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Settlers at Weymouth, Massachusetts Bay Colony (1623)

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  • Goodman John King, of Weymouth (c.1600 - 1669)
    Detached three extra children November 8, 2017 [Hatte Blejer, volunteer curator] -- Sara, Thomas, Edward. Sources agree on the 5 children of John King and wife, Mary, of Weymouth: John, Philip, Samuel,...
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    Jeremiah (Jeremy) Gould b. 1581 in Bovingdon, Herts., England parents are Richard Gould and Mary Colder m. Priscilla Grover, 27 Nov 1604 Chesham, Bucks., England d. 1654 in Bovingdon, Her...
  • William Jeffreys, of Newport, Gent. (1591 - 1675)
    Family William Jeffries was the son of William and Audrey (Harvey) Jefferay of Chiddingly, Sussex [EIHC 17:27-33; Waters 253]. MARRIAGE: By 1642 Mary Gould, daughter of Jeremy Gould of Weymouth and...
  • Phineas Pratt (c.1593 - 1680)
    Phineas Pratt Find A Grave Memorial# 143461134 Cohasset Central Cemetery, Cohasset, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA Phineas Pratt was b. circa 1593 London, England and d.19 Apr 1680 Charlestow...
  • Thomas Weston, Ironmonger, of London & America (bef.1584 - bef.1647)
    Thomas Weston , merchant-adventurer, was baptized on December 21, 1584, at Rugeley, Staffordshire England. He was admitted to the Ironmongers Company of London in 1609. family He was the son of Ral...

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From “Colony of Massachusetts Bay”

The settlements formed by these squatters and stragglers were quite unauthorized by the New England Council, which owned the title to the soil. As this Council had accomplished very little under its patent, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, its most active member, persisted in his efforts to found a colony, brought about a general distribution of the territory among its members, and obtained for himself and his son Robert, the section around and immediately north of Massachusetts Bay. An expedition was at once launched. In September, 1623, Robert Gorges with six gentlemen and a well-equipped and well-organized body of settlers reached Plymouth, — the forerunners, it was hoped, of a large number to come. This company of settlers was composed of families, the heads of which were mechanics and farmers, and with them were two clergymen, Morrell and William Blackstone, the whole constituting the greatest enterprise set on foot in America by the Council. Robert Gorges, bearing a commission constituting him Governor-General over all New England, made his settlement at Weston's old place at Wessagusset. Here he built houses and stored his goods and began the founding of Weymouth, the second permanent habitation in New England and the first on Massachusetts Bay. Unfortunately, famine, that arch-enemy of all the early settlers, fell upon his company, his father's resources in England proved inadequate, and he and others were obliged to return. Of those that remained a few stayed at Wessagusset; one of the clergymen,William Blackstone, with his wife went to Shawmut (Boston); Samuel Maverick and his wife, to Winnissimmet (Chelsea); and the Walfords, to Mishawum (Charlestown). Probably all these people were Anglicans; some later became freemen of the Massachusetts colony; others who refused to conform returned to England; but Blackstone remained in his little cottage on the south slope of Beacon Hill, unwilling to join any of the churches, because, as he said, he came from England to escape the "Lord Bishops," and he did not propose in America to be under the "Lord Brethren."


In September 1623, a second colony was created on the abandoned site at Wessagusset, led by Governor-General Robert Gorges. This colony was rechristened as Weymouth and was also unsuccessful, and Governor Gorges returned to England the following year. Despite that, some settlers remained in the village and it was absorbed into the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.

Gorges arrived in Massachusetts in September 1623, only four months after Weston's colony collapsed. Instead of founding his colony at the location described in the patent, he chose the abandoned settlement at Wessagusset. It was rechristened Weymouth after Weymouth, Dorset, the town where the expedition began. Over the following weeks, he visited Plymouth and ordered the arrest of Thomas Weston who had arrived in that colony in the Swan.

After wintering in Weymouth, Gorges abandoned his new colony in the spring of 1624 due to financial difficulties. Most of his settlers returned to England, but some remained as colonists in Weymouth, Plymouth, or Virginia, and William Blaxton settled in Boston. The remaining Weymouth settlers were supported by Plymouth until they were made part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.

From Cook, Lewis Atwood, ed. (1918), History of Norfolk County, Massachusetts, 1622–1918, 1, New York, NY: S. J. Clark Publishing Company, p. 290 GoogleBooks


A few months after the disappearance of the Weston colony, probably in early September, 1623, another expedition sailed up the Fore River and landed at the deserted plantation. It was led by Robert Gorges, a son of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, acting under a charter from the Plymouth Company. The men who came with Captain Gorges were of a different type from those sent over by Weston the year before, one of them being Rev. William Morrell, a minister of the Church of England. The charter gave them "ten miles of the coast on the northeast side of the Massachusetts Bay and extending thirty miles inland." In selecting the place to begin his settlement, Gorges no doubt thought Wessaguscus was covered by the grant. Says Gilbert Nash: "They chose their ten miles evidenly to include the entrance to Boston Harbor, and this mistake, if mistake it were, was the cause of much trouble in the future." Mr. Nash says further: "The plan of the colony was projected upon a scale of magnificent proportions and with machinery sufficient to conduct the affairs of an empire. Captain Gorges was named as GovernorGeneral, with a general oversight of the company's officers in America, and authority by commission to carry out his plans. Associated with him in the government were Capt. Francis West, admiral; Christopher Levet, Esq., perhaps the chief judicial officer, and such others as the Governor-General chose to appoint, any two of whom, with himself, were empowered to transact any business necessary for the government of the colony. The governor of Plymouth, for the time being, was constituted a member of the government."

As soon as Governor Bradford of Plymouth learned that the company had arrived at Wessaguscus, he made arrangements to visit the colony. Before he had time to put his design into execution, Gorges, while on a tour of inspection over his grant, encountered bad weather and took refuge at Plymouth. After remaining there a few days he returned by land to his settlement. Upon his arrival there it appears he for the first time exercised his authority as governorgeneral by causing the arrest of Thomas Weston, who had come into Plymouth Bay on the Swan, and ordering him and his vessel to be sent around to Wessagus. Not long after this he returned to England, with a considerable portion of his company, "thoroughly disgusted with the work of founding an empire in the New World."

After the departure of Gorges, some of his colonists went to Virginia, Rev. William Morrell took up his temporary abode at Plymouth, and a few remained at Wessaguscus. In fact the settlement made by Gorges at Wessaguscus was never entirely broken up. Mr. Morrell went back to England in 1624 and the same year a number of emigrants from Weymouth, England, joined the little band on the shores of the Fore River. With them came a non-conformist minister by the name of Barnard, who remained in the settlement until his death. The records of the colony for the next few years are meager, though there is an occasional mention of the settlement at Wessaguscus, indicating continual though small accessions to the number of inhabitants. Governor Winthrop visited the place in 1632 and was "liberally entertained by those residing there," and in the next year Wessaguscus is mentioned as "a small village." All the evidence tends to show that the Gorges settlement was permanent and therefore the second settlement in Massachusetts.

Resources & References

  • “Weymouth, GEORGE, kidnapper”
  • “A Brief History of Weymouth, MA”
  • Chamberlain, George Walter; 'History of Weymouth, Mass.'.History of Weymouth, Massachusetts: Published by the Weymouth Historical Society, Howard H. Joy, President. Under Direction of the Town, Volume 1. From the Weymouth Historical Society (Weymouth, MA). (1923). GoogleBooks. “Only a few months ago there was a sign on the road between Plymouth and Weymouth which was about as follows: “You are now coming to the town of Weymouth, which was settled in 1622 by a band of pirates who were driven out of Plymouth.”
  • Phineas Pratt's NARRATIVE', Richard Frothingham, Jr., BOSTON: Press of T.R. Marvin and Son, 42 Congress Street. 1858. link at Pilgrim Hall Museum. This is an account of Phineas's memories of the early days in Weymouth. Based on the narrative the occupancy of Weymouth is; Weston Colony built fortifications and buildings in the fall of 1622 (Phineas arrived on the ship Sparrow in May 1622 at landed at Plymouth late May 1622). In the first part of July the Weston ships Charity and Swan arrived at Plymouth. In late July a party of men, including Phineas, in the Swan, went back up the coast to Wessaguscus-now the present day Weymouth. During the winter and early spring of 1622-1623 this group suffered starvation and fell under increasing control of the local indian tribes. Facing an increasing threat of being attacked by the natives, Phineas 'escaped' and walked back to the Plymouth colony for help. He arrived at Plymouth on March 24,1623. Miles Standish and a small group of men set out on March 25, in a small boat, to save the remaining colonists at Weymouth.
  • “Wessagussett Cast of Characters” link Approximately 60 English settled Wessagussett, several families of Natives moved outside of the colony, and 10 Plymouth men arrived to "rescue" the settlers once they had worn out their hospitality. While we can never know all the name sof the participants in this early New England drama, several are known to us.
  • “Gorges’ Servants” link After Weston's settlers abandoned Wessagussett, it was reoccupied soon after by settlers (single men and families) under a patent granted to Robert Gorges. Gorges' Plantation fared slightly better than Weston's- at least they weren't threatened by or getting into conflicts with the local Natives (who likley wanted nothing to do with the English by this point). Unfortunately, Gorges' settlement failed as well. Most of the settlers left for Virginia or England, but a few remained behind. Could these settlers left behind, and their settlment, help us to determine the original location of Weston's Wessagussett Plantation?
  • Adams, Charles Francis. "Three Episodes of Massachusetts History" Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston & New York, The Riverside Press, Cambridge. 1892. Vol. 1 see at Hathitrust
  • An Investigation into Weston's Colony at Wessagussett, Weymouth, Massachusetts Uploaded by Craig Chartier link
  • “Saunders Memorial Dedication” On July 11, 2004, descendants of John Saunders, 2nd Governor of the Wessagussett colony, gathered to dedicate a memorial stone in honor of their ancestor.
  • “Bungled Diplomacy, Murder, & Healing: A New American Day at Wessagussett“ by Dr Jack Dempsey
  • “Charity, 1622” The Charity, left England mid-summer (before or early July) 1622, arriving in Cape Cod late 1622. The Charity accompanied by the pinnace Swan arrived with 60 men and no provisions. Thomas Morton, later of Mare Mount ("Merry Mount"), may have been with this group. The new arrivals remained, temporarily, at the Plymouth colony, placing a heavy burden on the provisions there. Also on board these vessels were "some" passengers for Virginia.
  • From “Blaxton joined the failed Ferdinando Gorges expedition to America in 1623, and he arrived in Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1623 on the ship Katherine[5] as a chaplain in the subsequent expedition of Robert Gorges. Most of his fellow travelers returned to England in 1625, and he became the first colonist to settle in Boston, living alone there. ...”
  • “Katherine, 1623” Charles Banks Topographical lists the following passenger: Rev William Blackstone, from Horncastle, Lincolnshire, bound for Weymouth and Boston, MA. Ref: Bolton Real Founders. 36 pg 96. see at Hathitrust
  • The next group of Weymouth colonists arrived in the late summer of 1623, I believe it was financed by the Georges Company. The records I have show that the ships 'Katherine' and 'Prophet Daniel', with approx. 120 passengers, reached the Weymouth colony in the middle of September, 1623. However, not all of these colonists stayed at Weymouth. The ship 'Katherine' continued on to the colonies in Virginia and some of the colonists continued on to Virginia. The new group of Weymouth colonists reoccupied the existing fort and buildings at the previous Wessaguscus (Weymouth) site. The Weymouth site had been abandoned on April 7-8, 1623 by the original group of colonists, including Phineas Pratt who joined the Plymouth colony.
  • From THE LIFE OF WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (1595 — 1675) link. CHAPTER II: LEAVING FOR THE NEW WORLD It is now in early June, 1623, and GORGES ship is ready at Whitby. On Sunday, June 29, 1623, the Council for New England met at Greenwich, near London with KING JAMES, SIR FERNANDO GORGES and others, which was to be the send off of CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES and his company to New England. CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES, the son of SIR FERNANDO GORGES, was the Councils Lieutenant in charge of the expedition. A special prominence had been given to the propagation of the Gospel and the present plan was distinctly to be a church settlement, specifically in the Massachusetts Bay area, as contrasted with the Separatists settlement already effected at Plymouth. CAPTAIN ROBERT GORGES, accordingly, took with him at least two ordained Clergyman. One, the REVEREND WILLIAM MORELL, bore an ecclesiastical commission, conferring on him general powers of visitation and superintendency over the churches of New England. As there was only one church in New England at Plymouth, the significance of this commission was apparent. The other Clergyman was the ordained companion of WILLIAM MORELL, the REVEREND WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, who had originally been designed to take charge, under the power of superintendency, of the Plymouth pulpit, while MORELL was to minister at the Bay. The GORGES expedition left England in early August, 1623, and reached New England about the middle of September. There are underlying indications that WILLIAM kept records of this expedition and the subsequent settlement effected by it. (Winthrop alludes to this in his history, as also, Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society 1878, p. 197.) [N.B. Apparently these records mostly lost in King Philip’s War 1675]
  • From Geni member the late Fay Baldwin: “David Thomson ... at the time Governor Robert Gorges, young son of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, arrived in New England and settled in Massachusetts Bay, along with William Jeffrey, John Bursleum, William Blackstone, John Balch and Thomas Balford...some with family and servants. ...”
  • The Honorable Charles Francis Adams Jr.; paper, 'Weymouth Thirty Years Later;
  • Mr. Gilbert Nash; 'Weymouth, First Thirty Years';
  • Mr. Edmund S. Hunt; 'Reminiscences of Weymouth';
  • Morton, Christopher Levitt; 'The New Canaan', book 1632;
  • Hotten’s original list of emigrants;