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Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Breeding Stock for America's Yankee population...

“The seventeen vessels that sailed to Massachusetts in 1630 were the vanguard of nearly 200 ships altogether, each carrying about a hundred English souls. A leader of the colony reckoned that there were about 21,000 emigrants in all. This exodus continued from 1630 to the year 1641. While it went on, the North Atlantic Ocean was a busy place. In the year 1638, one immigrant sighted no fewer than thirteen other vessels in midpassage between England and Massachusetts. 
After the year 1640, New England's great migration ended as abruptly as it began. The westward flow of population across the Atlantic suddenly stopped and ran in reverse, as many Massachusetts Puritans sailed home to serve in the Civil War. Migration to New England did not resume on a large scale for many years—not until Irish Catholics began to arrive nearly two centuries later. 
The emigrants who came to Massachusetts in the great migration became the breeding stock for America's Yankee population. They multiplied at a rapid rate, doubling every generation for two centuries. Their numbers increased to 100,000 by 1700, to at least one million by 1800, six million by 1900, and more than sixteen million by 1988—all descended from 21,000 English emigrants who came to Massachusetts in the period from 1629 to 1640.” 
- David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America <>


  1. Fischer's histories are both well researched and enjoyable to read. And don't miss his end-notes.

    And his first book, Historians' Fallacies, is also interesting in a macabre way, because he takes apart the errors in reasoning and handling evidence by other historians, including quite famous ones, in a brutal way.

    When this book was published in 1970, no professional historian would want to see their name in the book's index.

  2. Another good read on the English in America during this period is "Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans" by Malcolm Gaskill.

  3. Thank you for posting this! Always knew I had New England roots, but I discovered this year that my ancestors did indeed arrive in 1620 (and during the Great Migration years after). I was not aware of this book and it sounds fantastic. And the Gaskill book too!

  4. We came over in 1635 on the Abigail and signed the Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony in 1639.

  5. It's always amazing to reflect on just how few settlors peopled so much of the United States. My maternal grandfather's family left from Dorset and Somerset in 1630 aboard the Mary and John. They initially settled in Dorchester, MA, but soon after moved up the Connecticut River Valley to what is now Hartford, CT, then farther on up the Valley to Northampton, MA, around which many of their descendants still live.

  6. The great migration, as it is known, set the stage for King Philip’s War

  7. I am not a Yankee (or New Englander or Northerner, etc.) but rather from the Mid-Atlantic states where all of my antecedents lived. None were Puritans as far as I can tell. Like was mentioned, the first settler, Thomas, who must have arrived in the 1620s, also returned to England. My source did not give a reason why nor the year in which he returned, although the date of death is given as 1672, in Canterbury. His son John, though, born in 1627 in Virginia, apparently stayed. He supposedly died in 1717, at a respectable old age. The family name did not originate in England, however, but rather in Germany. Over the generations, it is interesting to note the Anglicizing that occurred with the name and even today, not everyone spells it the same way. It appears that I am the first one in my line not born in Virginia since 1627, but only by ten miles on the other side of the state line.

  8. I bit late to the party. However, I must note that Albion's Seed is indeed the anthropological index of the founding cultures in English speaking America. I am solely a descendant of English Tidewater planters on my mother's side (1608-1670s) and proud descendant of Scottish and Scots-Irish Presbyterians who settled the Southern backcountry in the 18th century.

    At least 7 of my own ancestors were in the Battle of King's Mountain, and 23 in total served or supplied support for the Whig militia in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. A part of America history all too often overlooked.

  9. And the arrival of these individuals (as well as those who later follower) is much appreciated. I have multiple ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower and without the later arrivals we would have ended up an awkwardly incestuous bunch.


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