Tour Talk

Issue #10, June 2012

Recruited Professionals in the Winthrop Migration

Much of Massachusetts Bay Company business in 1629 and 1630 was devoted to the recruitment of professionals of various stripes to be sent to New England with the other immigrants. This included ministers, soldiers, surgeons and physicians, as well as artisans such as coopers and shipwrights. As we did in the last issue of Tour Talk, we include here an excerpt from the Introduction to The Winthrop Fleet, describing the hiring of surgeons and physicians during these two years. (The Winthrop Fleet has gone to press, and will be available in August.)

iii Physicians and Surgeons


Abraham Pratt
At a General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Company held in London on 5 March 1628/9, terms were propounded under which “Mr. [blank] Pratt” would be hired as a surgeon for the settlers to be sent to New England, for a term of three years. He sailed for New England in 1629.

Lambert Wilson
On 17 April 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Company in London informed John Endicott in Salem that “[w]e have entertained Lambert Wilson, chirurgeon, to remain with you in the service of the Plantation; with whom we are agreed that he shall serve this Company and the other planters that live in the Plantation, for three years, and in that time apply himself to cure not only of such as came from hence for the general and particular accounts, but also for the Indians, as from time to time he shall be directed by yourself or your successor and the rest of the Council. And moreover he is to educate and instruct in his art one or more youths, such as you and the said Council shall appoint, that may be helpful to him, and, if occasion serve, succeed him in the Plantation; which youth or youths, fit to learn that profession, let be placed with him; of which Mr. Higginson’s son, if his father approve thereof, may be one, the rather because he hath been trained up in literature; but if not he, then such other as you shall judge most fittest, &c.” No New England records have been found for Lambert Wilson.


William Gager
In late 1629, John Winthrop wrote to “our loving friend Mr. Gager at Litle Waldingfield in Suffolk,” stating that “having sufficient assurance of your godliness and abilities in the art of surgery to be of much use to us in this work, being informed also, that the place where you live doth not afford you such sufficient and comfortable employment as your gifts do require, we have thought good to offer you a call to join with us, and become a member of our society.” William Gager did sail with the Winthrop Fleet and settled at Boston. On 23 August 1630, “It was propounded what should be Mr. Gager’s maintenance,” but he died less than a month later.

Richard Palgrave
The other known physician who came to New England in 1630 was Richard Palgrave. Although there is no direct evidence that he was recruited in the way we have seen for William Gager, there are indications that this was the case. First, in John Winthrop’s lists of 1629, Palgrave’s name immediately precedes that of Gager. Second, on 9 September 1639, “Mr. Palgrave is granted 200 acres of land, with Capt. Jeanison & Mr. Browne.” The General Court usually gave such grants of land in return for service to the colony, which in this case would likely be for his medical services.

Nikolaus Pevsner

Nikolaus Pevsner was born in Leipzig in 1902 and was educated in Germany as an art and architecture historian. In 1933 he departed Nazi Germany for England and resumed his career there. After the war he began work on a series of volumes which surveyed the architectural history of England, county by county, under the series title The Buildings of England. By 1974 all the counties of England had been covered, most of the volumes written by Pevsner himself.

Each county volume proceeds through the parishes and towns in alphabetical order. The account of each parish begins with a detailed description of the church, providing the age of each element of the structure and discussion of ornaments and monuments. In larger parishes other private and public buildings are also treated.

The second edition of the volume for Suffolk, published in 1974, and a more recently updated third edition of the volume for Essex, published in 2007, will guide us in August and will be included in the Great Migration Tour Travelling Library.

Ministerial Offices in Early New England

In the April issue of Tour Talk, we described the variety of ministerial offices found in the English church at the time of the Great Migration, including rectors, vicars and curates. When the Puritans reached New England, they organized their churches in a quite different fashion, according to Calvinist Reformed principles.

The ministers were to be chosen by the congregation and established over their parishes by the laying on of hands by the ruling elders of the congregation and by previously established ministers from neighboring parishes. There were to be two types of ministers ordained in this fashion, the pastor, who was to “have the oversight and charge of the whole parish, to instruct, to admonish, to exhort … and to minister the sacraments,” and the teacher, who was to “teach and expound, ‘so that he ought to be an exquisite and mighty man in the scriptures’” [Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement (London and New York, 1967), p. 335].

In addition, there were two types of officers drawn from the laity. The more senior were the ruling elders, who supervised church discipline and directed the process of selecting the pastor and teacher, eventually taking part in the ordination of these clerical officers. The deacons handled the financial aspect of church government, collecting the ministerial rates and disbursing church funds. In New England, the deacons were often seen taking the probate inventories of deceased members of the congregation.

Winthrop Fleet Passengers from Edwardstone, Suffolk

John Winthrop was born at Edwardstone, Suffolk, on 12 January 1587/8, son of Adam and Anne (Browne) Winthrop. Anne (Browne) Winthrop had inherited a house at Edwardstone from her father, Henry Browne. Edwardstone is immediately adjacent to and west of Groton, the two churches being about a mile and a quarter apart. On Saturday, 18 August, we will begin our day by taking the coach to Groton. After exploring the church and village, we have have an optional walk across the fields to Edwardstone.

Benjamin Brand was one of the young single men who accompanied Winthrop on the Arbella , perhaps more out of a sense of adventure than as serious planters. (Another of this sort was Winthrop’s brother-in-law, Arthur Tyndall.) Benjamin was son of John Brand of Edwardstone, and was born perhaps about 1610. His stay in New England was very brief, and by early 1631 he was back in England. By 1641 he was married with at least one child, but he has not been traced beyond this. During our walk from Groton to Edwardstone we will be passing through property owned by John Brand.

John Pond was born at Edwardstone about 1600, son of William Pond. John came to New England on the Winthrop Fleet, along with an unnamed brother. Either John or his brother wrote a letter home to William Pond in early 1631, with a desperate plea for provisions. The writer of the letter had a wife and children, and spoke of returning soon to England. Neither brother is seen in New England after 1631.

Researching Edwardstone families can be quite difficult, owing to the loss of the early parish registers. The Edwardstone immigrants listed above are the only ones known to have been on the Winthrop Fleet, but there may well have been others.

Bob Anderson, Tour Leader
Sandi Hewlett, Assistant Tour Leader

MBCR 1:29-30.

MBCR 1:396.

WP 2:199.

MBCR 1:74.

WP 2:276.

MBCR 1:273, 282.

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