The Winthrop Fleet Massachusetts Bay Company: Immigrants to New England, 1629–1630

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Author: Robert Charles Anderson
Published: August 2012

In early 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Company received a royal charter that allowed the Com­pany to carry on the work, begun earlier in the decade by the Dorchester Company and then the New England Company, of developing per­manent settlements in New England. During 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Company sent set­tlers to Massachusetts Bay, mostly young, single men, servants either of the Company itself or of particular merchants and gentlemen associated with the Company. Included among these 1629 immigrants were three ministers of Puritan lean­ings, reflecting the religious beliefs of the Com­pany’s leaders. 

 By late 1629 John Winthrop of Groton, Suffolk, had been made Governor of the Company, and planning began in earnest for sending a larger group of settlers to New England. In the spring of 1630 Winthrop led more than a dozen vessels, with about seven hundred passengers, across the Atlantic. This small armada of 1630 has come to be known as the Winthrop Fleet. The somewhat broader settlement activities of 1629 and 1630, of which the Winthrop Fleet was the larger part, have been termed the Winthrop Migration. 

This volume describes the organization of the Winthrop Migration and the Winthrop Fleet in some detail, and provides detailed genealogical and biographic information on each of the more than two hundred families and individuals who came to New England in 1629 and 1630 as part of this movement. Each sketch begins with information on the English origin of the immigrant, when known, and the evidence for his or her arrival in 1629 or 1630. This is followed by biographical data, on education, officeholding and the like, and genea­logical data, including birth, death, marriage and children. The sketches often include information on the place of each immigrant in the migra­tion process, whether as master or servant, and of unusual and interesting features of their lives. 

"Anderson’s The Winthrop Fleet is not only the culmination of his magnificent volumes of The Great Migration, but marks the start of a new line of scholarship which will rewrite the received wisdom of the early settlement of New England. It is the work of a consummate master of historical and genealogical research."

 —Roger Thompson, author of Sex in Middlesex; Cambridge Cameos; and From Deference to Defiance  

"The breadth and depth of Bob Anderson’s scholarship is stunning. He could’ve simply plucked from his massive Great Migration series the sketches of those Massachusetts immigrants who came with the Winthrop Fleet. But instead he touched every single one of them with new research. Most importantly, he’s added a fifty-page essay putting the Winthrop Fleet, and John Winthrop himself, into sharper perspective than ever before. He gives a texture to the Great Migration’s two decades and refines the relative importance of its supposed leaders. I was surprised by both, but convinced by his erudition. In his capable hands facts become history."

 —Alvy Ray Smith, PhD, FASG, trustee emeritus of NEHGS, cofounder of Pixar