Sunday, November 2, 2014

1629 - the Massachusetts Bay Company

John Endecott orders the felling of the Maypole
Winter, 1629 - As starvation rages in Salem, Governor John Endecott and the settlers go to Merrymount, (renamed Mount Dagon) and destroy what remains of the "Maypole" raised by Thomas Morton.

The Merrymount colony had continued despite Thomas Morton’s ouster and its people had raked in for winter a plentiful corn crop. Starved, the settlers of Salem had come to grab a part of it and cut down the famous Maypole that they compared with the Calf of Horeb and a heathen idol. Thomas Morton had returned shortly after to Merrymount to discover that there was no one left. He was arrested again and banished from the colonies without legal trial.

January 13, 1629 - the Plymouth colony gets an exclusive agreement called Warwick Patent (or Kennebec Patent) on the Cushnoc trading post (now Augusta, ME) founded the year before on the banks of the Kennebec River.

On Edward Winslow's instigation, contacts had been made from 1625 between envoy of the colony John Howland and the Abenaki Indians who lived in the area. Barter agreements had been concluded allowing the English to get beaver pelts in exchange for corn. Fur sale being very attractive on English markets, the government of Plymouth had endeavoured a patent to secure a monopoly on all pelts from the Kennebec. Despite its resources, the colony remained very indebted to its investors and interest payments being outrageous, trading fur was for it an essential financial contribution.
John Howland had been chosen to head Cushnoc post and had with his men built a warehouse along the Kennebec River to store corn and bartering goods such as clothing, blankets, biscuits, peas, prunes, etc. …

March 1629 - William Bradford is re-elected governor of the Plymouth colony for the 8th time.

March 4, 1629 - With support from Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick, the Massachusetts Bay Company is  granted a royal charter allowing it to take over the operations of the Dorchester Company two years after it went bankrupt.

March 5, 1629 - Doctor John Pott is elected governor of Virginia by the council instead of captain Francis West left for England.

John Pott was a controversial character. He had especially prepared the fatal drink having poisoned more than two hundred Indians during a meeting with the settlers on May 22, 1623. He was sentenced for this but had also resolved as a doctor many of health problems related to poor living conditions by practicing an innovative medicine which would gain widespread acceptance. 
As governor, he would especially focus on the interests of the colony against the Indian threats. He decided to mount all four months attacks against the nearby tribes and created for that purpose a militia that was soon blamed for the crudeness of its methods. He also decided to limit the amount of tobacco to be planted per individual. Poet George Sandys described him as a pitiful councillor.
The Lion's Whelp

April 17, 1629 - Governor John Endecott confirms in a letter territories between Charles River and Abousette River sold to John Oldham by Robert Gorges, holder since a charter of December, 1622 of territories located on the north-east side of Massachusetts Bay.

April 25, 1629 - The Lion's Whelp captained by Master John Gibbs leaves Gravesend with 5 other ships bound for the Massachusetts Bay colony.

Built in 1628 by George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, the Lion's Whelp was a 120-ton war pinnace armed with 8 cannons. 10 other ships of the same model were launched in few months in order to  create a fleet of privateers intended to increase the already untellable wealth of Buckingham.
The other ships of the fleet were the George, the Bonaventure, the Talbot, the Lyon and the Mayflower (not the Pilgrims' one).

Spring, 1629 - Reverend Ralph Smith arrives at Plymouth where he has been chosen as second Minister of the colony.
Agent in London of the Plymouth Pilgrim Fathers Isaac Allerton arrives from England, bringing with him Thomas Morton, expelled from the colony the year before.

Thomas Morton, whom Puritans called Lord of Misrule had spent a few months on the Isles of Shoals off the Massachustts Bay where he had been exiled by the Plymouth government before a ship takes him to England. In April, 1629, he was back in America as secretary of Isaac Allerton. He returned shortly after to Merrymount but conflicted soon with John Endecott, governor of Salem, about the rights of independent merchants, the Massachusetts Bay Company officials believing to hold control over all trade in its territory.
Ralph Smith had apparently no profile that suited the Separatists and was initially asked  to live outside Plymouth for fear of causing divisions. The governor and his assistants however had to resolve to accept the Minister moved to Plymouth by duty to protect his family.

May, 1629 - Chief Sagamore John reveals the English that the Narragansetts plan to attack them.

They had actually planned a military action against Plymouth.

May 24, 1629 - Virginia adopts the first American law regarding hunting and fishing regulation.

June 1, 1629 - 
brothers Edmund and Francis Ingalls, farmers hailing from Lincolnshire, are the first English colonists to settle in Lynn, former residence of Pawtucket Sachem Nanapashemet killed in 1619 by Tarratines.

June 7, 1629 - The Dutch West India Company enacts the Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions to spur new volunteers to settle down in New Netherland. It offers more lands to all the patroons who will make come at least, 50 new colonists.
Patroons (from the Dutch patroon, the owner) were the first landowners to get many territorial rights according to the new Charter intended to encourage immigration in America. They were granted privileges identical to those of feudal period allowing them in particular to establish civil and criminal courts and to have their own administration. They had in exchange to ensure the coming of at least 50 families in the four following years. These were exempted from taxes for ten years but had to pay the patroon in cash or services. 

June 29, 1629 - 200 new colonists arrive at Salem, in addition to the hundred already settled since the previous year.

July 4, 1629 - The Lion's Whelp reaches New England carrying a hundred would-be settlers sent by the Massachusetts Bay Company, including in particular Thomas GravesIncrease Nowell, Reverend Francis Bright and brothers Ralph, Richard and William Sprague. They settle at Charlestown.

Increase Nowell (1590 - 1655) - Born in Sheldon, Warwickshire, his name appears in the original charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was a founding partner of the Charlestown colony (now a neighborhood of Boston) and the oldest minister of its first church.

William Sprague (October 26, 1609-October 6, 1675) – Born in Upwey, Dorset, he went to New England with his brothers and a hundred would-be settlers aboard the Lyon's Whelp. He was one of the founders of Charlestown.

July 8, 1629 - The colony of New England celebrates its first Thanksgiving Day.

August, 1629 - a group of 35 colonists arrives at Plymouth from Leyden in Holland. Several followers belonging to the church of minister John Lothrop are on board.

August 26, 1629 - According to the Cambridge Agreement, 12 shareholders of the Massachusetts Bay Company get the transfer in their favor of all powers on the New England colony. The members of the Company include Thomas Dudley, Isaac Johnson, Sir Richard Saltonstall and the lawyer John Winthrop who is appointed governor.

John Winthrop
John Winthrop (January 12, 1588 - March 26, 1649) - Born in Suffolk, he attended Trinity College in Cambridge before becoming lawyer in London. He was highly religious and had acceded to Puritanism considering that the Church of England should escape any catholic ritual. Winthrop was convinced that God would punish England for its heresy and believed that the Puritans needed a land where they would be safe when would come the time of His wrath. Other Puritans who thought like him got from the king a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Company. Charles 1 did not apparently imagine that the colony could be something else than a business establishment.

Thomas Dudley (October 12, 1576 - July, 1653) - Born in Northampton, he lost his father killed at the Battle of Ivry when he was 14 years old. He subscribed to Puritanism during the 1590s and entered the service of rich men as the Earl of Lincoln of whom he was an effective financial adviser. While tensions were high between Puritans and the English government, Dudley was chosen as one of the five officers leaving for America.

Isaac Johnson - Born in Clipham, Rutlandshire, he was a major shareholder of the Massachusetts Bay Company.

Late September, 1629 - Lord Baltimore arrives at Jamestown. Known to be violently opposed to catholicism, the Virginia settlers suspect him to want to move in their lands and reserve him a cold welcome before ordering him to leave the colony. 
George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore

Baltimore sailed back to England a few weeks later, well decided to get a new charter from the king.

George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore (1580- April 15, 1632) - He achieved a brilliant career as Member of Parliament and Secretary of State of King James 1 although he lost much of his political power after the failure of his wedding project between prince Charles and the Spanish royal family. He kept however his place in the King Privy Council until he publicly declared Catholic. Having to give up his duties, he was however upgraded 1st Baron Baltimore in the Irish peerage.
Calvert never hid his interest for colonizing the New World, first for commercial reasons, but also in order to create a haven for English Catholics. He thus became the owner of Avalon, the first English settllement in Newfoundland. Discouraged however by its harsh climate, he sought a place further south and strived to get a charter allowing him to settle in the region which was going to become Maryland. He died a few weeks only before he is granted.
Born in North Yorkshire, Calvert belonged to the landed gentry remained faithful to the catholic tradition despite the new rules imposed by Queen Elizabeth's government. He agreed in his youth to conform to the Allegiance Act required by the Church of England and could, in this way, study in Trinity College, Oxford. His knowledge of foreign languages allowed him to enter the service of Sir Robert Cecil and to accompany his ascent under James 1. He achieved various missions on the continent before being in the service of Robert Carr and becoming himself Secretary of State in 1619. He was then involved in the marriage of Prince Charles with the Hapsburgs but was increasingly regarded with suspicion due to his close relations with the Spanish ambassador and put into minority at the Parliament.
Calvert was nevertheless rewarded by King James who granted him the County of Longford. Increasingly isolated, he had to aknowledge that his proposed union with Spain resulted in a disaster. In 1624, he admitted his failure and only kept his place at the Privy Council. This was the moment he chose to announce to everyone's surprise that he had converted to Catholicism. Some felt afterwards that he had always been catholic but had conveniently hidden it.
In 1625, repression befell again the Catholics and Calvert had to resign the Privy Council. He decided then to leave for Avalon and sent out late May Sir Arthur Aston, promoted governor of the colony. He personally went only two years later to Newfoundland where he landed on July 23, 1627. He stayed there two months, the time to prove that this region had nothing common with the announced paradise. He returned the following year with his family and the title of Proprietary Governor but spent most time to fight against French ships. He tried vainly to hold togeteher Catholics and Protestants whereas the rigors of winter brought their fate of despair, combining cold and hunger. Baltimore petitioned the king a new charter to found a colony in a less hostile place and intended to settle in Virginia where he could grow tobacco. King Charles asked him to return to England with the honors but when his mail reached Newfoundland, Baltimore had already left to Virginia with his wife and servants.

Sir Robert Heath
October 30, 1629 - King Charles 1 grants his Minister of Justice, Sir Robert Heath (1575-1649) a territory located between 31th and the 36th degrees N latitude. This area called Carolana (now Carolinas) stretches from Florida to Virginia. Heath becomes the only owner of a huge strip of land supposed to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific. The patent describes him as led by the pious and praiseworthy desire to extend the Christian religion and the limits of the kingdom to develop trade. The king also rewards him at the same time with all Bahamas Islands.

The patent also contained the so-called Bishop of Durham Clause which granted to Heath wide feudal powers similar to those held by the prelate of the County Palatine of Durham, on the border with Scotland, and who had the right in particular to raise an army to protect the frontier in case of invasion. He could also, in his new territory, grant favors, pardons and honors.

Without never going there, Sir Robert Heath already knew somewhat the area to have been a member of the council of the Virginia Company and owned lands in the colony where he maintained farmers. During summer, 1624, at the time of the dissolution of the charter granted to the company, Heath had helped in particular King James in his efforts to impose a royal monopoly on tobacco trade, a project that never went through.

November 7, 1629 - Captain John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges are confirmed in their rights on the lands between the Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers granted since 1622. They form the Lyconia Company to base a farming community along the Piscataqua.
John Mason is assigned the area between the Piscataqua and the Merrymack to which he gives the name of New Hampshire and Sir Ferdinando Gorges the territory lying North of the Piscataqua which will become Maine.

The Merrimac valley was a part of the Pennacook territory whose Chief Passaconnaway (died in 1669) had just concluded a treaty of good neighborhood with the Plymouth colony.
Pennacooks - this Indian nation allied to the Sokoki and the Mahicans lived on the banks of the Merrimac and had its capital at Naumkeag (today Manchester, NH). It had particularly suffered from the Tarratine War that had bloodied the area between 1607 and 1615 and of which the Micmacs would emerge victorious, until epidemics came to decimate about 75 % of the local people. The Pennacooks began to maintain regular contacts with the English from 1621 and accepted their protection to get over the fear to see the Micmacs operate again their murderous raids. Their leader Passaconnaway agreed from 1629 to hand over  territories become deserted due to the steady population decline suffered by Indians, struck repeatedly by diseases carried by the Europeans against which they had no immunity.

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