Winthrop's entries about move to Connecticut

These references are taken from Winthrop's journal. They describe the discussions about the move from the Massachusetts Bay Colony (particularly from Dorchester) to Connecticut. One of the people who moved to Windsor was Thomas Dible.

The dates given in the records can be confusing. I have given the modern version of the date on the left. Please read the discussion on dates for an explanation. The page numbers below are of the Victorian book, not the scanned version.

Modern date
4 Sep 1633John Oldham goes to Connecticut overland
2 Oct 1633Plymouth starting a colony in Connecticut
20 Jan 1634Small pox among Indians
21 Jan 1634Captain Stone killed
July 1634People from Newtown travel to Connecticut by ship
4 Sep 1634General Court refuses to allow Newtown to move to Connecticut
6 Nov 1634Pekod Indians offer to sell their land
Aug 1635Dorchester men at Connecticut (by ship), Plymouth complaining
6 Oct 1635John Winthrop Jnr. to begin a plantation at Connecticut
6 Oct 1635Sixty people travel to Connecticut overland
3 Nov 1635John Winthrop Jnr. takes possession of mouth of Connecticut River
26 Nov 1635Twelve men return from Connecticut
10 Dec 1635The ship Rebecka returns from Connecticut
Jan 1636One went to Connecticut and returned
Feb 1636Maverick dies. Plymouth angry about Dorchester in Connecticut
1 Apr 1636Most of Dorchester congregation gone to Connecticut
1 May 1636Most of Newtown congregation gone to Connecticut
Nov 1636Connecticut cattle in trouble
Nov 1636Asking Plymouth about war against Pequod
? Dec 1638Arguments between Massachusetts and Connecticut
May 1639Patch up differences because afraid of Dutch

Page 1074 Sep 1633 About ten days before this time, a bark was set forth to Connecticut and those parts, to trade.

John Oldham, and three with him, went over land to Connecticut, to trade. The sachem [chief] used them kindly, and gave them some beaver. They brought of the hemp, which grows there in great abundance, and is much better than the English. He accounted it to be about one hundred and sixty miles. He brought some black lead, whereof the Indians told him there was a whole rock. He lodged at Indian towns all the way.
Page 1092 Oct 1633 The bark Blessing, which was sent to the southward, returned. She had been at an island over against Connecticut, called Long Island, because it is near fifty leagues long, the east part about ten leagues from the main, but the west end not a mile. There they had store of the best wampampeak [beads], both white and blue. The Indians there are a very treacherous people. They have many canoes so great as one will carry eighty men. They were also in the River of Connecticut, which is barred at the entrance, so as they could not find above one fathom of water. They were also at the Dutch plantation upon Hudson's River, (called New Netherlands,) where they were very kindly entertained, and had some beaver and other things, for such commodities as they put off. They showed the governor (called Gwalter Van Twilly [Wouter van Twiller]) their commission, which was to signify to them, that the king of England had granted the river and country of Connecticut to his own subjects; and therefore desired them to forbear to build there, etc. The Dutch governor wrote back to our governor, (his letter was very courteous and respectful, as it had been to a very honorable person,) whereby he signified, that the Lords the States had also granted the same parts to the West India Company, and therefore requested that we would forbear the same till the matter were decided between the king of England and the said lords.

The said bark did pass and repass over the shoals of Cape Cod, about three or four leagues from Nantucket Isle, where the breaches are very terrible, yet they had three fathom water all over.

The company of Plymouth sent a bark to Connecticut, at this time, to erect a trading house there. When they came, they found the Dutch had built there, and did forbid the Plymouth men to proceed; but they set up their house notwithstanding, about a mile above the Dutch. This river runs so far northward, that it comes within a day's journey of a part of Merrimack called [blank] and so runs thence N. W. so near the Great Lake, as [allows] the Lidians to pass their canoes into it over land. From this lake, and the hideous swamps about it, come most of the beaver which is traded between Virginia and Canada, which runs forth of this lake ; and Patomack River in Virginia comes likewise out of it, or very near, so as from this lake there comes yearly to the Dutch about ten thousand skins, which might easily be diverted by Merrimack, if a course of trade were settled above in that river.

[Winthrop's geography, based on Indian reports imperfectly understood, is naturally confused.]
Page 11820 Jan 1634 Hall and the two others, who went to Connecticut November 3, came now home, having lost themselves and endured much misery. They informed us, that the small pox was gone as far as any Indian plantation was known to the west, and much people dead of it, by reason whereof they could have no trade.
Page 11821 Jan 1634 News came from Plymouth, that Capt. Stone, who this last summer went out of the bay or lake, and so to Aquamenticus, where he took in Capt. Norton, putting in at the mouth of Connecticut, in his way to Virginia, where the Pequins inhabit, was there cut off by them, with all his company, being eight. The manner was thus: Three of his men, being gone ashore to kill fowl, were cut off. Then the sachem [chief], with some of his men, came aboard, and staid with Capt. Stone in his cabin, till Capt. Stone (being alone with him) fell on sleep. Then he knocked him on the head, and all the rest of the English being in the cook's room, the Indians took such pieces as they found there ready charged, and bent them at the English; whereupon one took a piece, and by accident gave fire to the powder, which blew up the deck; but most of the Indians, perceiving what they went about, shifted overboard, and after they returned, and killed such as remained, and burned the pinnace. We agreed to write to the governor of Virginia, (because Stone was one of that colony,) to move him to revenge it, and upon his answer to take further counsel.
Page 128July 1634 Six of Newtown went in the Blessing, (being bound to the Dutch plantation,) to discover Connecticut Biver, intending to remove their town thither.
Page 1324 Sep 1634 The general court began at Newtown, and continued a week, and then was adjourned fourteen days. Many things were there agitated and concluded, as fortifying in Castle Island, Dorchester, and Charlestown; also against tobacco, and costly apparel, and immodest fashions; and committees appointed for setting out the bounds of towns; with divers other matters, which do appear upon record. But the main business, which spent the most time, and caused the adjourning of the court, was about the removal of Newtown.

They had leave, the last general court, to look out some place for enlargement or removal, with promise of having it confirmed to them, if it were not prejudicial to any other plantation; and now they moved, that they might have leave to remove to Connecticut. This matter was debated divers days, and many reasons alleged pro and con.

The principal reasons for their removal were,
  1. Their want of accommodation for their cattle, so as they were not able to maintain their ministers, nor could receive any more of their friends to help them; and here it was alleged by Mr. Hooker, as a fundamental error, that towns were set so near each to other.
  2. The fruitfulness and commodiousness of Connecticut, and the danger of having it possessed by others, Dutch or English.
  3. The strong bent of their spirits to remove thither.
Against these it was said,
  1. That, in point of conscience, they ought not to depart from us, being knit to us in one body, and bound by oath to seek the welfare of this commonwealth.
  2. That, in point of state and civil policy, we ought not to give them leave to depart.
    1. Being we were now weak and in danger to be assailed.
    2. The departure of Mr. Hooker would not only draw many from us, but also divert other friends that would come to us.
    3. We should expose them to evident peril, both from the Dutch (who made claim to the same river, and had already built a fort there) and from the Indians, and also from our own state at home, who would not endure they should sit down without a patent in any place which our king lays claim unto.
  3. They might be accommodated at home by some enlargement which other towns offered.
  4. They might remove to Merimack, or any other place within our patent.
  5. The removing of a candlestick is a great judgment, which is to be avoided.
Upon these and other arguments the court being divided, it was put to vote; and, of the deputies, fifteen were for their departure, and ten against it. The governor and two assistants were for it, and the deputy and all the rest of the assistants were against it, (except the secretary, who gave no vote;) whereupon no record was entered, because there were not six assistants in the vote, as the patent requires. Upon this grew a great difference between the governor and assistants, and the deputies. They would not yield the assistants a negative voice, and the others (considering how dangerous it might be to the commonwealth, if they should not keep that strength to balance the greater number of the deputies) thought it safe to stand upon it. So, when they could proceed no farther, the whole court agreed to keep a day of humiliation to seek the Lord, which accordingly was done, in all the congregations, the 18th day of this month; and the 24th the court met again. Before they began, Mr. Cotton preached, (being desired by all the court, upon Mr. Hooker's instant excuse of his unfitness for that occasion). He took his text out of Hag. ii. 4, etc., out of which he laid down the nature or strength (as he termed it) of the magistracy, ministry, and people, viz., - the strength of the magistracy to be their authority; of the people, their liberty; and of the ministry, their purity; and showed how all of these had a negative voice, etc., and that yet the ultimate resolution, etc., ought to be in the whole body of the people, etc., with answer to all objections, and a declaration of the people's duty and right to maintain their true liberties against any unjust violence, etc., which gave great satisfaction to the company. And it pleased the Lord so to assist him, and to bless his own ordinance, that the affairs of the court went on cheerfully; and although all were not satisfied about the negative voice to be left to the magistrates, yet no man moved aught about it, and the congregation of Newtown came and accepted of such enlargement as had formerly been offered them by Boston and Watertown; and so the fear of their removal to Connecticut was removed.
Page 1386 Nov 1634 There came to the deputy governor, about fourteen days since, a messenger from the Pekod sachem [chief], to desire our friendship. He brought two bundles of sticks, whereby he signified how many beaver and otter skins he would give us for that end, and great store of wampompeage [beads], (about two bushels, by his description). He brought a small present with him, which the deputy received, and returned a moose coat of as good value, and withal told him, that he must send persons of greater quality, and then our governor would treat with them. And now there came two men, who brought another present of wampompeage. The deputy brought them to Boston, where most of the assistants were assembled, by occasion of the lecture, who, calling to them some of the ministers, grew to this treaty with them: That we were willing to have friendship etc.; but because they had killed some Englishmen, viz. Capt. Stone, etc., they must first deliver up those who were guilty of his death, etc. They answered, that the sachem , who then lived, was slain by the Dutch, and all the men, who were guilty, etc., were dead of the pox, except two, and that if they were worthy of death, they would move their sachem to have them delivered, (for they had no commission to do it;) but they excused the fact, saying that Capt. Stone, coming into their river, took two of their men and bound them, and made them show him the way up the river, which when they had done, he with two others and the two Indians, (their hands still bound,) went on shore, and nine of their men watched them, and when they were on sleep in the night, they killed them; then going towards the pinnace to have taken that, it suddenly blew up into the air. This was related with such confidence and gravity, as, having no means to contradict it, we inclined to believe it. But, the governor not being present, we concluded nothing; but some of us went with them the next day to the governor.

The reason why they desired so much our friendship was, because they were now in war with the Naragansetts, whom, till this year, they had kept under, and likewise with the Dutch, who had killed their old sachem and some other of their men, for that the Pekods had killed some Indians, who came to trade with the Dutch at Connecticut; and, by these occasions, they could not trade safely any where. Therefore they desired us to send a pinnace with cloth, and we should have all their trade.

They offered us also all their right at Connecticut, and to further us what they could, if we would settle a plantation there.

When they came to the governor, they agreed, according to the former treaty, viz. to deliver us the two men, who were guilty of Capt. Stone's death, when we would send for them; to yield up Connecticut; to give us four hundred fathom of wampompeage, and forty beaver, and thirty otter skins; and that we should presently send a pinnace with cloth to trade with them, and so should be at peace with them, and as friends to trade with them, but not to defend them, etc.

The next morning news came, that two or three hundred of the Naragansetts were come to Cohann, viz. Neponsett, to kill the Pekod ambassadors, etc. Presently we met at Roxbury, and raised some few men in arms, and sent to the Naragansett men to come to us. When they came there were no more but two of their sachems, and about twenty more, who had been on hunting thereabouts, and came to lodge with the Indians at Cohann, as their manner is. So we treated with them about the Pekods, and, at our request, they promised they should go and come to and from us in peace, and they were also content to enter further treaty of peace with them; and in all things showed themselves very ready to gratify us. So the Pekods returned home, and the Naragansetts departed well satisfied; only they were told in private, that if they did make peace with the Pekods, we would give them part of that wampompeage, which they should give us; (for the Pekods held it dishonorable to offer them any thing as of themselves, yet were willing we should give it them, and indeed did offer us so much for that end).

The agreement they made with us was put in writing, and the two ambassadors set to their marks - one a bow with an arrow in it, and the other a hand.
Page 157Aug 1635 The Dorchester men being set down at Connecticut, near the Plymouth trading house, the governor, Mr. Bradford, wrote to them, complaining of it as an injury, in regard of their possession and purchase of the Indians, whose right it was, and the Dutch sent home into Holland for commission to deal with our people at Connecticut.
Page 1616 Oct 1635 There came also John Winthrop, the younger, with commission from the Lord Say, Lord Brook, and divers other great persons in England, to begin a plantation at Connecticut, and to be governor there. They sent also men and ammunition, and £2000 in money, to begin a fortification at the mouth of the river.
Page 16315 Oct 1635 About sixty men, women, and little children, went by land toward Connecticut with their cows, horses, and swine, and, after a tedious and difficult journey, arrived safe there.
Page 1653 Nov 1635 Mr. Winthrop, jun., the governor appointed by the lords for Connecticut, sent a bark of thirty tons, and about twenty men, with all needful provisions, to take possession of the mouth of Connecticut [at Saybrook], and to begin some building.
Page 16526 Nov 1635 There came twelve men from Connecticut. They had been ten days upon their journey, and had lost one of their company, drowned in the ice by the way; and had been all starved, but that, by God's providence, they lighted upon an Indian wigwam. Connecticut River was frozen up the 15th of this month.
Page 16610 Dec 1635 The ship Rebecka, about sixty tons, came from Connecticut, and brought in her about seventy men and women, which came down to the river's mouth to meet the barks which should have brought their provisions; but, not meeting them, they went aboard the Rebecka, which, two days before, was frozen twenty miles up the river, but a small rain falling set her free; but coming out, she ran on ground at the mouth of the river, and was forced to unlade. They came to Massachusetts in five days, which was a great mercy of God, for otherwise they had all perished with famine, as some did.
Page 168Jan 1636 This month one went by land to Connecticut, and returned safe.
Page 174Feb 1636 [3rd] Mr. John Maverick, teacher of the church of Dorchester, died, being near sixty years of age. He was a [blank] man of a very humble spirit, and faithful in furthering the work of the Lord here, both in the churches and civil state.
[24th] Mr. Winslow of Plymouth came to treat with those of Dorchester about their land at Connecticut, which they had taken from them. It being doubtful whether that place were within our patent or not, the Plymouth men, about three years since, had treaty with us about joining in erecting a plantation and trade there. We thought not fit to do any thing then, but gave them leave to go on. Whereupon they bought a portion of land of the Indians, and built a house there, and the Dorchester men (without their leave) were now setting down their town in the same place; but, after, they desired to agree with them; for which end Mr. Winslow came to treat with them, and demanded one sixteenth part of their lands, and £100, which those of Dorchester not consenting unto, they brake off, those of Plymouth expecting to have due recompense after, by course of justice, if they went on. But divers resolved to quit the place, if they could not agree with those of Plymouth.
Page 1771 Apr 1636 Mr. Mather and others, of Dorchester, intending to begin a new church there, (a great part of the old one being gone to Connecticut,) ...
Page 1801 May 1636 Mr. Hooker, pastor of the church of Newtown, and the most of his congregation, went to Connecticut. His wife was carried in a horse litter; and they drove one hundred and sixty cattle, and fed of their milk by the way.
Page 200Nov 1636 Things went not well at Connecticut. Their cattle did, many of them, cast their young, as they had done the year before.
Page 213May 1637 [2nd] Mr. Haynes, one of our magistrates, removed with his family to Connecticut.
[12th] We received a letter from him and others, being then at Saybrook, that the Pequods had been up the river at Weathersfield, and had killed six men, being at their work, and twenty cows and a mare, and had killed three women, and carried away two maids.

Mr. Winslow was sent from the governor and council of Plymouth to treat with us about joining against the Pequods. He declared first their willingness to aid us ; but that they could not do any thing till their general court, which was not till the first Tuesday in the 4th month [June]. Then he made some objections: as
  1. Our refusal to aid them against the French.
  2. Our people's trading at Kenebeck.
  3. The injury offered them at Connecticut by those of Windsor, in taking away their land there.
  4. Their own poverty, and our ability, which needed not any help from them.
To this answer was made by our governor and deputy: that,
  1. We did not desire them to afford aid unto us, but to join against the common enemy, who, if he were not subdued, would prove as dangerous to them as to us, and, he prevailing, would cause all the Indians in the country to join to root out all the English,
  2. For our refusal to aid them against the French, the case was not alike, for it was their private quarrel, and they were supposed to have commission from the king of France, and we thought it no wisdom for us to engage ourselves in a war with the king of France; yet we acknowledged some failing in it.
For our people's trading at Kenebeck, we answered, that we gave no allowance to it, nor had we heard of more than a boat or two that had been there. For the injury done them at Connecticut, we had dealt with them to give satisfaction, but it was not in our power to do them justice in it. He alleged also, that this war did not concern them, seeing the Pequods had not killed any of theirs. We answered, that Capt. Stone, etc., for whom this war was begim, were none of ours neither. He alleged further, that, in our first undertaking, they were not acquainted with it till two or three days before our forces were to go forth. We answered, we intended at the first to send only to Block Island, and for that we thought it not needful to trouble them, and our sending them thence to the Pequods was with hope to draw them to parley, and so to some quiet end. We concluded to write further to them from our next court. And whereas they propounded to have us promise to aid them in all their occasions, etc., we answered that, seeing, when we now treated with them about joining with us, they were at liberty and might withhold, except they saw reason to move them; so we desired to be left free, that we might judge of the reason of any such occasion as might fall out. According hereunto we writ to them the 20th of the 3d month [May], and gave them some considerations, why they should join with us: as,
  1. because, if we should be overcome, it would cost them more to help us, and be less acceptable;
  2. if we should prevail without them, it would occasion ill thoughts in our people towards theirs, etc.

So we left it to them.

Page 287? Dec 1638 Another plot the old serpent had against us, by sowing jealousies and differences between us and our friends at Connecticut, and also Plymouth. This latter was about our bounds. They had planted Scituate, and had given out all the lands to Conyhassett. We desired only so much of the marshes there, as might accommodate Hingham, which being denied, we caused Charles River to be surveyed, and found it come so far southward as would fetch in Scituate and more; but this was referred to a meeting between us.

The differences between us and those of Connecticut were divers; but the ground of all was their shyness of coming under our government, which, though we never intended to make them subordinate to us, yet they were very jealous, and therefore, in the articles of confederation, which we propounded to them, and whereby order was taken, that all differences, which might fall out, should be ended by a way of peace, and never to come to a necessity or danger of force, - they did so alter the chief article, as all would have come to nothing. For whereas the article was, That, upon any matter of difference, two, three, or more commissioners of every of the confederate colonies should assemble, and have absolute power (the greater number of them) to determine the matter, - they would have them only to meet, and if they could agree, so; if not, then to report to their several colonies, and to return with their advice, and so to go on till the matter might be agreed; which, beside that it would have been infinitely tedious and extreme chargeable, it would never have attained the end; for it was very unlikely, that all the churches in all the plantations would ever have accorded upon the same propositions.

These articles, with their alterations, they sent to our general court at Newtown, the [blank] of the 5th, by Mr. Haymes, Mr. Pincheon, and John Steele. The court, finding their alteration, and the inconveniences thereof, would take the like liberty to add and alter; (for the articles were drawn only by some of the council, and never allowed by the court). This they excepted against, and would have restrained us of that liberty, which they took themselves; and one of their three commissioners, falling in debate with some of our deputies, said, that they would not meddle with any thing that was within our limits; which being reported to the court, they thought it seasonable we should stand upon our right, so as, though we were formerly willing that Agawam (now Springfield) should have fallen into their government, yet, seeing they would not be beholden to us for any thing, we intended to keep it ; and accordingly we put it in as an article, that the line between us should be, one way, the Pequod River, (viz. south and north,) and the other way, (viz. east and west,) the limits of our own grant. And this article we added: That we, etc., should have liberty to pass to and fro upon Connecticut, and they likewise. To these articles all their commissioners offered to consent, but it was thought by our court, (because of the new articles,) that they should first acquaint their own court with it. And so their commissioners departed.
Page 301May 1639 Mr. Haymes, the governor of Connecticut, and Mr. Hooker, etc., came into the bay, and staid near a month. It appeared by them, that they were desirous to renew the treaty of confederation with us, and though themselves would not move it, yet, by their means, it was moved to our general court, and accepted; for they were in some doubt of the Dutch, who had lately received a new governor, a more discreet and sober man than the former, and one who did complain much of the injury done to them at Connecticut, and was very forward to hold correspondency with us, and very inquisitive how things stood between us and them of Connecticut, which occasioned us the more readily to renew the former treaty, that the Dutch might not take notice of any breach or alienation between us.