CHAPTER II.

EVENTS WHICH INFLUENCED SOME OF THE FIRST PLANTERS OF NEW HAVEN TO REMOVE FROM THEIR NATIVE LAND TO NEW ENGLAND.

O N the sixth day of October, 1624, a general vestry was holden in St. Stephen's Church, Coleman Street, London, for the election of a new incumbent; this being one of the few parishes in England where the right of presentation is vested in the parishioners. Of seventy-three votes, John Davenport, a curate in a contiguous parish, received all but three or four. He had held this curacy about six years, and was now regarded as one of the ablest preachers in the city. " He was reported," says the Bishop of London, in reply to a letter in which Sir Richard Conway interceded for Davenport's induction, "to be factious and popular,1 and to draw after him great congregations and assemblies of common and mean people." Endowed with imagination, earnest in his piety, Calvinistic in his theology,-possessing the full strength of manhood with no abatement of the fervor of youth, he was a great favorite with the merchants, tradesfolk, and artisans, whose dwellings were in Coleman Street and other

1 The bishop meant that Davenport did not stand for the king's prerogative. 29

streets since surrendered entirely to business. His admirers were almost universally of that class of Englishmen whose representatives in Parliament so much displeased King James by presenting a list of grievances whenever he asked for money. Therefore to be popular, whether it means to be on- the side of the people or to be regarded by the people with favor, was to be suspected at court.

It was soon found that something stood in the way of Davenport's induction. The young preacher had been traduced to the king as a Puritan, or as puritanically affected; and the king had spoken of him to the bishop of London in such terms that the bishop was unwilling to induct him into the benefice to which he had been elected. The charge pf puritanism, if it meant that Davenport did not conform to all the prescribed cere-monies of the Church, had no foundation at this early date. The accusation had probably proceeded from one of the king's pages, who, having been reproved by Davenport for profane swearing, either innocently adjudged him for that reason to be a Puritan, or revengefully applied an opprobrious epithet to prejudice his reprover in the king's esteem.

Davenport's friends, however, were not all " common and mean people." At his solicitation, seconded by that of Lady Mary Vere, his cause was undertaken by her brother-in-law Sir Richard Conway, principal secretary to his majesty) who conciliated the king, and persuaded the bishop to proceed to the induction, which took place before the date of the following certificate, indorsed in the handwriting of Davenport on a copy of "The Thirty-Nine Articles," now in the library of the American Antiquarian Society at Worcester: -

3O

" Novemb. 7th 1624 "John Davenporte, Clerk, Vicar of St Stephen's in Coleman Street, London, did, this day above written, being Sunday, pub-liquely read this booke of Articles herein Contayned, being in number 39 besides the ratification, and declared his full and unfeigned assent and consent thereunto in the tyme of morning Prayer, next after the Second Lesson, before the whole Congre-gacion. As also the sayd John did, the same day, administer the Holy Communion in the sayd parish, in his surplis, according to ye order prescribed by ye Church of England; in the presence of these whbse names are here underwritten."

The certificate is signed by one of the church-wardens and seven other parishioners, and was doubtless given on the first Sunday after his -induction.

The first two or three years of Davenport's incumbency were prosperous and comparatively peaceful. So far as can be ascertained, he conformed as faultlessly as in his curacy at St. Lawrence's, where, as he declares in a letter to Secretary Conway, he " baptized many, but never without the sign of the cross ; monthly administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but at no time without the surplice, nor to any but those that kneeled."

In 1627 he brought himself into trouble by uniting with other ministers in a circular letter soliciting contributions for the oppressed Protestants of the Upper Palatinate. Laud, who was now the principal adviser of the king, was displeased with the signers of the letter for such sympathy with Presbyterians, and caused them to be reprimanded in the Star-Chamber.

The translation of Laud in 1628, to the see of London, brought greater peril of collision between him and the Calvinistic vicar of St. Stephen's. What was Daven-

31

port's first offence, is not known; but how soon he was summoned before the High Commission, appears from the following extract from one of his letters to Lady Vere:--

" LONDON, June'30, 1628.

" MADAM, - Since my recovery out of a dangerous sickness, which held me for a week or a fortnight before Shrovetide to as long after Easter, for which I return most humble thanks to the God of my life, the Father of mercies, I have had divers purposes of writing to your honor, only I delayed in hope to write somewhat concerning the event and success of our High Commission troubles; but I have hoped in vain: for to this day we are, in the same condition as before,-delayed till the finishing of this session in Parliament, which now is unhappily concluded without any satisfying contentment to the king or commonwealth. Threatenings were speedily revived against us by the new Bishop of London, Dr. Laud, even the next day after the conclusion of their session. We expect a fierce storm from the enraged spirit of the two bishops. vOurs, as I am informed, hath a particular aim at me upon a former quarrel: so that I expect ere long to be deprived of my pastoral charge in Coleman Street But I am in God's hands, not in theirs; to whose good pleasure I do contentedly and cheerfully commit myself.1"

In January, 1631, he was required to answer certain charges brought against him by Timothy Hood, some time his curate. Hood had been dismissed for not complying with the requirement that .he should reside within the parish, and, according to Davenport's relation of the case, had become incensed against him for that reason. One of the charges was, that the vicar had sometimes administered the sacrament to communicants who did not kneel, and the accusation was brought to a fine edge by the specification of Mrs. Davenport as one of the said communicants.

1 Birch MSS., 4275 32

The vicar replied to this objection against him, that the parish contained about fourteen hundred communicants, and that, the chancel being small, it was a matter of necessity to administer to the communicants from pew to pew, and that the pews were sometimes so filled that it was impossible to kneel; that when he had observed some to sit, that might conveniently kneel, he had advised them to kneel; that, in case of refusal to kneel, he had refused to administer the sacrament to the party so refusing. The specification concerning his wife, he meets by testifying that she had received the sacrament at his hand, kneeling, many times, and that the curate had "not acquainted him, the said John Davenport, that he observed any such thing concerning his wife " as was charged.

It is evident from this disingenuous but doubtless literally true statement, that some of Davenport's parishioners, including his own wife, were at this time non-conformists, and that he had winked at their irregularity. It does not appear, however, that he himself had any scruple about kneeling, or had personally omitted any required ceremony.

The complaint seems to have resulted in nothing worse than a private admonition from his bishop. It was probably the conference between Laud and Davenport in reference to this complaint to which the prelate referred, when, in his report of the diocese of London k for that part of the year 1633 which elapsed before his elevation to the primacy, he said, "Since my return , x from Scotland, Mr. John Davenport, vicar of St. Stephen's in Coleman Street (whom I used with all moderation, and about two years since thought I had

. 33

settled his judgment, having him then at advantage enough to have put extremity upon him, but forbore it), hath now resigned his vicarage, declared his judgment against conformity with the Church of England, and is since gone (as I hear) to Amsterdam." To his moderation with Davenport in reference to the complaint of Hood, the prelate again referred in his defence, when on trial for his life, before the Long Parliament. One charge being, that he had forced Davenport to flee from his parish and from the country, he said in reply: "The truth is, my lords, and 'tis well known, and to some of his best friends, that I preserved him once before, and my Lord Vere came, and gave me thanks for it."

About one year after* Davenport had escaped from this danger, Laud discovered the existence of a company, whose design was to purchase such advowsons as, having been impropriated to laymen in the time of Henry the Eighth, were now for sale, in order that the trustees, or, as they were styled, feoffees, of the company might present for induction men whom they regarded as orthodox, that is, as Calvinists. The company had been in operation for some years, and had already purchased several impropriations with money contributed for that purpose. The discovery of the project excited Laud vehemently. He hated Calvinists, whether conforming or non-conforming; partly for their theology, and partly for their almost invariable adhesion to the popular side in the contest between the Commons and the king. It was part of his plan of administration to exclude them from preferment; so that this company was, in his estimation, an organized

34

attempt to frustrate his plans. Davenport was one of the feoffees t>f this company, and, as such, participated in the heavy displeasure of the man who in the king's name ruled both Church and State. He and his associates were apprehensive that they might be proceeded against in the Star-Chamber, and punished with ruinous fines; but Laud, having caused the corporation to be 'dissolved and its property to be confiscated, abstained from further vengeance. When the prosecution was brought to an end, Davenport recorded in his Bible his thanks to God for deliverance from the thing he feared.

The policy of excluding Calvinists from church preferment, even if faultless in their conformity, naturally forced conforming clergymen of that school of theology into closer sympathy with non-conformists, and into a wider estrangement from Laud and his associates. Doctrinal Puritans, a's Calvinists were now called, finding themselves proscribed by their ecclesiastical superiors, began to feel the force of the reasons which the ceremonial Puritans alleged for not conforming. Perhaps the suppression of the company of which he had been a trustee, and the confiscation of its property, turned the scales with which Davenport weighed these reasons. However this may be, it appears from his own testimony that he was " first staggered in his conformity, and afterward fully taken off, by set conferences and debates, which himself and sundry other ministers obtained with Mr. John Cotton, then driven from Boston [in Lincolnshire] on account of his non-conformity.

For several months he absented himself from the communion-service celebrated monthly in his church,

. 35

but might perhaps in time have relapsed into conformity. The tidings which caine on Sunday, Aug. 4, 1633, that the old Calvinistic Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbot, was dead, seem to have brought him to a decision. Abbot had been decidedly friendly to Cal-vinists who conformed, and not very severe against those who were guilty of some slight aberrations from the ritual. His brother, Sir Maurice Abbot, afterward lord mayor, was a parishioner of St. Stephen's, and had sometimes, spread over Davenport the shield of the archbishop's protection. But the primate was now dead, and the succession of Laud cast its shadow before. On Monday Davenport left the city; and on Tuesday Laud, returning from his missionary tour to Scotland, was saluted by the king as "my Lord of Canterbury." Davenport, after lying in concealment for about three months, escaped to Holland " disguised in a gray suit and an overgrown beard." x

We learn from one of his letters to the representative of the king of Great Britain, resident at the Hague, that when he went into that country he intended to remain only three or four months and then return to his native land. He cannot have expected that the storm which had driven him into exile would so soon subside entirely, or even sufficiently to permit him to resume his work as a Puritan preacher in England. Some thoughts may. have been in his mind of undertaking in 1634 what he accomplished in 1637. He had been interested in the Massachusetts Bay Company as early certainly as 1629, having contributed money to procure the charter which the king signed in that year, and had continued from

1 Letter of Stephen Goffe, dated 1633, Dec. 16/26.

36

that time to meet with its directors and to act on its committees. A short absence might be considered expedient to allow the vigilance of his enemies to abate before he should organize an expedition. Nevertheless any project of leading a colony from England to America, which he may have entertained when he landed in Holland, was so vague that he listened to a proposal to settle permanently in Amsterdam.

If for a time he cherished the thought of finding a home in Holland, he had doubtless relinquished it as early as 1635, for in that year his family returned to England. He followed them, probably in the summer or autumn of 1636; for the organization of a company of emigrants was so far forwarded in January of the following year that they had chartered a vessel, " made ready all their provisions and passengers, fitting both for the said voyage and plantation, and most of them thereupon engaged their whole estates." *

While these preparations were in progress, Davenport doubtless kept himself out of sight as much as he conveniently could, both on his own account, and for the sake of the expedition. Years afterward, Laud, alluding to him and his escape to New England, exclaimed, "My arm shall reach him even there." If it had been known that those who had chartered "the good ship Hector," to carry them to New England, and had engaged their whole estates in preparing for the voyage, were to have the former vicar of St. Stephen's as their leader, their undertaking might have been extinguished with as little regard to the rights of property

1 Petition of the Owners and Freighters of the Good Ship called the Hector of London. State Papers: Colonial.

37

as that of the feoffees had been. It did, indeed, become known at last that Davenport had returned. The vicar-general of the Bishop of London, reporting his visitation of the diocese, writes from Braintree, March 6, " Mr. Davenport hath lately been in these parts, and at Hackney, not long since. I am told that he goeth in gray, like a country gentleman." We may infer from what this reporter relates, that Davenport had not shown himself much in public, and, from his silence in reference to the expedition to New England, that he had heard nothing of Davenport's connection with it.

About twelve months before Davenport fled from London, Samuel Elaton and John Lathrop,1 two non-conforming clergymen, were imprisoned by the High Commission for holding conventicles. With the connivance of the jailer, Eaton continued to hold conventicles after his incarceration, as appears from a document preserved among the English State Papers, and here subjoined: -

" To the most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, his grace, Primate and Metropolitan of all England:-

"Humbly sheweth: - The most humble petition of Francis Tucker, Bachelor of Divinity, and prisoner in Newgate for debt. That whereas there is one Samuel Eaton, prisoner in Newgate, committed by your grace for a schismatical and dangerous fellow; that the said Eaton hath held divers conventicles within the said gaol, some whereof hath been to the number of seventy persons or more, and that he was permitted by the said keeper openly and publicly to preach unto them; and that the said Eaton hath often-

1 Lathrop had formerly been vicar of Egerton in Kent, but now was the teacher of a congregation of Separatists in London. Egerton had become a stronghold of Puritanism.

38

times affirmed in his said sermons that baptism was the doctrine of devils, and its original was an institution from the devil; and oftentimes he would rail against your grace, affirming that all bishops were heretics, blasphemers, and antichristian. That the said keeper, having notice hereof .by the petitioner, who desired him to be a means that these great resorts and conventicles might be prevented, and that he would reprove the said Eaton for the same, and remove him to some other place of the prison. That hereupon the said keeper, in a disdainful manner, replied that the petitioner should meddle with what he had to do; and if he did'dislike the said Eaton and his conventicles, he would remove the petitioner into some .worse place of the prison. That at this time there was a conventicle of sixty persgns or more; that the said keeper coming into the room where the conventicle was, and the said Eaton preaching unto them and maintaining dangerous opinions, having viewed the^said assembly, he said there was a very fair and goodly company; and staying there some season, departed without any distaste thereat, to the great encouragement of the said Eaton and the said persons to frequent the said place. That the said keeper had a strict charge from the said commission to have a special care of the said Eaton; and that since, the said keeper hath several times permitted him to go abroad to preach to conventicles appointed by him, the said Eaton. That daily there doth resort to the said^aton much people to hear him preach. That the said petitioner reproving the said keeper for the said contempt, he thereupon abused him with uncivil language, and further, caused the said Eaton to abuse the petitioner, not only with most abusive words, but also with blows."

Eaton and Lathrop were probably released on bail, for the court after calling them several times finally decreed, Feb. 19, 1635, that for their contempt in not appearing to answer charges touching their holding conventicles, thejr bonds should be certified, and they attached and committed. Lathrop, fortunately for him, was already in New England, having arrived at Boston with thirty-two of his congregation Sept. 18, 1634.

. 39

Eaton, having lain in concealment till the return of Davenport from Holland, became his associate in the voyage to America. Perhaps he was drawn into such association by personal friendship, as well as by the peril to which they were exposed in common; for both were natives of Coventry, where Baton's father, a bene-ficed clergyman, had been the religious teacher and guide of Davenport's childhood and youth.

Theophilus Eaton, an older brother of Samuel Eaton, was so nearly of the age of Davenport that they had been schoolmates and intimate friends in Coventry. Intended by his parents for the church, he had become a merchant in London. Respected for his character and for his success in business, he was elected at an early age Deputy Governor of the Fellowship of Eastland Merchants, and sent by them, as their agent, to superintend their affairs and promote their interests in the countries bordering on the Baltic. Returning after an absence of three years, he became a parishioner of his friend, the vicar of St. Stephen's. Already so much a Puritan that he had scrupled when abroad at the lawfulness of drinking toasts, he was probably, when Davenport resigned his vicarage, as far advanced as he in nonconformity. The idea of expatriation had, perhaps, become less repulsive to his mind by reason of his long connection with the company of Massachusetts Bay, of which he was one of the original patentees, and to which he, like Davenport, had liberally given time and money. The acquaintance he had made with the court of High Commission through the recent experience of his brother Samuel, and perhaps through personal experience as his brother's bondsman, would naturally incline him to put

40

himself and his children beyond its jurisdiction. He not only joined the expedition, but acted so important a part in its history, that he and Davenport have been styled its Moses and Aaron.

Theophilus Eaton was living at this time with his second wife, whose daughter by a former husband was married to Edward Hopkins, a Puritan merchant of London. Hopkins much esteemed his wife's stepfather, and resolved to accompany him to America. Two young men, David Yale and Thomas Yale, sons of Mrs. Eaton, were also of the company.

John Evance, a London merchant and a parishioner of St. Stephen's, was present at the general vestry when Davenport was elected vicar in October, 1624. He had been married in May of the same year to Anne Young. It has been assumed by some writers that many of the New Haven planters had been parishioners of Davenport in London. He was so popular and prominent a preacher, that probably all of the company who had lived in London had heard him preach; but of 'the seventy-three persons present at the general vestry in October, 1624, only one is known to have come with Davenport to New Haven. Theophilus Eaton may have been a parishioner thus early; but, even if so, was probably absent at that time in the East countries. Other New Haven names than those of Evance and Eaton are found on the parish register of St. Stephen's; but the names are such as might be found elsewhere in England, and most of the persons who brought them to America are known to have crossed the Atlantic at an earlier or a later date than Eaton, Evance, and Davenport.

41

Besides these who were related to Davenport, as his former parishioners, or to Theophilus Eaton by family ties, several citizens of London joined the company. Not all of them can now be distinguished from those who came from other parts of the kingdom, but there is more or leas, authority for including in such a list the names of Stephen Goodyear, Richard Malbon, Thomas Gregson, William Peck, Robert Newman, Francis New-man, and Ezekiel Cheever.

The London men with their families forming the nucleus of the company, other families or companies from the rural counties became united with it. One group of families came from Kent, or, in other words, from the diocese of Canterbury, which, three years before, by the death of Archbishop Abbot, had fallen under the immediate administration of Laud. Abbot was, like the Puritans, a Calvinist in his theology; like them he was in sympathy with the reformed churches of the Continent, continuing to tolerate the French refugees, who from the time of Elizabeth had maintained worship according to the forms of their own church within his diocese and even in the basement of his cathedral; like them he believed in the sanctifi-cation of the Lord's day, preventing the reading, in the parish church of Croydon where he was residing at the time, of King James's proclamation which allowed and encouraged athletic games on the afternoon of Sunday. It was natural that a man so much in sympathy with the Puritans should deal leniently with them in regard to their deviations from ritual regularity. He was loath to deprive the Church of its most instruc-

42

tive and influential preachers, and hoped by mild treatment to bring them back to conformity.

Upon the accession of Laud, there was an immediate and radical change in the administration of the diocese. In the reports which he rendered annually to the king, the primate complains, both in 1634 and 1635, of a part of Kent around Ashford, as specially infected with distemper against the Church. In his account for 1636, he said, -

" I have every year acquainted your majesty, and so must do now, that there are still about Ashford and Egerton divers Brown-ists and other Separatists. But they are so very mean and poor people, that we know not what to do with them. They are said to be the disciples of one Turner and Fenner, who were long since apprehended by order of your Majesty's High Commission Court. But how this part came to be so infected with such a humor of separation, I know not, unless it were by too much connivance at their first beginning. Neither do I see any remedy like to be, unless some of their chief seducers be driven to abjure the king-dom which must be done by the judges at the common law, but is not in our power."

On the margin of the paper containing this account the king wrote, "Inform me of the particulars, and I shall command the1 judges to make them abjure." Among the English State Papers is a " Book of Rough Notes" by the king's secretary, containing these and other memoranda: -

" 163$ JAN. 6.-Proceedings of the Council at their several meetings during this month beginning this day.

"JAN. 21. - A catalogue of books written by anabaptists.

" That the statute of abjuration may be put in execution against some principal men. That the judges be spoken with against Fenner and Turner.

. 43

"Speak with Lord Keeper and Mr. Attorney to draw a proclamation for altering the style or date of the year to begin in January.

"JAN. 25._To mind the Lords and Lord Keeper to speak with the judges and Mr. Attorney about altering the date of year [of] our Lord; that it may begin the first of January as in other kingdoms.

" And about putting the statute of abjuration; to be put in execution againsttPenner and Turner.

" Mr. Attorney is to speak with the judges about the date [of] beginning the new year."

. From these documents it is evident that the attention of Laud was turned in 1636, and the beginning of the following year, to the Separatists about Ashford and Egerton in Kent, and that he attempted to have the statute of abjuration put in execution against them. Such a movement of one so powerful and so relentless accounts for the. emigration of the Kentish men, who, * according to tradition, came with Davenport, or two years later with Whitfield, bringing so many family names identical with the names inscribed in the churchyards of Kent.1

Another company came from Hereford, a shire in the West of England, bordering pn Wales. The particular events which moved them to leave their homes at that time are yet to seek; but it is known that they left

1 The writer may be excused for specifying two brothers of his own name, whose ancestral home, though in another parish, was less than two miles from Egerton Church and in full view of its massive tower. Joshua Atwater, the elder of the two, had established himself as " a mercer " at Ashford. David Atwater, from whom all in America who bear that family name are descended, had not completed his twenty-second year when he landed in America. They had buried their father in November, 1636, and their mother in the following January; and, being thus liberated from filial duties, joined the expedition with their sister, the only surviving member of the family besides themselves. 44

under the influence and guidance of Peter Prudden, a clergyman of Hereford, well known to all of them by reputation, if not by personal knowledge of him as a preacher and pastor. Probably they learned through him of the expedition originated by Davenport and his friends; and became, through his agency, members of the association which, leaving London in April, 1637, founded New Haven in April, 1638. The fact that after they had belonged to the association more than two years, after they had resided some months in the new plantation, after some of them had built for themselves houses, and had left behind them the hardest of the hardships incident to such an enterprise, they separated" themselves from their associates, removed to Mil-ford, and settled in a town by themselves, with Prudden for their minister, evinces the strength and permanence of their attachment to the man whom they followed in leaving their homes in England. The Herefordshire people, for reasons which will appear hereafter, can be with more certainty distinguished from their fellow-passengers, and grouped together, than those from Kent.or those from London.