Puritan Family and Community in the English Atlantic World examines the dynamics of marriage, family and community life during the "Great Migration" through the microhistorical study of one puritan family in 1638 Rhode Island.
Through studying the Verin family, a group of English non-conformists who took part in the "Great Migration", this book examines differing approaches within puritanism towards critical issues of the age, including liberty of conscience, marriage, family, female agency, domestic violence, and the role of civil government in responding to these developments. Like other nonconformists who challenged the established Church of England, the Verins faced important personal dilemmas brought on by the dictates of their conscience even after emigrating. A violent marital dispute between Jane and her husband Joshua divided the Providence community and resulted, for the first time in the English-speaking colonies, in a woman’s right to a liberty of conscience independent of her husband being upheld. Through biographical sketches of the founders of Providence and engaging with puritan ministerial and prescriptive literature and female-authored petitions and pamphlets, this book illustrates how women saw their place in the world and considers the exercise of female agency in the early modern era.
Connecting migration studies, family and community studies, religious studies, and political philosophy, Puritan Family and Community in the English Atlantic World will be of great interest to scholars of the English Atlantic World, American religious history, gender and violence, the history of New England, and the history of family.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Verins--A Family "Much Afflicted with Conscience"
The Verins and Family History
The Many Puritanisms
A Note about Methodology
Women and the Historical Record in the Early Modern Era
Women’s Agency in the Early Modern Era
Part One: "Gone to New England for Conscience Sake": Family History as New England History
Who Were the Puritans?
Patterns of English Migration
A New Community in Providence
The Antinomians in Rhode Island
Disputes over Land
Part Two: "Piety Tempers Patriarchy": Women of Conscience in the English Atlantic World
Women and Puritanism
Answering Christ’s Call
On Marriage: Puritan Ministerial Literature
The Antinomian Crisis Continued
The Women of Providence
Making Sense of Women’s Experiences
Puritan Prescriptive Literature
Controlling Insubordinate Wives
Barren in Zion
In Women’s Voices
Family Violence in Early New England
Sectarian Groups and Women’s Religious Rights: The Baptists and Quakers
Women’s Spiritual Activism in the English Atlantic World
Pamphlet Culture in the 17th-Century Atlantic World
Part III: "Forced Worship Stinks in God’s Nostrils": Government, Law, and Liberty of Conscience in Puritan New England
The English Context
Puritan Women and English Law
Controlling Insubordinate Wives
On Liberty of Conscience and Forced Conformity
Massachusetts Body of Liberties
The Issues in Transatlantic Context
On John Locke
Conclusion: Women of Obstinate Faith
Margaret Murányi Manchester is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Providence College, USA. She teaches courses on US history, American women’s history, and diplomatic history. Her current research revisits a spy story involving in Cold War Hungary.