The Puritans


1569 Thomas Cartwright argues for a purified English Christianity

1571 Parliament approves Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion

1590 Thomas Cartwright and others arrested for trying to reform the church

1593 Execution of two separatists

1603 James VI of Scotland becomes James I of England

1604 King James I thwarts most Puritan reforms in their “Millenary Petition”

1608 Puritan separatists from town of Scrooby migrate to Netherlands to avoid persecution


1620 Scrooby separatists return to England and then sail for Virginia on the Mayflower; these Pilgrims settle outside Virginia’s boundaries

1629 Increasing pressure put on Puritans in England. New England Company reorganized as Massachusetts Bay Company

1630 The Arbella and sister ships sail for Massachusetts; Governor John Winthrop makes Boston seat of colony

1633 William Laud becomes Archbishop of Canterbury, fueling Great Migration of Puritans to New England

1635 Roger Williams banished from Bay Colony, founds Providence the following year

1636 Harvard College founded. Puritans from Massachusetts found Hartford, Connecticut

1637 Native Americans and Puritans battle in Pequot War. New Haven colony founded

1638 Anne Hutchinson banished


1640Bay Psalm Book published

1642 English Civil War begins; American Puritans side with Parliament against King Charles I

1643 Parliament establishes Westminster Assembly to reform the English church

1644 Rhode Island granted charter

1649 Cambridge Platform defines New England congregationalism; King Charles I beheaded; Commonwealth of England proclaimed; reforming forces reign

1650 Anne Bradstreet’s poetry published in England

1651 John Eliot founds village for praying Indians

1653 Puritan Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England

1656 First Quakers in Massachusetts arrested and banished

1658 Oliver Cromwell’s death opens struggle for English supremacy


1660 American Puritan hopes for reform permanently dashed when Catholic Charles II crowned king of England; persecution of English Puritans resumed; many emigrate or return to New England

1661 Executions of Quakers in Massachusetts halted by Charles II

1662 Connecticut absorbs New Haven Colony.
Day of Doom, a best-selling verse jeremiad, calls for repentance. Half-Way Covenant eases requirements for church membership

1675 Wampanoags and Puritans battle in King Philip’s War

1677 Massachusetts incorporates Maine into its jurisdiction

1679 Reforming Synod calls for spiritual renewal and supports congregationalism


1684 Complaints against Bay magistrates lead to revoking of Massachusetts Charter; two years later, royal governor appointed for Dominion of New England (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Plymouth, and Rhode Island)

1687 Solomon Stoddard advocates open Communion, liberalizing requirements to take Communion

1688 Glorious Revolution: Protestant William of Orange invades England, and Catholic James II flees

1689 Boston rebellion topples the Dominion government; Act of Toleration in England eases pressure on non-conforming Protestants

1691 William and Mary grant Massachusetts new charter, partly restoring popular basis of government

1692 Witchcraft trials at Salem Village

1699 “Brattle Street Manifesto” by a new congregation greatly eases membership requirements and marks appearance of liberal faction


1700 Harvard liberals force out Increase Mather as college president

1701 Yale University founded by orthodox Connecticut clergy

1702 Cotton Mather publishes Magnalia Christi Americana, a history of early New England

1708 Connecticut clergy adopt Saybrook Platform, modifying pure congregationalism

1721 Smallpox epidemic in Boston Cotton Mather advocates inoculation

1734 Jonathan Edwards’ preaching stimulates revival at Northhampton and beginning of Great Awakening

Other Events


1588 Spanish Armada defeated, giving England control of seas

1589 Forks first used in French court

1610 Henry Hudson reaches Hudson Bay

1611 King James Version published

1616 William Shakespeare dies


1632 Maryland colony, a haven for Catholics, chartered by Charles I

1633 Galileo forced to recant

1634 French explorer Jean Nicolet sees Lake Michigan and thinks he has reached Asia; Oberammergau Passion Play given for first time.


1644 Ming dynasty in China ends

1646 George Fox begins ministry; start of Quaker movement

1650 Tea first drunk in England

1651 Thomas Hobbes’s The Leviathan

1654 Blaise Pascal converted


1664 British take New Netherlands and call it New York

1665 Great Plague of London kills nearly 70,000

1667 John Milton’s Paradise Lost

1675 Spener’s Pia Desideria signals emergence of Pietism

1678 John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress


1682 Peter the Great czar of Russia

1685 George Frederick Handel born

1687 Isaac Newton’s Principia

1690 John Locke’s Two Treatises on Civil Government


1707 Isaac Watts’s Hymns and Spiritual Songs

1718 In Texas, San Antonio Mission (the Alamo) is founded

1721 J. S. Bach writes Brandenburg Concertos

1723 Benjamin Franklin becomes printer in Philadelphia

Dr. Francis J. Bremer is professor of history at Millersville (Pennsylvania) University. He is author of The Puritan Experiment: New England Society from Bradford to Edwards (St. Martin's, 1976).