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Social and geographical mobility in the Old World and New World communities: Earls Colne, Ipswich and Springfield, 1636-1685.

The argument that follows seeks to fill a missing link among recent accounts of seventeenth-century New England settlements. Some of these accounts stress the hierarchical character of the new communities. Others dispute the importance of these hierarchies. Most agree, however, that despite the existence of considerable differences in property and status among early New Englanders, New England towns were not as sharply differentiated as many of those East Anglian communities, which were the English homes of many of the settlers. Indeed, one English traveller - admittedly as late as 1765 - even saw a "levelling principle" at work. The argument of this paper is that the reasons for that "levelling principle" went beyond the selective character of the Great Migration into New England in the 1630s. This article stresses that another reason involved the different meaning of and the different opportunity for geographical, and as a consequence, social mobility, within New England itself.(1)

The argument is organized around two related issues. The first is that the settlers who left their first place of settlement in New England were often among the less affluent of their respective towns and that they settled somewhere else not least to improve their relative status within local society. The second is that by migrating within New England, the settlers relieved the settlements they left of the burden of the less affluent among the community. In particular, no matter how hierarchical each individual New England town might have been at the time of its founding in terms of the distribution of land or legal privileges, the opportunity to leave and settle somewhere else and the willingness of the settlers to seize this opportunity changed the character of the hierarchies of these communities, in particular in comparison with many of the communities in East Anglia, for it opened up the opportunity for life-cycle mobility. The central thrust of this argument rests on the contrast between the mobility, both social and geographical, of the yeomen and weavers of an East Anglian cloth village, and the mobility of the settlers of two new England towns, as far as it is observable through different tax lists and, where available, the parish register.

The mobility of the New England settlers was clearly recognized by contemporaries. Moving from one town in New England to the next settlement, Edward Johnson could not help comparing himself and his companions with Jacob spending a night on the bare ground. Englishmen arriving in New England frequently did not settle in the first place they found for the rest of their lives. Nathaniel Ely is a case in point. He left Ipswich in Suffolk (England) in 1634 on the ship Elizabeth to become a freeman in Cambridge (Mass.) in 1635. In 1636 he followed the Puritan preacher Thomas Hooker to Hartford. There he became Constable in 1639 and from 1643 to 1649 a selectman. Yet, despite his success in obtaining office he was not happy in his new home. In 1649 he petitioned to move to Norwalk where he went the next year, only to move on to Springfield in 1659.(2) This move was possible and made sense because either land or employment was available in the rapidly growing number of new settlements. The nearly Turnerian tone of this argument(3) might strike the reader as inappropriate.(4) Yet several points of the argument have already been made, however, without being interconnected in a comparative framework. The importance of social life-cycle-mobility has increasingly been stressed by recent research.(5) Virginia DeJohn Anderson analysed the "reshuffling" of the New England settlers by internal migration. Research on wage-rates bolsters the view of New England as a land of opportunity.(6) Arguments supporting the view of a comparably stable, non-mobile seventeenth-century society giving way to a more mobile one only by the eighteenth century have been put under close scrutiny.(7) Likewise, studies such as Philip Greven's on Andover,(8) which identified such mobility as a sign of decay of the closely integrated communities that had been established during the first generation of settlement, have been balanced by the work of scholars such as Stephen Innes. He stressed the amount of dependency of the settlers on local town founders and moneylenders such as the Pynchons in frontier Springfield. Hence the settler's ability to leave such a town was not necessarily a sign of the disintegration of society. Local elites did exist in other towns as well. Thus, D.G.Allen found that towns such as Ipswich, at Massachusetts' coast, resembled, as far as the social stratification is concerned, Ipswich in Essex, England, Nathaniel Ely's town of origin. Recent studies on New England towns confirm the strong degree of hierarchy among the population.(9)

The character of seventeenth-century New England society is, thus, still very much a matter of debate. The study of both social mobility and geographical mobility and their interconnection is one way to assess the opportunity settlers had, despite the persistence of hierarchies of wealth and status within the New England towns, to better their lot. This article seeks to address this question and to supplement the studies on mobility in New England by comparing the social and geographical mobility of one-time resident heads of households in two New England towns - Ipswich and Springfield - and the Essex cloth village Earls Colne.

Three points need to be made to give focus to such a comparison. First, the question of political participation in seventeenth-century Massachusetts, though relevant to mobility in the largest sense, goes beyond the bounds of this paper.(10) Instead, this article is concerned with mobility as it is visible through the varying appearance of individuals within local tax lists or parish registers over time. Obviously, the study of hierarchy and status is a complex one, not least because social status within a community was determined by many assets other than land. Although land is not the only determinant of the wealth and status of New England settlers, its possession did influence social status in the small communities of New England as well as England. Therefore, comparing both the distribution of land and the ability of the heads of households to climb to the top of the local hierarchy of landholding and/or taxpaying gives an insight into the character of the local social structures.(11)

This leads to a second point concerning the methodology of the comparison. The analysis focuses on the age of taxpayers and the taxlist-positions of fathers in comparison with their sons. To show the impact of the option of moving elsewhere, local societies have to be followed over time. Only then can the influence this option exerted on local society be discerned. For all three communities the local population will be followed from one generation - the first generation of settlement in Ipswich and Springfield - to the next. The purpose is to show who stayed and who moved on, and how the social structure of the next generation was affected by the geographical mobility of the first. For each community there is a tax list covering the local heads of households. Similar, there are either data on land distribution or taxlists which indicate the position of first generation settlers in the local structure. However, the comparison of the social position of fathers and sons within the local community is only possible insofar as these different kinds of sources (and the appearance and disappearance of persons in them) can themselves be meaningfully compared. To make the reading less complicated, however, the technical details of our sources and actual coverage of the resident heads of households are referred to in an appendix.

Third, since local sources like tax- and landlists are the basis of this comparison, it is emphatically an exercise in local history. Only within the local context is it possible to assess the proportion of resident households covered by a tax list and the allowances that need to be made. In one town, the tax list drawn up for a minister's salary might be a good source for the study of mobility, but it might have no comparable equivalent in another. The comparative study of mobility requires assessing the specific context of each source (section I). Having said that, the results of such an exercise need not be confined to the localities observed. A wider assessment is, however, reserved for the end of this paper.

Our aim then is twofold: First, comparing geographical mobility (section II); second, relating social mobility and geographical mobility and thereby explaining the differences in mobility observed among the communities (section III).


What was the character of the three communities under comparison, the East Anglian village Earls Colne, and the New England towns Springfield and Ipswich? What information is at hand about the local hierarchies of wealth and influence and their comparability? Let us begin with the East Anglian village.

Early enclosed Earls Colne, which was bought in the late sixteenth century by the Harlakendens, a gentry family, from the Earls of Oxford, took part in the regional specialisation of the cloth-belt on the Essex-Suffolk border. There, the production of 'New Draperies' developed from the late sixteenth century. Since the older production of broadcloth was breaking down in the face of competition from continental production, Earls Colne experienced a massive influx of migrants because it could provide work. An astonishingly polarized social structure developed with saymaker-yeomen taking part in commercial fanning, mainly pig-breeding and stock-keeping, in contrast to the mass of resident weaver-cottagers. The high degree of polarisation even by English standards can best be discerned from a comparison of Earls Colne with another English village, Wigston Magna, a more traditional open-field village in the Midlands where middling peasants still dominated local society. The Hearth Taxes of 1671 make such a comparison possible. Tax collectors had to assess every household according to the number of hearths it had. Comparison of the wealth listed in inventories of assessed households and of the status of assessed heads of households shows that the Hearth-Tax assessments reflect the general social and economic position of the taxpayer. Those households in the community dependent on poor rates or otherwise considered to be too poor to be taxed could try to obtain a certificate from the local overseer of the poor or the churchwarden which in turn served as proof for the tax collectors and led to their being "discharged by certificate."(12) The social structure of Wigston Magna in the late seventeenth century had a vast middling stratum (66.4%) of peasants and craftsmen who formed the largest single group in the village.

In contrast, in Earls Colne only every tenth inhabitant belonged to this group. A rental made in 1678 and a Hearth Tax of 1675 allow an evaluation of the percentage of those owning a house in Earls Colne among each group in the village. Of all listed Earls Colne heads of household, only one third possessed land or at least their own house as a copyholder. Nearly all gentlemen, but only half of the husbandmen and yeomen still owned a house or some land as copyhold. Yet only one fifth of those discharged by certificate were in this position. They were dependent on local industry and rural labour to eke out a living (see table II).

Obviously, this situation differed considerably from the one in New England. But it was families from the midst of this polarized society who had left East Anglia for New England. Some of them actually came from Earls Colne. A son of the family of the local squire, Roger Harlakenden, moved in 1635 out of this village together with the former preacher of the village, Thomas Shepard, to New England. There he became a magistrate.(13) There were still other connections between Earls Colne's local elite and local elites in New England. Harlakenden's widow later married Herbert Pelham, a Cambridge (Mass.) landowner. A sister of Roger married Samuel Symonds from Great Yeldham in Essex (England) who became a leading inhabitant in Ipswich in New England.(14) In fact, a large proportion of Ipswich's first generation of settlers came from Essex and Suffolk in England.(15) How did the East Anglian settlers reshape their new settlements in Ipswich and Springfield in New England?
Earls Colne and Wigston Magna, Hearth Tax 1671

Taxed Hearths Status Earls Colne Wigston Magna
 N % N %

4 and more wealthy(*) 32 16.4 7 4.3
2-3 peasants 29 14.9 34 21.1
1 small peasants, 21 10.8 73 45.3
discharged 113 57.9 47 29.2

 195 100.0 161 99.9

* Status attributions to taxed hearths follow V. Sipp, Crisis and
Development: An Ecological Study of the Forest of Arden (Cambridge,
1973), p. 78. Sources: Earls Colne Hearth Tax Essex Record Office
Q/RTH 5. The Earls Colne sources used are printed on microfilm in
the record collection of Alan Macfarlane et. al. (ed.), Records of
an English Village, Earls Colne 1400-1750 (Cambridge, 1980/81).
Wigston Magna: W. G. Hoskins, The Midland Peasant: The Economic and
Social History of a Leicestershire Village (1957, 2nd edition,
London, 1965), p. 195.


Given a recent summary of research that "the original settlers brought a full complement of cultural baggage and succeeded against odds - at least in New England - in reconstituting the familiar patterns of their homeland," it comes as small wonder that the East Anglians recreated a local society in the New World where "Men of Good Ranke and Quality" ruled again.(16) D.G.Allen thus characterized Ipswich and its disparities in wealth, status and influence among poor and wealthy inhabitants. Although some of the wealthiest inhabitants were more attracted by colonial rather than local offices, even the sixteen leading local selectmen were still far wealthier than the rest of the population(17) and tried to keep "ill and doubtful persons" out of the town.(18) As well as in farming, Ipswich inhabitants undertook some weaving - although this remained of lesser importance than it had been in the weaving region of the Essex-Suffolk cloth belt in England they came from, such as in Earls Colne. They raised cattle to "feed, at the latter end of the summer, the Town of Boston with good Beefe" and were active in fishing and shipbuilding.(19) Among the first generation of settlers, the distribution of land was very unequal in comparison with other New England towns such as Andover or Sudbury. Ipswich resembled Earls Colne and hence its English Essex/Suffolk origins, just as Allen claims.(20)

Let us finally consider Springfield, the other New England town. Springfield in the Connecticut River valley "hath the benefits of transporting their goods by water, and also fitly seated for a Bever trade with the Indians...."(21) Precisely for these reasons William Pynchon established a settlement there. He was a gentleman on the edge of the yeomanry with an Essex background similar to that of the Harlakendens before the acquisition of Earls Colne manor.(22) He and his son became "frontier capitalists"(23) and de facto manor lords(24) by developing a particular legal and economic grip on 'their' town. This development was exceptional in New England and it can probably only be compared with the tight control of an English resident squire, such as the Harlakendens in Earls Colne.(25) By providing Springfield and the surrounding area with much needed capital as well as consumer goods of all kinds, the Pynchons monopolized moneylending in Springfield and reenforced their local power. In contrast, in neighbouring Deerfield debts were much more a mutual bond which did not reflect any social superiority of creditor over debtor.(26)

To sum up, after their 'voyage to the West' the first residents of Springfield and Ipswich did not find a world of social equality. In Ipswich, they had to cope with an uneven distribution of land as in the most stratified communities in East Anglia, such as Earls Colne; in Springfield they did find employment and a source of capital, but had to cope with the Pynchon family's strong influence on local affairs.(27) Yet early New Englanders did not capitulate in the face of these difficulties; just as Nathaniel Ely had done they kept moving. To assess the degree to which Earls Colne's, Springfield's and Ipswich's heads of households migrated out of their respective communities, we must consider how the differences of the structure of these communities influence their comparability. We will do this by assessing three issues, i.e. the local structure of authority, the structure of landholding and the sources to evaluate mobility within the three communities.

First, as outlined above, Earls Colne had a resident squire. Moreover, the squire of Earls Colne was also Justice of the Peace. The local community was bound together by the parish and its church, the poor-law system and the two local manors and their administration of the free- and copyhold of Earls Colne. The impact of the local squire family on the village could be immense. The squires owned roughly three fifths of the village land as part of the demesne of their two manors; they were able to exert their influence through the local leet jurisdiction of their manors; as Justices of the Peace they had additional jurisdictional power. New England towns had neither manors nor leer jurisdictions. However, the manor courts of early enclosed regions and villages in East Anglia had declined in importance and developed into "rent collecting machines". Such was the case in Earls Colne, where the business of the local manor court had severely diminished from the second half of the sixteenth century onwards. Furthermore, individual local residents could acquire a considerable degree of influence in local affairs in New England by combining personal wealth and office and did so in both Ipswich and Springfield in Massachusetts. The Ipswich example of such an inhabitant is Daniel Denison, Ipswich's richest member, chief of the local militia and judge of the local magistrate court. Ipswich inhabitants indeed complained about his overwhelming power. Springfield was even closer to the Earls Colne situation, thanks to its foundation by William Pynchon in the aftermath of the Pequot War. From 1636 onwards Pynchon was granted the right to hold a local magistrate court and later to hold a county court. His son John was a trading partner of John Winthrop, mediated between Massachusetts and Connecticut during King Philip's War and was creditor and employer of nearly all of the other Springfield residents. This is not to argue that this kind of informal accumulation of influence and power made the Pynchons identical to the Harlakendens in Earls Colne with respect to their grip on the community. But it is fair to say that in Earls Colne, Ipswich and Springfield there were families who possessed extraordinary wealth, office and local influence.(28)

Social structure and landholding raise numerous, problems of comparison, for the system of land distribution among the first settlers of a New England town was different from the structure of landholding of an English manor. Although the legal differences between an East Anglian free- or copyholder and a Massachusetts landowner were of little importance with respect to the ability of the copyholder to sell and inherit the land and the fixed status of copyhold rents, the meaning of landownership differed enormously. The ownership of fifty acres of granted land in Springfield at the Connecticut River, in the middle of the wilderness, partially or wholly covered with forest and burdened with debts to William or John Pynchon was a completely different situation from that of an Essex yeoman with fifty acres of Earls Colne land, known to be of superior quality and close to the London market. While in Springfield fifty acres were not enough to eke out a living on the produce of that land alone, the possession of fifty acres in Earls Colne, be it as copy- or freehold, represented the landed wealth of a substantial yeomen. What is more, neither in Springfield nor Ipswich did all resident heads of households own land when the towns were founded. However, during the four decades after the founding of each of the towns, no heads of households remained landless in either Springfield or Ipwsich, while many of the weavers of Earls Colne remained landless. Having said that, comparing the concentration of landholding in different communities nevertheless helps give an impression of the degree of inequality within the communities. What can be compared is the percentage distribution of the local acreage among the local inhabitants.

If the problems involved in comparing landholding in an East Anglian village and a Massachusetts town are kept in mind, a cautious analysis may be attempted. In Earls Colne and Ipswich the land was distributed among approximately one half of the resident heads of households. In Springfield in 1685 the lowest 30% of the resident heads of households still had 8.6% of the total acreage. At least 60 acres of land were needed to establish a household independent of other sources of income. Forty-nine of the 120 heads of household had less than 50 acres. Still, clearly more than half of the Springfield households in 1685 could live from their land, much more than in Earls Colne. The main researcher of the history of Springfield, Steven Innes, stresses the inequality among Springfield inhabitants due not least to this unequal distribution of land and to the unequal quality of the rich alluvial bottomland and the virtually unusable "pine barrens" located along the higher escarpments. However, we have to keep in mind that, compared to the distribution in a cloth village like Earls Colne, land was still less concentrated in Springfield.(29)

Finally, to assess the local social structure we will use the varying tax assessments in the three communities, which throw a relatively better light on the local social structure than landholding alone. The starting point for this is the Hearth Tax of Earls Colne, which has already been mentioned. The Hearth Tax has been assessed by English historians as a viable means to gain an impression of the social structure of a given village. As indicated above, technically each householder was assessed for the number of hearths he or she owned as copy- or freeholder, or rented as a leaseholder. The households were then listed according [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE III OMITTED] to number of hearths. However, this number did not necessarily correspond to the real number of hearths in the household, but rather to an estimate that the royal tax collectors made about the social status of a given taxed household. In the Earls Colne Hearth Tax lists even those households that were not taxed but discharged by a certificate of the local overseer of the poor were listed. The age of the heads of households in the Earls Colne Hearth Tax lists have been determined by cross-checking with the local parish registers. A closer analysis of the sources for Ipswich and Springfield, and in particular for the grouping of the Ipswich inhabitants into groups, is in the appendex. It is sufficient to note here that the work of Edmund Perzel and Charles Torrey was of prime importance for this article.(30)

II The Decision to Move

With this information in mind we can assess the structure of geographical mobility and proceed to the issue of outmigration. Ipswich will be our New England example to settle this question. Perzel's compilation of Ipswich settlers used all the available records of the town to check who remained in the town and who left. It is a fair assumption that those who were not known to have died in the town had left earlier.

Was there a relation between the local well-being of a person, i.e. landholding, and his decision to move? As was stressed earlier, the meaning of, for example, fifty acres of land for the status of its owner was quite different in England and New England. However, it seems fair to follow Perzel's grouping of Ipswich's inhabitants. Nearly half of the 435 heads of households living some time in Ipswich (208, i.e. 47.8%) were members of the lower ownership group. Yet among those who decided to stay in Ipswich and eventually died there, less then 20% (27, i.e. 19.9%) were members of this lower group. While only 13% of its members are known to have died in Ipswich, roughly a third is known to have left the place. The contrary is true for the upper group. Nearly half of all members of the upper group decided to stay in Ipswich and only forty decided to leave the town. A much higher proportion among the upper group seems to have decided to stay in Ipswich than among the lower group.

How solid is this finding? What about the large number of lower group members about whom we have no information? Perzel could find neither any indication of their burial in Ipswich - the civil registration of burials existed from 1655 onwards - nor information about their residence elsewhere. Is it possible that they nevertheless still lived in the town or were all buried before 1655? There is no particular reason to assume that Ipswich registration was so bad as to let the burials of all those men go unnoticed or that only poorer inhabitants died before 1655. There is no doubt that inhabitants of less wealth and influence were less likely to leave traces in the local sources. Yet Ipswich was no big city. Inhabitants were likely to appear before the quarterly court for many reasons. Even if we leave those for whom we have no further information out of consideration and restrict our argument to those about whom we can be sure, it is clear that members of the upper group were less mobile.

What accounts for this difference in outward mobility? There is no specific event in the town's history that explains why certain of its inhabitants may [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE IV OMITTED] have chosen to leave the town. As argued above, the predominance of Daniel Denison, one of its richest inhabitants and the chief of the local militia and local judge, did provoke criticism both of his salary and of his role as a judge. What is more, the Ipswich selectmen were only recruited from a small group of leading citizens. We may suppose that both factors, the amount of land granted and the amount of local influence available, or rather the lack of both, encouraged the less well-off Ipswich residents to settle in another place. Ipswich was not able to retain those who were not sufficiently provided with these resources. That does not mean that New England settlers were only driven by economic motives. It only means that, given the situation in Ipswich, the availability of land and employment outside the town could have been an important incentive to leave the town. That had an important consequence: Although nearly half of all settlers never received a substantial landed stake in the town but obtained only fewer than 10 acres, the majority of those actually dying in Ipswich and hence truly resident had at least 10 acres, while over 40% had 100 or more acres. Since the majority of those with only little land whose whereabouts we know kept moving, the local social structure as shaped by the permanent residents was quite different from the structure shaped by all settlers.

What were the opportunities for the less-well off in the weaving-communities of East-Anglia? Earls Colne experienced massive in-migration for its rural textile industry. Yet that rural industry concentrated increasingly in the small cloth belt in the north of Essex. In Earls Colne two thirds both of the yeomen-saymakers and the cottager-weavers had migrated into the village, probably in connection with the production of 'New Draperies' in the village. Husbandmen [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE V OMITTED] and gentlemen were the more stable groups, i.e., many more of their members had been baptized in the village (table V).

But among those buried in Earls Colne, i.e. among those who did not leave this village again, were disproportionally many poor weavers. Of the few (11) heads of the gentlemen-households, all were buried in Earls Colne. Of the 41 yeomen, only 27 (65.8%) were buried there. But among the poorer 14 husbandmen, still 10 (71.4%) lived until the end of their lives in the village, and among the 128 heads of cottager-households, 91 (71%) remained in the village. If we substract the many poor widows from this analysis of the mobility of the village poor, who might have changed their name due to a remarriage and thereby escaped our search for them in the parish registers, 96 male cottagers remain. Of these, 76 were buried in Earls Colne (79.2%). The majority of the poor weavers in the 1675 Hearth Tax list had migrated into the village, but only a minority, smaller than the proportion among the wealthier yeomen, left it again despite their hazardous economic situation there.

To compare this situation with Ipswich and Springfield, we have to compare the social structure of the migrants. It is important to note that we do not assume that either Springfield or Ipswich was stratified in the way Earls Colne was. The grouping of the Ipswich and Springfield ratepayers was only made in order to facilitate comparison with Earls Colne. The top 10% ratepayers of Ipswich, for instance, do not form a meaningful social group in the way the Earls Colne gentlemen did.(31) Having said that, we may venture another cautious comparison. Towards the bottom of the Ipswich and Springfield rates the proportion of immigrants increased. The differences in proportion were particulary sharp in Ipswich with its uneven distribution of land, less so in Springfield with its much more even distribution. Among the top third of Ipswich taxpayers, two thirds were members of the first generation of settlement or offspring of those settlers. In contrast, more than half of the bottom two thirds of Ipswich taxpayers were immigrants not belonging to the first generation of settlers. This contrast was also particularly marked among the residents of Ipswich with its uneven distribution of land, less so in Springfield with its more even distribution.

The proportion of new settlers was, then, more marked among the lower groups in both Springfield and Ipswich. Small wonder, since these latecomers were, as we saw above in the case of Ipswich, not among the less well-to-do of their earlier home towns either. Was their migration to another town thus a failure? To answer this question, we will have to shed more light on what it meant to be among the lower groups in Springfield or Ipswich. Indeed, the lower ranks in the social hierarchy of both towns were not made up entirely of new immigrants. As we shall see in a moment, that was an indirect consequence of the geographical outmigration of many of the settlers of the first generation. We will now proceed to our second issue, the effects of geographical mobility on the local social structure and on social mobility.

III The Different Social Structures in Earls Colne and Ipswich

As a result of the varying opportunities for geographical mobility, the social structure in Ipswich and Springfield was entirely different from that of Earls Colne. There, the different groups were social groups independent of the age of their members. In the two New England towns they were age-groups. Unfortunately, the information on age was generally confined to the sons and members of the first generation of settlement. Hence immigrants were left out. However, since the propensity to migrate was probably more marked among the young or unmarried, it is most unlikely that the table is distorted (although by excluding migrants it does not include the whole resident population). To begin with, all Earls Colne groups had roughly the same mean and median age. With the exception of the gentlemen they were in their forties. By contrast, Springfield and Ipswich residents tended to get younger as the level of tax decreased. The age of Springfield's lowest groups corresponds well with the age Innes gives for laborers in Springfield, be they recent inmigrants or not. They were mainly 18 to 30 years old. Ipswich's lowest 10% provide an exception to this rule. Taxes might have been reduced because of old age and in any case the number of reconstructed ages is very low among the bottom 20% of Ipswich's ratepayers.

In general, it can be concluded that Ipswich and Springfield residents moved up the social scale with increasing age - or left the town. Indeed, since primarily less prosperous Ipswich settlers had left the town, a more homogeneous society remained; hence the sons in the next generation had fathers with a lesser degree of difference among their properties. Thus the members of the next generation were less differentiated with regard to the wealth and property of their fathers then the members of the first generation of settlement.

One precondition for this argument is that it was possible either to save resources as a wage-earner or inherit the father's property in the course of one's life in order to keep acquiring local land and move further up the scale. That would explain the age-difference among the different percentage-groups of the Ipswich and Springfield taxpayers: The higher the age, the better the chances of inheriting and thereby acquiring land. Not only could more land be acquired with increasing age but one's chances of gaining an inheritance also improved. It is difficult to know whether individuals could acquire a substantial amount of land without first inheriting. On the one hand, most young men and women in England did not serve on the farm of their own parents but rather sought employment on other farms. New England did not possess a wage-labour market like that of England in which a young person - as a servant in husbandry - could save money to establish one's own home after a couple of years.(32) On the other hand, the odds of saving some capital to acquire some land at a later stage of one's life were not negligible even in the New England barter economy. Ipswich had a fishing industry where an income could be earned, and Springfield had the beaver-trade which provided income opportunities for canoe-men and traders.(33) Until further research is done, it is impossible to tell which is more important in explaining the greater wealth of the older inhabitants of Springfield and Ipswich - the death of the father or the longer time-span needed to acquire property. However, the proportion of deceased to living fathers was much higher among the top 40% taxpayers in Springfield and Ipswich than among the bottom half. Hence age was a much more important determinant of wealth and status in Ipswich and Springfield than the position of one's father had been in Earls Colne. It must be clear that this statement refers to the majority of the population below local leaders such as William Pynchon or Daniel Denison. Social mobility for the majority of the inhabitants below this level was life cycle mobility. By contrast, in Earls Colne the status of the father very much determined the status of most residents.
Table VI: Mean and Median Age of Ratepayer-groups

Earls Colne Ipswich Springfield

N Mean Median N Mean Median N Mean

(Gentlemen) (Top 10%) (Top 10%)
9 60.4 58 14 46.1 50.5 13 46.2 43

(Yeomen) (2nd/3rd Decile) (2nd/3rd Decile)
15 42.7 36.5 9 48.8 48 9 33.2 33
 12 46.2 40.5 11 32 32

(Husbandmen) (4th Decile) (4th Decile)
8 40.5 38.5 8 59.4 63/67 9 34 27

(Weavers) (Bottom 60%) (Bottom 60%)
40 45.2 40.5 5 46.8 36 9 35.4 35
 6 38.3 38 9 27.3 27
 10 26.4 23/27 7 30
 3 - 39 5 22.4 21
 3 - 64 9 24.1 23

Source: See notes to tables IV and V. All information was checked
against Savage, Genealogical Dictionary and Torrey, New England

The relative decline of the importance of the parental status for the ordinary residents can be stressed by a further look at the social structure of the two generations of taxpayers in each of the three communities. The distribution of fathers among the Earls Colne Gentlemen, Yeomen, Husbandmen and Cottagers in 1636 resembled almost exactly the distribution among the sons in 1675 (see table VIII). In this respect Earls Colne was a static society. Although the numbers are very small, they still tell the story of social immobility; of the fathers of discharged cottagers, 78% (32 of 41) were cottagers themselves. More than half of the fathers of gentlemen (4 of 7) were gentlemen themselves. Among the yeomen, more than half of their fathers were at least husbandmen (9 of 16). Among Earls Colne residents, in 47 of the 72 cases where the father is known (65.3%) the status of the father and the status of the son was the same.
Table VII: Living and Deceased Fathers of 1679 Ipswich and 1685
Springfield Taxpayers

 Ipswich Springfield
Fathers of taxpayers alive/dead ratio alive/dead ratio

Top 40% taxpayer 8 33 0.24 7 32 0.22
Bottom 50% taxpayer 16 22 0.73 15 26 0.58

Source: See Tables IV, V and VI.

Among Ipswich groups, 'upper'-fathers were nearly half of all fathers. Even among the bottom 60% that was the case (47.8%). By contrast, among Earls Colne's bottom 60% of cottagers, only a fifth (21.9%) were not cottagers themselves. This much more pronounced mobility among groups in Ipswich may be entirely explained by the geographical mobility which preceded the formation of the next generation. Since the less prosperous Ipswich settlers left, only the prosperous remained to have offspring in the town; nearly 60% (59.6%) of all fathers were upper-group members as a result of this process. Lower-group fathers became a tiny minority of 14.6%. Thus, the huge majority of the second Ipswich generation had prosperous fathers and hence the status of the father as such ceased to be important for one's own position.

In Earls Colne, local cottagers did not move elsewhere because they were dependent on local industry and on the local poor law resources. There was no comparable opportunity in East Anglia for employment or land to settle such as Springfield offered in New England. Thus they stayed where they were and helped to recreate the social structure in the next generation. By contrast, many of the Ipswich settlers with only a few acres left the town. Thus the continous founding of new settlements in New England, by encouraging the less prosperous to move elsewhere, has important repercussions on the social structure of New England towns. As argued above, the history of Ipswich in this period contains no single event able to explain the decision to leave the town, save a certain unwillingness of settlers to come to terms with the relatively closed leadership of the town.

The repercussions of mobility on the social structure of the respective community can be traced in particular for frontier Springfield. As Stephen Innes has shown, frontier Springfield was expanding rapidly by immigration. This fact is difficult to explain except in terms of the availability of land and of employment by the Pynchon family, which was in turn made possible by the opportunities of the frontier. Steven Innes stressed the role of reciprocity between the Pynchon family, offering land, capital and employment, and the new settlers. In contrast, the leading families of Ipswich preferred a more restrictive policy against new settlers to limit the influx of ". . . ill and doubtful persons . . .", as Nathaniel Ward put it in a letter to John Winthrop Jr. in 1635. Indeed, from the 1670s onwards, despite the emigration of many of the poorer settlers, Ipswich was among the colony's pioneers in using poor law certificates, because it felt that its own burden of inhabitants in need of support had to be better supervised.(34) Despite the uneven distribution of land in Springfield, more than half of the heads of households there had enough land to eke out a living, and the employment and capital of the Pynchons still served as a stimulus for immigration. The influx of new settlers into Springfield had consequences for the remaining settlers as well. While nearly 60% of all fathers of the second Ipswich generation came from the top 40%, Springfield fathers were completely evenly distributed according to the 1646 land tax. This tax can be used to compare the status of Ipswich and Springfield sons relative to their fathers.(35)

Over a third of Springfield's sons moved up, but only a sixth in Ipswich. This difference can be explained by the different distribution of fathers in the [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE VIII OMITTED] two towns.(36) Springfield's sons enjoyed the possibility of a better position than that of their fathers because half of their fathers came from the bottom, while for Ipswich's sons there was considerably less chance to move up, because two thirds of their fathers already came from the top. The steady influx of new settlers drove Springfield's older settlers and their offspring towards the top of the local hierarchy. Ipswich lacked a comparable degree of continuing immigration from outside.
Table IX: Up- and Downward Movement of Ipswich and Springfield Sons
in Relation to their Fathers

 TO 1660 1646 SETTLERS
 Top 5th-8th Top Bottom
Fathers: 40% DEC. 50% 50%

Sons in
Comparison Up - 9 12% - 20 34%
 Remaining 30 13 56% 13 13 44%
 Down 23 1 32% 10 3 22%

Source: See note 30 and sources for tables IV and V

IV Summary

A variety of existing studies of England and of New England suggest that Earls Colne, Springfield and Ipswich were not untypical as regards the specific problems and circumstances of many East Anglian villages and many towns in New England. Springfield and Ipswich represent two types of New England settlements. Springfield was a town on the edge of the wilderness, frequently endangered by Indian attacks. Its settlers lived to some degree from the fur trade. It experienced a steady influx of new settlers because it offered land, capital and steady employment to its new inhabitants. By contrast, Ipswich was one of the first New England settlements on the Massachusetts coast. The Boston food market began to provide an outlet for local production towards the end of the seventeenth century. Its local leading families prohibited the settlement of new settlers to some degree. Indeed, the growth of its local population was mainly due to indigenous population growth. Both towns thus represent two important types of settlements among the New England towns. The East Anglian cloth village represents the problems of overpopulation and dependence on the fortunes of the unstable export markets for cloth so typical of the East Anglian situation which the settlers had left.(37)

Recently, G.H. Nobles underlined the importance of the frontier for a later period. Arguing in favor of the importance of available land and steady opportunity of employment in influencing settlers' minds to move or stay does not mean excluding the many other motives they might have had. However, the local histories of Earls Colne, Ipswich and Springfield do not present specific additional reasons for such behaviour. If anything, Springfield's exposure to the dangers of wars with the Indians and domination by a single family could not have encouraged new settlers to move there. Nevertheless and in spite of its dependence on Pynchon, Springfield kept growing rapidly. The possibility of finding employment, income and finally free land elsewhere led seventeenth-century colonial settlers to leave those towns which did not provide them with sufficient land, such as Ipswich. As a result, even in towns whose settlers had brought sharp social differences with them across the Atlantic, the distinctions among the settlers of the first generation tended to be blurred in the course of life cycle mobility. That had varied effects on the local society of different towns. In Ipswich, most of the poorer settlers of the first generation left the town. The sons of the middle and upper-rank fathers of the first generation spread over the whole social structure. Indeed, some moved downwards during this process. In Springfield, the new settlers became the new bottom of local society. But that situation was now confined to a phase in the life-cycle; it was not a social status to endure forever. Instead of a society shaped by different social groups, which reproduced themselves in the next generation, a very fluid society emerged where the age of a person became an important determinant of his status. This finding does not contradict the emergence of commercial wealth in larger towns like Boston where the wealth of a father could determine to a larger extent the status of a son, nor the important role of hierarchies of wealth and status in any single town. It does not deny the importance of regional elites like the Pynchons or Winthrops. However, differences in landholding and status among the rest of the population might have been relatively easier to overcome as long as westward movement and access to land there remained a possibility. Such mobility allowed the poorer strata of Springfield and Ipswich to seek their fortunes in another place. In contrast, for Earls Colne's poor there was no new land to settle. Thus they stayed in their place of origin. Remaining there, their low social status was rigid. Geographical mobility was a precondition for social mobility.

The findings on Ipswich and Springfield supplement those of Philip Greven for Andover, Laura Bissell for Windsor and of Virginia DeJohn Anderson while stressing the social consequences of internal migration.(38) While Greven has studied a town where social differences did not play an important role even at the beginning of settlement, this essay has demonstrated that even where settlers brought their social structure over the Atlantic, a new pattern of social mobility could emerge, shaped not least through the influence of the frontier. The willingness of seventeenth-century settlers to keep moving through the wilderness until they had found a place which satisfied their desire for land made the frontier so important. The importance of religous belief as a motive encouraging the settlers to keep moving is very difficult to assess in this context, for most of the settlers did not leave statements on the intensity of their religious feelings. Nathaniel Ely, our example from the beginning, undoubtedly had religious reasons when he followed Thomas Hooker in 1636 to Hartford. But one motive did not exclude the other. The process described here resembles very much that sketched by T. H. Breen, who observed the migration of New England settlers from the older coast settlements - such as Ipswich - north- and westwards to settlements such as Springfield. That process, we argue, had consequences for the social structure of both the older and the new settlements and was encouraged, to some degree, by the existence of a frontier providing the hope of new land. That hope may even have helped to justify the power and influence of the "New England entrepreneurs" described by Frederick Martin. Apart from the many reasons he gives to explain the cohabitation of Puritanism and a strong hierarchy of power in many townships, the experience of mobility might have given the settlers quite a different perspective from that they had had in England. After all, when in 1709 landless settlers in Marlborough asked their betters to include them in further divisions of the townlands, their betters refused. They reasoned that they had "borne the Charge of Settling the town and a minister there for a great many years together" and now wished to enjoy the fruits of their labors - or the dividends on their invested capital, as Martin puts it. Those same leaders of Marlborough had left Sudbury to find land. Whereas in the case of the settlers from Ipswich, who left the town, their improvement through migration is only indirectly concluded due to the existence of age-groups, in the case of the Sudbury settlers the improvement of status through migration away from Sudbury to a new town is directly visible. The settlers knew this themselves and told it to others. New settlers arriving in Marlborough who found there was not enough land to go around had only to move on.(39)


This study of mobility rests on observing the movements of resident heads of households. Recent research on New England towns has stressed the problems of early modern town lists with regard to this issue. While Wilfried Prest did use census-type sources, such sources do not exist for Springfield and Ipswich in the seventeenth century. The lists used have therefore to be checked to see whether they really represent the resident heads of households or only a fraction of this group, e.g. the commoners or the proprietors. This will be done by an evaluation of the existing material on Springfield and Ipswich.

Lists for Springfield indicate 94 Springfield resident's church seats in 1663, 74 "inhabitants" in 1664/65, 76 qualified to vote in 1672 and 132 adult male inhabitants in 1679. The list supposedly covers the resident heads of households, while the "Estimate of the Plantation, both of Men, houses and lands" of 1685 in the Springfield Collector's Office gives the names and lands of even more heads of households, i.e. of 163. The list is neither exclusively a list of the churchmembers nor of the commoners, proprietors or of those eligible to vote in either the town or the province. Both its purpose and the number given allow us to assume that the list covers, if not every, then almost every male head of household.(40)

The case is a little more difficult in Ipswich. The "Rate made, Nov. 17 1679, for the elder's salary", given by Dow, was a tax rated since 1648 and had been introduced to pay Daniel Denison, Ipswich's richest inhabitant. It comprised 228 taxed persons.(41) The estimates of Ipswich's resident heads of households differ wildly and were carefully outlined by A. Ginsburg. The source of contention is the interpretation of a list compiled by the town's major historian, Thomas Franklin Waters, out of the names of different lists of the years 1677-1683. From these he compiled a total of 508 names, including "all the youth and men from Topsfield line to Gloucester".(42) Just how many names have to be deducted from this list to arrive at the actual number of resident heads of households was a matter of debate between A. Ginsburg and B. K. Brown in the late 1970s. While Brown asserted that the number of names compiled by Waters grossly inflated the actual number of adult males, Ginsburg arrived at another conclusion. Having removed the 125 known voters from Waters list, 383 names remained. Assuming that even half of them were under the age of 24 and members of other households, the Ipswich's adult male population would still contain 316 individuals. Waters himself estimated the number of minors on his list to be only 68. Indeed, the "most vulnerable feature is that Waters had no way of knowing who on his list were minors." Ginsburg seems to suggest that his estimate was a fair guess, which would fit to the militia figures of the time. Ipswich had to supply 375 men in 1690.(43) This is contradicted, however, by S. Norton's work on the population of Ipswich. Counting back the births and deaths in the Ipswich registers and using the 18th-century censuses and the 1690 militia list as a control, she arrives at a total population of only 636 in 1690. As Norton herself states, the numbers of recorded burials and of deaths in the vital registers both had to be corrected because they were obviously too low. However, both the 18th-century censuses and the 1690 militia list were used as checks. Moreover, recorded births and burials of men and women were counted separately, and "the maintenance of a reasonable sex ratio was a consideration in the determination of the constants to be used" for correcting the recorded numbers.(44) Even if Norton's number is still somewhat too low, it is incompatible with anything above the number of resident taxpayers in the "salary of the elder" given by Dow. Ginsburg's estimate of over 300 adult males seems too high. Having said that, it must be clear that the 125 Ipswich voters do not at all represent all the adult males in the town and that nearly half of all adult taxpayers were not eligible to vote, which supports Ginsburg's argument about the franchise. However, the rate for the "salary of the elder" represents, once all the information at hand as been reviewed, an acceptable list comprising all, or at least nearly all, resident heads of households.

The basis to check the mobility of these ratepayers is the thorough, detailed and extremely helpful work of E. Perzel. He compiled a list of all the Ipswich settlers down to 1660 from all the relevant Ipswich sources and a further listing of the taxed heads of households for 1679. For Springfield the key source is a list of Springfield's early settlers from 1646 printed in Burt's History of Springfield and a further listing of 1685. With the exception of Perzel's compilation of settlers and the English parish registers the 1679 Ipswich, the 1685 Springfield and the 1675 Earls Colne lists are tax lists. Each of these lists covers the taxed heads of households. The Earls Colne Hearth Tax covers those households discharged from taxation on grounds of poverty as well. This is important, because many households in English villages were exempted for various reasons, and only lists containing those exempted households give an accurate impression of the number of households in a village. In contrast, neither the Springfield nor Ipswich listings includes households which had not been taxed. However, it is well established that poverty in any sense of the word was not a mass phenomenon but an exception. All information in the listings and in Perzel's compilation of Ipswich settlers was checked against Torrey's Genealogical Dictionary.

Postfach 10 01 31 33501 Bielefeld Germany


I wish to thank David Grayson Allen (Winthrop Group, Cambridge, Mass.), Daniel Vickers (Cambridge, Mass.), Stephen Innes, David Cahill (Bielefeld), Peter Berkowitz (London) and an anonymous reviewer of the Journal of Social History for comments and criticism on earlier drafts of this paper. However, any remaining faults or misrepresentations are solely my responsibility. I thank the German Academic Exchange Council for a grant that enabled me to pursue research as Visiting Fellow at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.).

1. For varying accounts see V. DeJohn Anderson, New England's Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1991); J.F. Martin, Profits in the Wilderness: Entrepreneurship and the Founding of New England Towns in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, 1991); D. H. Fischer, Albion's Seed (Oxford, 1989), quotation from Lord Adam Gordon from 1765, quoted in Fischer, p 174; on the character of immigration see T. H. Breen and S. Foster, "Moving to the New World: The Character of Early Massachusetts Migration," William & Mary Quarterly 30 (1973): 189-222; on the migration from England to New England see D. Cressy, Coming Over: Migration and Communication between England and New England in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 68-69, 74-98; B. Baylin, The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (New York, 1986), pp. 18-22; on the technical problems of comparison Fischer, Albion's Seed, pp. 184-185; D. G. Allen, In English Ways: The Movement of Societies and the Transferal of English Local Law and Custom to Massachusetts Bay in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, 1981).

2. J. Franklin Jameson (ed.), Edward Johnson's Wonderworking Providence of Sion's Saviour . . . (1628-1651) (New York, 1910), p. 74; H. Burt, The First Century of the History of Springfield, two vols (Springfield, 1898), II: 563.

3. Since the nineteenth century American scholars have pointed out the importance of the "open frontier" in the development of American society. The locus classicus is, of course, Frederick Jackson Turner, see F. J. Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York, 1947); see on him: P. S. Anderson, Westward is the Course of Empire. A Study in the Shaping of an American Idea: Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier (Oslo, 1956); W. LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansionism, 1860-1898 (Ithaca, 1963), pp. 62-72; R. A. Billington, The Genesis of the Frontier Thesis (San Marino, CA, 1971); D. H. Fisher, Albion's Seed (Oxford, 1989), pp. 4-5; with respect to the American West J. M. Faragher, "The Frontier Trail: Rethinking Turner and Reimagining the American West," American Historical Review 98 (1993): 106-117. The argument of this article does not, however, exactly resemble Turner insofar as Turner connoted with the frontier land that might be taken up by farmhands, not the opportunities of land and employment in New England communities.

4. In particular due to the importance of religious factors to describe New England society: see P. Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (Cambridge, 1953, reprint 1961), pp. 149-172; V. DeJohn Anderson, "Migrants and Motives: Religion and the Settlement of New England, 1630-1640," New England Quarterly 58 (1985): 339-383; S. Foster, The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture 1570-1700 (Chapel Hill, 1991), pp. 108-230; see the explicit controversy on this issue in no. 41 of the William and Mary Quarterly, in particular D. B. Rutman, "New England as Idea and Society Revisited," WMQ 41 (1984): 56-61.

5. J. T. Main, Society and Economy in Colonial Connecticut (Princeton, 1985), stresses the consequences of the immigration of young unmarried men for the local social structure of the respective towns, pp. 62-65; John W. Adam, Alice Bee Kasakoff, "Migration and the Family in Colonial England: The View from Genealogies," Journal of Family History 9 (1984): 24-43; L. A. Bissell, "From One Generation to Another: Mobility in Seventeenth-Century Windsor, Connecticut," WMQ 31 (1974): 79-110.

6. Anderson, New England's Generation, pp. 9, 92-94, 112-114 on "short run mobility . . . to long run settlement"; G. L. Main, "Gender, Work, and Wages in Colonial New England," WMQ 51 (1994): 39-66.

7. In particular arguing against the cliche of a non-mobile New England society Wilfried R. Prest, Stability and Change in Old and New England. Clayworth and Dedham," The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 6 (1976): 359-74; on a later period: D. L. Jones, Migration and Society in 18th-Century Massachusetts (Hanover, N.H., 1981), arguing in favor of a "mobility-transition"; for a critique on Jones see the review of his study by D.Vickers, WMQ 39 (1982): 704-707; for a critique on any serious social transition see G. B. Nash, "Social Development," in J. P. Greene and J. R. Pole (ed.), Colonial British America (London, 1984), pp. 233-261, here pp. 236-237.

8. P. J. Greven, Four Generations: Population, Land and Family in Colonial Andover, Massachusetts (Ithaca, 1970), pp. 269-278; for a recent survey of the literature see D. B. Rutman, "Assessing the Little Communities in Early America," WMQ 43 (1986): 163-178.

9. On the situation in East Anglia, England, on the local level see especially Margaret Spufford, Contrasting Communities: English Villagers in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1974); on Essex: K.Wrightson & D.Levine, Poverty and Piety in an English Village: Terling 1525-1700 (London, 1979); Marjorie K. McIntosh, A Community Transformed: The Manor and Liberty of Havering, 1500-1620 (Cambridge, 1991); Joyce Appleby, "A Different Kind of Independence: The Postwar Restructuring of the Historical Study of Early America," WMQ 50 (1993): 245-267, pp. 256-257 states, "The most significant casualty of the New Social History has been the idea that America was born free, rich and modern. It became clear that instead of traveling light to the New World the original settlers brought a full complement of cultural baggage . . ."; S. Innes, Labor in a New Land: Economy and Society in Seventeenth-Century Springfield (Princeton, 1983), see in particular the chapter on 'Dominance', pp. 17-43; Allen, In English Ways; Idem, "Both Englands," in D. G. Allen, D. D. Hall (ed.), Seventeenth-Century New England (Boston, 1984). On local government: D. T. Konig, "English Legal Change and the Origins of Local Government in Northern Massachusetts," in B. C. Daniels (ed.), Town and County: Essays in the Structure of Local Government in the American Colonies (Middletown, 1978), pp.12-43; E. S. Perzel, "The First Generation of Settlement in Colonial Ipswich," (Diss. Rutgers University, 1967). On legal similiarities: J. H. Smith and T. G. Barnes, The English Legal System: Carryover to the Colonies (Los Angeles, 1975); recent debate has centered around Fischer, Albion's Seed; see in particular Jack P. Greene, "Transplanting Moments: Inheritance in the Formation of Early American Culture," WMQ 48 (1991): 224-230; Virginia DeJohn Anderson, "The Origins of New England Culture," in WMQ 48 (1991): 231-237; the insistence on the importance of local hierarchies goes back to William Haller, The Puritan Frontier: Town Planning in New England Colonial Development 1630-1660 (New York, 1951), pp. 23-24, 34, who stressed the important role of powerful individuals in the founding, planning and administering of New England towns. Such individuals held not only local and even provincial office but were also granted sizeable amounts of land by the leaders of the colony to which they belonged. Indeed, Haller argued that "in spite of the lack or inadequacy of the salary [of the town's and colony's officials] men of estate found that . . . the strategy of . . . land distribution, were inducements to undertake political service of this sort . . . One is left with the impression that this practice [i.e. the granting of large amounts of land to powerful individuals] was a means of quieting the pleas of demanding or influential individuals rather than a settled part of the colonial system of land distribution." Recently, John F. Martin's study on "Profits in the Wilderness" for the "New England entrepreneurs" has brought to light even more evidence to support Haller's assessment. Colonial Deerfield on the Connecticut river is a case in point. While one of its historians stressed the "communalism" of the settlement, recent research has shown how many of its inhabitants were without land. It was an offshoot of the township of Dedham and sixty-six of Dedham's commoners held land in Deerfield, although none of these landholders settled and lived there. However communal Deerfield life for its inhabitants might have been, this communalism coincided with a large degree of control of the town by nonresident landowners and shareholders; see Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, on Deerfield 26-27, 50-52; on its alleged communalism R. I. Melvoin, "Communalism in Frontier Deerfield," S. Innes, R. I. Melvoin, P. A. Thomas (ed.), Early Settlements in the Connecticut Valley (Westfield, 1984), pp. 36-61.

10. See e.g. B. K. Brown, "Puritan Democracy: A Case Study," Journal of American History 50 (1963/64): 32-48; for a recent survey on that debate see Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, pp. 165-173; J. I. Miller, The Rise and Fall of Democracy in Early America, 1630-1789 (University Park, PA 1991).

11. On the central importance of land for one's social status see also the literature in Fischer, Albion's Seed, pp. 167-174; the New England ministers are a case in point. Their status within the local community did not rest primarily on their wealth. However, New England ministers were not among the poorer inhabitants. E.g., Dedham's minister was the second wealthiest man in his town, and most ministers belonged to the more affluent townsfolk, see Foster, Long Argument, pp. 190-191.

12. M. Christie, "Woollen Industry," in W. Pape (ed.) The Victoria History of the Counties of England: A History of Essex Bd.II (London, 1967, reprint Folkestone 1977), pp. 380-403; J. E. Pilgrim, "The Rise of the 'New Draperies' in Essex," Historical Journal of the University of Birmingham 7 (1959/60): 36-59; D.C. Coleman, "An Innovation and Its Diffusion: The 'New Draperies'," Economic History Review 22 (1969): 417-429; C. G. A. Clay, Economic Expansion and Social Change: England 1500-1700, Two vols. (Cambridge, 1984), II: 147. Earls Colne Manor Court Rolls ERO D/DPr 79-99 (1500-1680). All sources were used from the microfilm collection of Alan Macfarlane et. al. (ed.), Records of An English Village (Cambridge, 1980/81) (see note on Table I), and will be quoted with their official number from the Essex or Public Record Office (ERO/PRO). I wish to thank Alan Macfarlane and Sarah Harrison for their suggestions and support when using the Earls Colne sources. For north Essex see J. Thirsk, "Farming Regions in England," in J. Thirsk (ed.), The Agricultural History of England and Wales vol. 4 (Cambridge, 1967), pp. 2-10; for Earls Colne in particular see R. v. Friedeburg, "Reformation of Manners and the Social Composition of Offenders in an English Cloth Village: Earls Colne, Essex, 1525-1642," Journal of British Studies 29 (1990): 347-385; idem., Sundenzucht und sozialer Wandel. Earls Colne (England), Ipswich und Springfield (Neuengland), c. 1524-1690 (Stuttgart, 1993); on Wigston Magna see W. G. Hoskins, The Midland Peasant: The Social and Economic History of a Leicestershire Village (London, 2nd edition, 1965), pp. 186-215; on the Hearth Tax see N. Alldridge (ed.), The Hearth Tax: Problems and Possibilities. Conference of Teachers of Regional and Local History (London, 1983); C. Husband, "The Hearth Tax and the Structure of the English Economy," (Diss. phil, Cambridge University, 1985), p. 151; M. Spufford, Contrasting Communities, pp. 299-301.

13. J. Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers in New England, Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came before May 1692 (Boston, 1860), Vol. II, p. 365 on Roger Harlakenden.

14. Ibid., Vol. III, p. 385 on Herbert Pelham; Perzel, "First Generation," p. 145, on Symonds.

15. Allen, In English Ways, Appendix 4, pp. 269-279.

16. Ibid., see chapter on Ipswich: 'Men of Good Ranke and Quality,' p. 117; quotation from Appleby, "A Different Kind," pp. 256-257.

17. Allen, In English Ways, pp. 134-138. Of 223 adult male settlers compiled (see note to Table III) I found that a total of 54 left probated inventories in G. F. Dow, The Probate Records of Essex County, Vols.I-III, 1633-1681, (Boston 1900-1920). Of the top 60% of Ipswich landowners each decile had seven to twelve members with probated wealth, the bottom 40% had only one member. See Allen, In English Ways, p. 135 for a discussion of the inventories.

18. Nathaniel Ward, a leading Ipswich inhabitant, in a letter to John Winthrop Jr in 1635, quoted in D. T. Konig, Law and Society in Puritan Massachusetts (Chapel Hill, 1979), pp. 29-30.

19. Edward Johnson, Wonderworking Providence, p.96; C. Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness: Urban Life in America (New York, 1938) pp. 41-42 on the emerging Boston food market.

20. Allen, In English Ways, pp. 134-138.

21. Johnson, Wonderworking Providence, pp. 236-237.

22. J.H. Smith (ed.), Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts (1639-1702). The Pynchon Court Record (Cambridge, MA, 1961), Introduction p. 6-8 on Pynchon's backround.

23. C. Bridenbaugh and J. Tomlinson (ed.), The Pynchon Papers Vol. II. Selections from the Account Books of John Pynchon, 1651-1697 (Boston, 1984), p. 274 on John Pynchon, whom Bridenbaugh called "without question the foremost frontier capitalist of his time".

24. B. Bailyn, The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (New York, 1964), pp. 54-55.

25. S. Innes, Labor, pp. 17-43.

26. On the problems with the Indians in this area in particular and on the Pequot War see Alfred C. Cave, "Who Killed John Stone? A Note on the Origins of the Pequot War," WMQ 49 (1992): 509-521; N. Salisbury, "Comments," in S. Innes, R. I. Melvoin and P. A. Thomas (ed.), Early Settlements, pp. 62-66; R. I. Melvoin, "Communalism in Frontier Deerfield," in Early Settlements, pp. 36-61; Smith, Colonial Justice, "Introduction," V: "The Mass Bay Judicial System," and VI: "The Jurisdictional Basis of the Springfield Courts"; R. A. McIntyre, "John Pynchon and the New England Fur Trade, 1652-1676," in C. Bridenbaugh and J. Tomlinson (ed.), The Pynchon Papers II: 3-70; Roger Williams, "Key to Indian Language (1643)," in Rhode Island Historical Collections I (1827): 106 on the Indian terms to describe the European cloth.

27. See Innes, Labor, Appendices, on the Springfield settlers dependent on Pynchon; Earls Colne was, by comparison e.g. with Havering or Terling lay subsidies, in fact very polarized, see McIntosh, Havering, passim; and Wrightson, Levine, Terling, passim.

28. The quotation is from Allen, In English Ways, p. 151; on Earls Colne and the working of the various jurisdictions responsible for it see Friedeburg, "Reformation of Manners," pp. 347-385; on Springfield see Innes, Labor, pp. 3-43; Smith, Colonial Justice pp. 9-31; on Ipswich see Allen, In English Ways, pp. 122-160; on the complaint in 1662 by one Robert Coss see G. F. Dow (ed.), Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts, Vols I-VIII, 1636-1683 (Salem, 1911) cont., vol. III, p. 65; Perzel, First Generation, passim.

29. On the landless in Springfield and Ipswich see Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, Appendices, p. 325; Springfield Innes, Labor, pp. 46-48; Ipswich to 1670: Allen, "In English Ways," (Diss., University of Wisconsin, 1974), p. 265, Table 17; Earls Colne 1598: Terrier 1598 Temp ACC 989; on the Earls Colne Hearth Tax see Friedeburg, Sundenzucht; Fischer, Albion's Seed, pp. 168-171 on the size share of the top tenth in taxable wealth and inventories, concludes that "the top tenth of wealthholders held only 20-30% of taxable property and 30 to 40% of estates in probate" (170). Ipswich was, by that measure, in fact, exceptional; Springfield, however, was not.

30. Perzel, "First Generation," App. II. Perzel's information was checked against Savage, Genealogical Dictionary (see note 13 for reference) and C. A. Torrey (ed.), New England Marriages prior to 1700, (Baltimore, 1987). Perzel's list of first generation settlers was supplemented by T. F. Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Ipswich, 1907), App. A, pp. 315-317. Persons with less than 10 acres but who were artisans were placed in the middle group following Perzel's procedure. With the exception of John Proctor, ranked as 'middle' by Perzel but with a probated wealth of 1228 Pounds Sterling 5 Shilling in 1672, Perzel's ranking proved correct. For Proctor see G. F. Dow, The Probate Records of Essex County, Vol II 1665-1675 (Boston, 1900), pp. 315-317; Springfield List 1685: Estimate of the Plantation, both of Men, houses and lands, 1685, Springfield Collector's Office; Ipswich list 1679: "Rate made, Nov. 17 1679, for the elder's salary", in G. F. Dow (ed.), Records of the Courts of Essex County, vol VIII, 1680-83 (Salem, 1924), pp. 309-11. This tax was rated since 1648 and had been introduced to pay Daniel Denison, Ipswich's richest inhabitant, see Perzel, "First Generation," pp. 165-166; see T. C. Barrow, "The Town Records of Ipswich," Essex Institute Historical Collections 91 (1961): 294-302; on poor relief in New England see C. R. Leet, "Public Poor Relief and the Massachusetts Community, 1620-1715," New England Quarterly 55 (1982): 564-585.

31. On Proctor see Dow, Records, II: 315-317; on Denison: Perzel, "First Generation," pp. 165-166; Dow, Records, III: 65; Allen, In English Ways, pp. 138-160 on the leadership of Ipswich; D. Vickers, "Competency and Competition: Economic Culture in Early America," WMQ 47 (1990): 3-29; on the link between "Elite and Popular Minds" see G. Selement, "The Meeting of Elite and Popular Minds in Cambridge, New England, 1638-1645," WMQ 41 (1984): 32-48. I wish to thank Sarah Harrison for allowing me to consult her earlier unpublished manuscript on the 1675 Hearth Tax; Innes, Labor, p. 75 on the age of Springfield laborers.

32. Ann Kussmaul, Servants in Husbandry in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1981).

33. See Innes, Labor, on Springfield's artisans; D. Vickers, "Work and Life on the Fishing Periphery of Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1675," in Allen and Hall (ed.), Seventeenth-Century New England, pp. 83-118; Main, "Gender, Work and Wages."

34. See Innes, Labor, Appendix on Springfield's population; see P. F. Gura, "The Contagion of Corrupt Opinion in Puritan Massachusetts: The Case of William Pynchon," WMQ 39 (1982): 469-491; Innes, Labor, pp. 22-23 on John Pynchon; see D. Vicker's review of Innes, Labor, in WMQ 41 (1984): 497-499; Leet, "Public Poor Relief"; quotation from Konig, Law and Society, pp. 29-30.

35. On the growth of population in Ipswich mainly by natural increase see Susan L. Norton, "Population Growth in Colonial America: A Study of Ipswich, Massachusetts," Population Studies 25 (1971): 433-452; when the Springfield 1646 rate is divided into deciles according to the land and to the rate of the ratepayers, the even spread of fathers among the ratepayers can be shown:
according to land according to rate

2 2
2 2
4 3
2 3
2 2
3 3
4 4
3 2
2 3
2 2

A conversion of the numbers of fathers to be gained from the 1646 is, however, necessary for a comparison with the Ipswich list


When comparing the number of fathers which can be reconstructed with Burt's compilation of Springfield's early settlers with the names given in the 1646 list, it appears that in particular the fathers of the bottom 20% of the 1685 rate did not appear in the 1646 list. Since the bottom 20% of 1685 were the youngest among the ratepayers, it is possible that their fathers were simply not in Springfield in 1646 but moved there later. In any case, the 1646 list represents not as complete a list as the one for Ipswich early settlers compiled by Perzel and Waters, but probably only the top 80% of Springfield's settlers. Hence it was necessary to consider only the top 80% of Ipswich ratepayers to make a comparison with the 1646 list possible.

36. Status of Fathers and their Sons compared:

FATHERS 69.7% 30.3%
SONS 52.6% 39.4% 8 % N =

FATHERS 45.7% 54.3%
SONS 55.9% 38.9% 5.2% N =

37. McIntosh, A Community Transformed; Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, passim; Norton, "Population Growth," p. 436: Of 125 Ipswich voters listed in 1673, only 14 (11%) were not members of those families resident in Ipswich already by 1650.

38. Bissell, From One Generation to Another, p. 92 on life cycle mobility; Greven, Andover; Anderson, New England's Generation; see recently G. H. Nobles, "Breaking into the Backcountry: New Approaches to the Early American Frontier, 1750-1800," WMQ 46 (1989): 641-670.

39. T.H. Breen, Puritans and Adventurers: Change and Persistence in Early America (New York, 1980), pp. 61-64; Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, pp. 191, 211-216.

40. Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, pp. 143, 172-3, 197; R. K. Snell, "Freemanship, Officeholding, and Townfranchise in Seventeenth-Century Springfield, Massachusetts," New England Historical and Genealogical Register 133 (1979): 163-179.

41. G. F. Dow (ed.), Records of the Courts of Essex County, vol VIII, 1680-83 (Salem, 1924), pp. 309-11; see the relevant discussion of the Ipswich lists in A. I. Ginsburg, "The Franchise in Seventeenth-Century Massachusetts: Ipswich," WMQ 34 (1977): 446452; Norton, "Population Growth"; on the 1679 rate and Denison see Perzel, "First Generation," p. 165-166; Barrow, "The Town Records of Ipswich," pp. 294-302; Martin, Profits in the Wilderness, pp. 22-23.

42. T. F. Waters, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 2 vols (Ipswich 1905-1917), pp. 98-99; for references on this debate see Ginsburg, "Franchise," passim.

43. Ginsburg, "Franchise," p. 452.

44. Norton, "Population Growth," p. 435.
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Author:von Friedeburg, Robert
Publication:Journal of Social History
Date:Dec 22, 1995
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