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Introduction to the American Genealogy

Excerpted from The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.). Original spelling and punctuation preserved. pp 67-70.

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"The history of families is but the miniature history of communities."

Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps
Judge Oliver Seymour Phelps, author with his son-in-law Andrew T. Servin of "The Phelps Family in America."

From the first pair, Adam and Eve, whom God created, down many generations, to the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, which his Son and his disciples graced by their sacred presence, and when the Master smiled upon the six Jewish water pots and it became wine, down again through the long vista of future ages to the end of coning time, and to the last pair that man shall join together in holy wedlock; all those myriad families, their labors and their works written; are but as a star in the volumes of earth's nations and the world's history.

The New England of the new world discovered by Columbus in 1492, and the Puritans who settled Plymouth in 1620, and afterwards incorporated with the Massachusetts Bay Co. and their settlers, to these the title of Pilgrims of New England has been given by our American historians.

The Pilgrims first emigrated from England to Leyden, Holland, in 1609, on account of their religious persecution, and in 1620 to Plymouth, New England, in the Mayflower.

In 1628 the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company was granted, and confirmed in 1629. The same year the Massachusetts Co. decided to transfer their company and government to New England; and Salem and Charlestown were settled that year.

The next year, 1630, says the historian, not less than seventeen vessels with from 1600-1700 emigrants arrived in New England.

The Great Migration Begins

Foremost of these ships to arrive was the Mary and John, Capt. Squeb, commander, of 400 tons burden, sailing from Plymouth, England, March 10th, 1630, and landing at Nantasket, now Hull, May 30th, 1630, with one hundred and forty passengers.

Through the influence of Rev. John White of Dorchester, England, the emigrants of this ship were organized into a church the day before sailing, says the historian passenger of this company, "Rog. Clap."

"These godly people resolved to live together, and therefore as they had made choice of these two Rev. servants of God, Rev. Mr. John Warham and John Maverick, to be their ministers, they kept a solemn day of fasting in the new hospital at Plymouth, England, spending it in prayer and preaching.

That worthy man of God, the Rev. John White, of Dorchester, England, was present, and preached to us 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 these good ministers to be their officers, so also the Rev. Mr. Warham and Maverick did except thereof, and express the same." Note-Both of these ministers had been ordained by a bishop of the Church of England, and had continued to officiate there. (Stiles(2) 6i, Vol. 1.)

And so, says Roger Clap, the historian, "We came by the name of God through the deep comfortable, having preaching and expounding of the word of God every day, for ten weeks, by our ministers."

Says Dr. Stiles(2), hist. Windsor, "On the Lord's Day, May 30th, 1630, the good ship came to anchor on the New England coast.

Their original destination was the Charles River, but an unfortunate misunderstanding which arose between the captain and his passengers, resulted in the latter being summarily put ashore at Nantasket, now Hull, where they were obliged to shift for themselves as best they could.

Roger Clap has sent this captain down to posterity as a merciless man, who, Trumbull(3) says "was afterward obliged to pay damages for his conduct."

Says another authority, "foremost among these colonies of 1630, both as regards the character of its members and the date of its arrival, was the one that settled at Dorchester, and which afterwards removed to Windsor, Ct.

It had been formed mostly from the Western counties of England (Trumbull(3) says this honorable company was derived from Dorsetshire and Somersetshire.)

Great pains were taken, says the historian of the Town of Dorchester, Mass., to construct this company of such material as should compose a well ordered settlement, containing all the elements of an independent community.

The devoted ministers, Rev. John Maverick, who resided nearly forty miles from Exeter, and Rev. John Warham of Exeter, England, were selected not only with a view to the spiritual welfare of the plantation, but especially that their efforts might bring the Indians to the knowledge of the gospel.

The members of the government chosen by the freemen or stockholders of the company were Messrs. Rosseter and Ludlow, men of character and education. They were joined to the association, that their council and judgment might aid in preserving order, and founding the social structure upon 'the surest basis.

Several gentlemen past middle age, with adult families and good estate, were added—Henry Wolcott, Thomas Ford, George Dyer, William Gaylord, William Rockwell and William Phelps were of this class, but a large proportion of active, well trained young men, either just married or without families, such as Israel Stoughton, Roger Clapp, George Minot, George Hull, Richard Collicott, George Phelps, [since disproved. Ed.] Nathaniel Duncan, and many others of their age, were the persons upon whom the more severe trials of a new settlement were expected to devolve.

Three persons of some military experience, viz: Captain John Mason, Captain Richard Southcote, and Quartermaster John Smith, were selected as a suitable appendage, as forcible resistance from the Indians might render the skill and discipline which these gentlemen had acquired under Dover in the campaign of the Palatinate on the Continent an element of safety necessary to the enterprise.

The long sea voyage had probably enfeebled many of them, and as they still retained their original prospect of settling on the Charles river, they had made little or no provision for further wants in the way of planting; consequently shortly after their arrival they found themselves threatened with a scarcity of food."

Says Roger Clapp, their historian,

"Oh the hunger that man suffered, and saw no hope in the eye of reason to be supplied, only by clams, muscles, and fish. We did quietly build boats, and some went a-fishing, but bread with many was a scarce thing, and flesh of all kinds scarce. And in these days in our straits, though I cannot say `God sent a raven to feed us, as he did the Prophet Elijah,' yet this I can say to the praise of God's glory, that he sent not only poor, ravenous Indians, which came with their baskets of corn on their backs to trade with us, which was a good supply unto many; but also sent ships from Holland and Ireland, and provisions and Indian corn from Virginia, to supply the wants of his dear servants in the Wilderness, both for food and raiment. And when people's wants were great, not only in our town, but in diverse towns, such was the goodly wisdom, care and prudence, (not selfishness but self-denial) of our Governor Winthrop and his assistants, that when a ship came loaded with provisions, they did order that the whole cargo should be bought for a general stock, and -so accordingly it was, and distribution was made to every town and every person in each town, as every man had need. Thus God was pleased to comfort his people in time of straits, and to fill his servants with food and gladness. Then did all the servants of God bless his holy name, and loved one another with pure hearts, fervently."

(1) From The Phelps Family of America and Their English Ancestors, (Save $200 by ordering through us.) By Oliver S. Phelps and Andrew T. Servin. (Get an updated index here.) Original spelling and punctuation preserved. pp 77-89.

(2) Henry R. Stiles, A.M., M.D., History of Ancient Windsor, 2 Vols. (Picton Press, Camden, Maine). 1891, 1892.

(3) Trumbull, B. Complete History of Connecticut, Civil and Ecclesiastical. 2 vols. New London,1898.