 
will we shun him, but let him begin when he dare; he 
shall not take us unawares." Several of them went so 
far as to sharpen their knives before him and to use 
insulting gestures and speeches. The chief, who had 
already dared Standish on a previous occasion, was 
present and bragged of the excellence of his knife. He 
said he had a better at home with which he had killed 

Standish and the Problem of Defence 125 

both French and English. By and by it should eat 
and not speak. The ring leader, who was a tall, stalwart 
Indian, told Standish that, though he was a great cap- 
tain, he was none the less a little man, while he, on the 
contrary, though not a chief, was a man of great strength 
and courage. Standish seems with great difficulty to 
have retained his temper and bided his time. 

The next day he managed to draw these two, with 
two of their allies into a house, and, with three of his 
own men, went in after them and locked the door. He 
himself then grappled with the tall Indian, who had 
jested at his small stature, and presently killed him with 
his own knife. The other Indians were eventually dis- 
patched, though after a very bloody battle, in which 
they received so many wounds that the Pilgrims won- 
dered they could last so long. Hobomok, who stood 
by as a spectator, observed when it was over: "yesterday 
Pecksuot bragging of his own strength and stature, said, 
'Though you were a great captain, yet you were but a 
little man.' But today I see you are big enough to lay 
him on the ground." The ringleaders being dead, the 
Pilgrims now sought to capture or kill as many more as 
possible. One young Indian Standish hanged and at least 
two or three others were killed. The next day Standish 
and his men saw a file of Indians in the distance, and a 
skirmish took place, after which the Indians fled. This 
was the end of the conspiracy, the other chiefs being 
too frightened to move. The majority of Weston's 
men Standish now provisioned and sent off to England 
in the Swan. He himself returned to Plymouth in 
safety and brought with him the head of Wituwamat, 
which was long exposed on a spike on top of the fort. 

There can be no doubt that if Bradford was the great 

126 The Pilgrims and their History 

figure in civil affairs, Standish was the dominant in- 
fluence in dealings with the Indians. Winslow to be sure 
did much, but Standish obtained a better knowledge of 
the Indian dialects and was in addition a good deal more 
active and resourceful man. The romanticists and poets 
have dealt hardly with him, almost to the undoing of his 
place in history. 1 He was perhaps no very dramatic or 
romantic figure, for he was short, rather plump and 
sturdy, and a little too old for poetic purposes. He was 
admirably well placed however in the colony, and the 
more one studies Pilgrim annals the larger he bulks, the 
greater his ability seems and the more important his 
services. His high personal courage, his resourcefulness, 
his great physical endurance, his fiery temper, all made 
him the leader needed to complement the more peaceful 
and contemplative Bradford. 

1 In justice to Standish and his descendants and without dis- 
paragement to Alden and his, it should be said that the stories 
commonly connected with them are based upon tradition rather 
than upon evidence and have been rejected as unfounded by all 
serious students of Pilgrim history, including the historian of the 
Alden family. Augustus E. Alden, in Pilgrim Alden, Boston, 1902, 
has brought together the available material and has skilfully 
separated the evidence from tradition. He cannot trace the in- 
cident of Priscilla, John Alden, and the proposal of marriage in 
Standish's name, upon which Longfellow's poem is based, beyond 
Timothy Alden's Collection of American Epitaphs and Inscriptions, 
published in 181 2-14. See the uncompromising remarks of 
Goodwin in his Pilgrim Republic, 566. 



The Pilgrims had been anxious to settle far enough 
away from existing or prospective colonies to avoid the 
constant scrutiny of prying eyes and pricking ears. Their 
liberty to practice a form of Church Government, not 
regarded with favor either in England or in Holland, or 
even by their own business associates, had been a 
significant motive or emigration and now made essential 
at least circumspection, forbearance, and hospitality in 
dealing with all strangers and visitors. If possible they 
preferred to avoid inspection, but they dared not treat 
visitors so as to suggest that there was anything to 
conceal. They felt that they must be all things to all 
men, though they hardly anticipated that the first tq< 
give them real concern would be the very man who had 
been instrumental in financing the enterprise, Weston 
himself. During the first year there seem to have been 
no visitors at Plymouth and no danger of reports un- 
favorable to them other than those told by the crews of 
the Mayflower and the Fortune. In the second year, as 
already related, there came a colony, financed by Weston 
himself, sixty "lusty" men but an "unruly company," 
lacking in discipline, in energy, in practical ability, and 
in good sense, who were saved from a very real tragedy in 
1623 by the Pilgrims. Presently, after his men were well 
on their way back to England, appeared Weston, who 
came back from England in a fishing ship disguised as a 
blacksmith. He sought to borrow from the Pilgrims 


128 The Pilgrims and their History 

enough to fit himself out once more in an endeavor to 
recoup his losses, and the leaders finally allowed him one 
hundred beaver skins, which they lent him secretly, for 
fear that the majority would have prevented the loan had 
they known of it. With this, he fitted out a small ship 
and began once more to trade, but promptly repaid them 
in ill coin by divulging to some unfriendly to them the 
fact, that, in letting him have the beaver secretly, they 
had given him a great handle against them, with which 
at any time he might set the colony by the ears. He 
seems also to have sent back to England, in one way or 
another, unfavorable and slanderous reports, which did 
not tend to increase the harmony among the Adven- 

In June, 1623, came the first sign of official interference 
which the Pilgrims had had. A Captain West appeared 
at Plymouth with a commission as Admiral of New Eng- 
land from the Council of New England, with jurisdiction 
over all fishing and trading in those waters. The impulse 
which led to his appointment was thrifty. A very large 
fleet of fishing vessels visited the Grand Banks and the 
coast of Maine from England, France, and Holland every 
year, and it was thought that West might exact a con- 
siderable sum of each for a license to fish and trade. 
These expectations failed to materialize, for the fishermen 
with great unanimity declined to pay a farthing, and were 
too numerous and too resolute for one man with a small 
ship to coerce. In September, 1623, arrived Robert 
Gorges with a colony, intending to begin a plantation at 
Weymouth, already deserted by Weston. He brought a 
commission as Governor of New England, with a council 
composed of West, the Admiral, the Governor of Plym- 
outh, and one or two other men. The commission 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 129 

contained broad powers and indefinite phrases, but the 
most done toward executing it seems to have been the 
presentation of a copy to Bradford. The Pilgrims re- 
ceived him with extreme courtesy and hospitality. One 
purpose of his coming, he told them, was to arrest 
Weston for the disorderly conduct of his colony and for 
his subsequent behavior. When presently Weston ap- 
peared, he demanded an answer to the charges, which 
Weston minimized as much as possible. Bradford and 
the leaders were somewhat in doubt whether to allow 
Gorges to arrest Weston or not. To assist him was to 
recognize his commission as superior to their patent, a 
fact they were not anxious to admit openly or tacitly. 
To oppose him was dangerous. To assist Weston was to 
rescue an ungrateful rascal. Eventually they did in one 
way or another diplomatically prevent the arrest of 
Weston, for all of which Weston gave them small thanks, 
claiming that, though they were but young justices, yet 
they were good beggars. 

Georges sailed away and considerably later sent a 
warrant to Plymouth for the arrest of Weston, raising 
thus the same question of the validity of his authority. 
Bradford, after some consideration, took exception to 
the warrant as "not legal nor sufficient, " and indicated 
what eventually turned out to be vastly more to the 
point, that the arrest of Weston at this time would 
throw his men on Gorges' hands and cost him considera- 
ble money and trouble. Gorges however seems to have 
realized the legal issue, which caused the Pilgrims to 
hesitate, and sent an exceedingly formal warrant, signed 
and sealed, with strict orders to execute it at their peril. 
They judged it best to offer no further opposition, and 
accordingly executed it, only to prove the truth of their 

130 The Pilgrims and their History 

former contention, that Gorges had created more 
difficulties than he had solved. They were soon relieved 
however of real apprehensions for their independence, 
because Gorges concluded after a little experience that 
the country did not answer his expectations. He re- 
turned to England and the people he had brought with 
him for the most part either went back to England or to 
Virginia. One, a Mr. Morrell, a minister, came to 
Plymouth and stayed there for about a year, quietly and 
circumspectly. Just before he left, he confided to Brad- 
ford that a right of superintendence over the Churches 
of New England had been conferred upon him by the 
Council, which he had judged it wise not to use. Thus 
did their hospitable conduct deliver them from their 
first peril. 

Meanwhile there had arrived in July, 1623, on the 
Anne, several colonists, who had paid their own expenses, 
among whom were two men who subsequently played 
considerable part in New England annals. The leader of 
these "particulars" was John Oldham, who became 
later a man of some importance at Boston, who devel- 
oped an extensive trade with the Indians of Rhode Island 
and Connecticut, and whose murder in 1636 led by a 
pretty definite chain of causation to the fierce Pequot 
war. Another was Roger Conant who became subse- 
quently the founder of Salem. They were no sooner on 
shore than they began to stir up trouble among the less 
capable in the colony and to sow disagreement among 
those who were not members of the Pilgrim Church. 
The next spring there landed from the Charity, one 
Master John Lyford, with his wife and four children. 
He was a Puritan* minister, had held a benefice in the 
Established Church, had been ordained by a bishop, and 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 131 

was now sent out by the Adventurers with the hope that 
they might thus provide the Pilgrims with more suitable 
religious instruction than Brewster's. Some students of 
Pilgrim history have seen in his coming evidence of a 
deep laid conspiracy to destroy the colony. There is no 
direct evidence of any such intention, although it is 
clear enough that after he had been in Plymouth a little 
while, he began an intrigue with Oldham, Conant, 
Billington, and other discontented spirits, to change 
conditions somewhat more to their own liking. 

He was at first however exceedingly suave and deferen- 
tial, and so admired the dispositions the Pilgrims had 
made, so lauded their diligence and industry, that they 
concluded him to be a man of discretion and judgment. 
He went indeed so far that Bradford feels it necessary 
to assure us that many were willing to witness to his 
desire to have kissed their hands, a sign of deference in 
those days due only to royalty and feudal lords. They 
alloted him as residence one of the houses in the town, 
made him a considerable allowance of food from the 
common store, and invited him to sit in the Governor's 
Council with the Assistants. When after some little 
time he came forward voluntarily and made a profession 
of faith which seemed acceptable to them, they received 
him into the Church very joyfully, firm in the belief that 
his protestations of his desire to abandon "his former 
disorderly walking" were sincere. John Oldham also 
came forward and voluntarily repented of his evil ways, 
professing that the arrival of the Charity had proved to 
him the falsity of his belief, that the Adventurers in 
England were about to desert the colony, and confessing 
that he had written a good deal to England about them 
which was untrue. 

132 The Pilgrims and their History 

This harmony, however, lasted but a short time, for 
presently Lyford and Oldham began to hold private 
meetings of the weaker members, where a good deal was 
said against the Government as administered by Brad- 
ford, and the form and affairs of the Church. They in- 
sinuated that they had between them sufficient influence 
with the Adventurers at home to secure a change in both 
Government and Church. They were observed to write 
voluminous letters and to whisper and laugh with each 
other about them, so that when the Charity finally sailed 
Bradford judged it expedient to leave with the ship, 
towing the shallop behind in which to return. The ship's 
captain put into his hands, after sailing, the letters given 
to him by Lyford and Oldham. They contained, as had 
been expected, a type of statement which would certainly 
not redound to the credit of the Pilgrims in England 
and which, if brought to the attention of the Privy 
Council, might have led to an investigation with dis- 
astrous results. Copies were taken of some of the letters, 
the originals of the more important were kept, and copies 
of these sent on. They found among other things that 
one of the pair, probably on the voyage over, had not 
been above purloining letters addressed to them, which 
stated confidential facts they were very sorry to have 

When Bradford returned in the shallop, the plotters 
were somewhat dismayed, but, hearing nothing for some 
weeks, recovered their boldness. Bradford and the 
leaders judged it best to give them all the opportunity 
they wished, for one letter contained phrases which led 
them to suppose that Lyford and Oldham intended to 
attempt something resembling a revolution in the colony. 
To this color was lent by the conduct of Oldham. When 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 133 

presently he was ordered by Standish to take his turn 
at the watch on the pallisades, he refused to go, called 
Standish a rascal, and drew a knife. Bradford undertook 
to restore order, whereupon Oldham "ramped more like 
a furious beast than a man and calld them all treatours 
and rebells and other such f oule language as I am ashamed 
to remember." They promptly confined him for some 
time, censured him, and let him go. But when Lyford 
presently instituted on Sunday a religious meeting at- 
tended by the various malcontents, the Pilgrims judged 
that the time had come to call him to account. Bradford 
accordingly summoned a general court of the colony, 
which was naturally attended out of curiosity by every 
soul in Plymouth. Lyford and Oldham were charged 
with their letters and intentions and stoutly denied 
everything. Bradford then produced and read some of 
the letters, which seemed somewhat to confuse them. 

Oldham now played their trump card and "caled upon 
the people, saying My maisters wher is your harts? Now 
shew your courage; you have oft complained to me so 
and so, now is the time, if you will doe any thing, I will 
stand by you." He was of course counting upon the 
democratic constitution of Plymouth, where the majority 
vote of the people prevailed, and he evidently expected 
that the majority would swing to his side. Once assured 
of a majority vote, his own election as Governor would 
have been a simple matter. So would have been the 
appointment of Lyford as minister and any change in the 
laws displeasing to them. Much to their discomforture 
not a man stood by them. Bradford, seeing that the > 
victory was his, proceeded to make the most of it, but 
with a restraint and moderation admirable in contrast 
with the intemperate language of Oldham and Lyford. 

134 The Pilgrims and their History 

He acknowledged calmly the opening of their letters, 
but justified such an exercise of authority on the ground 
of public necessity. To demonstrate the truth of his 
assertion, the extremity of the need, and the justification 
of strict dealing with Lyford, he read the various com- 
plaints which Lyford had made and answered them. The 
complaints were clear proof of Lyford's guilt, but his 
suggestions for the future conduct of the Adventurers 
were damning and conclusive. They must at all odds, 
he said, prevent the emigration of Robinson and the rest 
of the Leyden congregation, and in particular must watch 
that they were not taken on board ship without the Ad- 
venturers' knowledge. It would also be an excellent idea 
for the Adventurers to ship to Plymouth enough people 
to outvote the Pilgrims in the General Court. This 
would be compassed easily enough by giving each bond 
servant, whose passage they paid, an indenture for a re- 
ceipt of the amount of the passage, thus making him a 
free man and a citizen, in exchange for an assignment 
of the covenant to the merchants. This would give the 
servants power to vote at Plymouth without depriving 
the merchants of their services. A military man should 
also be sent, "for this Captain Standish looks like a silly 
boy and is in utter contempt." 

The evident effect of the reading of the letters was 
such that Lyford felt it best to say, that the information 
contained in them he had received from the members of 
the Pilgrim company themselves. They charged him 
accordingly to produce his witnesses. When he gave the 
names, they promptly asked the men to testify, but they 
denied that they had ever said such things. The victory 
of Bradford was complete. Not one of the abetters of 
Lyford and Oldham stood the test. Indeed they seem 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 135 

to have come forward to add further condemnatory facts. 
By vote of the court, both men were censured and ex- 
pelled. Oldham was to leave at once, though his wife 
and family were to be allowed to remain throughout the 
winter, or until he could make provision for them. Ly- 
ford was to be allowed to remain six months longer, with 
intimation that, if he should entirely reform, the sentence 
of expulsion might be revoked. Thereupon, after some 
time he made public confession in Church, and, if Brad- 
ford is to be believed, wept copiously the while, reproach- 
ing himself for all manner of evil against them and con- 
fessing "pride, vainglory, and self-love." Indeed they 
were inclined to believe in the sincerity of his professions, 
until a couple of months later another letter fell into 
their hands, written subsequent to his conviction, and 
which was meant to confirm to his friends in England 
the main tenor of the previous letters. In particular, he 
stressed the number of people who were not members of 
the Pilgrim Church, whom the Pilgrims would not permit 
to become members, and whom he declared to be there- 
fore without the means of salvation. There was, he 
averred, no minister at Plymouth at all. He had nothing 
much to say when accused with this epistle, and they 
washed their hands of him. They fully intended to ex- 
pel him as soon as the winter was over, satisfied with 
their victory and with the anxiety of most of his assistants 
to humble themselves before the Governor and their 
willingness to join the Church. It seemed as if the in- 
cident had served to unify the little colony and to produce 
a greater degree of cooperation between them than had 
ever existed before. 

In the spring of 1625, Oldham returned without per- 
mission, apparently in the hope of finding support once 

136 The Pilgrims and their History 

more. As usual their calm, diplomatic behavior was too 
much for his fiery passion to endure, and he presently- 
put himself thoroughly in the wrong by abusing them 
with strong language and insulting gestures. They lost 
no time with him, arrested him promptly, and put him 
in seclusion for a while. They then arranged to send 
him to the harbor side through a double file of musketeers, 
each of whom in Indian fashion was to hit him a blow 
with the musket end as he went by. While this scene 
was being enacted, a ship came in from England bearing 
Winslow with the news that the worst was only too true 
about both Oldham and Lyford. They hesitated there- 
fore no longer about expelling him, the less because his 
wife had already confessed to some of them, that he had 
been guilty on more than one occasion of licentious con- 
duct, which the Pilgrims deemed unbecoming in any one, 
much less a minister. 

To her confessions was added the information Winslow 
brought of the great scene in the Merchant Adventurers' 
Council in England. Winslow had been much berated 
for having accused Lyford and a meeting had been called 
to hear the case and to decide upon the accusation which 
Lyford's friends proposed to bring against Winslow. 
Meantime the latter somehow procured knowledge of 
Lyford's past, and arranged with two witnesses to be 
present at the meeting. When therefore the Adventurers 
had assembled in great numbers to try this exciting scan- 
dal, when the moderators had been chosen and the case 
was well under way, Winslow brought forward his wit- 
nesses and proved an astonishing and shocking case, 
wherein Lyford had ruined a girl while minister of a 
Puritan congregation in Ireland. The case was, indeed, 
if the facts were as Bradford reports, shocking, and the 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 137 

effect upon the meeting was all that the Pilgrims could 
have asked. Their charges against Lyford were so in- 
finitely less grave than this and so entirely what might 
be expected of a man sufficiently depraved to commit 
this other crime, that Lyford's own friends were com- 
pelled to censure him. He now left Plymouth and went 
further north, lived for a while at Salem, emigrated 
eventually to Virginia, and there died. And so, piously 
and triumphantly Bradford concludes, "I leave him to 
the Lord." The connotation as to Bradford's belief 
about Lyford's future habitation is indisputable. 

In this same year, 1625, there came over Captain 
Wollaston, with some three or four assistants and a 
considerable number of indented servants, well supplied 
with tools and provisions, for the founding of a trading 
and fishing post of the type the Pilgrims themselves 
had intended to erect. Things, however, went badly 
with them and Wollaston took a considerable part of 
the servants to Virginia, where he sold his interest in 
their future labor for the seven years of their service. 
Having gotten what he believed to be good prices, he 
wrote to the partner left in Massachusetts to bring the 
rest of the band to Virginia. One of his assistants was 
Thomas Morton, one of the most interesting and dramatic 
characters in early Massachusetts history. He seems 
to have had some slight education in the classics, to have 
practiced law, certainly in a desultory way and perhaps 
a not altogether responsible manner, and to have pos- 
sessed an unnecessarily liberal assortment of vices. The 
idea occurred to him of securing a colony of his own 
by the very simple expedient of stealing his partners' 

These men had all signed indentures in England, 

138 The Pilgrims and their History 

agreeing to work for seven years in return for their 
passage money, and they still owed some five or six years 
of service. Morton seems to have gotten them thor- 
oughly drunk and then to have pointed out to them, 
that, if they submitted to the authority of Wollaston 
and went to Virginia, their time would there be sold to 
the planters, and they would be compelled to work five 
or six years more. The simpler course was for them to 
decline to go and remain with him as partners and 
equals. They would thus become free at once and enjoy 
the fruits of an enterprise of their own. The idea com- 
mended itself to the laborers and they accordingly 
mutinied and turned out the assistants of Wollaston. 
Morton thus acquired a colony without expense, but 
also a colony in which he had no more authority than 
anybody else, and in which his lusty fellows promptly 
betook themselves to the vices of civilization. Merri- 
mount, as they presently christened the settlement, 
became a sort of a drunkard's resort and gambling hell, 
very much of the type which were found on the frontier 
in the early days of the West. Drink flowed freely; 
licentious conduct with Indian women became the rule; 
and rogues and desperate white men, rascally Indians, 
and runaway servants began to drift into Merrimount 
from all parts of the coast. It became indeed a rendez- 
vous for adventurers and piratical rascals and was in 
itself dangerous to the existence and welfare of the little 
settlement of honest men nearby at Plymouth. 

Morton had however a really clever idea, despite its 
danger and unscrupulous character. He had realized 
of course at first that the Indians would sell beaver a 
good deal quicker for "strong water" than they would 
for trinkets, and that they would work a good deal 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 139 

harder to collect beaver enough for a complete drunk 
than they would for any other reward that the white 
man could offer. For a time he collected in this way a 
considerable amount of fur. He then saw that the In- 
dians were greatly hampered in hunting by the primitive 
nature of their weapons and that if they could only be 
armed with guns and be taught to use those weapons 
skilfully, they would become deadly hunters, with a 
consequently amazing profit to him. He therefore began 
systematically to provide the Indians of the district 
with arms, powder, and shot and to teach them care- 
fully how to use them, assuring them that all the alluring 
evils of civilization would be their reward after a suc- 
cessful hunt. The profits were all that he thought they 
might be, but a very obvious danger to the small bodies 
of whites in the vicinity became no less clear. 

The Pilgrims had been reasonably safe, because their 
few firearms were immensely superior to the Indian 
bows and arrows, and because their stockade and fort 
protected them from any assault the Indians could very 
well make. There were however on the coast a con- 
siderable number of small trading factories, many of 
which numbered no more than a dozen or a score of 
men, and these found themselves seriously threatened by 
the bands of well-armed Indians, thoroughly skilled in 
the use of guns, who began presently to roam the woods 
of Massachusetts. There were therefore many good 
counts against Morton and many excellent reasons for 
disposing of him, beside the crowning iniquity of which 
the Pilgrims complained, the erection of a Maypole 
at Merrimount, which was duly celebrated in song and 
drunken ribaldry by Morton and his crew. Concerted 
action was planned by the Pilgrims and the other settle- 

140 The Pilgrims and their History 

ments on the coast, and, after summoning him twice by 
letter to reform his ways and forbear arming the Indians, 
they finally decided to deal with him by force. 

Standish accordingly set out for Merrimount with a 
body of Pilgrims, well armed, and, if Morton is to be 
believed, captured him some eight miles from Merri- 
mount and took him to a nearby house. Here, as Mor- 
ton tells it, 1 they ate and drank heavily and slept there- 
fore unduly soundly. Up got Morton in the middle of 
the night, stepped carefully over the keepers supposed 
to be guarding him, and escaped. The banging of the 
door roused them. "O! he's gon, he's gon, what shall 
wee doe, he's gon. The rest (halfe a sleepe) start up in a 
maze and like rames ran theire heads one at another 
full butt in the darke. Theire grande leader, Captaine 
Shrimp, tooke on most furiously and tore his clothes 
for anger, to see the empty nest, and their bird gone. 
The rest were eager to have torne theire haire from 
theire heads; but it was so short that it would give them 
no hold." Morton hurried through the woods back to 
Merrimount, where he made ready to receive Standish, 
whom he knew would follow promptly. 

Bradford as was to be expected, gives a somewhat 
different flavor to the final incident. The Pilgrims landed 
at Merrimount from their boat and found that Morton 
had barricaded himself in the house and had armed his 
men. After a sort of Homeric battle of words and 
epithets between the two parties through the door, 
Morton and some of his crew came out to fight, but 

1 New English Canaan, ed. by C. F. Adams, for the Prince 
Society, 284-285. This is the most entertaining and amusing 
account of early New England and is certainly responsible for 
much of the attention Morton has received from students. 

The Tares in the New English Canaan 141 

proved to be so exceedingly drunk that they were un- 
able to keep their heavy muskets upon the rests which 
they set up in front of them when they fired. Morton, 
with a musket crammed half full with powder and shot, 
attempted to kill Standish, but the fiery little captain 
pushed the gun aside with his hand and arrested him. 
Neither, says Bradford, "was ther any hurte done to any 
of either side, save that one was so drunke that he rane 
his owne nose upon the pointe of a sword that one held 
before him as he entred the house, but he lost but a litle 
of his hott blood." Morton they brought to Plymouth, 
and presently shipped him to England with letters tell- 
ing of his deeds. The worst characters of his colony were 
disbanded and dispersed, and, though Morton returned 
somewhat later, he bothered the Pilgrims no more. 
For, after a brief stay at Plymouth, he went to Massa- 
chusetts, where the Puritans recently come dealt with 
him with extreme severity. Thus were the tares up- 
rooted in the New English Canaan. 



The year 162^ seems to be the turning point in Pilgrim 
annals, the year in which the solution of the problem of 
subsistence became permanent, and in which the future 
of the colony was practically assured. 1 The anomalous 
contract with the Adventurers was cancelled and replaced 
by an agreement which freed the Pilgrims from economic 
bondage. The leaders undertook the payment of the 
outstanding debt, and, though not without misgivings, 
did possess a real confidence in their ability to discharge 
it from the proceeds of the really profitable trade they 
had already established. The individual allotments of 
lands and houses, already temporarily made, were at 
this time confirmed, and the members of the colony were 
able for the first time to know that what they had worked 
so hard to create was theirs in fact. The beginnings of a 
herd of live stock and of draught animals had been made 
and the allotments of cattle this year to groups of in- 
dividuals was an important step in the improvement of 
agriculture and of the hitherto severe conditions of 
domestic life. Though not obtained until three years 
later, a part of this notable settlement was certainly the 
new patent of 1630, which vested in the Pilgrims them- 
selves the title to their land. Surely no year, not even 
the first, records more significant and more important 
changes than the year 1627. 

The position of the Pilgrims on landing at Plymouth 


The Year of Deliverance — 1627 143 

was peculiar. The patent from the Virginia Company 
they had brought with them was void of value at Plym- 
outh. The contract they had signed with the Merchant 
Adventurers at Leyden had been repudiated by the 
latter, while the contract signed by the latter and Cush- 
man had been repudiated by the Pilgrims. The land 
they stood on was not theirs. The tools and materials 
they worked with did not belong to them and were to 
be paid for by seven years of labor, like those of Jacob 
for Rachel, the conditions of which were yet to be agreed 
upon. Their associates in England, when the return of 
the Mayflower made their whereabouts known, at once 
procured from the Council for New England a new patent 
bearing the date June first, 162 1. 1 This was granted to 
John Peirce, his associates, heirs, and assigns, the same 
in whose name as trustee the previous patent issued by 
the Virginia Company had been drawn. It gave him 
and his associates rather limited rights, without definite 
boundaries and with certain qualifications and conditions. 
The settlers under it were empowered to take up one 
hundred acres of land for every person transported from 
England in the original colony, if the colony persisted 
three whole years at one or at several times, and one 
hundred acres of land for all additional colonists, trans- 
ported or transporting themselves during seven years and 
remaining three years thereafter " with intent to inhabit." 
The hundred acre plots were to adjoin each other, and 
were not to be, as the patent said, "stragglingly." An 
additional fifteen hundred acres might be appropriated 
to maintain churches, schools, hospitals, and the like. 

1 The original is now at Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth. An accurate 
reprint, with notes by Charles Deane, is in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 
4th Series, II, 156-163. 

144 The Pilgrims and their History 

Definitely this was a grant of a settlement colony, not 
for a trading factory, and knew no limit of location in 
New England other than that the land chosen should 
not at the time be inhabited by other Englishmen. 
Under it they might remain at Plymouth and move else- 
where. They had by this time seen Boston Harbor but 
evidently did not choose to move thither. They were 
graciously permitted to ''truck, trade, and traffique with 
the Salvages," and "to hunt, hawk, fish, or fowle." 
They were also licensed to expel from their territory by 
force of arms and "by all wayes and meanes whatsoeuer," 
all persons who settled on their lands without special 
permission. A grant of incorporation was promised with 
power to govern the people transplanted, and in the 
meantime they should get along "by consent of the 
greater part of them." Feoffment was to be made when 
due notification of the location of the land had been 
legally certified. 

The Fortune brought this patent in the autumn of 
162 1. Robert Cushman came as the agent of the 
Adventurers to secure the consent of the Pilgrims to the 
amended articles which had been rejected in England 
before sailing. After considerable debate and argument, 
the articles were accepted. Cushman thus returned to 
England with their promise to work a whole week in 
the interests of the Adventurers throughout the period 
of the seven years for which the contract ran. He was 
also to remain the agent of the colonists in England, and 
was to see that the new emigrants sent out to them and 
the goods intended for them were of proper quality and 
quantity. From the first the association of the Pilgrims 
with the merchants had been highly unsatisfactory to 
both, and, as time went on, the dissatisfaction grew 

The Year of Deliverance — 162 7 145 

greater rather than less. 1 That the Mayflower had 
brought back no cargo disgruntled the merchants in 
England exceedingly, with the result that the Fortune 
brought colonists but no food. The Pilgrims loaded the 
ship with clapboards and some furs, but it was captured 
by a French privateer on the way back to England, the 
whole cargo was taken off and thus lost. In 1622, there 
having been no return from the colony, its real straits 
not at all appreciated, the fact that a cargo had been 
shipped on the Fortune not yet known, the merchants 
met, disagreed, quarreled, and sent no supplies. Weston 
and Beauchamp broke with their associates, hired two 
ships themselves which they loaded with cargo, with a 
number of emigrants, and a patent for a settlement. 
The fortunes of the men sent to settle we have already 
seen, and the venture, so far as profit was concerned, 
proved a total loss. 

Later in the year 1622, news of the value of the cargo 
the Fortune had carried revived the interest of the Ad- 
venturers, who contributed enough during the following 
winter to equip the Anne and the Little James, to pay 
the passage of more colonists, and to send with them 
sufficient food to carry them over till the next harvest. 
They deemed it wise not to rely wholly upon the energy 
of the Pilgrims in collecting a cargo, and provided that 
the two ships should make a fishing voyage after they 

x The relations with the Adventurers are told by Bradford at 
great length in the History. There is also a fragment of his orig- 
inal Letter Book, containing some additional material, printed in 
Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st Series, III. A long letter, written by 
Bradford and Allerton on Sept. 8, 1623, has been printed in the 
American Historical Review, VIII, 294, and affords confirmatory 
details. This is the only original letter of this period which seems 
to have survived. 

146 The Pilgrims and their History 

had deposited their colonists, and should thus collect 
their own cargo. When the Anne arrived at Plymouth 
in 1623, the courageous decision to abandon the common 
stock had already been taken. They loaded the Anne 
with dressed lumber and sent Winslow back to England 
on the ship, bearing a letter to the Adventurers, and 
with instructions to borrow money on the Pilgrims' ac- 
count for the purchase of goods and cattle. The greatness 
of the need and the feeble hopes they entertained of real 
assistance were clearly writ in the letter. "We wishte 
you would either roundly suply us or els wholy forsake 
us, that we might know what to doe." They had, they 
said, no intention of making an agreement with another 
group of merchants, but would, if the Adventurers did 
desert them, do the best they could for themselves. 

To anticipate a little, in 1625 Standish borrowed £150 
at fifty per cent interest and bought trading goods for 
exchange with the Indians. In the year following Aller- 
ton was sent to England to procure £100 for two years. 
He secured £200 at thirty per cent and a considerable 
stock of goods. In 1626 Bradford and the leaders were 
bold enough to purchase the whole stock of a trading 
post at Monhegan, which had failed and was for sale. 
A French ship was also wrecked on the coast and they 
bought such of its cargo as could be saved. These facts 
will make clear the extent of the Pilgrims' confidence in 
themselves and the definite belief after 1623 that nothing 
was to be expected from the Adventurers. The letters 
of the latter were so contradictory, confused, and luke- 
warm, that Bradford and the leaders were unable to 
make up their minds as to the real status of the venture. 

Nothing illustrates more vividly the discouragements 
and difficulties which the Pilgrims and the Adventurers 

The Year of Deliverance — 1627 147 

both had to experience than the ill-fated voyages of the 
Little James, a small two-masted craft of forty-four tons, 
sent over by the Adventurers in 1623 in the hope of 
executing the original plan of fishing and trading from 
Plymouth as a base, in a vessel large enough to keep the 
seas. Bradford had immediate doubts of the sailors, 
whom he thought rude, and of the master whose honesty 
he seems to have doubted. His fears were only too well 
founded, for the crew had understood that the ship was 
to be a privateer, to cruise against French and Spanish 
vessels, and that they were to receive a considerable share 
of the prize money. The Little James did have a com- 
mission to capture ships, but the real intent had been 
to catch fish on the Grand Banks. When therefore the 
crew received orders from Bradford to undertake a fish- 
ing voyage, they threatened to mutiny and were finally 
pacified only by being paid wages out of the Pilgrims' 
meagre purse. The latter stocked the ship with great 
difficulty with trading goods and sent her around to 
Connecticut and Rhode Island, but the Dutch had fore- 
stalled them, the Indians had sold most of their furs, and 
the ship returned practically empty. Just before enter- 
ing Plymouth Harbor, a storm broke upon her, the 
anchors failed to hold, and the crew saved her from 
going ashore on one of the shoals by sacrificing the main 

During the winter, with great difficulty she was 
refitted and, after pinching and paring to the utmost, 
the colonists managed to procure enough to send her 
on a fishing voyage along the Maine coast. There she 
ran into a storm, stove a hole upon a rock "as a horse 
and cart might have gone in" and sank. Sometime 
later, the captains of the summer fishing fleet offered to 

148 The Pilgrims and their History 

raise the vessel, if the Pilgrims would bear the expense. 
This offer they accepted and after considerable trouble 
the ship was floated, repaired, and sent back to England 
in 1624. There one of the adventurers, Thomas Fletcher, 
promptly seized her for a debt the others owed him. In 
1625, in hopes of making good his expenses, he sent her 
with a much larger ship, the Jacob, to procure a cargo 
of fish at Cape Cod. 1 This time the fishing was successful. 
Though the larger ship was ordered to carry her fish to 
Spain, the rumors of war led the captain to return to 
England, where the cargo arrived inopportunely and was 
sold at a loss. The Little James was captured in the 
English Channel by a Barbary pirate and was carried 
to Sallee where the captain and seamen were sold into 
slavery. Needless to say, Thomas Fletcher was by this 
time hopelessly bankrupt. 

In 1624 the Adventurers, who still hung together, sent 
out the ship Charity with a shipwright and salt-maker, 
as well as some cattle and a patent for land at Gloucester, 
Massachusetts. The shipwright was to build more coast- 
ing vessels for the Pilgrims, in particular a ship large 
enough to keep the sea during a storm and decked over, 
while the salt-maker brought salt pans to make salt by 
evaporation for sale to the shipping fleet which came 
annually to the Grand Banks. The expectation nat- 
urally was that the profit on the sale of the salt would 
be very great. The shipwright however died of fever; 
the salt-maker seemed to the Pilgrims a vain and con- 
ceited fellow, who tried to make them think that boiling 
sea water in a pan required some mysterious skill. They 
were therefore not surprised when he made so hot a fire 

1 Some of the goods on this voyage were not to be sold for less 
than seventy per cent profit. 

Thr Year of Deliverance — 1627 149 

underneath his pans that he burned the house, ruined 
the pans, and thus ended that part of the venture. The 
Charity also made poor work of fishing. The explanation 
to the Pilgrims was simple; the captain was "a very 
drunken beast and did nothing (in a maner) but drink 
& gusle, and consume away the time & his victails and 
most of his company followed his example. " The judg- 
ment of God was upon such and they were only too 
definitely punished for their lack of temperance. 

When the news of these misfortunes finally reached 
London, the Adventurers came to the conclusion that 
they could do no more. It was better to lose what they 
already invested than to throw more good money after 
bad. The Pilgrims had failed; fishing trips had failed, 
to say nothing of pirates and privateers. Accordingly 
in December, 1624, they wrote the Pilgrims and formally 
declared the partnership dissolved. 1 The causes they 
assigned were their losses at sea and the various debts 
they had been compelled to contract to support the 
colony in addition to the original venture. They also 
stated that for a year or two several of them had objected 
strenuously to extending further support to the Pilgrims 
on the ground that they were Brownists. They therefore 
stood in the way of the emigration to Plymouth of the 
rest of the Leyden congregation and had in particular 
prevented Robinson from leaving for America. The 
reasons were not so interesting to the Pilgrims as the 
tacit expectation that the Pilgrims were to pay the in- 
debtedness of such Adventurers as still remained, which 
they computed to be £1400. Nothing definite was said 
as to future relationship between them and Bradford is 
silent upon the reasons why the Pilgrims judged it inex- 
1 Bradford quotes the letter in full, History, 240. 

150 The Pilgrims and their History 

pedient merely to allow the matter to drop, as this letter 
seems to have supposed it would. 

Good reasons therefor are not far to seek. The ex- 
istence of the debt, originally incurred by the emigration 
itself as well as by subsequent expenses, was a legal lien 
upon the lands, goods, and profits of the colony, and, 
even if the Merchant Adventurers showed no present 
intention to collect the money or to enforce their claims, 
they might later at some inopportune moment insist 
upon them, or what was worse, might sell them to others. 
The Adventurers indeed were not a company nor incor- 
porated, and an elaborate search of English records has 
shown no trace of anything more formal than a purely 
voluntary agreement between some seventy men. The 
Pilgrims, however, felt it essential to extinguish all claims 
upon them or upon their future labor. So many shifts 
and changes had taken place; so many of the Adventurers 
had abandoned their claims to which others had suc- 
ceeded; some had sold to others; some had sold to the 
Adventurers as a whole, that there was considerable 
doubt as to what the legal situation was. 

Nor should it be forgotten for a moment that the 
Adventurers at this time held title to the land of Plym- 
outh. The patent which had been obtained in June, 
162 1, in the name of Peirce had been quietly changed by 
the latter in the following year to an obsolete English 
land form known as a Deed Pole, which was written to 
him, his heirs, associates, and assigns. It had the effect 
of making him proprietor of Plymouth, lord paramount, 
lord of the manor, after a fashion. The settlers were 
to be his tenants; their lands, goods, and houses would 
be his; and they would be subject to him as feudal lord 
and to his courts and laws. The Adventurers, when they 

The Year of Deliverance — 1627 151 

learned of this stroke, were exceedingly indignant and 
tried to buy him out, but his price of £500 seemed to 
them exorbitant. In December, 1622, he fitted out an 
expedition to take possession of his new principality, but 
the ship was badly damaged by a storm and was forced 
to return. In February, 1623, another start was made, 
with additional passengers and freight crowded in, in the 
hope of recouping the losses from the delay. For two 
weeks the ship was at the mercy of a great storm in the 
Atlantic, her main mast was lost, much of her bulwarks 
torn away, and with very great difficulty she made her 
way back to England. The Adventurers themselves 
had expended on this particular voyage some £640, Peirce 
having undertaken the transportation of colonists and 
goods. Now he surrendered his stock as Adventurer 
to his associates and assigned his patent to the com- 

The Pilgrims thus became literal tenants of the Ad- 
venturers with neither title nor rights in their own land, 
and were utterly dependent upon the latter for securing 
any in the future. It was now essential to make definite 
and clear their relation to the Adventurers. Somehow 
or other the title to the land and the right to govern must 
be vested in the Pilgrims themselves and that they 
realized could not take place until some settlement 
satisfactory to the merchants had been reached. Another 
reason of real significance also urged them to come to an 
agreement with the latter. They saw that until they had 
somehow or other freed themselves from these financial 
shackles, and had legally severed their connection with 
these men, it would be difficult if not impossible to bring 
to Plymouth the remainder of the Leyden congregation. 
The Adventurers stood in the way of the execution of the 

152 The Pilgrims and their History 

original plan and it was feared that they would continue 
to do so. 

Allerton accordingly was sent to England in 1626 to 
borrow money, to bring back goods, and to reach some- 
how an agreement with the Adventurers. 1 This he 
successfully did on October 26, at a meeting to which the 
great majority of those concerned in the venture had been 
invited. They sold to the Pilgrims " all and every the said 
shares, goods, lands, marchandice, and chattels to them 
belonging." The document in which this transaction was 
recorded was intended to transfer completely the whole 
bundle of legal rights of any sort or description, which the 
Adventurers had or might acquire, in consideration for a 
sum of eighteen hundred pounds sterling to be paid in 
London in instalments of two hundred pounds a year for 
nine years beginning with Michaelmas, 1628. Some 
forty-two names were signed to the document. Even- 
tually, further documents were signed and the bargain 
was bound and sealed on parchment. The Pilgrims 
further stipulated that the bargain was not to become 
void if they should default payment on the particular day 
and hour; they might be prevented by the weather or by 
enemies from reaching London in time and should not be 
penalized unless the fault were their own. They were 
therefore to forfeit thirty shillings a week for every week 
of delay. Thus, exulted Bradford, "all now has become 
our own as we say in the proverb when our debts were 
paid. . . . This wholly dashed all the plans and devices 
of our enemies both there and here who daily expected 
our ruin, dispersion, and utter subversion by the same." 

x It may be that the proposition to buy off the Adventurers 
originated with James Shirley. See his letter to Bradford of 
December 27, 1627. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st Series, III, 49. 

The Year of Deliverance — 1627 153 

How should the money be paid? After considerable 
discussion among the leaders, Bradford, Standish, Aller- 
ton, Winslow, Brewster, Howland, Alden, and Prence 
engaged to make the entire payment of eighteen hundred 
pounds within six years, and to provide the colony in the 
meantime with necessities from England, to be exchanged 
for corn at the rate of six shillings a bushel, if the entire 
trading privileges of the colony and all the facilities and 
stock of goods should be turned over to them for the 
purpose. This agreement, signed in July, 1627, gave 
them the name Undertakers. To the eight were added in 
November of 1628, four Londoners, Shirley, Beauchamp, 
Andrews, and Hatherly, who were to be the London 
agents of the colony. Isaac Allerton was to travel back 
and forth supervising the sale of the cargo and the pur- 
chase of new goods at both ends, being in each case the 
accredited representative of the parties absent. The 
Undertakers at once received possession of the shallops 
and the new trading sloop, of the fishing stage at Cape 
Anne, of the station on the Kennebec, and the trading 
station at Cape Cod, with a considerable stock of beads, 
hatchets, knives, and the like. This change was less 
radical than it seems at first sight because Bradford, 
Allerton, Winslow, and Alden seem practically to have 
managed the entire business of the colony since 1623, when 
the common stock was abandoned. It then became evi- 
dent that if the majority were to work in the fields raising 
corn, they would not be able to trade or fish, and that 
it was better the majority should support some few of the 
men who would do what they could by trading toward 
raising money to meet their debt to the Adventurers. In 
1627 therefore an arrangement was made explicit and 
legal which had already persisted for some little time. 

154 The Pilgrims and their History 

It now became possible to make permanent the tem- 
porary agreements of earlier years in the division of land 
and houses. In 1623, it will be remembered, small plots 
of land, apparently not uniform in size, had been allotted 
to various individuals and families. In 1624 one acre 
had been allotted each family "for continuance" during 
seven years; no more than one acre had been granted in 
order that the colony might remain compact "for safety 
and for religion." Now in 1627 the horned cattle, which 
had come to the colony in the last three years, were as- 
signed to twelve groups of people, who were among them 
to care for the beast and enjoy such use of it and per- 
quisites from it as there might be. Abuse and neglect 
were to be charged against the whole group. Early in the 
next year the division of land was continued. Three 
hundred and fifty-six fields were laid out, covering some 
five square miles, and ranging from the Jones River to 
the Eel, with the village of Plymouth in the middle. 
Each family retained in the town the one acre plot al- 
ready assigned to it and in most cases the house upon it, 
if there was one; the Governor and a number of the lead- 
ers received their houses and plots in recognition of their 
services to the colony. The large farms of some twenty 
acres each were now distributed by lot with some at- 
tempt to compensate those who drew the most distant. 
The meadows and fields upon which grass was growing 
were retained in common, and the poorer land seems not 
to have been distributed at all. Thus was permanency 
attained to general satisfaction. The status was also 
formally recognized of those who were in the colony but 
not of it, being either non-church members or adherents 
of other forms of non-conformity. While it is doubtful 
whether the right of these "Purchasers," as they were 

The Year of Deliverance — 162 7 155 

called, to the ownership of land was at this time recog- 
nized, their right of occupancy was conceded of lands to 
be assigned them, a definite recognition of their property 
in goods or chattels was promised, and their partnership 
in the enterprize admitted. Each head of a family and 
each self-supporting bachelor might by certain for- 
malities become a "Purchaser," and accepted in return 
for his privileges one equal share in such part of the debt 
as the Undertakers did not discharge. 

One of the most considerable tasks which the leaders 
now assumed, great in view of their other financial 
obligations, was the financing of the emigration of the 
remainder of the Leyden Congregation, now much re- 
duced since the death of Robinson in 1625. The plans 
were made at Plymouth in 1627 as soon as the settlement 
with the merchants was complete, were prosecuted by 
Allerton and Shirley in London during 1628, with the 
happy result that in August, 1629, the first contingent of 
thirty-five came on the Mayflower and in the following 
May sixty more came on the Handmaid. The total cost 
reached £550. Only forty-seven, however, of the new- 
comers were from Leyden, the other colonists on these 
ships emigrating from England direct. Thus were the 
survivors at last reunited after so many troubles and 
losses both in America and in Holland. 

Scarcely less significant and important an element in 
the new settlement was the patent secured from the 
Council for New England in 1629 and sealed on Jan- 
uary 13, 1629-1630. This put an end to doubts about the 
Pilgrim title. It granted to William Bradford, his heirs, 
associates, and assigns a certain definite territory, prac- 
tically identical with the present counties of Plymouth, 
Bristol, and Barnstable, omitting Bingham and Howe 

156 The Pilgrims and their History 

and including a part of eastern Rhode Island. The grant 
was made of course with reference to the Indian names 
and was intended really to include the entire territory of 
the Pokanoket Confederacy, an exceedingly vague dis- 
trict, and one whose bounds the names quoted in the 
charter did not satisfactorily define, as the Pilgrims later 
discovered to their disquietude. A tract of land on the 
Kennebec near the site of the present Augusta, some 
thirteen miles long and fifteen miles wide, on either side 
of the river, was confirmed to them. The land was 
granted in fee simple, and the language was so broad and 
inclusive as to confer upon them every right possessed by 
the Council itself, including the power of government over 
the inhabitants and the authority to deal with intruders. 
The only reservations were the coining of money and 
shares of gold and silver for the Crown and Council for 
New England, which, needless to add, never accrued. 
The Council appointed Standish its attorney to deliver 
possession to Bradford or his representatives. The cer- 
emony was probably performed by the transference of 
the turf, twig, and water of the most formal feoffment of 
medieval law. The question however was later raised by 
those anxious to dispute the Pilgrim title as to whether 
such feoffment was capable of transfering the power to 
govern and the right to enact and enforce laws. The 
attempt in the following year to secure a royal charter, 
confirming the grant of land and with an equally liberal 
grant of authority, failed. In 1640 Bradford assigned the 
Patent and all rights under it to the entire body of free- 
men of the colony. 



The Pilgrims had convincingly demonstrated no less 
significant a proposition than the practicality of the 
colonization of the New World. Posterity has dwelt 
upon their high moral qualities, upon their courageous 
daring, upon their religious idealism; their contempora- 
ries were impressed chiefly by their economic success. 
Contrary to an impression only too widespread, the Pil- 
grims were not the first religious enthusiasts to sail for 
America, nor the first body of men and women of high 
quality and consecration to land in the New World. In 
the sixteenth century had come the Huguenots; several 
congregations of Separatists seem to have cherished the 
idea of emigration; Blackwell and a number of the Pil- 
grims' friends had actually sailed for the Chesapeake in 
1618-1619. But just as there had been many predeces- 
sors of Columbus who had believed that the world was 
round and that one might sail from West to East, so the 
Pilgrims had had progenitors. Like Columbus, they 
were the first to succeed, the first to demonstrate the 
practicality of colonization. They planted the first 
permanent, independent settlement in the New World, in 
which the initiative lay with the emigrants and not with 
capitalists or kings. They were the first organized body 
of people to leave the Old World in expectation of con- 
tinuing the life of their organization in the new. They 
proved that a small body of men and women, without 
capital or resources, and without governmental support, 


158 The Pilgrims and their History 

could maintain themselves in New England from the 
product of their own labor on the soil of the country with- 
out systematic assistance from England. They proved 
that even a small body of poverty stricken men and 
women could cut loose from Europe and safely take up 
residence in the New World, with every probability of 
being able to live without enduring too much physical 
hardship, and with every prospect of practical freedom 
from European interference. This was the economic 
fact the Pilgrims demonstrated. 

The essential element was their undoubted weakness 
and poverty. There had come to New England in 1620 
one hundred and two people, without equipment, ex- 
pecting to be maintained from England and not from the 
proceeds of their own labor. They had expected to fish 
and to collect furs, to cut lumber, to export to the mother 
country materials whose sale would make possible the 
purchase of necessities they would consume in the New 
World. The whole project failed. The original plan was 
from the outset abandoned. Maintenance from the 
proceeds of their own labor in America became essential, 
even though the necessary tools and supplies had not been 
provided. Sickness came; half of them died. The 
promised aid from England did not materialize as 
promptly and as regularly as was imperative. The 
commercial ventures from which so much had been ex- 
pected went wrong from the first. The Mayflower could 
carry no cargo; the Fortune was captured by pirates; 
supplies sent to them were lost at sea; their cargoes re- 
turned were unfortunately sold at a loss. It scarcely 
seemed possible that any body of men and women could 
have struggled with more adverse fortune or have re- 
ceived less effective assistance than they. 

The Great Achievement 159 

And yet, somehow, the little colony survived. Houses 
built by their own hands rose in considerable number, 
built of hewn plank with well thatched roofs. Behind 
them busy hands created gardens. Beyond in the fields 
the same untiring energy sowed corn and grain; in the 
woods lumber was cut to be exported; furs were bought 
from the Indians to be sold in England. By 1627 the 
accumulated misfortunes of the Pilgrims, the unsatis- 
factory support of the merchants, the efforts of wind, 
sea, and pirates had somehow not been able to prevent 
the little colony from prospering. They had landed 
deeply in debt, without any adequate store of even the 
necessities of life, with only a few carpenters' tools and 
rude agricultural implements, and a few guns and pow- 
der. And they had built a town, owned fields and trading 
stations, and had begun to accumulate a herd of cattle. 
Food, shelter, and clothing were assured them beyond 
doubt; profit even they knew they would make in the 
future. After the first great sickness the mortality had 
been small. One hundred and two had come in 1620 on 
the Mayflower; thirty-five had been brought by the 
Fortune in 162 1, sixty by the Anne and the Little James 
in 1623, and of the one hundred ninety-nine there were 
alive in 1627, one hundred fifty-six besides some twenty 
or thirty laborers and indented servants who did not 
have the status of free men. 1 To be sure, some of those 
who came in the ships named had moved from Plymouth 
to other parts of New England or Virginia; some few 
originally in other parties had made their way to Plym- 

1 One hundred ninety-nine came; sixty-eight were born at 
Plymouth; fifty-eight had died; fifty- three had removed elsewhere; 
leaving one hundred fifty-six. Fifty-two had died in the first year 
and only six during the following six years. 

160 The Pilgrims and their History 

outh and had there found welcome. There were fifty- 
seven men, twenty-nine women, thirty-four boys, and 
thirty-six girls at Plymouth in 1627 when the common 
stock was brought to an end and "the Purchasers" were 

, organized. Forty-two of these people had come in the 
Mayflower. They possessed in common four cows, seven 
young heifers, four young bulls, eighteen goats, and, if 
Captain John Smith can be believed, a good many 
swine and poultry. A Dutch agent from New Amster- 
dam who visited Plymouth in this year for the purpose 
of opening trade, was particularly impressed by its 
general aspect of solidity, comfort, and prosperity. He 
thought on the whole they were materially better off 
than the Dutch and English colonists whom he had seen 
on the coast. Their morale and discipline were un- 
doubtedly better and all augured well for the future. 
What impressed their contemporaries was the essential 
fact which has made a place for the Pilgrims in history. 
They came to America to make homes, came with a 

% definite determination not to return, 1 with a motive for 
residence more vital than commercial profit. In a pam- 
phlet printed by Brewster in 16 19, their purpose in 
leaving for America was denned: "That they might 
make way for and unite with others what in them lieth, 
whose consciences are grieved with the state of the 
Church in England." 2 A little later Winslow declared 
that they were leaving to show other Separatists "where 
they might live and comfortably subsist, and enjoy the 
like liberties with ourselves, being freed from antichris- 

1 Robinson and Brewster to Sandys, Dec. 15, 161 7. Arber, 
Pilgrim Fathers, 285-286. 

2 Euring, An Answer to Ten Counter Demands, quoted by Dexter, 
England and Holland of the Pilgrims, 578. 

The Great Achievement 161 

tian bondage; keep their names and nation; and not only 
be a means to enlarge the dominions of our State, but of 
the Church of Christ also." 1 Of their extraordinary 
qualifications as home makers, they were thoroughly 
conscious, and Robinson and Brewster, writing to Sir 
Edwin Sandys on December 15, 161 7, enumerated them 
as an inducement to the Virginia Company to assist the 
enterprize. "We are well weaned/ ' said they, "from the 
delicate milke of our mother country; and enured to the 
difficulties of a strange and hard land: which yet, in a 
great parte we have by patience overcome. The people 
are, for the body of them, industrious & frugall, we 
thinke we may safly say, as any company of people in the 
world. ... It is not with us as with other men whom 
small things can discourage or small discontentments 
cause to wish them selves at home againe." They knew 
they were different in principle and in quality from the 
great bulk of men and women who had come to Amer- 
ica. They augured well from the fact. 

They felt that colonies had failed in America hitherto 
because men had come to live in factories and trading 
settlements, meant to be permanent, but not regarded 
either by the settlers or by the authorities in England as 
homes, as desirable residences. Those who came were 
lured by hope of profit, by love of adventure rather than 
by the expectation of a hard but useful life in a new 
country. 2 They had not severed themselves from the 
Old World nor yet thought of themselves as no longer 
part of it. They had failed because they had come as 
sojourners only and because their motives were sordid. 
Some indeed had been worthy, but they had failed for one 

1 Winslow, Hypocrisy Unmasked, 89. 

2 Bradford, History, 35. 

1 62 The Pilgrims and their History 

reason or another to gain a foothold. The Pilgrims came 
to succeed in founding a home or to die in the attempt. 1 
Even the Merchant Adventurers who financed them 
seem to have been impressed with this phase of the 
Pilgrim venture, and urged them, even in their own 
moments of greatest discouragement, to hold out and 
demonstrate that colonization was possible. "You 
have been instruments," they wrote in 1623, "to breake 
the ise for others who come after with less difficulty; 
the honour shall be yours to the world's end." 2 "We 
are still perswaded," they declared in December, 1624, 
in the discouraging letter that severed relations between 
them and the Pilgrims; "you are the people that must 
make a plantation in those remoate places when all 
others faile and returne." 3 They were right. The Pil- 
grims did succeed. They taught the English people to 
look upon America as a habitable and desirable home for 
those dissatisfied in England. In that fact lay the true 
germ of the United States of America. 

One other fact almost equally significant they also 
established. They came not at all to continue the sort 
of life they had led in Europe, to reproduce the same 
institutions they had known there, but to create a new 
commonwealth, "to live as a distincte body by them 
selves," as Bradford said, 4 to become, in the words of 
Robinson, "a body politic." 5 They brought with them 

1 "Yea, though they should loose their lives in this action, yet 
might they have comforte in the same, and their endeavours would 
be honorable." Bradford, 35. See also, 96, 97. 

2 Letter from thirteen of the Adventurers, Bradford, 174. 

3 Bradford, 242. 

4 History, 37. 

5 Robinson's final letter of counsel spoke of "your intended 
course of Civil Community;" "whereas you are to become a Body 

The Great Achievement 163 

the ideal of a new state, of a new "civil community," in 
which conditions political, religious, and legal should be 
different from those they had known in Europe. From 
their experience the Puritan leaders of the great emigra- 
tion to Boston drew in 1627 the conclusion that the 
English authorities were ready to grant practical local 
autonomy to intending colonists. The Pilgrims indeed 
had been seven years in New England and neither the 
English King or the English Church had evinced the 
slightest intention to interfere with their conduct of their 
own affairs. The Council of New England, their imme- 
diate superior, had put forth certain pretensions but had 
made no consistent attempt to make them good. Here lay 
the germ of the future independence of the United States. 
At the same time, we shall do well as students to 
recognize that neither the Pilgrims nor their contem- 
poraries in the least anticipated such an independent 
political community as the United States was in 1789. 
If we suppose that the Pilgrims came to forget that they . 
were Englishmen, to disavow their English allegiance, 
and to establish a state which should not fly the English 
flag or recognize the English King, we shall fall into a 
most grievous error. Indeed, was not their main object 
in leaving Holland to return to the English allegiance, to 
establish a community where their English habits and 
ways could be perpetuated under the English flag? The 
real difficulty lies in our failure to appreciate the fact that 
the notion of political independence and of popular 

Politic, using among yourselves Civil Government." Arber, 
Pilgrim Fathers, 404. The plan for the colony under Dutch aus- 
pices speaks of the Pilgrims' desire "to plant there a new Com- 
monwealth." Arber, 98. See also Hist. Mss. Com., 8th Report , 
Appendix, Part II, 45. 

164 The Pilgrims and their History 

sovereignty, which underlay the constitution of the 
United States in 1789, was utterly foreign to the political 
thinking of seventeenth century England. There were 
perhaps a few students of Buchanan and Bodin who had 
some vague notion of sovereignty, 1 but the rank and file 
still thought in feudal terms, and their concept of in- 
dependence was based upon a distinction difficult for the 
modern world to appreciate. 

The Pilgrims were familiar with the manorial custom 
of Scrooby and with the practical immunity which they 
had enjoyed under the feudal Liberty, or exemption, 
owned by the Archbishop, from royal officers and courts 
and from county officers and courts. Allegiance they 
owed the King undoubtedly, as did the Archbishop; 
English citizens they clearly were; English nationality, 
language, habits they proudly owned; and saw no in- 
constancy in a frank and ready admission of all this 
feudal fealty with an entire autonomy in practical gov- 
ernment. This same practical immunity from active rule 
by royal officials they expected to achieve in America by 
reason of the distance, and saw in it no seeds of political 
independence nor of popular sovereignty, nor dreamed 
of a written constitution and legislation. That they 
would be a civil community of a new type they seem to 
have known; that their relation to the English crown 
would be perhaps anomalous they realized, but that it 
implied any disloyalty or any renunciation of fealty, 
they denied strenuously to those who complained that 
they were seeking to be "several lords and kings of 
themselves." 2 But they did prove that practical 
autonomy in civil government was to be had in the new 

1 Brewster possessed a copy of Bodin. 

2 Captain John Smith, True Travels, ed. 1629, 46. 

The Great Achievement 165 

world, that it would carry with it a lack of control and 
supervision in ecclesiastical matters, a very real exemp- 
tion from anything more than nominal taxation. Em- 
boldened by their example, the Puritan leaders of the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony attempted a government 
literally independent of the Crown save for allegiance. 
The legal concept of the relation of those first colonies to 
the Crown, as they themselves conceived it, was that of 
free and common socage, of feudal relationship, of the old 
tenure, not of a new political expedient. 

Their economic success and their establishment of a 
civil government of their own were the direct causes of 
the colonization of New England on a great scale by the 
Puritans in the decade following 1627. Both proved to 
the Puritan leaders that men of wealth, of ability, of 
foresight, could easily, with the lessons of the Pilgrims to 
guide them, establish themselves in the New World 
safely and without apprehension of interference. The 
problem was simple, success was positive for a group as 
powerful and as wealthy as theirs, if as weak and poverty 
stricken a group as the Pilgrims had been able to survive. 
If therefore the founding of Boston and the expansion of 
New England became definitive facts in the history of 
the United States, if the strength of the Massachusetts 
Bay Colony and its size became a guarantee of the per- 
manence of the English grasp of North America, the 
Pilgrims were their cause. With the motives leading 
individual Puritans to leave England, the Pilgrims had 
no immediate connection. They were themselves prod- 
ucts of the economic and ecclesiastical history of England" 
in the previous century, and not its cause. But it is 
perhaps not too much to say that had they not come, and 
had they not succeeded, the energy of the great emigra- 

1 66 The Pilgrims and their History 

tion to Massachusetts would have expended itself else- 
where and the history of the world might perhaps have 
been different. 

The direct influence of the Pilgrims upon the leaders 
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is definitely and clearly 
established. 1 Six, and in all probability nine, of the 
guarantors of the Bay Colony had been members of the 
Merchant Adventurers who financed the Pilgrims and 
who knew therefore intimately the whole story. Goffe 
was an intimate friend of Winthrop. Pocock came to the 
Colony and was Deputy Governor in Massachusetts 
under Winthrop. There can be no doubt that Cradock 
and other leaders of the Boston Colony corresponded 
with the Pilgrims, 2 saw Allerton in England, and secured 
details from him in regard to conditions in America. 
There was also Endicott at Salem, who was intimately 
acquainted with the Pilgrims for nearly two years before 
the Boston Colony sailed. Anyone who will read even 
casually the minutes of the meetings of the Governor and 
Company of Massachusetts Bay for 1628-1629, and who 
will study the elaborate lists of necessary materials to be 
brought for a settlement colony, will have no doubt that 
the experience of the Pilgrims was the essential fact guid- 
I ing those preparations. It is through Massachusetts, 
f through New England, and through all that New Eng- 
land stands for, that the influence of the Pilgrims has 
* been greatest. 

1 Ames, Log of the Mayflower, 56-58; Arber, Pilgrim Fathers, 322. 

2 Cradock sent a letter to Endicott by Allerton, Feb. 16, 1628, 
1629, Young. Chronicles of Massachusetts Bay, 132. See also the 
General Instructions to Governor & Company, id., 156. See also, 
"A Catalogue of such needefull things as every Planter doth or 
ought to provide to go to New England," in Higginson's New 
England's Plantation. Salem, 1908, pp. 113-114. 

The Great Achievement 167 

Many great achievements have been the work of men 
who understood vaguely if at all the significance of what. 
they had accomplished. Not so the Pilgrims. Even 
before they sailed the leaders seem to have had an 
inkling of the possible influence their success might have. 
In later years Bradford rejoiced " That with their miseries 
they opened a way to these new lands; and after these 
stormes, with what ease other men came to inhabite in 
them, in respecte of the calamities these men suffered." 1 
Winslow, in 1623, writing back to England, declared 
"That when I seriously consider of things, I cannot but 
think that God hath a purpose to give that land, as an 
inheritance, to our nation." 2 Exultant, they quoted 
from Isaiah: "A little one becomes a thousand and a small 
one a great nation." 

1 History, 165. Under the year 1630, he wrote: "So the light 
here kindled both to many, yea in a sorte to our whole nation," 
id., 332. Sherley wrote to Bradford on June 24, 1633, "For had 
not you and we joyned and continued togeather, New England 
might yet have been scarce knowne, I am persuaded, not so re- 
plenished and inhabited with honest English people, as now it 
is," id., 369. 

In 1654, Bradford indited a poem, which has been printed in 
Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc, 1st Series, XI, 479, in which the following 
stanza occurs: 

"But them a place God did provide 
In wilderness, and did them guide. 
Unto the American shore 
Where they made way for many more. 
They broke the ice themselves alone 
And so became a stepping stone 
For all others, who in like case 
Were glad to find a resting place." 

2 Written in 1623. Arber, Pilgrim Fathers, 581. 



Unquestionably the period from 1627 to the death of 
Bradford in 1657 was that most characteristic of life in 
the Old Colony, as it now came to be called. The ideal of 
the leaders had been realized; they had established a 
commonwealth in accordance with God's Ordinances and 
saw around them positive assurance of its future pros- 
perity. The Adventurers had been bought out; title to 
the land was theirs; interference from King and Bishops 
had been avoided. The foundations of the Church 
seemed at last absolutely secure. They now undertook 
to shape the little community consciously in all its affairs 
and observances, political, economic, and social, as well 
as ecclesiastical, in accordance with what they under- 
stood to be God's direct commands. This is the char- 
acteristic period of life at Plymouth, the years in which 
the idealism of the earlier decades was impressed upon 
those men and women whose descendants so faithfully 
transmitted that abundant heritage to a great nation. 
To the study of that heritage we must presently devote 
considerable space. 

For three decades there is little to tell beyond the tale 
of a slow, steady growth during peaceful years given 
over to the developing of the land, to the raising of 
cattle, to the improvement of agriculture, and to the 
founding of new towns. Gradually, better houses re- 
placed those first erected; better furniture appeared; 


New Plymouth in New England, 162J-1657 169 

clothing improved in quality and in amount; many of the 
little luxuries of English life became more and more 
common. To the Pilgrims themselves nothing could well 
have been more important or satisfying than this dis- 
appearance of the evidences of long, grinding poverty, 
but those who come to study it later are inclined to pass 
it impatiently by, intent on wars and rumors of wars 
which afford more dramatic material. A few landmarks 
should be mentioned and beyond them there is little to 
tell of happenings at Plymouth. In 1629 the first minis- 
ter was "called" by the Pilgrims, an event in their eyes 
of stupendous import. In 1635, something like a code of 
law was attempted and in 1636 the form of government 
was crystallized, and laws embodying it were enacted by 
the General Court. From these years the political 
" constitution " of the colony dates. In 1638, came the 
Pequod War, to which the Pilgrims sent troops, by far 
the most important single venture undertaken in New 
England during that decade. The years 1639 and 1640 
saw boundary disputes with Massachusetts, not settled 
for some decades, and the year 1640 the assignment of 
the Patent by Bradford to the freemen as a whole. The 
Undertakers also signified their willingness to surrender 
the monopoly of the Indian trade. The formation of the 
New England Confederation in 1643 regularized and 
stimulated constitutional relations with the more recent 
colonies. Beyond doubt the events next in importance 
were the loss of the four leaders to whom the colony had 
owed so much. Brewster died in 1643; Winslow left for 
England, never to return, in 1646; Standish died in 
1656; and Bradford in 1657. Bradford's passing marked 
the end of an era in Pilgrim history and signified the 
triumph of changes in the character of life in the colony, * 

170 The Pilgrims and their History 

which had been developing for two decades, but which 
had hitherto never been really apparent, much less 
dominant. The causes for the disappearance of the old 
Plymouth and for the rise of the new were fundamental 
and will presently engage our attention. 

There can be little question that the most important 
event in Pilgrim annals during this important period 
from 1627 to 1657 — far more significant in its effect 
upon Pilgrim life and ideals than anything which hap- 
pened within the limits of the Old Colony — was the 
founding and rapid growth of Massachusetts Bay and of 
the other New England colonies. Not infrequently we 
come to realize that the really momentous influences in 
the development of a people are events in the history of 
other nations, questions of relative rather than of posi- 
tive growth, the reflex and indirect results of vital 
happenings elsewhere, the relation of one community to 
those around it. It is not too much to say that the found- 
ing of Massachusetts Bay promptly altered in every 
conceivable respect the position of the Pilgrims at Plym- 
outh, and established beside them a new community of 
such vigor, size, and intellectuality as to dominate in- 
sensibly and in time to transform the ecclesiastical, 
political, and social ideals of the older but smaller and 
weaker entity. No direct influence or conscious dicta- 
tion was attempted, and the Pilgrims jealously watched 
for the slightest evidence of a disposition to interfere 
with their political or ecclesiastical independence and 
sternly, though politely, declined unsolicited offers of 
aid and assistance. The mere existence of the other 
colonies is the fact of which we must ever be conscious; 
Plymouth was no longer the largest settlement north of 
Jamestown, and that alone altered the value of every 

New Plymouth in New England, 1627-16 57 171 

element in the economic, governmental, and ecclesiastical 

New settlements sprang up on all sides of Plymouth 
after 1628. New England soon counted people by the 
hundred, cattle by the thousand, worldly goods and sup- 
plies by the shipload. In the twelve years subsequent to 
1628 no less than two hundred vessels brought emigrants, 
cattle, property. As early as 1634, four thousand in- 
habitants were grouped in about twenty towns and 
villages near Boston, with not less than fifteen hundred 
head of cattle grazing in the fields and four thousand 
goats browsing on the hillsides. By 1640, there were in 
the Massachusetts Bay Colony alone sixteen thousand 
people. Thriving and populous towns had sprung up 
along the Connecticut River, around New Haven, in 
Central Massachusetts, while others only less populous 
were located on Rhode Island, at Providence, and in 
what is now New Hampshire and Maine. The significant 
fact is not alone the great number of people who came 
and the extent of their worldly possessions; the area of 
the land they preempted and the extent of it they were 
able to utilize is scarcely less remarkable. In twelve 
years the new colonies became so numerous and powerful 
that the combined influence of the French, the Dutch, 
the Indians was seen to be clearly unable to make head- 
way against them. The English language, English law 
and institutions became paramount on the soil of North 

As the Pilgrim colony was the first to seek a home in 
the New World, so this great exodus of the Puritans to 
America was the decisive and final step in its preemption 
for an English speaking nation. They came as literally 
complete communities, already possessed of all classes, 

172 The Pilgrims and their History 

kinds, and sorts of people. Administrators, lawyers, 
doctors, clergy are well known to have come, but there 
were also farmers familiar with the soil, craftsmen to 
produce the necessary articles of husbandry and to do 
blacksmithing and iron work, artisans capable of under- 
taking most of the simple processes of manufacturing. 
Industry in any proper sense or manufacturing for ex- 
port they could hardly attempt for generations, but the 
new communities had been gathered together with a 
foresight, which made them ready to perform any task 
then regarded by Englishmen of that period as essential 
to life and happiness. Where at Plymouth, Fuller, the 
doctor, was the only one with professional training and 
he none too well educated as a doctor, even for that day, 
the professional men in Massachusetts were soon num- 
bered by the score. Alden was the only man at Plym- 
outh who really answered the description of mechanic, 
and he was at best no more than a cooper, and was quite 
incapable of undertaking the finer types of iron work. 
In Boston there were many able to perform most of the 
essential processes of blacksmithing and forging. 

We cannot be quite sure but Brewster seems to have 
been the only Pilgrim with a college career and he did not 
receive a degree, whereas in the first shiploads that came 
to Boston were many university men, and by 1639 about 
seventy university graduates, many of them men of real 
distinction, are known to have been in New England. 
In 1636 Harvard College was founded, at a time when it 
is probable that at Plymouth children were still being 
taught by Elder Brewster and some of the women, and 
taught nothing beyond the rudiments. Strong per- 
sonalities, rare at Plymouth, soon became numerous in 
the Puritan colonies. John Cotton, Roger Williams, 

New Plymouth in New England, 1627-1657 173 

John Davenport, Thomas Hooker, John Eliot, were all 
ministers of more commanding ability, magnetism, and 
influence than any of the clergymen the Pilgrims were 
able to attract, while Winthrop, Dudley, Eaton, and 
Endicott were only a few of many laymen able to com- 
mand respect by their intelligence and grasp of legal and 
administrative issues. Indeed, more definite constitu- 
tional progress was made at Massachusetts Bay in four 
years than at Plymouth in twenty. The size of the 
colony alone forced the development of political institu- 
tions at Boston and brought to the fore instantly prob- 
lems which the small size of Plymouth allowed to remain 
dormant for decades. 

The effect of the expansion of New England upon New 
Plymouth was striking. Until 1630, the Pilgrim settle- 
ment had been the one stable and prominent colony along 
the coast, the one reliance of the many factories, where a 
few adventurers with perhaps a score of indented serv- 
ants were seeking to collect furs or to dry fish. To Plym- 
outh all these had looked for protection, for guidance, 
and, what was still more difficult for the Pilgrims to pro- 
vide, for supplies of food, of goods to trade with the 
Indians, and for guns and powder. So rapid was the 
change that within a year or two after the founding of 
Boston, New Plymouth found itself no longer a leader 
and scarcely an equal, already pushed somewhat to one 
side. Ten years later it was the smallest and least power- 
ful of a "congregation of plantations/' most of which 
already deserved the name of states, and the wealth, 
numbers, and ability of each of which were far greater 
than the Pilgrims ever dreamed of possessing. One would 
have expected this disparity to have awakened real 
jealousy and discontent at Plymouth. While we find 

174 The Pilgrims and their History 

Bradford, Winslow, and Prence insisting upon due re- 
spect and theoretical equality in the various colonial 
councils, we find them all rejoicing at such growth and 
displaying genuine satisfaction that they themselves 
had been its cause. 

The history of New England is not a part of the sub- 
ject of this book. We are concerned only with the in- 
fluence of the Pilgrims on the other new New England 
colonies, and with the reciprocal influence of the newer 
colonies on the Pilgrims themselves. In a sense the re- 
mainder of our study will be concerned with this inter- 
action and reaction, but it may be well to indicate here 
that the direct influence of the Pilgrims on the other 
New England colonies and upon their institutions after 
1630 was slight, though perhaps far from negligible. On 
the other hand, the influence of Boston upon Plymouth 
was very great, gaining in importance as the century con- 
tinued. Indisputably, the tendency was for the larger, 
abler, more wealthy, and better organized unit to impose 
insensibly and unconsciously something of its methods of 
thought and procedure upon the smaller, weaker, and 
less wealthy community. The loss of political independ- 
ence by New Plymouth in 169 1 was after all only the 
official recognition of a gradual absorption of the colony 
into Massachusetts Bay which became clearer and 
clearer after the death of Brewster and Bradford. It 
was not exactly that the authorities at Boston set out to 
influence New Plymouth or felt that conquest, eco- 
nomic, social, or ecclesiastical was desirable, but the 
characteristic differences between the smaller and the 
larger units, which were so clear in 1630, began in the 
decades after 1650 gradually to disappear. Something 
must presently be said as to the claim frequently made 

New Plymouth in New England, 1627-16 57 175 

that the church organization of the other New England 
colonies was adopted or adapted from the organization v 
at Plymouth. Here in all probability the Pilgrim idea 
predominated. The resultant unit, the Massachusetts 
of the Revolution, was neither Puritan nor Pilgrim, but a 
fusing of the two. 

The founding of Boston at once changed beyond all 
recognition the problems of defense, of subsistence, and 
of profit at Plymouth. The size and importance of the 
Bay Colony made the problem of defense for evermore 
subsidiary and unimportant. As for subsistence, there 
was now always within easy reach food and European 
supplies more than sufficient to meet any possible de- 
mands of the Pilgrims. Starvation and want became 
impossible. Indeed, so much greater were the resources * 
of the Bay Colony that the Pilgrims might easily have 
drawn from it luxuries in an overabundance had they 
been inclined or able. There was again created at once 
at their door a market for what the Pilgrims themselves 
had to sell and a source of supply for what they wished to 
buy. The dependence of Plymouth on England was 
practically ended and the failure of one voyage or the 
miscarriage of plans could no longer have serious results. 

Very soon indeed an active interchange of visits and 
trade sprang up between Plymouth and the Bay Colony 
towns. 1 The relations between the two were dominated 

1 The evidence for the extent and character of the relations of 
the Pilgrims with the other New England colonies is more frag- 
mentary, casual, and scattered than we could wish, but of itself, 
considering the extraordinary fulness of the records of the Bay 
Colony, must indicate a connection by no means extensive, regular, 
or systematic. This is precisely what we might expect from the- 
rigid "separatism" attempted at Plymouth and the anxiety there 
to maintain absolute equality and independence with the newer 

176 The Pilgrims and their History 

by the spirit of cooperation between brothers and equals. 
There was a certain amount of dispute and bickering 
over boundaries and over fishing rights at Cape Ann and 
in Maine, but on the whole the Pilgrims had little to com- 
plain of in the treatment accorded them by the new- 
comers. Winthrop and Dudley manifested the utmost 
respect for Bradford's counsel and advice, and Bradford 
was not slow himself to call upon Winthrop for legal 
suggestion in the case of Billington, who was accused of 
murder and was eventually executed. Fuller was sent 
to aid the sick at Salem in 1628-1629 and the Pilgrims on 
occasion received aid in dealing with undesirable char- 
acters, and, on occasion, gave it. Morton of Merrimount 
reappeared; Sir Christopher Gardner and Samuel 
Gorton were dealt with by cooperative action. A brisk 
trade in cattle very soon sprang up and the purchase in 
Boston by the Pilgrims of European goods, paid for in 
cattle and grain. Winslow seems to have developed 
something like a business in pasturing cattle and swine, 
sent down cross country from Boston. Before long the 
Pilgrims were paying merchants in England with bills of 
exchange drawn on Boston. As the years went on this 
method of exchange became more and more common. 
Indeed, from the first travel between the various little 
groups in New England had been active. Many of the 
first fur-trading groups visited Plymouth and the Pil- 
grims themselves looked in during the first year or two 

but stronger colonies. Bradford tells us a good deal in a casual 
way and something more can be gleaned from the letters of Brad- 
ford and Winslow to Winthrop in the Winthrop Papers, printed 
in the Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th Series, VI, 156-184. The records 
and histories of the Bay Colony itself are singularly lacking in 
references to Plymouth. 


New Plymouth in New England, 162J-165J 177 

upon all of the settlements on the New England coast. 
As soon as the Bay Colony was founded various mem- 
bers of both began changing residence. There was the 
whole wilderness to choose from, so that a man, dis- 
satisfied with the land, water, woods, or companions in 
one place, found it a simple matter to transport himself 
and his goods to another. The population was really % 
much more fluid in early New England than we com- 
monly credit. A good many men were born in Plymouth, 
grew up in Boston or Lynn, lived a while in Rhode Island, 
Connecticut, or New York, paid a visit to Virginia, and 
died somewhere else. 

The movement which founded New England was 
distinctly and decidedly one of immigration on a large 
scale, and was characterized by the movement of large, 
groups of people rather than of individuals. Whole 
communities arose in England and transplanted them- 
selves bodily with such of their possessions as could be 
moved. Towns, already settled and organized near 
Boston, grew dissatisfied and moved themselves and 
their belongings to the Connecticut River Valley. Noth- 
ing short of this movement of great masses of people and 
the resort to them in a continual stream of smaller 
groups could have created so rapidly such considerable 
colonies. Of this type of movement nearly all the New 
England colonies except Plymouth were the result. 
Even Rhode Island grew faster in numbers than Plym- 
outh, which to the end was primarily the result of the 
slow, natural growth of a population, which came in the 
first years, and of the slow development of the natural 
resources of the district by the labor of its first comers. 
The original investment in money and goods was cal- 
culated in 1627 at about £7000, and after 1630 there was 

178 The Pilgrims and their History 

only a very gradual accession of people or of capital. 
Plymouth was the result of the unremitting toil of a small 
group of people upon a definite location. Unquestion- 
ably, it was an economic success, a fact regarding which 
more will be said presently, but the rate of growth in 
population and in wealth, in the increased acreage of 
farms and in the size of the fur trade could not be greater 
without the accession of large numers of people. Ship- 
load after shipload came from England and settled else- 
where. Why did these immigrants not come to Plym- 
outh? This is perhaps the most fundamental and 
essential inquiry in Pilgrim history. Why should only 
individuals have resorted to Plymouth? * Why should 
the little body of men and women who began the colony 
have been the only large group of settlers, and the men 
and women of 1691, with few exceptions, people of the 
second generation, themselves born in America? The 
inquiry is by no means simple, and contains the secret of 
the history of the colony after 1630. 

The first fact to emphasize — though perhaps not neces- 
sarily the most important in answer to this question — is 
the alteration of the strategic position of Plymouth by 

1 This distinction should not be exaggerated into the statement, 
that there was no emigration to Plymouth. There were always 
a considerable number of newcomers in the colony, but the ma- 
jority did not remain there, migrating more or less promptly to 
Boston or Connecticut, less commonly to Rhode Island. In the 
western parts of the patent, thriving towns grew up but were 
founded usually by settlers from the Bay Colony who introduced 
Puritan ideas and institutions. The Pilgrims looked at them 
askance, for they truly saw them to be aliens whose increase 
would endanger the predominance of the town of Plymouth, if 
not the perpetuation of the ideas for which they had already 
sacrificed so much. 

New Plymouth in New England, 1627- 1657 179 

the expansion of New England. Its economic oppor- 
tunities were not comparable after 1630 with those to be 
found elsewhere. It occupied no strategic position for 
trading, for agriculture, or for communication. The 
location had been selected without relation to the future 
development of the country and to the part which the 
colony might play in it. Indeed, the Pilgrims were at 
first seeking seclusion and hoped to locate at a distance 
from other colonies, on a spot which others would not 
wish to utilize; and, though at first in a hurry to find some 
place to winter, did not later, when they could easily 
have done so, move the settlement to some better loca- 
tion. Once more we find the clue in the original plan of 
founding a colony to be maintained from England with 
the proceeds of the fish, furs, and lumber sent back from 
America. No great accession of people was expected or 
desired. Agriculture on a large scale was not contem- 
plated until the colony was already deeply rooted. 
Plymouth itself had been selected chiefly because the 
first comers were too few and too weak to clear a large 
acreage of new land. Its fields were for that very reason 
"old land." The soil, never perhaps very fertile, had 
been exhausted by constant cropping and only by regular 
and perhaps excessive fertilization could be made to 
yield at all. Around Plymouth itself there was abundant 
good water, but the rest of the land granted by the 
patent was too level to drain well, and there were in 
consequeifce a good many marshes and bogs, as well as 
a goodly area of sand. There was too much better land 
elsewhere in New England for agriculturists to seek 
Plymouth in great numbers. 

For their first purposes the harbor had seemed ex- 
cellent and strategically located. They had expected 

1 80 The Pilgrims and their History 

to use nothing larger than small sailing ships of from 
thirty to eighty tons and for such craft Plymouth har- 
bor was deep enough and large enough. But it was too 
shallow and too small to be used as a rendevous for fishing 
or trading fleets and never could become an emporium for 
trade with England or with the Atlantic Coast. Nor 
was it located strategically in relation to the supply of 
fish and fur after 1640. The Indian population of 
Massachusetts had been sadly decimated in 161 7 and 
the gatherers of furs were few; the fur-bearing animals 
themselves had never been numerous and a decade of 
constant hunting between 1620 and 1630 had depop- 
ulated the woods; and the newer colonies occupied better 
positions than Plymouth for the control of such fur- 
trade as there was left. The Pilgrims were at once 
thrown back upon their fishing station at Cape Ann and 
upon the fur-trading station in Maine. They were now 
unable to export to England from their own immediate 
vicinity, and other colonies were better placed than they 
for the trade of the Grand Banks and of the Maine coast. 
Nor was Plymouth on the natural line of communica- 
tions which emigration itself from one spot to another 
could follow. The Charles River valley was the true road 
to the interior of Massachusetts and Boston controlled 
it. The Merrimac valley was the true road to the interior 
of northern Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and 
Salem and Newburyport controlled it. The direct road 
between the Charles River valley and Narragansett Bay 
passed Plymouth by. The colony was therefore unable to 
benefit from the passage of settlers elsewhere, to serve as 
an outlet for their trade, or as a rendezvous for ships 
directed to them. Nor must the limited area assigned by 
the patent of 1630 be forgotten. There was not within 

New Plymouth in New England, 1627-16 57 181 

its limits room for any considerable number of people, 
nor within the whole district enough arable land of good 
quality to have made possible the reception at Plym- 
outh of such a colony as Hooker's, or even the ad- 
dition of such a group as Williams soon gathered at 

The extent of the disadvantages of the first site had 
become clear to Standish and Alden as early as 163 1 and 
they had in consequence removed to more fertile land at 
Duxbury, in the teeth of strenuous opposition from their 
associates. They carried with them Brewster's two 
children, Collier, already a wealthy man, and others of 
importance. Brewster himself soon followed them. The 
General Court decreed in the following year that Plym- 
outh should always be the seat of Government and that 
the Governor should reside there, but the removals and 
defections continued. Bradford stood stoutly for the 
maintenance of Church and Government at Plymouth 
and for the time prevailed. But year by year the agita- 
tion was renewed; and finally in 1644, after long and u 
vehement debates, the majority voted to abandon the 
old site altogether and move to Nauset. Bradford, 
though outvoted, though deprived of the support of the 
other leaders already themselves deserters, determined 
to end his days at Plymouth, if he lived there alone. 
Thereupon, a goodly number decided to abide with him. 
The remainder, led by several men of prominence, in- 
cluding Prence, Bradford's real successor, did leave 
Plymouth and founded the town of Eastham, upon 
a location fully as disadvantageous as Plymouth ex- 
cept for the quality of the soil. Of the leaders, 
Bradford and Howland alone were left in the first 
settlement. Bradford's sorrow over this exodus found 

182 The Pilgrims and their History 

expression in a poem, "A Word to Plymouth," written 
in 1654. 

"O Poor Plymouth, how dost thou moan, 
Thy children are all from thee gone, 
And left thou art in widow's state, 
Poor, helpless, sad and desolate." 

This lack of strategic position — the immediate result of 
the founding of the other New England colonies — was 
not the most important or most significant fact in ex- 
plaining the failure of immigrants to settle at Plymouth 
itself or within the limits of the colony. The true reasons 
were ecclesiastical, governmental, economic, and social, 
and deserve treatment at considerable length. 



The ecclesiastical ideas of the Pilgrims are the key to 
the comprehension of their history and can be properly 
understood only in the light of the history of dissent in 
England both before and after the Pilgrim exodus. They 
alone explain the fundamental problems in Pilgrim an- 
nals — the emigration to Holland and to America; the 
aloofness of Plymouth from the other New England 
colonies; the failure of large bodies of new immigrants to 
locate under the Pilgrim patent; the peculiar features of 
political, social, and economic life; the inclusion of Plym- 
outh within Massachusetts in 1691. The dominant 
note of Plymouth was struck by the Church and not by 
the State. There was to be a commonwealth founded 
upon "God's Ordinances" and not upon the devices of 
men. The Pilgrims were not merely Separatists but a 
peculiar variety of Separatists. The truth seems to be 
that at the time they left England they represented the 
radical wing of English Protestant dissent. Immediately 
after their exodus, both wings of the dissenting party 
ceased to develop along the lines they had chosen and 
espoused ideas either more conservative or more radical 
than theirs. The object of the Pilgrims was in fact to 
crystallize and perpetuate in the New World what we 
now see to have been a transitional phase of the Puritan 
movement in England. 

It is only in recent years that the necessary evidence 
has come to light for the study of this first phase of the 


184 The Pilgrims and their History 

Puritan movement. 1 Its first effective form was the 
Classis Movement of 1582 to 1592. They felt that the 
true interpretation of primitive Christianity had then 
been found and vested the governmental authority in 
the Classis of ministers, which was to define doctrine, to 
perform various acts of discipline, to choose and con- 
secrate new ministers, to appoint them to their places, 
and the like. The Classis on the whole assumed the 
duties which the Bishops had performed, but for the 
laity there was as little place as in Episcopacy. If they 
had been ruled, directed, and instructed by the Bishops, 
they were to be none the less subordinate to the Classis. 
While there was in these early years a very general feeling 
that the Episcopacy was without warrant of Scripture 
and was therefore to be denounced and supplanted, there 
was also an almost universal belief that the Church could 
and should be transformed rather than destroyed. The 
method which seems to have met most favor was the 
vesting of Episcopal authority in the Classis, of which the 
Bishop should become a fellow member on terms of 
substantial equality with the ministers. A variety of 
suggestions and changes were considered which made 
him something better than an equal, but in general the 
Classis, and not the Bishop, was to exercise the authority. 
The characteristic element in this phase of the Puritan 
movement lay however in the retention, substantially 
intact, of the existing Church organization and of the 
great bulk of the existing observances and ritual. Stress 
was laid upon the change or toleration of "things in- 

1 Usher, R. G., Presbyterian Movement in the Reign of Queen 
Elizabeth, London, 1905; and Reconstruction of the English Church, 
2 vols. New York and London, 1910; Burrage, C, Early English 
Dissenters, 2 vols., Cambridge, 191 2. 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 185 

different," such as the sign of the cross in Baptism, the 
use of the ring in marriage, the wearing of the surplice, as 
changes highly desirable but perhaps not vital. For 
this transformation of Church government and for this 
change of practice and doctrine, the Puritan movement 
agitated with more or less energy and directness from 
about 1582 to 1604, when this phase of the movement 
culminated in the presentation of the Puritan cause at the 
Hampton Court Conference. 

This definition of aims by the bulk of the Puritan 
party promptly led to the espousal of more radical ideas 
by the minority, which itself split up into several groups 
led by Brown, Ainsworth, Johnson and others. Most of 
them urged the rejection of Bishops altogether and the 
separation from the Church as a thing unworthy and 
unclean. There should be no paltering or compromising 
with the heritage of Popes. It should all be swept away 
and something better put in its place. The new Church 
government espoused by the radicals made place for the 
opinions of the laity in the choice of the ministers and 
even in the formulation of the creed, a fact of the utmost 
consequence. To these radical groups the Scrooby 
Church belonged. It was, however, organized at a period 
when many of these radicals had already left England for 
Holland and had separated not only from the Church but 
from the main body of the Puritans as well. It was a 
time moreover when the majority of the Puritans were 
to be tested for the staunchness of their faith, and when 
they were about, as the Pilgrims themselves would have 
said, to sell their Master for thirty pieces of silver and be 
branded with the mark of the Beast. 

In 1 604- 1 605, Archbishop Bancroft forced the issue 
of separation from the Church or conformity to its ob- 

1 86 The Pilgrims and their History 

servances upon the reluctant Puritans. Those who 
would not conform were to be deprived of their benefices 
and there should be little if any toleration of tender con- 
sciences. Thus went forth the fiat. There is no fact in 
Pilgrim annals so important as the conformity of the 
overwhelming majority of the Puritan party at this 
time. They did accept the laws and observances of the 
Established Church. They found that they preferred to 
remain within it, even at some little cost, rather than to 
leave it. The few who were deprived, the more con- 
siderable number who were threatened with deprivation, 
nearly all conformed within three years, read the prayer- 
book, wore the surplice, followed the observances of the 
Church, and retained their benefices. The Puritan 
movement in England therefore continued as a movement 
within the Church and the gulf between them and the 
Pilgrims was already in 1608 impassable, for the Pilgrims 
regarded as the very foundation of ecclesiastical polity 
the separation from the English Church. As time went 
on the main body of the Puritans came to feel an attach- 
ment for the Established Church just as the Pilgrim de- 
testation of it was intensified; came to possess a real ap- 
proval of its position, doctrine, and observances as the 
Pilgrim disapproval became more and more vehement. 
Those who came to New England in 1630 and after from 
the main body of the Puritans were not men who could 
sympathize with the views of the Pilgrims on Church 
government or whom the Pilgrims on their own part were 
willing to see settle at Plymouth. 

The minority of the Puritan party had already by 
1608 split up into a number of groups, some of which were 
already abroad, and all of which continued to develop 
doctrinal ideas which had not been approved, and in the 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 187 

majority of instances not even considered, by the Eng- 
lish parties in the decade 1595 to 1605, in which the 
Scrooby Church seems to have had its origin. One and 
all these radicals maintained an entire separation from 
the English Church. With practical unanimity they 
accorded the laity a share in Church government and 
discipline, and in particular in the choice of the ministry 
gave them voice. But, while the Pilgrims clung with an 
almost passionate devotion to the essentially negative 
doctrinal platform of the years 1590 and 1605, all other 
English sects, who could bring themselves to separate 
from the Church, proceeded to divagate in doctrine from 
the Church itself, from the main body of the Puritan 
party still in England, and from their own earlier doc- 
trinal ideas. Questions of Baptism by immersion, the 
nature of the Eucharist, and a number of other issues of 
the first importance and complexity kept these little 
groups constantly in turmoil and dissension. Already 
before the Pilgrims reached Leyden, the earlier doctrinal 
position was assailed in the English Churches at Amster- 
dam and the change continued apace in the years the 
Pilgrims were in Holland. Indeed, they left Amsterdam 
to escape contamination and eventually departed for 
New England that they might be alone to develop their 
own particular ideas, choosing the wilderness because it 
seemed impossible to find anywhere in England or Hol- 
land a body of people who thought exactly as they did. 
The potent fact is that none of those reaching the New 
World after 1620 professed that precise variety of dissent 
which the Pilgrims themselves were seeking to crystallize 
and perpetuate. The Pilgrims represented a transitional 
phase of the great Protestant movement, one whose 
duration in England itself was short, and they found 


1 88 The Pilgrims and their History 

themselves isolated, stranded, pushed to one side by the 
subsequent development of Protestantism both in Eng- 
land and in America. They maintained unflinchingly at 
Plymouth an ideal which had long ceased to have a 
numerous following in England. Here is the secret of 
that lack of numerical growth at Plymouth: there was no 
normal constituency in England or America from which 
they could draw adherents. Other religious malcontents 
found there no congenial atmosphere. On the other 
hand, there were plenty of colonies willing to absorb the 
Pilgrims' own dissenters. 

The Pilgrims seem to have caught up a passing phase 
of the religious transition in England at a time when 
events were moving rapidly. They had found them- 
selves at Scrooby practically isolated from other Puritan 
bodies and had therefore continued the primary impulse 
without subsequent modification by the thought and 
controversy which changed so greatly the other Puritan 
bodies. They were not part of the Puritan movement 
and disliked it. When they found at Amsterdam that 
contact with the English Churches there was likely to 
modify their ideas, they fled. They developed at Leyden 
quite alone and again at Plymouth quite alone. They 
had thus nourished in isolation a position which was 
itself a negation, nothing more than an uncompromising 
hostility to the Established Church of England and to the 
ordination of Bishops. They had also reached the con- 
clusion that certain practices observed in England must 
not be performed, but otherwise in discipline, doctrine, 
and observances, they waited for further illumination. 
Their position was at once too uncompromising and too 
fluid. They had rejected the one Church and declined to 
accept the substitutes. 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 189 

Nor did they occupy in America a logical and defensi- 
ble position. In England, face to face with an Estab- 
lished Church, the denial of its principles and of its diving 
authority was a practical creed, capable of creating a tie 
of association, but in the New World, far from Estab- 
lished Churches, far from Bishops who were not menacing 
them, who had indeed forgotten about them, it became 
artificial and forced. Always a disruptive tendency 
rather than a cohesive force, it had separated them from 
the English Church rather than established them in a 
position of their own. It looked backward and not for- , 
ward; it was destructive rather than constructive of a 
vital entity, endowed with energy of its own. For the 
generation of Bradford the old contention had real 
meaning, but for the second and third generations the 
bond became too weak to retain their allegiance, and 
certainly could not provide attractions for others looking 
for a positive and not a negative Christianity. 

Nowhere does this isolation of the Pilgrims reveal itself 
more clearly than in their difficulties in finding a minister. 
In accordance with the agreement, Robinson, the pastor, 
had remained at Leyden and those who sailed on the 
Mayflower had been accompanied by Elder Brewster as 
Teacher. He expounded the Scriptures and held services 
of prayer and praise, but was forbidden by their previous 
conclusions to expound doctrine, to baptize, or to cele- 
brate the communion. As Robinson's departure from 
Leyden was year by year deferred, and as the desirability 
of celebrating the "communion at Plymouth became more 
and more obvious, Brewster wrote to inquire from 
Robinson whether he might not in the interim safely 
perform this vital service for the Pilgrim community. 
Robinson had replied with an unequivocal negation: no 

190 The Pilgrims and their History 

teacher might arrogate to himself the function of a 
minister. 1 When the news of Robinson's death in 1625 
dashed the hope so long deferred, it is surprising that 
the Pilgrims did not exercise their power as a Church to 
call Brewster to the ministry. We know directly nothing 
whatever, but it seems probable that Brewster himself 
opposed the step and there was no other Pilgrim who 
possessed even primary qualifications. 

The Church organization of the Pilgrims was indeed 
flexible. They considered themselves possessed of the 
power to ordain a minister and to choose all Church 
officers, to draw up for themselves a creed and to enact 
all necessary ecclesiastical legislation. They distin- 
guished sharply,, however, between the Church and the 
congregation. The former consisted of those adults who 
had been accepted by the others as consecrated to the 
service of God and able to give testimony of their faith. 
The congregation on the other hand included all in- 
habitants who did not decidedly espouse some other 
worship. The Church was the governing and disciplinary 
body and governed the rest. Its organization was 
voluntary and it seems to have possessed at Scrooby, at 
Leyden and in the early years at Plymouth, no financial 
organization. Contributions were made for the minister's 
support at Plymouth in land, food, and clothes, but there 
is no evidence that Brewster or any other worker was 
paid in the ordinary sense of the word until 1655. 2 

None the less the Pilgrims were nonplussed to find a 

1 Bradford, History, 200. 

2 S. S. Green, Use of the Voluntary System in the Maintenance of 
Ministers in the Colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, 
American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, April, 1886. Sep- 
arately printed, Worcester, Mass., 1886. 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 191 

minister. When Allerton went to England on business in 
1626-1627, he was to find a clergyman, but experienced 
such difficulties in securing anyone whose views seemed 
to harmonize with theirs, that he finally brought back 
with him a man who soon gave clear proof of insanity. 
Early in 1629 a boat load of Pilgrims, returning from a 
trading expedition, found a Mr. Ralph Smith at a strag- 
gling settlement on the coast. He had migrated from 
England with his family and was much discontented 
where he was, and, understanding that he had once been 
a minister, they brought him to Plymouth and allotted 
him a house and land. After some months they chose him 
minister. He was an eminently good and respectable 
man, but infinitely inferior to Brewster and to Winslow, 
who seems on occasion to have officiated. 

A few years later there came a man of "many precious 
parts" in the person of Roger Williams. He had landed 
at Boston, where having some words with Winthrop and 
others, packed up his goods and departed. At Plymouth 
he was well received; he liked the people and was liked. 
He speedily proved his ability as a clergyman and was 
called to the ministry. For a while all went well, but soon 
he seems to have taken it upon himself to administer 
some "sharp admonitions and reproofs" to the leaders, 
and to have propounded some of those opinions for which 
he was later expelled from Massachusetts Bay and for 
which he became famous at Providence. He was " Godly 
and zealous" the Pilgrims agreed, but "very unsettled in 
judgment," and after a time migrated to Salem. 1 Brad- 
ford charitably concludes his account in his History with 

1 He left behind him an unpaid debt to Fuller, the Pilgrim doc- 
tor, for professional services, which Fuller "freely presented to 
him" in his will. Mayflower Descendant, I, 28, 1633. 

192 The Pilgrims and their History 

the words, "He is to be pitied and prayed for and so I 
shall leave the matter and desire the learned to shew him 
his errors and reduse him into the way of truth and give 
him a setled judgment and constancie in the same; for I 
hope he. belongs to the Lord and that he will shew him 

For some time after Williams' departure, they were 
without other ministrations than those of Smith and 
finally, perhaps growing tired of him, perhaps coming to 
some difference of opinion with him, they induced John 
Reynor to emigrate from England and become their 
clergyman. After a short trial, rinding him like his 
predecessor mediocre in ability and temperament, they 
induced a really capable and magnetic personality, 
Charles Chauncey, to come to them from England. Un- 
questionably a learned and able man, the very sort of a 
man they needed most at Plymouth, he at once proved, 
like other energetic characters, to have proceeded in his 
thinking in a somewhat "irregular" direction. Soon he 
began to preach the necessity of baptism by immersion. 
They argued with him at great length, loath to let him go ; 
called upon the Boston and Connecticut clergy for assist- 
ance. They were quite willing that he should hold such 
views about baptism as he wished, but he would not 
agree to stay with them, unless they were willing to admit 
that the tenet was as essential as he thought it to be. 
He went to Scituate where after a time of prosperity his 
Church again fell into controversy and dissolved. 
Reynor stayed with the Plymouth Church until 1654, 
when for thirteen years there was at Plymouth itself no 
pastor, Elder Cushman holding services as Brewster had 
in the first years. 

It is hardly possible to overemphasize the importance 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 193 

of the fact that the Plymouth Church was an attempt to 
crystallize a transitional step in the development of 
English dissent. Consequently they found themselves 
isolated, unable to increase their strength because there 
was no larger body of believers from whom they might 
draw adherents. So far as they could discover after 1630, 
there was not in all England one man of real ability 
who believed as they did, nor were there any laymen of 
real ability who came to Plymouth in any number to 
strengthen the Pilgrim state. True, the ability and 
commanding personality of Brewster and of Bradford was 
sufficient to maintain the original position during their 
lives, and to make Plymouth a decidedly uncomfortable 
spot for able men of different ecclesiastical persuasion, 
but the result could only be to preserve the position dur- 
ing their lives to lose it beyond a peradventure at their 
deaths. They bequeathed both Church and State to 
men who were intellectually too weak and too lacking in 
magnetism to maintain their peculiar ecclesiastical posi- 
tion against the strong current of opinion in the other 
New England Churches, there exemplified, as in England 
itself, by men of the first caliber. 

Of Pilgrim practice and belief aside from Church 
government we have comparatively few reliable indica- 
tions. About Robinson's ideas both before and after the 
exodus, we have the fullest possible details, but Robin- 
son's opinions changed from year to year and exactly 
what version of them Brewster taught at Plymouth we 
do not know. Of the precise theological angle of Smith 
and Reynor we know still less. The first Church cov- 
enant of the Pilgrims we have, but it does not greatly 
assist us. "In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in 
obedience to his holy will and divine ordinances. Wee 

194 The Pilgrims and their History 

being by the most wise and good providence of God 
brought together in this place and desirous to unite our 
selves into one congregation or church under the Lord 
Jesus Christ our Head, that it may be in such sort as 
becometh all those whom he hath redeemed and sanc- 
tifyed to himselfe, wee doe hereby solemnly and relig- 
iously (as in his most holy presence) avouch the Lord 
Jehovah the only true God to be our God and the God of 
ours and doe promise and binde ourselves to walke in all 
our wayes according to the Rule of the Gospel and in all 
sincere conformity to His holy ordinances and in mutuall 
love to and watchfullnesse over one another, depending 
wholly and only upon the Lord our God to enable us by 
his grace hereunto." 1 No doubt the majority of these 
statements refer to Church government and there is 
certainly as far as doctrine is concerned nothing in it 
explicit. We do know that the Pilgrims were stout 
Calvinists of a conservative angle, believed in predestina- 
tion, and in the doctrine of the elect, and in all implied 
by both. 2 Brewster possessed a considerable library, 
chiefly of expository works; 3 several men owned Cahirfs 

1 This the First Church declared in 1676 was the original Church 
Covenant, so far as men alive remembered it or notes or letters 
could establish it. Plymouth First Church Records, I, printed in 
full in Mayflower Descendant, V, 214-215. 

2 John Cotton, Jr., wrote to Mather on December 11, 1676, be- 
wailing " the power of Satan in hurrying soules to hell through di- 
vine permission." It would seem that the conservatism of Robinson 
before 1620 had not been forgotten. Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th 
Series , VIII, 241. 

3 A careful reprint of the original list is in Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc, 
2nd Series, III, 261-274. In Ibid., V, 37-85, is a careful identifica- 
tion of these entries by H. M. Dexter. There were three hundred 
and two English books and sixty- two Latin; ninety-eight exposi- 
tory, sixty-three doctrinal, sixty-nine practical religious books, 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 195 

Institutes, the writings of St. Augustine, and the majority 
of theological tracts published in England of Puritan 
and Separatist persuasion before 1620, with some books 
of later date. Unfortunately, the libraries were too 
varied in character to enable us to conclude anything 
in regard to the theological views of the men who 
owned them. Of their ideas regarding the Godhead, the 
Trinity, the substances in the communion (the word 
eucharist they deemed Popish and offensive) we know 
nothing. 1 While they objected to the surplice, their 
ministers and elders wore a black gown with a white 
band, after the fashion of the French and Genevese. 
Winslow was imprisoned in England in 1635 for 
marrying people by virtue of his authority as mag- 
istrate. 2 

We are quite sure that they "called" their ministers 
and made Fuller, the doctor, deacon, 3 but by what pre- 

twenty-four historical, thirty-six "ecclesiastical," six philosophical, 
fourteen poetical, fifty-four miscellaneous. The dates of publica- 
tion seemed to Dr. Dexter most significant: fully seventy-five per 
cent were earlier than 1620, but the remainder were published 
in the years between 162 1 and 1643, every year being represented 
except 1639 and 1642, and prove that Brewster continued to buy 
books. There was a treatise on timber, another on silk-worms 
(at Plymouth!), a volume of George Wither's poetry, Bodin, 
Bacon, Aristotle, Machiavelli, but no Shakespeare. 

x In 1666, complaint was made to the Court of the "horrible 
blasphemy" "that Christ as God is equall with the Father but 
as Mediator the Father is greater than hee." This is not very 
solid ground for deductions covering Pilgrim belief on the Trinity. 
Plymouth Colony Records, IV, 112. The Records to 1650 contain 
nothing on such points. 

2 Bradford, History, 390-393. 

3 Over this, Morton made very merry in his New English Canaan 
(Prince Soc), 297. They chose a man "that long time had bin 
nurst up in the tender bosome of the Church; one that had speciall 

196 The Pilgrims and their History 

cise ceremony we do not know. There is every reason to 
believe that the real calling consisted in the trying test of 
long weeks and months of association, and not in any 
particular event. No doubt the candidate also made 
public confession of his faith, answered questions put 
to him by the older men at some stated and formal 
meeting, at which his calling was to be ratified. Surely 
their minds had been made up about the candidate before 
the formal election. Undoubtedly they judged his 
efficiency from such information as they had and tol- 
erated no opinions other than their own. Previous 
ordination was for them worthless. The laity were ad- 
mitted to fellowship in the Church only after stringent 
tests in private and in public. If we can judge at all 
from what was said in a later generation when the prac- 
tice was abandoned, one qualification upon which they 
rigidly insisted was the ability of the candidate to give 
an account of his faith publicly and orally, assuredly a 
trying test for many a good soul. 

The religious meetings were held first in the cabin of 
the Mayflower, probably throughout the first winter, 
though the first service was held on shore in the Common 
House in March, 162 1. Then they used the lowest story 
of the new fort, which they finished in 1623, until about 
1648, when the first meeting house was built at the back 
of Bradford's garden at the foot of the hill below the 
fort. The room or meeting house must have been simple 
in the extreme. We have no knowledge of the use of a 
pulpit at first; the Teacher or Minister probably stood 
and his congregation sat around him on stools or benches. 

gifts: hee could wright and reede; nay more: he had tane the oath 
of abjuration which is a speciall stepp, yea and a maine degree unto 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 197 

He prayed with his head uncovered, they stood with 
bowed heads, and they all closed their eyes during the 
prayer, a practice which visitors remarked as unusual. 1 
For the Communion they probably used a table, brought 
from some one's house perhaps, though whether they 
knelt to receive or sat we have no authentic hint. Some 
dissenting bodies did, others did not. Baptism was per- 
formed in any part of the Church convenient, from some 
ordinary basin or dish. The use of a particular vessel 
would have seemed to them to smack of the ceremonies 
of the Established Church. The head of the child or 
adult was sprinkled with a little water from the fingers of 
the minister, who probably did not touch the child and 
certainly did not make the sign of the cross. They used 
in service the Geneva version of the Bible and Ains- 
worth's Psalms, which they sang in unison without the 
accompaniment of any musical instrument. 

The Dutchman, De Rasieres, told of their method of 
marching to service on Sundays and holidays. "They 
assemble by beat of drum, each with his musket or fire- 
lock in front of the captain's door; they have their cloaks 
on and place themselves in order three abreast and are 
led by a sergeant without beat of drum; behind comes the 
Governor in a long robe; beside him on the right hand 
comes the Preacher with his cloak on, and on the left 
hand, the Captain with his side-arms and cloak on, and 
with a small cane in his hand; and so they march in 
good order and each sets his arms down near him." 2 
This was in 1627. A few years later Governor Winthrop, 

x Arber, Pilgrim Fathers, 294; Bradford, History, 493; Morton, 
New English Canaan, Prince Soc, 334. This is a very obscure 
point, however. 

2 Reprinted in full in Goodwin, Pilgrim Republic, 308. 

198 The Pilgrims and their History 

Pastor Winslow of the Boston Church, and some others, 
paid a visit to Plymouth and attended Church on Sunday 
forenoon. During the afternoon a further service was 
held, at which the guests from Boston listened with such 
composure as they might to Roger Williams, who had 
left them under somewhat strained circumstances the 
year before. Williams "propounded" a question in 
Puritan phrase. Pastor Smith then "expounded" it, 
after which Williams "prophesied," that is to say, 
preached. Bradford spoke and was followed by Elder 
Brewster and other Pilgrims. Winthrop was then in- 
vited to speak and was followed by Pastor Winslow. 
Deacon Fuller then reminded the people of the blessed- 
ness of giving; whereupon Bradford solemnly rose, 
proceeded to the Deacon's seat, deposited his offer- 
ing, and the others in order of prominence followed 

In the modern sense of the word, the Pilgrims were 
perhaps not tolerant, but surely a great deal of miscon- 
ception has prevailed about their intolerance, and an 
amount of praise has been accorded others which they 
do not deserve. Certainly they did not allow people of 
all shades of opinion, of all walks of life, and of all va- 
rieties and conditions to reside permanently within their 
jurisdiction. In fact no man or woman was allowed to 
remain overnight without explicit permission, and those 
who proved themselves obnoxious in any way were 
promptly expelled without hesitation or delay. The 
Quakers received no charitable handling at Plymouth. 
At the same time the Pilgrims were hospitable to a fault 
and did give temporary refuge readily to all sorts, kinds, 
and conditions of men. If their rule seems unyielding, 

must be remembered that it was enforced by Bradford 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 199 

in a very elastic and flexible way, with a serious attempt 
to mete out justice to all. So far as we know, while the 
Pilgrims were the only considerable settlement on the 
coast, no one was turned away, however unworthy, and 
many were kept for months of whom the Pilgrims would 
have been glad to rid themselves. In later years, when 
the other settlements outnumbered the Pilgrims ten to 
one, and there was little if any chance of people not 
finding refuge, the Pilgrims were less ready to permit 
those of whom they did not approve to make more than 
temporary visits to the jurisdiction. They were cer-\ 
tainly as tolerant as any men of their time and under the 
circumstances perhaps more so than others. 

At the same time, we shall much misrepresent them, 
if we suppose for an instant that they came to America 
in order to promulgate the idea that anyone might come 
to Plymouth and think what he liked, or to found a 
refuge for people who wished to disagree with them. 
On the contrary, they came to escape the necessity of 
tolerating those who disagreed with them, in the hope 
that they might be able to erect in America a temporal 
organization sufficiently strong to keep divergent minds 
at something better than arm's length. With that in- 
tention the age was entirely in sympathy. Toleration 
was not then believed to be a virtue and the conduct of 
Bradford at Plymouth is the exact counterpart of that 
of Winthrop at Boston, of Eaton and Davenport at New 
Haven, and of Oliver Cromwell in England. Toleration 
was then in the making and these men were making it. 
To it none contributed more than the Pilgrims, but they 
themselves did not know it, and would have denied it 
with asperity and vehemence, if they had been charged 
with it. 

200 The Pilgrims and their History 

Bibliographical Notes 

Pilgrim Church History. The excessive fear of interference 
from England and the determination to provide no prima facie 
evidence of failure to conform to the requirements of the 
Established Church perhaps explains the decision of the 
Pilgrims to keep no church records. The first section of the 
records of Plymouth First Church consists of the manuscript 
of Morton's New England's Memorial, most of which was 
based upon Bradford's History and the rest of which is 
utterly unreliable. The records proper begin in 1667 with 
Cotton's pastorate and have been printed in the Mayflower 
Descendant, IV, V, VIII, etc. The histories and literature of 
the New England Churches in general either omit Plymouth 
altogether or barely mention it. Neither Lechford's Plaine 
Dealing (Trumbull's Ed.) nor Morton's New English Canaan 
(Prince Soc.) distinguished between Pilgrim and Puritan 
practice, and devote only brief paragraphs to the former. 
There is some material in J. Cotton, Way of the Churches of 
Christ in New England, London, 1645, but the extent and 
accuracy of his information on Plymouth is open to question. 
John Cotton's Account of the Church of Christ in Plymouth, 
in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., IV, no, was not written until 1760, 
and refers principally to the period after 1667. It quotes 
freely from Morton and the Church Records, though without 

H. M. Dexter's The Church Polity of the Pilgrims the Polity 
of the New Testament, pp. 82, Boston, 1870, is polemical rather 
than historical, assumes the identity of Pilgrim Church 
government and that of the Congregational churches of his 
own day, and attempts to prove from the New Testament 
that such was primitive Christianity. Cotton's Magnolia, 
Book V, Part II, contains the Platform of Church Discipline 
of the Synod of Cambridge of 1649 which seems to have 
been approved at Plymouth in the last decades. Explicit, 
direct, first-hand evidence on Pilgrim ecclesiastical history, 

The Dominant Note at Plymouth 201 

we lack for nearly all points of first importance. From Brad- 
ford we see clearly the issue of Church government, the 
domination of the State by the Church, and get personal de- 
tails about the ministers and their troubles. But upon doc- 
trine, ceremony, discipline, we must infer, deduce, and piece 
together scattered fragments. 



The relation of Church and State at Plymouth was 
singularly close and significant. Already in Holland the 
Pilgrim leaders had seen that their failure to control 
the economic and political situation would ultimately 
result in a failure to maintain their ecclesiastical position 
and they left Leyden fully determined to create a state 
which should maintain and protect the Church. From 
the first therefore ecclesiastical necessity influenced the 
form of civil government and the temporal policy of the 
leaders. The perpetuation of God's Ordinances became 
literally the cornerstone of civil polity. At all costs the 
unity of the Church must be preserved, and no consid- 
erable accession of people to the little colony should be 
permitted, likely to outnumber and outvote those whose 
loyalty to the ecclesiastical ideal was already assured. 
Practically interpreted, this meant that the constitution 
of the State was to vest in the leaders authority over all 
existing colonists, a power to limit newcomers in number 
to a minority of the total population, and to exclude all 
those who did not seem likely to amalgamate in time 
with the Pilgrim Church. The experience with Oldham 
and Lyford confirmed the necessity and expediency of 
this decision and erected it into a cornerstone of con- 
stitutional law. 

Such a civil policy was necessarily antagonistic to the 
physical growth of the colony. The leaders insensibly 
feared the accession of members, an increase in the 

Government and Administration, 1627-16 ff 203 

number of towns, a division of the Plymouth Church into 
several Churches as tantamount to the disruption of the 
colony and the downfall of religion itself. Able and ener- 
getic personalities they came to suspect and were chary 
of granting them a share of political power. The coming 
of the Puritans to Boston, they realized, afforded them 
much needed support and temporal assistance and they 
could not, despite themselves, but feel that these were 
their brethren. At the same time they wished no large 
accession of Puritans within the boundaries of Plymouth 
and they therefore framed a government and created a 
definition of political privilege, which should so far as 
possible discourage and hamper immigration. 

Naturally, the type of civil government established at 
Plymouth, conditioned by this assumed necessity of 
defending State and Church from outside influence, 
vested practically unlimited discretionary authority in 
the hands of the Governor. 1 This they had at once 
concluded was essential, though they also appreciated 
the advisability of entire discretion in its use. This 
broad and flexible authority was conferred upon William 

1 The authorities for this topic are Bradford's History, the only 
source of much value for the period to 1636; the Plymouth Colony 
Records, 12 vols.; Brigham, Laws of New Plymouth, and the 
Records of the various towns. On the whole, the material for the 
constitutional history of Plymouth is singularly fragmentary and 
elusive in character and administrative practice as well as legal 
theory is peculiarly difficult to determine. The critical apparatus 
upon which this chapter is based became too elaborate and tech- 
nical to permit its inclusion in footnotes. Some of the statements 
in the text are perhaps more positive than the direct evidence war- 
rants, but attempts to qualify and explain made a chapter, even 
now somewhat long, entirely out of proportion to the rest of the 
book and resulted in an account which lacked clarity for the 
general reader. 

204 The Pilgrims and their History 

Bradford in April, 162 1. He promptly proceeded to 
perform such executive work as seemed necessary, usu- 
ally after consultation with "a few"; and to arraign and 
punish such offenders as he and the few he consulted 
deemed essential. For the first three years the govern- 
ment at Plymouth scarcely deserved the name, for all 
functions seem to have been united in the person of the 
Governor, and those exercised were not primarily ad- 
ministrative at all. The fact of the Common Stock and 
the Agreement with the merchants imposed upon him 
the duty of regulating the labor of the community as 
well as the apportionment of the proceeds. He was in 
fact more an overseer of work, a foreman in the fields, a 
storekeeper who portioned out the common supplies and 
put away what had been collected or raised, than a civil 
officer of any recognized type. We are told that the 
whole body of settlers * met several times in those first 
years to consider public affairs and that a variety of 
decisions were reached, but no formal record was kept 
of what those decisions were, nor was any record kept 
for some fifteen years beyond such notes as Bradford 
saw fit to make. This fusion of executive, administrative, 
and judicial power in the hands of the Governor, this 
lack of formality, this unlimited discretion provided 
exactly that type of government best adapted to the 
needs of the Church. Whatever was required in its in- 
terests could be done promptly and without hesitation, 
and without permitting argument over its legality. Until 
the leaders knew better what regulations and forms the 
situation demanded, they proposed to hamper their 
discretion as little as possible. 

Such a government was unquestionably an extraordi- 
1 Possibly with some exceptions; we cannot be sure. 

Government and Administration, 1627- 1657 205 

nary tribute to the personal rectitude, the impartiality, 
the diligence, and the ability of William Bradford. By 
general consent all possible governmental power was 
vested for one year in one man, whose discretion was 
left practically untrammeled, except for such matters as 
he himself of his own free will saw fit to submit to the 
whole assembly, or dealt with in accordance with the 
advice of others. Such complete power over any com- 
munity has rarely been vested in one individual for any 
length of time with that community's consent. Bradford 
held it with brief intervals from 1621 to 1657. The fact 
that his own History is our only authority for many 
aspects of life in the first years at Plymouth and the 
fact that his modesty led him to subordinate his share 
in the direction of events long concealed the extent of 
his influence. 1 Surely his energy must have been vast, 
his discretion remarkable, his ability commanding, or 
those stern and uncompromising men and women would 
scarcely have permitted him to regulate their affairs at 
discretion so long. 

To be sure, such a government was possible only in 
a small community of homogeneous people, who agreed 
thoroughly upon the general aims of private and public 
life, and whose conduct was so invariably orderly that 
the amount of government required was reduced to a 
minimum. It is no disparagement of Bradford's ability 
or discretion to say that in most affairs the little colony 

1 When the Old Colony Club at Plymouth held its first solemn 
celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims in 1770, toasts were 
drunk "to pious ancestors," Carver, Morton, Standish, Massas- 
soit, Cushman, but neither Bradford, Brewster, Winslow, nor 
Alden. This shows the very real ignorance about Pilgrim history 
which the traditions of Elder Faunce had allowed to develop at 
Plymouth itself. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc, 2nd Series, III, 400-401. 

206 , The Pilgrims and their History 

certainly governed itself and ordered its own ways, with 
such complete regard to the common interest and to the 
proper share in it of each individual, that there was not 
a great deal of governing to be done. There was perhaps 
only one William Bradford, but quite as certainly there 
was probably never gathered together in one community, 
before or since, a body of men and women who averaged 
higher in diligence, in spirituality, and in law-abiding 
qualities than the Pilgrim fathers and mothers. Some 
who were with them, but not of them, gave Bradford 
uneasy moments, but the great majority certainly did 
not require to be governed. 

At the same time, there can be no doubt that the 
ascendency of Bradford was so complete at Plymouth as 
to render the colony unattractive, for that reason alone, 
to those energetic leaders who emigrated from England 
after 1630 at the head of numerous colonists. There was 
room at Plymouth for but one Bradford and while he 
occupied the stage there could be no space on it for men 
who also felt themselves capable of directing large af- 
fairs and who were conscious of great ambitions. The 
leaders as well as the rank and file found Plymouth 
politically unattractive. Truth to tell, neither he nor 
the Pilgrim leaders dared share the direction of affairs 
with aggressive personalities nor even with the majority 
of the Plymouth Church. The ascendency of the Gov- 
ernor came to stand in their eyes for the supremacy of 
the Church over the State, for the protection and per- 
petuation of the Church itself; it became the visible sign 
of success in their great design in coming to the New 
World. To diminish that ascendency or attack it was 
to shake the foundations of religion and to disobey the 
Ordinances of God. 

Government and Administration, 1627-16 57 207 

The unlimited authority exercised by the Governor 
was granted to him for a year by the whole body of those 
possessed of political privilege at the General Court of 
Elections, which met annually at the close of the year — 
according to the Old Style of dating used by the Pil- 
grims — about March 25. In practice, this General Court 
of Elections possessed what we should call today the 
sovereign power, for it exercised without appeal the 
supreme executive, legislative, and judicial authority. 
At the same time, it is abundantly clear that the Pilgrims 
did not look upon this as executive and that as legislative; 
there was so much to be done and they did it without 
bothering about constitutional subtleties. Not one of 
them had had a legal education and Brewster's expe- 
rience with Davison had been diplomatic rather than ad- 
ministrative. It is scarcely less anachronistic to repre- 
sent Bradford and Winslow invoking the sovereignty of 
the people or thinking in terms of the separation of 
powers than to imagine them diverting the Indians with 
moving pictures or exploring Plymouth Harbor in a 
submarine. The parties of the Civil Wars in England 
were about to work a revolution in political thinking, 
but the great majority in England were as yet uncon- 
scious of it when the Pilgrims were shaping their flexible 
and elastic constitution in the decades between 1620- 

The leaders consulted the majority less because of' 
preconceived theories than because of the logic of facts. 
The acquiescence of the majority was absolutely essential 
and they deemed it wiser to assure themselves of it by 
putting questions of importance to a vote in an assembly, 
of which all men of any ability or position were members, 
and in which they were invited, nay exhorted, to express 

208 The Pilgrims and their History 

their opinions and preferences. It was easier to deal 
with the known than with the unknown and the " con- 
spiracy' ' of Lyford and Oldham was crushed by the 
simple expedient of publicity. 

Two strong precedents, familiar to them all, sanc- 
tioned this practice and strengthened their belief in its 
expediency. They had long discussed affairs of common 
interest in the Great House on the Kloksteeg at Leyden, 
where no less significant issues had been put to majority 
vote, after vigorous and free discussion, than the voyage 
to America, the location of the proposed settlement in 
North America, whether the Pastor should go, and the 
contract with the English merchants. The governmental 
issues at Plymouth were not essentially different in char- 
acter and were intrinsically less important. The Pilgrim 
ecclesiastical organization, based upon Luther's priest- 
hood of all believers and Calvin's right of the individual 
to judge for himself, contained the fertile seed of future 
American democracy; but those who first used it scarcely 
thought of it as governmental and recked little of sanc- 
tions and sovereignty. 

While the administrative traditions of the rank and 
file were both vague and mixed, those predominant in 
Brewster's mind were the traditions of the Manor of 
Scrooby, where he had ruled autocratically as Steward, 
with the assistance of the majority of the inhabitants, 
who owed suit of court at the Court Leet. As Steward 
he had possessed a combination of powers very similar 
to those the Governor exercised at Plymouth; he had 
been responsible to an Archbishop who rarely interfered 
and had owed an allegiance to the King, which was 
satisfied in the sixteenth century by bare affirmations, 
for the " liberties" of the manor freed him and its in- 

Government and Administration, 1627-165'/ 209 

habitants from all immediate responsibility to the royal 
courts and officers. The laws of England he and the 
suitors had construed in their own sense at the Court 
Leet and they had been accustomed to adopt such regu- 
lations for their own affairs as they deemed convenient, 
all without thought of disloyalty, independence, or sov- 
ereignty of the people. Their background was feudal 
and not modern, but it did provide them with clear 
enough precedent for their own right to manage their 
own affairs without royal interference and at the same 
time in entire consonance to the law. They were to 
obey the laws of England but they might interpret them 
themselves. We shall do well not to strain our analogies, 
but is it not more probable that we hear the voices of the 
suitors of the old Court Leet in the Pilgrim Compact and 
in the legislation of 1636 than a conscious creation of a 
new constitution, made by a people thoroughly awake to 
modern ideas of popular sovereignty, and already im- 
bued with a belief in their political independence of 

In practice, this decision to protect the Church at all 
costs and thoroughly to test the loyalty and ecclesiastical 
conformity of the newcomers before admitting them to a. 
share in the privileges of the State resulted in certain 
differentiations in political status, which were not demo- 
cratic as we understand the word. Political equality 
never existed in the strict sense of the word at Plymouth 
during the lifetime of Bradford. The General Court 
possessed sovereignty but the leaders carefully provided 
that too many should not be members. No other def- 
inition of political privilege existed for many years than 
membership in this Court and the qualifications for 
admission were not definite nor made public. Nominally, 

210 The Pilgrims and their History 

new-comers were admitted with the consent of those 
already possessed of privilege, but the share of the forty- 
one signers of the Pilgrim Compact in government was 
from the first residual rather than direct or immediate. 
Bradford and Allerton, writing back to England in 1623 
in answer to certain charges made against them by their 
enemies, declare "touching our governmente, you are 
mistaken if you think we admite weomen and children 
to have to doe in the same, for they are excluded, as both 
reason and nature teacheth they should be; neither doe 
we admite any but such as are above the age of 21 years 
and they also but in some weighty matters, when we 
thinke good." 1 

The few, in reality, were to govern at Plymouth and 
Bradford was their executive head and officer and the 
controlling influence among them. Just how many these 
were, we do not know. Undoubtedly the eight Under- 
takers were members, but how many more sat with them 
in the inner council we cannot say, probably not above 
fifteen in these earlier years. Membership in the General 
Court depended upon the ability of the man to convince 
them of his desirability or to prove to them, in their 
phrase, that he was godly, sober, and discreet. This 
meant that he must be eminently industrious, of quiet 
habits and ways, submissive and deferential to Bradford 
and other leaders, a Church member in posse, and one 
able to meet the rigid tests of moral conduct sure to be 
imposed upon him. After a time the members of the 
General Court came to be known as freemen, although 
the practice did not become general until after 1630 and 
was perhaps adopted as a result of the influence of 
Massachusetts. In 1633, when the first list of freemen 
1 American Historical Review, VIII, 299. 

Government and Administration, 1627-16 57 211 

was recorded, it contained sixty-eight names; twenty- 
three more were apparently admitted freemen in the 
following two years, but in 1659, despite the growth of 
Plymouth in the meantime, the electorate of the whole 
colony was less than two hundred. 

Below the Freemen were the Inhabitants, who pos- 
sessed civil and legal equality with the freemen but had 
no political privilege. They included the heads of fam- 
ilies and property owners, who had been accepted as 
permanent residents, and who were potential freemen. 
They paid taxes, were compelled to attend Church, were 
liable for military service, and possessed definite prop- 
erty rights, both to the use of land and to the personal 
property they accumulated. Although they could not 
serve as members of a jury, they had a right to be tried 
by one. Wives, all unmarried adult women, and all 
minor children took the legal status of the husband or 
father. Below the Inhabitants were the Sojourners, who 
possessed neither legal rights nor civil equality and could 
not hope to attain political privilege. They comprised 
those who had not yet been granted by the authorities 
the right of permanent residence, but who lived on from 
week to week at the Governor's discretion, and who 
might in time become Inhabitants, and after due period 
of probation Freemen. During the first decade, Bradford 
seems to have possessed personally the right to permit a 
stranger to sojourn, and to extend it or terminate it at 
discretion, without the formality of consulting the other 

All of these three classes, Freemen, Inhabitants, and 
Sojourners, were to our thinking free men. They were 
masters of their own time, able to go where they would. 
Below them in the Pilgrim scale were the unfree, those 

212 The Pilgrims and their History 

who did not possess legally the control of their own 
destinies. These comprised indented servants, who had 
hired themselves out to others, either in England or in 
America, for a term of years, in order to pay their pas- 
sage or to discharge debts accumulated in America. 
With them, though not exactly of their class, ranked 
domestic servants, of whom there were a few at Plym- 
outh, and those who had hired themselves out as 
servants, though not for a specified term of years or 
by a written contract. There were also a number of 
apprentices, mostly minors, the number of whom in- 
creased considerably as time went on. There were be- 
sides many Indian servants and a few Indian slaves, 
mostly captives taken in war. Not improbably the un- 
free at Plymouth were as many as one-quarter or one- 
third of the total population and in the early years per- 
haps a more considerable proportion. 

The crystallization of constitutional law and practice 
at New Plymouth was slow, primarily because the 
leaders found elaborate formalities unnecessary in so 
small a colony, but in large measure because they feared 
the effect upon the welfare of the Church of surrendering 
their discretionary power. From 1621 to 1624 the only 
constituted authority was the Governor and one As- 
sistant (Allerton). In 1624, at the request of Bradford, 
four new Assistants were created and elected, making a 
Governor and a Council of five, in which the former 
had a double vote. In 1633, the growth of the colony 
and the additional administrative work led them to add 
two more Assistants to the Council, making seven in all. 
The Governor remained, however, as before, almost 
supreme depository of authority and was at once Execu- 
tive, Treasurer, Secretary of State, and Judge, for the 

Government and Administration, 1627-16 57 213 

power of the Assistants to act upon their own initiative 
seems to have been either non-existent or exceedingly 
small. Explicit provision was made that these " offices 
were annual," that is to say, the grant of power was ap- 
parently renewed each year and the office itself would 
have lapsed but for the vote of the Court continuing it. 
Not until 1636 was any definition of the powers of the 
Governor or Assistants attempted or any codification of 
what they understood the law to be written on paper. 
The definitions now provided by no means deprived the 
Governor of his old discretionary authority. He was to 
execute the laws and ordinances; he was empowered 
personally to arrest and imprison at discretion any citi- 
zen or stranger, and to examine all persons whom he felt 
to be suspicious. No limitations upon this authority 
were imposed, no more exact definition attempted. He 
was expected speedily to bring to trial before the Court 
of Assistants, or before the General Court at his dis- 
cretion, such persons as he might apprehend or such 
cases as he did not feel he could settle himself. The As- 
sistants were his deputies, might take his place tempo- 
rarily, but possessed individually no executive authority, 
except as he might from time to time see fit to delegate 
it to them. Sitting collectively with the Governor, they 
possessed the right to advise him, and probably had the 
right to be consulted, though the law did not say so. 
The legislation of 1636, if it deserves the name, did not 
alter the discretionary aspect of government at Plym- 
outh nor did it perceptibly reduce the power of the 
Governor. It was in fact little more than a statement 
of what the practice had become during the regime of 
Bradford. After 1633, the latter was not Governor every 
year, but he continued to be one of the Assistants when 

214 The Pilgrims and their History 

he was not Governor, and, until his death in 1657, 
exercised a controlling influence in the state. 

The judicial power at Plymouth rested in the early- 
years with the Governor. He decided himself such cases 
as he felt he could and received such assistance as he 
asked for, but apparently no such aid was compulsory. 
Whether or not in the first years a case could have been 
appealed from Bradford himself to the Governor and 
Assistants and from them to the General Court on the 
initiative of the defendant is exceedingly doubtful. The 
method of trial in these first years is sufficiently clear 
from the cases of Lyford, Morton, Billington, and others. 
There were apparently no lawyers at Plymouth and no 
defence in our sense of the word was attempted. The 
Governor or his deputy was at once judge and prosecuting 
attorney. There were no set examinations and no 
definite legal forms were observed. None of the Pil- 
grims had had legal training and they could not therefore 
very well observe English forms with which they were not 
familiar. The practice of the Manorial Court at Scrooby 
Brewster knew and no doubt they followed it as closely 
as they could. In criminal cases, an oral charge was made 
by the Governor or his deputy of the case against the 
prisoner. An oral reply was permitted him, and the ques- 
tion and answer continued quite without restriction and 
without formal oaths, taken for judicial effect, and with- 
out anything that would have been considered in Eng- 
land pleading to the jurisdiction. Written pleadings were 
not essential but witnesses were informally called by the 
Court or by the accused without restriction. 

Civil cases, where two parties appeared, were appar- 
ently tried by the parties themselves, each of whom 
stated his case to the Governor or to such aids as the 

Government and Administration, 1627-16 57 215 

Governor had asked to sit with him. No plaintiff or 
defendant can have had much difficulty in getting before 
the Court and the little community at large the true 
facts about his case. It must be remembered that judi- 
cial work in a tiny community, where everyone's goings 
and comings and practically his inmost thoughts were 
known to the community as a whole, was a comparatively 
simple matter. In 1634, the General Court provided that 
actions of debt or trespass involving less than forty 
shillings value should be tried by the Governor and 
Assistants. This was little more than a definition of 
what had always been true and had chiefly the effect of 
preventing appeals of such cases to the General Court 
itself. This raises the presumption that such appeals 
had become common. In 1636, the judicial competence 
of the Governor and two Assistants was affirmed for the 
trial of civil cases under forty shillings and of all criminal 
cases where the penalty was a small fine. Provision was 
made for the empanelling of a Grand Jury to present 
offences and the Governor was formally denominated 
Prosecuting Attorney. In 1666, this minor jurisdiction 
was handed over to the Selectmen of the towns. In 
165 1, the Governor was empowered to create one of the 
Assistants Deputy-Governor. This, however, was merely 
the confirmation of an existing practice and was due per- 
haps to the growing infirmity of Bradford. Not until 
1679 was a Deputy-Governor formally elected. 

Serious crimes at Plymouth seem to have been few. 
Murder, arson, burglary, as distinguished from pocket- 
picking and the stealing of tools, were very rare. A few 
cases of vagrancy are reported but seem rather to have 
been what we would call laziness or a technical charge 
by which to apprehend a man, otherwise undesirable, 

216 The Pilgrims and their History 

than real crimes. Inasmuch as one of the capital crimes 
at Plymouth was " diabolical conversation," some lat- 
itude of interpretation of the criminal law was essential. 
This throws considerable light upon the Pilgrim " criminal 
code" in the absence of what were elsewhere regarded as 
serious crimes. There is evidence on every page of the 
records of a serious attempt at fairness, justice, and 
mercy. A spirit of general forbearance is evident, which 
one would not expect to find, considering what has been 
so often said about the Pilgrims and about the intol- 
erance of Bradford and his followers in particular. They 
did not follow the letter of the law too strictly and they 
were far from heartless. Many complaints were dis- 
charged; many penalties were mitigated; many fines 
never collected. 

The relationship between the colony of Plymouth, the 
Pilgrim Church, the town of Plymouth, and the other 
various towns and Churches of the colony is one of the 
most abstruse of all the difficult problems in Pilgrim in- 
stitutional history. Bradford unquestionably intended 
that colony, Church, and town should be one and the 
same, and always opposed a grant of authority to a new 
town or the recognition of a new Church as a tendency 
sure to diminish the authority of the leaders at Plymouth 
and certain in time to disintegrate the original Pilgrim 
Church. Until 1630 there seems to have been no attempt 
to leave either the Church or the town of Plymouth 
which was not easily and immediately suppressed by the 
leaders. The foundation of Duxbury in 163 1 by Standish 
and Alden, and its recognition as a town in the succeeding 
year, seems promptly to have resulted in the creation of 
a government for the town of Plymouth separate from 
that of the colony. In 1633 a Constable was chosen 

Government and Administration, 162J-165J 217 

for the town, and in the following year persons were 
appointed to lay out highways. In 1643 raters of taxes 
appeared, but not until 1649 were Select men chosen, 
and not until then therefore was there a real executive 
for the town of Plymouth and work performed there by 
other officers than the colonial government itself. There 
were by that time several towns in the colony, all of which 
recognized the authority of the General Court, the major- 
ity of which consisted still of the freemen of Plymouth 
itself. It exercised an instant and searching supervision 
over the new towns from the very first, and so far as 
possible seems to have restricted their competence to 
the allotment of land and of cattle, the repairing of 
fences, the hiring of men to herd cattle, and the like. 
How much further their powers might have extended at 
this early period the records of these towns do not tell us. 
In all probability the work required was simple in the 
extreme and did not comprise more than the primary 
common interests just mentioned. 

As early as 1638, six towns beside Plymouth had al- 
ready come into existence and a good deal of opposition 
was apparent to the "sovereign power" exercised by the 
General Court of Elections, on the ground that the 
majority of freemen were resident in Plymouth anyway, 
and that the freemen resident in other towns could attend 
only at so great a sacrifice to themselves as practically 
to leave the political authority with the leaders in Plym- 
outh. Indeed, there can be little question that the leaders 
had hoped that this situation would retain men at Plym- 
outh and prevent the foundation of other towns. Their 
attempts to supervise stringently the constitutional 
arrangements of the new towns had been probably under- 
taken to discourage the resort of people thither and to 

218 The Pilgrims and their History 

bring those who had already gone back to Plymouth, 
if it were possible. They deemed it best to agree how- 
ever in 1638 to the formation of an assembly of towns, in 
which Plymouth should have four votes and the other 
towns two each, to be cast by delegates elected by the 
freemen. The new Assembly was to legislate but found 
its power considerably circumscribed by the necessity of 
propounding a law at one court and of considering it at 
the next. Probably this was due to the desire of the 
delegates to discuss the measure with their constituents 
at home and to return to the next meeting with instruc- 
tions for action, but it inevitably resulted in delay and 
obstruction. The new Assembly was to sit four times a 
year, and the Governor and Assistants, now called the 
"Bench," were to form a sort of upper house. The mem- 
bers from the towns, called at first "committees" and 
afterwards "deputies," formed the lower house. 
^~-The two houses, however, commonly sat and voted to- 
gether, the decision being by majority vote, the "bench" 
being counted with the "deputies," a practice which 
persisted until the end of the colony. The General Court 
of Elections retained its sovereignty, and its relation to 
the new Assembly is difficult to explain, for it certainly 
still retained the power of passing laws itself, and still 
annually chose the Governor, Assistants, and Treasurer, 
when that office was presently created, and, after 1643, 
the Plymouth Commissioners of the New England Con- 
federation. The General Court sometimes repealed the 
laws passed by the Assembly, although it became pres- 
ently more common for the latter to legislate, and for the 
work of the General Court to be restricted to the election 
of officers. Except for the towns, there were no other 
sub-divisions in the colony until 1685, when three counties 

Government and Administration, 1627- 1657 219 

were created, whose boundaries were substantially those 
of the present counties of Plymouth, Barnstable, and 
Bristol. The control therefore remained to the death of 
Bradford substantially in the hands of the freemen of 
Plymouth itself, who used the General Court as their 
principal constitutional weapon. Here again was a 
fruitful source of discontent among those resident in the 
colony and a frequent cause of dissatisfaction among 



The Pilgrim leaders early saw that the possession of 
economic privilege must be the reward of orthodoxy. 
It should be the visible pearl of great price which alone 
could compensate the Elect of God for the toil and effort 
necessary to establish His Church in the New World. 
Nor were they slow to realize that it would be an influence 
by no means to be despised in leading the timid and ig- 
norant to investigate with a whole heart the ecclesiastical 
propositions they held to be so true. The withholding of 
economic privileges must be the gleaming sword with 
which the faithful could and should defend and preserve 
the purity of the Church and the integrity of the State. 
It was the one weapon which definitely reached the 
worldly, the selfish, and the objectionable. To make 
living difficult for them at Plymouth, to make profit 
impossible, was the one means of rendering Plymouth 
so unattractive that they would depart voluntarily, and 
thus relieve the leaders of the necessity of a forcible 
expulsion, which was only too likely to attract attention 
from Bishops and royal officials whose inquiries it might 
be impossible to avoid and equally impossible to satisfy. 
Economic privilege, therefore, like civil rights, was to be 
dependent upon Church membership. The period, both 
in Europe and in America, was one of strict economic 
regulation on the part of the state and the maintenance 
was universal of a great variety of exclusive privileges 
and concessions.. Economic regulation was not new to 

Economic Privilege, 1627-1657 221 

those at Plymouth. There was no place indeed in New 
England where economic privilege was not dependent 
upon conformity to the Church, but there were few 
colonies where the ecclesiastical and civil prerequisites 
of a share in the economic privileges were as stringent or 
as consistently and rigidly enforced. The small size of 
the colony throughout its history, the fact that it in- 
cluded for more than ten years only one town, made a 
degree of regulation possible which could not have been 
maintained in a larger community, differently placed 
and differently governed. 

The one thing of value in early Plymouth was land. 
Ownership was impossible, because the title was vested 
in the Adventurers till 1629 and then till 1640 in Brad- 
ford, finally reaching the whole body of freemen as a 
corporation, not as individuals, in 1640. The first al- 
lotments of land for individual use were made by the 
Governor, with the confirmation of the General Court. 
Probably the dispensations were for the most part Brad- 
ford's personal judgment, perhaps because any division 
of land prior to 1627 was contrary to the agreement 
with the merchants and the majority were quite willing 
to let him shoulder the responsibility of a breach of that 
agreement. LUntil 1640, the vast majority of people 
therefore did not own land, but possessed instead tempo- 
rary rights of occupancy .3 These had been assigned an- 
nually to the various individuals by the Governor and 
Assistants, and then, as towns were organized, by the 
town authorities. This allotment of land became the 
most important event of the year, the surest method of 
reward or punishment for past conduct, the effective 
measure of an individual's status and rights. Attempts 
to evade it or to supply omissions from it were not un- 

222 The Pilgrims and their History 

common and were ordinarily occupancy without per- 
mission or purchase from Indians. The latter transac- 
tions were invariably denied validity, unless the previous 
consent of the General Court had been obtained. It was 
quite obvious that to recognize the possibility of such 
purchase by individuals was to accept the superiority 
of the Indian title to their own patents from the King. 
They claimed later that they had originally bought the 
land as a whole from the Indians and therefore could not 
accept subsequent purchases from individual Indians as 
valid. Cases however appeared every few years and 
were always dealt with sternly. 1 

LThe monopoly of the trading rights also was vested 
in the leaders, certainly until 1640.] The Indian trade 
was never open to the main body of settlers during the 
first twenty years of its history and perhaps not for two 
or three decades thereafter. The Common Stock had 
provided for its monopoly in the joint interest of the 
merchants and the settlers and for its control until 1627 
by the leaders, who were to allow the majority absolutely 
no individual share in it whatever. Between 1627 and 
1634 the leaders continued to hold this monopoly as 
Undertakers, or until the debt to the merchants should 
be finally paid. This clearly involved more responsibility 
than privilege on their part. They assumed a supposedly 
crushing financial burden without obtaining a privilege 
then estimated as a fair equivalent. After 1634, for 
some years they continued to control the trade for a 
variety of reasons. To their monopoly of the land, of 
the fishing, and of the fur trade, the leaders promptly 
added a stringent control of such other economic priv- 
ileges of value as appeared. 

1 Plymouth Colony Records, IV, 44, 49, 58, 59, etc. 

Economic Privilege, 162 7- 1657 223 

The first commodity exported to England was dressed 
lumber, and when, after the allotment of land and the 
practical abolition of the general stock in 1623, individ- 
uals were free to work as they pleased, the General 
Court decreed that no one should sell or transport lumber 
without the permission of the Governor and Assistants, 
that no handicraftsmen, tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, 
joiners, smiths, or sawyers should do any work, either 
in Plymouth or outside, for any strangers until the needs 
of the Colony itself had been met. The Governor and 
Assistants were to accord the necessary permission, when 
in their judgment the condition of the colony warranted 
it. The General Court again decreed in 1626 that no 
corn, beans, or peas should be transported or sold out 
of the colony without the Governor's and Assistants' 
permission. After live stock was imported, the regula- 
tion promptly appeared that no animals were to be sold 
out of the colony. 1 From the first in all probability the 
Governor had regulated prices of most goods produced 
in the colony as well as of all goods imported from Eng- 
land. Wages had also been fixed by the Governor and 
Assistants, and in January, 1635-36, the General Court 
confirmed this power, but required them to consult with 
and secure the consent of certain men named. 2 In 
practice these regulations covered the entire economic 
activity of the colony. Nothing was done or could be done 
which was not subject to the direct control of the leaders. 

Nor did the leaders hesitate to increase, diminish, or 
withhold the shares of various individuals in accordance 
with their estimate of the man, and in particular of his 
orthodoxy. Four degrees of economic privilege are very 

1 Plymouth Colony Records, I, 13. 

2 Ibid., 36. 


224 The Pilgrims and their History 

sharply outlined. There were first the leaders themselves, 
a group of from eight to fifteen, sometimes larger or 
smaller. They allotted themselves the best land, the 
best cattle, the best meadows for hay, and kept in their 
hands for nearly twenty-five years the entire trade with 
the Indians and all fishing rights. A second group con- 
tained the remainder of the Church members, to whom 
were made allotments of land and cattle entirely desir- 
able, and in the main such as they wished, located where 
they on the whole preferred, unless too many chose the 
same spot. These seem to have had, after the first fifteen 
years, the option of sharing in the Indian trade, if they 
were also willing to assume a corresponding part of the 
financial responsibilities of the colony. They seem 
ordinarily to have preferred to leave both the trade and 
the debts to the leaders. A third group, definitely in- 
ferior, were the Inhabitants. These were the potential 
Church members, people deemed sufficiently sober, 
godly, and discreet to be allotted land and to be permitted 
to pursue agriculture under such restrictions as the leaders 
deemed necessary, but with no chance to share in the 
trade of the colony. 

Below them were a fourth group — the unprivileged — 
those who were not considered as possible Church mem- 
bers or citizens, who received no land, who had no right 
to cut hay on the town meadows, who were to work as 
directed and who were to be ruled. These included all 
temporary residents of the colony, all people on probation 
pending a decision by the leaders as to their desirability, 
and all the servants, bond servants, apprentices, minor 
children, and slaves. In a considerable number of in- 
stances, the leaders seem to have concluded that some 
individuals could never be anything better than servants 

Economic Privilege, 1627-16 57 225 

and they did not hesitate to require them either to work 
for some freeman of the colony and thus to cease " living 
disorderly," or to leave the jurisdiction. The time of 
probation before an Inhabitant might become a Freeman, 
or one of the unprivileged might become an Inhabitant, 
was entirely discretionary with the leaders. There was 
apparently no rule about it, and there were certainly no 
formal, written, or publicly acknowledged qualifications 
of wealth or status, the attainment of which automat- 
ically conferred right to examination and election. The 
requirements were highly elastic and clearly varied with 
the individual. Sometimes they had no hesitation at all 
and acted promptly on a newcomer's arrival. In other 
cases, men stayed for months or perhaps years without 
even receiving an allotment of land. Some bond servants, 
having served their five or seven years, were then told 
that they were undesirable and could never become 
Inhabitants. No legislation was ever necessary; no 
executive or judicial enforcement needed; it was a per- 
fectly simple matter to pass over the individual when 
the next allotment was made, and a failure to obtain 
land was equivalent to degradation to the status of serv- 
ant or to banishment. 1 

The lengths to which the leaders were prepared to go 
is shown most clearly by the case of the town of Sand- 
wich. This was one of the towns founded in the 30's and 
recognized with reluctance. It was based upon a grant 
of land to certain Freemen and Church members of 
Plymouth, who proposed themselves to form the nucleus 
of the town. They gathered around them a considerable 
number of people, allotted land, admitted men as free- 

1 The Colony and Town records give these annual allotments in 
great detail. 

226 The Pilgrims and their History 

men, and completed their organization in such ways as 
seemed to them expedient. In 1639 the General Court 
proceeded to investigate their conduct. The record 
states that "they have not faythfully discharged that 
trust reposed in them, by receiveing into the said towne 
divers persons unfitt for church societie, which should 
have beene their chiefe care in the first place, and have 
disposed the greatest part of the landes there already, 
and to very few that are in Church societie or fitt for the 
same, so that without speedy remedy our cheifest end 
wilbe utterly frustrate." 

One can scarcely have a clearer statement of the basis 
of society at Plymouth nor more definite proof of the 
object with which the leaders still believed the colony 
had been founded. A month later the General Court 
passed sentence. No more people were to be admitted 
to the town of Sandwich without the consent of the Min- 
ister and the Church. Such of the Inhabitants as had 
already been admitted, but had been adjudged unde- 
sirable, were to sell and leave. Nor was any more land 
to be allotted by the town without the approval of one 
of the Assistants of the colony, from whom the Freemen 
of the town should receive advice and direction. 1 The 
leaders of the colony practically cancelled the entire 
arrangement, which the Freemen to whom the grant had 
been made had already instituted. 

On the whole there seems to be good reason to believe 
that the people accepted this dictation of economic 
privilege by the leaders without much objection and cer- 
tainly without open revolt. There are throughout 
Pilgrim history signs that individuals disliked and dis- 
approved of this policy and of its results. From Weston, 
1 Records, I, 131, 134. 

Economic Privilege, 1627-16 ff 227 

Oldham, and Lyford, we pass to Morton, Christopher 
Gardiner, Samuel Gorton, and a considerable number of 
less distinguished individuals. These were however all 
newcomers, the majority of whom left of their own 
accord. From the people of Plymouth themselves for 
more than fifteen years, we have practically no trace of 
resistance or even of a determination to share in the 
regulation. After 1634 a certain amount of discontent 
seems to have gradually made headway among the free- 
men and Church members, upon whose votes the leaders 
depended and whose acquiescence was essential in the 
conduct of the colony's affairs. When the original grant 
to the Undertakers expired in 1634, the privilege was 
continued from year to year and from court to court, 
apparently without opposition, the records indeed in- 
dicating that the leaders believed the trade not very 
valuable and that the great majority at Plymouth did not 
wish to follow it at all. 1 At the same time the leaders 
punished those who infringed upon their privilege with 
promptitude and stringency. 

In March, 1639, however, the Grand Jury, impanelled 
for the usual purposes, brought in what was tantamount 
to an impeachment of the leaders. " 1. Wee desire to be 
informed by what vertue and power the Governor and 
his Assistantes doe give and dispose of lands either to 
particular persons or towneshipps and plantacons. 

2. Wee further desire to be informed what landes are 
to be had or is reserved for the purchasers as hath beene 
formerly agreed in Court too. 

3. Wee further desire to be informed of the under- 
takers of the trade what wilbe allowed to the colony for 
the use of the said trade during the years past. 

1 Records, I, 31, 32, 54, 62, 126. 

228 The Pilgrims and their History 

4. Wee further desire to be informed why there is not 
a Treasurer chosen for this yeare, as other officers." l 
At the next General Court, Bradford and his partners, so 
the record states, notified the colony that they would not 
pursue the trade longer than the following November. 
They seem to wish to convey the impression that they had 
in the meantime been doing the colony a distinct favor 
by holding the privilege at all. Of the discontent and 
dissatisfaction which the Grand Jury record undoubtedly 
revealed, we hear nothing further, perhaps because in 
December, 1640, it was agreed that any freeman who 
wished to trade with the Indians might make the colony 
an offer for the privilege. 2 If no suitable offer was made, 
the Governor and such persons as he should select were 
to hold the privilege. Apparently the leaders themselves 
retained the right, though it was not now one to which 
they attached great significance or from which they made 
much profit. 

There seems to be no better place than this to record 
the fate of the Undertakers in their final dealings with 
the English merchants. They assumed in 1627 the whole 
debt of the colony — some £1800 — which none but them- 
selves at that time believed could be paid. They also 
shouldered the entire expense of transporting to Plym- 
outh the rest of the Leyden Congregation, some £55o, 3 
for which the colony never reimbursed them. The 
privileges they received included the fishing post which 
had been in operation near Gloucester ever since 1623; 
the fur- trading post on the Kennebec which had proved 
profitable for several years; and a trading route across 

1 Records, I, 119, March 5, 1638-1639. 

2 Ibid., II, 4. 

3 Bradford, History, 297, 299. 

Economic Privilege, 1627- 1657 229 

Cape Cod to Narragansett Bay by which they reached 
the Indian tribes on Long Island Sound. With the 
Dutch also arrangements for an exchange of commodities 
had been made in 1627. 1 The rebuilding of one of the 
shallops in 1626 had provided them for the first time 
with a vessel decked over and large enough to venture 
into Massachusetts Bay and around Cape Cod. 2 The 
following year they established a trade in wampum, 
which seems hitherto to have been unknown to the 
Massachusetts Indians, and which turned out to be ex- 
ceedingly profitable. 3 This and the trade with the 
Dutch led them to give up the attempt to supply the 
English fishing fleet, which came annually to the Grand 
Banks, and also the trade they had pursued with the 
struggling planters up and down the Massachusetts 
coast. Conditions, they complained bitterly, were 
changing. Where they had at first been able, with a 
yard of cloth or a few cheap English trinkets, to buy a 
fine skin or several bushels of corn, they now found that 
the Dutch and French had " demoralized' ' the Indians 
by paying a real equivalent, a wicked practice which the 
Pilgrims much deplored as showing a lack of imagination 
and a proper degree of business acumen. The Indians 
were demanding hatchets, knives, iron kettles, powder, 
guns, with the result that the degree of profit in the 
trade had fallen off considerably. 4 

They now launched forth in 1628 and 1629 upon a 
series of costly ventures, all of which failed. One was 

Bradford, History, 281; Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1st Series, III, 
52, 55, 56. 

2 Bradford, History, 253. 

3 Ibid., 281. 
'Ibid., 283, 287. 

230 The Pilgrims and their History 

their own fault, a fishing voyage undertaken without 
sufficient calculation or judgment and pursued without 
the necessary knowledge of fishing essential to success. 1 
As Bradford said, fishing had always been fatal, and 
indeed out of it from first to last they seem never to 
have made a farthing. Allerton, whom they had made 
their agent in England, now brought back to Plymouth 
a considerable bill of goods which they had not ordered. 
For the most part these were clothes and household 
utensils, which ranked as luxuries. They had strictly 
ordered him to purchase only a moderate amount of 
trading goods to exchange with the Indians for more 
beaver, and felt that to buy more for themselves was 
highly inexpedient. 2 They were anxious to devote every 
pound of money to the extinction of the debt. He not 
only failed to do this, partly through the importunity of 
Shirley, one of the English partners, but he also impli- 
cated them in a venture on the Penobscot by one Ash- 
ley. 3 He then borrowed in England considerable sums 
of money at fifty per cent interest 4 which he invested in 
trade; he chartered one ship and purchased another for 
trading voyages to New England. 5 The whole involved 
a total expenditure of something over £7000, an aggre- 
gate sum, borrowed and invested by one man in two 
years, as large as the entire sum which they calculated 
had been spent in creating the colony up to that time. 

In 1628 their debts, outside the main debt to the 
Adventurers of £1800, were not over £400. In 1630 

1 Bradford, History, 312-313, 319-320, 324-325. 

2 Ibid., 292-294, 303-304. 

3 Ibid., 309-310. 

4 Ibid., 311. 

5 Ibid., 320, 325, 327. 

Economic Privilege, 1627-1657 231 

they were not less than £4000, and in all probability 
more. 1 In the meantime, Allerton had also obtained for 
them as partners, four English merchants to whom goods 
could be consigned and who would purchase and ship 
to them in return whatever they wished. The association 
was from the first unfortunate and disappointing and 
grew more so as the years elapsed. In 1630, the Pilgrims 
were driven to renounce Allerton as their agent, though 
with misgiving and regret because of his marriage to 
Brewster's daughter, and their very great concern for 
Brewster's feelings. 2 They applied themselves at once 
diligently to the collection of beaver and its shipment to 
the English partners, Winslow undertaking Allerton's 
task and performing it with extraordinary tact, ability, 
and care. In 1633, they set up a trading post on the 
Connecticut River, 3 much to the disgust of the Dutch, 
who believed themselves to have secured already a right 
to that trade. They threatened to fire upon the Pilgrim 
ship, if she should attempt to go up the river and estab- 
lish a post above them, thereby intercepting the Indian 
trade. This however the Pilgrims courageously did and 
derived some considerable satisfaction from the discom- 
fiture of the Dutch. It must be added that they viewed 
that type of proceeding very differently when an English- 
man attempted to create a trading post on the Kennebec 
above their own. Him they suppressed and unfortunately 
one of his company was killed. 

Now came a series of misfortunes. In 1635 the French 

1 Bradford, History, 347. 

2 Ibid., 305, 329. On final episodes of his history see pp. 348-349, 


3 Ibid., 372-373. The trade was very lucrative during 1633-1634; 
ibid., 375, 385, 409, 410. 

232 The Pilgrims and their History 

captured the post on the Penobscot, which the Pilgrims 
had continued after the bankruptcy of Ashley, and an 
expedition which they equipped to retake it was a 
ludicrous failure. 1 In 1636, there appeared around the 
post on the Connecticut the first of the Massachusetts 
colonists. They denied the validity of the Pilgrim pur- 
chase from the Indians and were with much ado gotten 
at last to permit them to retain a small fraction of the 
land, though, apparently without any scruple, they ap- 
propriated the whole Indian trade. 2 Now came the 
crowning misfortune of all. The Pilgrims learned that 
Shirley, chief of their English partners, had not been 
honest with them. They calculated that they had 
shipped him beaver to the value of £i2,i5o, 3 that their 
indebtedness on the score of Allerton's failures was not 
in excess of £4000, the original indebtedness to the Ad- 
venturers was £1800, and they were therefore astounded 
to discover that the other three English partners had 
not received any of the proceeds of the sale of the beaver 
during the last few years, and that Shirley himself re- 
garded them as still in his debt. Protest they did, but 
they deemed it better to extinguish his claims and paid 
him in 1642 £i2oo. 4 Even then they were not entirely 
freed from charges and claims. In 1646, however, they 
at last owed no man. 
The difficulty seems to have lain in the fact that they 

1 Bradford, History, 350, 396-398. 

2 Ibid., 407. 

3 Ibid., 412-413. Bradford, like so many of his contemporaries, 
was a poor mathematician. The true total was £ 12,530, as- 
suming the annual totals were correct. 

4 Bradford, History, 446-448, 477-486. Bradford gives a mul- 
titude of details on this dreary business failure, but it has not 
seemed wise to devote space to them. 

Economic Privilege, 1627-1657 233 

believed others as far above taking advantage of them 
in business as they were themselves incapable of dis- 
honesty. Allerton, Shirley, and Beauchamp professed 
what the Pilgrims believed to be "true religion," were 
all Church members, and the Pilgrim leaders simply 
could not conceive that these men would try to over- 
reach them. They made Allerton legally their agent in 
a document so sweeping that they were bound by every- 
thing he did, without the possibility of an explanation or 
renunciation. When they broke with him, they de- 
manded the return of the document. He was unable 
to produce it; but, instead of demanding from him a 
written release, they accepted his verbal promise to ob- 
tain it from Shirley in England. Shirley retained the 
paper, the Pilgrims never did receive it, and on the 
strength of it Shirley eventually forced them to pay a 
very considerable sum of money for an undertaking 
into which Allerton entered after they had disowned 
him. The most unfortunate of Allerton's ventures had 
been explained to them at Plymouth by Allerton and 
Hatherly in terms which completely convinced them of 
the former's innocence. They accepted his verbal state- 
ment that they were not bound to accept the venture as 
their own if they did not wish to, and that he and the 
London partners would be entirely responsible for it, if 
they in turn would allow them to dispose of the cargo 
which the ship had brought. Accordingly the Pilgrims 
paid him a considerable sum for part of the goods, and 
allowed him to sell the remainder in Boston. Some- 
what later they received a letter from Shirley and a 
statement from Winslow declaring that the responsibility 
had been theirs and not Allerton's in the first place and 
that the loss was now theirs in the second place. Nor 

234 The Pilgrims and their History 

would the English partners make allowance for the 
money paid Allerton in accordance with the verbal 

Such was the result of a failure to insist upon written 
documents in every case, and to insist upon a strict and 
prompt accounting every year, instead of allowing the 
English partners to keep the books as they pleased and 
have an accounting at the end of a term of years. Indeed, 
the ignorance of the Pilgrims about business seems al- 
most incredible, and their carelessness would seem al- 
most criminal, if it were not so entirely obvious that it 
proceeded from inexperience and from guileless faith in 
the integrity of all Church members. They attempted 
literally to deal with Allerton and Shirley in accordance 
with the Golden Rule, and, even after it became clear 
that Shirley was robbing them, gave him the benefit of 
the doubt, and sent two or three more shiploads of beaver, 
all of which he promptly appropriated to his own use. 
Not only were the Pilgrims out at pocket, but they 
never entirely regained their confidence in their fel- 

Before 1640, the fur trade had fallen off considerably 
and was no longer particularly profitable. The settle- 
ment of New England had driven out the fur-bearing 
animals and the hunters upon whom the Pilgrims had 
depended. The Kennebec had been sold by the colony 
to individuals; the post on the Penobscot had been cap- 
tured by the French; the Connecticut trade had been lost 
by the settlement of the Valley Towns; the trade route 
across Cape Cod was no longer profitable because the 
Rhode Island and Connecticut colonies entirely absorbed 
the trade of the Indians on Long Island Sound. To 
Salem and Gloucester had come Puritan emigrants, who 

Economic Privilege, 1627-1657 235 

promptly took possession of the fishing stage on Cape 
Ann, and drew to themselves as well the trade of the 
annual English fishing fleet. 

Fortunately, the settlement of New England had also 
created an extremely brisk market for cattle and corn 
with such large profits that the leaders gave up the Indian 
trade and went to cattle raising. 1 In 1640 came a sudden 
fall in the prices of cattle which they were all at a loss to 
explain. 2 Truth was that the cessation of the Great 
Emigration, due to events in England, caused a fall in 
the hitherto unprecedented demand. Partly too the 
fall in prices was due to the sudden increase of supply at 
Plymouth and elsewhere, which had been stimulated by 
the abnormal prices of the past few years. Nevertheless, 
cattle continued throughout the history of the colony 
to be one of the chief sources of wealth. The economic 
structure never became highly developed and seems, 
never during the period of the colony's independence to 
have achieved the basis of a money economy. John 
Cotton Junior's salary was paid him as late as 1677, one- 
third in wheat, butter, tar, or shingles; one-third in rye, 
peas, or malt; and one-third in Indian corn, each valued 
in money but not paid in money. "It is further agreed 
that if any will pay their Rates or part thereof in money 
they shall have liberty so to do." 3 They repaired the 
Minister's house at a cost of £60 and provided that one- 
half of the assessment should be paid in any kind of corn 
or in tar, provided the tar was salable and provided it 
could be accepted at twelve pence per barrel cheaper than 

1 Bradford, History, 436. 

2 Ibid., 448, 458. See also on cattle values the notes in Goodwin, 
Pilgrim Republic, 296. 

3 Records of the Town of Plymouth, 154. 

236 The Pilgrims and their History 

the market price in Boston. The other half was to be 
paid in wheat, barley, peas, butter, or money. 1 

Industry in the modern sense of the word never devel- 
oped at Plymouth at all. 2 As early as 1639, every house- 
holder was compelled to sow one square rod of hemp 
and flax. A supply of bog iron was discovered and worked 
up at Taunton by the Brothers Leonard, which was dur- 
ing colonial days of some importance. Saw-mills, grist- 
mills, brick-yards appear gradually during the century, 
but beyond a very moderate manufacture of materials 
immediately useful at Plymouth, industry as such did 
not appear during the colony's independence. There 
was indeed, except the limited supply of iron and tar, 
no raw material which could have been manufactured. 
It was simpler, easier, more profitable to raise cattle, to 
sell dressed lumber and tar in Boston, than it was to 
attempt to make articles which could be bought much 
cheaper in Boston or in England. The colonies in gen- 
eral depended down to the American Revolution upon 
the purchase of manufactured goods in England, and 
Plymouth was no exception to the rule. There were of 
course made at Plymouth, as in all parts of America, 
rough cloth, candles, soap, woodenware, and simple 
furniture, but such goods were commonly made to order 
rather than for general sale in the open market at a profit. 

The accumulation of wealth at Plymouth never ap- 
proached that of the Bay Colony. The total was in- 
finitely less and the proportion per capita was also 

1 Records of the Town of Plymouth, 58. 

2 There are a few notes in Weeden, Economic History of New 
England, I; Goodwin, Pilgrim Republic; and the histories of the 
town of Plymouth by Davis and Baylies. Something can be 
gleaned from the colony and town records. 

Economic Privilege, 162J-165J 237 

smaller. The tendency has therefore been to regard 
Plymouth as an economic failure. No error could be 
greater. Seven decades proved the colony an undoubted 
economic success, a real demonstration of what could be 
done in the wilderness with practically no capital at all. 
It must be remembered that the Pilgrims started heavily 
in debt, owing the merchants for everything except the 
clothes on their backs and the shoes on their feet. What- 
ever they created at Plymouth was wrung from a poor 
soil in an unfavorable situation by the labor of their own 
hands. Nor did the colony grow by great accessions of 
colonists who brought with them accumulated wealth 
from England. Plymouth in 1691 represented the labor 
of the Pilgrims themselves and of their descendants and 
certainly was an economic success. The wills of the first 
comers, who landed practically without anything, show 
that they had not only supported themselves at Plym- 
outh during life, and paid their indebtedness, but had 
accumulated what would have ranked in England at the 
time as a comfortable property for farmers or artisans. 
Standish, for instance, had landed without property as 
a paid employee of the Merchants, and had migrated to 
Duxbury in 163 1 with one cow and some little personalty. 
He died in 1656 worth £140 in land and buildings and 
£358 7s. in personalty. His one cow had become five 
horses and colts, four oxen, ten cows and calves, eleven 
sheep, and fourteen swine. 1 Howland, who had also come 
so far as we know without property, died possessed of 
£157 of personalty, including three horses, seventeen 
cows and oxen, thirteen swine, forty-five sheep, and 

1 Many Plymouth wills have been printed in full in the Mayflower 
Descendant and are a mine of economic and social information 
hitherto little worked. Standish's will is in vol. Ill, 155. 

238 The Pilgrims and their History 

nearly two whole pounds in ready money. 1 The Browns, 
who arrived from England in 1634 with some property, 
died in 1662 worth £655 and £350 respectively. 2 The 
elder had ten oxen, four bulls, twenty cows, twenty 
young cattle, eighteen sheep, eleven pigs, and nine horses. 
His personalty included red leather chairs, a silver bowl, 
" Eight India table clothes," and a bed "in the Parlour," 
estimated at £24, but only six shillings in money. Even 
the poorer were able to bequeath in their wills from 
twenty-five to fifty pounds of personalty as early as 1633, 
and within five years after the enumeration and division 
of twelve cattle in 1627, most people had at least one 
cow or heifer, with a number of goats, swine in the tens, 
and great numbers of poultry. 3 The evidence of the 
Plymouth wills is absolutely conclusive : Plymouth was a 
decided economic success and the growth of wealth 
after 1627 was rapid and permanent. Each decade the 
wills bequeath decidedly more and after 1660 the amounts 
become really considerable and indicate real comfort and 

1 Mayflower Descendant, II, 73. 

*Ibid., XVIII, 15-22. 

3 See the wills in the Mayflower Descendant, I, 29, 65, 79, 82, 83, 
154, 157, 197, 203. Compare with these those of the later period, 
ibid., II, 14, 25, 39; XI, 198; XVIII, 41. Steven Hopkins died 
in 1644, owner of the chief inn or hotel, and left in cash — six pence. 


SOCIAL LIFE, 1627-1657 

If there was one fact clearer to the Pilgrims than an- 
other, it was their duty to practice in daily life the truth 
as they felt God had revealed it to them. In the Bible 
were recorded, if only they could comprehend them, the 
infallible directions for individual conduct; they had but 
to read and obey. Were they so sunk in ignorance and 
indifference as not to know the unreality and falsity of 
this life as compared with the glory and splendor of the 
life to come? Had they not been assured that only he 
who loses his life shall find it, and that he who putteth 
his hand to the plow must not look back? Social life 
at Plymouth was an attempt to live literally in accordance 
with the teachings of the Scriptures. Because of their 
inability to create the sort of social atmosphere in which 
they wished their children to grow up, they had left 
Holland. Now that God had vouchsafed them success 
in their experiment, had assured them of the correctness 
of their interpretation of His intentions, they could pro- 
ceed in confidence to live and act in accordance with 
His Word. As year followed year and found the colony 
growing in strength and prosperity, their joyous belief 
in the Divine approval grew into a certainty which no 
logic could strengthen nor argument shake. They were 
accordingly to use their authority in Church and State 
to live a serious purposeful life such as befitted God's 
elect, to aid those who had not yet seen the Light to 
comprehend it, and to assist them in keeping their feet 


240 The Pilgrims and their History 

from the paths of unconscious wrongdoing. Conscious 
evil none should do. The machinery of Church and 
State should repress the wicked and reclaim the way- 
ward, whose trustees the leaders believed themselves 
to be. 

The most difficult thing for us of the twentieth century 
to grasp about the Pilgrims is the literal domination of 
temporal life by the spiritual. Their history is much 
more nearly a study in the psychology of religion and 
its relation to the necessities of political and economic 
life than a political history in the ordinary sense of the 
word. We must become accustomed to looking through 
the temporal fact to the spiritual truth behind it, in- 
herent in it. Of the many facts which must be spiritual- 
ized to be understood, none is more essential than that 
minute regulation of daily life, which seems to us as 
we read about it so intolerable and incomprehensible. 
It was to them a consecration and a God given oppor- 
tunity never to return. They might indeed repent one 
day of the shortcomings of the day before, but never 
again in the whole of eternity would they have the op- 
portunity to live that day as they should have. They 
attempted to apply an unmnching and uncompromising 
idealism to the problems of daily life, to the economic 
problems of existence, and to methods for administering 
the State. The system was an end in itself, not a means 
to an end, unless indeed that end be the future life. 
They lived it because they believed that in that way life 
should be lived. They urged others to live it because 
they believed it the method by which all must satisfy 
God. If we can almost certainly see in their political 
ordinances the evidence of ulterior purpose, if we feel 
that the economic life was consciously shaped to further 

Social Life, 1627-1657 241 

the ecclesiastical and political, to make difficult the 
existence at Plymouth of those not deemed suitable In- 
habitants, we must not bring to their social system, if 
such it may be called, any such feeling of ulterior pur- 
pose. It was in no sense intended simply for the repres- 
sion of those who disagreed with them. It was an end 
in itself — life as they loved to live it, as they loved to 
think that others would want to live it. 

While in many respects Plymouth was democratic, 
the social life in the colony moved along definite lines of 
caste, sharply outlined and rigidly observed. These repro- 
duced no social status in the Old World, for none of them 
had possessed in England or Holland anything there 
recognized as social status. They had been simple tenant 
farmers/not even yeomen; or quite undistinguished ar- 
tisans and tradesmen, not even in the seventeenth cen- 
tury sense, merchants. The new caste was rather a fact 
than a system, was seen to exist rather than was called 
into existence. In the first rank were the leaders, who 
arrogated to themselves social as well as civil and ec- 
clesiastical leadership, and who assumed gradually titles 
with which they had been familiar in England, but which 
had in the main at Plymouth no such connotation as the 
English attached to them. In the list of Freemen of 
the colony entered in the records under the year 1636, 
there are one hundred and thirteen names. After four- 
teen of these we have the abbreviation "Gn," signifying, 
beyond a doubt, "gentleman." This first rank of the 
Pilgrim hierarchy was possessed by Bradford, Winslow, 
Prence, William Collier, John Alden, Timothy Hather- 
ley, John Jenney, Steven Hopkins, John Browne, William 
Brewster, John Atwood, Ralph Smith, and Isaac Aller- 
ton. Standish is called Captain, but not Gentleman, 

242 The Pilgrims and their History 

and Howland simply by his name. One is indeed sur- 
prised to note how far down the list William Brewster 
is and how far up the list are Prence, Collier, and Alden. 
Twelve names bear the prefix "Mr.," the English equiv- 
alent for Master. Several of these were clergymen, 
among them Reynor. Smith, however, was called 

These titles are repeated in the records with consider- 
able fidelity wherever these names appear, although the 
lesser Gentlemen sometimes become Master. This is 
never the case with Bradford, Winslow, and Prence, who 
no doubt had much to do with the editing of the records. 
The rest of the Freemen had no titles in this list, but 
we find several of them elsewhere referred to as yeomen. 1 
It is scarcely necessary to add that none of these men 
possessed any of the English qualifications for Gentle- 
man or Master, and that the best of them scarcely pos- 
sessed that financial competence and long freedom from 
anything resembling service in the feudal sense which 
distinguished the yeoman in England. Over the question 
whether or not the English term, Goodman, should be- 
come a third grade in the social hierarchy, there was 
considerable controversy between Williams, Smith, and 
the leaders. The latter were inclined to adopt it. The 
two clergymen objected to it vehemently, on the ground 
that it was sinful to call any man good, with the obvious 
inference that in their opinion the men to whom it was 
to be applied were quite the contrary. All of this shows 
us quite clearly that social distinctions were prized and 
valued at Plymouth far more than one would have sup- 
posed. 2 

1 Plymouth Colony Records, I, 41, 64, 75, 106. 

2 For a case at Swansea, see Baylies, Plymouth, II, 245-246. 

Social Life, 1627-1657 243 

In accordance with the Calvinistic system, the inter- 
ference of the leaders in the daily life of the majority 
was constant, searching, minute, and inquisitorial. It 
must not be supposed for a moment that they were less 
strict with themselves than with others or that they 
hesitated to accuse and punish each other on occasion. 
Bradford indeed expressed his amazement that any 
punishment or any regulation should be necessary in a 
group of people like the Pilgrims, that any misconduct of 
any sort should occur, to say nothing of the occasional 
commission of serious crime. But, he reflected quite 
sagely and truly, it did not portend a greater proportion 
of evil at Plymouth than elsewhere nor a more consider- 
able degree of wrongdoing, but merely the fact that 
the inquisitorial system was so exceedingly stringent 
that every minute deviation from the strict rule set up 
by the Church was promptly discovered and incon- 
tinently punished. 1 

Indeed there was perhaps no single task to which the 
Pilgrim community set itself with greater diligence and 
enjoyment than that of watching each other, nor was 
there any phase of their manifold duties which they per- 
formed with greater assiduity than that of complaining 
about each other. The ecclesiastical and civil system 
sanctified and encouraged tale-bearing, spying, and 
accusations. In a small colony, where everyone lived 
very much together and could not get far apart, where 
everyone's affairs were conducted under everybody else's 
eyes, there was no possibility of escape. The whole 
community seem to have derived a grim satisfaction 
from thus investigating each other's affairs and punishing 
each other's peccadillos. Attendance at Church was 
1 History, 459-461. 

244 The Pilgrims and their History 

compulsory for all, whether Church members or not, but 
was scarcely a hardship in a community where the rule 
against Sabbath breaking was enforced with the utmost 
severity by the civil authorities. Not many infringed it. 
One man persisted in working in his garden, another in 
the tar pits; one was punished for hunting deer on Sun- 
day; another was " sharply reproved" for writing a letter 
on Sunday, "at least in the evening somewhat too soon." l 
Steven Hopkins was accused in 1637 of allowing men to 
drink in his inn "on the Lord's day, before the meeting 
be ended" and allowing servants and others, both before 
and after meetings, to drink "more than for ordinary 
refreshing." 2 But such cases were rare. 

The Pilgrims observed no holidays. Christmas, 
Easter, and the ordinary Church festivals were an abom- 
ination to them because they smacked of Papacy. The 
King's birthday they naturally did not celebrate. There 
seems indeed to have been but one attempt at the cel- 
ebration of a European holiday. The first Christmas the 
whole colony worked in entire harmony very hard all 
day. The second Christmas, some of those just come 
upon the Fortune were called by Bradford on Christmas 
morning to their work in the fields as usual, and "excused 
themselves and said it wente against their consciences 
to work on that day," an answer which nonplussed the 
leaders not a little. But they went away and left them. 
When they came home at noon to dinner, they found 
them in the street, pitching the bar, playing stool ball, 
and other good old English games. Bradford went 

1 Plymouth Colony Records, I, 86; II, 140, 156. The authorities 
admitted that drawing eel pots on Sunday might be necessary. 
Ibid., II, 4. 

2 Ibid., L 68. 

Social Life, 1627-1657 245 

straight to them "and tooke away their implements, and 
tould them that was against his conscience that they 
should play and others worke. If they made the keeping 
of it mater of devotion let them kepe their houses but 
ther should be no gaming or revelling in the streets. 
Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, 
at least openly." } Smoking the Pilgrims practiced. 
Tobacco was grown at Plymouth to some extent, more 
was bought from the Indians, and after the first decade 
was imported from Virginia. But the regulations for 
smoking were strict and men were fined again and again 
"for drinking tobacco in the heighway." 2 Apparently, 
a man might smoke in his own house or in the fields, but 
he might not smoke in Plymouth streets nor in the 
meeting house. 

The most considerable body of regulations of a social 
character were those regulating marriage and the rela- 
tion of the sexes. The Pilgrims never could understand 
why there should be any deviation from strict morality 
and invariably punished with almost brutal severity the 
slightest infraction. Dorothy Temple, dishonored by 
one of the undesirables of the colony and her crime re- 
vealed by the birth of her child, was publicly whipped 
until she fainted under the lash. Men honorable enough 
to marry the women they had ruined, were publicly 
whipped, often more than once, while the wife sat in the 
stocks. One Mr. Fels came to Plymouth in 1627 and had 
in his house a comely maidservant, about whose relations 
with him scandal was presently whispered. Although 
the Pilgrims were unable to prove anything, they so 
frightened him and his whole family that, when after- 

1 Bradford, History, 134-135. 

2 Records, I, 106; IV, 47. 

246 The Pilgrims and their History 

wards it appeared that the maid was with child, they all 
decamped in a small boat, panic-stricken. They nearly 
lost their lives in the attempted flight and were forced 
to return to Plymouth, where they were dealt with with 
the greatest severity. 1 There were in the whole history 
of Plymouth until 1691, only six divorces and not many 
cases of any sort, type, or variety of immoral conduct. 2 

The regulation of individual conduct further provided 
that no man should strike his wife, and that no woman 
should beat her husband under the penalty of the fine 
of £10. One woman indeed was presented "for beating 
and reviling her husband and egging her children to 
healp her, biding them knock him in the head and wishing 
his victials might coake him." The significant entry 
in the margin follows — "Punished att home." 3 One 
Thomas Williams, a bond-servant, fell into a dispute with 
his mistress, apparently because he was unwilling to per- 
form some task or had failed to do so to her satisfaction. 
She tried to clinch the matter by exhorting him to fear 
God and to do his duty. He answered that he neither 
feared God * ' nor the diuell." For this horrible blasphemy 
he was brought into court, witnesses collected, and an 
infinity of trouble taken. Bradford would have had him 
soundly whipped, but the majority disagreed and he was 
simply reprimanded. 4 

How to regulate the relation of the sexes in courtship 
puzzled the Pilgrim fathers considerably. Finally in 
1638 a law was passed that no man should propose to a 
girl without first getting the consent of her parents or of 

1 Bradford, History, 265. 

2 Goodwin, Pilgrim Republic, 596-597, 590-600. 

3 Records, III, 75, 1654-1655. 

4 Ibid., I, 35, 1635. 

Social Life, 1627-1657 247 

her master, in case she were a bond servant. There were 
a good many cases of men punished for making offers of 
marriage " irregularly " and of girls similarly punished 
for accepting them. 1 The most celebrated is that of 
Arthur Howland, Jr., who found the daughter of Gov- 
ernor Prence pleasant to look upon, and apparently quite 
willing to receive his advances. There can be no doubt 
whatever that he courted her in an eminently respectable 
and sober way, and, like a good American, finally asked 
her to marry him. The father was furious with rage, 
brought the swain before the Court of Assistants, and 
accused him with having " disorderly and unrighteously 
endeavored to obtain the affections" of his daughter 
Elizabeth. Howland was compelled to pay a fine of 
£5, to produce sureties for good behavior, and to deposit 
a bond of £50 that he would not again propose to the girl 
in that same fashion. Some months later he felt it wise 
" solemnly and seriously" to engage himself never to 
approach her in any way again. No doubt this was the 
result of the fact that the young people were not quite 
able to take their eyes off of each other, nor to keep en- 
tirely apart in so small a colony. In the end Prence re- 
lented and the couple were married. 2 

The general impression which we have been given of 
Pilgrim life as dire, sad, and forbidding, is certainly 
wrong. Proper conduct was expected of everyone, and 
the social machinery, as well as that of Church and 
State, was devised to aid the individual to keep his feet 
in the narrow path of rectitude, but it is by no means 
true that life at Plymouth was so exceedingly unpleasant 
as we have been taught to believe. At the same time 

1 Records, I, 97 ; III, 5. 

2 Ibi4-, IV, 140-141, March 5, 1666-1667; July 2, 1667. 

248 The Pilgrims and their History 

neither the letters nor the records give us even a glimpse 
of anything resembling society or anything mildly ap- 
proaching dinners, parties, or entertainments, serious or 
otherwise. For the upper ranks of the social hierarchy, 
a quiet evening of conversation on serious and suitable 
themes, enlivened with a studiously moderate portion of 
beer, ale, or wine, seems to have been all they allowed 
themselves. This too in the privacy of their homes, with 
none present but the Elect. Candles, too, were expen- 
sive; the hours of work long for everybody, certainly 
until 1640; and only in the long winter afternoons and 
evenings can the leaders have permitted themselves such 
relaxation. Such intercourse must be what Bradford 
had in mind when he wrote that Brewster was of "a 
very cherfull spirite, very sociable and pleasante amongst 
his freinds.' , l But among the lower ranks of the social 
hierarchy, for the Inhabitants and the unprivileged, es- 
pecially for the servants, there was an abundance of 
simple amusement, such as they had been accustomed 
to have in England. 2 This the leaders tolerated and 
condoned as harmless for those not possessed of suffi- 
cient intelligence and mentality to devote themselves 
entirely to spiritual contemplation. Out-of-door games 
like bowls and pitch bar seem to have been commonly 
played. Inns and taverns were licensed by the author- 
ities, 3 at which beer, wine, and strong waters were to 
be had, and in these a good many really hilarious scenes 

1 Bradford, History, 492. 

2 The most cursory reading of the Records will leave no doubt on 
this point. 

3 James Leonard, innkeeper of Taunton, lost his wife by death, 
and was straightway deprived of his license on the ground that he 
was now unfitted to keep an inn! 

Social Life, 1627-1657 249 

were enacted by servants and apprentices. Cards are 
not infrequently mentioned in the court recoroVttnd the 
fact that one man was fined for playing cards on Sunday 
raises the presumption that he might have played on a 
week day without breaking the ordinance. 1 Dancing 2 
seems not to have been countenanced. 

In fact, it is one thing to realize that Plymouth was 
a place where literal idealism was attempted and a very 
real conformity to the ordinances expected in letter and 
spirit, and quite another to make out of it an impossible 
abode for human beings. The sins against which the 
leaders legislate point to a fairly normal English social 
life for all except Church members, 3 and both legislation, 
and the punishment meted out to enforce it, were in 
the nature of regulation rather than of repression or 
prohibition. They must not amuse themselves on Sun- 
day and they must come to Church. They must drink 
only for "refreshing" and not to bestiality. There seem 
indeed to have been numerous grades of offence with 
liquor, leading all the way from excess "upon refreshing" 
to plain drunkenness, beastly drunkenness, filthy drunk- 
enness, and a drunkenness of so extreme a degree that 
the details were necessarily related to the court. In 1636 
a definition was made of the proper consumption of 
liquor, which provided that wine or strong water should 

1 Records, IV, 42, 1663. 

2 Mercy Tubbs was to answer for "mixed dancing." Was there 
another variety which was permissible? Records, III, 5, 165 1- 

3 It is interesting to note that the Widow Ring possessed in 163 1 
these works: "1 bible 1 dod. 1 plea for Infants 1 mine of Rome 1 
Troubler of the Church of Amsterdam 1 Garland of vertuous 
dames." This last seems not thoroughly ecclesiastical in tone. 
Mayflower Descendant, I, 34. 

250 The Pilgrims and their History 

not be sold or drunk except at a licensed inn. There the 
innkeeper should not sell the townsmen any strong liquor 
at all and only one Winchester quart of beer, which re- 
tailed at two pence. To strangers at their first coming, 
he might sell strong water to the extent of two pence 
worth. 1 Here is very evidently the definition of drinking 
for " refreshing" only. This strict control and this in- 
quisitorial system proved very distasteful to a good 
many who came to Plymouth beside Oldham and Mor- 
ton of Merrimount. The strictness of regulation was far 
greater than in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and the 
colony was so much smaller that its enforcement was 
simple and punishment for infractions certain. The 
social atmosphere was one reason why people did not 
like Plymouth, but it was after all merely a corollary 
of a dislike founded, like the system itself, on a lack of 
agreement with the Church and a desire for civil and 
economic privilege without fulfilling the ecclesiastical 
prerequisites. There is no reason to believe that the 
social ordinances at Plymouth were disagreeable to the 
overwhelming majority or that it was necessary at any 
time to enforce them, by means of civil authority, upon 
more than an insignificant minority. 

Seventeenth century Calvinism was unquestionably 
hostile to the aesthetic in life, to the beautiful in music, 
in art, in furniture, or in clothing. Its influence on 
social life and social environment was almost as great 
at Plymouth as in Scotland and at Geneva. At the 
same time the very real simplicity at Plymouth was not 
wholly the result of choice. Poverty is a powerful dic- 
tator of frugality, though the Pilgrims did not, when 
they could, purchase luxurious clothes or furniture, or 
1 Records, I, 38. 

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Social Life, 1627-16 57 251 

attempt the cultivation of music or the fine arts. But 
Plymouth was by no means made intentionally ugly, 
nor did they attempt to make themselves unbecoming in 
appearance or uncomfortable. The hostility to the 
aesthetic was a tendency rather than a literal fact. 
Probably no Puritans or Pilgrims ever wore at any time 
such garb as modern artists have placed upon them. 
There is no evidence that the early Puritans at the time 
of Elizabeth and James I wore any distinctive clothes. 
The Pilgrims themselves were poor country people and 
certainly never wore "stylish" clothes in England or 
Holland. A simple smock and trousers of coarse cloth, 
a simple gown of ample folds for the women, heavy 
shoes, and either no hats at all or caps of skins must 
have been the rule in the first years. Close cut hair the 
men wore as in England and Holland, where it was the 
rule for the lower classes, long hair being the mark of the 
gentleman only and indicating not only wealth, but 
social status. There is no reason to suppose that the 
Pilgrims and Massachusetts Puritans before 1650 wore 
the sort of clothes common in England after the Civil 
Wars had produced a distinctive dress for the Parlia- 
mentarians different from that worn by the Cavaliers. 

Nor was Plymouth clad in black and gray, with tall, 
ugly hats for the men and hoods for the women of un- 
attractive design, void of ribbons or laces. On Sunday 
indeed the dignitaries wore black gowns, as was the rule 
in the Calvinist Churches abroad. But Elder Brewster's 
wardrobe contained a violet-colored cloth coat, a pair of 
black silk stockings, a doublet, and various other gar- 
ments such as a fairly well-to-do Englishman of no par- 
ticular rank might have worn. Since there were tailors 
and their apprentices at Plymouth, there can be little 

252 The Pilgrims and their History 

doubt that they made clothes. We also hear of red silk 
stockings obtained in Boston l and find in the inventories 
of the effects of persons deceased all sorts of garments of 
silk, satin, woolen, cotton, and linen, of a variety of 
shades and hues which we by no means would consider 
"sad" or sombre. Red, blue, purple, violet, and green 
were common, besides the expected grays, browns, 
whites, and blacks. We should not have expected to see, 
however, any such number of people possessed of laces, 
ruffs, and petticoats, of napkins, tablecloths, sheets, and 
handkerchiefs. 2 

The wills published in the last ten years have altered 
very much our conception of dress and household luxury 
at Plymouth. A very poor woman owned a looking 
glass, 3 for which, if tradition were dependable, the Pil- 
grim mothers had no uses. But looking glasses were 
common and presume articles of dress to be adjusted 
with their aid and some degree of attention to appear- 
ances. One Mistress Ann Atwoods left a total estate 
worth £24 and nevertheless had a "turky Mohear petty- 

1 Records, I, 93. Bradford speaks of Brewster's dislike of those 
who became haughty "being rise from nothing and haveing litle 
els in them to comend them but a few fine cloaths." History, 492. 

2 One poor man died in 1633, possessed of a "satten sute," two 
ruffs, an embroidered silk garter, and a "cap with silver lace on 
it." Mayflower Descendant, I, 83. Another, who was so poor 
that he owned only three-quarters of a cow, had in 1633 a feather 
bed, bolster, blankets, a green rug, sheets, tablecloths, napkins, 
"pillowbeeres," cushions, a chair bed, and sundry pots and kettles. 
The whole was valued at £71. Ibid., I, 157. A woman, whose 
whole property was worth in 1633 only £20, had aprons, napkins, 
a tablecloth, and towels. Ibid., I, 82. 

3 Godbert Godbertson and wife, 1633. Mayflower Descendant, 
I, 154-155- 

Social Life , 1627-165'/ 253 

coat/' "a silke Mohear petticoat," a " green phillip and 
Chyna petticoat"; "one old silk grogrum (GroGrain?) 
gowne," with red broadcloth, French serge, and green 
aprons. There were also four lace handkerchiefs, four 
pairs of lace cuffs, a whole dozen of stomachers, six "head 
clothes," a lace scarf, a "velvet muffe," a riding suit, with 
much linen, napkins, tablecloths, many sheets and pillow 
cases. There were as well silver bowls and spoons, glass 
bottles, much pewter, brass, and iron, with cushioned 
chairs and stools. 1 

The houses were simple, plain, substantial, but by 
no means poverty stricken. They were built of hewn 
plank and those erected after 1628 had plank roofs in- 
stead of thatch. The first chimneys seem to have been 
of sticks plastered with clay, but, proving inflammable, 
they were forbidden, and the later chimneys were prob- 
ably of rough stone, laid in clay, as the majority of New 
England chimneys have been since. Some were of brick, 
for there was in Plymouth as early as 1639 a bricklayer 
with an apprentice. The furniture probably did not 
come from England, but was made up by carpenters in 
Plymouth. It was comfortable, substantial, and plen- 
tiful after 1630. For the first decade nothing beyond the 
indispensable was probably to be had, although some of 
the leaders may have imported from England some 
pieces of oak furniture. Earthenware was not common 
until the eighteenth century and there was certainly 
no Delftware on the Mayflower. Pewter dishes and 
spoons, wooden bowls and iron knives with some glass 
of poor quality probably completed the table equipment 
of most Pilgrims. There were some silver bowls and 

1 Mayflower Descendant, XI, 200-206. See also effects of Widow 
Ring in 1631, ibid., I, 29. She owned a "mingled petticoat!" 

254 The Pilgrims and their History 

spoons. Forks they certainly did not use in the seven- 
teenth century. 

While the influence of the wilderness was not very 
clear in the clothes, the houses, or utensils, its effect 
upon the food was striking. Corn bread instead of wheat 
bread was practically universal, beef, mutton, and veal 
were not to be had for many decades because the animals 
were too valuable for other purposes to be killed for meat. 
After 1630, milk, butter, and cheese seem to have been 
plentiful and within the reach of nearly everyone. Fish 
and game from the first had been always obtainable al- 
though not much eaten. Oysters, clams, and mussels 
the Pilgrims disliked and even in the years of the starva- 
tion they had to be hungry indeed before they would 
resort to them. Beans and pumpkins were common 
staples from the garden, where also were grown peas, 
squash, turnips, parsnips, and onions. Apple and pear 
trees were brought from England and the former were 
cultivated with some success, though the latter did not 
do well. The wild fruits, grapes, huckleberries, and 
strawberries, were used freely. Cranberries, the typical 
product of Cape Cod and the Plymouth district today, 
were not known. Beer was brewed from barley and rye 
and its use was universal. Cider was soon made from 
apples and a homemade wine from wild grapes. After 
1640, however, French and Spanish wines, Dutch and 
English "strong waters" were common, although sold 
under strict rules. There can be also no doubt that they 
were used with extreme temperance. Tea, coffee, cocoa, 
and potatoes, seem not to have been known at Plymouth 
before 1691. Pie, the traditional New England dish in 
the minds of the ignorant, was certainly not made in the 
seventeenth century. On the other hand, hasty pudding, 

Social Life, 1627-16 57 255 

made of corn meal boiled in water or milk, was the almost 
universal breakfast dish. Beans baked with pork was 
also a Pilgrim staple. Puddings or bread made of rye 
meal (perhaps a forerunner of New England brown 
bread) were common. So were soups made of peas and 
beans. Boiled peas, squash, and other vegetables were 
common adjuncts of Pilgrim meals, in which fresh meat 
appeared less frequently than we should have supposed. 
Wild game within easy hunting range of Plymouth seems 
to have been killed off comparatively early. Fishing 
the Pilgrims never enjoyed, but after a while fresh fish 
became one of the staples of diet. 

On the whole, there is no reason to doubt that life at 
Plymouth, while never in one sense luxurious, was vastly 
more comfortable than the life these same people had 
led in England. They had more to eat and wear and of 
better quality. They lived in better houses than at 
Scrooby, and had more land, more cattle, and a future 
better assured. There is no hint that they were not well 
satisfied with the results. They deemed their social life 
adequate, pleasant, and far above their deserts or station, 
as the laws of God might define the one or the social code 
of England the other. 



The political history of Plymouth from the death of 
Bradford until its absorption into Massachusetts Bay 
in 1 69 1 is if anything more quiet than the decades imme- 
diately preceding. For two or three years some little 
trouble was experienced with Quakers who attempted 
to migrate to the colony or to pass through its jurisdic- 
tion. In 1663 Governor Prence, who had succeeded 
Bradford, moved his residence from Eastham to Plym- 
outh, an event of real importance for the rehabilitation of 
the influence of Plymouth proper. In 1664 came the 
visit of Royal Commissioners to investigate the colony. 
A certain rephrasing of political privilege immediately 
preceded and followed that visit. In 1667 the reorganiza- 
tion of the Church in the town of Plymouth was under- 
taken by John Cotton, Jr. In 1676 came King Philip's 
War. Eight years later the New England Confederation 
held its last session; 1686 saw the beginning of the 
jurisdiction of Andros and a general government over 
all New England, which was presently overturned by the 
Glorious Revolution of 1689 and the new Charter of 1691. 
Such is a fairly inclusive list of events of importance in 
Pilgrim history for this period. 

The death of Bradford marked the end of an epoch. 
The old leaders had passed away. Brewster had died 
in 1644 and from his loss the Church never entirely 
recovered. Winslow had left in 1646 for England on a 
mission for the Massachusetts Bay colony, despite the 



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Tendency after the Death of Bradford 257 

opposition of Bradford and others. There he had been 
well received and had found a regime thoroughly con- 
genial. Cromwell seems to have regarded him as a use- 
ful man, for he was made in 1652 chairman of a joint 
commission to award damages for vessels destroyed by 
the Dutch in neutral Denmark. In 1655 he was made 
the chief of three commissioners, his associates being 
none other than Admiral Venable and Admiral Penn, 
father of the noted Quaker, who were to lead an expedi- 
tion to the West Indies. There Winslow died of fever 
May, 1655. In the next year Standish died. He had 
left Plymouth proper in 1631 and had lived at Duxbury 
ever since. He had not only been the military leader of 
the Pilgrims, their very best scholar in the Indian lan- 
guages, the man best able to deal with the Indians on 
their behalf, but he had also been an exceedingly useful 
man in government, thoroughly trusted and respected. 
In the spring of 1657 Bradford died and then indeed was 
the older generation gone. There were left of the orig- 
inal group of leaders only Howland, who lived till 1673, 
and Alden, who died in 1687, neither of whom, despite 
their long and continued usefulness in administration, 
had ever shown capacity for leadership. They did not 
at this time possess the confidence of the little colony. 
William Bradford, Jr., who ^Siis'to have been a man of 
some ability, became Assistant fh§ year after his father's 
death and was reelected for twenty-four years. He was 
also for several years Deputy- Governor but was not able 
to fill the place that his father left. 

The mantle of Bradford fell upon Thomas Prence, who 
became autocrat of Plymouth accordingly and held the 
reins until his death in 1673. He had come to Plymouth 
in 162 1 on the Fortune and had early become one of the 

258 The Pilgrims and their History 

leaders. In 1634 he had married the daughter of William 
Collier, the richest man in the colony. In 1657, ne na d 
already been Assistant for many years, Governor twice, 
and had held many of the lesser offices. The records of 
the First Church describe him as " excellently qualified 
for the office of Governor. He had a countenance full 
of majesty and therein as well as otherwise was a terror 
to evil doers." "God made him a repairer of breaches 
and a meanes to setle those shakings that were then 
threatening." l Prence was succeeded as Governor, 
after a few years' interim, by Thomas Hinckley, who had 
been, like Prence himself during Bradford's long reign, 
Assistant from 1658 to 1680. Hinckley ruled from 1680 
until the end of the political independence of Plymouth. 
The first problem with which the new regime had to 
deal was that of the Quakers. In March, 1657, one of 
this brotherhood entered the jurisdiction from Rhode 
Island and was promptly ejected. Several weeks later 
another appeared and was also ejected, both without 
violence or penalty. In the following year, two others 
appeared and seem to have received some kind of trial 
before the General Court. One of them constantly in- 
terrupted Governor Prence, — the majesty of whose ap- 
pearance we may well remember in this connection for 
the Quaker seems not to have been terrified by it, — 
with a constant flow of such remarks as "thou liest," 
"Thomas, thou art a malicious man," "thy clamorous 
tongue I regard no more than the dust beneath my feet." 
The pair declined to take the oath of fidelity to England, 
but seem to have alleged no scruple about the oath itself, 
and, having defied the Court to do its worst, were ac- 

1 Mayflower Descendant, IV, 216. He was also declared "amiable* 
and pleasant in his whole conversation." 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 259 

cordingly whipped and sent on their way, writing from 
Rhode Island a letter prophesying for Prence all sorts of 
calamities. Another they wrote to Alden, upbraiding 
him for having renounced his former tolerance; a hint 
interesting to us. They also begged Alden not to be a 
"self conceited fool" because called magistrate. In 1658 
several other Quakers appeared, some of whom were 
whipped. In 1659 the famous Mary Dyer visited Plym- 
outh, but was promptly sent to Rhode Island and the 
cost of her deportation, with true Yankee shrewdness, 
was collected. In all, some ten were deported and some 
five were whipped. No Quaker suffered death at Plym- 
outh or extended ill-treatment. There is, however, no 
evidence that the more characteristic of Quaker demon- 
strations took place at Plymouth. 

It is perhaps advisable to mention here that the witch- 
craft delusion, which swept through the colony of Massa- 
chusetts Bay somewhat later, never secured credence at 
Plymouth. There seem to have been only two cases. 
In 1 65 1 Dinah, the wife of one Sylvester of Scituate, 
claimed to have seen a neighbor, the wife of a man 
named Holmes, in conversation with the devil, who had 
for this colloquy assumed the form of a bear. Holmes 
brought suit for slander. The lady was convicted and 
ordered to confess and to pay £5 damages. The fact 
that she chose to do so seems to have considerably dis- 
couraged witch hunting. The second case was in 1677 
and resembles somewhat the famous cases at Salem. An 
elderly lady was charged with bewitching a young girl 
and with causing her to fall on the ground in violent fits. 
She was tried by a jury, Governor Josiah Winslow pre- 
siding as Judge, and to their everlasting honor the ver- 
dict was brought in of "not guilty." 

260 The Pilgrims and their History 

The tendency of the political development at Plymouth 
was revealed immediately after the death of Bradford 
by a prompt attempt to reduce the autocratic power of 
the Governor and to provide some sort of formula, by 
which freemen might be more easily and frequently ad- 
mitted to the privilege. 1 The change indeed was less 
one in the structure of government than of emphasis. 
It was not less essential than before to be a Church 
member, but it was easier to become one. The ecclesi- 
astical line was less rigid and had great effect in extending 
political privilege. No doubt too the fact that the new 
leaders (until 1663) did not reside at Plymouth em- 
phasized the growth of other towns in jurisdiction, led 
to an increase in the power of the town authorities and to 
a more considerable freedom of the towns from the 
colonial dictation, as well as a considerable weakening 
of the political leadership of Plymouth itself. The dis- 
cretionary power of the Governor and Assistants seems 
to have been less freely used than by Bradford and 
their administration followed more closely certain stere- 
otyped and routine lines. The autocratic power, which 
had been retained by the General Court to combat the 
Assembly, in order to preserve and enhance the influence 
of Plymouth, indeed in order to preserve a degree of 
influence in the colony to which the physical size of 
Plymouth no longer entitled it, now had precisely the 
opposite effect from that originally intended. The over- 
whelming majority of the freemen had migrated to the 

1 These conclusions are unavoidably deductions and inferences 
from the formal records, for there seems to be no direct evidence 
as to the policy or intentions of the leaders. The majority of ex- 
plicit facts and laws referred to can be readily found under the 
date in the Records. 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 261 

other towns and the very power of the General Court 
militated now against Plymouth. In general, however, 
the tendency was, so far as we can make out from the 
fragmentary records, for the General Court to become 
more and more a Court of Elections, for the Assembly 
of Deputies to arrogate supremacy in legislation, and 
for the Governor and Assistants to secure in practice 
control of the judicial machinery. The increase in the 
colony's population to over 7000 in 1690 made the rep- 
resentative system, for which the Assembly of Deputies 
stood, more important, more logical, and more useful. 
Taxation, hitherto hardly systematic at Plymouth, was 
reorganized after 1657. In 1646, excise taxes had been 
levied on wines, beer, and strong waters, and were soon 
extended to tobacco and oil. After 1662, the principal 
revenue came from export taxes on exports of boards, 
plank, staves, and headings, tar, oysters, and iron. 
Some revenue came from the lease of the trading rights 
on the Kennebec 1 and from a lease of the mackerel 
fishery off Cape Cod, which the colony attempted to 
monopolize as early as 1646. A barrel of oil from each 
drift whale was also demanded. Exactly how the revenue 
was collected and for what it was spent we cannot be 
sure, for salaries as such seem not to have been paid 
before 1690, though presents and expense accounts were 
authorized, and grants of land were made to officials. 
The people remained divided as before into Freemen, 

x An attempt was made during the Commonwealth to secure 
the grant of the whole of the Kennebec, which was finally agreed 
to for seven years. There was of course in 1660 no disposition on 
their part to call attention to it. Interregnum Entry Book, XCIV, 
pp. 425-526; CLXI, pp. io-ii. The entries relating to the Pil- 
grims in the English manuscript archives for the period subsequent 
to 1620 are few and unimportant. 


262 The Pilgrims and their History 

Inhabitants, Sojourners, and the non-privileged, but it 
became decidedly easier to become a Sojourner and 
reside in the jurisdiction, to secure a grant of land, and 
therefore to become an Inhabitant. Some attempt now 
was made to provide a less rigid statement of the require- 
ments for political privilege. In 1656 it was voted that 
the freemen of the towns should be permitted to " pro- 
pound" new candidates to the General Court for ad- 
mittance. Two years later it was amended to read that 
the man should be accepted by the Court "upon satisfy- 
ing testimony from freemen of his town." He should 
then ■" stand propounded" for a year, and then be con- 
sidered a freeman "if the Court shall not see cause to 
the contrary." Knowing as we do the powerful forces 
at work to break down the rigid lines of the older priv- 
ilege, we shall perhaps not be far wrong if we see in these 
provisions an attempt to admit men to political privi- 
lege who were vouched for by men from their own town, 
and against whom within a year nothing serious should 
be alleged. It seems almost as if a vote by the General 
Court as to whether they should be accepted was pre- 
cluded. In 1658 an oath of fidelity was required of all 
citizens and certain classes of men were defined who 
should not be admitted freemen, among whom were 
enumerated Quakers, "opposers of the good and whole- 
some laws of this colony," or " manifest opposers of the 
true worship of God, or such as refused to do the country 
service being called thereunto." All existing freemen 
who were Quakers or encouragers of Quakers were to 
lose their privilege, and all likewise who were adjudged 
"gravely scandalous," as "liers, drunkards, swearers, 
etc." It may be that the new regime was less strict than 
the old, but it seems nevertheless to have possessed a 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 263 

certain stringency of its own. At the same time it is 
very clear that the importance of these provisions lay 
in the spirit in which they were interpreted. 

In 1664 Plymouth received a visit from the Royal 
Commissioners, who came thither from Boston after 
what must have been for them a sorely trying experience. 
The suavity and cordiality of their welcome at Plymouth 
made therefore a great impression upon them. Prence 
indeed thoroughly appreciated the fact that, as against 
the King, the little colony possessed no rights of govern- 
ment. There had been considerable doubt whether the 
Council for New England had been able to convey any 
rights of government by the patent of 1630, and now that 
the Council had surrendered its powers to the King, those 
doubts were very certainly ended so far as the royal 
authority was concerned. The Commissioners invited 
complaints against the jurisdiction and received but one, 
from a man who had attempted to purchase land from the 
Indians on his own authority. 

They seem to have been entirely satisfied with what 
they saw and heard, and made indeed only four recom- 
mendations : that all householders should swear allegiance 
and the courts act in the King's name; that all men of 
competent estate and civil conversation be admitted as 
freemen to vote and to hold office; that all of orthodox 
opinions and civil lives be admitted to the Lord's Supper 
and their children to Baptism, either in the existing con- 
gregations or in such as they might form ; that any laws 
or legal phrases disrespectful to the King should be 
changed. The General Court replied that the first two 
points represented the colony's constant practice, while 
for the last, there were none. To the third they replied 
at great length, alleging in substance that all of orthodox 

264 The Pilgrims and their History 

opinion were already welcome in their churches, that they 
forbade none the right to pursue such worship as they 
preferred, and merely required that, pending the institu- 
tion of some regular worship of their own, they should 
support and attend the Churches in existence. The 
Commissioners were well satisfied with the reply, and 
the letter, which the King later sent to Plymouth, 
seemed to the Pilgrims to augur well for their future 
cordial relations with the Crown. In 1671 they adopted 
the suggestion of the Commissioners and provided that 
all should be freemen, who were twenty-one years old, 
possessed of £20 of ratable property, and were as well 
"of sober and peaceable conversation," and "orthodox 
in religion. " There was still ample warrant in these 
phrases to withhold privilege from anyone whom they 
disliked, but the tendency seems to have been to in- 
crease the number of freemen rather than to restrict it. 

The trend of economic development at Plymouth 
emphasized those interests complementary to Massachu- 
setts Bay. An economic structure closely related to the 
larger colony had been developing for some time, and 
gradually independent trade with England and the other 
American colonies ceased and Plymouth bought from the 
Bay and sold to it. This was naturally enough the result 
of the founding of towns in the western part of the Plym- 
outh patent by settlers from the Bay colony itself, in 
locations better suited to agriculture than Plymouth 
proper. This district became gradually the predominant 
economic section of the little state, and naturally, being 
upon the high road from Boston to Rhode Island and 
in closer proximity indeed to Boston than to Plymouth, 
grew more and more nearly a part of the economic struc- 
ture of which Boston was the centre, and tended more 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 265 

and more to sever its connections with Plymouth itself. 
Indeed, the Plymouth area did not form an independent 
economic unit nor did it occupy a natural geographical 
subdivision of Massachusetts Bay. On the contrary, it 
was itself economically a part of a larger unit whose nat- 
ural centre was Boston. More and more the economic 
and social influence of the Bay Colony transformed the 
greater number of Plymouth towns. The old system of 
rigid seclusion gradually broke down. The old scrutiny 
of newcomers was less and less maintained. While this 
assisted in a way the breakdown of the older ecclesiastical 
lines, it was itself in turn assisted by the general failure 
of the Plymouth Church to maintain its old-time ascend- 
ency. While it was perhaps never easy for a stranger to 
secure a grant of land and economic privilege in the Old 
Colony or in Massachusetts, the two ceased, certainly 
after 1660, to regard each other with the old suspicion. 
A man of good standing in the one could without great 
difficulty transport himself to some part of the other's 
jurisdiction and there secure privilege. 

The economic and ecclesiastical results of King Philip's 
War give it now practically its only title to a place in 
Plymouth annals. Time was when Philip occupied a 
romantic and prominent place in Pilgrim history, but the 
more recent students have united to strip this war of 
its glamor and of its importance. 1 They point out to us 

1 Palfrey and Goodwin are particularly emphatic. It should 
perhaps be said that the more romantic idea of Philip involves the 
very decided guilt of the Pilgrims for ill-treatment, undue en- 
croachments, selfishness, and cruelty. Everything else we know 
about Plymouth leads us to reject such an idea as inconsistent 
with Pilgrim character and ideals as well as with their professions, 
and with the evidence in their Records of their previous treat- 
ment of Indians. 

266 The Pilgrims and their History 

that Philip was no king and was not even an intelligent 
Indian; that he lived in squalor and possessed no par- 
ticular property of which the white man could deprive 
him. As a figure typifying the downfall of a proud race, 
protesting against the loss of its independence before 
the ever encroaching white man, Philip was a name with 
which to conjure. As a dirty, quarrelsome, treacherous, 
degenerate Indian, bent upon making trouble for the 
Pilgrims, who had done their best to protect his land and 
property, he ceases to occupy in history a position of im- 
portance. The later students have put the blame for 
the war squarely upon the Indians, have denied continued 
and unfair encroachments by the whites, and have re- 
duced the war to a series of Indian raids, destructive 
of life and property, chiefly because of the carelessness 
of the whites and of the failure of Massachusetts and 
Plymouth to cooperate promptly. 

So far as Plymouth was concerned, the influence of the 
war was indirect and lay in its economic and ecclesiastical 
results rather than in its inception or its happenings. The 
latter are not particularly interesting nor instructive and 
a detailed narrative seems out of proportion here in so 
brief an account of the Pilgrim story. The economic 
loss, which the war entailed, nevertheless was for so 
weak a colony a serious matter. No exact estimate is 
available, but certainly several towns were burned and 
several hundred houses, while several hundred people 
were killed and a good many thousand pounds' worth of 
property was destroyed, including some thousands of 
cattle. The public debt which the colony incurred in 
putting down the rising amounted to twenty-seven 
thousand pounds, a staggering sum considering their 
resources, but one which was eventually paid to the 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 267 

penny. The existence of this debt and the comparative 
lack of means for paying it, was apparently one of the 
reasons which led Hinckley to favor secretly the inclusion 
of Plymouth within the Massachusetts patent. 

The outbreak of the war caused a " searching of con- 
sciences" at Plymouth and a renewal of the Covenant of 
the Church with God. They felt that in one way or 
another it indicated the wrath of God upon them for 
their shortcomings, and that the weakness of the Church 
at Plymouth was due to their own lack of spiritual 
strength. A great day of fasting and humiliation was 
held and, as the Church records add, " within a month 
after our solemne day," Philip was slain. Thus prompt > 
was the indication of divine approval of their repentance. 
The leadership of the Church at Plymouth had been dis- 
turbed by the foundation of various towns after 1630 
and by the removal of Elder Brewster from Plymouth as 
early as 1633. The difficulty was increased by the fact 
that the newer towns in the majority of cases possessed 
a minister abler than the incumbent at Plymouth itself, 
and was doubly accentuated by the death of Bradford 
and by the lack of any minister at all at Plymouth from 
1654 to 1667. During those years all pretence of leader- 
ship was lost by the Plymouth Church. The calling of 
John Cotton, Jr., son of the famous Boston minister, 
trained at Harvard College, and a man of real ability 
and energy was an important event in the history of 
the colony. This was in 1667, but it was not until 1676 
and 1677 that the real reorganization of the Church was 
begun and an active spirit of cooperation engendered 
among the people themselves. 

The mere presence of Cotton at Plymouth was defin- 
itive proof that the old line between the Plymouth 

268 The Pilgrims and their History 

and Massachusetts Churches had disappeared. Truth 
to tell, the Bay Churches had accepted the Pilgrims' 
standpoint. They no longer maintained the Tightness 
of the Church of England nor the desirability of connec- 
tion with it. They no longer claimed as they had in 
the first decade the right to attend its communion on 
their visits to England. The Pilgrims themselves were 
not more assured of its inadequacy than the Massachu- 
setts ministers in 1667. An entire generation had passed 
away since they had first come to the New World, during 
which they had been separated from the Mother Church 
not only in distance but in time. A new generation had 
risen in New England, born on the soil, which knew 
neither Joseph nor Pharoah, and had long been accus- 
tomed to formulate its own policy in ecclesiastical af- 
fairs. For nearly two decades, moreover, Episcopacy 
had been abolished in England, and the renunciation of 
Bishops and canons in the mother land had made illogical 
any attachment to them by the Puritans of New Eng- 
land. The change was probably in no sense a conscious 
adoption by the Bay Colony of the Pilgrim Separatist 
belief, but the work of circumstances over which neither 
of the colonies in New England had any control. 

Nor must it be forgotten that the negative character 
of Pilgrim theology, its insistence on the observances of 
the transitional period, made difficult its maintenance 
against the more positive theology of later years. The 
presence in the Bay Colony, too, of so many abler min- 
isters and of so many laymen, intellectually more capable 
than the majority at Plymouth, insensibly in the course 
of decades produced an impression. New colonists had 
begun in 1631 to drift into the Pilgrim jurisdiction by 
twos and threes from the Bay Colony and remained 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 269 

naturally more favorable to its traditions than to the 
original Pilgrim ideals. Gradually, as the leaders at 
Plymouth and the older generation had died, the newer 
generation had grown up in other towns than Plymouth, 
in close connection with immigrants from Massachusetts, 
and in most cases outnumbered by them. It cannot be 
said that the Pilgrim Church was absorbed into the 
Massachusetts system, nor yet perhaps that the Massa- 
chusetts system transformed itself in accordance with 
the Pilgrim example. The two Churches seem to have 
grown toward each other and away from what they had 
both originally been, and merged into a product different 
from either and better than both. 1 

As in the State so in the Church, the reorganization 
under Cotton was actuated by a desire to strengthen the 
Church by a broader and more tolerant policy, by a 
lessening of the rigidity of the older ecclesiastical re- 
quirements. Something of the precise changes we 
know. 2 Cotton and the deacons had undertaken in 1667 
a house to house visitation of the whole town and had 
inquired "into the state of souls." A change was made 
at once in the method of admission to the Church. It 
had hitherto been essential, not only for the individual 
to satisfy the authorities of his orthodoxy, but for him 
also to state orally before the Church as a whole the 
grounds of his faith and to answer such questions as 
were put to him, a terrifying ordeal which had no doubt 

1 The issue was somewhat debated at the time. John Cotton 
Senior and Bradford both disclaim any conscious attempt to model 
the Bay Churches on the Pilgrim idea. See a discussion of this 
point in C. Burrage, Early English Dissenters, I, 357-368. 

2 The Records of Plymouth First Church tell us much of in- 
terest. They have been printed in full in the Mayflower Descend- 
ant, IV, V, VIII, etc. 

270 The Pilgrims and their History 

kept many from Church membership. This was now no 
longer required. The authorities were to satisfy them- 
selves by private conversation with the candidate of his 
orthodoxy and fitness. Undoubtedly this was responsi- 
ble for the admission of so many new members at this 
time and for the continued accessions in the years after 
1676. There had been forty-seven members in 1669; 
twenty-seven more had been admitted in that year; 
fourteen in 1670; seventeen in 1671; and six in 1672. 
This will give some idea of the previous stringency. The 
members also solemnly renewed their covenant in 1676 
and entered into a further definite agreement to revive 
the active life of the old Church. 

The service too had been calculated to make partici- 
pation difficult rather than easy for those unable to read 
or not possessed of a ready memory. Books no doubt 
were scarce, but the psalms had been sung straight 
through, without any such assistance, as was already 
common in Massachusetts, as giving out the line before 
it was sung. This practice was introduced at Plymouth 
in 1 68 1, and was then changed to the reading of the 
psalm by the Pastor with an exposition of it, before the 
Deacon proceeded to give it out, line by line, for singing. 
Ainsworth's Psalms, hitherto used at Plymouth, was 
after a time abandoned for the Bay Psalm Book. Thus 
was new life introduced into the Plymouth Church. 
\S At this time, too, education at Plymouth received se- 
rious attention. From the first they had been solicitous 
about it, and, even in the earliest years, the children 
had received some instruction. As early as 1624, Brad- 
ford hints at something like a school, and after 1630 
there were certainly several schools in the colony. It was 
not until 1662, however, that a law was passed by the 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 271 

General Court charging each town to employ a school- 
master, and not until 1677 that schools were made 
compulsory. Laws were passed holding masters and 
parents responsible in case the children were not trained 
in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some inducement 
was offered after 1670 for the establishment of a classical 
school, and probably in 1674 the first free school estab- 
lished in New England by law was opened at Plymouth. 
There had long been free' schools in Massachusetts Bay, 
but they had not the sanction of law or were not sup- 
ported by taxes. For anything beyond the elements, 
however, it was essential to resort to the schools of the 
Bay Colony and to Harvard College. 

Secular education, indeed, the Pilgrims did not en- 
tirely approve of. University learning seemed to them 
unnecessary beyond the rudiments, for the true enlight- 
enment of the mind was to be derived from the study 
of the Bible and not from the classics as taught by col- 
leges. There was to this opposition a certain ecclesiastical 
tinge. The Established Church made much of college 
degrees and exacted from clergymen for ordination re- 
quirements which could be fulfilled only in colleges. 
For the ordination of that Church, the Pilgrims had the 
most supreme contempt and any requirements which it 
made they placed in the same category. 1 They were 
unwilling to accept the contention that a man might 
not be entirely learned without having "saluted a Uni- 
versity" or peered between the covers of a Greek Gram- 
mar. To admit that college education was essential* 
would have been to condemn their own opinions and 

1 An amusing commentary on this attitude by Morton in his 
New English Canaan, Prince Soc. ed., 282, is our chief direct evi- 
dence of its existence. 

272 The Pilgrims and their History 

accept those of the college professors and college-trained 
Clergy whom they had left behind in England, and 
whose learning they had rejected as unavailing for 
salvation. The true Light had come to them without 
education. The educated of their own day seemed not 
to see the Light. They were therefore not anxious to 
teach their children anything beyond the rudiments of 
that education, which seemed so powerless to confer upon 
its possessor spiritual guidance and insight. 

It is quite clear that after 1660 a great change came 
over social conditions at Plymouth; not that the main 
outlines of the social structure were seriously changed 
nor its main purpose altered, but the spirit and tendency 
of life were freer. 1 The individual was less subject to 
scrutiny and greater latitude was allowed him. With 
this later Plymouth we are less interested, though we 
know about it comparatively more than about the earlier 
Plymouth of the forefathers. It is interesting chiefly as 
the first stage in the breaking down of a system which 
time was to prove incompatible with its own chief 
tenets. The Pilgrims preached the responsibility of the 
individual to God for his own salvation, and his par- 
amount responsibility for informing himself of religious 

1 The members of the First Church agreed in 1676 that they 
had been "listlesse and sluggish" in attendance at Church; had 
not kept the Sabbath strictly; had "set our hearts upon the world 
and creature comforts and vanities and have too much conformed 
to the world." "Wee have bin a proud generation — haughty in 
spirit, in countenance, in garbe and fashion, and have too much 
delighted to follow the vaine and sinfull customs of an evil world." 
The Elders told the Church that "some of the brethren walked 
disorderly, in sitting too long together in publick houses and with 
vaine company and drinking." Mayflower Descendant, V, 216; 
VIII, 215, 217. We must certainly not interpret such utterances 
too literally. 

Tendency after the Death of Bradford 273 

truth. They taught without deviation or compromise 
that none but he could save his soul, that priests, 
churches, ministers, and friends were unavailing to do more 
than offer him some little assistance and enlightenment. 

In Europe, they had preached freedom to act, freedom 
to think, freedom to read, with the full comprehension 
that it meant freedom to disobey statutes, to renounce the 
Pope, to absent themselves from the service of the 
Established Church, and, so long as they had remained 
in Europe, this new freedom of the individual which they 
preached had remained merely freedom to disregard 
certain former requirements of the old order, so con- 
spicuously thrust into the foreground by Church and 
State as to conceal the fact that real freedom to think 
and act was equally withheld from the Pilgrims by their 
own system. At Plymouth, far removed from Europe 
and its Churches and kings, the Pope become already 
a dim myth, and Bishops and canons unrealities, the 
system involved a control of the individual by society 
and the church which was entirely incompatible with its 
own primal tenet, his freedom to think and act in accord- 
ance with his own information and not in accordance 
with that of others. Theoretically, the Church members 
accorded to each other the right to investigate and con- 
clude, but they never even in theory extended that right 
to their wives, their children, their servants, and their 
apprentices. A minority of the community attempted 
to coerce the majority on the basis of an intellectual pre- 
tension to dictate their conduct as well as their beliefs, 
to dictate their civil, economic, and social status as well 
as the road to salvation. It was a system inconsistent 
with itself, which denied its own tenet, which crushed 
the individual instead of freeing him, which subjected him 

274 The Pilgrims and their History 

to a yoke far heavier than any Bishops or Pope had laid 
upon him, and manyfold more stringently enforced. 
I"*"" Time could not fail to reveal the inconsistency. Men 
began to see that they had freedom only to agree with 
the strictest Calvinists and to act in social affairs in 
accord with Bradford's and Brewster's consciences. 
They might, it was true, leave the colony; but they came 
in the end to realize that the fundamental tenets of 
the system itself endowed them with the right to follow 
their own consciences, and with the same right to resist 
dictation from the leaders as from the Pope. Dimly, 
unconsciously, something of this seems to have been 
appreciated toward the close of Pilgrim history. This 
was unquestionably the leaven at work at Plymouth, as 
at Boston, in England, and elsewhere. The process of 
evolution was to be long. Real toleration was still many 
decades distant, and the freedom of social life from 
ecclesiastical direction was not to come within the span 
of Plymouth's political independence. 

The Plymouth of 169 1 would scarcely have pleased the 
original settlers. Long before Bradford died, he began to 
suspect something of the real trend of events. To him 
the gradual disappearance of the sharp ecclesiastical 
antagonism between Plymouth and the other colonies, 
the growth in population, the founding of new towns, the 
increase in the number of churches were proof that the 
end for which he had striven throughout his life would 
not be achieved. Had he but known it, the diffusion of 
population, the apparent breaking down of the barriers 
surrounding Plymouth, were but the signs that the in- 
fluence of the Pilgrims was extending, was leavening a 
larger lump than Plymouth, and was about to become 
the heritage, not of a Church but of a nation. 



It was not until January, 1687, some little time after 
the establishment of a General Governor for the New 
England colonies at New York and Boston, that Sir 
Edmund Andros found time to take the necessary legal 
steps for the abolition of the old government at Plymouth 
and the institution of his own. 1 The last session of the 
old General Court occurred October 5, 1686, and the 
new Government lasted until April 22, 1689, though the 
next entry in the Plymouth records is October 8, 1689. 
There is not much to tell about the Andros regime at 
Plymouth. It seems to have been rather an interim than 
a radical change of any sort. The ecclesiastical, social, 
and economic life of the colony seems to have gone on as 
before; local government in the hands of the towns con- 
tinued, even though an intention to change it had been 
expressed; only the central authority was suspended, and, 
inasmuch as no very considerable activity of any of its 
parts was common, it betokened no great change of 
significance that for three years neither the Governor 
and Assistants, the General Court, nor the Assembly 
held their accustomed sessions. 

1 Sewall duly noticed that on December 30, 1686, "the gentle- 
men from Plymouth and Rhode Island" came to Boston to take 
oaths to the new government. Diary, Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 5th 
Series, V, 163. This famous source is disappointing, for it con- 
tains only a very few perfunctory notices about Plymouth. Nor 
does the considerable volume of contemporary material on the 
Andros regime much better reward perusal. 


276 The Pilgrims and their History 

Indeed, nothing of importance seems to have been 
attempted by Andros at Plymouth. The same polity he 
tried to apply in the other colonies was outlined; the 
land titles in particular were declared invalid, and 
announcement was made that new and thoroughly legal 
titles and documents were to be had upon payment of 
fee. Clark's Island, which had long been rented out by 
the colony for the benefit of the poor, was granted by 
the new Government to Nathaniel Clark, a Plymouth 
man, and one of Plymouth's seven members in the new 
Governor's Council. He seems to have been the only 
Plymouth citizen to whom Andros listened, and the only 
one who in any whole hearted way gave his allegiance 
to the new regime. He could however accomplish little 
in so short a time, whatever his intentions, and there is 
some doubt whether he ever secured possession of the 
island. Andros and his henchmen were too busy with 
the other colonies to give much time to the affairs of the 
smallest and least troublesome part of his jurisdiction, 
particularly as no open or avowed opposition was at- 
tempted, and where even expressions of disapproval seem 
to have been relatively guarded. There was, too, the ob- 
vious question whether the owners of Plymouth estates 
were able to pay the new fees. Hinckley, ex-Governor, 
declared them incapable. This no doubt gave Andros 

Hinckley, the old Governor, Nathaniel Clark, the old 
Secretary, who had been educated and trained by Mor- 
ton, himself for so many years Secretary of the colony, 
became members of Andros's council, Clark, in all prob- 
ability to further his own nefarious endeavors, Hinckley 
to perform the public service of thwarting Andros's 
schemes regarding Plymouth in the Council itself before 

The Loss of Political Independence 277 

they should mature. 1 At any rate he could surely dis- 
cover what was intended, and, being forewarned, might 
in some way or other frustrate the execution of the 
measure, if not its inception. He could certainly give 
the men at Plymouth plenty of time in which to make 
their preparations for resistance, in case such should seem 
expedient. Some protest to the King against the new 
measures Hinckley made, but with so little opposition 
possible in the Council, with nothing better than half- 
hearted support from the other members, he felt it in- 
expedient to organize any resistance at Plymouth. It is 
perhaps due to his efforts that nothing of importance 
was executed at Plymouth. When Andros was impris- 
oned at Boston and the regime fell with a crash on the 
receipt of the news of the Glorious Revolution in Eng- 
land, Hinckley and the officers who had been in power 
at Plymouth in 1686 quietly resumed office, without 
comment or official action. Clark to be sure they im- 
prisoned. The whole incident produced no effect now 
traceable on Plymouth life or institutions; no important 
event happened at Plymouth during these years worth 
chronicling; and what is still more surprising no vital 
change in the rights or privileges of Plymouth, in the 
attitude of the colony to the Crown, or of the Crown to 
the colony can be discovered. 

The policy of submission which Hinckley represented 
and for which at the time he was criticised somewhat 
sharply was really a continuation of what the Pilgrims 
in the earliest times had determined was their only ex- 
pedient attitude toward the Crown, and indeed, toward 

1 The Hinckley Papers contain a considerable amount of in- 
formation on Plymouth from about 1675 to 1692. Mass. Hist. 
Soc. Coll., 4th Series, V. 


278 The Pilgrims and their History 

any in England or America possessed of unquestioned 
authority. They themselves never possessed by patent 
or otherwise any political authority which was not 
seriously open to question, and they therefore from the 
first deemed it wiser not to have that question raised, or, 
if it were, it should not be pushed by them to an open 
issue or a trial of strength. The loss of the political 
independence of Plymouth is intelligible only when 
studied in the light of its previous economic and ecclesi- 
astical development, and in the light of its previous re- 
lations to the English Government and to the other 
New England colonies. 

When they landed, they were without authorization 
of any kind, but nevertheless in the Compact of 1620 
utilized phrases, which have since seemed to many to 
betoken an intention of downright independence. 1 They 
bound themselves "into a civill body politik " " to enacte, 
constitute, and frame such just and equall lawes, ordi- 
nances, actes, constitutions and offices, from time to 
time as shall be thought most meete and convenient 
for the general good of the Colonie, unto which we 
promise all due submission and obedience." This Brad- 
ford declared was as valid and useful a document, so 
far as they were concerned, as the patent they brought 
with them from the Virginia Company, and no doubt 
he considered it as valuable as the one which their 
associates got from the Council for New England. They 
themselves certainly possessed no title to land and surely 
no rights of government until the Warwick Patent is- 
sued to Bradford in 1630. In the meantime West had 

1 Professor Cbanning emphatically declares the Compact only 
a temporary arrangement without the "slightest thought of in- 
dependence." History of the United States, I, 309. 

The Loss of Political Independence 279 

arrived as Admiral of New England and Gorges as 
Governor of New England, both with commissions from 
the Council for New England, and both of them seem to 
have assumed the inferiority of the Plymouth jurisdic- 
tion. Gorges in particular issued definite orders to them 
and demanded that they execute warrants for the arrest 
of Weston, which implied very definitely their sub- 
ordinate political authority. While aware of the im- 
plication, they judged it best to yield, when they saw 
that he also appreciated it. From these apprehensions 
however they were soon free. 

Scarcely had the new patent to Bradford been issued, 
and the first murder occurred at Plymouth by Billing- 
ton than a very active discussion took place as to the 
possession by the colony of the power to execute him, 
indeed as to the possession by the colony of any gov- 
ernmental authority at all. There were not a few who 
seemed to feel that the patent conferred nothing but 
titles to land, and so the majority of the Pilgrims seem 
to have thought. They consulted Winthrop and Dudley, 
newly come to Boston and better acquainted with Eng- 
lish law, and received from them advice to assume that 
they possessed such powers of government, and to exer- 
cise them accordingly, a decision based no doubt upon 
expediency rather than law. They executed Billington 
and proceeded to act otherwise in matters of government 
as if full authority were theirs. To this presently by Sir 
Christopher Gardiner, Gorges, and others objection was 
raised in 163 1 and 1632, and formal complaint made to 
the Privy Council in London. Winslow however suc- 
cessfully explained matters to the Privy Council in 
January, 1633, and a formal statement under seal was 
issued to approve all of their previous practices. It also 

280 The Pilgrims and their History 

spoke in a very encouraging way of the importance of 
the venture and the desire of the royal Government to 
further it. They now began to write in the records l of the 
"Freemen of this society of New Plymouth" and later 
write of "this government" and of "the Commonweale" ; 
1636 found them enacting a law which might have been 
interpreted to imply a disregard of the royal authority. 
"No imposition, law, or ordinance be made or imposed 
upon or by ourselves or others, at present or to come, 
but such as shall be made or imposed by consent, ac- 
cording to the free liberties of the state and kingdom of 
England, and no otherwise." 

Not long after news must have come of the surrender 
in 1635 to the Crown of the patent and rights of the 
Council for New England, the grantor of their own 
patent, and which made the King at once paramount 
over them. This seems to have caused somewhat greater 
circumspection at Plymouth for we find the records 
promptly began to run in the name of the King. In 
1639 an entry begins "Whereas our soueraigne lord the 
King is pleased to betrust us, T. P., W. B., E. W., etc. 
with the gouernment of so many of his subjectes as doe 
or shal be permitted to Hue within this gouernment of 
New Plymouth." 2 They were careful moreover that 
everything should hereafter be done, even coroners' in- 
quiries and other minor judicial matters, "on the behalf 
of our sovereign lord the King," for all which in due time 
they had reason to be thankful. In 1642, at the out- 

1 Plymouth Colony Records, I, 5, 22, 52, etc. 

2 Plymouth Colony Records, I, 113. The use of the King's name 
begins as early as the winter of 1636 in a case of coroner's jury, 

to inquire into the death of , "in the behalf e of our soveraigne 

Lord the King." Ibid., I, 39. See also pp. 48, 49, 91, 105, 107, 
etc., etc. 

The Loss of Political Independence 281 

break of the Civil War, the success of the Long Parlia- 
ment was not as reassuring to the men at Plymouth as 
it was to those at Boston, and the downfall and capture 
of Charles in 1646 was still more puzzling. In June, 
1649, they voted that "whereas things are mutch un- 
seteled in our natiue cuntry in regard of the affairs of 
the state (so much for poor Charles Fs head!) whereby 
the Court cannot so clearly prosseed in election as 
formerly," all officers and magistrates were to continue 
for a year as before and Bradford and John Brown were 
requested to act as Commissioners, "who condescended 
thereto." l 

No further action seems to have been taken and when 
the Royal authority was restored in 1660, the colony still 
continued its administration as before, with circumspect 
and loyal expressions of their reasonable satisfaction at 
His Majesty's restoration to his kingdom. They dis- 
creetly neglected to call attention to their previous days 
of prayer and thanksgiving for the Parliament and the 
Commonwealth of England after the news of Dunbar 
and Worcester. When the Royal Commissioners arrived 
in 1664, they had reason to congratulate themselves upon 
this circumspection. Their writs had run in the name 
of the King and the records proved it. They had not 
excluded men from political privilege on the score of 
loyalty to the Crown in the past two decades, nor were 
there any laws on the books hostile to the King. This 
attitude pleased the Crown and so apparently matters 
continued during the reign of Charles II. 

This policy of deference and submission to whatever 
took place in England, this caution and fear of raising 
the awkward question, whether or not they possessed 

1 PlymotUh Colony Records, II, 139. 

282 The Pilgrims and their History 

authority, was precisely the policy which led Hinckley 
to accept the rule of Andros, to take a seat upon his 
Council, and, after the Glorious Revolution, to attempt 
no very strenuous opposition to the inclusion of Plym- 
outh in the Massachusetts Charter of 169 1. He saw that 
it was idle for them to expect consideration from William 
III, on the score of such past legal rights as the Mas- 
sachusetts colonists unquestionably had. It was entirely 
within the law for the King's officials to claim that the 
Plymouth colonists had never possessed authority. Nor 
was the choice before them apparently that of continued 
independence or annexation to Massachusetts. Rhode 
Island, Connecticut, and New York were all apparently 
anxious to absorb them and had been for some consider- 
able time. These pretensions to superior authority over 
Plymouth on the part of the other colonies, these claims 
that the Plymouth territory was included in the patents 
already granted to others, were old and not infrequently 
asserted in the past. In 1634 an attempt was made by 
an Englishman to proceed above the Plymouth grant on 
the Kennebec, and there establish an Indian trading 
post which would intercept the trade before it reached 
the Pilgrim territory. The Pilgrims forbade him to go 
but he was determined to proceed, and in an endeavor to 
prevent him perhaps by some little hustling and pushing, 
a musket was discharged and a man killed. Some little 
excitement was caused in Boston by the news, and, when 
one of the Plymouth ships put in to Boston Harbor some- 
what later, the authorities imprisoned Alden, although 
they allowed the ship to proceed. This was an evident 
claim of jurisdiction over the Plymouth men, who were 
nonplussed to know what to do. After deliberation, they 
sent Standish to Boston with letters demanding Alden's 

The Loss of Political Independence 283 

release, and explaining their rights on the Kennebec. 
Alden was indeed allowed to go free but was required 
to give bond for further appearance, and Standish as well 
was bound to appear at the next session of the Massachu- 
setts Court, and was ordered to produce a copy of the 
patent and testify in regard to the affair. There could 
have been no conceivably clearer claim of jurisdiction and 
superiority than this. After some correspondence and 
visiting, a great deal of explaining and insisting, the Mas- 
sachusetts Colony was gotten to accept the Pilgrim's 
explanation, although no definite withdrawal of their 
assumed rights seems to have been made. 1 

Two years later Hooker's colonists appeared on the 
Connecticut and proceeded to occupy as waste land a 
considerable tract which the Pilgrims had bought from 
the Indians. It was furthermore entirely outside the 
Massachusetts boundaries, though this fact was prob- 
ably not known at the time. Despite the protestations 
of Jonathan Brewster, the Pilgrim agent on the spot, the 
Connecticut men settled the land and had no primary 
intention to leave the Pilgrims any of it. After much ado, 
with protests and visits, they were finally gotten to 
recognize the Pilgrim title, on condition that the Pil- 
grims should immediately transfer it to them, reserving 
only a small portion as a basis for their trade. However 
satisfactory this technical endorsement of the Pilgrim 
jurisdiction may have been, it was certainly disconcerting 
to find colonists of their own race and religious per- 
suasion, entirely unwilling to recognize their legal posi- 
tion in the new country. Considerable bitterness long re- 
mained at Plymouth over this, as Bradford is forced to 

1 Bradford relates the affair at some length. History, 377-379, 

284 The Pilgrims and their History 

admit. And so, too, the Pilgrims felt that the Mas- 
sachusetts men ought to have aided them in the expulsion 
of the French from the trading post on the Penobscot, 
seized by the latter in 1635, and which the Pilgrims failed 
to retake. 1 In 1638 an incident occurred which was 
more reassuring. 2 Four indented servants ran away from 
Plymouth and murdered an Indian in the western part 
of the jurisdiction, and, when they landed in Rhode 
Island, were detained for the deed upon the complaint of 
the Indians, who demanded justice. Williams, much to 
the disgust of the Plymouth people, for the deed had been 
committed not only by Plymouth servants but in Plym- 
outh territory, referred the cause to the authorities in 
Boston, who, mindful perhaps of the late dispute in the 
case of Alden, referred it back to Plymouth. Thither 
the men were eventually brought, tried for their crime, 
and executed. 

The following year an active dispute arose with Mas- 
sachusetts as to the boundaries of the colony. Bradford 
declared that the Pilgrims held their land by right of 
purchase from the Indians, confirmed by the King, to 
which Winthrop replied, "it was the first I heard of it 
and it would be hard to make their title good and as hard 
to proue their grant to them." 3 Indeed not only were 
the exact limits of the Warwick patent debated, but, as 
Winthrop hints, its validity to confer anything upon 
them was questioned. Rhode Island similarly raised 
a number of questions as to the ownership of particu- 

1 Bradford, History, 420-422. 

2 Ibid., 432. 

3 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 4th Series, VI, 156. There are in this 
same volume many letters upon this aspect of Pilgrim relations. 
Bradford's account in the History, 439-443, is very full. 

The Loss of Political Independence 285 

lar districts. The Plymouth men retorted by claiming 
Providence. They also laid claim to Shawomet (now 
Warwick, R. I.) ; Massachusetts men were sent to occupy 
it; and blows were very nearly exchanged, but the Plym- 
outh title was finally admitted. It was at this time, in 
1639 and 1640 that the Plymouth men first became con- 
scious of the desire of Massachusetts and Rhode Island 
to annex the whole of their territory. 

This knowledge made them hesitate somewhat to 
enter into the New England Confederation which was at 
this time suggested. In the first meetings of the men at 
Boston, who thought it useful for the settling of such 
disputes as have just been mentioned, consideration 
was also given to the attaining for Massachusetts of 
"some preeminence." This was in 1638, and no doubt 
the fact and the disposition of Massachusetts to lord it 
somewhat over the others was thoroughly well known 
and appreciated. It probably explains in particular 
the arrival of the Plymouth delegates in 1643 for 
the final act of organization without power to sign. 
No adequate investigation of the history of the New 
England Confederation seems as yet to have been made, 
but it would be out of place in this book to detail at 
length the experience of Plymouth in the Confederation 
or attempt the story of the Confederation itself. The 
events in its history were not closely associated with the 
affairs of Plymouth nor was Plymouth able to play any 
very considerable part in their decision. Together with 
Connecticut and New Haven, the Plymouth men pretty 
commonly stood out solidly against the attempts of 
Massachusetts to dominate and direct. Frequently 
they were able to succeed, but, on questions of real im- 
portance, upon which the Massachusetts men were 

286 The Pilgrims and their History 

thoroughly determined, the latter were unfortunately 
able to compel the acceptance of action by the others or 
to nullify the action which the others wished to under- 
take. So far as Plymouth is concerned, the colony seems 
to have entered the Confederation with the expectation 
that New Haven and Connecticut would assist her in the 
preservation of her independence and in thwarting the 
ambitious claims of Massachusetts. Certainly those of 
Rhode Island could thus be forestalled. 1 The four New 
England colonies thoroughly agreed in their dislike and 
distrust of the " Islanders." 

Constant attempts were made by the Massachusetts 
Commissioners to emphasize in one way or another their 
superiority over Plymouth, which were generally re- 
ceived quietly by the Plymouth men and pushed to one 
side. The question was never entirely settled but no 
open quarrel took place. Plymouth was never quite 
sure that Massachusetts accepted the legality of her 
authority, the reality of her independence, or the cor- 
rectness of the boundaries assigned her. 2 In 1660 the 
Restoration caused all the colonies to feel that greater 
circumspection was essential, and the New England 
Confederation, an extra-legal association, they thought 
likely to meet criticism in England and accordingly 

1 "Concerning the Islanders," wrote Bradford to Winthrop, "we 
have no conversing with them, nor desire to have, furder then 
necessitie or humanity may require." May 17, 1642. History, 463. 

2 The General Court at Boston issued an order on March 7, 
1644, for the release of Randal Holden, and the New Plymouth 
agents, and their banishment from Massachusetts on pain of 
death. State Papers Colonial, XI, No. 1. See also the case of the 
Schism in the Church at Rehobah in 1649 in which the Massa- 
chusetts General Court also interfered — Goodwin, Pilgrim Re- 
public, 515. 

The Loss of Political Independence 287 

they allowed it to fall somewhat into disuse. Certainly 
it became less active. The absorption of New Haven 
into Connecticut in 1667 left only three colonies, and 
still further weakened the position of Plymouth, though 
no doubt it roused its apprehensions. There was no 
surprise therefore in Plymouth when they learned in 
1690 that the Massachusetts men were ambitious to 
extend the limits of their boundary on the south so as 
to include the Plymouth jurisdiction, and that the Rhode 
Island men were also anxious to secure a new patent, 
which would beyond doubt give them possession of 
Plymouth. We cannot be entirely sure, but it is probable 
that the authorities at Plymouth allowed it to be known in 
London that they preferred annexation to Massachusetts. 
Truth to tell the two colonies had long been practically 
one in many ways. Very early the economic centre of 
New England had shifted to Boston and the fact that 
Plymouth was merely a part of its economic area was 
soon thrust upon them. As early as 1640, Plymouth 
had practically ceased to trade direct with England 
and bought from and sold to Boston. The western towns 
of the jurisdiction had for the most part been settled 
from the Bay Colony and had their economic affiliations 
with it from the first rather than with Plymouth itself. 
There was no wrenching or tearing therefore of natural 
associations in 169 1. Politically Plymouth was absorbed 
with ease into the Massachusetts Town System and 
merely sent its deputies to Boston instead of to Plym- 
outh. Indeed the Massachusetts representative system 
had grown up inside the older Pilgrim system and 
had by 1691 taken control of it. The reality of local 
independence was not disturbed, and was rather better 
assured under the Massachusetts system than under the 

288 The Pilgrims and their History 

previous rule of Plymouth, where the General Court had 
always technically possessed a paramount authority over 
the towns which the latter had then found it difficult to 
endure. So far as political leadership was concerned, 
too, there had been little in Plymouth Colony for some 
decades. Certainly the town of Plymouth had itself 
been incapable of the direction of affairs and the other 
towns were unwilling to concede it to each other. There 
was indeed no intellectual group of men in the jurisdic- 
tion capable of that degree of administrative direction 
needed to offset the influence of so large and admirably 
organized a community as the Bay Colony was. 

Nor was political independence any longer essential 
to insure the perpetuation of the prime fact of the Pilgrim 
creed which they had sacrificed so much to establish. 
Separation from the Established Church of England and 
the rejection of its Ordination as insufficient was already 
a fact in Massachusetts, and the inclusion of Plymouth 
within the larger jurisdiction perpetuated and strength- 
ened the Pilgrim ecclesiastical position. Indeed it was 
more than possible that the continued independence of 
Plymouth might have given color to an interference 
from the Established Church in England, which the 
inclusion within Massachusetts made less probable. 
The doctrinal differences between the Puritan and Pil- 
grim Churches had been from the first slight and had 
not been considered important by Brewster and Brad- 
ford. They had been thoroughly minimized and had 
indeed chiefly disappeared by the foundation from Massa- 
chusetts of the newer towns in Plymouth jurisdiction 
and by the fact that the great majority of ministers out- 
side of the town of Plymouth itself came from Massa- 

The Loss of Political Independence 289 

The truth seems to be that Massachusetts did not in 
any literal sense absorb Plymouth or Plymouth leaven 
Massachusetts. They had grown together in the course 
of a century, had not merely developed side by side, 
and emerged in 1700 a new political, economic, ecclesi- 
astical, and social entity, different from either at the 
beginning, certainly different from the plans originally 
projected by the leaders of both, and on the whole more 
satisfactory to the people in each than the Government 
of either had been before. The political independence 
of Plymouth had indeed become an anomaly which ig- 
nored the real fact that its towns were now an integral 
part of a new entity and as such shared in a new type of 
political life and activity. In this new state the control 
of the Church was immeasurably less. The real reason 
for the dominance over the State by the Church at 
Plymouth and of the social and economic life by both 
combined had now disappeared. The ecclesiastical posi- 
tion, which they had come to New England to establish, 
and which they had felt needed such protection from the 
State, was assured beyond a possibility of doubt. It 
was now obvious that civil affairs might be conducted 
upon the basis of temporal needs and expedient policy, 
that economic and social questions might now be handled 
without primary relation to the stability of State or 
Church and might hence be decided on their merits. The 
influx of population they no longer feared and there was 
not the same necessity of scrutinizing so carefully the 
newcomers or of a restriction of their acquisition of 
political, economic, and social privilege. The reason 
therefore for political independence had disappeared. 
Nor was there justifiability for the economic and political 
inconvenience of different boundaries and for additional 

290 The Pilgrims atid their History 

machinery for administrative, legislative, and judicial 
work. Nothing in fact seems to have been lost in 1691. 
Nothing was destroyed. 

The ideal of the Pilgrim fathers was perpetuated by a 
larger and stronger state. It was retained not merely 
at Plymouth, but was spread by the outgoing of Plym- 
outh and Massachusetts men throughout the length 
and breadth of a great continent. Their example to 
posterity was preserved, not as they had hoped as a tiny 
candle burning in seclusion, but as a beacon light for the 
nations to see throughout the ages, taken from under the 
bushel and set upon a hill. Bradford quoted Second 
Corinthians: "As unknowen yet knowen; as dead, and 
behold we live." The loss of political independence de- 
prived the Pilgrim tradition of localism and made it a 
heritage of the nation as a whole. In the days of the 
Revolution, when the colonists came to look back into 
their own past and study somewhat their own origin, 
they all regarded Plymouth as a general possession, not 
merely as the tradition of one state. The extinction of 
formal political life at Plymouth also tended to scatter 
the Pilgrims throughout the United States. It diffused 
the blood throughout the whole and leavened the lump 
with the example of Plymouth. Not at Plymouth itself 
has been the true influence of the Pilgrims, but outside 
Plymouth in Massachusetts, in New England as a whole, 
and in those far parts beyond the mountains to which in 
the coming centuries so many valiant sons of the old 
colony were to migrate, and where so many thousands 
of their lineal descendants are now to be found. There 
are now more sons of the Pilgrims in the Mississippi 
Valley than in Massachusetts, more on the Pacific Coast 
than in Plymouth. The failure of the Pilgrims to per- 

The Loss of Political Independence 291 

petuate the political independence of the colony is per- 
haps not the least important of their successes. They 
became not merely the progenitors of a tiny state, but 
the ancestors of a nation. " Verily, a little one has become 
a thousand; yea, a little one, a great nation." 



The most considerable expenditure of time and effort ever 
yet devoted to Pilgrim history is the attempt of Dr. Dexter 
and his son to ascertain the number and personnel of Robin- 
son's Church and Congregation at Leyden. The histories of 
the Pilgrims at Leyden and in America, written during the 
last forty years, have been based upon the assumption that 
the estimate of the total Congregation by the Dexters at a 
figure of about five hundred was reliable and authoritative. 
The relation of the Church to the Congregation was of course 
a much more difficult matter and for that the Dexters did not 
venture to give a definite figure. Upon the assumption that 
Robinson's Congregation was large, Dexter's England and 
Holland of the Pilgrims was based and all the calculations 
and figures in it regarding births, deaths, marriages, res- 
idence, business transactions are dependent upon the belief 
that the four hundred and seventy-three names given in the 
Appendix were the Congregation. Whether or not the people 
to whom these facts relate were or were not members of 
Robinson's Church is therefore the vital issue in dealing with 
the history of the Pilgrims at Leyden. Both Dr. Dexter and 
his son realized the extraordinary difficulties in which this 
calculation involved them, but it seems still worth while to 
discuss these critical problems. So large a figure seems not 
entirely consistent with the direct testimony of the Pilgrims 
and with other known facts. Indeed, it is possible to quote 
Mr. Morton Dexter against himself. In the Mass. Hist. Soc. 
Proc, 2nd Series, XVII, 167-184, he gave the names of 117 


294 Appendix 

persons of whose membership we were positive and of 91 
persons almost certainly associated with them. He stated 
further that the Congregation probably did not exceed in 
1620 two hundred people and was in all probability between 
one hundred and one hundred and fifty. When he came later, 
however, to publish the book in 1905, he printed in the 
Appendix a first category of 473 names who were "certainly 
or presumably" members of Robinson's Congregation and 
stated also his opinion that the total membership from 1609- 
1620 cannot have fallen short of five hundred. Upon the 
assumption that the whole four hundred seventy-three 
were members, he then bases his statistics. Is it not sur- 
prising that he should have thus abandoned his first category 
of those whose connection with the Church could be pos- 
itively demonstrated and have based his volume upon those 
who were only " presumably " members? The "presumably " 
entirely deprives the whole list of finality. 

It is perhaps worth while to call attention to the fact that 
Dr. Dexter's results, considerable as they may seem, are de- 
pendent in the first place literally upon the possibility of 
accurately transliterating English names from the phonetic 
spelling used by the Dutch recorders. The significant thing 
to demonstrate is the reliability of the process of translitera- 
tion, the extent to which pure conjecture and guess work can 
be excluded from it. The difficulty of the work was appalling 
and required unlimited patience, great ingenuity, the utmost 
caution, to say nothing of a knowledge of both Dutch and 
English phonetics in the seventeenth century, neither of 
them subjects beyond dispute. For instance, is "Ament" 
Hammond; "Chinheur" Singer; "Ians" Jones? Do "So- 
dert," "Sodwoot" and "Houthward" all equal "South- 
worth" or do they stand for different individuals? The 
Dexters could not entirely rid themselves of the fear that 

Appendix 295 

some proportion of these transliterations represented their 
own eagerness to discover at Leyden some trace of people 
known to have been at Plymouth. Those who have followed 
the Dexters will not find this difficulty insurmountable. 
There is every reason to suppose that the list of four hundred 
and seventy-three names is the maximum which science and 
diligence can recover. 

The more considerable difficulty is after all the truly 
significant point: the connection with Robinson's Church of 
English people known to have been at Leyden between 1609- 
1620. Direct evidence furnishes us with relatively few iden- 
tifications and for the rest we must erect an elaborate struc- 
ture of presumptions and probabilities. For the number 
whose membership direct evidence substantiates are very 
clearly only a very small portion of the Church, and as we 
can perhaps be quite sure that any membership list will not 
include all members, certain assumptions become necessary. 
Dr. Dexter concluded that the wives and children of the men 
of the Congregation must be treated also as members; that 
Englishmen known to have had business or legal associations 
with known members of the Congregation were probably also 
members; and lastly, that those who could be shown to be 
members immediately after 1620 were in all probability mem- 
bers immediately before the emigration of the Pilgrims. 
The justice of these assumptions is obvious and the difficulties 
which they might involve in an attempt not to assume too 
much were also clear to those who have subsequently utilized 
this book. The Dexters' list, however, includes one hundred 
and twenty children, many of whom died in infancy, the 
majority of whom were under ten years of age in 1620, and 
who were therefore babes in arms for the greater part of the 
Leyden period. Only a relatively few of the children were 
old enough to be counted as active members of the Congre- 

296 Appendix 

gation, and in an attempt to reach some notion of the real 
size of that body in practical affairs, we must subtract at 
least one hundred children. 

We know also from Bradford that a considerable number 
of the boys and girls, who attained anything resembling an 
age of discretion, left the Congregation, and for them too 
some allowance must be made. A considerable number of the 
adult men on this list were married more than once at Leyden, 
and in many cases two and in some three wives are counted 
in the total on the strength of their relationship to one man. 
Here again is a necessary deduction, if we are to reach from a 
total figure of members from 1 609-1 620 any approximate 
notion of the strength of the Congregation at any one time. 
It will also be clear that if the membership of a man is at all 
doubtful, by the time we have counted his wife and children 
we have multiplied our error several fold. If we accept John 
Jennings, we also count both of his wives, six children, the 
wives of his children, and his grandchildren. The son of 
Thomas Willet, born in 16 10, reached Plymouth in 1631. 
On the score of that fact Thomas Willet himself, his wife, 
five children, and his sister are added to the Congregation. 

The assumption in regard to the men who had business rela- 
tions with members of the Congregation is a more fruitful 
source of difficulty. If we accept a man or a woman who is a 
witness at betrothals or who guarantees for citizenship or 
other purposes known Pilgrims, shall we also count the other 
English people for whom he witnesses, and if not all of them, 
how many of them? If we accept those men for whom the 
Pilgrims themselves certify, shall we accept those for whom 
they in turn certify? Nor must we forget that in each case 
we add to the list the wives, children, brothers, sisters, and 
in some cases mothers and fathers of men whose sole iden- 
tification is the fact that they become guarantors for a man, 

Appendix 297 

who is assumed on other grounds to have had business rela- 
tions with one of the lesser known Pilgrims. It seemed worth 
while to compute from Dr. Dexter's list the number of in- 
dividuals whose membership depended solely on legal rela- 
tions with men or women of whose membership we were not 
positive. This computation therefore will not include those 
who vouch for Brewster, Carver, Cushman, and the like, the 
partners in the purchase of the Great House, or the men and 
women for whom they directly vouched. We can perhaps 
afford to assume that any clear business relationship involving 
a certification of good character, either by the leaders or for 
them, raises a satisfactory presumption of membership. But 
what of those men and women whose mutual testimony 
seems to be the principal basis for considering them members 
at all? Fifty-four men and twelve women were witnesses of 
legal documents and on the strength of their membership 
thirty-six wives and twelve children were also included in 
the list, making one hundred and nineteen in all. There are 
also in Dr. Dexter's list seventy-five men for whose member- 
ship the evidence is subsequent to 1620, and with them were 
counted fifty-nine wives and twelve children. There were 
therefore in all two hundred and sixty-five out of four hundred 
and seventy-three whose membership is doubtful. 

How can we now raise a presumption as to what proportion 
of the doubtful cases were members? According to the first 
computation of Mr. Morton Dexter, only one hundred and 
seventeen names, including children, could be established 
with certainty, leaving three hundred and fifty-six more or 
less doubtful. According to the computation just made, 
two hundred and sixty-five names are really dubious. There 
are certain facts which will be of assistance in the raising of 
a more definite presumption as to the total number of the 
Congregation and as to its probable figure in 1620. 

298 Appendix 

1. Bradford and Winslow tell us that when the vote was 
taken on the question of migration to America, the number 
who decided to go was only a trifle less than those who voted 
to stay. Thirty-five only sailed from Ley den for Plymouth. 
We know also that some who had originally intended to go 
changed their minds in March or April, 1620, after the re- 
jection by the merchants in London of the terms which 
Weston had signed. Eighteen also returned to London on 
the Speedwell, some of whom certainly came from Leyden, 
most of whom certainly did not. If we count the entire 
eighteen, however, those who started number only fifty-five, 
and we must then assume a very considerable defection in 
April, if we are to predicate the original number who voted to 
emigrate at more than sixty-five or seventy, or believe the 
total Congregation at that time was over one hundred and 
fifty, all of these figures of course including children. We also 
know that the number of people of the Leyden Congregation 
who eventually reached Plymouth was eighty-two. Surely 
a first party of thirty-five and a subsequent migration of 
forty-seven is a very small figure for a Congregation of 
several hundred. If we assume that five hundred were mem- 
bers from 1 609-1 6 20 and that only one hundred and fifty 
were actually members in 1620, the personnel of the Con- 
gregation must have changed with a rapidity and to an ex- 
tent which the Pilgrim accounts do not suggest. 

2. It seems probable from Bradford that the first idea was 
that the whole Congregation should go; that they might all 
embark upon one ship and might finance the venture them- 
selves without recourse to capitalists. The first charter they 
attempted to procure assumed that they would finance their 
own venture, which seems to have been urged in their favor 
to the Virginia Company. But is this not totally inconsistent 
with a Congregation of three hundred let us say, in 1620, 

Appendix 299 

which would surely not be an unfair figure if the total mem- 
bership for ten years was five hundred? Is it probable again 
that the first computation contemplated taking between 
two hundred and three hundred people without assistance 
from capitalists and that they eventually with very consider- 
able assistance were able to provide for no more than thirty- 
five from Leyden and one hundred and two in all? 

3. We know also from Bradford and Winslow that the 
Congregation failed to grow in Leyden as they felt it should. 
Now all calculations based upon adequate growth are de- 
pendent upon some definite knowledge of the number who 
first reached Leyden. This we lack. But a reasonable pre- 
sumption can be raised that not more than one hundred to 
one hundred and twenty-five came, because a larger number 
would be inconsistent with the sort of flight from England 
they attempted. The movement of a more considerable num- 
ber of people on boats down the river or walking over land 
would have attracted attention a good deal quicker than it 
did. If, then, about one hundred came and the total mem- 
bership within ten years reached five hundred, and the 
probable residuum in 1620 was perhaps not less than two 
hundred and fifty or three hundred, it would seem that either 
their expectations of growth were unreasonable or our cal- 
culation is somewhere in error. To have doubled the actual 
number in ten years would seem satisfactory for a people in 
exile. On the other hand, if about one hundred and twenty 
people had come and the actual Congregation in 1620 was 
between one hundred and fifty and two hundred, their com- 
plaint of the failure of people to resort to them would have 
more foundation. It is a positive fact that they felt the 
growth of the Congregation highly unsatisfactory and with 
it somehow or other our estimate of the Congregation's num- 
ber must agree. 

300 Appendix 

4. We also know that at Leyden the whole Congregation 
met throughout its history in one house, which they bought 
in 1 6 10. If they then estimated that so large a house was 
required and had during the next decade at least five times 
as many members at one time or another, is it not surprising 
that a larger meeting place was not required? We know also 
something about the house. The lot, as measured by Dexter, 
after inspection of the old plans, measured twenty-five feet 
wide on the street by one hundred and twenty-five feet deep. 
Behind this lot was another very much larger lot on which was 
eventually built twenty-one small houses. In Dr. Dexter's 
opinion only about half of the first lot was occupied by the 
"great house," which could not therefore have been larger 
than about twenty-five feet by seventy-five. If now we sup- 
pose that the entire house down-stairs was thrown into one 
room, we shall not get in more than three hundred people, 
and we can only conceivably get in between four hundred and 
fifty and five hundred if we assume that they sat upon benches 
and stools as close to one another as possible. From what 
we know, however, of Dutch domestic architecture, it seems 
not likely that the house was so constructed that the whole 
lower story could be made into a single room, without 
thoroughly re-building the house. So far as we know, this 
was not done. The presumption is that the size of the Con- 
gregation at any one time was not very much greater than 
the first Congregation that arrived, and that the fifty or 
seventy-five additional members at any one time easily found 
room in the same house. 

5. We also get a distinct idea from the various accounts 
that Robinson's Congregation was not as large at any time 
as that of the other English Churches in Holland. While we 
have no very definite figures about them, the various es- 
timates do not run to five hundred for any of them and the 

Appendix 301 

Ancient Church, which seems to have been the largest, was 
estimated by Bradford himself as possessing "at some times" 
three hundred members, i. e., was usually less. 

6. It seemed interesting to attempt a computation, based 
upon Dr. Dexter's list, which should estimate the positive 
and probable numbers with somewhat less rigidity than his 
first account published in the Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc. and with 
somewhat more rigidity than his second computation, which 
seems rather too inclusive. 

The lists which follow contain the results. 

The following members seem to be certain beyond a reason- 
able doubt: 37 men, 48 women, 67 children, total, 152. 

The following seem probable beyond a reasonable doubt: 
24 men, 24 women, 24 children; 72 in all. 

Combining the two lists we have: 61 men, 72 women, 91 
children, total, 224. 

We have to be sure counted in these figures minor children 
and wives who died during the decade, but the adult men, 
sixty-one in all, were pretty certainly alive in 1620, and, if 
we assume about sixty women were also alive, we shall have 
one hundred and twenty-one as the adult Congregation. 
The proportion of children is interesting and remarkable. 
A reasonable allowance for lack of evidence now would seem 
to make two hundred the probable outside figure of the actual 
Congregation in 1620, and perhaps three hundred and fifty 
as the total probable membership during the ten years. 

302 Appendix 


Membership positively demonstrated 

Allerton, Isaac, wife, five children, one grandchild. 
Bassett, William, three wives. 
Blossom, Thomas, wife, three children. 
Bradford, William, wife, one child. 
Brewer, Thomas, two wives, eight children. 
Brewster, William, wife, six children, son's wife, and grand- 
Butler, Mary. 

Carver, John, wife, two children. 
Crackstone, John, (widower?) two children. 
Cushman, Robert, two wives, three children. 
Cuthbertson, Cuthbert, two wives, one child. 
Fletcher, Moses, two wives. 
Fuller, Samuel, three wives, one child. 
Goodman, John, two wives. 

Jenkins, -, 

Jenny, John, wife, one child. 

Jepson, William, wife, three children. 

Lee, Bridget, sister of Samuel. 

Lee, Josephine, mother of Samuel. 

Lee, Samuel, three wives, one child. 

Morton, George, wife, four children. 

Morton, Thomas, brother of George, and one child. 

Nash, Thomas, two wives. 

Neal, Elizabeth, from Scrooby, married William Buckram. 

Peck, Ann, ward of William Brewster. 

Pickering, Edward, and wife. 

Pontus, William, wife and child. 

Priest, Degory, wife, and two children. 

Ring, William, and wife. 

Appendix 303 

Robinson, John, wife, and nine children. 

Rogers, Thomas, one child. 

Southworth, Edward, wife, two children. 

Southworth, Thomas, brother of Edward. 

Thickins, Randall, wife, one child. 

Tinker, Thomas, wife and child. 

Tracy, Stephen, wife and child. 

Turner, John, and two children. 

White, William, wife, (Susanna Fuller), three children. 

Williams, Thomas. 

Wilson, Roger, and wife. 

Winslow, Edward, and wife. 

Wood, Henry, and wife. 

Membership probably demonstrated 

Buckram, William. 

Butterfield, Stephen, wife, and child. 

Carpenter, Alexander, (two children elsewhere counted). 

Carpenter, Priscilla. 

Ellis, John, two wives, one child. 

Ellis, Christopher, wife, three children. 

England, Thomas, (English of the Mayflower?) 

Fairfield, Daniel, wife, three children. 

Gray, Abraham. 

Jennings, John, two wives, three children, son's wife. 

Jepson, Henry, wife. 

Jessop, Edmond, two wives, one child. 

Jessop, Francis. 

Keble, John, wife, four children. 

Lisle, William, (children elsewhere counted). 

Masterson, Richard, and wife. 

Pettinger, Dorothy. 

304 Appendix 

Peck, Robert, two wives, two children. 

Reynolds, John, and wife. 

Simmons, Roger, and wife. 

Smith, Thomas. 

Terry, Samuel, and wife. 

White, Nicholas. 

Wilkins, Roger, two wives, one child. 

Willett, Thomas, wife and five children. 

Wilson, Henry, and wife. 


Abbot, George, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, 54, 55 

Administration, character of at 
Plymouth, 169, 202-219, 260- 
264; 275-277 

Ainsworth, Henry, leader of Sep- 
aratist congregation at Amster- 
dam, 33, 34, 42, 43, 185 

Alden, John, 69, 88, 92, 108, 126, 
153, 172, 181, 205, 241, 242, 257, 
282, 283 

Allerton, Isaac, 36, 68, 69, 88, 90, 
92, 108, 152, 191, 212, 230-234, 

Ames, A., notice of his Log of the 
Mayflower, 50, 56, 58 

Amsterdam, Pilgrims at, 32-33 

Andros regime at Plymouth, 256, 

Anne, the ship, 94, 97, 105, 106, 
107, 145, 146 

Arber, Edward, notice of his Pil- 
grim Fathers, 50, 56 

Assistants, functions of, 212, 215, 
221, 223, 260-261, 275 

Bancroft, Richard, Archbishop of 
Canterbury, 20, 24-26. 

Billington, John, 68, 92, 131, 279 

Bishops, hatred of Pilgrims for, 
3-4, 22-24, 47, 186, 189; atti- 
tude of toward the Pilgrims, 1, 
18-26; attitude of Pilgrims to- 
ward, 184-185; fears of interfer- 
ence from in America, 47-48, 51- 
54, 66, 7*2 

Blackwell, Francis, 54-55, 57, 

Boston, Mass., 92, 171, 174, 259, 

264, 265, 287, 288 
Bradford, William, in England, 12- 

13, 18; part in emigration to 
Holland, 28-30; personal his- 
tory at Leyden, 36, 41; argu- 
ment in favor of emigration to 
America, 146; his share in the 
exodus, 68, 69, 71, 77, 78; first 
months in America, 80, 81, 83, 
86, 88; elected governor, 90, 91, 
92; functions as governor, 203- 
216; patent to, 142, 153, 155, 
156; activities of at Plymouth, 
120, 130-137, 146, 147, 166, 167, 
169, 174, 181, 193, 198, 199, 
205, 228, 241, 242, 256; estimate 
of, 91, 108, 193, 203-206; men- 
tioned or quoted passim. 

Bradford, William, History of 
Plymouth Plantation, notes on, 

14, 16, 33; quoted passim. 
Brewster, Jonathan, son of Elder 

Brewster, 10, 36, 283 

Brewster, William, father of Elder 
Brewster, 7, 8 

Brewster, William, Elder of Pil- 
grim Church, early life in Eng- 
land, 7-12, 17-27, 108; exodus 
to Holland, 28-30; life as a 
printer at Leyden, 36-38; chosen 
Elder, 40; share in preparations 
for emigration to America, 50- 
52, 56, 58, 61, 68, 69; religious 
ideas of, 189-190, 193-194; at 
Plymouth, 81, 86, 87, 88, 92, 131, 
153, 169, 172, 181, 191, 205, 
231, 241, 247, 256, 267 




Cambridge University, England, 
Brewster at, 8, 9; Robinson at, 
13; Smyth at, 10 

Carver, John, Deacon at Leyden, 
51, 68, 69; governor at Plym- 
outh, 80, 86, 90 

Cattle, none on Mayflower, 70, 76; 
at Plymouth, 142, 154, 159, 160, 
176, 217, 223, 224, 235, 236, 237, 

Charity, the ship, 130, 131, 132, 

• 148 

Chauncey, Charles, 192. 

Children, at Leyden, 38, 39; on 
Mayflower, 68, 69, 77; at Plym- 
outh, 88, 103-105, 160, 224,270- 
271, 273 

Church of England, see, England, 
Church of 

Clifton, Richard, in England, 10- 
12; in Holland, 30, 34 

Clothing, 81-82, 94, 97, 98, 159, 
168, 169, 236-238, 250-254 

Collier, William, 181, 241, 242, 258 

Common Stock, the, 56-66; 95- 
97, 102-105, 108, 142-153 

Compact, the Pilgrim, 73-75, 210 

Congregationalism, Pilgrims ex- 
ponents of, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14, 17, 
40-45, 185, 190-191, 193, 194 

Connecticut, 171, 177, 180, 231, 
232, 234, 250, 283, 286 

Corn, 75-79, 91, 94-109, 223, 235 

Cotton, John, Jr., 194, 256, 267, 
269, 270 

Council for New England, 58, 
128, 129, 130, 143, 155, 156, 163, 
263-264, 278-279 

Courts, at Plymouth, 212-215, 

Crown, relation of Plymouth 
Colony to, 263, 277-282 

Cushman, Robert, 36, 51, 56, 57, 
63-66, 68, 103, 116, 142, 144 

Delfshaven, 65 

Dexter, Rev. H. M., and Morton, 
books on Pilgrims, 12, 33, 34, 69, 

Dutch, at New Netherlands, 171, 

Education, at Plymouth, 270-272 

England, Church of, hatred of Pil- 
grims for, 1-4, 22-24, 186, 188, 
189, 271-272; attitude of to- 
ward Pilgrims, 1, 15, 18-26, 186; 
fear of interference from, 47-48, 
51-54, 66, 72 

England, Reformation in, influ- 
ence of on Pilgrims, 3-4, 17, 22- 
26, 183-189 

England, relation of Plymouth 
Colony to, 263, 277-282 

Financing of Pilgrim voyage, 48- 

49, 57-64 

Fishing, importance of in Pilgrim 
plans, 48-49, 59, 75~7o, 96-97, 
179-180; experience of Pil- 
grims with, 85, 99-100, 144-149, 
158, 228-234 

Food, on Mayflower, 70-71, 75- 
76; at Plymouth in first years, 
93, 94-109, 113, 159; in later 
years, 168-169, 254-255 

Fortune, the ship, 91, 94, 97, 98, 

144, 145 

Franchise, at Plymouth, 209-211, 
225, 260, 262-264 

Freemen, 156, 204, 209, 210, 221, 
225, 228, 241, 260-263, 280 

Fuller, Samuel, 88, 92, 172, 176, 
191, 195, 198 

Fur trade, importance of in Pil- 
grim plans, 48, 49, 59, 75, 76, 
96-97, 115, 179-180; experience 
of Pilgrims with, 136-139, 144- 
149, 158, 222, 227-228, 234 



Furniture, 70, 76, 168-169, 236- 
238, 250-254 

Genealogy, bibliography for Pil- 
grim, 82 

General Court, powers and func- 
tions of, 169, 181, 207, 209-210, 
215, 217-219, 221, 223, 226, 
260-263, 271, 275 

General sickness, 86-88 

Governor, position and powers of, 
108, 203-205, 207, 210, 212-216, 
221, 223, 260-261, 275 

Health of Pilgrims, 86-88 

High Commission, Court of, for 

the Province of York, 19-22 
Hinckley, Thomas, governor of 

Plymouth, 258, 276-277 
Hobomok, 119, 124, 125 
Holland, Brewster's first visit to, 9; 
Pilgrims in, 32-65; archives in, 15 
Hopkins, Stevens, 68, 77, 80, 88- 

89, 92, 117, 238, 241, 244 
Howland, John, 80, 92, 153, 181, 

237, 241, 257 

Indians, first Pilgrim ideas of, 45- 
46, no; importance of trade 
with, 48-49; experiences of 
Pilgrims with, 75-79, 88-90, 93, 
95, 99, 101, 102, 110-124, 222; 
distribution of in New England, 
1 1 3-1 15; Morton's influence 
upon, 137-139; trade rights 
with monopolized by Pilgrim 
leaders, 222, 228-234; "king" 
Philip's war, 265-266 

Inhabitants, class of citizens at 
Plymouth, 21 1-2 12, 224, 225, 

James I, King of England, 6, 24, 

49, 5i> 54, 55 

Johnson, George, 33, 34, 43, 55, 

Jones [Christopher], 58, note, 65, 

67, 72, 78 
Juries, 214-215, 227 

Kennebec, trading station on, 153, 
156, 228, 231, 234, 261, 282 

Land, allotments of, 103-104, 142, 
149, 150, 151, 154, 221-224 

Law, at Plymouth, 169, 207-209, 
212-215, 249-250, 263 

Leyden, Pilgrims at, 33-65; ad- 
vantages of, 33; disadvantages 
°f» 35-39; size of Robinson's 
congregation at, 293-304 

Little James, the ship, 106, 145, 

Lumber, exports of, 91-92, 223, 
236, 261 

Lyford, John, 130-137 

Manufactures, at Plymouth, 236 

Martin, Christopher, 63, 68 

Massachusetts Bay Colony, rela- 
tion to Plymouth, 1 70-181, 202- 
203, 234, 250, 259, 264-265, 
267-269, 282-292 

Massasoit, 89, 90, 93, 99, 1 13, 1 16- 
118, 121 

Mayflower, the ship, 64, 65, 67; 
voyage of, 68-81; description of, 
69-70; in 1630, 155 

Merchant Adventurers, organiza- 
tion of, 58-66; experiences of 
Pilgrims with, 95-97, 102-103, 
J 33-i37, 142-153, 162, 221 

Morton, Thomas, 137-141 

Mullins, Priscilla, 68, 126 

Nauset, plan to move to, 181-182 
Neville, Gervase, trial of, 20-22 

3 o8 


New England, settlement of, 165; 

relation to Plymouth, 165-182 
New England Confederation, 169, 

218, 256, 285-287 
New Haven, 171, 177, 180, 234, 

250, 28£ *» •; » 

Oldham, John, 130-137 

Patent, to Wincob, 56; to Peirce, 
59, 64, 72-74; to Bradford, 142, 

iS3, 155, 156 

Peirce, John, 59, 64, 143, 150, 151 

Philip, "king," 256, 265-267 

Pilgrim Church, form of, at 
Scrooby, 11-14; at Leyden, 39- 
45; at Plymouth, 183-199, 267- 

Pilgrim Fathers, meaning of the 
term, 2, 62 

Pilgrim Movement, place in his- 
tory, 1-2; relation to Protestant 
Reformation, 2-4 

Pilgrims, proper use of term, 62, 
note; at Scrooby, 1-27; early 
religious ideas of, 1, 11-14; 
exodus to Holland, 27-32; at 
Leyden, 32-65; number of at 
Leyden, 293-304; economic dif- 
ficulties of at Leyden, 35-39; 

1 religious ideas of at Leyden, 40- 
44; discuss emigration to Amer- 
ica, 45-58; agreement with 
Weston, 58-61; voyage to 
America, 65-75; land at Pro- 
vincetown, 75; explorations, 76- 
80; land at Plymouth, 80-81; 
first year at Plymouth, 83-93; 
solve problem of subsistence, 
94-109; relations with Indians, 
88-91, 1 10-125; relations with 
other white men in America, 
125-141; relations with Mer- 
chant Adventurers, 142-153; 

experiences with fishing and 
trading, 145-149; achievement 
of, 157-567; influence of on 
New England, 166-167; in- 
fluence of New England on 
Plymouth, 173-182; ecclesias- 
tical ideas of, 51-54, 183-199; 
political and administrative 
practice of, 202-219; ideas of 
economic status, 220-238; ideas 
of social life, 239-255; bibliog- 
raphy of books on, 14-16; ap- 
pearance of, 81-82; materials 
for genealogy of, 82; distribu- 
tion of in English homes, 69; 
influence of in history, 1-2, 274, 

Plymouth, Mass., first landing at, 
79-81; reasons for its selection 
as site, 83-84, 144; appearance 
of in 1627, 159-160; allotments 
of land in, 154-155; strategic 
weakness of after 1630, 178-182; 
town government of, 216, 288 

Plymouth Harbor, Mass., char- 
acter of, 79-84; permanent un- 
suitability of, 179-180 

Plymouth, Rock, 93 

Population, 68, 69, 88, in, 112, 

Prence, Thomas, 153, 174, 181, 
241, 242, 247, 256-258 

Press, the Pilgrim, 36-38 

Provincetown, Mass., Pilgrims at, 
75-77, 80 

Puritan party, in England, char- 
acteristic form of organization 
of, 10, condemned by Pilgrims 
because unseparated, 24-26, 

Puritans in America, how dis- 
tinguished from Pilgrims, 183- 
189; material prosperity of, 165, 



Quakers, 258-259, 262 

Reformation, relation of Pilgrim 
movement to, 2-4 

Reynor, John, 192, 193, 242 

Rhode Island, 171, 177, 178, 180, 
234, 250, 259, 264, 282, 284-286 

Robinson, John, in England, 13-* 
14, 23-24; at Leyden, 34, 40-43, 
52, 61, 65, 66, 108; theological 
views of, 22-26, 193; number of 
congregation of at Leyden, 34- 
35, 293-304; advice of to Brew- 
ster, 189-190; death of, 155, 190 

Roman Catholics in neighborhood 
of Scrooby, 5-6, 17, 19 

Samoset, 88-90 

Sandys, Sir Edwin, 50, 52, 54, 56 

Scriptures, importance of to Pil- 
grims, 2-4, 23-24, 51, 239-240 

Scrooby, description of, 1, 4-7, 17;'' 
"Pilgrims" at, 1-27; other ele- 
ments at, 17-18; number on 
Mayflower from, 68 

Scrooby, Manor of, influence of on 
Pilgrim practice, 164-165, 208- 
209, 214 

Separatism, as understood by the 
Pilgrims, 4, 10, n, 13, 14, 17, 
22-26, 40-45, 183-189, 193 

Servants, indentured, 63, 68, 69, 
85, 103, 104, 137-141, 159-160, 
211, 212, 224, 225, 249 

Shirley, James, 153, 228-234 

Slaves, at Plymouth, 212, 224 

Smith, Captain John, 66 

Smith, Ralph, Pilgrim minister, 
191, 192, 193, 198, 241 

Smyth, John, Separatist minister, 
in England, 10, n; in Holland, 
33, 40-41 

Sojourners, class of citizens at 
Plymouth, 211, 224, 262 

Southampton, Pilgrims at, 66 
Speedwell, the ship, 62, 64, 65, 67, 


Squanto, 89-92, 11 7-1 21 

Standish, Miles, 59, 68, 69, 75, 77, 
78, 80, 87, 88, 90, 92, 99, 100, 
108, 110-126, 134, 140, 141, 146, 
153, 156, 169, 181, 205, 237, 241, 
257, 282 

Subsistence, importance of early 
seen, 48; solution of, 94-109 

Taxation, 261 
Thanksgiving, the first, 93 
Towns, in Plymouth Colony 
(other than Plymouth), found- 
ing of, 178, 181, 216, 217, 265, 
269; constitutional position of, 
217-218, 225-226; administra- 
-tive power of , 215, 217-218, 221, 
260; relation of to the Massa- 
chusetts town system, 287-289 

Undertakers, the, 153, 169, 227- 

Virginia, 47, 48, 50, 54, 57, 137, 

Virginia Company, 47, 50, 51, 56, 

58, 72, 73 

Weather, at Plymouth, 76-93, 
passim, especially 77, note, 84- 

Weston, Thomas, negotiations 
with the Pilgrims at Leyden, 
58-61; in London, 63-66; in 
America, 98, 99, 102, 122-124, 
127-129; supposed plot of, 72-74 

Williams, Roger, at Plymouth, 
191-192, 198; at Providence, 
171, 177-179, 181, 242, 284 

Wincob, John, Patent to, 56 

Winslow, Edward, 36, 68, 69, 72, 



80, 81, 83, 88, 90, 92, 108, 117, 
123, 136, 137, 146, 153, 169, 
174, 191, 195, 205, 231, 241, 
242, 256, 257, 279 

Winthrop, John, Governor of 
Massachusetts Bay, 173, 176, 
197-199, 279, 284 

Witchcraft, 259 

Women, position of at Leyden, 38- 

39; on Mayflower, 68-69, 77—78; 
at Plymouth, 88, 103-105, 160, 
210, 245-247, 250-254, 271, 273 

York, Archbishop of, Lord of 
Manor of Scrooby, 5-7, 18-22 

Zeeland, colonization of considered 
by Pilgrims, 58, 61 

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