Should we change the name of the Puritan Great Migration project?

+15 votes

I've received a private message from someone who is very upset that the profile of their Quaker ancestor is marked with the PGM template. (Quakers were persecuted and even executed by Puritans in early New England.)

As the project page states, the project "includes both Puritans and non-Puritans" as long as they came over to New England between 1620 and 1640. 

I explained why we did not call the project only "Great Migration" (because it is too U.S.-centric; there were "great migrations" elsewhere throughout the world). 

He suggested "New England Great Migration".

What do others think? And what would be the implications if we did change it?

in Policy and Style by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (767k points)
Changed to answer. See below.
I think, if the name is causing confusion or distress, then yes, a change should be made. It won't be super simple, but not so complicated that it can't happen. We want to make sure we have something that will <hopefully> be permanent this time :-)
It is easier to add a new category such "converted later to Quaker" or however it would be phrased, and add that to a few hundred profiles for converts from Puritanism, than it would be to change the thousands of existing categories that say Puritan Great Migration.

If I understand the discussion correctly, changing the PGM template would not change the PGM category that thousands of profiles already have.

It seem to me it would more accurately reflect the lives fo those who arrived prior to the Quaker movement and later joined the Quakers, than labeling them Quakers as if that was their religion when they arrived.

I am saddened by the persecution of Quakers by those who themselves had to flee religious persecution, but we can't change history to reflect a later change of heart, we can only record the facts.

Jillaine, is there anything that would keep a profile currently in the category of Puritan Great Migration having another category added to it to reflect that their religion changed during their lifetime?
April, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I see no reason to exclude categories such as you describe. I've been thinking we may need an Early Quakers or First Generation Quakers category for people like Daniel Wing who were in that first or earliest wave of Quakerism. I simply don't have the bandwidth to take on another project though would happily contribute to one if someone else took it on  

Also we should remember that categories are used to organize and find collections of people-- in this case those who emigrated to New England as part of that Puritan exodus from England. Neither a template nor a category tells the story. That's the purpose of the narrative and associated pages that describe the context. We shouldn't expect a category or a template to tell the whole story.
Thank you Jillaine for filling in the picture. I would never suggest you take on another project - PGM is HUGE!

Thank you for keeping it going so faithfully.

13 Answers

+10 votes
I don't understand - there were no Quakers before 1640.  The only way a Quaker is in the timeframe is if they turned Quaker later.  It was a crazy mixed-up century notorious for political and religious turncoats, but we can't rewrite their life stories as they would have liked them to be.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (565k points)
Some people who emigrated before 1640 became Quaker. For example, Daniel Wing-38.
Without knowing which profile is in question, it could be possible that the person went to New England before 1640, and became a Quaker around the 1660s (which is when their persecution in North America seems to have begun).
So if they were Puritans or fellow-travellers when they emigrated, what's the problem?
Horace, in this case, the problem is that a descendant is horrified that his Quaker ancestor is associated with a label (template) of the very people who persecuted him and executed his peers.
Well yes, a lot of people who fought for Cromwell ended up as horrified victims of the monster they created.  But it doesn't change the fact that they helped to create it.

Puritans who turned Quaker later don't get absolved of responsibility for having once been Puritans.

There's no room in a single tree for advocacy and apologetics and denial.  We all have to share our ancestors with people who may have different points of view about them.  What if the ancestor in question is also my ancestor, and I happen to like the fact that he emigrated as a Puritan, and I think he deserved everything he got for deserting the cause and joining the opposition?

And anyway, people tend to be descended from both sides of every story.  The Magna Carta barons are the heroes this year, but a lot of the gateways would also qualify for a Descendant of King John template.

If we had a category for people who once supported Hitler, some of those might have horrified descendants, even Jewish descendants.  Should they be left out?  Should we call it "People who may have liked some of Hitler's better ideas but we expect they always had doubts about him really"?

The world is full of people saying "I'm justified in hating you because of what 'your' ancestors did to 'my' ancestors".  And it's full of people thinking "I'm better than you because of who my ancestors are".  The spirit of a global family is to leave all that behind, not pander to it.

Actually there are too many hero categories.  There should be more bad-people categories to remind people who else they're descended from.
+1 vote
Yes, we should change the name.
by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Despite the description of PGM which states that it is for Puritans and Non Puritans, someone removed the PGM off a profile I'd put it on saying the person wasn't a Puritan. I think changing the name would eliminate the problem of people who can't read descriptions.
Anne, in the very few times I've seen this happen, I've simply put the template back with an explanation sent to the person who removed it. I don't think this confusion happens enough to change a project name. I guess what I'm saying is that I'm not seeing ENOUGH concern to change the name given the amount of time it would take to change hundreds of profile pages.

There are worse problems out there that still need fixing -- the plagiarized content on hundred if not thousands of category pages for ships lists and military engagements, for example.
We COULD whoever change the language on the template itself to be clearer. I'll post that as an answer to see what people think.
+4 votes
I think the name or description of the project should be tweaked. Quakers fall under the Penn project, but some landed prior to Penn in New England.  My family includes many Puritans, Early Quakers & Penn Quakers. Sometimes knowing how to categorize them is challenging.
by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
Yes, Doug, there were many New England Quakers who were not at all associated with Pennsylvania. I'd love to see them categorized in some way.
Yes, many of my ancestors were Puritans, later becoming Quakers, but were in Rhode Island, not Pennsylvania.  I would love to see an additional categorization for Quakers who were not in Pennsylvania.
+15 votes
I don't think the name of the project should be changed.  There weren't any Quakers in New England before the 1650s, which means that PGM immigrants all arrived in New England as non-Quakers.  Many people who became Quakers (especially in Sandwich) had earlier been members of the established church.  Daniel Wing in particular was the grandson of the Puritan minister Stephen Bachilor (who got chased out of England for being a Puritan).  Perhaps whoever is upset would be interested in learning more about the various twists and turns and currents of thought of this most interesting time.   I'm descended from several Sandwich families who belonged to the established church but opposed the persecution of the Quakers (one of my ancestors got kicked out of the Plymouth General Court), so years ago I put a lot of time into learning about this time and place.
by J S G2G6 Mach 9 (95.1k points)
I agree John - the name is consistent with the goal of syncing data with Robert Charles Anderson's works of the same name. We are only including immigrants up to 1640. I also have a lot of New England Quaker and non-puritan ancestors. We need to be consistent with the migration that happened during this period. We can add other projects to the the same profiles. I think a Quaker project would be interesting as well.
0 votes
The Non-Conformist Migration

Early Settlers to New England

The Great Puritan & Quaker Migration

or perhaps we start a new one called Quaker Migration and toss the guy into that project?
No. While I understand that the term "Non-conformist" is recognized in Great Britain as referring to the Puritans and related religious groups, it is largely unknown in America -- and it still would not apply to the non-Puritans who emigrated for nonreligious motives.
+2 votes

I accidentally made this a comment above. I meant it to be an answer:

What about keeping the name, but having a different template for definite non-puritans?

by Carole Partridge G2G6 Mach 7 (70.6k points)

Good idea AND... the thought of more templates makes me queazy. I'm in the "keep it simple" camp.

The initial purpose of this project was to clean up the profiles of the people that emigrated from England to New England between 1620 and 1640 (we started out with 1650 as an end point, but we shrunk it to more closely align with Anderson's time period).

Historically, that period was called the Puritan Great Migration, and involved people who were and were not, technically, Puritans.

And we haven't even discussed yet the implications of making a change. That scares me...

As I look at up votes, I'm seeing more support for keeping the name as it is.

I think it's important that we continue to be clear about what the PGM project is and is not. AND to find ways to -- in this case -- honor the role different people played. I would like to see a separate category (if it doesn't exist already) for Early Quakers who were not part of the Penn migration to Pennsylvania. Then we could appropriately honor Daniel Wing-38 and others like him who paved the early paths of American Quakerism.
I get the part about no more templates! An easier solution would be to add a description of extreme non-Puritans right below the template and above the bio.

Something like:

Note: Although _______ came to New England during the Great Migration period, he was not a Puritan. In fact....
It seems to me that creation of a separate template could unnecessarily complicate the issue. Some of my PGM ancestors were clearly Puritans and some were almost certainly "fellow travelers" (for example, sailors), but for many of them it's not at all clear whether they were Puritans -- or whether their religion had anything to do with their emigration.

I expect that the existence of a separate template would lead us into a lot of unproductive discussion about the proper classification of individual people, which would be an unnecessary complication.
Thank you, Ellen, you've articulated my queasiness. ;-)

Carole, I like your suggestion of adding narrative immediately under the template, but in a more descriptive way. That can always be done manually for those people who played a particularly anti-Puritan role, for example.

Okay, I think I'm beginning to breathe easier. Others?

"but for many of them it's not at all clear whether they were Puritans"...Absolutely true.

+2 votes

I endorse the idea of a change to "New England Great Migration." The concerns and criticisms we have been hearing about the inclusion of non-Puritans aren't going to dissipate over time -- and those concerns/criticisms presumably explain why the title of Anderson's The Great Migration Begins omits the word "Puritan." Changing the project name is the simplest way to avoid repetitive discussion of the issue.

The main implication I've thought of has to do with the names of project templates. For profiles, the existing pgm template could be made to redirect to a new "New England Great Migration" template. I don't know if it would be feasible to redirect the pgm tag for G2G posts to a new negm tag, though.

by Ellen Smith G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Thanks for helping us start thinking through the implications of a name change, Ellen.

What other implications are there?
I don't think we could redirect the G2G tag.

You'd have to either keep the old tag, or start a new one and edit some of the old questions that you wanted to keep together with the new one.

Similarly, you'd have to recategorize profiles.
Chris, currently the {{pgm}} template automatically adds the category [[Category:Puritan Great Migration]].

I'm assuming {{negm}} could do the same thing.

But I'm thinking that we'd still have to go through and delete/remove [[Category:Puritan Great Migration]] from the existing {{pgm}} pages, yeah?

Could a redirect be set on [[:Category:Puritan Great Migration]] to go to [[Category:New England Great Migration]] ?

And what's your sense of how much "trouble" this would cause on the system-- tech or human wise?

Hi Jillaine,

I know via e-mail Lianne noted that templates can be moved/redirected.

Categories can't be, though. If the category tags exist in any profiles (as opposed to in the templates in the profiles) they will have to be changed by hand.

I can't envision any trouble for the system.

+6 votes
I'm not an expert, and I've always found "Puritan" to be confusing. Aesthetically, I really like "New England Great Migration"/negm. It seems descriptive and should be more clear for non-historians and new genealogists.

However, if "Puritan Great Migration" is a consensus of historians for important scholarly reasons (perhaps with an external source that we could link to for explanation?), and/or if the technical work to switch on WikiTree would be really onerous, I don't have a strong objection to keeping it as-is.

(I'm techy, so let me know how I can help with the technical work and templates.)
by Cheryl Hammond G2G6 Mach 2 (21.3k points)
+2 votes
I feel it should just be called the "Great Miration". Anderson, years ago, already has given the definition of what it is, so why change it....20,000 Englishmen migrated to New England. They were all denominations. People try to be so politically correct they get all in a tither when one person complains. As the English would say, "Don't get your panties in a twist!"

I go for "Great Migration". I am sure there were some hippies that came over to Plymouth during that time!:)
by J W G2G6 Mach 1 (10.1k points)
Jim, that was our initial intent to call it that.  However as several people pointed out back then, that's a US-centric term that means something else entirely to people in other parts of the globe that had their own great migrations. And this is an international l wiki.
Then what about "England's Great Emigration", "New England's Great Immigraton", I don't think the later would be a mis-truth even today...or would it?  "New England's 17th Century Great Immigration" or "NE17GM". I'll keep pondering:). Thanks for you feedback.
The current top contender for a replacement name is "New England Great Migration" IF we decide to change it. So far, I'm not seeing enough agreement to make that change.
Not every Engllishman during this time came from England. Our first Adams ancestor ito New England came from Barbados c. 1645. He was not a puritan . But I definitely want to identify him as an "early New England settler"!
Tom, Barbados was a stopping point for many New England-bound Englishmen and women. I often wondered about this (look it up on a map) until someone explained about the trade winds. Sailing Ships from England could get to Barbados faster than they could get to New England.
Jillaine, Thanks. I understand the enroute wayover BUT in this case (I did not explain above) the father of our immigrant was the emigrant from England -- to Barbados where he lived with his family. So my point above (unstated) is I am in favor of changing the name, but not to "England's" Great Emmigration because it doesn't take into account that not all Englishmen who emmigrated went to New England, and that not all Englishmen who migrated to New Enland came from England. I'm being "picky, picky", i know, but if a change is made based on one exception, make sure it is broad enough to eliminate other exceptions.
Unless I am am mising smething, it seems that "England's Great Emigration" may seem the "catchall" we've been looking for. As is the case of Mr. Green, he may not have gone to New New Egand but he did Emigrate from England. As is in the case that not all people who migrated to New England came from England but yhere we are talking about 1.) the Great Emigration from England and 2.) There are bound to be exceptions here are here, but they are probably minor incomparision to the vast majority of people who did leave England for the New World of New England. People in this catagory I lthink of the Walloons, orgainized by Jesse LaForest who went to New Amsterdam...which is not New England anyway.

I think ttis subject can go round and round and get no where because there wil always a splinter group that will not fit the catagory's name, but the majority always will. If it was called the Great European Emigranton of the 17th Century there will be a group from Iceland that will have gone to settle Northern Maine that somone will feel offended by becuae they are not in the name group. The majority was English, the idea was English, the first successful pioneers were English, so The Great English Emmigraton, I personally am fond of, becasue it gives the impression that the people wanted out and were not, though some were thrown out. It was their Great Experiment, it was their giing uo of everthing for what they believed in so why not entitle them with the honor of the name. Those who are the splinter group, make up another group for them, and honor them with their own group. If they married into the sub group from the Engish groupLet the MPs decide!:). Anyway, My thoughts. hanks for listening.

We tend to find discrete projects that we are capable of taking on; that have some boundaries around them and are (we hope) are clearly defined.

The PGM project is focused on making sure that the excellent research of Robert Charles Anderson and his colleagues (the Great Migration series published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society) is accurately reflected in wikitree profiles of those who emigrated to New England between 1620 and 1640. It's also to make sure that disputed origins are cleared up.

That's a big enough project as it is. If scopes become too big, not only would they be difficult to manage, but they'd start to lose their meaning. Also, volunteers tend to have interests in those particular "splinters" -- Magna Carta Gateway project is such a splinter (of two projects, actually -- EuroAristos and PGM).

If there is enough interest in early Quakers, I'm sure someone will request to lead such a project.
+2 votes
I"m not clear from the discussion so far whether the Quakers in New England immigrated separately from Puritans, or whether they immigrated AS Puritans and then later converted.

The latter is the case in Maryland, where Puritans founded Providence (now Anne Arundel County) about 1649 as refugees from the Established Church in Virginia, and engaged in a civil war with Catholics in the 1650's.  Within a 20 year period after 1660, many of those who had been ardent Puritans converted to Quakerism.  I think they had become tired of conflict, and the Quakers offered them relief from the Puritan approach.  

My hunch is that most of those who first settled New England were Puritans or other very similar non-conformists.  George Fox, who founded the Quakers, was born in 1624, three years after the Mayflower, and didn't begin to preach his faith for another 20 years, so the Puritans already had their great migration by the time anyone could have been a Quaker.  

I also have the impression that some immigrants to New England were allowed if they weren't strict Puritans, but had some other useful skill.  My wife's ancestor Sprague may have fallen into that category -- not doctrinaire Puritan, but apparently a good inn keeper!

All this is to cast a vote for keeping the word Puritan in the title, but maybe restricting it to the first generation, so if one became a Quaker int he second generation, one is already out of the Migration category!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (349k points)
Jack, thanks for your thoughts. Currently, the PGM designation is only used on those individuals who actually emigrated. It is not used on any individuals born in New England.
I think I've seen one individual who was in the migration of Puritans from Virginia to Maryland after 1649 who is flagged with the PGM designation.  This struck me as an error.
Hi Jack,

Is your Virginia-to-Maryland person profiled by Anderson? (The project uses his Great Migration series as a guide.)

Also, if it was after 1649, it falls outside of the time period of the [Puritan] Great Migration.
Jack, I re-read your comment and realized I'd mis-interpreted it.

yes, I've also seen profiles of Virginia/Maryland puritans marked with PGM and that's inaccurate. That falls out of the scope of the PGM project. If anyone finds such a profile, please remove the template (and the category added by the template) pointing the profile manager (or the person who added the template) to the PGM project page which explains the scope. If it gets contentious, call on one of the project co-leaders for support. Thanks.
+2 votes
It was the Pilgrim migration.  I find it interesting that even subgroups of the pilgrims were banished or resettled. Were the pilgrims intollerant?  YES.  There were multiple times others needed to leave the original colony because of differences of opinion and persecution.  It continued to spread the migration.

It really was started by the Pilgrims.  I am willing to accept them for who they were, warts and all.
by Alan Wyatt G2G1 (1.9k points)
The Pilgrims were a different group than the Puritans. See wikipedia for details. The bulk of those who came in the Mayflower in 1620 (which has its own wikitree project) were Pilgrims.

Puritans were an entirely different group.
I think it's fair to say that the Pilgrim colony had merged into greater Puritan New England by the 1650s at the latest.  As James Cudworth said in 1658 (speaking of Plymouth following Massachusetts Bay in its persecution of the Quakers): "Now Plymouth-saddle is on the Bay-horse."
+2 votes
I would prefer "Pilgrim Great Migration" as all new-comers to New England were pilgrims, right?
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (542k points)
No Kitty. "Pilgrims" during that time period had a very different meaning. See wikipedia and compare entries for Pilgrims and Puritans.
If anything, this discussion is useful to help a lot of us learn our history!
One of the things I love about genealogy, Jack! I've learned so much about American history since doing genealogy! For example, I did not appreciate all the distinctions between the various religious/political factions of this time period. VERY fascinating...
Ditto, Jillaine's comment about learning so much history as I study the time periods my ancestors lived in.
+4 votes

Thank you everyone who responded with your thoughts and votes. 

I am not seeing sufficient consensus to make a name change to the project and launch a fix-it campaign to edit the hundreds of profiles that would have to be manually edited to remove the PGM category. 

I do suggest, however, that we change the template language from its current wording:


The Puritan Great Migration.
This person was part of the Puritan Great Migration.
If you are interested in this profile,
please check out the Puritan Great Migration Project!


"This person emigrated to New England during the period called the "Puritan Great Migration". For more information please check out the Puritan Great Migration Project" [linked]

by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (767k points)
.  I enjoyed following this discussion. Thank you for posting the question, Jillaine, for calculating the consensus, and arriving at a good conclusion. This looks like a sensible answer to a complicated question.

I would still like to see a category for Quakers who did not move to Pennsylvania.  Many of my ancestors went to Rhode Island.

Cheryl (Aldrich-908)
Thanks, Cheryl! Much appreciated.

Re: Quakers, I think that's  a different project.

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