Now that my book on genealogical research methods (Elements of Genealogical Analysis) is out, I have turned my attention to the series of lectures I will be delivering in October and November; these, in turn, will form the basis for a future book entitled Puritan Pedigrees: The Deep Roots of the Great Migration to New England.
In most of the Great Migration volumes, I have been able to examine the motivations of the migrating families only in the context of events at the time of migration. A few years ago, while working on The Winthrop Fleet, I began to get a better feel for the deeper connections and influences which had been developing for decades and for generations leading up to the migration decision. I have already written about some of this in my earlier Vita Brevis posts and in The Great Migration Newsletter.
My goal in this series of lectures is to trace the continuity of connections which go back more than a century before the Great Migration, back to the beginning of the English Reformation under Henry VIII in the 1530s. The lectures will describe both the genealogical pedigrees and the intellectual pedigrees which linked ministers and laymen in religious reformation during this century. The course will begin with two background lectures, one on the Lollards, a sort of proto-Protestant movement of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and one on the activities of fifteenth-century merchants which are relevant to our story. There will then follow thirteen chronologically constructed lectures, approximately one per decade, beginning with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s and concluding with the final stages of the Great Migration itself in the 1630s.
The Great Migration Study Project has focused on the lives of its subjects once they arrived in New England; now, in these lectures (and, in time, in Puritan Pedigrees), I will begin to fill in some of the pre-migration background. It is my hope that the lectures and the book will give their respective audiences greater insight into the world from which our forebears came – and a sense of why they made some of the choices they did.