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The Morphology of Remigration: New England University Men and Their Return to England, 1640–1660

  • Harry S. Stout (a1)


Richard Mather's promising pastoral career in England suddenly ended in 1634 with the wholesale suspensions inaugurated by Archbishop Laud. With no choice other than submission to the Church of England, Mather set sail for New England and, in so doing, joined a large scale folk migration that was to total over 15,000 people in the decade between 1630 and 1640. Encouraged by the early successes of the ‘ Great Migration ’ to New England, Mather took the birth of his son in 1639 as a sign and named him Increase ‘ on the Account of the great Increase of every sort, which God favoured the country with about the time of his nativity ’. A year after Increase's birth, Richard Mather's joy was once again chastened when there ensued a remigration to England such that, in Increase Mather's words, ‘ since the year 1640, more Persons have removed out of New England, than have gone thither ’. Leading in the removal from New England were nearly half of the highly trained ministers and university men who, in large measure, accounted for the uniqueness of the New England settlements.



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1 Mather, Cotton, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Increase Mather, D.D. (London, 1725), Introd.

2 Mather, Increase, A Brief Relation of the State of New England, From the Beginning of That Plantation to this Present Year, 1689 (London, 1689), p. 5.

3 For a listing of New England university men, including those who returned to England, see Stout, Harry S., ‘ University Men in New England 1620–1660: A Demographic Analysis ’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 4 (Winter 1974), 375400.

4 Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Intellectual Life of Colonial New England (reprinted, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1965), pp. 1718.

5 See, for example, Hall, David D., The Faithful Shepherd: A History of the New England Ministry in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, 1972), pp. 171–2; Morgan, Edmund S., The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston, 1958), pp. 177–80; or Harry S. Stout, ‘ University Men in New England 1620–1660 ’, loc. cit. pp. 391–7. Two biographical listings of New England university men that reveal the scope of remigration are Morison, Samuel Eliot, The Founding of Harvard College (Cambridge, 1935), Appendix B; and Allaben, Frank, ‘ University Men Who Came to New England ’, Journal of American History, 24 (1930), 2147. The most complete description of the remigration that suggested many of the variables tested in this essay is Sachse, William L.'s ‘ The Migration of New Englanders to England 1640–1660 ’, American Historical Review, 53 (01 1948), 251–78.

6 Jameson, J. Franklin, ed., Winthrop's Journal (2 vols., New York, 1908), vol. II, p. 82. See also Gottfried, Marion H., ‘ The First Depression in Massachusetts ’, The New England Quarterly, 9 (1936), 655–78.

7 Quoted in Shipton, Clifford, Sibley's Harvard Graduates, vol. I, p. 157.

8 For outstanding discussions of the radical dimensions of English Puritanism, see Little, David, Religion, Order, and Law: A Study in Pre-Revolutionary England (New York, 1969); Walzer, Michael, The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Cambridge, 1965); and Stone, Lawrence, The Causes of the English Revolution 1529–1642 (New York, 1972).

9 Hill, Christopher, The Century of Revolution 1603–1714 (New York, 1961), pp. 915.

10 For the ideological background to the English Civil War and its interaction with English social forces, see Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints; Stone, The Causes of the English Revolution; and Hill, Christopher, Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (London, 1965), pp. 299301.

11 Woodhouse, A. S. P., ed., Puritanism and Liberty: Being the Army Debates (1647–9) from the clarke Manuscripts with Supplementary Documents (London, 1951), pp. 1516.

12 See Simpson, Alan, Puritanism in Old and New England (Chicago, 1955), pp. 71–2.

13 Hill, , Century of Revolution, p. 165.

14 Yule, George, The Independents in the English Civil War (Melbourne, 1958), pp. 78.

15 The demands of war pragmatically precluded an exclusivistic intolerance on the part of the Independents and encouraged a modified doctrine of religious liberty. See e.g. Trevelyan, George Macaulay, England under the Stuarts (London, 1965), p. 249; or Haller, William, The Rise of Puritanism: Liberty and Reformation in the Puritan Revolution (New York, 1955).

16 For a discussion of the Presbyterian sympathies of Nathaniel Ward and Thomas Weld, see Dean, James Ward, A Memoir of the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, A.M. (Albany, 1868), p. 93; and Winthrop's Journal 1630–1649, vol. II, p. 32. Other Presbyterian university men included John Clark, Henry Vane, Jr, George Moxon, Robert Child, Thomas Lechford, Benjamin Woodbridge and Richard Demon.

17 Sachse, William L., The Colonial American in Britain (Madison, 1956), p. 142. Included among the colonials entering Parliamentary service were: George Fenwick, Samuel Desborough, George Downing, Hezekiah Haynes, Edward Hopkins, Stephen Winthrop, Henry Vane, Jr and Francis Willoughby.

18 Hosmer, James K., The Life of Young Sir Henry Vane (London, 1888), passim. More recently see Adamson, J. H. and Folland, H. F., Sir Henry Vane His Life and Times (1613–1662) (Boston, 1973).

19 Sachse, , Colonial American in Britain, pp. 144–5.

20 Simpson, Alan, Puritanism in Old and New England, pp. 77–8.

21 Mather, , Memoirs of the Life of the Reverend Increase Mather, D.D. (London, 1725), Preface.

22 Winthrop's Journal, vol. II, p. 19.

23 Forbes, Allyn B., ed., Winthrop Papers (Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections), vol. IV (1944), p. 218.

24 In ‘ The Migration of New Englanders to England ’ Sachse suggests (p. 259) that the flow of remigration varied ‘ according to political and religious developments ’ in England.

25 Lechford, Thomas, Plaine Dealing or News From New England (London, 1641; reprinted New York, 1969), p. 144.

26 Aylmer, G. E., A Short History of Seventeenth-Century England (New York, 1963), p. 131.

27 Hill, , The Century of Revolution, p. 113.

28 Winthrop Papers, series 4, vol. VI, pp. 540–1.

29 See e.g. the reports of Stephen Winthrop and EmmanuelDowning in Winthrop Papers, series 4, vol. VI, pp. 77–8, vol. V, p. 320.

30 See Sachse, ‘ The Migration of New Englanders to England ’.

31 Aylmer, , A Short History of Seventeenth-Century England, p. 173.

32 Stephen Bachiler, Samuel Gorton, George Burdett, Robert Childe, William Aspinwall, Nathaniel Eaton, Hanserd Knollys, Marmaduke Mathews, Richard Lenthall, John Wheel-wright, Samuel Eaton, Richard Blinman, Richard Denton, Joseph Hull and Thomas James.

33 In this and the following tables, the primary statistical tests of association were the chi square (χ2) and Pearson's Correlation Coefficient (C). Unless otherwise noted, all correlations are significant at the 0.01 level or better. That is to say, the chances of the association between the two variables occurring by chance are less than one in a hundred. Also included in the table are cross-tabulations giving row and/or column percentages together with the number of university men (N) in the correlation. An excellent introduction to the use of historical statistics is Dollar, Charles M. and Jensen, Richard J., Historian's Guide to Statistics Quantitative Analysis and Historical Research (New York, 1971), esp. pp. 61–5.

34 In the absence of professional positions in New England, many university men experienced a period of time in which they lacked a settled position. The number of years in such an unsettled state have been totalled to ascertain the mean number of years' lag between professional positions, by generation, in New England.

35 On the suggested relationship between last position in England and remigration see Sachse, ‘ The Migration of New Englanders to England ’, p. 263. In Table 2, ‘ high prestige ’ positions include rectors, vicars, chaplains, political or legal appointments, or medical practices. ‘ Low prestige ’ positions include curates, teachers, students, or the unemployed.

36 See Robert Middlekauff's excellent discussion of the first generation's loyalty to England in The Mathers: Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596–1728 (New York, 1971), pp. 175.

37 Thomas Allen returned to his post as pastor of the Congregational Church in Norwich; Robert Peck was reinstated to his rectory in Hingham; Thomas Peter returned as vicar of Mylor; and Thomas Willis resumed his educational duties as schoolmaster at Isleworth.

38 Levy, Babette May observes in Preaching in the First Half Century of New England History (Hartford, 1945), p. 7, that ‘ many ’ ministers were accompanied by followers from England. Similarly, Morison, Samuel Eliot argues in The Founding of Harvard College, p. 153, that ‘ few emigrating ministers failed to bring with them a band of parishioners and friends ’. The presence of followers accompanying the ministers from England in Table 3 was primarily ascertained by contemporary statements to the effect in town and church records, or biographies. Additional followers also appeared when the specific parishes of the ministers were cross-checked with the emigrants listed, by parish, in Banks, Charles E., Topographical Dictionary of 2885 English Emigrants to New England (Philadelphia, 1937).

39 A similar pattern of high mobility and “ failure ” is discussed for both generations in Stout, ‘ University Men in New England 1620–1660: A Demographic Analysis ’, p. 396.

40 Sachse, , The Colonial American in Britain, p. 48.

41 Mary Beth Norton concludes of the Loyalist exiles that, unlike the seventeenth-century migrants: ‘ Whenever they arrived in Great Britain, or for whatever reason, the loyalists all faced the same problem of acclimation. They had always called England “ home ” even if they had been born in America, but when they arrived in the British Isles they found a culture and even a system of government alien to their experience. ’ The British-Americans: The Loyalist Exiles in England 1774–1789 (Boston, 1972), p. 41.

42 Lechford, , Plain Dealing, p. 78.

43 Cunliffe, Marcus, The Literature of the United States (Baltimore, 1954), p. 24–5.

44 Boorstin, Daniel, The Americans: The Colonial Experience, p. 174–5.

45 See Morison, , The Founding of Harvard College, p. 256.

46 See e.g. Hooker, Thomas, A Survey of the Summe of Church Disciplines (Cambridge, 1648).

47 Morison, Samuel E., Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century, p. 140.

48 ‘ Letter of Leonard Hoar to Josiah Flynt ’ (1661), reprinted in Morison, Samuel E., Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century, II, Appendix C, p. 640.

49 Ibid., p. 640. Here Hoar informs Flynt that copies of Ramus were extremely scarce in New England, ‘ And if you have now lost them I know no way to recover them but of some that were of that society in former times ’.

50 Morison, , Harvard College in the Seventeenth Century, pp. 119–20.

51 Mather, , Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Increase Mather, D.D., p. 8.

52 Notestein, Wallace, The British People on the Eve of Colonization (New York, 1954), p. 136.

53 Sachse, , Colonial American in Britain, p. 48.

54 The variable ‘ influential New England connexions ’ was ascertained on the basis of those individuals sharing familial ties with the ‘ upper class ’. Placement in the upper class category was based on the model provided in P. M. Harris, G., ‘ The Social Origins of American Leaders: The Demographic Foundations ’, Perspectives in American History, 3 (1969), Appendix A, 342. The upper class included all families of gentry origin in England, or of local prominence in New England such as lawyers, important merchants and landowners, ministers of the first seaboard pulpits, doctors, or presidents of Harvard College.

55 Yule, , The Independents In The English Civil War, pp. 74–5.

56 Sprague, William B., Annals of the American Pulpit, vol. I, pp. 104–6.

57 Shipton, Clifford, Sibley's Harvard Graduates, vol. I, pp. 2852.

59 Middlekauff's The Mathers is the best discussion of the first generation's sense of ‘ exile ’, in which New England was viewed as an appendage of their native England.

60 Mather, Cotton, Magnalia Christi Americana (London, 1702), vol. III, p. 4.

61 Hall, David D., The Faithful Shepherd, pp. 171–5.

62 See Little, Religion, Order, and Law: A Study in Pre-Revolutionary England; Foster, Stephen, Their Solitary Way: The Puritan Social Ethic in the First Century of Settlement in New England (New Haven, 1971); or Wilson, John F., ‘ Another Look at John Canne ’, Church History, 33 (1964), 3448.

63 Curtis, Mark, ‘ The Alienated Intellectuals of Early Stuart England ’, Past and Present, 23 (11 1962), 27, 39.

64 See especially, Hall, David D., The Antinomian Crisis, 1636–1638: A Documentary History (Middletown, 1968), Introduction.

65 See, e.g. McGiffert, Michael, ‘ American Puritan Studies in the 1960's ’, William and Mary Quarterly, 25 (1968), 3667; and Rutman, Darrett B., Winthrop's Boston (Chapel Hill, 1965).

66 Breen, Timothy H. and Foster, Stephen, ‘ The Puritans' Greatest Achievement: A Study of Social Cohesion in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts ’, Journal of American History, 60 (06 1973), 522.

67 Both the term and concept is taken from Geertz, Clifford, ‘ Religion as a Cultural System ’, in Banton, Michael, ed., Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion (London, 1868), pp. 146.

68 See Middlekauff, , The Mathers, pp. 96112.

69 I am indebted to Robert P. Swierenga, William H. Kenney, Stephen Foster, and Richard J. Jensen for reading earlier versions of this paper and offering valuable advice.


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