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Puritan Village

The Formation of a New England Town

Sumner Chilton Powell

Publication Year: 2011

An award-winning study of Puritans and the formation of their towns.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. ix

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pp. xiii-xvi

This book is the culmination of a six-year detective hunt among local records, archives, and private collections in England and in Massachusetts. I do not recommend a similar study to any student who has a faint heart, lack of patience, inability to travel, or poor eyesight. Such a study demands the development of various specialized skills. ...

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pp. xvii-xx

For more than seventy years a scholarly debate has been simmering over the origin of the New England town. Herbert Baxter Adams first proposed a thorough investigation of the origin and development of village communities in Germany, England, and America, and Charles Andrews and Edward Channing accepted the challenge.1 ...

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I. The Web of Open-field Life

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pp. 3-20

On the twenty-sixth of March, 1638, Peter Noyes, yeoman of the parish of Weyhill, Hampshire, gave his land back to the Lord of the Manor. No longer would he help his Hampshire neighbors erect fences around the common fields in the spring or watch the plow teams turn furrows in the rich loam. Noyes had decided. ...

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II. Land Hunger, Borough Rights, and the Power to Tax

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pp. 21-40

Edmund Rice, like Peter Noyes, had a vision which involved both leadership and ambition for the acquisition of land. Not only did Rice become the largest individual landholder in Sudbury, but he represented his new town in the Massachusetts legislature for five years and devoted at least eleven out of the first fifteen years ...

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III. The Secrets of the Corporation of This Town of Sudbury

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pp. 41-58

The borough of Sudbury, Suffolk, was not only known as the stronghold of Puritanism in the Eastern Counties, but it also sent more emigrants to New England than any other town or village in East Anglia.1 One of its ministers, Edmund Brown, was probably responsible for the fact that the Massachusetts General Court ...

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IV. "It Is Ordered by the Court"

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pp. 59-73

Peter Noyes, Edmund Rice, and Edmund Brown were joined in New England by men from still a different local background, those emigrants who had grown up in the rural parishes and towns of East Anglia. This area, which contributed so many town names to New England, has generally been considered by historians ...

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V. Watertown on the Charles

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pp. 74-79

When the Goodnows, the Noyeses, and the Rices landed in Watertown about 1637-1638, they found, indeed, a "select society," and a vigorous spirit of dissent. There were many yeomen and artisans but no archdeacons or bishops and, most important, no landlords. Everyone hoped that there would be no poor, and ...

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VI. "It Is Ordered and Agreed by This Town"

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pp. 80-91

The choice of Sudbury leaders seems an excellent one. Brian Pendleton had been repeatedly elected one of the first town officers of Watertown, where he had assisted in deciding on and administering the crucial first steps of Massachusetts's most populous town.1 He had been granted six parcels of upland, meadow, ...

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VII. "All Liberties As Other Towns Have"

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pp. 92-115

When Peter Noyes and his fellow petitioners were granted "all liberties as other towns have," by the General Court in 1638, the Bay government was referring to the seventeen other Massachusetts towns which had already been established.1 But neither Noyes nor his leading citizens had lived in any New England town ...

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VIII. "We Shall Be Judged by Men of Our Own Choosing"

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pp. 116-132

Edmund Brown had made many sacrifices to come to the Musketaquid valley as pastor of Sudbury's first church. A scholar, a gentleman, a man of wealth, he was also a man of deep religious faith. Perhaps he did not expect to accomplish a great deal with his first small congregation in the wilderness. But he did demand respect. ...

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IX. "Interest in This Town of Marlborough"

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pp. 133-138

John Ruddock was given even more liberty in forming his town than Peter Noyes had been granted. The General Court required that there be "twenty or thirty families," together with a minister, and that these families had to settle in the new grant within three years.1 Except for the fact that a committee was appointed to ...

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X. The Origin and Stability of a New England Town

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pp. 139-146

The historical debate on "the origin" of a type of social and political structure called "the New England town" is probably not over, but the question itself may be superficial today. We can now realize that there were multiple origins and many distinct early towns, and that all of these towns and their relationships ...


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pp. 147-162


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pp. 163-194


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pp. 195-212


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pp. 213-215

E-ISBN-13: 9780819572684
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819560148

Page Count: 255
Publication Year: 2011