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The Blinman Party

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Location: Plymouth Colonymap
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For profiles, see the category for the Blinman Party

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The Blinman Party

The Blinman Party was a group of immigrants who came to New England in 1640 with Rev. Richard Blinman. The party has also been called the Welsh Company because Rev. Blinman was from Chepstow, Wales and it has been thought (probably incorrectly) that most of the members of the Party also came from Wales.

Richard Blinman Prior to Immigration

Richard Blinman was baptized in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales on February 2, 1608/9. He matriculated at New Inn Hall at Oxford in April 1635 and received his Bachelor of Art's degree on January 19, 1635/6. After graduating, Blinman was admitted as curate of Ubley, Somerset in June 1636 and ordained as a minister at Wells, Somerset in September 1636. By 1639 he had been "put out" from whatever church he had been at and was preaching at various locations along the English-Welsh border, without having a permanent position. In March 1639, Blinman preached in Brampton Bryan, Hertfordshire. In September 1639, he was in Holt, Denbighshire (about 68 miles north of Brampton Bryan, Hertfordshire), with Oliver Thomas, who allegedly preached a seditious sermon. Blinman was in Walcot, Shropshire (about 50 miles southeast of Holt) shortly thereafter, but apparently stayed only briefly, and was gone from there by the end of November 1639.[1]

Many secondary sources say that Blinman was minister at Chepstow prior to emigrating. According to the 1955 Chepstow Parish Records, however, Abraham Drew was the vicar of Chepstow from 1609 until he died in 1646, which means that Blinman could not have been the minister there prior to emigrating. It thus appears most probable that, after being ordained in 1636 and before appearing in Hertfordshire in 1639, Blinman was minister at a different church in the area or perhaps had a subordinate or informal role at Chepstow.[1]

The Blinman Party's Immigration and Brief Residency in Green's Harbor

By early 1640, Blinman had apparently decided to immigrate to New England. In a letter to her son dated February 28, 1639/40, Lady Brillina Harley reported that "Mr. Blineman is goone into NweIngland."[2] Based on surrounding evidence and the fact that voyages to New England were generally not made in the winter months, the words "is goone" should be interpreted as "is going" rather than "has gone."

According to the history of the Church of Marshfield written by Nathaniel Morten in the 1680s and included in Volume I of the Plymouth Church records, Blinman's immigration to New England was induced by Plymouth governor Edward Winslow, who "procured several Welsh Gentlemen of Good note thither with mr. Blinman a Godly able Minnester."[3] As discussed below, however, research has shown that the members of the party who accompanied Blinman to New England were not all, or perhaps even predominantly, Welsh, but came from various locations near the Welsh-English border.[4]

The Blinman Party immigrated in the spring or early summer of 1640 and were settled in Green's Harbor by Gov. Winslow. The first evidence of their presence in New England is a letter dated October 10, 1640 by Gov. Winslow, written from his house, Careswell,[5] in Green's Harbor, to John Winthrop in Boston that includes the postscript: "Mr. Blindman salutes you."[6] That letter was followed by a letter dated January 28, 1640/1 by Gov. Winslow from Careswell to John Winthrop at Boston in which he blamed his failure to visit, in part, on being occupied by "the many businesses I have had (& the more in regard to Mr. Blinman's friends that are come to live with us, & the streightnes of place to receive them)."[7]

At a General Court held at Plymouth on March 2, 1640/1, Blinman and five other men believed to have immigrated with him (Hugh Prichard, Obadiah Bruen, John Sadler, Hugh Calkin and Walter TIbbot) were propounded to be made free at the next Court.[8]

Many of the people who were already living in Green's Harbor apparently preferred the way their religious services had been conducted over Rev. Blinman's style. Lechford reported in his 1642 Plain Dealing, that Rev. Blinman had a "broyle" with William Thomas of Green's Harbor, "where master Blindman went by the worst" and that Rev. John Wilson of Boston had been sent to try to resolve the dispute.[9] Wilson's efforts were apparent to no avail. William Hubbard, in his 1682 A General History of New England used a parable from the Bible to describe the conflict, stating "they agreed no better than the piece of new cloth in the old garment, making a rent so bad it could never be made up again."[10] The outcome of the conflict was that, by the spring of 1642, the Blinman Party removed to Cape Ann in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

John Winthrop Sr. summarized the Blinman Party's immigration, brief stay in Green's Harbor and removal to Cape Ann in a journal entry in May 1642:

One Mr Blinman, a minister in Wales, a godly and able man, came over with some friends of his, and being invited to Green's Harbor, near Plymouth, they went thither, but ere the year was expired there fell out some difference among them, which by no means could be reconciled, so that they agreed to part, and he came with his company and sat down at Cape Anne, which at this court was established to be a plantation, and called Gloucester.[11]

Residency in Cape Ann/Gloucester; Removal of the Cape Ann Company

Cape Ann was just a small, sparsely-populated, fishing station before the Blinman Party arrived.[12] Concurrent with the arrival of the Blinman Party in 1642 (and no doubt as a result thereof), the settlement at Cape Ann was renamed Gloucester[13] and the first town government was formed. The men who were appointed in 1642 to "order the prudential affairs of the town of Gloucester" were Mr. Stevens, Mr. Addes, Mr. Milward, Mr. Sadler, Obadiah Bruen, George Norton, Mr. Freyer and Water Tybbot,[14][15] four of whom (Addes, Sadler, Bruen and Tybbot) were undoubtedly members of the Blinman Party. Two other presumed members of the Blinman Party -- Hugh Calkin and Hugh Prichard -- became Gloucester "prudential men" in 1643 and 1645, respectively.

In 1650-1, Rev. Blinman, a group of other Gloucester residents (some part of the original Blinman Party and some not) and others from the Cape Ann area removed to New London in the Connecticut Colony. This group was referred to by Caulkins as the "eastern or Cape Ann company."[16] For information about the Cape Ann Company and its members, see The Cape Ann Company.

Members of the Blinman Party

There is no definitive list of the persons who accompanied Rev. Blinman to New England and were thus members of the Blinman Party. Circumstantial evidence suggests that certain groups of persons were, with greater or lesser probability, part of the Party.

The persons with the highest probability of having immigrated with Rev. Blinman are those who were propounded for freemanship in the Plymouth Colony in 1641 with Rev. Blinman. There is no evidence that any of them were in New England prior to the Blinman Party's arrival, and all of them later appear in Gloucester records after the Blinman Party removed there. This group of persons consists only of:

  • Obadiah Bruen, from Tarvin, Cheshire, Gloucester selectman in 1642
  • Hugh Calkin, from Waverton, Cheshire, Gloucester selectman in 1643
  • Hugh Prichard, from Broughton, Denbighshire,[17] Gloucester selectman in 1645
  • John Sadler, origin unknown, Gloucester selectman in 1642
  • Walter Tibbott, from Bristol, Gloucester selectman in 1642

A second group of persons, with a somewhat lesser probability of having immigrated with Rev. Blinman, are those persons for whom there is no record of their presence in New England prior to 1640, who first appear in New England in Gloucester in the 1640s and who accompanied Rev. Blinman to New London as part of the Cape Ann Company in 1650-1. Those who originated from areas where one or more persons in the most probable group originated from or from elsewhere along the Welsh-English born are more likely to have been part of the Blinman Party than those who did not. This second group of persons consists of:

  • William Addes, from Frampton, Gloucestershire (place of origin is consistent with his having been part of the Blinman Party), Gloucester selectman in 1642
  • Christopher Avery, from Newton Abbot, Devonshire (place of origin is not consistent with his having been a member of the Blinman Party)
  • James Avery, from Newton Abbot, Devonshire place of origin is not consistent with his having been a member of the Blinman Party)
  • William Hough, from Chester, Cheshire (place of origin is consistent with his having been part of the Blinman Party)
  • Thomas Jones
  • Andrew Lester/Lister, origin unknown
  • William Meades, origin unknown
  • Ralph Parker, origin unknown (note: Ralph Parker may not belong in this group since the first record of him in Gloucester is not until the later 1640s, although that may be because he was not 21 until about 1644)
  • Hugh Roberts, origin unknown (note: Hugh Roberts may not belong in this group since the first record of him in Gloucester is not until 1649, although that may be because he was not 21 until about 1646)
  • William Wellman, possibly from Somersetshire

A third group of persons who may have been part of the Blinman Party are those persons for whom there is no record of their presence in New England prior to 1640, who first appear in New England in Gloucester in the 1640s, but who did not accompany Rev. Blinman to New London as part of the Cape Ann Company in 1650-1.

The following persons have sometimes been suggested as having been members of the Blinman Party, but definitely were not, since records establish that they immigrated to New England prior to 1640, were living somewhere other than Green's Harbor in 1640 or arrived in New England after 1640:

Research Notes

  • According to "Origin of Hugh Caulkins," posted by Robert Caulkins on genealogy.com on July 27, 2009, Lord and Lady Harley were aquainted with John Bruen, Esq., whom they called "Bishop Bruen", of Bruen Stapleford in the parish of Tarvin in Westchester (an ancient name for Chester), Cheshire, England. However, no reliable source for this assertion has been found.
  • Hugh Caulkins was from Waverton, a few miles west, also in Westchester. William Hough is alleged to be from Chester, yet another few miles west. Andrew Lester is reported to be from the distinguished family of the same name in Cheshire. Daniel Clark reportedly came from the Cheshire area, according to a letter from him to Hugh Calkins mentioned in "Origins of Hugh Caulkins." It is certainly reasonable that these folks from Cheshire may have known each other and through the Bruen's met up with the Reverend. (Note: the Mr. Clark who appears in the list of early settlers in Gloucester[22] was Edmund Clark who came from Bristol, not Daniel Clark.)

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 See the profile for Rev. Richard Blinman.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Letters of the Lady Brilliana Harley, Wife of Sir Robert Harley, of Brampton Bryan, Knight of the Bath. With Introduction and Notes by Thomas Taylor Lewis, A.M. Vicar of Bridstow, Herefordshire. 1854. p. 84. Link to page at archive.org.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Plymouth Church Records 1620-1859 Volume I. p. 71. New England Society of the City of New York, 1920. Link to page at archive.org.
  4. 4.0 4.1 See The Blinman Party.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Masefield, John. Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. 1910. p. 270. Link to page at archive.org.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Letters of Edward Winslow." Colllections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. VI -- Fourth Series. 1863. pp. 169-170. Link to page at archive.org.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Letters of Edward Winslow." Colllections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. VI -- Fourth Series. 1863. pp. 171-172. Link to page at archive.org.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. Records of the Colony of New Plymouth in New England. Court Orders: Vol. II 1641-1651. 1855. p. 8. Link to page at hathitrust.org.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lechford, Thomas. Plain Dealing or News from New England. Originally published 1642, republished with an introduction and notes by J. Hammond Trumbull in 1867. pp. 125-126. Link to pages at archive.org.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hubbard, William. A General History of New England from the Discovery to MDCLXXX. Originally published in 1682, republished by Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1848. p. 408. Link to page at archive.org.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Winthrop's Journal. "History of New England." Volume II 1630-1649. James Kendall Hosmer, ed. Charles Scribner's Sons, 1908. pp. 58-59. Link to page at archive.org.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. Proctor Brothers, 1860. pp. 46-51. Link to pages at archive.org.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Shurtleff, Nathaniel B. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. Vol. II. 1642-1649. 1853. p. 2. Link to page at hathitrust.org.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Gloucester Town Records, Volume I, p. 1. Link to page at archive.org.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. 1860. p. 584. Link to page at archive.org.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Caulkins, Francis Manwaring. History of New London, Connecticut. From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612, to 1852. 1852. pp. 69-70. Link to page at archive.org.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Focus on Clerical Companies". Great Migration Newsletter. Vol. 23, No. 3 (July-September 2014). p. 21. Link to article at americanancestors.org.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. 1860. pp. 125-6. Link to page at archive.org.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Gloucester, Massachusetts. Names and Property of Early Settlers 1642-1714/15 Compiled from First Volume of Town Records. Archives Committee, City of Gloucester, 1995. p. 70. Link to document at gloucester-ma.gov.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. 1860. p. 159. Link to page at archive.org.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. 1860. p. 162. Link to page at archive.org.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Including the Town of Rockport. Proctor Brothers, 1860. p. 52. Link to page at archive.org.




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Rev Richard Blinman is one of the main subjects of this presentation by Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration to New England: Conventicles to Companies to Congregations see 44:30 https://youtu.be/kQ0RigFmGKE

Great job on this page - thank you!

posted by Anonymous Reed
edited by Anonymous Reed
I am revising this profile to add additional details and refocus it on the Blinman Party (ie the group who immigrated with Rev Blinman), as opposed to the Cape Ann Company that removed from Gloucester to New London. I am creating a separate category for the Cape Ann Company
posted by Chase Ashley

Categories: Blinman Party