The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.
William Bradford (1590-1657)
Born in 1590 in Yorkshire, England, William Bradford was orphaned at a young age and reared by his grandparents and uncles to be a farmer. Bradford broke with his family in early adolescence, affiliating himself with the Separatist Puritans and thereby making a religious commitment that would profoundly influence...
Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612-1672)
Anne Bradstreet was born in England in 1612 to well-connected Puritan parents. Her father, Thomas Dudley, was unusual in his commitment to teaching his daughter literature, history, and philosophy, and Bradstreet benefited from an extensive classical education such as was usually reserved only for male children. Her sixty years of life were troubled by recurring...
Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727)
Sarah Kemble was born in Boston in 1666, the daughter of Thomas Kemble, a successful merchant, and Elizabeth Trerice, who descended from an old and established Massachusetts family. In 1689, she married Richard Knight, a sea captain considerably older than herself. Even before her husband's death, Sarah Kemble Knight assumed...
Thomas Morton (c. 1579-1647)
The historical record does not offer much detail about Thomas Morton's early life beyond the basic facts that he was born in England, received a traditional education, worked as an attorney, and had connections within the court of King Charles I. Those connections with wealthy court gentlemen probably enabled Morton's first visit to North America...
Samson Occom (1723-1792)
Samson Occom was born in 1723 in a Mohegan Indian community in Connecticut. At the age of sixteen he was "awakened and converted" to Christianity under the guidance of white itinerant ministers. Shortly thereafter, Occom began learning English and studying scripture under the tutelage of Eleazar Wheelock, a prominent missionary interested in...
William Penn (1644-1718)
William Penn was an unusual convert to Quakerism. Most Quakers came from relatively humble backgrounds and possessed little formal education, but Penn was Oxford-educated and a member of an elite and wealthy family. His father, an intimate of King Charles II, had served as an admiral in the Royal Navy and held substantial property...
Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711)
Born around 1637 in Somerset, England, Mary White was the sixth of ten children. Her family immigrated to New England when she was very young, settling first in Salem and later in the frontier town of Lancaster, in the Massachusetts colony. In 1656, Mary married Joseph Rowlandson, the Harvard-educated Puritan minister of Lancaster...
Edward Taylor (c. 1642-1729)
Edward Taylor was born in Leicestershire, England, in 1642 to Nonconformist parents of modest circumstances. In his mid-twenties, frustrated by the climate of intolerance toward Puritans, he fled England for Massachusetts. Entering Harvard with advanced standing, Taylor embarked on a course of study to prepare himself...
John Winthrop (1588-1649)
Born into a wealthy landholding family in southern England in 1588, John Winthrop entered Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of fourteen. At Trinity he considered studying to be a minister before ultimately deciding to become a lawyer. Although he did not choose to make the church his profession, Winthrop's faith and his commitment to Puritan ideals were nonetheless...
John Woolman (1720-1772)
John Woolman was born into a Quaker family in West Jersey (later New Jersey) in 1720. From an early age, he manifested a deep sensitivity toward spiritual matters that would become the basis for his lifelong commitment to Quaker precepts and devotion to what he called "the inward life." Woolman attended a local Quaker school, but, like many Quakers of the early eighteenth century...
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