The New England Colonies Questions and Answers

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Who formed the New England colonies?

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There are four current states that comprised the original territories of the New England colonies. They are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.

In 1620, the Massachusetts Colony was founded by mostly Puritan settlers seeking religious freedom and freedom from persecution by the government. The Massachusetts Bay colony was capitalized by investors in England. William Bradford and John Winthrop played significant roles in the founding and governance of the colony.

In 1623, the Hampshire Colony (New Hampshire) was started by John Mason. Mason was a resident of Hampshire in England and sent settlers to the colony to develop the fishing industry. There is no record of John Mason traveling to the colony, though he had significant investment in Hampshire. In 1679, the colony was transferred to the government as a "royal colony."

In 1635, colonists from the Massachusetts Colony left Massachusetts and began to settle in what is now Connecticut. In 1636, Thomas Hocker organized the small settlements into a colony. Residents forming the colony were seeking more significant economic opportunity and respite from the somewhat rigid lifestyle they experienced in the Massachusetts Colony.

In 1636, the Rhode Island colony was established. The colony was founded by dissidents critical of the strict religious practices of the Massachusetts Bay Puritan leadership. Roger Williams started the colony after being permanently banished from Massachusetts. Williams, along with Ann Hutchinson, is credited as starting the colony. Hutchinson was banned as well for her outspoken views concerning the church in Massachusetts.

While there are other founding members of each of the four colonies, these are the ones that seem to generate the most acclaim from historians as being the driving force in establishing new colonies in the New England region.

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