Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640

Synopsis

During the 1630s, more than 14,000 people sailed from Britain bound for New England, constituting what has come to be known as the Great Migration. This book offers the most extensive study of these emigrants ever undertaken. Focusing on 2,000 individuals who moved from the five counties of eastern England, it provides historians with important new findings on mobility, family life, kinship networks, and community cohesion. Roger Thompson reveals the personal experiences and ancestral histories of the emigrants. He follows them across the Atlantic and investigates their lives and achievements in the New World. Distinguising between such groups as gentry, entrepreneurs, artisans, farmers, and servants, he explores whether the migration tended to be a solitary uprooting from a stable and predictable world of familiar neighborhoods or simply a longer move among many relocations. Thompson also sheds light on the issue of motivation: Were these settlers pulled by the hope of eventual enrichment or of founding a purified society, or were they pushed by intolerance and persecution at home? Did they see New England as a haven of escape or an opportunity to exploit? Did New Englanders seek to replicate "English ways", preserving traditional culture and society, or did they embrace change and innovation? Mobility and Migration provides a wealth of new evidence for historians of both early modern England and colonial America.

Excerpt

On 1 April 1688, according to the diarist Samuel Sewall, John Beale of Hingham, Massachusetts, "a good man of an hundred year old was found dead in his yard." He had been born in or around the Armada Year of Queen Elizabeth's reign at Hingham in Norfolk, one of the counties in the region of East Anglia. His family, leatherworkers for generations, had lived in or near the little market town 14 miles south- west of Norwich since the middle of the fifteenth century. John too had kept close to home. Having trained locally as a shoemaker, he had married in 1616 Frances Ripley from the neighboring market town of Wymondham five miles away. After her death, his second wife, in 1630, was Nazareth Turner, a widow. She was a member of an equally well- established Hingham clan, the Hobarts. When John was approaching 50, he, Nazareth, eight children, and two servants left old Hingham. In a large party of 125 neighbors led by their vicar, the Reverend Robert Peck, they traveled 45 miles south to the Suffolk port of Ipswich, boarded the Diligent, and sailed to Massachusetts. Among the contingent was John's first wife's kinsman William Ripley, a weaver, and his family. In the New World Beale and his family settled alongside 20 Hobart in-laws at "New Hingham" on the south shore of Massachusetts Bay. There he served as town selectman and deputy to the General Court in Boston. He saw his son Nathaniel follow in his footsteps as a town representative. After Nazareth's death, he married for a third time in 1659. Mary, the new Goodwife Beale, was the widow of John's lifelong neighbor in England and America, Nicholas Jacobs. Having outlived her for seven years and having seen his three daughters and six sons married (one to a Hobart, one to a Ripley, and one to a Lincoln), he finally succumbed to old age. The first half of his life had been spent in one place in England, the second similarly settled in his Massachusetts . . .

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