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Persecution of the Puritans. 6$
plained to the council of New England, but obtain* cd no redress. After the expiration of seven years, (1628) for which the contract was made, eight of the principal persons in the colony, with four of their friends in London, became bound for the balance; and from that time took the whole trade into their own hands. These were obliged to take up money at an exorbitant interest, and to go deeply into trade at Kennebec, Penobscot* and Connefticut; by which means, and their owri gfeat industry and economy, they were enabled to discharge the debt, and pay for the transportation of thirty five families of their friends from Leyden, who arrived in 1629.'' *
The persecution of the puritans in England, under archbishop Laud, now raged with unrelenting severity; and while it caused the destru&ion of thousands in England, proved to be a principle of life and vigour to the infant colonies in New England-. Among other expedients for vexing the puritans (who were now composed both of the dissenters from the established church, and the opposers of despotic monarchy) ." a system of sports and recreations on the Lord's day* which had been originated in the last reign, was revived and established by the king. This measure was dire&ly- calculated both to obviate the objections of the Roman Catholics to the suppression offcasts and revels, and to wound the feelings of the puri* tans, and embarrass their clergy; as they were re*,
70 Sports- established by Law in England,
markable for a strict attention to the fourth commandment, still so decently observed by their descendants. The magistrates had found these sports, which consisted of dancing, leaping, vaulting, and various other games, to be introductory of profanation, and attempted to suppress them * but so great was the zeal of the court to root out Puritanism, which, from the strifit observation it enjoined of the Lord*s day, they conceived, tended to diminish the feast days of the church; that the representations of the magistrates were overruled* and the order establishing the book of sports was direfted to be read in every parish. This was a net to entangle the clergy, and many lost their livings, for conscientiously refusing to read the order. In short, it became evident, in the starchamber language of the Earl of Dorset, that to be guilty of drunkenness, uncleanness, or any less fault, might be pardonable; but that the sin of Pu* ritanism and non-conformity was without forgiveness."*
Such being the situation of affairs in England, several men of eminence, who were the friends and protestors of the puritans, entertained a design of settling in New England, if they should fail in the measures they were pursuing for the establishment of the liberty, and the reformation of the religion of their own country. They solicited and obtained grants in New England, and were at great pains in settling them. Among these patentees* Effects of Persecution. 71
were the Lords Brook, Say, and Seal, the Pelhams, the Hampdens, and the Pyms; names which afterward appeared with great eclat. Sir Matthew Boyriton, Sir William Constable, Sit; Arthur Haslerig, and Oliver Cromwell, were actually on the point of embarking for New England; when archbishop Laud, unwilling that so many obje6ls of his hatred should be removed out of the reach of his power, applied for, and obtain*ed, an order from the court to put a stop to these transportations, "Restrictions were laid upon their escape, and whilst some had fled to foreign countries, others were not so fortunate as to obtain this dreadful privilege, but were detained as hos^ tages for the good condu6t of their brethren abroad.5'* However, he was not able to prevail so far as to hinder New England from receiving vast additions, as well of the clergy, who were silenced and deprived of their living for non-con* formity, as of the laity, who adhered to their opinions. As in all countries where persecution rages, so here, the wisest, most wholesome, and most useful members of the community, were compel* led to leave their country, "Multitudes, (said Dr. "Owen, speaking of these times) of pious and peaceable protestants, were driven by the severities of their persecutors to fcave their native eoun* try, and seek a refuge for their lives and liberties, with freedom for the worship of God, in a wilder* ness, in the ends of the earth." By such people
¥2 Character of first Settlers.
New England was first settled. A body of men more remarkable for their piety, and morality, and more respe&able for their wisdom, never perhaps commenced the settlement of any country.
As early as 1626, a few people from Plymouth, conducted by Mr. Roger Conaiit, commenced a settlement on Naumkeag river. Discouraged by the difficulties they had to encounter, they had determined to quit America and return to England; but, encouraged by the Rev. Mr, White, of Dorchester in England, who, with other influential characters that were desirous of providing an asylum in America, for the persecuted non-conformists, assured them, if they would remain, that they should receive a patent, supplies, and friends, relinquished their design, and concluded to wait the event. Accordingly, on the 19th of March, 1627, Sir Henry Roswell, and several other gentlemen, in the vicinity of Dorchester, purchased of the council of Plymouth, all that part of New England, included within a line drawn from the Atlantic ocean, three miles south of Charles river, and three miles north of the Merrimac to the South Sea. But as the council gave them no powers of government, they afterwards obtained a charter of incorporation, from Charles I. constituting them a body politic, by the name of the "Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England," with powers as extensive as any other corporation in England. The charter recited the grant of American territory to Contents qf the Charter. 73
the council of Plymouth in 1620, It regranted Massachusetts Bay to Henry Roswell and others. The whole executive power of the corporation was vested in a governor, deputy governor, and eighteen assistants; and until the annual ele&ion of the company could commence, the governor, deputy governor, and eighteen assistants were specified. The governor, and seven, or more assistants, were authorised to meet in monthly courts, for dispatching such business as concerned the company or settlement. But the legislative powers of the corporation were vested in a more popular assemby, composed of the governor, deputy governor, the assistants, and freemen of the company. This assembly to be convened on the last Wednesday of each of the four annual terms, by the title of " the General Court," was impowered to enad laws and ordinances for the good of the body politic, and the government of the plantation, and its inhabitants; provided they should not be repugnant to the laws and statutes of England. This assembly was empowered to dect their governor, deputy governor, and other necessary officers, and to confer the freedom of the company. The company was allowed to transport persons, merchan dize, weapons, &c to New England, exempt from duty for the term of seven years; and emigrants were entitled to all the privileges of Englishmen. Such are the general outlines of the charter.* Under this charter Mat.
* H. A&AMft.