Back to Classroom-tested Lesson Plans and Handouts
for English Colonization
There is no commonwealth at
this day in Europe, where in there is not a great store of poor
people, and those necessarily to be relieved by the wealthier
sort, which otherwise would starve and come to utter confusion.
With us the poor is commonly divided into three sorts, so that
some are poor by impotencies, as the fatherless child, the aged,
the blind and lame, and the diseased person that is judged to
be incurable: the second are poor by casualty, as the wounded
soldier, the decayed householder, and the sick person visited
with grievous and painful diseases: the third consisteth of
the thriftless poor, as the rioter that hath consumed all, the
vagabond that will abide no where...and finally the rogue and
For the first two sorts...which
are the true poor in deed, and for whom the word doth bind us
to make some daily provision: there is order taken through out
every parish in the realm, that weekly collection shall be made
for their help and sustentation....The third sort...are often
corrected with sharp execution, and the whip of justice abroad....
Some also do grudge at the great
increase of people in these days, thinking a necessary brood
of cattle far better than a superfluous augmentation of mankind.
William Harrison, 1586
We, for all the statutes that
hitherto can be devised...cannot deliver our commonwealth from
multitudes of loiterers and idle vagabonds. Truth it is, that
through our long peace and seldom sickness...wee are growing
more populous than ever heretofore; so that now there are...so
many, that they can hardly live one by another....and often
fall to pilfering and thieving and other lewdness....These petty
thieves might be condemned for certain years in the western
parties....in sawing and felling of timber...in the burning
of the fires and pine trees to make pitch, tar, rosen, and soap
ashes; in beating and working of hemp for cordage; and in the
more southern parts, in setting them to work in mines....in
planting of sugar canes...in dressing of vines....
This enterprise may stay the
Spanish King from flowing over all the face of that land of
America....How easy a matter may it be to this realm, swarming
at this day with valiant youths, to abate the pride of Spain
and of the support of the great Antichrist of Rome....
Richard Hakluyt, 1584
1. It will be a service to the
church of great consequence to carry the gospel into those parts
of the world...to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of AnteChrist
which the Jesuites labor to rear up in those parts.
2. All other churches of Europe
are brought to desolation and sins for which the Lord begins
already to frown upon us and to cut us short, do threaten evil
times to be coming upon us and who knows, but that God hath
provided this place to be a refuge for many whom he means to
save out of
the general calamity....
3. This land grows weary of
her inhabitants...masters are forced by authority to entertain
servants, parents to maintain their own children, all towns
complain of the burden of their poor....
6. The fountains of learning
and religion are so corrupted as...most children...are perverted,
corrupted, and utterly overthrown by the multitude of evil examples....
John Winthrop, first government
of Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1629
1. Why were
the English interested in overseas colonizations?
2. What do
these quotations indicate about English attitudes toward the
on the Eve of Colonization
Population in 1600: 3 million
Wages in England, 1500-1700
1. How does
the size of the English population in 1600 compare to the size
of the English population today?
2. Did real
wages in England rise or decline between 1500 and 1700?
3. How high
was the death rate in England around 1600? At what ages did
the largest number of Englishmen die? What might have been some
of the social implications of this high death rate?