Our earliest ancestors to arrive in
the New World were among the Puritans. No Statue of Liberty
awaited them, only privation and hardship, but a dream of freedom was
the lodestone. They came to escape harassment by
ruling authorities in England, both civil and church.
Separatist groups such as Baptists, Quakers, and others, were a part of
the exodus, but many more of the Puritans were"Dissenters."
were good Church of England people who didn't want to leave the Church,
or do it any harm, but wished to reform it. High dignitaries of the
Church, and the King, considered these people to be as bad as
Separatists, and persecuted all of them. Dissenters were not the poor
only, but included ministers, tradesmen, landed gentry, professional
people, and men of standing in all occupations — the middle classes of
Although some decided earlier to go where they could worship
God as they saw fit, the real exodus began about 1628, after King
Charles ascended the throne. Harassment had been excessive before, but
then persecution became intolerable for many, so bad that more than
20,000 leaders, thinkers, and enterprising Britons, men and families,
came to the Colonies within ten years. Authorities regarding them as a
troublesome breed, were glad to see them go.
Among the Dissenters and Separatists were several of our
ancestors, who might not have come to America if they had been able to
get a modicum of religious freedom without indignity, in a not so Merry
Old England. We now offer a prayer of thanks for the stupidity of
King Charles, and Church of England leaders.