History of New England - Vol. 1

By John Gorham Palfrey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.

FOUR years had now passed since the arrival of Winthrop's company in Massachusetts Bay. The worst hardships of a new plantation had been outlived. The infant society had been organized into coherence, symmetry, and a capacity of self-preservation and growth. The emigration had been recently renewed, and between three and four thousand Englishmen were distributed among twenty hamlets along and near the sea-shore.

They were settling into such employments as their situation dictated. They cultivated the ground, and took care of herds and flocks.1 They hunted and fished for a part of their food. They were building houses, boats, and mills; enclosing land with fences; and cutting roads through the forest to connect their towns. Their exports of cured fish, furs, and lumber bought them articles of convenience and luxury in England, and they were soon to build ships to be sold abroad. The customs of daily life were taking the new shapes impressed upon them by the strangeness of a condition so novel, and the course of public administration was beginning to be made regular by precedents.

1634. Condition of the settlers in Massachusetts.

The freemen of the Company were now about three hundred and fifty in number.2 More than two thirds of

____________________
1
"For four thousand souls there are fifteen hundred head of cattle, besides four thousand goats, and swine innumerable." ( Wood, New England's Prospect, 49.)
2
Three hundred and forty-six freemen had been admitted in Massachusetts before the summer of 1634. ( Mass. Col. Rec., I.866-369.) Allowing for deaths on the one hand, and for the immigration of persons who had been admitted to the franchise in England on the other, the number of three hundred and fifty in May, 1634, cannot be far from the truth.

-383-

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