UNIVERSITY OF CAL
'MAKERS OF AMERICA"
FIRST MINISTER IN THE MASSACHUSETTS
BAY COLONY, AND AUTHOR OF " NEW
ENGLAND'S PLANTATION" (1630)
THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON
DODD, MEAD, AND COMPANY
U3BVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
BY DODD, MEAD, AND Co.
All rights reserved.
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.
I. AN ENGLISH PARSONAGE IN THE SIX-
TEENTH CENTURY i
II. AN ENGLISH UNIVERSITY THREE CEN-
TURIES AGO . . 8
III. THE EVOLUTION OF A PURITAN DIVINE 15
IV. MIGRATION TO THE NEW WORLD ... 30
V. "GENERALL CONSIDERATIONS" FOR THE
PLANTING OF NEW ENGLAND ... 38
VI. A SEA-VOYAGE IN THE SEVENTEENTH
VII. A LETTER SENT HOME . . .. .... 71
VIII. THE FIRST AMERICAN ORDINATION . . 76
IX "NEW ENGLAND'S PLANTATION" . . . 89
X. THE REVOLT OF THE CONFORMISTS . . 109
XL A SALEM PARSONAGE , 124
XII. FRANCIS HIGGINSON'S HOUSEHOLD . . 134
LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
AN ENGLISH PARSONAGE IN THE SIX-
When a modern American makes a pilgrimage, as I have done, to
the English village church at whose altars his ancestors once ministered,
he brings away a feeling of renewed wonder at the depth of conviction
which led the Puritan clergy to forsake their early homes. The exqui-
sitely peaceful features of the English rural landscape, the old Nor-
man church, half ruined, and in this particular case restored by aid of
the American descendants of that high-minded emigrant ; the old burial-
ground that surrounds it, a haunt of such peace as to make death seem
doubly restful ; the ancestral oaks ; the rooks that soar above them ;
the flocks of sheep drifting noiselessly among the ancient gravestones,
all speak of such tranquillity as the eager American must cross the
Atlantic to obtain. . . . What love of their convictions, what devotion
to their own faith, must have been needed to drive the educated Puri-
tan clergymen from such delicious retreats to encounter the ocean, the
forest, and the Indians I T. W. HIGGINSON : A Larger History of
the United States.
COTTON MATHER, writing in his " Magnalia " the
mempirs of more than thirty of the founders of New
England, places at their head the name of Francis
Higginson. After a prolonged prelude of quaint
learning as to the scriptural Noah and the classical
Janus, he proceeds to twine their laurels together, and
2 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
to lay them on the modest brow of the subject of his
discourse, whom he places "first in a catalogue of
heroes." " Without pursuing these curiosities any fur-
ther," he says, " I will now lay before my reader the
story of that worthy man ; who, when 't is considered
that he crossed the sea with a renowned colony, and
that having seen an old world in Europe, where a
flood of iniquity and calamity carried all before it,
he also saw a new world in America ; where he ap-
pears the first in a catalogue of heroes, and where
he and his people were admitted into the covenant
of God ; whereupon a hedge of piety and sanctity con-
tinued about that people as long as he lived ; may
therefore be called the Noah or Janus of New Eng-
land. This was Mr. Francis Higginson" *
Thus far Cotton Mather ; and in the same strain of
comparison a later American historian has written :
"Among the Argonauts of the first decade of New
England, there was perhaps no braver or more exqui-
site spirit than Francis Higginson." a
Francis Higginson came of what may fairly be
called, in the very best sense, a gentle lineage ; for
his paternal grandmother, Joane Higginson, dying a
widow in the sixteenth century, bequeathed *] a
year to the poor of Berkeswell, co. Warwick, Eng-
land. This fact is known by its being mentioned in
the will of Joane Higginson' s son, Thomas Higginson
of Berkeswell, yeoman, which will was dated Nov. 29,
1 Magnalia Christi Americana, ed. 1820, i. 322.
2 Tyler, History of American Literature, i. 166.
AN ENGLISH PARSONAGE. 3
1573, and proved Feb. 10, 1574. Joane Higgin-
son's death must therefore have occurred as early as
1573, and probably much earlier; and the sum be-
queathed 'by her would now, allowing for the dif-
ference in the value of money, be worth ^70
($350) annually. She is probably the earliest per-
son of the name to whom the present English and
American families of Higginson can trace back their
origin; but they may well be contented. A pious
widow, thrifty enough to have this sum to bequeath,
and generous enough, after providing for her own
children, to leave it to the poor, is surely a satisfac-
factory fountain-head for any family ; nor has the spirit
she manifested ever been wholly wanting among
her descendants during more than three hundred
Thomas Higginson of Berkeswell, the son of Joane,
left legacies to his sons Robert, Thomas, and George ;
to his daughters Joyce, Dorothy, Ursula, and Elizabeth.
He also left legacies to his brothers Nicholas and Mr.
John Higginson. The prefix Mr. or Magister was at
that period almost wholly confined to persons in holy
orders, and this makes it practically certain that this
brother was a clergyman. The only English clergy-
man bearing these names at that period, as appears
from the records of the two universities Oxford and
Cambridge, was the Rev. John Higginson, who was
of Jesus College, Cambridge, B.A. 1564-5 and M.A.
1568. He was instituted to the Perpetual Vicar-
age of Claybrooke, Jan. 23, 1571-2, as appears by
4 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
the Institution Books at the Public Record Office in
It appears, from Nichols's History of Leicestershire,
that the Rev. John Higginson was the vicar of the
parish of Claybrooke, beginning in 1571, and that
he was living and doing duty in 1623. As his suc-
cessor was not in office before 1624, he may have
continued until that year. There is a tradition in the
Mario w (England) branch of the family, that this
venerable clergyman, from whom they also are de-
scended, lived and did his duty as a clergyman till the
age of one hundred and four, and was then drowned
by the sudden rising of a brook as he was returning
from church. The above dates would indicate that
John Higginson was certainly vicar for fifty-two years,
and possibly for a yet longer period.
Very old records preserved in the American branch
of the family give the following quaint and suggestive
list of the children of the Rev. John Higginson, of
Claybrooke, Leicester :
" i. John, a gentleman that kept high company.
"2. Francis (the first Minister of Salem, N. E.).
"3. Nathaniel, he was owner of a castle in Ireland,
but lost in the Rebellion.
" 4. Nicholas, he was father of Henry the Goldsmith
" And four (4) daughters, married to Andrews, Coleman,
Gilbert, and Perkins."
1 Col. J. L. Chester, MS.
2 Vol. iv. pp. 112, 114.
AN ENGLISH PARSONAGE. 5
It is farther known that this eldest son, the " gentle-
man that kept high company," was a freeholder in
the parish of Leire, adjoining that of Claybrooke, 1
and that in the tower of the church at Claybrooke
this tower being supposed to have been erected in
1614 that date is twice inscribed on the walls, with
the name of Nicholas Higginson appended. 2 Two
brothers of Francis Higginson are thus identified ; but
the diligent researches of Colonel Chester have failed
to find any record of the will of their father, from
which additional information might doubtless have
been obtained. He probably left none ; at any rate,
none was ever proved at London, Lincoln, or Lich-
field, the only three registries where one should have
been proved. The early registers of Claybrooke have
been lost, so that there is no record of the baptisms
of his children; nor did the transcripts in the dio-
cesan registry at Lincoln begin till 1598, nor are
those preserved. None of the wills of his children
are in London, and the only clew afforded by any
will is in the case of the youngest daughter, Elizabeth.
She married John Perkins, of Anstey, co. Warwick,
Gentleman; and his will, dated April i, 1618, was
proved by her in June following. He left ^10 to his
brother-in-law John Higginson the " gentleman
who kept high company" and his wife ; and five
marks to each of his children.
1 Nichols's Leicestershire, iv. 242.
2 Ibid., p. 107.
6 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
We have thus some direct traces of three of Francis
Higginson's brothers and sisters, but the rest remain
names only. It would be interesting to know more of
him who owned an Irish castle, and of him who began
by scratching his name on Claybrooke Church and
was afterward the progenitor of Henry the Goldsmith ;
but it is not likely that we ever shall know it. Francis
Higginson was probably born in 1587-8, and was,
like his father, of Jesus College, Cambridge, taking
his B.A. degree in 1609-10, and that of M.A. in
1613. Nothing further appears in regard to him on
the records of Jesus College, records which at that
period were very scanty. A letter from the Rev. Dr.
Cowie, Master of Jesus College, to Colonel Chester
says : " The Registers of this College, in which the
names of the several students and particulars of their
parentage and birthplaces are generally recorded, do
not go further back than 1619. Before that date
their surnames are merely recorded, not often their
Christian names, much less that of their parents and
birthplaces. I regret, therefore, that I cannot help
you further in the matter of Francis Higginson.'*
This corresponds with what was told me verbally
at Cambridge (England) in 1872, and it is probable
that no further information is to be obtained. Ameri-
can authorities have variously assigned Francis Hig-
ginson to St. John's College, to Emanuel College, and
to Jesus College ; but it was left to that unwearied
antiquary, Colonel Chester, to determine finally the
fact that he took both his degrees at the same col-
AN ENGLISH PARSONAGE. 7
lege, and that college his father's. What his precise
life at the University may have been we do not know
directly ; but enough is known of the time and place
for us to conjecture, with some degree of certainty,
what it must have been.
LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
AN ENGLISH UNIVERSITY THREE CEN-
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century the old learning began
to be left, in the University, and a better succeeded in the room thereof.
Hitherto Cambridge had given suck with but one breast, teaching Arts
only without languages. ... But now the students began to make
sallies into the learned languages, which the industry of the next age
did completely conquer. FULLER : History of Cambridge, p. 164.
KNOWING nothing by direct evidence of Francis
Higginson's college life, we yet know in a general
way what it must have been. The college selected
was that in which his father had studied, Jesus College,
and was then, as now, one of the intermediate col-
leges in Cambridge University, neither largest nor
smallest, neither oldest nor youngest. It ranks tenth
in date of origin, and in 1888 seventh in number of
pupils. It was already famous in Francis Higginson's
day as the College of Cranmer ; and the fame was
later prolonged through the names of eighteen other
English bishops ; of Eliot, the Indian Apostle ; of
Flamsteed the astronomer, Hartley the metaphysi-
cian, Ockley the Orientalist, Jortin the theologian ; of
Laurence Sterne and his friend John Hall Stevenson,
the Eugenius of Sterne. 1 Visitors to Cambridge will
1 Ackermann's History of the University of Cambridge,
AN ENGLISH UNIVERSITY. 9
remember the somewhat isolated and stately air of
Jesus College; its sombre brick walls and ancient
gateway; its heavy tower, surmounting a chapel of
the twelfth century ; and the meadows, extending to
the river, and still making the situation beautiful.
It makes Francis Higginson's university career
seem a great way off, to consider that he was at Cam-
bridge twenty years before Milton, twenty years be-
fore that great period described by Mullinger (1632),
when Milton, Fuller, Henry More, Cudworth, Crashaw,
and Jeremy Taylor might probably have been met on
the same day in the streets of Cambridge. 1 But he
was there at a period when the great influence of
Erasmus had already given a new impulse to univer-
sity studies. After Erasmus became professor of
Greek, as he himself claimed, not that study alone,
but all others were amplified. " There was an acces-
sion of good learning, the knowledge of Mathematics
came in ; a new and indeed a renewed Aristotle came
in ; so many authors came in, whose very names were
anciently unknown. To wit, it (the University) hath
flourished so much that it may contend with the prime
schools of this age ; and hath such men therein, to
whom if such be compared that were in the age before,
they will seem rather shadows of divines than divines." 2
Roger Ascham wrote somewhat later of Cambridge
(in 1540) : " You would not know it to be the same
place. . . . Aristotle and Plato are read by ' boys '
1 Mullinger, Cambridge in the Seventeenth Century, p. 26.
2 Erasmus, Epistolae, ii. 10, quoted by Mullinger, p. 15.
I0 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
in the original, and have been now for five years.
Sophocles and Euripides are now more familiar here
than Plautus was in your time. Herodotus, Thucy-
dides, and Xenophon are more often on the lips and
hands of all than Livy was then. What was then said
of Cicero you may now hear said of Demosthenes.
More copies of Isocrates are now in the < boys' ' hands
than of Terence then. Meanwhile we do not scorn the
Latins, but most ardently embrace the best authors
who flourished in that golden age." l In the reign of
Elizabeth there were also created four lectures, deal-
ing respectively with Rhetoric, Logic, Philosophy, and
Mathematics ; 2 and though the text-books and the
methods of their teaching were drawn from the classi-
cal authors, yet that was the inevitable means of in-
struction in that age, and the mere list of authors
above given shows that the students were trained on
the masterpieces of literature. 8 There was a four-
years undergraduate course, and a three-years graduate
course ; and the average age of entrance was from
fourteen to sixteen years, although Francis Higginson
appears to have entered at seventeen or eighteen.
Morning chapel was at five, dinner in hall at noon,
evening chapel and supper in the hall at seven. Stu-
dents were in residence for the whole year ; they were
habitually confined within the walls of their college, ex-
cept when they left them to attend general exercises ;
if allowed by special permission to go into the town,
1 Ascham, Epist. 74, quoted by Mullinger, p. 17.
2 Mullinger, p. 18. 3 Ibid,, p. 28.
AN ENGLISH UNIVERSITY. n
a tutor or Master of Arts must be their escort. They
could not keep dogs or fierce birds; they could
only play at cards or dice at Christmas time ; they
were liable to corporal punishment j and Dr. Johnson,
following Aubrey, says that Milton was one of the last
who suffered this, although Mr. Masson disputes the
charge. 1 We are, on the whole, less familiar with the
internal condition of Cambridge than of Oxford, at the
beginning of the seventeenth century ; but it is known
that the principle of conferring degrees on examina-
tion, a principle not recognized at Oxford until 1638,
had been the practice at Cambridge a century before.
This undoubtedly contributed to that higher intel-
lectual standing of Cambridge at the time of the
Puritan emigration which the recognized historian of
the English universities, Huber, concedes. 2 On the
other hand, Sir Simonds d'Ewes declares, writing of
Cambridge in 1620, seven years after Francis Higgin-
son left it, that " swearing, drinking, rioting, and hatred
of all piety and virtue under false and adulterate names
did abound there and generally in all the university." 8
He was a fellow- commoner at St. John's, and may
have generalized too hastily from his own college.
In a paper submitted to Archbishop Laud in 1636, of
which Dr. Sterne, Master of Jesus College, was one of
the -signers, the complaints made were of ultra-Puritan
practices in devotion side by side with too much of
1 Mullinger, pp. 27, 28; Masson's Milton, i. 136.
2 Huber's English Universities, vol. ii. part i. pp. 41, 59, 252.
8 Quoted by Mullinger, p. 30.
12 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
" supper-money " and of "fair and feminine cuffs at
the wrist." * This was after Francis Higginson's time ;
but it is certain that plays were freely acted by the
students, even in his day. Fuller, for instance, de-
scribes a "merry but abusive comedy " composed
by the students in 1597 and called " Club Law." It
was intended to satirize the mayor, aldermen, and
townspeople generally; and as these constituted the
main audience, much scandal followed. Again, in
1602, a play called "The Return from Parnassus, or
the Scourge of Simony " was enacted at St. John's
College ; and another play called " Ignoramus " is
said to have so delighted King James that he revisited
Cambridge to see it again. Mede describes the
"Fraus Honesta," written by Philip Stubbe, a fellow
of Trinity, as being produced in 1616 on the visit of
Lord Holland and the French ambassador. There
were two thousand present in the great hall of Trinity ;
and the undergraduates smoked, hissed, threw pellets,
and set the proctors at defiance. 2 Such scenes as
this Francis Higginson may have witnessed ; perhaps
with such aversion as they afterward inspired in
Milton, who describes in his " Apology for Smectym-
nuus " the " young divines and those of next aptitude
for divinity ... so oft upon the stage, writhing and
unboning their clergy limbs to all the antic and
dishonest gestures." He perhaps here refers to John
Powers, who had taken the part of " Dullman " in the
1 Peacock's Statutes of the University of Cambridge, p. 62.
2 Mullinger, pp. 39, 40.
AN ENGLISH UNIVERSITY. 13
play of "Ignoramus/* and being afterward Bishop of
Peterborough was recognized by King James as one
of the actors in his favourite play. 1 Milton goes on in
wrath : " There, while they acted and overacted, among
other young scholars, I was a spectator : they thought
themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools ;
they made sport, and I laughed." Whether Francis
Higginson laughed or sighed, we know not ; but in
remembering the university training of the fathers of
New England, we can by no means leave these revels
out of sight. But it seems altogether in keeping with
the gentle and thoughtful nature of Francis Higginson
if we assume that he, like Milton, spent those early
years " far from all vice " (frocul omni flagitid) ?
For more serious studies we can only conjecture,
from the general testimony, that the more purely
classical training introduced by Erasmus was now
waning, and that there was a transfer of interest
toward patristic literature. In Sir Simonds d' Ewes'
time (1620) the students read something of Aristotle
and Demosthenes, with authors now so little esteemed
as Florus and Aulus Gellius ; and he himself read, for
" recreation," Spenser's " Faerie Queene." 8 Lucretius
had been reprinted in England in 1564, and Pindar
in 1619 ; but these did not compare in importance to
the' costly edition of Chrysostom, published in eight
volumes by Sir Henry Saville in 1612 ; and this
probably indicates in some degree the relative value
1 Rennet's Chronicle, p. 244, quoted by Mullinger, p. 43.
2 Masson, i. 235. 3 Ibid., 229.
1 4 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
then attached to the classical and the patristic litera-
ture. It is to be remembered that John Harvard,
coming to America in 1637, brought with him, in
his library, Horace and Homer, Plato and Juvenal.
It is impossible to judge from Francis Higginson's
writings what authors he had read ; but it is worth
noticing that their pure and limpid simplicity escapes
wholly that overlading with foreign forms and phrases
which weighed down the English style, a few years
later, even of men so renowned as Milton, Jeremy
Taylor, and Sir Thomas Browne. There is in all
which Francis Higginson wrote an utter simplicity,
a limpid clearness, and an entire freedom from involved
sentences or pedantic allusions. Moses Coit Tyler,
the historian of early American literature, says of him
truly: "Unlabored as is the composition of both his
books, we find in them a delicate felicity of expres-
sion and a quiet, imaginative picturesqueness." *
Possibly this was trained, as Sir Simonds d'Ewes says
of himself, by the habit of writing " frequent Latin
letters and more frequent English," and by the an-
swers received to those letters. D'Ewes says that he
himself was especially profited by the letters of his
father, " whose English style was very sententious and
lofty." 2 Perhaps the English style of the Rev. John
Higginson's letters was simple and lucid, like that
of his son.
1 Tyler's History of American Literature, i. 167.
2 Masson, i. 229.
EVOLUTION OF A PURITAN DIVINE. 15
THE EVOLUTION OF A PURITAN DIVINE.
We will therefore begin the history of his life where we find that
he began to live. MATHER'S Magnalia (of Francis Higginson), i.
3 2 3-
WE know, at any rate, that Francis Higginson took
his degree of M.A. in 1613, and that two years later
he was settled over the Claybrooke parish, apparently
as curate to his father, who had then, in 1615, been
in office forty-four years. Cotton Mather, who at this
point takes up his record, writing in 1702, defines this
settlement at Claybrooke as the point where Francis
Higginson " began to live." He says apologetically,-^-
"If, in the history of the church for more than
four thousand years, contained in the scriptures, there
is not recorded either the birthday of any one saint
whatever or the birthday of him that is the Lord of
all saints ; I hope it will be accounted no defect in
our history of this worthy man [Francis Higginson] if
neither the day nor the place of his birth can be re-
covered. We will therefore begin the history of his
life where we find that he began to five."
He then enters on the narrative, making, it will be
seen, a mistake as to the college where the subject of
his memoir was educated.
1 6 LIFE OF FRANCIS HIGGINSON.
" Mr. Francis Higginson, after he had been educated
at manue/-Co\\edge, that seminary of Puritans in
Cambridge, until he was Master of Arts : and after
that, the true Emanuel, our Lord Jesus Christ, had by
the work of regeneration upon his heart, instructed
him in the better and nobler arts, of living unto God ;
he was, by the special providence of heaven, made a
servant of our Emanuel, in the ministry of the gospel,
at one of the five parish-churches in Leicester. The
main scope of his ministry was now to promote, first,
a thorough conversion, and then a godly conversation
among his people : and besides his being as the famous
preacher in the wilderness was, a voice, and preach-
ing lectures of Christianity by his whole Christian and
most courteous and obliging behaviour, he had also a
most charming voice, which rendered him unto his
hearers, in all his exercises, another Ezekiel: for, Lo,
he was unto them, as a very lovely song of one that
hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an in-
strument : and from all parts in the neighbourhood they
flocked unto him. Such was the divine presence
with, and blessing on the ministry of this good man,
in this place, that the influence thereof on the whole
town was quickly become a matter of observation :
many were turned from darkness to light, and from
Satan to God ; and many were built up in their most
holy faith ; and there was a notable revival of religion
among them. And such were his endeavours to con-
form unto the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, our
grand Exemplar, in the whole course of his ministry,
EVOLUTION OF A PURITAN DIVINE. 17
that we might easily have written a book of those
" For some years he continued in his conformity to
the rites then required and practised in the Church of
England ; but upon his acquaintance with Mr. Arthur
Hildersham and Mr. Thomas Hooker, he set himself
to study the controversies about the evangelical church-
discipline then agitated in the church of God : and
then the more he studied the scripture, which is the
sole and full rule of church- administrations, the more
he became dissatisfied with the ceremonies, which had
crept into the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, not