English Immigration to America 1620–42 and the Congregational Establishment

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Map Code: Ax00690

The Great Migration of 1620–42 saw approximately 20,000 migrants from England to the American colonies, the largest single recipient being Massachusetts. Nearly half the settlers hailed from East Anglia, but otherwise originated from across the country. Most were indentured servants escaping both a depressed economy and religious intolerance of the Catholic King Charles I. After the 1642 Civil War, the Puritan Commonwealth followed by the restoration of the Charles II changed the religious complexion of future migration. Massachusetts and its colonial neighbours remained the bastion of Congregationalism: meeting houses were the centre of every town, and Harvard and Yale were founded to train Congregational ministers. However, even in the Congregational heartland, generational shifts produced a softening in religious policy. In 1662, the Half Way covenant eased observance requirements. In 1691, Massachusetts’ new Royal Charter demanded freedom of religion, and ultimately the Great Awakening of the 1730s produced an evangelical revival antithetical to Puritan traditionalists.

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