Pilgrims and Puritans Were Not Original New England Settlers

Charles K. Bolton Says Undue Emphasis Given Plymouth and Boston Colonies by Early Historians

"New England history did not begin with either the Pilgrims at Plymouth or the Puritan settlement of Boston, both of which were preceded by a number of successive English settlements and trading posts about Massachusetts Bay."

That statement was made by Charles K. Bolton, librarian of the Boston Atheneum, in a paper entitled: "Comers to New England in the 1620s," read at the monthly luncheon of the Society of Colonial Wars, at the Parker House, yesterday afternoon.

Mr Bolton claimed that undue emphasis had been laid on the experience of the Plymouth and the Boston Colonists owing to the fact that there were no historians or diarists among the earliest settlers and because most later local historians were Pilgrim or Puritan ministers.

Mr Bolton gave a brief account of several settlements between 1623 and 1630 in connection with which unsuccessful attempts were made to establish the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts Bay.

The first attempt referred to by the speaker was by the colony of Capt Robert Gorges, near what is now Weymouth, in 1623. With that group were said to have come from England, among other Episcopalians, Rev William Blaxton, earliest inhabitant of the future Boston; Roger Conant, first owner of Governor's Island in Boston Harbor; Samuel Maverick, whose ownership of Noddle's Island, later East Boston, was coupled with the obligation to allow Bostonians to cut and remove from there all the firewood they wanted, and Rev William Morrell, on whose return to England in 1625, the infant English church expired.

The next attempt to launch episcopacy here was credited to Rev John Lyford, who landed at Plymouth, whence he was soon banished to a settlement on the west side of the present Gloucester Harbor. He was driven from there to Salem, where John Endicott and his fellow Puritans in 1628 put an end to all Episcopal ceremonies.

The last survivor of the earliest Episcopal group here, the speaker concluded, was Roger Conant, who died in Lynn in 1679, nine years before the organization in Boston of the first permanent Episcopal Church, that which later founded King's Chapel.

Daily Boston Globe, Apr. 19, 1929, p. 8

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