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Phelps Arrival in New England from 1620-1635

From 1633 to 1635 about 30,000 individuals left the comfort of civilized England and its repressive government for the frontier discomforts and religous, political, and economic freedoms of the New England colonies. This entire period from 1620-1643, the so-called "Great Migration," ended with the start of the English Civil War, in which John Phelps was clerk of the court that convicted King Charles I.

The immigrants were largely English middle-class desirous of finding a home where they could live, worship, and raise their families without government tyranny, harassment, and vexious taxation.

The families for the first voyage of the Mary and John were all recruited by the Rev. John White of Dorchester, Dorset. Nearly all of these families came from the West Country of England, i.e., the counties of Somerset, Dorset and Devon. William Phelps was among these and aboard the Mary and John when it set sail for the Colonies. The Mary and John was one of several ships, along with the Hercules on which Henry Phelps was embarked, that were temporarily detained by a "Warrant & Order" in London (2) in February, 1633/4. Since Londonn is along the south coast, a major port, and on the route, it was certainly a possible stop. The Mary and John is reported(1) to have ultimately taken three voyages out of Plymouth, England.

On 20 March 1630 the ship Mary & John sailed for the first time from Plymouth, England, with 140 passengers. The ship arrived at the mouth of the Charles River, the present-day Port of Boston, on October 6, 1607. The ship's captain refused to sail up the Charles river as planned, because he feared running the ship aground in waters that he had no charts for. He instead left the passengers in a desolate locale, miles from their intended destination. The settlors were forced to transport 150,000 pounds of livestock, provisions and equipment 20 miles overland to their final destination.

This was nine days before the Winthrop Fleet arrived.

These people founded one of the first towns in Massachusetts, Dorchester, 1630, and five years later one of the earliest in Connecticut, Windsor. They went on to form the first town government in the Colonies.