Both the Virginia Colony and the Massachusetts Bay Colony were not officially meritocracies. There were, however, elements of a meritocracy in both colonies.
In the early days of the Virginia Colony, times were difficult. Very few people survived past the first year. John Smith, who was a soldier, helped the desperate people by calling for order and training them to farm. He also insisted that everyone work hard. He had natural abilities as a strong leader, and he rose to prominence because of these abilities. It was his merit that gave him power.
In the Massachusetts Bay Colony, many men became prominent due to their abilities and achievements. The New World was a fresh start, and many people achieved more than they would have back home. John Cotton was an incredibly influential man. He was a gifted speaker who greatly influenced both government and church affairs. His merit and abilities helped him rise to prominence in Massachusetts.