Sources and links to the 1600’s
Here are just a few resources that I have found of interest.
If you are looking for information on the great migration, culture farming and early industry of New EnglandI would recommend the following books
“New England’s Generation: The Great Migration and the Formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century” by Virginia DeJohn Anderson
“Long, Deep Furrow” by Howard S. Russell
There are many links to the Society and Culture of the Seventeenth Century, but I found this to provide a great overview.
Here are a few brief snippets from this link. Keeping in mind that one of Watertown’s founding families was Isaac Stearns.
The meeting house was the center of local life, serving not only for church services but also for town meetings and occasionally as a schoolhouse. The town meeting was the characteristic form of government in New England settlements. Most settlements held town meetings once a month.
…Three groups of men existed in the colony: leaders, voting freemen, and nonvoters.
“…In 1632, residents of Watertown protested a tax levied by the assistants. Spurred by the protest, the General Court voted to establish the election of two representatives from each town, to “advise” assistants on matters of taxation. In 1634, town representatives demanded to see the charter. The charter, of course, called for the yearly election of assistants and the participation of the General Court in lawmaking. The charter’s policies were reinstated forthwith, along with other reforms. Henceforth, the May session of the General Court was open to all freemen. At the other three sessions, representatives from each town were to attend.”
The Puritan Way
John Winthrop’s Puritans had a strong sense of mission and saw themselves as a chosen people led by God. They intended to found a community of the godly and a biblical commonwealth; that is, a state founded on divine intention as they believed it to be revealed in the Bible…
Education in New England
The first New Englandschools did not teach basic literacy; reading ability was a requirement for admittance. Many children, including girls, were taught to read in a household setting, either by their parents, by a neighbor who kept a “dame school” for young children, or (if apprenticed) by their masters.2 Schoolmasters in the first free schools, in addition to their other duties, were expected to tutor willing boys in Latin grammar, the primary requirement for university admittance and study for the ministry; grammar schools concentrated on it and took their name from it. In 1636, wealthy citizens in Boston subscribed to maintain a school later named Boston Latin School (the first in the English colonies to operate continuously to the present day); a grammar school was established at Charlestown the same year.
Our ancestors were an outstanding “flexible” group of men or women in regards to surviving the new world, called New England. They knew what part of their culture was needed to maintain identity with England, but also knew that it was a time of change. That flexibility I refer to is in adjusting to hard soil, uncultivated land and knowing the need to learn a new trade. They learned the importance of farming, raising cattle and making do. If they had extra it would be sold to pay for the things they needed, but couldn’t make themselves. They lived as a community verses family as previous colonist did. This community spirit and culture is what made them strong and enduring, where other groups failed. They may have lost 200 of their “family” that first year, but they came back stronger the next.