Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Congregational Churches of New England: Before Harvard College, Before The Great and General Court, Before...

Photos by Salt Water New England

The first ship of the Winthrop Fleet, the Arbella (or the “Admiral”), arrived at Nahumkeck  (Salem) and Cape Ann on June 12, 1630.

The Puritans of The Massachusetts Bay Company founded:

  • The Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, (October 19, 1630 in Boston);  
  • The first school,  Boston Latin School (April 23, 1635);  and
  • Harvard College - originally “New College” or “The College at New Towne” (October 28, 1636, although some say September).

But even before those:

“Winthrop set aside July 30[, 1630] as a day of Prayer. On this day, Winthrop, Dudley, Johnson, and the pastor, John Wilson, drew up and signed a simple church covenant, which became in reality the foundation of the Congregational churches of New England.” (Mary Schuyler Phillips, Colonial Massachusetts, 1916)

The First Church of Boston 

...was established on July 30, 1630. When John Winthrop and his party stepped off the Arbella, their first official act, even before drawing up a charter for the city, was to create by themselves, and sign, a Covenant for the First Church in Boston. 

...The members of this church were a unique group, who acted without the intervention of any king, creating a practice of "Congregational Polity" and establishing "The New England Way", which was a system for governing with the consent of the people. 

- First Church in Boston 

Thus (from our Family Tree) 9th Great Grandfathers Governor John Winthrop and Deputy Governor Thomas Dudley became Church Members #1 and #2. 


  1. Just perfect. Thank you so very much!

  2. What lovely churches in lovely settings, captured so attentively. Thank you.

  3. My family members attended the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro since its beginning in 1814.

  4. We will miss the first church (and the turkey trot that starts there) this Thanksgiving! So beautiful, thank you!

  5. Such history framed in these photos!


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