All posts by Robert Charles Anderson

About Robert Charles Anderson

Robert Charles Anderson, Director of the Great Migration Study Project, was educated as a biochemist and served in the United States Army in electronics intelligence. In 1972 he discovered his early New England ancestry and thereafter devoted his time and energies to genealogical research. He published his first genealogical article in 1976, and about the same time began to plan for what eventually became the Great Migration Study Project. In 1983 he received a Master’s degree in colonial American History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Anderson was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists in 1978 and has served as Secretary and President of that organization. He became a Contributing Editor of The American Genealogist in 1979, Associate Editor in 1985 and Coeditor in 1993. He has been an editorial consultant to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register since 1989.

Ships of the Winthrop Migration, 1629-1630

The Winthrop Fleet1629

The Massachusetts Bay Company arranged for six vessels to sail for New England in 1629, only five of which reached their destination. The salient details for each of these sailings are summarized below:

George Bonaventure, Thomas Cox, master. She left the Isle of Wight 4 May 1629, and probably reached Salem during the first half of July. Samuel Sharp and the Rev. Samuel Skelton were two of the passengers. Continue reading Ships of the Winthrop Migration, 1629-1630

Assorted populations of the Great Migration

The Winthrop FleetWhile the majority of the immigrants to New England between 1620 and 1640 were Puritans of some variety, a minority were conventional, conforming members of the Church of England, or of no particular religious persuasion at all. For example, West Country fishermen created settlements in Monhegan, Casco, and Richmond Island during the 1620s and early 1630s, accounting for (roughly) one thousand immigrants, or about five percent of the whole Great Migration. Continue reading Assorted populations of the Great Migration

Musings on seventeenth-century Puritans

Robert Charles Anderson_June 2014_1Lately, I have been reading Tom Webster’s Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: The Caroline Puritan Movement, c.1620-1643. Much of this volume is built around Thomas Hooker’s time in Chelmsford, Essex, in the late 1620s. One of my goals is to document in detail and with precision these years in Hooker’s life, a period in which he was lecturer at Chelmsford, school teacher at Great Baddow, and a leading influence on the development of young ministers of Puritan inclinations in East Anglia.

Much has been written about Hooker at this stage of his life, some of it from Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana, not the most reliable of sources. Modern historians make repeated reference to the “household seminary” run by Hooker, and I am concerned that this aspect of Hooker’s career has been distorted by the way Mather presented his information. A fair portion of my research trip to England in the fall will be devoted to collecting copies of all the original sources for Hooker’s life in Essex, and reading Webster’s book is part of the preparation for that research. Continue reading Musings on seventeenth-century Puritans

English port lists of the 1630s

The Original Lists of Persons of QualityJohn Camden Hotten first published The Original Lists of Persons of Quality his compilation of documents relating to seventeenth-century migration to New England, the Chesapeake, and the Caribbean more than a century and a quarter ago, and it remains one of our most valuable and accurate sources for that period. He included in the volume the surviving records from the London Port Books, along with lists from some of the English outports. In addition, he included some muster rolls from Virginia, and other items listing early settlers there. Continue reading English port lists of the 1630s

Deep Puritan Roots

Robert Charles Anderson_June 2014_1On a recent trip to Salt Lake City, I took along a list of questions to work on. I hoped to demonstrate directly that Alexander Nowell, the prominent English Puritan, actually had interactions with his grandnephew, Increase Nowell of Charlestown, Massachusetts (1593-1655), who was about nine years old when Alexander died in 1602. My first step was to locate and read Alexander’s will.

There was nothing there about Increase, but the will included a lengthy codicil dedicated to the estate of John Deane of Great Maplestead, Essex. In 1585, Alexander was appointed guardian to young John, who was born about 1583. At the time of Alexander’s will, about twenty years later, John would have just reached his majority. I think I must have read Alexander’s will many years ago, but this connection had not then meant anything to me. Continue reading Deep Puritan Roots