Massachusetts Bay Colony

Massachusetts Bay Colony
Colony of England
1628–1684 de jure (1692 de facto)

The colony's first seal, depicting a dejected Native American with arrows turned downwards, saying "Come over and help us", an allusion to Acts 16:9 of Massachusetts Bay Company

The colony's first seal, depicting a dejected Native American with arrows turned downwards, saying "Come over and help us", an allusion to Acts 16:9

Location of Massachusetts Bay Company
A map depicting various colonial territorial claims related to Massachusetts
Capital Salem, Charlestown, Boston
 - Established Land grant issued, 1628; Royal charter issued, 1629
 - Revocation of royal charter 1684
 - Dominion of New England established 1686
 - Dominion dissolved 1689
 - Royal charter issued for Province of Massachusetts Bay 1691
 - Disestablished Province of Massachusetts Bay governance begins, 1692

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century, in New England, situated around the present-day cities of Salem and Boston. The territory administered by the colony included much of present-day central New England, including portions of the U.S. states of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Territory claimed but never administered by the colonial government extended as far west as the Pacific Ocean.

The colony was founded by the owners of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which included investors in the failed Dorchester Company, which had in 1624 established a short-lived settlement on Cape Ann. The second attempt, begun in 1628, was successful, with about 20,000 people migrating to New England in the 1630s. The population was strongly Puritan, and its governance was dominated by a small group of leaders who were strongly influenced by Puritan religious leaders. Although its governors were elected, the electorate were limited to freemen, who had been examined for their religious views and formally admitted to their church. As a consequence, the colonial leadership exhibited intolerance to other religious views, including Anglican, Quaker, and Baptist theologies.

Although the colonists initially had decent relationships with the local native populations, frictions arose over cultural differences, which were further exacerbated by Dutch colonial expansion. These led first to the Pequot War (1636–1638), and then to King Philip's War (1675–1676), after which most of the natives in southern New England had been pacified, killed, or driven away.

The colony was economically successful, engaging in trade with England and the West Indies. A shortage of hard currency in the colony prompted it to establish a mint in 1652. Ongoing political difficulties with England after the English Restoration led to the revocation of the colonial charter in 1684; King James II established the Dominion of New England in 1686 to bring all of the New England colonies under firmer crown control. The dominion collapsed after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 deposed James, and the colony reverted to rule under the revoked charter until 1692, when Sir William Phips arrived bearing the charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which combined the Massachusetts Bay territories with those of the Plymouth Colony and proprietary holdings on Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.



Early settlements

Map depicting tribal distribution in southern New England, circa 1600; the political boundaries shown are modern

Prior to the arrival of Europeans on the eastern shores of New England, the area around Massachusetts Bay was the territory of several Algonquin-speaking tribes, including the Massachusett, Nauset, and Wampanoag. The Pennacooks occupied the Merrimack River valley to the north, and the Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, and Mahican, occupied the western lands of present-day Massachusetts, although some of those tribes were under tribute to the Mohawk, who were expanding aggressively from present-day upstate New York.[1] The total Indian population in 1620 has been estimated to be 7,000,[2] with the population of New England at 15–18,000.[3] This number was significantly larger as late as 1616; in later years contemporary chroniclers interviewed Indians who described a major pestilence that killed between one and two thirds of the population. The land use patterns of the natives included plots cleared for agricultural purposes, and woodland territories for the hunting of game. Land divisions between the tribes were well understood.[2]

Early in the 17th century a variety of European explorers, include Samuel de Champlain and John Smith charted the area.[4] Plans for the first permanent British settlements on the east coast of North America began in late 1606, when King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) formed two joint stock companies. The London Company covered a more southern territory and proceeded to establish Jamestown.[5] The Plymouth Company under the guidance of Sir Ferdinando Gorges covered the more northern area, including present-day New England, and established the Sagadahoc Colony in 1607 in present-day Maine.[6] The experience proved exceptionally difficult for the 120 settlers, however, and the colonists abandoned the colony after only one year.[7] Gorges noted that "there was no more speech of settling plantations in those parts" for a number of years.[8] English ships continued to come to the New England area for fishing and trade with the Indians.[9]

Plymouth Colony

In November 1620, a group of Pilgrims, seeking to escape religious persecution by English authorities, established Plymouth Colony just to the south of Massachusetts Bay.[10] Their settlement was joined in 1622 and 1623 by short-lived settlements at nearby Wessagusset (present-day Weymouth), whose settlers either joined the Plymouth colony, returned to England, or settled in small outposts elsewhere on Massachusetts Bay.[11]

Although Plymouth faced great hardships and earned few profits, it enjoyed a positive reputation in England and its reports may have sown the seeds for further immigration. Edward Winslow and William Bradford, two of its leaders, published an account of their adventures in 1622, called Mourt's Relation.[12] This book glossed over some of the difficulties and challenges carving a settlement out of the wilderness, but it may have been partly responsible for erasing the memory of the Sagadahoc Colony and encouraging further settlement.[citation needed]

Cape Ann settlement

In 1624, the Plymouth Council for New England (successor to the Plymouth Company) established a small fishing village at Cape Ann under the supervision of the Dorchester Company, with Thomas Gardner as its overseer. This company was originally organized through the efforts of the Puritan minister John White (1575–1648) of Dorchester, in the English county of Dorset. White has been called "the father of the Massachusetts Colony" because of his influence in establishing this settlement and despite the fact that he never emigrated.[13] The Cape Ann settlement was not profitable, and the financial backers of the Dorchester Company terminated their support by the end of 1625. Their settlement at present-day Gloucester was abandoned, but a few settlers, including Roger Conant, remained in the area, establishing a settlement a little further south, near the village of the Naumkeag tribe.[14]

Legal formation of the company

Archbishop William Laud, a favorite advisor of King Charles I and a dedicated Anglican, sought to suppress the religious practices of Puritans and other nonconforming beliefs in England. The persecution of many Puritans in the 1620s led them to believe religious reform would not be possible while Charles was king, and many decided to seek a new life in the New World.[15]

John White continued to seek funding for a colony. On 19 March 1627/8,[16] the Council for New England issued a land grant to a new group of investors that included a few holdovers from the Dorchester Company. The land grant was for territory between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers, including a three mile (4.8 km) buffer to the north of the Merrimack and to the south of the Charles, that extended from "the Atlantick and westerne sea and ocean on the east parte, to the South sea on the west parte."[17] The company that the grant was sold to was styled "The New England Company for a Plantation in Massachusetts Bay".[18] The company elected Matthew Cradock as its first governor, and immediately began organizing provisions and recruiting settlers. The company sent about 100 new settlers and provisions in 1628 to join Conant, led by John Endecott, one of the grantees.[19] The next year, Naumkeag was renamed Salem and fortified by another 300 settlers, led by Rev. Francis Higginson, one the first ministers of the settlement.[20] The first winters were difficult, with colonists struggling against disease and starvation, resulting in a significant number of deaths.[21][22]

Concerned about the legality of conflicting land claims given to several companies including the New England Company to the still little-known territories of the New World, and because of the increasing number of Puritans that wanted to join the company, the company leaders sought a Royal Charter for the colony. Charles granted the new charter on 4 March 1628/9,[23] superseding the land grant and establishing a legal basis for the new English colony at Massachusetts. It was not apparent that Charles knew the Company was meant to support the Puritan emigration, and he was likely left to assume it was purely for business purposes, as was the custom. The charter omitted a significant clause – the location for the annual stockholders' meeting. After Charles dissolved Parliament in 1629, the company's directors met to consider the possibility of moving the company's seat of governance to the colony. This was followed the Cambridge Agreement later that year, in which a group of investors agreed to emigrate and work to buy out others who would not. The Massachusetts Bay Colony became the first English chartered colony whose board of governors did not reside in England. This independence helped the settlers to maintain their Puritan religious practices with very little oversight by the king, Archbishop Laud, and the Anglican Church. The charter remained in force for 55 years, when, as a result of colonial insubordination with trade, tariff and navigation laws, Charles II revoked it in 1684.[24]

Colonial history

In 1630, the colony's population began to grow significantly when the ship Mary and John arrived in New England carrying 140 passengers from the English West Country counties of Dorset, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall. These included William Phelps along with Roger Ludlowe, John Mason, Rev. John Warham and John Maverick, Nicholas Upsall, Henry Wolcott and others who would become prominent in the founding of a new nation.[25] It was the first of eleven ships later called the Winthrop Fleet to land in Massachusetts. Its flagship, the Arbella, arrived on June 12, carrying Governor John Winthrop and other leading settlers, along with the colonial charter. Winthrop is reputed to have given the famous "City upon a Hill" sermon either before or during the voyage.

Detail of sounding board, Old Ship Church, Hingham, Massachusetts, oldest Puritan meetinghouse in Massachusetts

For the next ten years there was a steady exodus of Puritans from England to Massachusetts and the neighboring colonies, a phenomenon now called the Great Migration. Many ministers reacting to the newly repressive religious policies of England made the trip with their flocks. John Cotton, Roger Williams, Thomas Hooker, and others became leaders of Puritan congregations in Massachusetts. Religious divisions and the need for additional land prompted a number of migrations that resulted in the establishment of the Connecticut Colony (by Hooker) and the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (by Williams).

The advent of the English Civil War in the early 1640s brought a halt to major migration, and a significant number of men returned to England to fight in the war. Massachusetts authorities were sympathetic to the Parliamentary cause, and had generally positive relationships with the governments of the English Commonwealth and The Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. The colony's economy began to diversify in the 1640s, as the fur trading, lumber, and fishing industries found markets in Europe and the West Indies, and the colony's shipbuilding industry developed. Combined with the growth of a generation of people who were born in the colony, the rise of a merchant class began to slowly change the political and cultural landscape of the colony, even though its governance continued to be dominated by relatively conservative Puritans.

Colonial support for the Commonwealth presented problems upon the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660. Charles sought to extend royal influence over the colonies, which Massachusetts, more than the other colonies, resisted. For example, the colonial government repeatedly refused requests by Charles and his agents to allow the Church of England to become established, and it resisted adherence to the Navigation Acts, laws that constrained colonial trade.

All of the New England colonies were ravaged by King Philip's War (1675–1676), when the Indians of southern New England rose up against the colonists and were decisively defeated, although at great cost in life to the colonies. The Massachusetts frontier was particularly hard hit, with several communities in the Connecticut and Swift Rivers valleys being abandoned. By the end of the war, most of the Indian population of southern New England had been pacified, killed, or driven away.

Revocation of charter

Following the English Restoration in 1660, matters of colonial administration drew the king's attention. Massachusetts in particular was reluctant to admit the king had any sort of authority to control its governance.[26] This led to crises in the 1660s and late 1670s in which steps were first planned, and then executed in England to vacate the colonial charter. In 1681 the Lords of Trade, who had decided for a variety of reasons to consolidate the New England colonies, issued quo warranto writs for the charters of several North American colonies, including Massachusetts.[27] The Massachusetts writ was never served for technical reasons, and the charter was not formally vacated until the chancery court issued a scire facias writ formally annulling the charter on June 18, 1684.[28] The proceedings were arranged so that the time for the colonial authorities to defend the charter expired before they even learned of the event.[29]

From 1686, the colony's territory was administratively unified by James II of England with the other New England colonies in the Dominion of New England. The dominion was governed by Sir Edmund Andros without any local representation beyond hand-picked councilors, and was extremely unpopular in New England. After the 1688 Glorious Revolution in England, Massachusetts authorities conspired to have Andros arrested in April 1689, and then reestablished government under the forms of the vacated charter. However, dissenters from the Puritan rule correctly noted that the government lacked a proper constitutional foundation, and some of its actions were resisted on that basis. The years from 1689 to 1692 were also difficult ones, since the colony was at the forefront of King William's War, and its frontier communities were ravaged by attacks organized in New France and conducted by French and Indian raiding parties.

In 1691, despite efforts by Massachusetts agents to revive the old colonial charter, King William III issued a charter unifying Massachusetts Bay with Plymouth Colony, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and territories that roughly encompass present-day Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to form the Province of Massachusetts Bay.


In the early years of the colony, life could be quite difficult. Many colonists lived in fairly crude structures, including dugouts, wigwams, and dirt-floor huts made using wattle and daub construction. In later years construction methods improved, and houses began to be sheathed in clapboards, with thatch or plank roofs and wooden chimneys.[30] Wealthier individuals would extend their house by adding a leanto on the back, which allowed for a larger kitchen (possibly with a brick or stone chimney including an oven), additional rooms, and a sleeping loft. These houses were the precursors to what is now called the saltbox style of architecture.[31] Interiors became more elaborate in later years, with plaster walls, wainscoting, and potentially expensive turned woodwork in the most expensive homes.[32]

A town that was well laid out would have a fairly compact town center, with a tavern, school, possibly some small shops, and a meeting house that was used for civic and religious functions.[32] The meeting house would be the center of the town's political and religious life. Church services might be held for several hours on Wednesday and all day Sunday. Puritans did not observe holidays, especially Christmas, which they said had pagan roots. Annual town meetings would be held at the meeting house, generally in May, to elect the town's representatives to the general court and to transact other community business. Towns often had a village green, used for outdoor celebrations and activities like military exercises of the town's trainband or militia.


The structure of the colonial government evolved over the lifetime of the charter. The colonial charter was one designed for the management of a corporation, and the needs of the colonial government did not always fit well into this model. The result was that the government began with a corporate organization that included a governor and deputy governor, a general court of its shareholders (known as "freemen"), and a council of assistants similar to a board of directors,[33] and ended with a governor and deputy governor, a bicameral legislature that included a representative lower house, and a body of freemen, a subset of the colony's adult inhabitants, who were authorized to vote in elections. The council of assistants sat as the upper house of the legislature, and served as the judicial court of last appeal.

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 300th Anniversary Issue of 1930

The charter granted the general court the authority to elect officers and to make laws for the colony. Its first meeting in America was held in October 1630, but was attended by only eight freemen.[33] They formed the first council of assistants, and voted (contrary to the terms of the charter) that the governor and deputy should be elected by them, from their number.[34] This was modified in the next session of the general court, in which the governor and deputy were to be elected by the general court.[35]

An additional 116 settlers were admitted to the general court as freemen in 1631, but most of the governing power, as well as the judicial power, remained with the council of assistants.[36] They also enacted a law specifying that only those men who "are members of some of the churches" in the colony were eligible to become freemen and gain the vote.[34] This restriction on the franchise would not be liberalized until after the English Restoration.[35] The process by which individuals became members of one of the colony's churches involved a detailed questioning by the church elders of their beliefs and religious experiences; as a result, only individuals whose religious views accorded with those of the church leadership were likely to become members, and gain the ability to vote in the colony. After a protest over the imposition of taxes by a meeting of the council of assistants, the general court ordered each town to send two representatives, known as deputies, to meet with the court to discuss matters of taxation.[37]

In 1634, questions of governance and representation arose again, and some deputies demanded to see the charter, which the assistants had kept hidden from public view. The deputies learned of the provisions that the general court should make all laws, and that all freemen should be members of the general court. They then demanded that the charter be enforced to the letter, which Governor Winthrop pointed out was impractical given the growing number of freemen. The parties reached a compromise, and agreed that the general court would be made up of two deputies elected by each town.[37] The 1634 election resulted in the election of Dudley as governor, and the general court proceeded to reserve for itself a large number of powers, including those of taxation, distribution of land, and the admission of freemen.[38]

The first revolution was complete: a trading company had become a representative democracy. In 1642 there arose a legal case that brought about the separation of the separation of the council of assistants into a separate, upper house of the general court. The case, involving a widow's lost pig, had been overturned by the general court, but the assistants, who had sat in judicial decision on the case, voted as a body to veto the general court's act.[39] The consequence of the ensuing debate was that the general court in 1644 voted that the council of assistants would sit and deliberate separately from the general court (they had until then sat together), the concurrence of both bodies being required for the passage of legislation. Judicial appeals were to be decided by a joint session, since otherwise the assistants would be in the position to veto attempts to overturn their own decisions.[40]

Laws and administration of justice

In 1641, the colony formally adopted its first code of laws, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties,[41] written by Nathaniel Ward, codified by Joseph Hills, and based partly on John Cotton's draft (Abstract of the Laws of New-England, As They Are Now Established),[42] which specified required behavior and punishments by appeal to the Judeo-Christian social sanctions recorded in the Bible. It is worthy of note that these men did not see any tension between the kind of theocracy they advocated and the type of democracy that was taking shape; to the contrary, they even held that the one required the other. For example: "All magistrates are to be chosen. Deut. 1:13, 17, 15. First, by the free [people]. Secondly, out of the free [people]."

The first person to be executed in the colony was Margaret Jones, a female physician accused of being a "witch".[43] A delusional Dorothy Talbye was hanged in 1638 for murdering her daughter, as at the time the common law of Massachusetts made no distinction between insanity (or mental illness) and criminal behavior.[44] John Winthrop wanted the puritan colony to be a "city upon a hill", or an example of their faith for other colonies to follow.[45] The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers.[46] In 1660, one of the most notable victims of the religious intolerance was English Quaker Mary Dyer who was hanged in Boston for repeatedly defying a law banning Quakers from the colony.[46] As one of the four executed Quakers known as the Boston martyrs, the hanging of Dyer marked the beginning of the end of the Puritan theocracy and New England independence from English rule. In 1661 King Charles II explicitly forbade Massachusetts from executing anyone for professing Quakerism.[47]

New England Confederation

In 1643, Massachusetts Bay joined Plymouth Colony, Connecticut Colony, and New Haven Colony in the New England Confederation, a loose coalition organized primarily to coordinate military and administrative matters between the colonies. It was most active during the 1670s during King Philip's War. The settlements of what is now New Hampshire were part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1641 to 1679, when the Province of New Hampshire was established.

Economy and trade

In the early years of the colony, it was highly dependent on the import of staples from England, and was supported by the investments of a number of wealthy immigrants. Certain businesses, notably shipbuilding, fisheries, and the fur and lumber trades, quickly got started. As early as 1632 ships built in the colony began trading, either with other colonies, England, or foreign ports in Europe. By 1660 the colony's merchant fleet was estimated at 200 ships, and by the end of the century its shipyards were estimated to turn out several hundred ships annually.[48] In the early years the fleet carried principally fish, to destinations from the West Indies to Europe. It was common for a merchant to ship dried fish to Portugal or Spain, pick up wine and oil for transport to England, and then carry finished goods from England or elsewhere back to the colony. Following the introduction of the Navigation Acts, this and other patterns of trade became illegal, turning colonial merchants who sought to continue these trading patterns into smugglers. Colonial authorities, many of whom either were merchants or were politically dependent on them, opposed attempts by the crown to require them to enforce the collection of duties pursuant to those acts.

The colony's economy depended on the success of its trade, in part because its land was not as suitable for agriculture as that of other colonies like Virginia, where large plantations could be established. The fishery was important enough that those involved in it were exempted from taxation and military service.[49] Larger communities supported craftsmen skilled in providing many of the necessities of 18th century life. Some income-producing activities, like the carding, spinning, and weaving of wool and other fibers, took place in the home.[50] Goods were transported to local markets over roads that were sometimes little more than widened Indian trails.[51] Towns were required to maintain their roads, on penalty of fines, and the colony in 1639 required special town commissions to lay out roads in a more sensible manner. Bridges were fairly uncommon, since they were expensive to maintain, and fines were imposed on their owners for the loss of life or goods if they failed. Consequently, most river crossings were made by ferry. Notable exceptions were a bridge across the Mystic River, constructed in 1638, and another over the Saugus River, whose upkeep costs were subsidized by the colony.[52]

The colonial government attempted to regulate the economy in a number of ways. On several occasions it passed laws regulating wages and prices of economically important goods, but most of these initiatives did not last very long.[53] Two trades, shoemaking and coopering (barrel-making), were authorized to form guilds, making it possible to set price, quality and expertise levels for their work. The colony set standards governing the use of weights and measures. For example, mill operators were required to weigh grain before and after milling, to ensure the customer received back what he delivered.[54]

The Puritan dislike of ostentation led the colony to also regulate expenditures on what it perceived as luxury items. Items of personal adornment, like lace and costly silk outerwear in particular, were frowned upon. Attempts to ban these items failed, and the colony resorted to laws restricting their display to those who could demonstrate £200 in assets.[55]


Most of the colony's settlers that arrived in the first 12 years came from two regions of England. Many of the colonists came from the counties of Lincolnshire and East Anglia, northeast of London, and a large group also came from Devon, Somerset, and Dorset in the southwest of England. Although these areas provided the bulk of the migration, colonists also came other regions of England.[56] The pattern of migration often centered around specific Nonconformist clergy, who, under threat from Archbishop Laud, sought to leave England, and encouraged their flock to accompany them.[57] One characteristic unique to the New England colonies (as distinguished from other English colonies) was that most of the migrants were emigrating for religious and political reasons, rather than economic ones.[58]

The preponderance of the migrants were well-to-do gentry and skilled craftsmen. They brought with them apprentices and servants, the latter of whom were sometimes in indentured servitude.[59] Few titled nobility migrated, even though some supported the migration politically and financially, and also acquired land holdings in Massachusetts and other colonies.[60] Merchants, often the children of the gentry, also represented a significant proportion of the migrants, and would play an important role in establishing the economy of the colony.[59]

With the start of the English Civil War in 1642, migration came to a comparative standstill, and some colonists even returned to England to fight for the Parliamentary cause. In the following years most of the immigrants came for economic reasons: they were merchants, seamen, and skilled craftsmen. Following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the colony also saw in an influx of French Protestant Huguenots. During the period of the charter colony, small numbers of Scots immigrated, but these were assimilated into the colony.[61] The population of Massachusetts remained largely English in character until the 1840s.[62]

Slavery existed, but was not widespread within the colony. Some Indians captured in the Pequot War were enslaved, with those posing the greatest threat being transported to the West Indies and exchanged for goods and slaves.[63] Governor John Winthrop owned a few Indian slaves,[64] and Governor Simon Bradstreet owned two black slaves.[65] The Body of Liberties enacted in 1641 included rules governing the treatment and handling of slaves.[66] Bradstreet reported in 1680 that the colony had 100 to 120 slaves, but historian Hugh Thomas documents evidence suggesting there may have been a somewhat larger number.[67] The slave trade, however, became a significant element of the Massachusetts economy in the 18th century as its merchants became increasingly involved in it, transporting slaves from Africa and supplies from New England to the West Indies.



The colonial charter specified that the colony's boundaries were to be from three miles (4.8 km) north of the Merrimack River to three miles south of the Charles River, and westward to the "South Sea" (i.e. the Pacific Ocean).[17] At the time, the course of neither of the rivers was known for any significant length, which eventually led to boundary disputes with the colony's neighbors.[68] Although the colony's claims were large, the practicalities of the time meant that the colony never actually controlled any land further west than the Connecticut River valley. The colony also claimed additional lands by conquest and purchase, further extending the territory it administered.

The southeastern boundary, with the Plymouth Colony, was first surveyed in 1639 and accepted by both colonies in 1640.[69] It is known in Massachusetts as the "Old Colony Line", and is still visible as the boundary between Norfolk County to the north, and Bristol and Plymouth Counties to the south.[70]

The northern boundary was originally thought to be roughly parallel to the latitude of the mouth of the Merrimack River, since the river was assumed to flow primarily west. This was found to not be the case, and in 1652 Governor Endecott sent a survey party to locate the northernmost point on the Merrimack. Guided by local Indians, the party was taken to the outlet of Lake Winnipesaukee, who incorrectly claimed it was the Merrimack's source. (The Merrimack's principal tributary, the Pemigewasset River, goes significantly further north.) The survey party carved lettering into a rock there (now called Endicott Rock), and its latitude was taken to be the colony's northern boundary. When extended eastward, this line was found to meet the Atlantic near Casco Bay in present-day Maine. Following this discovery, the colonial magistrates began proceedings to bring existing settlements in southern New Hampshire and Maine under its authority.[71] This extension of the colonial claim conflicted with several proprietary grants owned by the heirs of John Mason and Sir Ferdinando Gorges.[72] The Mason heirs pursued their claims in England, and the result was the formation in 1679 of the Province of New Hampshire.[73] The current boundary between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was not fixed until the 18th century. In 1678 the colony purchased the claims of the Gorges heirs, gaining control over the territory between the Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers.[74] The colony and later the province and state retained control of Maine until it was granted statehood in the 19th century.

The colony performed a survey in 1642 to determine its southern boundary west to the Connecticut River.[75] This line, south of the present boundary, was protested by Connecticut, but stood until the 1690s, when Connecticut performed its own survey.[76] Most of the modern Massachusetts boundaries with its neighbors were fixed in the 18th century. The most significant exception was the boundary with Rhode Island, which required extensive litigation, including two Supreme Court rulings, before it was finally resolved in the 19th century.

Lands to the southwest in present-day Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut that had previously belonged to the Pequots were divided after the Pequot War. Claims in this area were disputed, particularly between Connecticut and Rhode Island, for many years.[77][78] Massachusetts administered Block Island and the area around present-day Stonington, Connecticut as part of these spoils of war,[79][80] and was one of several claimants to land in what was known as Narragansett Country (roughly Washington County, Rhode Island). Massachusetts lost all of these territories in the 1660s, when Connecticut and Rhode Island received their royal charters.[81][82]

Timeline of settlement

See also


  1. ^ Hart, pp. 129–131
  2. ^ a b Hart, p. 129
  3. ^ Vaughan, p. 28
  4. ^ Hart, pp. 127–128
  5. ^ Hart, p. 5
  6. ^ Hart, pp. 16–17
  7. ^ Thayer, pp. 13–216
  8. ^ Vaughan, p. 14
  9. ^ Vaughan, p. 15
  10. ^ Hart, pp. 67–70
  11. ^ Adams and Nash, pp. 15–34
  12. ^ Bradford, William (1865). Mourt's Relation, or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth. Boston: J. K. Wiggin. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  13. ^ Young, Alexander (1846). Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, 1623–1636. Boston: C. C. Little and J. Brown. p. 26. Retrieved 2008-12-23. 
  14. ^ Moore, p. 238
  15. ^ Labaree, pp. 17–19
  16. ^ Dates in this article are in the Julian calendar, which was then in use in England. Because the new year in that calendar fell on March 25, dates between January 1 and March 25 are written with both years to avoid confusion.
  17. ^ a b Morison (1981), p. 32
  18. ^ Morison (1981), p. 31
  19. ^ Moore, pp. 347–348
  20. ^ Hubbard (1848), p. 112
  21. ^ Labaree, p. 39
  22. ^ Winthrop et al, p. 35
  23. ^ MacDonald, p. 22
  24. ^ Francis, Richard. Judge Sewall's Apology. 41
  25. ^ Winthrop et al, p. 36
  26. ^ Adams, pp. 181–182
  27. ^ Hart, p. 564
  28. ^ Adams, p. 212
  29. ^ Hart, p. 565
  30. ^ Labaree, p. 56
  31. ^ Labaree, pp. 56-58
  32. ^ a b Labaree, p. 59
  33. ^ a b Hart, p. 103
  34. ^ a b Hart, p. 105
  35. ^ a b Hart, p. 106
  36. ^ Hart, pp. 104–105
  37. ^ a b Hart, p. 107
  38. ^ Hart, p. 108
  39. ^ Hart, p. 113
  40. ^ Hart, p. 112
  41. ^ The Massachusetts Body of Liberties. 7. Boston: Directors of the Old South Work. pp. 261–267. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  42. ^ "Massachusetts Body of Liberties". Retrieved 2011-03-22. 
  43. ^ Haggard, Howard W. Devils, Drugs, and Doctors: The Story of the Science of Healing from Medicine-Man to Doctor. 1929; New York: Pocket Books, 1959, p. 73. ISBN 0-7661-3582-9
  44. ^ Addison, Albert Christopher (1912). The Romantic Story of the Puritan Fathers: And Their Founding of New Boston. L.C. Page & Co. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  45. ^ "Massachusetts Bay Colony". Quaqua Legal and Historical Pages. Retrieved 2011-03-22. 
  46. ^ a b Rogers, Horatio (2009). Mary Dyer of Rhode Island: The Quaker Martyr That Was Hanged on Boston. BiblioBazaar. pp. 1–2. ISBN 9781103801244. Retrieved March 22, 2011. 
  47. ^ Bremer, Francis J.; Webster, Tom (2006). Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: a comprehensive encyclopedia (volume 2). ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781576076781. 
  48. ^ Hart, p. 448
  49. ^ Hart, p. 424
  50. ^ Hart, p. 425
  51. ^ Hart, p. 431
  52. ^ Hart, p. 432
  53. ^ Hart, pp. 426-427
  54. ^ Hart, p. 427
  55. ^ Hart, p. 429
  56. ^ Hart, pp. 56-57
  57. ^ Hart, p. 55
  58. ^ Hart, p. 52
  59. ^ a b Hart, p. 54
  60. ^ Hart, p. 53
  61. ^ Hart, pp. 1:61–62
  62. ^ Hart, p. 1:63
  63. ^ Bremer, p. 273
  64. ^ Bremer, p. 314
  65. ^ Anderson, p. 1:211
  66. ^ Thomas, p. 453
  67. ^ Thomas, p. 207
  68. ^ Hubbard (2009), pp. 14–17
  69. ^ Winthrop et al, p. 339
  70. ^ Morison (1956), p. 156
  71. ^ Mayo, pp. 221–226
  72. ^ Hubbard (2009), pp. 13–14
  73. ^ Fry, pp. 54–65
  74. ^ Fry, pp. 19–22, 65
  75. ^ Bowen, p. 15
  76. ^ Bowen, p. 54
  77. ^ Wheeler, pp. 1–2
  78. ^ Field, pp. 98–101
  79. ^ Wheeler, p. 11
  80. ^ Field, p. 107
  81. ^ Wheeler, p. 15
  82. ^ Field, pp. 100,107
  83. ^ 1630: Information and Much More from


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