Massachusetts Bay Company


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Massachusetts Bay Company,

English chartered company that established the Massachusetts Bay colony in New England. Organized (1628) as the New England Company, it took over the Dorchester Company, which had established a short-lived fishing colony on Cape Ann in 1623. The group obtained (1628) from the Council for New England a grant of land between the Charles and Merrimack rivers, extending westward to "the South Sea." One of the men who negotiated for this patent, John EndecottEndecott or Endicott, John
, c.1588–1665, one of the founders of Massachusetts Bay colony, b. England. He led the first group of Puritan colonists to Massachusetts Bay in 1628 and was the first governor
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, became leader of the colony at Naumkeag (later Salem), founded (1626) by Roger ConantConant, Roger,
1592–1679, one of the founders of Massachusetts, b. East Budleigh, Devonshire, England. He was a salter in London before he went to Plymouth in 1623.
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 and others from the Cape Ann settlement. In 1629 the New England Company obtained a royal charter as the "Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England." Almost immediately the emphasis changed from trade to religion, as the Puritan stockholders conceived of the colony as a religious and political refuge for their sect. A group led by John WinthropWinthrop, John,
1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, b. Edwardstone, near Groton, Suffolk, England. Of a landowning family, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, came into a family fortune, and became a government administrator with strong Puritan
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 (1588–1649) signed the so-called Cambridge Agreement (1629), by which they engaged to emigrate to New England provided that they could buy out the stock of the company and thus gain complete control of the company's government and charter. Since the royal charter did not specify where the stockholders should meet, this arrangement was made, and the Massachusetts Bay Company became the only one of the English chartered colonization companies not subject to the control of a board of governors in England. The colonists sailed for New England in 1630. They reached Salem, soon moved to Charlestown, but decided to make their chief settlement at the mouth of the Charles River, a commanding position on Massachusetts Bay. There Boston was established. Attempts were made by the Council for New England, under the leadership of Sir Ferdinando GorgesGorges, Sir Ferdinando
, c.1566–1647, English colonizer, proprietor of Maine. He was knighted (1591) for his services to Henry IV of France in the French Wars of Religion and was subsequently (1596–1601, 1603–29) military governor of Plymouth, England.
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, to annul the colony's land claims, but the efforts were unsuccessful. The company and the colony were synonymous until 1684, when the charter was withdrawn, and the company ceased to exist. In 1691 a new charter made Massachusetts a royal colony and extended its jurisdiction over Plymouth and Maine.

Bibliography

See N. B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (5 vol., 1853–54, repr. 1968), G. L. Beer, The Origins of the British Colonial System, 1578–1660 (1908, repr. 1959); J. T. Adams, The Founding of New England (1921, repr. 1963), C. M. Andrews, The Colonial Period of American History, Vol. I (1934, repr. 1964); T. Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay (ed. by L. S. Mayo, 3 vol., 1936, repr. 1970); T. J. Wertenbaker, The Puritan Oligarchy (1947, repr. 1970); R. E. Wall, Massachusetts Bay: The Crucial Decade, 1640–1650 (1972).

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