A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Papers of the Winthrop Family, Volume 2

Sir John Eliot's Copy of the New England Tracts1
Winthrop, John
The grounds of settling a plantation in new England.

First, The propagacion of the gospell to the Indians. Wherein first the importance of the worke tendinge to the inlargement of the Kingdome of Jesus Christ and winning them out of the snare of the Divell and converting others of them by their meanes.

Secondly, The possibility of attaineing it, God haveinge by his word manifested his will for the spreadinge of the Gospell to all Nations, and intercourse of Trade haveinge openned a passage, and made a waie for comerce with the East and West Indies and divers plantacions of the Dutch 146and English being settled in severall parts of those countryes and the ill condicions of the tymes being likely to furnish those plantacions with better members then usually have undertaken that worke in former tymes.

Thirdly for motives

1. The Consideracion of our owne Condicion like unto theires in tymes past.

2. The advantages and benefitts wee may receive from those parts challenginge the rendringe of spirituall things for their Temporall.

3. The Dilligence of the Papists in propagatinge their Religion and supersticion and enlarginge the kingdome of Antichrist thereby with all the manifest hazards of their persons and depe engagements of their estates.

2 Ground. Charitie to our neighbors impoverished by decay of Trade and lefte destitute of hope of imployment in tyme to come, who may comforttably be sustayned by their labors and endeavors in this Country yielding them sufficient matter of imployment and meanes of recompence, as, corne both of our kindes which prosper well in those parts and of the country which is farr better for use then ours and maye be sett yearly after our graines are sowne, and consequently without hinderance of our ordinary course of husbandrie.

2dly infinite varietie and store of

Fishes, Sturgion, Salmon, Mullett, Bas, Codd, Lobsters, Eeles.

Fowle, as, Turkie, Feasant, Partridg, Goose, Duck, Teal, and Deare, which if they were preserved from the spoyle of Wolves (which is not impossible) would soone abound there more, then sheep in this Kingdome, the Does bringinge after the first 2 fawnes att a birth att least.


The possibility of Breedinge of Kine which growe to a farr greater bulke of body in that country then with us, in this Kingdome, secondly, of Goates which may easily be Transported with small charge. 3dly. Swine which breed in great numbers by reason of the abundance of Acornes growndnutts, 4ly Wall-nuts, and clummes, 4ly. Trade of Furres which may be Brought out of that Continent to the valew of 30000 li. per annum at least besides moose and Deare skinnes, feathers etc., 5ly. fishing a knowen and staple Commoditie. 6ly. possibilitie of makeinge Salt, the Country lieinge in equall height with Biskie. 7ly. plantinge of vines.


8ly. makeinge pitch, Tarr, Pottashes and sope ashes.

9ly. Cuttinge of masts.

10ly. makeing of Iron, what other mines there are we know nott.

11ly. some woods fitt for dying, others for Phisicall uses, as, Sarzaperilla Sassafras etc.

12. Silke grasse.

13. hemp and flax for which the soyle is very fitt.

3 Ground. The Danger and extremities of the present estate of the Churches both in forraigne parts etc.

The meanes of effecting this worke.

First The Raysinge of a sufficient stocke to the valew of 10000 li. by the adventurers of such voluntary persons as God shalbe pleased for the former weightie ends to move to the forwardinge of the worke wherewith might be transported 200 Carpenters, Masons, Smithes, Coopers, Turners, Brickburners, Potters, Husbandmen, Fowlers, Vingnerons, Saltmakers fishermen and other laborers, 100 Kine and Bulls,

25 Horse and Mares

by whose labours in 3 yeares space may be provided at least for a thousand persons dwellings and meane of lively hood besides.

2 or 3000 li. stocke will remaine of 10000 li. for Trade.

Secondly The Free adventures of particular persons of whom many wilbe readie to ingage their persons and estates for furtheringe this designe.

Some generall conclusions showing that a person imployed heer in publicke service may yett be transplanted for the propagation of the Gospell in N.E.

1. It is granted by all that this intended plantacion is a worke both lawfull and honorable.

2. It must be advanced by persons guifted for such a worke.

3. Every one that is fitt hath nott a minde to the worke and noe bond of conscience cann ordinarilie be imposed uppon him that hath noe desire to itt.

4. The service of raysinge or upholdinge a particular church is to be preferred before the Comfort of some parte of a Church alreadie established.

5. The members of that Church maie in tyme be of better use to their mother church heer, then those whome she shall kepe still in her owne bosome, When the woman in the Rev. 12 was persecuted by the Dragon, and 148forced to flie into the wildernes her sonne was taken upp into heaven (when it might seeme shee had greatest need of him) to be reserved there for future service.

6. The exercise of an office of lesse consequence for God and for his Church (whereinto any is put by ordinary calling) maie be left uppon the like call to some other office of greater consequence especially where there followes noe violacion of the rule of righteousnes and that the difference is such beteweene the execution of an ordinary place of Magistry in this land and the supportacion of this plantation is easy to be determined.

7. It may be instanced in divers persons both magistrates and Ministers who (sometimes for private respects) have forsaken the place where they have been setled to good use, and their changes aproved and blessed.

8. The takeing off a Scandall from a whole Church and Religion it self is to be preferred before the good of any particular Church, it is a reproach to our Religion that when we professe an Intention of Convertinge those Indians we send nott persons meett for such worke but such only as wee cann well spare and most Commonly those that are a burden to our selves, while the Papists out of a false zeale to draw them to their supersticion sticke not to imploy their most able and usefull instruments.

9. Our approved practise in matters of like Nature must be a rule in this, in all Forraigne expedicions wee imploy of our best statesmen and wee grudge not to want their service heer (though never soe usefull) while they are in such imployment for the good of the Churches.

Perticular Consideracions in the case of J. W.

First It is com to that issue as the successe of the plantation depends uppon his goeing for the chiefe supporters (uppon whom the rest depends) will not stirr without him.

2ly. His meanes heer are soe shortened (now 3. of his sonnes being com to age have drawen awaie the one half of his estate) as he shall not be able to continue in that place and imployment where he now is, his ordinary charg being still as great almost as when his meanes was double.

3dly. He acknowledgeth a satisfactory callinge outward from some of the cheife of the plantacion inward by the inclination of his owne hart to the worke and both approved by godly and juditious divines (whereof some have the most interest in him) and there is in this the like immediate call from the Kinge, as was to his former imployment.

4ly. If he lett pass this opportunitie, That talent which God hath bestowed uppon him for publicke service is like to be buried.


5. His wife and such of his Children as are at yeares and discretion are voluntarily disposed to the same course.

Reasons to be considered for Justifieinge the undertakers of the intended plantacion in New England and for encouraging such whose harts God shall move to Joyne with them in it.

In this and the following tract Eliot's text closely follows that of the document printed last above. We note merely the more important differences.

2. Forth Winthrop's copy. “and to cutte—vpon vs.” Sir John Eliot's copy. “doe threaten us fearfully.”

3. F. W. “vrging the Statute.” J. E. “urging the execucion of the Statute.”

4. F. W. “the end is double and naturall.” J. E. “The end is Double morall and naturall.”

Divers objections which have been made against this plantacion with their answeares and resolucions.
A. 1 to 0.1. F. W. “possesse.” J. E., “will possesse.”
F. W. “bargaine with them.” J. E. “bargaine with him.”
0. 2. F. W. “Church and Countrie.” J. E. “church.”
A. 4 to 0.4. F. W. “of the Land.” J. E. “of the people.”
A. to 0.7. F. W. “onely beloued.” J. E. “beloved.”
F. W. “Saint Paull.” J. E. “Paule.”
A. 3 to 0.8. F. W. “our graues.” J. E. “their graves.”
F. W. “some pinch.” J. E. “sorie pinch.”
A. 1 to 0.9. F. W. “sufficient store to succeed.” J. E. “succeeding store.”
A. 3 to 0.9. F. W. “not make good.” J. E. “make good.”
A. to 0.10. F. W. “Tholosuye.” J. E. “the Earle of Tholouse.”
F. W. “in the defence of.” J. E. “of.”

Manuscript at Port Eliot, in the hand of Sir John Eliot; 1 Proceedings , VIII. 417–427 (1865). John Hampden, in a letter of December 8, 1629, to Eliot, printed ibid., 427, suggests “that the paper of considerations concerning the plantation might be very safely conveyed to mee by this hand and after transcribing should be as safely returned if you vouchsafe to send it mee.” The manuscript was doubtless transcribed by Eliot from one sent by Winthrop and returned to him, and in its turn was sent to Hampden and then returned to Eliot. Parts of this tract may profitably be compared with Captain John Smith's Description of New England (1616).