History Timelines 1620s

Image above: Lithograph by Sarony and Major, 1846, of the landing on Plymouth Rock by William Bradford and the pilgrims with the Mayflower in the distance. Courtesy Library of Congress. Right: Painting of the Signing of the Mayflower Compact, 1899, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Mayflower Compact

Pre-Revolution Timeline - The 1600s


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  • Timeline

  • 1630 Detail

    September 17, 1630 - Settlement of Boston begins when John Winthrop and one hundred and seventy-five of his colonists of the Massachusetts Bay Colony choose the Trimountain to harbor area to establish a town.

    John Winthrop and remnants of his first house

    On June 12, John Withrop's fleet made it to the port of Salem, and was welcomed to the New England Colony John Endicott.

    "About four in the morning we were near our port. We shot off two pieces of ordnance, and sent our skiff to Mr. Peirce his ship (which lay in the harbour, and had been there [blank] days before). About an hour after, Mr. Allerton came aboard us in a shallop as he was sailing to Pema1 Probably the ship was a fishing vessel, bringing no planters. These islands have never been populous. When R. Mather stopped there in 1635, he says, there were two families and about forty persons; so that we may conclude, most of them were transient residents, ... As we stood towards the harbour, we saw another shallop coming to us; so we stood in to meet her, and passed through the narrow strait between Baker's Isle and Little Isle, and came to an anchor a little within the islands." John Winthrop's Journal, June 12, 1630.

    By the time the remainder of the eleven ships in John Withrop's fleet had been escorted en force to the Americas by the end of summer 1630, it had brought seven hundred of colonists to what would now become the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Seven more ships with Puritans arrived before the end of the year. He had already been elected Governor prior to arrival, and within months, he and deputy Thomas Dudley had decided that the port of Salem was too small and too easy to attack with that many citizens. The land grant presented to the New England Company, prior name to the Massachusetts Bay Colony had been given rights to the land between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers. Why not used it.

    It was a prescient thought, as within the next ten years, ten thousand more Puritans would arrive, including religious leaders Thomas Cotton, Roger Williams, and Thomas Hooker. There were already other towns outside Salem in the colony prior to Winthrop's idea to diversity; Gloucester, Chelsea, Quincy, Charleston, Lynn, Saugus, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Marblehead. In fact, John Winthrop and Dudley would at first settle on Charlestown as the seat of government, and Winthrop would build what is now called the Great House in City Square Park.

    But Charleston would prove insufficient within a few months due to lack of good water, and Winthrop decided to move the seat of the settlements to the Shawmet Peninsula, i.e. Boston, and other residents to dispersed towns along the Charles River; Cambridge, Roxbury, Dorchester, Watertown, and Medford.

    The Founding of Boston

    The settlers named it Trimountaine after its three hills, but by September 7, 1630, were calling it Boston. When the Puritan arrived, there was only resident there, Reverend William Blackstone, an Aglican Priest. He had left England for peace and quiet, but now welcomed the Puritans onto his land, sharing the location of the fresh water spring. He was given fifty acres to stay on, while the Massachusetts Bay Colony took the rest. Blackstone would sell it back to them four years later, stating, "I left England on account of the Bishops, and I leave Boston on account of the brethren."

    The colony focused their settlement on the Shawmut Peninsula where Blackstone had resided, with only a small isthmus, the Boston Neck, connecting it to the mainland. It was an inauspicious debut during the first year as disease and other reasons took two hundred of the settlers, including Winthrop's son; his wife and other son would emigrate in 1631.

    Eighty more settlers decided to return to England, but that did not deter Winthrop from building a thriving city. He worked hand to hand with the laborers.

    "... fell to work with his own hands, and thereby so encouraged the rest that there was not an idle person to be found in the whole plantation." At first, Boston was not to be the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as Newtown (Cambridge) was chosen and now home to Deputy Thomas Dudley. Winthrop, had started to build his house in Newtown as well, but changed his mind. Boston was by the sea, and he saw its advantages to be capital and commercial center. The house was moved and eventually Winthrop became esconsed on a large piece of property in Boston known as Ten Hills Farm, wanted it to be Boston. The rift lasted for years, although reconciliation eventually came. And where was the capital? Boston starting on October 3, 1632. And how much to it grow once the waters around the Boston Neck were filled in.

    By 1680, there was an estimated four thousand five hundred people living in the city. By 1790, after the American Revolution had been won, there were 18,320. In 1841, pictured below, the city of Boston had 93,383 people living within its boundaries.

    Source: Photo above: Montage of John Winthrop (left), late 17th century, possibly painted by Anthony van Dyke, Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. (right) Remnants of the foundatio of John Winthrop's first house in Charleston, 2008, Swampyank. Courtesy Wikepedia Commons CC 3.0. Image below: Lithograph of Boston in 1841, 1841, Robert Havell. Courtesy Library of Congress via Wikipedia Commons. Info source: Wikipedia; "The History of New England from 1630-1649. By John Winthrop, Esq. First Governor of the Colony of the Massachusetts Bay," published by John Savage, Courtesy University of Michigan; History of Massachusetts Blog; bostonteaparty.com.

    Boston in 1841

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