With the focus on Plymouth Colony this time of year, it’s easy to treat it as the center of European settlement in New England. The reality is far more complicated.
While Plymouth may have the earliest date for European arrival, it was one of multiple colonies being established in the 1630s. These colonies were in close proximity to one another but had differing political, social, and religious views. A deeper diver into the history of the colony may help you understand where your ancestor settled and why.
Here’s the map we’re using as the basis, from the collections of the Library of Congress. Because of the focus and time period, it misses the areas covering New Haven Colony and New Amsterdam.
Intended to serve as a community for members of the Separatist religious community, Plymouth Colony also had financial investors.
Initially intended to be a financially driven settlement, Massachusetts Bay Colony fell under religious control under the leadership of John Winthrop. The leaders were of the Puritan community, who were closer to the Church of England than the Separatists.
The settlement of Rhode Island Colony was driven by Roger Williams, pushed out of Massachusetts for arguing the separation of church and state, who sought to permit freedom of religion.
Connecticut Colony was established by settlers from Massachusetts to compete with Dutch trading routes in 1633. By 1644, it had absorbed Saybrook Colony.
And these are just the European settlements closest to Plymouth…
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