Moving to the New World: The Character of Early Massachusetts Immigration
WHILE I was working on this volume, Professor Stephen Foster and I discovered that our scholarly interests temporarily overlapped. We both wanted to know what sort of men and women elected to move to New England. What had been the character of their lives before they decided to emigrate? How did the transfer affect their callings? Their social mobility? Their longevity?
The answers to these questions frequently surprised us, for the people who left East Anglia and Kent for Massachusetts Bay in 1637 turned out to have been somewhat older and more urban than we had expected. This investigation reinforced my conviction -- discussed more fully in the general introduction to this collection -- that Early American historians must explore the settlers' specific backgrounds, paying close attention to the precise timing of departure and the exact place of origin, if they are to understand fully the dynamics of cultural transfer.
The early migrants to New England remain a puzzling group. Who were these men and women who crossed the Atlantic to settle Massachusetts Bay? Why did they come? And what effect did the New World have upon the character of their lives?