Massachusetts Bay Colony

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Massachusetts Bay Colony was a 17th Century British settlement on the east coast of North America. It was established in 1628; its charter revoked in 1684; and it became part of the Dominion of New England in 1686. Massachusetts Bay Colony included parts of New England, centered around Boston and Salem. The Colony included parts of present-day Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. She claimed land to the Pacific Ocean. Her modern successor is now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the fifty United States.

Prelude and the Great Migration. The Massachusetts Bay Company included investors in the Dorchester Company which had colonized 1623-1626 Cape Ann (northwest of Salem). That company went bankrupt, the colony was abandoned, and some of her settlers moved to what became Salem.[1] Backers of the remaining colonists continued to work on support for the survivors. By 1828 they organized the Massachusetts Bay Company to begin further settlements around Salem and Boston. The colony became economically viable partly because of fur trading. From 1630 to 1640 about 20,000 mostly Puritan colonists seeking to build an ideal society arrived from England and Barbados in what is now called the Great Migration.[2]

Out migration of dissidents. Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders were elected by freemen examined for their adherence to Puritan religious views. Thus, their leadership was usually intolerant of Anglican, Quaker, or Baptist religious ideas. These strict religious norms were one of the factors contributing to dissidents' early migration westward away from the colony center and out of reach of colony leaders.[2]


Indian relations. At first the colonies relations with native tribes were good. However, eventually cultural and demographic friction led to the Pequot War 1636-1638, and King Philip's War 1675-1676, the bloodiest war (per capita) in American history. After 1676 most Indians in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut had died of disease, been killed in war, pacified, or driven off.[2]

Relations with England. The independence and religious views of Massachusetts Bay Colony leaders also led to friction with the mother country. King James

Plymouth Colony remained separate and independent of Massachusetts Bay Colony until 1691.


  1. Aaron J. Palmer, "Dorchester Company," in Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. History at (9 July 2012).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikipedia contributors, "Massachusetts Bay Colony" in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia at (accessed 9 July 2012).