This part of the website contains three sections, each containing several chapters. They provide a combination of narrative and discussion that offers some background information on the people and history of the Massachusetts Bay colony. If you choose to look at all of them, it would probably be most convenient to follow the order of the list, just because I sometimes omitted details that had been established or explained in a previous section or chapter. However, I don’t think there’s enough of this to cause any major confusion if you choose to skip around or follow a different order.

Sections in this part...

  • Who Were the Puritans?[+]
    Massachusetts Bay was founded and settled by Puritans, who tried to make the colony a reflection of their ideals. This section may help you to understand where these people were coming from, and what they hoped to find here.
  • A Truly New England[+]
    To understand the beginnings of Lexington, it’s helpful to know something about how the Massachusetts Bay colony was started and how it grew. This section offers a brief narrative of that history, from the colony’s beginnings as a "Bible Commonwealth" to the experiences that made it a more complex society with a larger mix of interests and purposes.
  • Charter Wars: 1629–1713[+]
    Massachusetts Bay began with a royal charter smuggled from London to Boston, where the king couldn't get hold of it. The colony managed to be essentially self-governing for almost 60 years, defending their independence by means fair and foul as they fought the efforts of the Stuart kings Charles II and James II to bring Massachusetts Bay under their control. The battle was at its most intense just at the time when the legislature was considering Cambridge Farms’ request to establish its own parish, and was probably the main reason for the several years’ delay before the request was granted. But the story of the charter is also the story of Massachusetts’ persistent distaste for royal government, even after it was finally forced on the colony against most citizens’ will. That story didn’t end in 1713, when Lexington was officially established as an independent town, but this chapter doesn’t carry it past that point.