John (1576-1652) and Mary (about 1581-1658) Greenoway (our first ancestor's in America) settled in 1630 in Dorchester, Massachusetts as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
John Greenoway was born about 1576 in Mildenhall, Wiltshire England. Mildenhall was a small town on the River Kennet and as of 2001 there were only 457 people living there with a single pub, The Horseshoe Inn (where you might go someday and have a toast to John and Mary and visit nearby Stonehenge). The little town was located on the major coach route, running east and west between London, Bath and Bristol. It's about 70 miles east to London; 60 miles southwest to Dorchester; and 80 miles southwest to Plymouth. Travel from town to town was by walking or horseback.
The year John was born (1576) was eighteen years into the reign of Queen Elizabeth I . Earlier in the century Martin Luther in Germany and John Calvin in France and Switzerland had begun the attempted Reformation of the Catholic Church. In 1534 Queen Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, had separated from the Catholic Church and created the independent Church of England. It was a time of intense religious ferment, conflict and violence -- Catholic vs. Protestant; Catholic English Church vs. Reformed English Church; Purified Church vs. Separatist Church. John and Mary must have been deeply involved in this turmoil.
When John Greenoway was twelve years old (1588) the English defeated the Spanish Armada. For more than a century Spain had been building an empire in Central and South America including outposts in Florida, Texas and California. The French and Dutch had also established a small presence in the Americas. Although the English had been fishing off the coasts of Newfoundland and New England, the only English settlement was established in 1584 on Roanoke Island, Virginia (the lost colony). It would be thirty-six years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth and forty-six years before John and Mary would land in Dorchester. However, English power was on the rise and talk of England's future must have been an exciting subject of everyday conversation. Imagine the reaction to the Queen's speech to the soldiers preparing for the invasion from the Spanish:
I am come amongst you as you see at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of battle, to live or die amongst you all - to lay down for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king - and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms.
During the next forty-two years, between the defeat of the Spanish Armada and their departure to New England, John and Mary Greenoway lived a full life in England. He practiced the trade of millwright and she had seven daughters. Five Greenoway daughters were born between 1601 and 1608 and in 1620 and 1626 two more daughters were born. This suggests the possibility that John's first wife may have died and that Mary was his second wife. Whatever the case, the following seven daughters of John and Mary are listed in the records of the Great Migration Study Project and also in the records of the New England Historic Geneology Society.
Ann (1601-1695) -- husband Robert Pierce, 1 child, Thomas.
Ursula (1603-1682)) -- husband Hugh Batten, no record of children
Mary (1605-1682) -- husband Thomas Millett, 8 children (see First Generation)
Martha (1607-?) -- no further record.
Elizabeth (1608) -- husband possibly William Allen of Mancheser, no record of children.
Susannah (1620-?) -- husband Nathaniel Wales, no record of children.
Katherine (1626-?) -- husband William Daniel, record of one child.
As a "millwright" what did John Greenoway do? According to one account: "The millwright found a good site. Foundation walls were erected. Logs were cut and fashioned into beams, boards, and shingles. Pillars were constructed to support the water wheel shaft. The millwright located a white oak tree for the water wheel shaft. Only the millwright had the knowledge of what woods were best used for various mill parts. The water wheel, gears, and bearings made. Some times stone or wood was used for bearings. Stones bearings were lubricated with either water or tallow. Wooden bearings were lubricated with tallow. A dam, mill race and or a sluice box was constructed. Finally the mill was ready to be set into operation. The first grain was ground and the mill was tested." Clearly, a man with these skills, may have been sought out to join a new colony.
Indeed, in the town of Dorchester, sixty miles southwest of Mildenhall, the Reverend John White had been recruiting settlers to America for several years. John White, some refer to him as the Founder of Massachusetts, had been the prime mover of the Dorchester Company (1623); the New England Company (1627) and was instrumental in the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629). These companies were a tangle of private enterprise, religion and Royal authorization or politics. The Reverend White was of "moderate" religious views and was somewhat disturbed by the "radical" views of the men of the north and east who dominated the new Massachusetts Bay Company. Although he was involved in the Massachusetts Bay Company, he personally recruited "west country men" of moderate, non-separatists views for "his own ship," the Mary and John. The 140-150 settlers on the Mary and John voyage were from the west counties of England. One source says most of these families did not know each other; another source says that most of the settlers were family and friends of Reverend White. John and Mary Greenoway may have been "family or friends" or they may have come on a different ship altogether! Whatever the case, there is solid historical evidence that they were in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1630. (To read a very interesting, detailed history of John White and the "Companies," CLICK HERE).
So why did John and Mary Greenoway, along with four daughters, leave everything they knew and resettle in an unknown land? There are some interesting accounts of why people made this decision. In a recently published, scholarly and well-documented book, by Susan Hardman Moore, Pilgrims: New World Settlers and the Call of Home, the author tells the story of a woman who resisted her husband's wishes to go the New World until she lost a baby. She interpreted the loss as God's message for her to go. Even in the present, most of us cannot say why we do what we do, at least I can't explain why I went to homestead in Nicaragua in 1970. But reflection upon our motivations is great fun and I'd say that John and Mary made their journey to the New World for several reasons.
Propaganda -- They had seen some enticing accounts of the richness of the land and the beautiful climate. Indeed, the one thousand members of the Winthrop Fleet had seen such accounts and they were so disappointed, that within one year, two-hundred of them had returned to England and, worse, two-hundred had died!
Economic -- John Greenoway had a good trade as a millwright. He had learned his trade during a prosperous time in England in an area that had been booming due to the textile industry. But many farmers had been forced off their land for the raising of sheep, there was a substantial increase in population, and the textile industry was suffering a depression. Times were not good. The New World settlers needed his skills and free land was being offered. For John to be considering such a move, at age fifty-four, with a wife and two young daughters, one might imagine that he was desperate. On the other hand, it may have been Mary that was the prime mover. At least one historical analysis says that more women brought their husbands to the New World than visa-versa.
Religious and Political -- It seems fair to imagine that John and Mary were "west country" people of deep but moderate religious views. They were influenced by the ministries of such people as John White and believed that a pure church could be established in the New World. The King, Charles I, had married a princess who was Catholic and his top religious men, such as William Laud, the Archbishop of Canterbury, were steering the Church of England back toward Catholic practices. The King believed in the Divine Right of Kings and had abolished the English Parliament. These movements did not sit well with John's sense of personal freedom and power (as evidenced by his petition for "freeman" status during the first year of the Dorchester Colony). Indeed, the curtailments of religious and political freedom were central to the Puritan Migration to the New World and to the English Civil War that ensued.
Family -- This is a stretch! According to some reports, as many as 1 in 3 women in England did not marry but in the colonies almost the women married. I'll call it the Alaska syndrome, but another analysis is that, among the Puritans, if God smiled upon you, then you got married, so almost all the young people felt destined to marry (and have children). We might also do a sexual analysis which would conclude that you'd better get married! In summary, maybe John and Mary thought their daughters had better prospects for a good life in the New World.
In the case of John and Mary Greenoway, whatever the reason or combination of factors that led them to make this bold, risky decision to leave England and journey to a new world, their decision was not light but compelling. They weren't doing a "let's go and see if we like it." They were committed evidenced by the fact that they immediately became actively involved in the affairs of the community and they must have just as quickly started to encourage their other daughters and son-in-law, Thomas Millet, to come and join them -- because five years later, Ursula, Mary and Thomas Millett joined them in Dorchester.
Here you might enjoy reading the Reasons for the Plantation in New England, a document that was probably widely distributed at the time. Following are a few of the arguments: (1) It will be a service to the Church of great consequence to carry the Gospel into those parts of the world ... raise a bulwark against the kingdom of AnteChrist, which the Jesuits labor to rear up in those parts; (2) All other Churches of Europe are brought to desolation ... and seeing the Church hath no place left to fly into but the wilderness, what better work can there be, than to go and provide tabernacles and food for her when she be restored; (3) This England grows weary of her inhabitants ... (4) The whole earth is the Lord's garden, and He hath given it to mankind with a general commission (Gen. 1:28) to increase and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it ... Why then should one strive here for places of habitation, at such a cost as would obtain better land in another country, and at the same time suffer a whole continent as fruitful and convenient for the use of man to lie waste without any improvement? (5) We are grown to that height of intemperance in all excess ... so that it is almost impossible for a good and upright man to maintain his charge ... (6) The fountains of learning and religion are so corrupted that most children are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples ... (9) It appears to be a work of God for the good of His Church, in that He hath disposed the hearts of so many of His wise and faithful servants, both ministers and others ... and it is likely He hath some great work in hand which He hath revealed to His prophets among us, whom He hath stirred up to encourage His servants to this Plantation.
And what about the Indians? (from the same document): That which lies common, and has never been replenished or subdued, is free to any that possess and improve it; for God hath given to the sons of men a double right to the earth there is a natural right and a civil right. The first right was natural when men held the earth in common, every man sowing and feeding where he pleased. Then as men and their cattle increased, they appropriated certain parcels of ground by enclosing and peculiar cultivation, and this in time got them a civil right ... As for the natives in New England, they enclose no land, neither have they any settled habitation, nor any tame cattle to improve the land by, and so have no other but a natural right to those countries. So if we leave them sufficient for their own use, we may lawfully take the rest, there being more than enough for them and for us.
By March 20, 1630 John and Mary Greenoway have made the trip to Plymouth, England and have boarded the Ship Mary and John. With them are daughters Ann (age twenty-nine), Elizabeth (age twenty-two), Sushanna (age ten), and Katherine (age four). Among the other passengers are Reverend John Maverick and Reverend John Warham and thirteen farmers, a brick-maker, two soldiers, two traders, a tailor, a weaver, a mariner, a draper, two innkeepers, two magistrates, two civil officers, and two merchants. Many people are traveling as families along with some livestock and there several young men. They come from at least five different western counties of England, but mainly from Dorset, the home county of Dorchester (home of Reverend John White). (Information summarized from the Winthrop Society)
The only known description of the voyage was written by Roger Clapp a twenty-one year old passenger on the Mary and John. He wrote: "There came many godly families in that ship. We were of passengers many in number (besides seamen) of good rank. Two of our magistrates came with us, viz. Mr. (Edward) Rossiter and Mr. (Roger) Ludlow. These godly people resolved to live together. Therefore, as they had made choice of those two reverend servants of God, Mr. John Warham and Mr. John Maverick, to be their ministers, so they kept a solemn day of fasting in the New Hospital at Plymouth, in England, spending it in preaching and praying; where that worthy man of God, Mr. John White of Dorchester, in Dorset, was present, and preached unto us the word of God in the fore part of the day and in the latter part of the day, as the people did solemnly make choice of and call those godly ministers to be their officers, so also the reverend Mr. Warham and Mr. Maverick did accept thereof, and expressed the same. So we came, by the good hand of the Lord, through the deeps comfortably, having preaching or expounding of the word of God every day for ten weeks by our ministers." If you want to delve deeper into some history and mindset of the times read The Memoir of Capt. Roger Clapp of Dorchester.
So, we might assume that it was a prayerful, seventy-day, comfortable crossing of the deeps. And we might imagine that the ship, carrying 45 crew members and 140 passengers, plus some cows, goats, pigs, and chickens was somewhat cramped! Chests of clothing, dishes, bedding, furniture, building supplies, tools, seeds for planting, food for the voyage, and water had to be brought along. People were packed into little family quarters separated by cloth partitions. It might be very cold and wet or very hot. Many people would be seasick and vomiting. Animals and people would have to do their daily "business" and diarrhea was probably common. Comfortable is not the word I would choose, in fact I can't even imagine the hardship experienced on these voyages!
From the History of the First Parish Church in Dorchester -- "This was a unique venture - perhaps the only one in New England history - a fully organized church with its covenant, officers, members and two ministers transplanted from the Old Country to the New." This is the church founded by the Dorchester settlers and it still exists in Dorchester (south Boston) -- "A Unitarian Universalist Church, located on top of Meetinghouse Hill, at 10 Parish Street, Dorchester, MA 02122 ."
For the next five years I shall present the historical evidence in the form of fictional letters written by John Greenoway to his daughter Mary and his son-in-law Thomas Millett, who are in Newbury, England. According to Moore, "Thousands of letters crossed the Atlantic between early settlers and those they left behind, of which only a tiny fraction survive." Thomas was literate, as evidenced by his signature on an early document, but there is no further record of anything that he wrote. The historical information that I use comes mainly from the Memoir of Roger Clapp, History of Old Dorchester and the Great Migration Study Project.. The Google Map below shows the area of settlement with 10 Parish Street being the first and current location of the First Parish Church.
May 30, 1630 -- Along with many godly families we have today reached New England and disembarked at a place called Nantasket Point. So we came, by the good hand of the Lord, through the deeps, having preaching or expounding of the word of God every day for ten weeks by our ministers. We were bound to the Charles River but Captain Squeb, not holding navigation charts, has left us with all our livestock and equipment on this desolate neck of land. We left the ship and when all of us were gathering on the land we sang the hymn, "Thou Lord Hast Beene our Sure Defence" We have set up a temporary camp on this windy point. But, as it pleased God we got a boat of some old planters, and laded her with goods and some able men and went in her unto the Charles River.
Early June, 1630 -- We have now come unto an area with good pasture for our cattle and a fare harbour. The Indians call this place Mattapan and, in honor of Reverend White, we have renamed it Dorchester Plantation. We have erected some tents and crude huts and our diet is much improved from the great bounty of the seas. God hath consumed the natives with a great plague in these parts, so as there be few inhabitants left. Those few that are here enclose no land, neither have they any settled habitation, nor any tame cattle. Our leaders, Rev. Maverick, Rev. Warham, Rosseter and Ludlow, have met with the Indians' surviving chief, Chickataubut, and in exchange for a few gifts, he has given us permission to settle here.
June, 1630 -- Our brethren have rejoined us from their journey to the Charles river. There they encountered a lone English trader and he accompanied them up the river to a place called Watertown. Here they came upon many Indians and were quite fearful. With God watching over them, the trader communicated with the Indians, and after an exchange of gifts, the Indians retreated into the wilderness.
August, 1630 -- We hear that Winthrop's ships have arrived and the settlers have founded Charlestown, which standeth on the north side of the mouth of the Charles river, and on the south side Boston (where we were bound to have settled); also the settlement of Medford on the Mystic River and Watertown westward on the Charles River four miles from Charlestown and Rocksbury between Salem and Charlestown on the Saugus River. This dispersion troubles us, but wanting the ability to remove to any place fit to build a town upon, and the time too short to deliberate any longer, lest the winter should surprise us, we have decided to build our houses here to protect ourselves against the wet and cold and also build a fort to which we can retire if any enemy pressed us thereunto. We are mindful that no place of itself has afforded sufficient to the first inhabitants. Such things as we stand in need of are usually supplied by God's blessing upon the wisdom and industry of Man, and whatsoever we stand in need of is treasured up in the earth by the Creator to be fetched thence by the sweat of our brows.
October, 1630 -- Our poor starving cattle are now doing
well on the grass of the salt marshes near the bay and we are cutting this grass
for hay in preparation for the winter. We have also selected good sites for
our homes near places that have been cleared by the Indians for cultivation.
The Indians have been good to us and have brought us baskets of corn in exchange
for small gifts. The stockholders of the Bay Company have offered membership
to those of us in the Church who apply for Freeman status, so on October 19th
I applied to become a voting member of the Company. Sadly, a few of our friends
have died and a few have returned to England, but we maintain steadfast in developing
the true church of Christ and I believe that God will see us through the winter.
Spring, 1631 -- Along with 24 men from our town and 108 men in the Colony, on May 18th, I was accepted as a Freeman. Now I am entitled to the division of lands and I am a voting member of the Court. During the winter several of our houses burned to the ground. To help prevent this in the future we have passed an ordinance: "For the prevention whereof in our new town, intended this summer to be builded, we have ordered that no man there shall build his chimney with wood, nor cover his house with thatch; which was readily assented unto, for that divers other houses have been burned since our arrival, (the fire always beginning in the wooden chimneys) and some English wigwams, which have taken fire in the roofs covered with thatch or boughs. We are now preparing for Sping planting and we have built several small boats for fishing.
NOTE -- The fact that the control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had been transferred from England to New England, and the broadening of control to the wider (church) community, was the first glimmer of independence and democracy in New England. Another way to put it, is that John Greenoway had become part of the ruling theocracy.
Summer, 1631 -- Today four chiefs (Sachems) of local Indian tribes came to speak with our leaders. They are Nattawanut of Matianuk's Tunxis tribe, Sheat of the Poquonocks, Sequassen of the Sicaogs, and Wahguinnacut of the Podunks. They have also traveled to Boston and Plymouth and to New Amsterdam (where the Dutch have settled) and are asking for our protection against the Pequots to our south and the Iroquois and Mohawks to the west. Because of our invincible weapons, they believe that these enemies will not attack them if they know that they are protected by the settlers. As best we can we are trying to cooperate with them. Also Reverend Warham is working diligently to bring the Word of our Lord to our local Indians. We shall come in with the good leave of the natives, who find benefit already of our neighborhood and learn from us to improve a part to more use than before they could do the whole. And by this means we come in by valuable purchase, for they have of us that which will yield them more benefit than all that land which we have from them.
We have completed our church, built of logs, and we are using it not only for worship but also as a storehouse and town hall. (Note: First Parish Church of Dorchester)
Fall, 1631 -- I can now say confidently that I want you to think about coming to New England to join us in this blessed mission. Our conformitie strengthens with each season and this mostly unoccupied land calls out for honest men and their families in Old England. The temper of the air is one special thing that commends this place. The grass and weeds grow up to a man's face in the lowlands, and by fresh rivers abundance of grass and large meadows, without any tree or shrub to hinder the scythe. It seems that every thing that is here either sown or planted prospereth far better than in Old England. The increase of corn is here far beyond expectation. And cattle do prosper very well, and those that are bred here far greater than those with you in England. There is an abundance of grass that groweth everywhere, both very thick, very long, and very high in divers places. Vines do grow here plentifully, laden with the biggest grapes that ever I saw; some I have seen four inches about. We have many more hopeful commodities here in this country, the which time will teach to make good use of. In the mean time, we abound with such things which, next under God, do make us subsist; as fish, fowl, deer, and sundry sorts of fruits, as musk-melons, water-melons, Indian pompions, Indian pease, beans, and many other odd fruits.
If you have heard ill success of the Plantations, none have sustained any great damage but Virginia, which happened there through their own sloth and poor security.
1632 -- I now declare unto you some of the wonderful works of God in bringing so many of his faithful servants hither into this wilderness, and preserving us and ours unto this day, notwithstanding our great unworthiness. I have been granted 8 acres and a proportional quantity of marsh adjoining our land on the neck.
You asked about the natives, so I will tell you what we have learned. For their governors they have kings, which they call saggamores, some greater and some lesser, according to the number of their subjects. The greater saggamores about us cannot make above three hundred men, and other less saggamores have not above fifteen subjects, and others near about us but two. Their subjects, about twelve years since, were swept away by a great and grievous plague that was amongst them, so that there are very few left to inhabit the country. The Indians are not able to make use of even one fourth part of the land; neither have they any settled places, as towns, to dwell in; nor any ground as they challenge for their own possession, but change their habitation from place to place. For their statures, they are a tall and strong- limbed people. Their colors are tawny. They go naked, save only they are in part covered with beasts' skins on one of their shoulders, and wear something before their privities.
For their weapons, they have bows and arrows, some of them headed with bone, and some with brass. I have sent you some of them for an example. The men, for the most part, live idly; they do nothing but hunt and fish. Their wives set their corn, and do all their other work. They have little household stuff, as a kettle, and some other vessels like trays, spoons, dishes and baskets. Their houses are very little and homely, being made with small poles pricked into the ground, and so bended and fastened at the tops, and on the sides they are matted with boughs and covered on the roof with sedge and old mats; and for their beds that they take their rest on, they have a mat. They do generally profess to like well of our coming and planting here, partly because there is abundance of ground that they cannot possess nor make use of, and partly because our being here will be a means both of relief to them when they want, and also a defense from their enemies, wherewith I say before this Plantation began, they were often endangered. For their religion, they do worship two Gods, a good God and an evil God. The good God they call Tantum, and their evil God, whom they fear will do them hurt, they call Squantum. For their dealing with us, we neither fear them nor trust them; for forty of our musketeers will drive five hundred of them out of the field.
1633 -- Now that I know that you are seriously considering joining us I will tell you more about this New England. Fowls of the air are plentiful here, and of all sorts as we have in England, as far as I can learn, and a great many of strange fowls which we know not. Whilst I was writing these things, one of our men brought home an eagle which he had killed in the wood. Also here are many kinds of excellent hawks, both sea hawks and land hawks; and myself walking in the woods with another in company, sprung a partridge so big that through the heaviness of his body could fly but a little way. They have killed them that are £7 as big as our hens. Here are likewise abundance of September turkeys, often killed in the woods, far greater than our English turkeys, and exceeding fat, sweet, and fleshy. In winter time this country doth abound with wild geese, wild ducks and other sea-fowl.
Although it is somewhat cold in the winter, yet here we have plenty of fire to warm us, and that a great deal cheaper than they sell billets and fagots in London; nay, all Europe is not able to afford to make so great fires as New-England. A poor servant here, that is to possess but fifty acres of land, may afford to give more wood for timber and fire as good as the world yields, than many noblemen in England can afford to do. Here is good living for those that love good fires. And although New-England have no tallow to make candles of, yet by the abundance of the fish thereof it can afford oil for lamps. Yea, our pine trees, that are the most plentiful of all wood, doth allow us plenty of candles, which are very useful in a house; and they are such candles as the Indians commonly use, having no other ; and they are nothing else but the wood of the pine tree cloven hi two little slices something thin, which are so full of the moisture of turpentine and pitch that they burn as clear as a torch. I have sent you some of them, that you may see the experience of them.
Here there are also mulberries, plums, raspberries, currants, chestnuts, filberts, walnuts, small-nuts, hurtleberries, and haws of white-thorn, near as good as our cherries in England. For wood, there is no better in the world, I think, here being four sorts of oak, differing both in the leaf, timber, and color, all excellent. There are also good ash, elm, willow, birch, beech, sassafras, juniper, cypress, cedar, spruce, pines and fir, that will yield abundance of turpentine, pitch, tar, masts, and other materials for building both of ships and houses. Also here are store of sumach trees, that are good for dyeing and tanning of leather; likewise such trees yield a precious gum, called white benjamin, that they say is excellent for perfumes. Also here be divers roots and berries.
The abundance of sea-fish here are almost beyond believing. There are lobsters that the least boy in the Plantation my both catch and eat what he will of them. They are fat and luscious and I have seen some that weighed sixteen pounds. Also, here is abundance of herring, turbot, sturgeon, cusks, haddocks, mullets, eels, crabs, muscles, and oysters. Besides, there is probability that the country is of an excellent temper for the making of salt; for, since our coming, our fishermen have brought home very good salt which they found candied by the standing of the sea-water and the heat of the sun upon a rock by the seashore; and in divers salt marshes that some have gone through, they have found some salt in some places crushing under their feet, and cleaving to their shoes. And as for fresh water, the country is full of dainty springs, and some great rivers, and some lesser brooks.
We have had some assaults and strategems of Satan and his instruments againsts Gods people here. One man spoke boldly and wickedly against the government and Governors here, using some words as some judged deserving death. He was for his wickedness whipped, and had both his ears cut off in Boston. Another who carried himself very proudly and spoke contemptuously of our magistrates, and carried it lewdly in his conversation. For his misdemeanor, his ship was stayed, but he fled and would not obey authority. And there came warrants to Dorchester to take him dead or alive. So all our soldiers were in arms, and sentinels were set in divers places, and at length he was found in a great cornfield where we took him and carried him to Boston. But for want of one witness when he came to his trial, he escaped with his life. He was said to be a man of great relation, and had great favor in England, and he gave out threatening speeches. Though he escaped with his life, not being hanged for adultery, there being but one witness, yet for other crimes he was fined, and paid it. And being dismissed, he went toward Virginia. But by the way putting into the Pequot country to trade with them, the Pequots cut off both him and his men, took his goods, and burnt his ship. Some of the Indians reported that they roasted him alive. Thus did God destroy him that so proudly threatened to ruin us by complaining against us when he came to England
1634 -- We praise God that your new son Thomas is doing well and that you have decided to join us in the Colony. I have been granted two and a half more acres of land adjoining my land on the neck. As soon as you arrive you can apply to be a Freeman and gain a right to new lands. Oh the many tears that have been shed in Dorchester meeting house at such times, both by those that had declared God's work on their souls, and also by those that heard them.
Here you shall meet neither with taverns, nor alehouse, nor butchers', nor grocers', nor apothecaries' shops to help what things you need, in the midst of the great ocean, nor when you are come to land. Here are yet neither markets nor fairs to buy what you want. Therefore be sure to furnish yourselves with things fitting to be had, before you come; as meal for bread, malt for drink, woollen and linen cloth, and leather for shoes, and all manner of carpenters' tools, and a good deal of iron and steel to make nails, and locks for houses, and furniture for ploughs and carts, and glass for windows, and many other things, which were better for you to think of them there than to want them here. I here provide a list to help you prepare the things you will need:
8 bushels of meal, 1 waistcoat,, 2 bushels of pease, 1 suit of canvass, 2 bushels of oatmeal, 1 suit of frieze, 1 gallon of aqua-vitae, 1 suit of cloth, 1 gallon of oil, 3 pair of stockings, 2 gallons of vinegar, 4 pair of shoes, 1 firkin of butter, 2 pair of sheets, 7 ells of canvass to make a apparel, bed and bolster, 1 Monmouth cap, 1 pair of blankets, 3 falling bands, 2 coarse rug, and 3 shirts.
Also arms -- 1 armour complete, 1 long piece, 1 sword, 1 belt, 1 bandoleer, 20 pounds of powder, 60 pound of lead, 1 pistol and goose shot.
And tools -- 2 frowers, 1 grindstone, 1 pickaxe, nails of all sorts, 1 broad hoe, 1 narrow hoe, 1 broad axe, 1 felling axe, 1 steel handsaw, 1 whipsaw, 1 hammer, 1 shovel, 1 spade, 2 augers, 4 chisels, 2 piercers, 1 gimlet, and 1 hatchet.
Of household implements -- 1 iron pot, 1 kettle, 1 frying-pan, 1 gridiron, 2 skillets, 1 spit, wooden platters, dishes, spoons, trenchers and spices, sugar, pepper, cloves, mace, cinnamon, nutmegs and fruit.
Also, there are divers other things necessary to be taken over to this Plantation, as books, nets, hooks and lines, cheese, bacon, kine and goats.
1635 -- We are rejoicing at the news of your coming. Early summer will be a good time to arrive. I have received more land and another acre in the marsh so there will be no lack of industry. Also a group of sixty Dorchester settlers is planning to follow Reverend Warham to new lands to the west so there will be houses and lands available.
NOTE: In the summer of 1635, this group moved to an area at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut Rivers, to a place the Indians called Matianuck, where a few settlers had established themselves two years earlier. The new settlers renamed the place Dorchester and then, two years latter changed it to Windsor. This was the first English settlement in Connecticut and is located just north of Hartford.
Also before you depart be sure to visit your apothecary and secure items essential to maintaining your health and curing sickness. Here in the Colony we are using the following remedies:
Roasted porcupine juice dropped in the ears for deafness.
The gummy inner bark of slippery elm, mixed with gunpowder, used as a poultis, for rattlesnake bites.
Potato bugs, killed in vinegar and dried in the sun, for blisters.
A horse chestnut carried in the pocket to cure and prevent rheumatism.
Warts -- pierced with a red hot needle.
A diet of skunk cabbage for asthma.
A drink of vinegar for fainting.
For a belly ache, spit under a stone. This makes one stoop and brings up gas.
Place shoes under the bed, soles up, to prevent nightmares.
Dock leaf, cooked into a poultice, to cure cancer. Also for cancer a powder made from chickweed.
Inhale the smoke of burning mullein leaves for consumption.
For a cold, take a very hot boneset, or penny royal, or catnip tea.
Poplar bark steeped in water and taken frequently is a good tonic.
To keep colds from going down, tie a stocking with salt pork and onions around the neck.
For whooping cough and measles, take a mixture of honey and lobelia. Another good remedy is to steep a white hornet's nest into a tea and drink it constantly.
Dried prickly ash berries mixed with rum produced a liquid fire good for ague.
Wild turnips dried, grated and mixed with molasses are good to cure a hacking cough.
Skunk oil, both swallowed and rubbed on the chest are good for croup.
For asthma, put a pint of angle worms into a a bowl add brown sugar and let it set until the worms are dead, then drink.
Dried eelskin tied around the affected limb is good for rheumatism.
Whiskey for fevers and colds.
Eat an apple "for going to bed and you'll make the doctor beg for his bread."
We praise God for our blessings and we pray daily for your safe passage. We will work diligently to prepare for your arrival.
END OF LETTERS
Before John and Mary Greenoway came to America in 1630 at the beginning of The Great Migration, others from England, including, the Pilgrims at Plymouth (1620), had made the journey. Also, least one think that all of the English immigrants came to New England, look at the map to the right titled "Streams of Immigration: 1630-1640). It's somewhat surprising that the history of the United States doesn't begin with the Caribbean settlers! For a good historical overview of this period see, The Founding of New England by James Truslow Adams.
The thing that intrigues me most about the first years of our ancestors in America is how they actually lived -- how they farmed; built their homes; cooked; their social activities; etc. I shall try to explore this more in the next section.
To continue this story go to:
FIRST MILLETT GENERATION -- THOMAS MILLETT AND MARY GREENOWAY
BACK TO MILLETT FAMILY IN AMERICA