Sunday, March 3, 2019

Women in America Timeline 1621-1650

Timeline Of Events Directly Affecting Women

Copies of complete documents may be found by clicking on highlighted descriptions.

One of the first treaties between colonists & Native Americans is signed as the Plymouth Pilgrims enact a peace pact with the Wampanoag Tribe, with the aid of Squanto, an English speaking Native American.

First Thanksgiving celebrated at Plymouth.

Charter of the Dutch West India Company; June 3

Ordinances for Virginia; July 24-August 3

Maine was settled in 1622. Massachusetts Bay colony encroached into Maine during the English Civil War; but, with the Restoration, Maine regained autonomy in 1664.

 A Grant of the Province of Maine to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason, esq., August 10

A sudden attack by Powhatan Indians on the English colony at Jamestown results in the death of nearly 400 settlers including women & children.

New Hampshire grew from a series of land grants dating from 1623 to 1680. For much of its history the colony was controlled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The settlement at Exeter was founded in 1638 by John Wheelwright, a disciple of Anne Hutchinson, who was banned from the Massachusetts Bay Colony by her fellow Puritans. By 1691, it became the royal Province of New Hampshire. One disputed New Hampshire grant territory (New Hampshire claimed it, a judge awarded it to New York) later became the state of Vermont.

The Virginia colony enacted the first North American temperance law.

New York. The island of Manhattan is purchased from local Indians by the Dutch; the colony is named New Netherlands & its capital New Amsterdam. The first group of 34 families of Dutch settlers disperse up the Hudson River, to the Delaware River area in New Jersey, to Governor's Island, Manhattan Island, & Long Island.

Warrant for William Ussling to Establish a General Company for Trade to Asia, Africa, America and Magellanica; December 21

The Virginia Company charter is revoked in London & Virginia is declared a Royal colony.

Charles I comes to the throne in England.

Dutch colonist Peter Minuit buys Manhattan island from Native Americans for 60 guilders (about $24) & names the island New Amsterdam.

Notification of the Purchase of Manhattan by the Dutch; November 5

Puritan colonists landed at Salem and started the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Slavery is introduced into Manhattan by the Dutch.

Thomas Morton & colonists at Merrymount dance around a maypole and celebrate May Day, upsetting the Plymouth Pilgrims. In June, Capt. Miles Standish eradicates the settlement & sends Morton back to England.

Massachusetts. John Winthrop (1588–1649) assumes leadership of the English settlers in present-day Salem; this marks the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop chooses Boston as his seat of government.

Samuel Skelton was elected the first pastor of Salem, Massachusetts. The church covenant created by Skelton made his congregation the first non-separating congregational Puritan Church in New England.

Charter of the Colony of New Plymouth Granted to William Bradford and His Associates; January 13

Grant of Land North of the Saco River to Thomas Lewis and Richard Bonighton by the Council for New England; February 12

The Charter of Massachusetts Bay; March 4

Sir Robert Heath's Patent 5 Charles 1st; October, 30

Grant of Hampshire to Capt. John Mason, November 7

Grant of Laconia to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason by the Council for New England; November 17

England's King Charles I dissolves parliament & attempts to rule as absolute monarch, spurring many to leave for the American colonies.

Population: 3,000 colonists in Virginia; 300 at Plymouth. Between 1630-1640, another 16,000 colonists will arrive.

1630 – 1643
English Puritan families immigrate to the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Roger Williams first arrived in North America. He would question the rigid religious policies in the Massachusetts colony, leading to his being banished to Rhode Island five years later. There he would create the first Baptist church in America. The General Court of the Massachusetts issued the decree that "no man shall be admitted to the body politic but such as are members of some of the churches within the limits" of the colony.

Maryland. Lord Baltimore of England receives a charter from King Charles I for land north of the Potomac River. Lord Baltimore is Catholic & draws up a charter allowing the establishment of churches of all religions. Although Maryland was an early pioneer of religious toleration in the British colonies, religious strife between denominations was common in the early years.

Charter of Maryland; June 20

Williamsburg, first known as Middle Plantation, is founded in Virginia

The first town government in the colonies is organized in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

The Roman Catholic Church arrived in North America when the ships "Dove" and "Ark" arrived in Maryland with 128 Catholic colonists. The members of this group had been chosen by Cecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore and the colony itself would be led by Leonard Calvert, Lord Baltimore's brother.

Royal Commission for Regulating Plantations; April 28

Boston Latin School, for boys, is established as the first public school in America.

Confirmation of the Grant from the Council for New England to Captain John Mason

Grant of the Province of New Hampshire to John Wollaston, Esq., April 18

Grant of the Province of New Hampshire to Mr. Mason, By the Name of Masonia; April 22

Grant of the Province of New Hampshire to Mr. Mason, By the Name of New Hampshire; April 22

Declaration for Resignation of the Charter by the Council for New England; April 25

The Act of Surrender of the Great Charter of New England to His Majesty; June 7

Grant of the Province of New Hampshire From Mr. Wollaston to Mr. Mason, June 11

Grant of His Interest in New Hampshire by Sir Ferdinando Gorges to Captain John Mason; September 17

Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts. Williams had argued against civil punishments for religious crimes and, as a result of his expulsion from the colony, he founded the town of Providence and the new colony of Rhode Island, specifically as a place of refuge for those seeking religious freedom.

North America's first university, for men, is founded at Cambridge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and soon receives a large bequest from John Harvard.  Harvard College (later University), founded by the Massachusetts Puritans, was the first institution of higher learning established in North America and was originally created to train future ministers.

Massachusettes First American built slave carrier, Desire, is launched in Massachusettes

Rhode Island. Providence Plantation was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Baptist minister fleeing from religious persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was joined there by Anne Hutchinson after her banishment. In 1663, a Royal Charter was granted by Charles II of England for the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The charter guaranteed religious freedom for all -- even Jews.  See this blog for Anne Hutchinson's trial record.

A small Jewish population existed in Rhode Island, the only one in the original 13 British colonies of North America in which they were able to practice their religion freely.

Connecticut. The River Colony was organized on March 3, 1636 as a haven for Puritan noblemen. After early struggles with the Dutch, the English gained control by the late 1630s. Two other English colonies merged into the Connecticut Colony: Saybrook Colony in 1644; New Haven Colony in 1662.

20 January. Boston clergyman John Wheelwright preaches a sermon supporting the ideas of Anne Hutchinson and her followers and is thereby sentenced to banishment on 12 November. Anne Hutchinson is sentenced to banishment at the same time.

To prevent the re-election of Governor Vane, who is sympathetic to Anne Hutchinson and her ideas, John Winthrop moves the voting to Newtown & thus is himself elected Governor of the colony.

December. Under the leadership of Peter Minuit, a group of Swedish colonists establishes a settlement called New Sweden on the Delaware River.

Proclamation Against the Disorderly Transporting His Majesty's subjects to the Plantations Within the Parts of America; April 30

Commission to Sir Ferdinando Gorges as Governor of New England by Charles; July 23

New Haven was settled in late 1637. New Haven was absorbed by Connecticut Colony with the issuance of the Connecticut Charter in 1662.

Religious dissident Anne Hutchinson is expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for “traducing the ministers” & for advocating personal revelation of the role of the Puritan clergy. Her family and other religious dissenters found Rhode Island. See this blog for Anne Hutchinson's Trial record.  


In 1638 the New Sweden Company created the first permanent settlement of Delaware & created an outpost named after the queen of Sweden, Fort Christina. The end of the Swedish rule came in 1655. In 1664, after James, Duke of York, captured New Amsterdam. They renamed New Amstel New Castle. This effectively ended Dutch claims to any land in colonial North America. Delaware was governed from New York by a Deputy of the Duke of York from 1664 to 1682. After William Penn was granted the province of Pennsylvania in 1681, he received the lands of Delaware from the Duke of York.

The first colonial printing press is set up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, owned by a woman, Mrs. Jose Glover. Mrs. Glover took financial charge of the first press in Cambridge upon her husband's death on the sea journey to America. Her's was the only press in the colonies. She established the business and, until her marriage to Henry Dunster, President of Harvard College in 1641, served as owner/publisher, with Stephen Daye as "the overseer or manager." Mrs. Glover Dunster died in1643

Virginia, 1639: The first law to exclude "Negroes" from normal protections by the government was enacted.

Richard Fairbanks, given responsibility for delivering mail in Massachusetts, is allowed to charge a penny per letter.

American theologian Increase Mather was born.

Fundamental Orders; January 14

Grant of the Province of Maine; April 3

Fundamental Agreement, or Original Constitution of the Colony of New Haven, June 4

Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter in New Hampshire, August 4

Civil war breaks out in England as the culmination of the rivalry between Charles I & Parliament. The Battle of Naseby (1645) ends in triumph for the Parliamentary army led by Oliver Cromwell (1599–1658). Charles I was executed in 1649. England, Scotland, & Ireland are collectively declared a commonwealth, with Cromwell acting as Lord Protector. During the period of strict Puritan rule, the arts are suppressed, theaters are closed, & cultural patronage declines as the elites retire to their safer country seats.

New Netherlands forbids residents from harboring or feeding runaway slaves.

When Ann Hibbens of Boston insisted that she had the right to complain about the work of male carpenters she hired, the church elders attacked her for thinking she can manage these affairs better than her husband, "which is a plain breach of the rule of Christ." She is excommunicated, and 16 years later, she is hanged for witchcraft.

William Bradford, &c. Surrender of the Patent of Plymouth Colony to the Freeman; March 2

Plantation Agreement at Providence; August 27 - September 6,

Massachusettes legalizes slavery

Government of Rhode Island-March 16-19

The Combinations of the Inhabitants Upon the Piscataqua River for Government, October 22

Anne Hutchinson & family murdered by Native Americans near Eastchester, Long Island (N. Y.)

Patent for Providence Plantations - March 14

The Articles of Confederation of the United Colonies of New England; May 19

Government of New Haven Colony; October 27 - November 6

New England Confederation of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven adopts a fugitive slave law.

With her friends, Lady Deborah Moody (c 1585-c 1659) leaves the orthodoxy of the Massachusetted colony to set up a community based on religious tolerance in Gravesend, Long Island. After receiving a patent from the Dutch in 1645, she participates in the town council meetings, helping to draw up the plans for the town & select magistrates.

In his 1643 writings about the Narragansett indians, Rhode Island founder Roger Williams describes the women's work: taking down, carrying, & setting up the mats or house coverings, when the people move from summer to winter homes. They also "plant, weede, & hill, & gather & barne all the corne."

In Massachusetts, the general court approves a law that makes religious heresy punishable by death.

In New Haven, Anne Eaton, the governor's wife, attacks the church on the issue of baptism of infants. She and 3 of her female supporters are put on trial. Supporter Mrs. Leech points to the "untruths" in church doctrine.

Robert Child and others protest the intolerance of Massachusetts Puritans toward those of other faiths; in response, Governor John Winthrop & others justify their policies & banish Child.

The Cambridge Synod of Congregational Churches convened in Massachusetts, deciding upon the correct form of government which all Congregational Churches in New England would agree to follow.

1647 - 1648
First woman barrister in the colonies, Margaret Brent (1601-1671) of Maryland, seeks & is denied the right to vote in the assembly. The unmarried Brent, one of the largest landowners in Maryland, asks the Maryland Assembly for two votes, one for herself & another as Leonard Calvert's administrator & Lord Baltimore's attorney. Her request is denied.


In England, George Fox founds Society of Friends (Quakers)

Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England.

The Maryland Assembly passed the Toleration Act, providing protection to Roman Catholics against Protestant harassment and discrimination, a problem which had been on the increase due to the growing power of Oliver Cromwell in England.

The colony of Maine passed legislation creating religious freedom for all citizens, but only on the condition that those of "contrary" religious beliefs behave "acceptably."

Anne Bradstreet’s (c. 1612-1672) The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America is published, without her knowledge, in London by her brother-in-law. The collection includes rhymed discourses & chronicles

Yale Law School, The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy. New Haven, CT.


HISTORY MATTERS. American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning (Graduate Center, CUNY) and the Center for History and New Media (George Mason University).