All posts by Roger Thompson

Avatar

About Roger Thompson

Roger Thompson is the author of Sex in Middlesex, Divided We Stand, Cambridge Cameos, and From Deference to Defiance, among other works.

ICYMI: Why they came

[Editor’s note: The post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 15 May 2014.]

CharlestownCoverWhy most people went to Charlestown during the seventeenth century we can only guess. Individuals were usually far too occupied during preparation, emigration, and plantation to record their reasons for undertaking this life-threatening ordeal. We can only adduce possible factors from the heart-searchings of such (hardly typical) emigrants as Governor Winthrop, and from the prevailing conditions in emigrant areas of England.

Charlestown was settled by striving young Bristolians and Londoners driven to escape the frustrating economic conditions at home. Historians of early seventeenth-century London and Bristol emphasize the power of privileged corporate groups like the East India Company, the Levant Company, and the London and Bristol Merchant Adventurers over traditional links with the Iberian Peninsula, the Mediterranean, and the Far East. Continue reading ICYMI: Why they came

Why They Came

CharlestownCoverWhy most people went to Charlestown during the seventeenth century we can only guess. Individuals were usually far too occupied during preparation, emigration, and plantation to record their reasons for undertaking this life-threatening ordeal. We can only adduce possible factors from the heart-searchings of such (hardly typical) emigrants as Governor Winthrop, and from the prevailing conditions in emigrant areas of England. Continue reading Why They Came

Early Charlestown companies

CharlestownCoverThe “Great Migration” of as many as 20,000 people to New England during the 1630s was, in its long-term effects, the most important event in English seventeenth-century history. It has been depicted as a farther-reaching extension of an already mobile English population, though I have argued elsewhere that many emigrants to New England came from long-settled backgrounds. What distinguished the Great Migration was its family nature, as compared to the settling of the Chesapeake or the Caribbean, where individual young men predominated. Moreover, many arrivals in Salem, Charlestown, or Boston were members of “companies” – interrelated clans, or followers of gentlemen or ministers. Continue reading Early Charlestown companies