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The Colony Becomes a Community

"There was no longer any holding them together, but now they must of necessity go to their great lots ... they must have land for plowing & tillage."

- William Bradford

As colonists sought more land for their large and growing families, new towns were formed within Plymouth Colony.
Duxbury and Marshfield to the north, Taunton to the west, Sandwich and Barnstable on Cape Cod were founded in the 1620s and 1630s. Rehoboth and Bridgewater, both to the west, were founded in the 1640s as the colonists continued to spread onto traditional Native lands.

Other English colonies were founded as well.

In the 1630s, several thousand Puritans emigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony north of Plymouth. The "Providence Plantations" was founded in Rhode Island in 1636. The Connecticut colonies were founded soon after.

In the 1640s, growth slowed. The Puritans were winning the civil War in England and emigration to America dropped dramatically.

Fuller Cradle. Made in Duxbury, 1680-1720.

"Children are a blessing great, but dangerous... Above all other, how great and many are their spiritual dangers... one or two proving lewd and wicked will break our tender hearts."

- John Robinson

Colonial families often had eight or more children. Puritans believed that parents must instill self-control in their children, so they would accept the discipline of the Lord. Reading, important for understanding the Bible, was generally taught at home. There was no official school in the Colony until the 1670s. Children did not have much time to play. Girls worked in the house with their mothers; boys worked with their fathers in the field or the workshop.


"Whereas you make choice at present to reside within the government of New Plymouth... You shall also submit unto & obey such good & wholesome law ... as are [established].

- Laws of Plymouth Colony

Plymouth was a small community, linked by religion and by participation in town meeting. Twice-weekly religious services and civic meetings alike were held in the meetinghouse.

The Pilgrims' First Religious Service by Allelbe

The church was congregational: each congregation was independent (the original congregations divided several times). There was no toleration for other church and the Court could send dissenters away.

Roger Williams left Plymouth over religious disagreements and founded the tolerant "Providence Plantations." In the 1650s and 1660s, Plymouth Colony exiled Quakers.

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Pilgrim Hall Museum
75 Court St, Plymouth, MA 02360 | Phone (508) 746-1620