Mourt's Relation

Mourt's Relation

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The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622, Part II

Caleb Johnson, a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, provides the following comments on this hypertext version:

Our thanks to Mr. Johnson for presenting this hypertext version of Mourt's Relation. Go to Mr. Johnson's Mayflower History page.

The Habitation of the Great King

It seemed good to the company for many considerations to send some amongst them to Massasoit, the greatest commander amongst the savages bordering upon us partly to know where to find them if occasion served, as also to see their strength, discover the country, prevent abuses in their disorderly coming unto us, make satisfaction for some conceived injuries to be done on our parts, and to continue the league of peace and friendship between them and us. For these, and the like ends, it pleased the governor to make choice of Stephen Hopkins, and Edward Winslow to go unto him, and having a fit opportunity, by reason of a savage called Tisquantum (that could speak English) coming unto us with all expedition provided a horseman's coat of red cotton, and laced with a slight lace, for a present, that both they and their message might be the more acceptable amongst them.

The message was as followeth that forasmuch as his subjects came often and without fear, upon all occasions amongst us, so we were now come unto him, and in witness of the love and good-will the English bear unto him, the governor hath sent him a coat, desiring that the peace and amity that was between them and us might be continued, not that we feared them, but because we intended not to injure any, desiring to live peaceably, and as with all men, so especially with them, our nearest neighbors. But whereas his people came very often, and very many together unto us, bringing for the most part their wives and children with them, they were welcome yet we being but strangers as yet at Patuxet, alias New Plymouth, and not knowing how our corn might prosper, we could no longer give them such entertainment as we had done, and as we desired still to do: yet if he would be pleased to come himself, or any special friend of his desiring to see us, coming from him they should be welcome and to the end we might know them from others, our governor had sent him a copper chain, desiring if any messenger should come from him to us, we might know him by bringing it with him, and hearken and give credit to his message accordingly. Also requesting him that such as have skins should bring them to us, and that he would hinder the multitude from oppressing us with them. And whereas at our first arrival at Paomet (called by us Cape Cod) we found there corn buried in the ground, and finding no inhabitants but some graves of dead new buried, took the corn, resolving if ever we could hear of any that had right thereunto, to make satisfaction to the full for it, yet since we understand the owners thereof were fled for fear of us, our desire was either to pay them with the like quantity of corn, English meal, or any other commodities we had to pleasure them withal requesting him that some one of his men might signify so much unto them, and we would content him for his pains. And last of all, our governor requested one favor of him, which was, that he would exchange some of their corn for seed with us, that we might make trial which best agreed with the soil where we live.

With these presents and message we set forth the tenth June, about nine o'clock in the morning, our guide resolving that night to rest at Nemasket, a town under Massasoit, and conceived by us to be very near, because the inhabitants flocked so thick upon every slight occasion amongst us: but we found it to be some fifteen English miles. On the way we found some ten or twelve men, women, and children, which had pestered us till we were weary of them, perceiving that (as the manner of them all is) where victual is easiest to be got, there they live, especially in the summer: by reason whereof, our bay affording many lobsters, they resort every spring-tide thither and now returned with us to Nemasket. Thither we came about three o'clock after noon, the inhabitants entertaining us with joy, in the best manner they could, giving us a kind of bread called by them maizium, and the spawn of shads, which then they got in abundance, insomuch as they gave us spoons to eat them. With these they boiled musty acors, but of the shads we ate heartily. After this they desired one of our men to shoot a crow, complaining what damage they sustained in their corn by them, who shooting some fourscore off and killing, they much admired it, as other shots on other occasions.

After this Tisquantum told us we should hardly in one day reach Pokanoket, moving us to go some eight miles further, where we should find more store and better victuals than there: being willing to hasten our journey we went, and came thither at sunsetting, where we found many of the Namascheucks (they so calling the men of Nemasket) fishing upon a weir which they had made on a river which belonged to them, where they caught abundance of bass. These welcomed us also, gave us of their fish, and we them of our victuals, not doubting but we should have enough where'er we came. There we lodged in the open fields: for houses they had none, though they spent the most of the summer there. The head of this river is reported to be not far from the place of our abode upon it are and have been many towns, it being a good length. The ground is very good on both sides, it being for the most part cleared: thousands of men have lived there, which died in a great plague not long since: and pity it was and is to see so many goodly fields, and so well seated, without men to dress and manure the same. Upon this river dwelleth Massasoit: it cometh into the sea at the Narraganset Bay, where the Frenchmen so much use. A ship may go many miles up it, as the savages report, and a shallop to the head of it but so far as we saw, we are sure a shallop may.

But to return to our journey: the next morning we broke our fast, took our leave and departed, being then accompanied with some six savages. Having gone about six miles by the river side, at a known shoal place, it being low water, they spake to us to put off our breeches, for we must wade through. Here let me not forget the valor and courage of some of the savages on the opposite side of the river, for there were remaining alive only two men, both aged, especially the one being above threescore these two, espying a company of men entering the river, ran very swiftly and low in the grass, to meet us at the bank, where with shill voices and great courage standing charged upon us with their bows they demanded what we were, supposing us to be enemies, and thinking to take advantage on us in the water: but seeing we were friends, they welcomed us with such food as they had, and we bestowed a small bracelet of beads on them. Thus far we are sure the tide ebbs and flows.

Having here again refreshed ourselves we proceeded in our journey, the weather being very hot for travel, yet the country so well watered that a man could scarce be dry, but he should have a spring at hand to cool his thirst, beside small rivers in abundance: but the savages will not willingly drink but at a springhead. When we came to any small brook where no bridge was, two of them desired to carry us through of their own accords, also fearing we were or would be weary, offered to carry our pieces, also if we would lay off any of our clothes, we should have them carried: and as the one of them had found more special kindness from one of the messengers, and the other savage from the other so they showed their thankfulness accordingly in affording us all help and furtherance in the journey.

As we passed along, we observed that there were few places by the river but had been inhabited, by reason whereof much ground was clear, save of weeds which grew higher than our heads. There is much good timber, both oak, walnut tree, fir, beech, and exceeding great chestnut trees. The country, in respect of the lying on it, is both champaign and hilly, like many places in England. In some places it is very rocky both above ground an in it: and though the country be wild and overgrown with woods, yet the trees stand not thick, but a man may well ride a horse amongst them.

Passing on at length, one of the company an Indian espied a man and told the rest of it. We asked them if they feared any they told us that if they were Narraganset men they would not trust them, whereat, we called for our pieces and bid them not to fear for though they were twenty, we two alone would not care for them: but they hailing him, he proved a friend, and had only two women with him: their baskets were empty but they fetched water in their bottles, so that we drank with them and departed. After, we met another man with other two women, which had been at rendezvous by the salt water, and their baskets were full of roasted crab, fishes, and other dried shell fish, of which they gave us, and we ate and drank with them, and gave each of the women a streak of beads, and departed.

After, we came to a town of Massasoit's, where we ate oysters and other fish. From thence we went to Pokanoket but Massasoit was not at home, there we stayed, he being sent for: when news was brought of his coming, our guide Tisquantum requested that at our meeting we would discharge our pieces, but one of us going about to charge his piece, the women and children, through fear to see him take up his piece, ran away, and could not be pacified till he laid it down again, who afterward were better informed by our interpreter.

Massasoit being come, we discharged our pieces, and saluted him, who after their manner kindly welcomed us, and took us into his house, and set us down by him, where, having delivered our foresaid message and presents, and having put the coat on his back and the chain about his neck, he was not a little proud to behold himself, and his men also to see their king so bravely attired.

For answer to our message, he told us we were welcome, and he would gladly continue that peace and friendship which was between him and us: and, for his men, they should no more pester us as they had done: also that he would send to Paomet, and would help us with corn for seed, according to our request.

This being done, his men gathered near to him, to whom he turned himself, and made a great speech they sometimes interposing, and, as it were, confirming and applauding him in that he said. The meaning whereof (as far as we could learn) thus Was not he Massasoit, commander of the country about them? Was not such a town as his and the people of it? And should they not bring their skins unto us? To which they answered, they were his and would be at peace with us, and bring their skins to us. After this manner he named at least thirty places, and their answer was as aforesaid to every one: so that as it was delightful, it was tedious unto us.

This being ended, he lighted tobacco for us, and fell to discoursing of England, and of the King's Majesty, marvelling that he would live without a wife. Also he talked of the Frenchmen, bidding us not to suffer them to come to Narraganset, for it was King James his country, and he also was King James his man. Late it grew, but victuals he offered none for indeed he had not any, being he came so newly home. So we desired to go to rest he laid us on the bed with himself and his wife, they at the one end and we at the other, it being only planks laid a foot from the ground, and a thin mat upon them. Two more of his chief men, for want of room, pressed by and upon us, so that we were worse weary of our lodging than of our journey.

The next day, being Thursday, many of their sachems, or petty governors, came to see us, and many of their men also. There they went to their manner of games for skins and knives. There we challenged them to shoot with them for skins: but they durst not: only they desired to see one of us shoot a mark, who shooting with hail-shot, they wondered to see the mark so full of holes.

About one o'clock, Massasoit brought two fishes that he had shot they were like bream but three times so big, and better meat. These being boiled there were at least forty looked for share in them, the most ate of them: this meal only we had in two nights and a day, and had not one of us bought a partridge we had taken our journey fasting: very importunate he was to have us stay with them longer: but we desired to keep the Sabbath at home: and feared we should either be light-headed for want of sleep, for want with bad lodging, the savages' barbarous singing (for they use to sing themselves asleep), lice and fleas within doors, and mosquitoes without, we could hardly sleep all the time of our being there we much fearing that if we should stay any longer, we should not be able to recover home for want of strength. So that on the Friday morning before sunrising, we took our leave and departed, Massasoit being both grieved and ashamed that he could no better entertain us: and retaining Tisquantum to send from place to place to procure truck for us, and appointing another, called Tokamahamon, in his place, whom we had found faithful before and after upon all occasions.

At this town of Massasoit's where we before ate, we were again refreshed with a little fish and bought about a handful of meal of their parched corn, which was very precious at that time of the year, and a small string of dried shell-fish, as big as oysters. The latter we gave to the six savages that accompanied us, keeping the meal for ourselves when we drank, we ate each a spoonful of it with a pipe of tobacco, instead of other victuals, and of this also we could not but give them so long as it lasted. Five miles they led us to a house out of the way in hope of victuals: but we found nobody there and so were but worse able to return home. That night we reached to the weir where we lay before, but the Namascheucks were returned: so that we had no hope of any thing there. One of the savages had shot a shad in the water, and a small squirrel as big as a rat, called a neuxis the one half of either he gave us, and after went to the weir to fish. From hence we wrote to Plymouth, and sent Tokamahamon before to Nemasket, willing him from thence to send another, that he might meet us with food at Nemasket. Two men now only remained with us, and it pleased God to give them good store of fish, so that we were well refreshed. After supper we went to rest, and they to fishing again more they got and fell to eating afresh, and retained sufficient ready roast for all our breakfasts. About two o'clock in the morning arose a great storm of wind, rain, lightning, and thunder, in such violent manner that we could not keep in our fire and had the savages not roasted fish when we were asleep, we had set forward fasting, for the rain still continued with great violence, even the whole day through, till we came within two miles of home.

Being wet and weary, at length we came to Nemasket there we refreshed ourselves, giving gifts to all such as had showed us any kindness. Amongst others, one of the six that came with us from Pokanoket, having before this on the way unkindly foresaken us, marvelled we gave him nothing, and told us what he had done for us. We also told him of some discourtesies he offered us, whereby he deserved nothing. Yet we gave him a small trifle, whereupon he offered us tobacco but the house being full of people, we told them he stole some by the way, and if it were of that we would not take it, for we would not receive that which was stolen upon any terms if we did, our God would be angry with us, and destroy us. This abashed him and gave the rest great content. But at our departure he would needs carry him on his back through a river, whom he had formerly in some sort abused. Fain they would have had us to lodge there all night, and wondered we would set forth again in such weather. But, God be praised, we came safe home that night, though wet, weary, and surbated.

Mourt’s Relation

Anyone who has been to our house learns quickly that we are bibliophiles but, being new to the Mayflower Society, I have a lot of catching up to do. So, when I had an opportunity to pick up an 1865 edition of Mourt’s Relation, I jumped on it. For those of you who don’t know what Mourt’s Relation is, imagine it as a diary of the first two years of the New Plymouth colony, mostly written by Mayflower passengers, William Bradford and Edward Winslow.

In his full history of New Plymouth colony, Bradford takes a broader view of time and events, but here we have descriptions in far more detail over a shorter period of time. I haven’t finished the account yet, having reached December 1620, but so far the explorers have disturbed native graves, ransacked caches of corn (with the promised to recompense), and attempted to find natives (without much luck). Sickness and death have come upon them. Francis Billington has caught the Mayflower on fire and Peregrine White has just been born. What I shouldn’t find surprising is just how inquisitive the colonists were about what they found as well as how they might earn money.

This particular printing was the first in a series of limited editions of the “Library of New-England History.” This particular book had notes by Henry Martyn Dexter and is faithfully reproduced with the same orthography, punctuation, and ornamental designs. What recommends it (and others in the series) is the extensive introduction and footnotes, which cross-reference other contemporary accounts. Also, what makes this most valuable are the maps – two huge foldout maps drawn just for this edition. The first shows the assumed explorations around Cape Cod. The second shows the settlement of New Plymouth with Duxbury to the north.

If you’ve not read Mourt’s Relation, I suggest you do. At the moment, I am reading without consulting the footnotes, which I’ll do the second time around. It is amazing that we have so much primary accounts available to us. We should take advantage of that.

Source:New Plymouth. Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth

The booklet 'Mourt's Relation' (full title: 'A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England') was written primarily by Edward Winslow, although William Bradford appears to have written most of the first section. It was written between November 1620 and November 1621 and describes in detail what happened from the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims on Cape Cod in Provincetown Harbor through their exploring and eventual settling of Plymouth Colony. The book describes their relations with the surrounding Native Americans, up to what is commonly called the first Thanksgiving and the arrival of the ship Fortune in November 1621. Mourt's Relation was first published and sold by John Bellamy in London in 1622. This significant tract has often been erroneously cited as "by George Morton, sometimes called George Mourt" (hence the title Mourt's Relation).

Morton was an English Puritan Separatist who had moved to Leiden, Holland. He stayed behind when the first settlers left for Plymouth, Massachusetts, but he continued to orchestrate business affairs in Europe and London for their cause—presumably arranging for the publication of and perhaps helping write Mourt's Relation. In 1623, Morton himself emigrated to the Plymouth Colony with his wife Juliana, the sister of Governor William Bradford's wife Alice. But George Morton didn't survive long in the New World he died the following year in 1624.

George Morton's son Nathaniel Morton became the clerk of Plymouth Colony, a close adviser to his uncle Governor William Bradford who raised him after the death of his father, and the author of the influential early history of the Plymouth Colony "New England's Memorial." A four-decade long tradition at The Wall Street Journal is to reprint the section on the "first Thanksgiving" on the Wednesday before the holiday.

The booklet was summarized by other publications without the now-familiar Thanksgiving story, but the original booklet appeared to be lost or forgotten by the eighteenth century. A copy was rediscovered in Philadelphia in 1820, with the first full reprinting in 1841. In a footnote, editor Alexander Young was the first person to identify the 1621 feast as "the first Thanksgiving."

Mourt’s Relation (1622)

The earliest text detailing the settlement of New Plymouth is known as Mourt’s Relation or A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England (1622). Erroneously attributed to fellow settler George Morton, scholars now believe the work to be written by Edward Winslow with contributions from William Bradford. Their names are not quoted as authors to avoid the association of the new settlement with fugitive Brownist separatists – a fact that could spell trouble for the fledgling colony. The manuscript was carried out of New Plymouth by Robert Cushman, Chief Agent in London for the settlers, on board the Fortune in 1621. When Mourt’s Relation was sold in John Bellamy’s London bookshop in the 1620s its readers could have scarcely imagined this would become one of the most well-known texts in American history.

The title page of the original 1622 pamphlet – public domain

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Mourt’s Relation—The First Thanksgiving and the Indians

Editor’s note: The Pilgrims should be more well known, especially by those who love historic America. The Pilgrims’ held to the idea that the faith of Jesus Christ should permeate every part of life. Their many Biblical practices became mainstream throughout the colonies. It seems this came about at least through the many educators sent out to the rest of the colonies from New England. Thus a small band once had tremendous influence. Through the rich original source material available to us, the Pilgrim story ought once more to have such influence toward the restoration of America’s one time Christian liberty, justice, prosperity, and generosity.

A History of Mourt’s Relation

To begin with, the Pilgrim Fathers were ever mindful of their place in history. Although they were a small, modest, and unassuming band and probably not much of a force in their own Day, these Pilgrims were very much aware of their past and of their responsibilities toward their friends in England and Holland, as well as to their own posterity. They were excellent record-keepers….

On the First Thanksgiving

Our harvest being gotten, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted and they went out and killed five deer!” which they brought to the plantation, and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Regarding the Indians

We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us, very loving, and ready to [please] us. We often go to them, and they come to us. Some of us have been fifty miles-+ by land in the country with them, the occasions and relations whereof you shall understand by our general and more full declaration of such things as are worth the noting. Yea, it hath pleased God so to possess the Indians with a fear of us and love unto us, that not only the greatest king amongst them, called Massasoit, but also all the princes and peoples round about us, have either made suit unto us, or been glad of any occasion to make peace with us so that seven of them at once have sent their messengers to us to that end. Yea, an isle at sea, which we never saw, hath also, together with the former, yielded willingly to be under the protection and subject to our sovereign lord King James. So that there is now great peace amongst the Indians themselves, which was not formerly, neither would have been but for us and we, for our parts, walk as peaceably and safely in the wood as in the highways in England. We entertain them familiarly in our houses, and they as friendly bestowing their venison on us. They are a people without any religion or knowledge of any God yet very trusty, quick of apprehension, ripe-witted, just.

Excerpted from Jordan D. Fiore, Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth (Plymouth, MA: The Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), xi, 72-73.


  1. ↑Wilson, J. G. Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Morton, George"   . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  2. ↑The Carpenter Sisters of Leiden, Robert Jennings Heinsohn, Ph.D., sail1620.orgArchived 2004-04-16 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ↑Nathaniel Morton and His Book, Mrs. Morris P. Ferris, The New York Times, August 13, 1898
  4. ↑New-England's Memorial, Nathaniel Morton, Secretary to the Court for the Jurisdiction of New-Plimouth, Congregational Board of Publications, Boston, 1855
  5. ↑ Baker, James W. (2009). Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday. UPNE. p.   273. ISBN   9781584658016 .

What I am reading — Mourt’s Relation

Mourt’s Relation — arguably the first piece of American literature –Â the first first-hand account of the first year of the Pilgrim’s after their landing on Cape Cod and Plymouth in 1620, and the basis for most stories that have followed. Samoset and Squanto, theft of the Indian corn at Corn Hill in Truro, first meeting with Massasoit, herring/shad to fertilize the corn, the first Thanksgiving — and a ton of other detail not usually taught in the elementary school Thanksgiving mythology most of us were fed as kids.

Written by Edward Winslow and William Bradford, but published by a George Morton, hence the “Mourt” — a “relation” is a retelling, as in “he related the story of how the Nauset tribe attacked them at First Encounter Beach.” Again, thanks to N. Philbrick’s Mayflower for getting me on the early colonial history thing. I had a great dinner conversation Saturday night with Ross Kerber from the Boston Globe about the book and we both geeked out over stuff like the Great Swamp Fight.

Resources for local Native American history and dialects

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft set forth his linguistic theories in his 1839 Algic Researches.
The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs published his summary with Seth Eastman of Algonquian languages in Volume 5 (pp. 221-224) of Historical and statistical Information, respecting the History, Condition and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States (1847 1855).

Information about Masconomet

  • Volume 5 of the Winthrop Papers (1628), published by the Massachusetts Historical Society
  • John Winthop’s History of New England 1630-1649 (1649).
  • Ipswich histories, especially Joseph Felt’s, including his 1862 paper, Indian Inhabitants of Agawam (read at a Meeting of the Essex Institute on August 21 of that year, in Essex Institute Historical Collections 4: 225-228).
  • Masconomet also appears in Native American Deeds in Essex County at the web site of the Southern Essex County Registry of Deeds (
  • Sidney Perley’s The Indian Land Titles of Essex County, Massachusetts (1912).
  • Dennis Connole’s Indians of the Nipmuck Country in Southern New England 1630-1750 (2007)
  • Samuel Gardner Drake’s 1834 Biography and history of the Indians of North America: comprising a general account of them, and details in the lives of all the most distinguished chiefs, and others who have been noted, among the various Indian nations
  • Robert Grumet’s Northeastern Indian Lives, 1632-1816 (1996) and Ellen Knight’s article on Nanepashemet’s Family Tree in the February 2006 Wiser Newsletter 11/2 (Nanepashemet.pdf).

Primary source accounts of Agawam

  • Papers in the Essex Institute Historical Collections by Robert Rantoul (19: B126)
  • Herbert Adams (19:153),
  • George Phippen (1: 97, 145, 185),
  • Joseph Felt (4: 225), in addition to Joseph Felt’s history of Ipswich, which is based on colonial accounts.

English colonial observers in New England who recorded observations of Algonquian languages or names in southern New England

  • William Bradford (History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647)
  • Edward Winslow (Mourt’s Relation, 1622, and Good Newes from New England, 1624)
  • Roger Williams (A Key into the Language of America, 1643)
  • John Winthrop (A journal of the transactions and occurrences in the settlement of Massachusett… from the year 1630 to 1644, published in 1853 as History of New England 1630-1649)
  • John Winthrop Jr., who established Ipswich (The Winthrop Papers, 1628)
  • Francis Higginson, who settled in Beverly-Salem (New England’s Plantation, 1630) William Wood (New England’s Prospect, 1634)
  • Thomas Lechford (Plain Dealing: Or News from New England, 1637)
  • Thomas Morton (The New English Canaan, 1637)
  • Edward Johnson (Wonder-Working Providence, 1654),
  • Samuel Maverick (A Briefe Description of New England and the Severall Townes Therein, 1660)
  • John Josselyn (An Account of Two Voyages to New-England, 1674)
  • John Eliot (A Brief Narrative of the Progress of the Gospel amongst the Indians in New England, in the Year 1670) and
  • Daniel Gookin, the first Indian Agent for the government of Massachusetts Bay (Collections of the Indians in New England, 1792).

Some early English explorers who recorded Algonquian words and names included

  • James Rosier (in Henry Burrage’s 1887 Rosier’s Relation of Weymouth’s Voyage to the Coast of Maine, 1605)
  • James Davies (Relation of a voyage to Sagadahoc, 1607-1608) It is from Davies, for example, that we first learn that the language of the coastal Indians in Essex County, New Hampshire, and southern Maine and the language of the Indians of Massachusetts Bay and Cape Cod Bay were mutually intelligible only through the aid of interpreters.
  • John Smith (The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England & the Summer Isles, 1624)
  • Christopher Leverett (A Voyage into New England Begun in 1623 and Ended in 1624)
  • Samuel Purchas (Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrimes, Volume 4, 1625).

French sources for Algonquian vocabulary

  • Samuel de Champlain, Father Sebastien Rale, Father Jean de Brebeuf, and other Catholic missionaries posted to northern New England and Canada. For example, Jesuit missionary texts collected by Eugene Vetromille, published in 1857 as the Indian Good Book, include a Roman Catholic prayer book written in two Abenaki dialects. Comparisons of word meanings from the different sources help in getting closer to accurate translations. For example, the Pilgrim Roger Williams, the Puritan John Cotton, the Jesuit Father Rale, the modern linguist R. Douglas-Lithgow, and others have provided alternative etymologies for Massachusetts (see

Dutch sources

Arnoldus Montanus’ 1671 map, New and Unknown World (De Nieuwe en Onbekende Weereld), based on a 1616 Dutch map and copied in Ogilby’s America. This is the map that notoriously has Wyngaerts hoek (meaning “grapevine cape”) in the ocean off Cape Cod, causing some to claim that this is the origin of Wingaersheek. It is far more likely, however, that the latter is a corruption of an Algonquian name (Wingawecheek) by an English speaker, perhaps one familiar with the Dutch maps or simply inclined to add an r sound after the long vowel, as older Yankees still tend to do (e.g., when Anner has a good idear).

Pawtucket seasonal migration between Wamesit in the vicinity of Lowell and the Essex County coasts is attested in the accounts of John Winthrop Jr., Daniel Gookin, Joseph Felt, and the earliest histories of Lowell, Chelmsford, Billerica, and Dracut, including Charles Cowley’s 1862 Memories of the Indians…. The prejudicial view that New England Algonquians were inconsequential because they “wandered” and did not build cities or monuments was first expressed by early archaeologists of the post-Civil War era, such as F. W. Putnam, and has tended to persist to the present day.

For archaeologists’ perspectives on Algonquian farming

  • Elizabeth Chilton (2010) Mobile farmers and sedentary models: Horticulture and cultural transitions in Late Woodland and contact period New England, in Susan Alt, ed., Ancient Complexities: New Perspectives in Precolumbian North America: 96-103.
  • Robert Hasenstab (1999), Fishing, Farming, and Finding the Village Sites: Centering Late Woodland New England Algonquians, in The Archaeological Northeast: 139-153,
  • Barbara Luedtke (1988), Where are the late woodland villages in eastern Massachusetts? Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society. 49 (2) 58-65.

Pawtucket roots among the Pennacook of the Merrimack Valley in New Hampshires

  • attested in letters of Daniel Gookin and John Eliot and is explained in ethnographic works by Gordon Day (In search of New England’s Native Past, 1998) and
  • David Stewart-Smith (The Pennacook Lands and Relations: An Ethnography (1994) in The New Hampshire Archaeologist: 33/34 Pennacook Indians and
  • The New England Frontier circa 1604-1733 (1998)
  • Fall 1999. Indians of the Merrimack Valley: An Introduction (Fall 1999) in the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 60 (2): 57.
  • David Stewart-Smith’s and Frank Speck’s ethnographies were my principal sources for understanding Pawtucket-Pennacook political organization and kinship.

Early sources for Wamesit, Pawtucket, and Pennacook include

  • Eliot and Gookin, cited above Charles Cowley’s 1862 Memories of the Indians and Pioneers of the Region of Lowell, Vol I. and his 1886 History of Lowell
  • Abiel Abbott’s History of Andover From Its Settlement to 1829
  • Wilson Waters’ History of Chelmsford (1917) Frederick Coburn’s History of Lowell and Its People (1920)
  • Silas Coburn’s History of Dracut, Massachusetts, called by the Indians Augumtoocooke….(1922)
  • Nathaniel Bouton’s 1856. The History of Concord: From Its First Grant in 1725, to the Organization of the City Government in 1853, with a History of the Ancient Penacooks.
  • Colin Calloway’s The Western Abenakis of Vermont 1600-1800 (1990)
  • Dawnland Encounters: Indians and Europeans in northern New England (1991)
  • Thadeuz Pietrrowski, The Indian Heritage of New Hampshire and Northern New England (2002).
  • See also Peter Leavenworth’s article, “The Best Title That Indians Can Claime”: National Agency and Consent in the Transferal of Penacook-Pawtucket Land in the 17th Century (June 1999) in the New England Quarterly Vol. 72, No. 2: 275-300.

For additional information about the Tarrantines:

  • Tarrentines and the Introduction of European Trade Goods in the Gulf of Maine (1985) by Bruce Bourke and Ruth Holmes Whitehead, in Ethnohistory 32 (4): 327-341
  • Remembering the Tarratines and Nanepashemet: Exploring 1605-1635 Tarratine War Sites in Eastern Massachusetts (2008) by John Goff, in The New England Antiquities Research Association Journal 39 (2).

Local town histories, all of which repeat old misunderstandings about the Indians, if they mention them at all, include

  • John Wingate Thornton’s 1854 The Landing at Cape Ann
  • John Babson’s 1860 History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann: Including the Town of Rockport and the Notes and Additions to the History of Gloucester published in 1990
  • Herbert Adams’ 1882 The Fisher Plantation of Cape Anne, Part I of The Village Communities of Cape Ann and Salem, and
  • James Pringle’s 1892 History of the Town and City of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts. (See pp. 16-18 for Pringle’s affirmation of incorrect traditional interpretations of Algonquian place names.)

Other town histories I consulted include

  • Edward Stone’s 1843 History of Beverly, Civil and Ecclesiastical, from its Settlement in 1630 to 1842
  • Joshua Coffin’s A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury, from 1635 to 1845
  • Robert Crowell’s 1853 History of the Town of Essex, 1634-1700 Old Naumkeag: An Historical Sketch of the City of Salem, and the Towns of Marblehead, Peabody, Danvers, Wenham, Manchester, Topsfield, and Middleton by Carl Webber and Winfield Nevins (1877)
  • D. F. Lamson’s 1895 History of the Town of Manchester, Essex County, Massachusetts 1645-1895
  • Joseph Felt’s Annals of Salem from Its first Settlement, Volume I (1845) and his History of Ipswich, Essex, and Manchester (1966)
  • the History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant, 1628-1893, by Alonzo Lewis and James R. Newhall (1844)
  • Sidney Perley’s The History of Boxford, Essex County, Massachusetts, from the Earliest Settlement Known to the Present Time (1880)
  • John Currier’s 1902 History of Newbury, Mass. 1635-1902
  • Thomas Waters’ 1905 Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and
  • Gordon Abbott’s 2003 Jeffrey’s Creek: A Story of People, Places and Events in the Town That Came to Be Known as Manchester-By-The-Sea.

Good general sources for the history of Essex County include

  • Hurd’s History of Essex County (1888) Part I, Volume 2 of Walter Hough’s History of Essex County, Massachusetts (1888)
  • Benjamin Arrington’s Municipal history of Essex County in Massachusetts (1922) and
  • Laude Feuss’ The Story of Essex County (1935).
  • John Smith’s 1624 version of his map of New England incorporates Algonquian place names he learned from an Abenaki sagamore in Maine while summering on the Kennebec, which he describes in A Description of New England (1616), published by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 3rd Series (1837) 6:103-140.
  • William Wood’s map. “The South part of New England as it is Planted this yeare, 1634S in Google Images
  • or in Fite and Freeman, A Book of Old Maps Delineating American History, pp. 136-139.
  • Robert Raymond has an enlarged detail of Wood’s map at

Beginning soon after the Civil War, generations of archaeologists and collectors have unearthed evidence of many seasonal camps and villages throughout eastern Essex County—in Ipswich and Essex especially—dating from PaleoIndian times 11,500 years ago to the Contact Period. Sites on Cape Ann are equally plentiful, but have received little attention from professional archaeologists. Evidence for villages at Wingaersheek and Riverview in Gloucester comes from sites surveyed after World War I by Frank Speck and Frederick Johnson for the R. S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and the Museum of the American Indian (Heye Foundation) in New York. Those and other sites were excavated between 1930 and 1940 by amateur archaeologist N. Carleton Phillips, whose collections are stored in the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester and the Robbins Museum of Archaeology in Middleborough. Discoveries at Wingaersheek in 1965 are preserved as the Matz Collection in the Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge. More recent Cultural Resource Management projects, such as Savulis et al. (1979), Archaeological Survey of Ipswich, Massachusetts (MHC#25-246), have been conducted under the aegis of the Massachusetts Historical Commission in Boston.

See also my article, Unpublished Papers on Cape Ann Prehistory, in the Spring 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society 74 (2): 45-92 (along with the Society’s errata sheet in the following issue).

Documentary evidence for a large village in Riverview is sparse but includes, aside from the Egerton Ms., Ebenezer Pool’s handwritten record of his grandfather’s testimony, in Pool Papers, Vol. I (1823) in the Sandy Bay Historical Society (with a typescript in the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester), and a letter written by John Dunton in 1686 (Letters Written from New England, Prince Society Publications Issue 4, 1966). See also the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (1846), John Dunton’s Journal: 121-122).

For help with pronouncing Algonquian names and place names see Dr. Frank Waabu O’Brien’s appendix at In addition to the web site, O’Brien has published Understanding Indian Place Names in Southern New England (2010) and Guide to Historical Spellings and Sounds in New England Algonquian Language (2012), based on the research of colonial missionaries J. Eliot, J. Cotton, and R. Williams. These works are part of The Massachusett-Narragansett Revival Program of the Aquidneck Indian Council (see the web site for details) but often include Abenaki cognates. For examples of Native American, English, and French exonyms for tribes and nations, see

In reconstructing Pawtucket place names from the Abenaki I had help from Laura Redish, co-editor with Orrin Lewis of Native Languages of the Americas (2012) at the Western Abenaki Dictionary and Radio Online at and the Cowasuck [Kowasek] Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki People (the People of the White Pines) at A valuable historical source is Joseph Laurent’s 1884 New familiar Abenakis and English dialogues at

My definition of Pennacook (referring to groundnuts rather than foothills) comes from Gordon Day in In Search of New England’s Native Past: Selected Essays from Gordon M. Day (1998), M. K. Foster and W. Cowan, eds.

Gloucester (actually West Gloucester) as Agamenticus appears on the website of the Massachusetts Citizen Information Service on the list of “Archaic Community, District, Neighborhood, Section, and Village Names in Massachusetts” (see

In addition to the ancient “Names of the Rivers” document in the Egerton Manuscripts, an account of Quascacunquen comes from Currier’s 1902 History of Newbury, which cites the Massachusetts Colony Records (Vol. 1: 146) Winthrop’s History of New England, p. 30 and Wood’s 1634 map of New England. These sources give Wessacucon or Wessacumcon as the original Indian name. In either form, however, the name was a corruption of the native name for the Parker River and their village upon it. As shown, the name did not mean anything relating to the falls in Newbury in the Byfield parish, as claimed in all contemporary sources. The root words for water, falls, or river are not present in the word in any form.

Naumkeag (along with other villages, such as Mathabequa on the Forest River in Salem) is attested in the accounts of

  • Edward Winslow in 1624
  • members of Roger Conant’s party traveling from Fishermen’s Field in Gloucester to Salem Village (Beverly) in 1626
  • Francis Higginson’s account of 1629 and the 1680 testimonies of William Dixy and Humphrey Woodbury, who described native farming settlements on the rivers running into Beverly and Salem harbors.
  • See Edward Stone’s History of Beverly, Civil and Ecclesiastical, from its Settlement in 1630 to 1842) and
  • George Dow’s Two centuries of travel in Essex County, Massachusetts, a collection of narratives and observations made by travelers, 1605-1799 (1921). Algonquian appreciation of eels as a delicacy was remarked upon by several early observers, including Champlain, Wood, and Josselyn.

My proposed reconstruction of Wingaersheek as Wingawecheek is based on a word meaning for winga- (plural winka-), “snail/whelk”, proposed by Carol Dana of the Department of Cultural and Historic Preservation of the Penobscot (Penawahpskewi) Indian Nation on Indian Island, Maine, in 2011, based on her participation in a Western Abenaki language revival program. I combined this with the Abenaki wechee for “ocean/sea”, adding the locative ending, and so far as I know this is an original interpretation.

Related posts

Resources for local Native American history and dialects - (The following information is provided by Mary Ellen Lepionka of Gloucester. Download the full PDF document to which this refers. Read: Who Were the Agawam Indians Really? Mary Ellen Lepionka’s Sources Sources for Algonquian place names include William Bright’s Native American Place Names of the United States (2004, [&hellip] Native Americans of the North shore - The Puritan settlers of Ipswich established the town in 1634 in an area the Native American inhabitants called "Agawam." Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really? - It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, even when there is a better explanation or a closer truth. I hope it will be possible to change public knowledge about the Native Americans who lived here and get closer to the truth. The Tragedy of the Wilderness: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 4 - Native Americans and settlers managed to impoverish themselves through overexploitation of the wider environment. At the same time, they both also selectively protected species, custom-designed habitats for them, and practiced common-sense conservation of trees, soil, fish stocks, and water

Manitou in Context - The creator power was regarded as the equal of other powers in the skyworld and the underworld, but it is Kitanitowit’s Gitchi Manitou that ascended to prominence under the influence of Christianity. Of all the great spirits, it most resembled the Christian God and was transformed accordingly during the Contact Period.

Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam - Descendants of the Pawtucket are living in Abenaki, Pequaket, Penobscot, and Micmac communities today in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Nova Scotia. Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3 - Today, vestiges of the Commons survive here as city parks or conservation lands, such as the South Green in Ipswich, and public gardens, such as Boston Common.

“That we may avoid the least scrupulo of intrusion” – The Colonists and Indian Land, Part I - More than the concepts of sovereignty and private property, the commodification of nature in the service of mercantile capitalism was the crux of the problem.

“Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2 - The idea of private property was alien to Native Americans, but the practice of private ownership apparently was not a feature of colonial life either.

Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth

Morton arranged business affairs for the Pilgrims, so he had a vested interest in seeing the enterprise in the New World succeed. While making sure the “relations” got published, his introduction downplays the hardships faced (“first attempts prove difficult”) while stressing potential earnings from such an investment. His three hopes for the undertaking are “the furtherance of the kingdom Christ, the enlarging of the bounds of our sovereign lord King Jame

Morton arranged business affairs for the Pilgrims, so he had a vested interest in seeing the enterprise in the New World succeed. While making sure the “relations” got published, his introduction downplays the hardships faced (“first attempts prove difficult”) while stressing potential earnings from such an investment. His three hopes for the undertaking are “the furtherance of the kingdom Christ, the enlarging of the bounds of our sovereign lord King James, and the good and profit of those who, either by purse or person or both, are agents in the same…”. William Bradford and Edward Winslow might stress different things in their sections, but Morton and Robert Cushman (see the last section) consistently hit these points.

Mourt's Relation

The booklet Mourt's Relation (full title: A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England) was written primarily by Edward Winslow, although William Bradford appears to have written most of the first section. It was written between November 1620 and November 1621 and describes in detail what happened from the landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims on Cape Cod in Provincetown Harbor through their exploring and eventual settling of Plymouth Colony. The book describes their relations with the surrounding Native Americans, up to what is commonly called the first Thanksgiving and the arrival of the ship Fortune in November 1621. Mourt's Relation was first published and sold by John Bellamy in London in 1622. This significant tract has often been erroneously cited as "by George Morton, sometimes called George Mourt" [1] (hence the title Mourt's Relation).

Morton was an Puritan Separatist who had moved to Leiden, Holland. He stayed behind when the first settlers left for Plymouth, Massachusetts, [2] but he continued to orchestrate business affairs in Europe and London for their cause—presumably arranging for the publication of and perhaps helping write Mourt's Relation. [3] In 1623, Morton himself emigrated to the Plymouth Colony with his wife Juliana, the sister of Governor William Bradford's wife Alice. But George Morton didn't survive long in the New World he died the following year in 1624.

George Morton's son Nathaniel Morton became the clerk of Plymouth Colony, a close adviser to his uncle Governor William Bradford who raised him after the death of his father, and the author of the influential early history of the Plymouth Colony "New England's Memorial." [4] A four-decade long tradition at The Wall Street Journal is to reprint the section on the "first Thanksgiving" on the Wednesday before the holiday. [ citation needed ]

The booklet was summarized by other publications without the now-familiar Thanksgiving story, but the original booklet appeared to be lost or forgotten by the eighteenth century. A copy was rediscovered in Philadelphia in 1820, with the first full reprinting in 1841. In a footnote, editor Alexander Young was the first person to identify the 1621 feast as "the first Thanksgiving." [5]

Watch the video: Mourts Relation. Wikipedia audio article


  1. Gusho

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  2. Jerrah

    Without a doubt.

  3. Thyestes

    You allow the mistake. I can defend my position.

  4. Goltitaur

    I will allow will not accept

  5. Adalrik

    very useful information

  6. Johan

    Ok, I liked it!

  7. Boukra


  8. Mansfield

    What would we do without your very good phrase

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