English Emigration to America 1620-42

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Map Code: Ax01764

The motivations for early English migration differed markedly between colonies. New England was fundamentally a religious enterprise, to found ‘Zion in the Wilderness’. Further south, in Virginia, settlement was conceived as a commercial enterprise; while the Royal Charter promoted ‘propagation of religion… to infidels and savages’, the nub was the Crown’s 20 per cent commission on mined minerals and the yield of plantations. New England’s early colonists were overwhelmingly Puritans from East Anglia and the East Midlands – the Mayflower Pilgrims originally assembled in Nottinghamshire. The 20,000 settlers who sailed from 1629-40 were mainly comprised of family groups, often well-to-do clergymen (no less than 43 clergy had studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge), farmers, merchants and artisans; only 17 per cent were servants. In Virginia, 75 per cent were servants, almost all were young men: adventurers like John Smith were part of the mix. Origins were more mixed, but many hailed from the West Country.

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