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First Parish Church

Dorchester, Massachusetts

“So we came by the good hand of the Lord through the deeps comfortably, having preaching and expounding of the Word of God every day”

From The Fyler-Filer Family Genealogy and History by Jean Fyler Arnold 


On March 20, 1630, the ship Mary & John sailed from Plymouth, England.  On board were brothers Walter and George Fyler, their sister Anne Fyler and George Jr.  They were the children of Roman Fyler of Cornwall.  The Rev. John White of Dorchester recruited all of the 140 passengers on board.  Nearly all of them came from the West Country of England.  The ship landed in New England on May 30, 1630, two weeks before the Winthrop Fleet arrived.  These people founded one of the first towns in Massachusetts at Dorchester in 1630, and one of the earliest in Connecticut at Windsor, five years later.  Windsor is the oldest English settlement in Connecticut.   

    The  Mary  & John

The ship that brought the first European settlers to Dorchester in June of 1630 was named the Mary and John. The same vessel or another of the same name was one of two that had carried a group of settlers from the West Country of England to the Maine coast in 1607 under the leadership of Captain George Popham. The colony constructed a fort for permanent protection, but the settlers were unprepared for the harsh winter and abandoned the site a year later.                -  C.E. Banks 

“It is furthermore to be understood that, in the year of 1618, there appeared a blazing star over Germany that made the wise men of Europe astonished there.  Speedily after, near about that time, these people (Pilgrims) began to propose removal.”     -  Phineas Pratt

Phineas Pratt told these stories:

Then he (Chief Pexsouth) said, "You say French men do not love you, but I will tell you what we have done to them. There was a ship broken by a storm. They saved most of their goods and hid them in the ground. We made them tell us where it was. Then we made them be our servants. They wept very much. When we parted them, we gave them such meat as our dogs eat. One of them had a book he would often read in. We asked him what his book said. He answered, ‘It saith, there will be a people like Frenchmen come into this country and drive you all away,’ and now we think you are they. We took away their clothes. They lived but a while. One of them lived longer than the rest, for he had a good master who gave him a wife. He is now dead, but hath a son alive."

"Another ship came into the Bay with much goods to truck. Then I said to our Sachem, ‘I will tell you how to have all for nothing. Bring all your canoes and all our beaver and a great many men, but no bows nor arrow, clubs nor hatchets, but knives under the skins that are about our loins. Throw up much beaver upon their deck, sell it very cheap, and when I give the word, thrust your knives into the French men’s bellies.’ Thus we killed them all. But Monsieur Ffinch, Master of their ship, being wounded, leapt into the hold. We bid him come up, but he would not. Then we cut their cable and the ship went ashore and lay upon her side and slept there. Ffinch came up and we killed him. Then our Sachem divided their goods and fired their ship, and it made a very great fire."

Some of our company asked them, how long ago was it that they first saw ships? They said they could not tell, but that they had heard men say that the first ship they saw seemed like a floating island, as they supposed broken off from the mainland, wrapped together with the roots of trees, with some trees upon it. They went to it with their canoes, but seeing men and hearing guns, they made haste to be gone.

Providence to us was great in those times, as appeareth after the time of the arrival of the first ship (the Mayflower) at Plimoth. The aforenamed Masasoit came to Plimoth and there made a covenant of peace. An Indian called Tisquantom came to them and spoke English. They asked him how he learned to speak English. He said that an Englishman called Capt. Hunt came into the harbor pretending to trade for beaver, and stole 24 men and their beaver, and carried and sold them (and him) in Spain. From thence with much ado he (Tisquantom) went into England, and from England with much ado he got to his own country. This man told Massasoit what wonders he had seen in England, and that if he could make the English his friends, then his enemies that were too strong for him would be constrained to bow to him.     From Phineas Pratt’s Account of the Wessagussett Plantation


Land's End

The people of Bristol, Plymouth, Poole, Weymouth, and the towns of Exeter and Dorchester, were familiar with the New England fisheries and fur trade years before the settlement of the Bay. Indeed, the first patent granted by King James in 1606, of the northern portion of the American continent, between 35 and 48 degrees of latitude, was given to certain persons in the western counties, under the corporate name of the Plymouth Council. Christopher Levett, the companion of Robert Gorges, writing in 1623 says, "for matter of profit, the New England fishery is well known to all the merchants of the west country, who have left almost all other trade but this, and have grown rich thereby." Smith says, in 1623, "there went this year 45 sail from the west ports to New England, and made good voyages." The Rev. John White, of Dorchester, emphatically the prime originator of the movement which resulted in the Massachusetts charter, and the settlement of the Bay, found therefore but little difficulty in collecting a company, among a population to whom the New England coast was not an unknown region, and who naturally turned their thoughts to the shores already familiar to them, when the edicts of the star chamber and the despotism of the hierarchy first suggested the idea of emigration. [Mr. White is said to have been the author of the Address presented by Winthrop and others to the brethren of the Church of England. See Prince; p. 205.] 

Reverend John White

Reasons for the Plantation in New England

Rev. John White and John Winthrop

ca. 1628

John Winthrop

Reasons to be considered for justifying the undertakers of the intended Plantation in New England, and for encouraging such whose hearts God shall move to join with them in it.

1.    It will be a service to the Church of great consequence to carry the Gospel into those parts of the world, to help on the fullness of the coming of the Gentiles, and to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of the Anti-Christ, which the Jesuits labor to rear up in those parts.

2.    All other Churches of Europe are brought to desolation, and our sins, for which the Lord begins already to frown upon us and to cut us short, do threaten evil times to be coming upon us, and who knows, but that God hath provided this place to be a refuge for many whom he means to save out of the general calamity, and seeing the Church hath no place left to fly into but the wilderness, what better work can there be, than to go and provide tabernacles and food for her when she be restored.

3.    This England grows weary of her inhabitants, so as Man, who is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and base than the earth we tread upon, and of less price among us than a horse or a sheep...all towns complain of their burden to maintain their poor, though we have taken up many unnecessary, yea unlawful, trades to maintain them. We use the authority of the Law to hinder the increase of our people ... and thus it is come to pass, that children, servants and neighbors, especially if they be poor, are counted the greatest burdens, which if things were right would be the chiefest earthly blessings.

4.    The whole earth is the Lord's garden, and He hath given it to mankind with a general commission (Gen. 1:28) to increase and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it, which was again renewed to Noah. The end is double and natural, that Mankind might enjoy the fruits of the earth, and God might have His due Glory from His creatures. Why then should one strive here for places of habitation, at such a cost as would obtain better land in another country, and at the same time suffer a whole continent as fruitful and convenient for the use of man to lie waste without any improvement?

5.    We are grown to that height of intemperance in all excess of riot that as no man's estate, almost, will suffice to keep sail with his equals. He who fails herein must live in scorn and contempt. Hence it comes that all arts and trades are carried on in that deceitful and unrighteous course, so that it is almost impossible for a good and upright man to maintain his charge and live comfortably in any of them.

6.    The fountains of learning and religion are so corrupted that most children (besides the unsupportable charge of their education) are perverted, corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples and the licentious government of those seminaries, where men strain at gnats and swallow camels, and use all severity for maintenance of caps and like accomplishments, but suffer all ruffian-like fashions and disorder in manners to pass uncontrolled.

7.    What can be a better work, and more honorable and worthy of a Christian than to help rise and support a particular church while it is in its infancy, and to join his forces with such a company of faithful people, as by a timely assistance may grow strong and prosper, when for want of such help may be put to great hazard, if not wholly ruined.

8.    If any such as are known to be Godly and live in all wealth and prosperity here, and shall forsake all this to join themselves with this Church and to run a hazard with them of a hard and mean condition, it will be an example of great use both for removing the scandal of worldly and sinister respects which is cast upon the Adventurer, to give more life to the faith of God's people in their prayers for the Plantation, and to encourage others to join the more willingly in it.

9.    It appears to be a work of God for the good of His Church, in that He hath disposed the hearts of so many of His wise and faithful servants, both ministers and others, not only to approve of the enterprise but to interest themselves in it, some in their persons and estates, and others by their serious advice and help otherwise, and all by their prayers for the welfare of it. (Amos 3:) The Lord revealed his secret to His servants, the prophets, and it is likely He hath some great work in hand which He hath revealed to His prophets among us, whom He hath stirred up to encourage His servants to this Plantation, for He doth not use to seduce His people by His own prophets, but committeth that office to the ministry of false prophets and lying spirits.

Stanton House
Home of Rev. John White

Mr. White was the rector of Trinity parish, Dorchester, in Dorsetshire; and though he had not renounced the episcopal form of worship at the time of the pilgrimage to Plymouth, in 1620, he sympathized strongly with that movement, and actually assisted the undertaking by pecuniary aid, his name being the first on the list of adventurers in that expedition. His residence at Dorchester also brought him into daily contact with the persons engaged in the New England fisheries, and in 1623 he joined an association of adventurers in his neighborhood, who raised 3000 pounds sterling, for the purpose of making a settlement on the shores of New England. His motives were probably different from those of his associates, who doubtless had purposes of business in view; but, in the language of Bancroft, "Mr. White breathed into the enterprise a higher principle than the desire of gain" He had for some years cherished the thought of forming a community in New England, where all who felt themselves aggrieved by religious or political persecution might find an asylum,


Mr. White, ever active in furthering his favorite project, immediately began to assemble a new company in the western counties. He wrote to Gov. Endicott, in the summer of 1629, to appoint places of habitation for 60 families out of Dorsetshire, which were to arrive in the following spring. Great pains were evidently taken to construct this company of such materials as should compose a well-ordered settlement, containing all the elements of an independent community. Two devoted ministers, Messrs. Maverick and Warham, 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. Two members of the government, chosen by the freemen or stockholders of the company in London, Assistants or Directors, Messrs. Rosseter and Ludlow, men of character and education, were joined to the association, that their counsel and judgment might aid in preserving order and founding the social structure upon the surest basis. Several gentlemen, past middle life, with adult families and good estates, were added. Henry Wolcott, Thomas Ford, George Dyer, William Gaylord, William Rockwell, and William Phelps, were of this class. But a large portion of active, well-trained young men, either just married, or without families, such as Israel Stoughton, Roger Clap, George Minot, George Hall, Richard Collicott, Nathaniel Duncan, and many others of their age, were the persons upon whom the more severe toils of a new settlement were expected to devolve. Three persons of some military experience-Capt. John Mason, Capt. Richard Southcote, and Quarter Master 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 De Vere, in the campaign of the Palatinate, on the continent, an element of safety essential to the enterprise. This company assembled at Plymouth, Devonshire, where a large ship of 400 tons, the Mary and John, Capt. Squeb, chartered for the voyage, was fitted out. She was destined for Charles river, the spot doubtless pointed out for the company by Gov. Endicott, who had sent thither two Dorsetshire men, Ralph and Richard Sprague, to explore the country, the year before. Roger Clap informs us that this godly company assembled with their two ministers in the new hospital at Plymouth, and kept a solemn day of fasting and prayer, at which Mr. White was present and preached in the forenoon, and in the latter part of the day the people did solemnly make choice of those godly ministers, Messrs. Maverick and Warham, to be their officers, " who did accept thereof and express the same." Both these gentlemen had formerly been ordained by bishops, and though now thorough non-conformists, no re-ordination was deemed necessary. Mr. Clap mentions, that after a passage of 70 days, the ship arrived at Nantasket, May 30th, 1630, and that the word of God was preached and expounded every day during the voyage. The number of passengers was 140. The dispute with Capt. Squeb, mentioned by Mr. Clap, and also referred to by Gov. Winthrop, was occasioned by the company being put ashore at Nantasket. The Mary and John was the first ship, of the fleet of 1630, that arrived in the bay. At that time there were surely no pilots for ships to be found, and the refusal of the captain to attempt the passage without pilot or chart does not seem unreasonable, though Clap has sent the captain's name to posterity as "a merciless man" who Trumbull says was afterwards obliged to pay damages for this conduct.

A Prosperous Wind  by Mike Haywood

John Hunt (NGSQ 63:1) notes that the early settlers of Dorchester, Mass., like the founders of Plymouth, were in some fear that they might not obtain leave to depart from England. There seems to have been some worry on the part of their organizer, the Reverend Mr. John White, that the group might be considered schismatic by the London authorities headed by the powerful Bishop William Laud. Consider the fact that White’s recruiters included two unlike clerics, John Warham, a nonconformist, and John Maverick, a conformist.

Riptide  by Mike Haywood


All contents Copyright 2000, Boston Neighborhood News,Inc,

It Happened Here 
"Oh, The Hunger That
   Many Suffered"

In 1630, No Thanksgiving Celebration for Dorchester's First Settlers

November 21, 2001
By Peter F. Stevens

On Thursday, November 22, 2001, the aroma of roast turkey and all the trimmings will drift from Dorchester's kitchens, families gathering around dining room tables piled with all the fixings of the holiday. Three hundred and seventy years ago, however, Dorchester's first English settlers sat at rude wooden tables not to feast, but to stay barely alive.

Colonist Roger Clap wrote of the Mary and John passengers facing their first brutal New England winter, in 1630-31: "In our beginning, many were in great Straits for want of Provision for themselves and their little Ones." There would be no Thanksgiving for that beleaguered band of settlers clinging to their footholds near "Rocky Hill" (latter-day Savin Hill).

Atlantic gusts lashing the rough wooden cabins, "lean-to's," and shelters of Dorchester's early colonists, and dipping temperatures all along the bay heralded a harsh winter. Having arrived too late to plant sufficient crops, the settlers confronted winter with meager stocks of "salt junk [meat] and hard-tack [rock-hard bisuit] left over from the voyage." With barely enough food for their own families, "Dorchester's Freemen" had to "turn loose [their indentured servants] to fend for themselves."

The colonists were more than willing to hunt in the dense local forests and to fish the waters teeming with cod and other fish, but were hampered by a range of problems in any attempt to level a musket at a wild animal or to cast a line into the ocean.

In a letter to his father back in England, a local man lamented: "Here [in Dorchester and Boston] is good store of fish if we had boats to go 8 or 10 leagues to sea to [go] fishing. here are good store of wild fowl, but they are hard to come by. It is harder to get a shot than it is in Old England ...Therefore, loving father, I entreat you that you would send me a firkin [measure] of butter & a hogshead of malt...for we drink nothing but water....We do not know how long we may subsist, for we cannot live here without provisions from Old England."

Renowned historian Samuel Eliot Morison notes that the drastic changes in the customary diet of the band from the Mary and John and the other Puritans who had debarked from vessels along Massachusetts' shore was pronounced, weakening them by November and leaving them in poor shape to endure the coming winter of 1630-31.

"But the Englishman of that period considered himself starving without beef, bread and beer," Morison writes. "And even today, if you will try a steady diet of shellfish and spring water for a week, you might feel some sympathy for these Puritan colonists bereft of their stout British fare."

For many of the Mary and John settlers, one of the available foodstuffs &emdash; "Indian corn" &emdash; wreaked havoc with their digestive tracts. "There is one and another allusion to the fact that these people, bred to the use of English wheat, rye and barley," records Chronicles of the First Planters, "disliked the bread made of Indian corn. They probably had not yet learned the art, which is not an easy art to this day, of properly subduing that grain by the process of cookery." Cramps and worse bedeviled many settlers forced to rely on the harsh local corn as a staple.

By late November 1630, many of the colonists foraging from the Neponset to "The Neck" for food were taking on a gaunt, weakened collective visage. Thoughts of any day of Thanksgiving were remote to men, women, and children alike. Thoughts of scraping enough food for the daily larder consumed the hours. And, as Chronicles of the Planters asserts, "as the winter came on, provisions began to be very scarce....and people were neccessitated to live upon clams and mussels and ground-nuts and acorns, and these got with much difficulty in the winter time. Upon which people were very much tired and discouraged." With hunger came two dread companions &emdash; scurvy and "a contagious fever, probably typhus."

On Christmas Eve, temperatures plummeted below freezing, with icy winds roaring in from the ocean. Relentless snowfall soon piled upon Dorchester and the nearby settlements. As John Winthrop and other locals described, "many of the people were yet inadequately housed, living and dying in bark wigwams or sail-cloth tents, 'soe [sic.] that almost in every family, lamentation, mourning and woe was heard, and no fresh food to be had to cherish them."

Roger Clap's words captured the incessant misery and deprivation that the Mary and John settlers battled day by frigid day: "Oh, the Hunger that many suffered, and saw no hope in an Eye of Reason to be supplyed [sic.] only by Clams, and Muscles [sic.], and Fish....Bread was so very scarce that sometimes I tho'ht the very Crusts of my Father's Table would have been very sweet unto me. And when I could have Meal and Water and Salt boiled together, it was so good who could wish better?...It was accounted a strange thing in those Days to drink Water, and to eat Samp [mush] or Hominie without Butter or Milk. Indeed, it would have been a strange thing to see a piece of Roast Beef, Mutton, or Veal."

The hardships notwithstanding, Clap battled his travails with stoicism and bedrock Puritan religious beliefs, as did many of the Mary and John contingent literally hanging on for dear life as the seemingly endless winter dragged on. "I took notice of it," he wrote in his journal, "as a Favour of God unto me, not only to preserve my Life, but to give me Contentment in all these Straits; insomuch that I do not remember that I ever did wish in my Heart that I had not come unto this Country, or wish myself back again to my Father's House."

That tough-minded approach would carry Clap and many of his fellow Dorchester companions through the winter, ensuring that the fledgling settlement would survive.

In February 1631, Clap and company needed every last source of inner strength upon which they could draw, for their situation reached its deperate worst. Food stores had dwindled to virtually nothing, and profiteering was rampant &emdash; the princely sum of 5 pounds for a single pig and 3 pounds for a nearly starved goat the going rate.

Finally, in that grim February, a relief ship materialized in the waters alongside the Puritan settlements. The Lion, out of Bristol, England, was laden with supplies procured by one of Dorchester's "guiding lights," John White, and other supporters of the colonists. Among the most important items off-loaded from the vessel was lemon juice, "which cured the scurvy." To the delight of the haggard colonists craving a bit of bread and meat, sailors rolled and lugged sacks of grain and "barrelled beef" ashore, as well as peas. Dorchester was one of "the several towns" receiving a share of the supplies. As John Winthrop noted, the Lion's arrival was "the occasion for a February thanksgiving day."

That Thanksgiving day for the settlers of Dorchester and the region was not a "Pilgrimesque" feast, but a day of prayer and reflection.

Roger Clap also offered thanks to another source of aid to the Dorchester Company: "Yet this I can say to the Praise of God's Glory, that He sent poor raven-nous Indians, who came with their Baskets of corn on their Backs to Trade with us, which was a good supply unto many."

This Thanksgiving, as families gather in Dorchester for turkey dinners, they might pause for a moment to ponder how blessed they are. Three hundred and seventy years ago, the town's first colonists truly grasped how precious family and a full table were.

(Journalist Peter F. Stevens is the author of The Rogue's March: John Riley and the St. Patrick's Battalion, 1846-48, Brassey's, and Notorious and Notable New Englanders, Down East Books.)


William Wood, wrote in 1633, "Dorchester is the greatest town in New England,” and "the inhabitants of Dorchester were the first that set upon the trade of fishing in the bay,”

The free school, the system of which has been exerting a beneficial influence over the whole country, was established in this town in 1639, and is said to be the very first free school in the world.  The town was first to use public tax money for the support of its schools. Dorchester was the first in organizing the New England town government, choosing twelve men in 1633 as selectmen or townsmen.       From the Dorchester Antheneum


In the beautiful language of Mrs. Sigourney — "On the unfloored hut, she who had been nurtured amid the rich carpets and curtains of the mother land, rocked her newborn babe and complained not. She who in the home of her youth had arranged the gorgeous shades of embroidery, or, perchance, had compounded the rich venison pastry as her share in the housekeeping, now pounded the coarse Indian corn for her children's bread, and bade them ask God's blessing ere they took their scanty portion. When the snows sifted through their miserable rooftrees upon her little ones, she gathered them closer to her bosom; she taught them the Bible, and the catechism, and the holy hymn, though the warwhoop of the Indian rang through the wild. Amid the untold hardships of colonial life, she infused new strength into her husband by her firmness, and solaced his weary hours by her love. She was to him ‘An undergoing spirit, to bear up Against whatever ensued.’  From the History of the Town of Dorchester 

A party of Narraganset Indians, hunting on the borders of Neponset river, stopped at elder Minot's house and demanded food and drink. On being refused they threatened vengeance, and the sachem, or chief of the party, left an Indian in ambush to watch an opportunity to effect it. Soon after, in the absence of all the family, except a young woman and two small children, the Indian attacked the house and fired at the young woman, but missed his mark. The girl placed the children under two brass kettles and bade them be silent. She then loaded Mr. Minot's gun and shot the Indian in the shoulder. He again attacked the house, and in attempting to enter the window, the girl threw a shovel full of live coals into his face and lodged them in his blanket. On this the Indian fled. The next day he was found dead in the woods. The Indian's name was Chickataubut, but not the Narraganset sachem of that name. The government of Massachusetts bay presented this brave young woman with a silver wristband, on which her name was engraved, with this motto, -- "She slew the Narrhaganset hunter."     From the Dorchester Antheneum

Blake House
Oldest house in Dorchester

The Mary and John was destined for the Charles River. This "Godly Company," of 140 persons, assembled with their two ministers in the new hospital at Plymouth, kept a solemn day of fasting and prayer, and chose Bishop John Maverick and Bishop John Wareham to be their officers. There was a dispute with the captain, who refused to attempt the passage without pilot or chart. "The Word of God was preached and expounded every day during the voyage," of 70 days and the ship arrived at Nantasket, May 30, 1630. There is no evidence that any large ship had ever penetrated further into the harbor previous to this time.

There was a tribe of Indians, of whom Chickatobot was Chief, that dwelt in the vicinity. Whatever may have been their former number and importance before their destruction by a pestilence in 1618, our forefathers found them few in numbers, depressed in spirits and, for the most part, very docile. Much interest was felt for them by the settlers and great efforts were made to civilize and convert them to Christianity, and a duty which they felt they owed, as their charter for ground upon which they located was based upon the "desire to propagate the Christian religion to such as live in darkness, and to bring savages to human civility." The Indians had but little use for land. They attached but a trifling value to it and parted with it without reluctance.

With a keen eye to self-interest, the Dutch advised the Pilgrims to leave their more sterile soil and make their home in the beautiful and fertile country on the banks of the Freshwater River, under the jurisdiction of New Netherland. The fertility of that region was set forth in glowing terms and the stories of the Dutch were confirmed by native chiefs. One of these, of the Mohegan tribe, whose council fire was on the eastern bank of the Hudson, visited Governor Winthrop, of Massachusetts, in 1631, and with self-interest as strong as that of the Dutch, but rather more artfully concealed, he urged them to settle in the Connecticut Valley. He offered to give them lands, and an annual tribute of corn and beaver skins, if they would do so. The Mohegan chief's prime object was to so plant a barrier between his people and the powerful and warlike Pequods, whose seat was on the hills that stretch between New London and Stonington. The Puritans saw the selfish policy of both parties under the thin disguise of friendship, and declined to move in a body. They would not consent to become subjects of the Dutch nor to be made shields for the savages.       Benson J. Lossing LL.D

The two chief points of difference between the Dutch and British in America were, that the Dutch were traders, possessed of wealth, but rather commonplace, from a social and intellectual standpoint; the British were settlers and home-makers, and were of a superior class socially and intellectually but possessed of less fortune. This social and mental difference was probably due to the fact, that the Dutch pioneer traders in America were men who were born to that calling and in that station of life, while the British settlers were people of education and gentle birth who were forced to leave their homes in Great Britain, because of their strong religious convictions. They came to found homes in the New World as settlers, rather than as traders, whose place of abode was changed for a more profitable location when trade diminished or the chief commodity of trade, fur-pelts, became scarce. The trading posts of New Amsterdam and Fort Orange became permanent settlements when the British superseded the Dutch, and the names of those posts were changed to New York and Albany.  

The Dutch purchased their right to the land from the chiefs of the Pequot Indians. It was but a small area immediately about Dutch Point. The English purchased their right to the land from the Sachems of the Indians who were generally spoken of by the settlers as the River Indians. It was a vast territory. The English claimed the stronger title from the fact that they had purchased from the original owners of the land while the Dutch had purchased from a usurping nation.

The Pequots were a powerful, savage and cruel tribe which had come to the Connecticut from the north-west, in the neighborhood of the Mohawks, of New York, to which tribe it is not improbable that they were related, or at least allied, in times long past. The Pequots became the terror of the southern New England Indians and were regarded as their conquerors. They drove the River Indians from their long-time homes in the valley.

The law-loving, law-making, and law-abiding English, wishing to base their claim to the land upon a deed that would be sustained in law, sent with Captain William Holmes, in his little vessel, to Windsor the Sachems who had been driven out by the Pequots. The English restored the River Indians to their ancient birth-right and then purchased it from them. There was probably no wish to be just in this transaction. It was a matter of shrewd business on the part of the English. The superficial friendship of the River Indians for the English was almost as good business since, without the support of the irresistible wills of the English and their straight shooting firearms, the River Indians would soon again have been reduced to their former abject, homeless state. On the part of the settlers, their intense desire to save the souls of the heathen was gratified to a certain extent by the closeness of the Indian village to the white settlement. They felt, that although the Indians generally refused Christianity, some good was accomplished through the example of the whites. And besides this, so long as they maintained a nominal friendship for the settlers, the number of Indian enemies, against whom they must be constantly on the watch, was lessened. But the people were greatly annoyed by these same friendly Indians for they were habitual thieves and once in a while would-be murderers.           From Historic Towns of the Connecticut River Valley

Winthrop…sent a vessel with twenty men to the mouth of the Connecticut River, where they arrived on November 24, of the same year. The Dutch already had possession, up the river on the site of Hartford, and were intending to take possession of the month of the river, but the arrival of Winthrop's ship and men prevented it. The territory was taken possession of in the name of Lord Say-and-Sele and the other members of the company, to whom the Earl of Warwick had made the grant. John Winthrop, the Governor, arrived not long after the ship. That the titled proprietors intended their American possessions should be in keeping with their high estate, is shown by the employment of Lion Gardiner, a skilled English engineer, to take charge of the building of the fort and the laying out of the town. And then, later in the year, 300 men were to go to Saybrook from the Old Country; 200 to garrison the fortifications; 50 to make the soil produce food for the community; and 50 to build houses.

That was a bitter winter with intense cold and deep snow, and in the midst of it, in the first week of December, 1635, a number of families; including in all seventy men, women and children; arrived from up the river in the hope of finding at its mouth the long expected and greatly needed provisions that were to come for them from Boston. The provision ship did not arrive, so the needy families were taken on board a vessel, called "Rebecca", which managed to work its way out of the ice, and carry them back to Boston.

George Fenwick, an English gentleman who was one of the men composing the company and the agent of the company of noblemen to whom the Earl of Warwick granted the property, was the only member of the company to see Saybrook. Lion Gardiner's son David, born 011 November 6, 1636, was the first white child born in the territory now the State of Connecticut. Gardiner was discouraged with the conditions, so, in 1639, he moved to an island at the eastern end of Long Island — which he called Isle of Wight — since known as Gardiner's Island.

In 1630, the Rev. John Wareham, with the Rossiter, Maverick, Ludlow, and Wolcott families, among others, arrived by ship from England, at a place they named Dorchester, Mass. These families were of a superior class socially and intellectually and were possessed of more means than the average settlers of the Colonies. In 1635, a number of these people visited Connecticut and, being pleased with the prospects, they began their journey with their families from Dorchester to Windsor, on October 15, 1635. This little company of pioneer gentlefolk, to the number of sixty men, women and children, took with them their live stock, through forest and swamp, over mountains and rivers and arrived at their destination just as the winter was setting in. The people were entirely unprepared for the great cold, deep snow and bitter wind. The few cabins were insufficient in number and far from being a protection from the cold. The Connecticut was covered with ice on November 15, 1635, and the snow was so deep that it was impossible for the people to get but a few of their cattle and sheep across. Many of them died of starvation and cold. The household goods and much of their provisions had been sent around by ship, but did not arrive.

In December their provisions had nearly given out, and what they suffered can hardly be imagined. Thirteen of their number attempted to reach the nearest settlement in Massachusetts. One of them was drowned by falling through the ice on a river that was being crossed, and had the remaining twelve not received food and temporary shelter from friendly Indians, they would probably have perished. They finally reached a settlement, at the end of ten days of awful hardship. Seventy persons, including adults and children, worked their way to Saybrook and finally reached Boston in the " Rebecca ", a 60-ton vessel. These were the persons who were mentioned in the chapter on Saybrook.

Those who remained at Windsor to keep the settlement in existence suffered greatly. The cattle which were left on the east bank of the Connecticut suffered less,— strange as it may seem — than the few which were taken across to the settlement. They kept warm in the deep snow and lived by browsing. In the spring and summer following this dreadful winter, large numbers of settlers arrived at Windsor; and at Hartford and Wethersfield.

At this time the territory of Windsor was great, the length of the boundary lines being forty-six miles. They included ten small tribes of Indians, who outnumbered the white settlers twenty to one. For a number of years the settlers were troubled with fear of the Indians, not all of them being friendly. Fights were frequent and danger from ambuscades so great that the settlers carried their arms to Church and to the fields, which they worked in small companies for the safety of numbers. As an additional protection they built a large fort to which the people could go, should a general attack by the Indians take place, and where the women and children were sent whenever an attack by Indians was feared.

Their first minister, the Rev. John Wareham, was a thoroughly good man who was bowed down by an unfortunate bilious-temperament which was the cause of much misery for him, as he frequently feared that he was unworthy of Divine love and goodness. His doubts were so overpowering on occasions, that he would refrain from partaking of Communion while serving his people with that miraculous source of Divine strength and courage. There is a tradition, that he was the first minister in the New England Colonies to preach from notes. This was almost an unpardonable offence, in those days, in New England, but so eloquent and earnest were Mr. Wareham's discourses, that his people forgot the fault in their admiration for the man and delight in his sermons. Mr. Wareham died on April I, 1670, after forty years of service as minister; thirty-four of which were spent in Windsor, the other six in Dorchester.

In those days it was a custom for nearly all of the New England settlements to have a minister, and a teacher of the Gospel. The minister's duties consisted chiefly in exhorting the people; the teacher's duties were to expound and interpret the Scriptures and to defend the doctrines of Congregationalism. Windsor's teacher was the Rev. Ephraim Huit, who was installed in 1639.     From Historic Towns of the Connecticut River Valley

                                                                            The First Church of Windsor

Windsor, Connecticut's first community, was launched in 1633 when settlers sailed from Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts to establish themselves at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers. The Indians called this place Matianuck. The Reverend John Warham and 60 members of his congregation, a church organized in England in 1630, arrived two years later, and renamed the settlement Dorchester. A final name change to Windsor was decreed in 1637 by the colony's General Court.