1666 ~~~ New Haven and Connecticut Colony merged
The Puritans had fled from intolerance, but no sooner did they have freedom to follow their own devices, than they drew up the most drastic of laws and enforced them with grim harshness. So they erected their colony, the chief towns being New Haven and Milford on one side of New Haven harbor. This was to be the last attempt but one of the Puritans in America to build up a theocracy. It was to take nearly 30 years to prove that a Kingdom of God on earth, an "Isle of Innocence", could not be made to work in the New Haven Colony; after which the final attempt was to be made by people of these four towns, in Newark.
The possibility of the coming of Quakers roused the New Haven Colony to a pitch of intense excitement and caused the enactment of laws that well serve to illustrate the severity of the government. The persecution of Quakers in the New Haven Colony was nearly as harsh and intolerant as in Massachusetts. (Quote) These anti-Quaker laws were put into operation in 1658. On the other hand, the Colony of Conn. was becoming even more liberal. She kept her skirts quite clean of severe practices, persecuting no sect, although striving to preserve the purity of her church. These condition in the neighboring colony served to aggravate the discontent in New Haven. A new generation was arising which could not see things in the stern, hard light of its fathers.
In 1662, the New Haven Colony was merged with Connecticut by the King's orders. New Haven's theocracy vanished then and there, and those of the latter colony who could not in conscience subscribe to the scheme of government in operation in the former, determined to depart; and thus Newark came to be. King Charles II had never looked upon the New Haven Colony with kindly eyes. Some of its founders and their fathers were among the fiercest of his royal father's foes; they were among the iron men who fought with Cromwell. Moreover, they had long harbored two of the regicides, the judges who pronounced sentence of death upon Charles I. The son, no doubt, took grim pleasure in wiping their establishment out of existence. The new Connecticut, while refusing longer to recognize church membership as a necessary qualification for citizenship, was not permitting those who were not church members a voice in the making of laws that governed the church. This jeopardized the purity of the Church, according to the New Haven view, and it was to them an unendurable condition; to accept it would have meant a sacrifice of conscience.
PASTOR ABRAHAM PIERSON'S ACTIVITIES
1640 -- the spiritual leader of a company of Puritans that left Lynn, Massachusetts and founded Southampton, Long Island, to organize a church. Southold was also a Puritan organization.
1644 -- Southampton was annexed to Connecticut. This so displeased Pastor Pierson that he removed to the town of Branford in the New Haven Colony.
In Branford, Pastor Pierson, with the few followers from Southampton, with the people of Branford and others from the town of Wethersfield, founded the church society, which later was transferred to Newark. This city's original church organization, the First Presbyterian, as it is known today, is therefore about 20 years older than the city itself.
WHY DID SO MANY OF THE NEW HAVEN COLONY LEAVE IN 1666 TO ESTABLISH WHAT WE NOW KNOW AS NEWARK, NEW JERSEY?
I seem to recall that they came from Branford, CT as a result of a dispute amongst Congregational Church members at Branford. They were lead by Rev. Abraham Pierson and it occurred around 1660
Pierson was certainly a leader of the dissenters in the Colony of New Haven, but he had a lot of company! Robert Treat's role cannot be minimized either, since it was his leadership and role as negotiator that facilitated the legal agreements related to the founding of the NJ colonies.
"In 1665 New Haven and CT were merged into one colony. The new constitution allowed baptism of children irrespective of parents' church membership This was displeasing to the strict members of New Haven; the Puritan practices permitting this ordinance only for children of 'the elect.'
I have been reading this discussion with interest, because when I first learned that my ancestors had settled first in CT and NY and then in NJ I was very curious as to why they would impose such additional hardship. The baptism issue above is certainly an accurate stating of a specific argument, however, other sources suggest that it is only one example of their discontent, with discontent being too weak a word to describe the events they and their parents had lived through in the 17th century. Virtually every history of NJ, particularly those that emphasize the founding of Newark, seem to begin with a refresher course in English history. In his history of Newark, Atkinson describes the fact that some years before the founding of Newark, James I, King of England (1603-1625) imposed his beliefs in the divine rights of kings in general (and himself in particular) upon the population of England. Probably the most relevant for us are his views on religion. He was antagonistic when dealing with Catholics, but when it came to "Separatists" (i.e., Congregationalists and Presbyterians- our Puritan ancestors) he practically waged war. He tried to insist on worship using his forms and rituals and he vowed that they would either conform or he would "harry them out of the land." In this respect he largely got his way, as our ancestors who fled to Holland would attest. James was barely tolerated by his peers. Lockward states that the King of France said of James, "He was the wisest fool in Christendom."
James son, Charles I (1600-1649) who succeded him in 1625, was even more of a spendthrift and vehemently opposed to the Puritans as well. He was sympathetic to the Catholics, however, which did not endear him to the Puritan-dominated Parliament. He dissolved Parliament three times, because of his disagreements with them regarding his tremendous financial problems, ruling without one from 1629 to 1640. The continuing financial problems caused him to call a Long Parliament in 1640. Parliament tried to control him by limiting his powers, provoking a Civil War in 1642. Although this war was called the Puritan Revolution, it was really a constitutional conflict over the role of Parliament and the "divine rights" of kings. Charles I was defeated in battle and captured in 1647. While in captivity he was so obnoxious and duplicitous that he was tried and executed (beheaded) in 1649. Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) refused the crown and was Lord Protector of the Commonwealth. Although he tried to rule through Parliament, he was essentially a dictator, though benevolent in many respects. (Not to be forgotten, however, were his brutal overthrows of Scotland and Ireland.) Cromwell as Lord Protector tended to suppress problems rather than solve them and he was in continual conflict with Puritan politicians were not particularly cooperative with him. The government crumbled with his death, although his son Richard suceeded him as Lord Protector. A military coup overthrew Richard in 1659 and the monarchy was restored in 1660, when Charles II took the throne. Charles II was sympathetic to the Catholics, which made him distrusted by the Puritans, but his opposition to the Puritans was more political than religious.
Several of our ancestors were either executed or fled as regicides (Axtelle, Harrison and, of course Whalley and Goffe, who were hidden by more of our ancestors in the Colony of New Haven.) The Colony of New Haven included New Haven proper, Branford, Guilford, Stamford and Milford, CT as well as Southampton, Long Island. Connecticut was a colony that was separate from the New Haven Colony. Many of our ancestors were living in Southampton expressly to avoid rule by the CT colony. They had established theocracies in which only members of their Puritan churches had the right to vote or reside in the towns.
(Although we learned as children that the Pilgrims sought religious freedom by coming to America, they sought to deny it to others.) Extremely harsh laws regarding Quakers and other undesirables were enacted and enforced in the New Haven Colony, which was always more strict than the CT colony. The restoration of the Charles II to the English throne was a defeat to the republican hopes of the Puritans in England. In New Haven and CT, however, it preceded the unification of the two colonies under the royal charter. This was done without their knowledge and in direct opposition to their expressed wishes. While they formally acknowledge Charles II as King, the Colonists were very disturbed at this series of events.
"Therefore it was that scarcely before the ink was dry, certifying the allegiance of the Colonists to the English King, the leading spirits of the New Haven Colony began to think of looking for some new abiding place, where they would not be ruled in their civil and religious functions contrary to their customs, desires and aspirations. No inconsiderable spur was given to such thoughts by the domineering and arbitrary attitude assumed by the reconciled royal charterists towards the outspoken New Haven unreconciled minority. . . Despite the strong feeling of antipathy, the outgrowth of commercial jealousy, which existed between the English and the Dutch at that period, it appears the first thoughts of the New Haven leaders were directed to the seeking of a more agreeable and liberal haven under the tri-color of Holland, within the borders of the country occupied by the Dutch." (Atkinson, p. 9)
This is really not so surprising, since the English Pilgrims had earlier fled to Holland during the reign of Charles I. Robert Treat (yet another ancestor) negotiated with Peter Stuyvesant for several years, during which time the CT. and New Haven factions grew more estranged. Then, in 1664, Charles II was kind enough to give James, Duke of York and Albany (his brother) the land in NY and NJ ruled by the Dutch. James then transferred what is now NJ to the Lord John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. They, in turn, signed a constitution, called, "The Concessions and Agreement of the Lords Proprietors of Nova Caesarea or New Jersey, to and with all of the adventurers and all such as shall settle and plant there." The ideals and rights espoused and granted in the Concessions was perfect for the dissenters in CT and New Haven. It provided "liberty of conscience" as long as it was not used "to licentiousness, to the civil injury, or outward disturbance of others." The Concessions also allowed settlers the right to choose an assembly of twelve representatives who would deal with taxes, laws, forts and militias, land apportionment, naturalization of immigrants and right of appeal of the Governor's or Council's action to the Lords Proprietor through assembly. Not bad for circa 1665! (BTW, some of the NJ Proprietors are also our ancestors.) Publishing the Concessions was specifically intended to attract settlers to NJ and it was successful. After considerable debate, the anti-royalists of Branford, Guilford, New Haven and Milford signed various declarations and started over again in NJ. Some of the inhabitants of Long Island, more than a little chagrined that after leaving the shores of CT for LI to escape the government of the Colony of CT, the Colony of New Haven had been merged with the Colony of CT and they were under that government again.
The entire life span of our immigrant ancestors and their parents had been spent during this succession of conflicts and civil war. They had learned that they could leave their homes and successfully begin again. They esteemed the principles of theocracy, abhorring the notion of their government being influenced by citizens who did not share their religious beliefs. The example of the conflict over baptism is a good illustration of that. Delays in the successful completion of Treat's negotiations with the Dutch had lead to Milford eventually acknowledging the unification of the two colonies in 1665, but Branford never backed down.
"The History of Newark, New Jersey, Being a Narrative of Its Rise and Progress, From the Settlement in May, 1666, by Emigrants from Connecticut, to the Present Time." Joseph Atkinson, Thomas Moran et al., Newark, NJ: William B. Guild, 1878
"A Puritan Heritage." Lynn G. Lockward, Caldwell, NJ, 1955
This home on Pequot Avenue, Southport, Connecticut is a recently restored example of the Northrop Brothers fine carpentry and building in the Southport-Greeens Farms area.
Image Courtesy of David Parker Associates