Introduction

Many (although not all) of the early colonists in New England were religious dissenters – persons who had separated from established churches in Great Britain – for whom the New World represented a haven from royal persecution. Particularly in the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts, shared religious commitments and the experience of persecution led community leaders to frame their colonies as quasi-utopian places for the faithful to prosper. Given the opportunity to create societies according to their own understandings, they did not hesitate to engage in radical social experiments meant to prove that “godliness” was not only a spiritual virtue but had practical implications for everyday life as well. From the beginning, ministers like Robert Cushman and civil magistrates like William Bradford and John Winthrop urged their citizens to recognize that they were drawn together for a purpose far beyond their own liberty, or even security, and to place the welfare of the community as a whole above their own.

Cushman and Winthrop, for example, offered advice to the colonists about how to best prepare themselves mentally and spiritually for the arduous task of a godly commonwealth. Both men urged their audiences to embrace the Christian ideal of “brotherly affection.” In response to the extraordinary demands of colonization, they urged their listeners to willingly be generous and abjure “self-love.” This was taken quite literally at Plymouth, where the London-based investors funding the colony required the colonists to agree that everything would be held in common for the first seven years, and then at the end of that term, all property/profits divided equally between colonists and investors. Although this experiment with communalism failed rather spectacularly and was abandoned after only three years, the ethic of neighborliness continued to be an important touchstone in both colonies throughout the seventeenth century.

New colonists continued to arrive regularly throughout the 1630s and 1640s, and as the population increased, the colonists struggled to balance their desire to remain true to their founders’ idealized notion of community with the realities of life and commerce. In Massachusetts Bay, for example, merchants such as Robert Keayne were expected to moderate their desire for profit with a due consideration of the extreme needs and limited means of their customers. Keayne, who was both a shrewd businessman and a devout member of his church, apparently struggled his whole life to meet this standard; at various times, he was admonished by both his congregation and the civil government for unjust business practices (see Admonishment and Reconciliation of Robert Keayne with the Church, 16391640). This accusation apparently stung so deeply, Keayne used his last will and testament to present an extensive Apologia for his actions.


Source: New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 25, 1871, pp. 13-15.


Bound for New England.

Weymouth, 20th of March 1635.

1 Joseph Hull, of Somerset, a Minister, aged 40 years

2 Agnes Hull, his wife, aged 25 years

3 Joane Hull, his daughter, aged 15 years

4 Joseph Hull, his son, aged 13 years

5 Tristram, his son, aged 11 years

6 Elizabeth Hull, his daughter, aged 7 years

7 Temperance, his daughter, aged 9 years

8 Grissell Hull, his daughter, aged 5 years

9 Dorothy Hull, his daughter, aged 3 years

10 Judith French, his servant, aged 20 years

11 John Wood, his servant, aged 20 years

12 Robert Dabyn, his servant aged, 28 years

13 Musachiell Bernard of Batcombe, clothier in the County of Somerset, 24 years

14 Mary Bernard, his wife, aged 28 years

15 John Bernard, his son, aged 3 years

16 Nathaniel, his son, aged 1 year

17 Rich. Persons, salter & his servant, 30 years

18 Francis Baber, chandler, aged 36 years

19 Jesope, joiner, aged 22 years

20 Walter Jesop, weaver, aged 21 years

21 Timothy Tabor, in Somerset of Batcombe, tailor, aged 35 years

22 Jane Tabor, his wife, aged 35 years

23 Jane Tabor, his daughter, aged 10 years

24 Anne Tabor, his daughter, aged 8 years

25 Sarah Tabor, his daughter, aged 5 years

26 Will[ia]m Fever, his servant, aged 20 years

27 Jno. Whitmarke, aged, 30 years

28 Alce Whitmarke, his wife, aged 35 years

29 Jm. Whitmarke, his son, aged 11 years

30 Jane, his daughter, aged 7 years

31 Oaseph Whitmarke, his son, aged 5 years

32 Rich: Whitemarke, his son, aged 2 years

33 Willm Read, of Batcombe, tailor in Somerset, aged 25 years

34 [no name entered]

35 Susan Read, his wife, aged 29 years

36 Hanna Read, his daughter, aged 3 years

37 Susan Read, his daughter, aged 1 years

38 Rich: Adams, his servant, 29 years

39 Mary, his wife, aged 26 years

40 Mary Cheanne, his daughter, aged 1 years

41 Zachary Bickewell, aged 45 years

42 Aguis Bickewell, his wife, aged 27 years

43 Jno Bickewell, his son, aged 11 years

44 Jno Kitchin, his servant, 23 years

46 George Allyn, his son, aged 21 years

47 Katherin Allyn, his wife, aged 30 years

48 George Allyn, his son, aged 10 years

49 Willm Allyn, his son, aged 8 years

50 Mathew Allyn, his son, aged 6 years

51 Edward Poole, his servant, aged 26 years

52 Henry Kingman, aged 40 years

53 Joane, his wife, being aged 39

54 Edward Kingman, his son, aged 16 years

55 Joane, his daughter, aged 11 years

56 Anne, his daughter, aged 9 years

57 Thomas Kingman, his son, aged 7 years

58 John Kingman, his son, aged 2 years

59 Jn Ford, his servant, aged 30 years

60 William Kinge, aged 40 years

61 Dorothy, his wife, aged 34 years

62 Mary Kinge, his daughter, aged 12 years

63 Katheryn, his daughter, aged 10 years

64 Willm Kinge, his son, aged 8 years

65 Hanna Kinge, his daughter, aged 6 years

66 Thomas Holbrooke of Broadway, aged 34 years

67 Jane Hobrooke, his wife, aged 34 years

68 John Holbrooke, his son, aged 11 years

69 Homas Holbrooke, his son, aged 10 years

70 Anne Holbrooke, his daughter, aged 5 years

71 Elizabeth, his daughter, aged 1 years

72 Thomas Dible, husbandman, aged 22 years

73 Francis Dible, sawyer, aged 24 years

74 Robert Lovell, husbandmen, aged 40 years

75 Elizabeth Lovell, his wife, aged 35 years

76 Zacheus Lovell, his son, 15 years

78 Anne Lovell, his daughter, aged 16 years

79 John Lovell, his son, aged 8 years

Ellyn, his daughter, aged 1 year

80 James, his son, aged 1 year

81 Joseph Chickin, his servant, 16 years

82 Alice Kinham, aged 22 years

83 Angell Hollard, aged 21 years

84 Katheryn, his wife, 22 years

85 George Land, his servant, 22 years

86 Sarah Land, his Kinswoman, 18 years

87 Richard Joanes of Dinder

88 Robt Martyn of Badcombe, husbandman, 44

89 Humfrey Shepheard, husbandman, 32

90 John Upham, husbandman, 35

91 Joane Martyn, 44

92 Elizabeth Upham, 32

93 John Upham, Junior, 7

94 William Grane, 12

95 Sarah Upham, 26

96 Nathaniell Upham, 5

97 Eliazabeth Upham, 3

98 Dorset Richard Wade of Simstuly, cooper, aged 60

99 Elizabeth Wade, his wife, 6[?]

100 Dinah, his daughter, 22

101 Henry Luch, his servant, aged 17

102 Andrew Hallett, his servant, 28

103 John Hobble, husbandman, 13

104 Robt Huste, husbandman, 40

105 John Woodcooke, 2[?]

106 Rich: Porter husbandman, 3[?]

Study Questions

A. What expectations do both Robert Cushman and John Winthrop articulate about the conduct and character of those who will settle in Massachusetts? What reasons do they offer for these expectations? Why did Plymouth’s experiment with communal farming failand what was it about farming on private property that made it succeed? How might the different settlers seen in the passenger list have responded to these principles, and why? What tensions are seen in the account of Keayne’s trial, admonition, and reconciliation? Where is the line between covetousness and commerce? What does his Apologia suggest about the difficulties of adhering to utopian ideals in an increasingly diverse community?

B. How do the concerns about greed and the negative societal repercussions of excess wealth seen here relate to the issues raised about labor and markets in the nineteenth century?

C. How might we evaluate these documents in light of the questions about market behavior raised in the Great Depression? What role, if any, do the authors in that chapter see for virtue in the economy? What are the consequences of neglecting to consider virtue in an economic context? How do the visions of a community of shared responsibility for the financial security of all presented in this chapter compare to those presented in the twentieth century?