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The Great Migration Begins: John Brown

Source: Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volume 1, A-F (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995).

[page 254]

JOHN BROWN

John BROWNE and Samuel BROWN first appeared in the records of the Massachusetts Bay Company on 4 March 1628/9, when they were included among the patentees of the company, when it received its charter directly from King Charles [MBCR 1:3-20].  On 12 March 1628/9 “John BROWNE, gent., and Mr. Samuell BROWNE, of Roxwell, Essex” made arrangements to sail to New England that spring on one of the company ships, and they were to be allotted land “as if they had subscribed fifty pounds in the general stock, [with such] privileges as others that are in the patent do” [MBCR 1:34-35].  “Mr. John BROWNE” was made an as-

[page 255]

sistant on 6 April 1629 (having attended the meeting of 2 April) [MBCR 1:37d-37e], and on 30 April 1629 both “Mr. John BROWNE” and “Mr. Samuell BROWNE” were appointed to the council which was to advise John ENDICOTT as governor of the plantation at Salem [MBCR 1 :37j].  In a letter to ENDICOTT of 17 April 1629 John BROWN was described as “a man experienced in the laws of our kingdom” and John and Samuel were to receive 200 acres each in the first division of land [MBCR 1:387, 398].

At a company meeting in London on 13 May 1629 “Mr. John BROWNE” was mentioned as “being out of the land” [MBCR 1:40].  John and Samuel BROWN sailed on 25 April, on either the Lyon ‘s Whelp, or the Talbot, which left on the same date.  Reverend Francis HIGGINSON reported that two of his children on 17 May developed smallpox “which was brought into the ship by one Mr. BROWNE which was sick of the same at Gravesend” [Higginson 65].

The two ships arrived at Salem on 29 June 1629 [Higginson 76, 79], and the BROWNs became immediately embroiled in controversy, and they were back in London by 19 September 1629.  The settlers at Salem gathered a church in late July 1629, and the BROWNs objected to some aspects of the new church; ENDICOTT reacted by sending them directly back to England, where they petitioned the Massachusetts Bay Company for redress.  [See MBCR 1:51-54, 60, 69, 407-09 for the proceedings in this case, from 19 September 1629 to 10 February 1629/30].

COMMENTS: The Massachusetts Bay Company records do not provide the evidence that John and Samuel BROWN were brothers.  This we learn from HUBBARD, who also tells us that Samuel was a merchant.  HUBBARD provides much detail on the activities of the BROWNs in Salem, stating that they organized their own church meeting, where they read the Book of Common Prayer [Hubbard 100-01].

Many historians since HUBBARD have given their own interpretation of the dispute between the BROWNs and the church at Salem, which of course reflects on the character of John ENDICOTT, but no attempt will be made here to join that dispute [Perley 1:166-69; Rose-Troup 34-37].

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