Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New England Books by Roger Thompson

This past year the opportunity to read New England books written by Roger Thompson occurred several times. Roger teaches at the University of East Anglia in England during the school year and often spends time in New England to explore the early settlers. His book, Divided We Stand, Watertown, Massachusetts 1630-1680, is a phenomenal history of a place and time where at least eight of my early ancestral families lived. Even though it only has 201 pages of the actual text, there are an additional 50 pages of end notes. This is followed by an index of ten pages, which does not appear to include the end notes.

The reading of the actual text was very enjoyable. Roger has spent years delving into historical records, most often court records that add so much flavor to the history of a community. While one might wonder how he ever finds the time to read all the sordid details about the goings on of everyday life, he amazes me in how he shares those stories with his readers. He also blends his knowledge of English history and reflects on how events occurring in both places impact the settlement of the early colonies.

My connections include Nathaniel Biscoe, William Bond, Thomas Hastings, Robert Jennison, William Knapp, Isaac Mixer, John Smith and Roger Wellington. These families all interconnect with my Tidd family which was my original attraction to family history. There was even a mention of a Jane Tidd in the end note19 of chapter 11. The name is not familiar to me, so it is time to do some investigation.

The chapters are:
1. The Lie of the Land
2. The Peopling of Early Watertown, 1630-1640
3. The View from the Stour
4. Government
5. Land
6. Religion
7. Living with Livestock
8. Livelihoo: The Town's Economy
9. Welfare
10. The Rising Generation
11. The Family
12. Invisible Indians
13. "Foreigners" and Community
Conclusion: Continuity and Change, Decline and Discord
Appendix A: Case Studies
Appendix B: Lists of Residents

A dear friend lent the book to me and some day it would be nice to own a copy. The other book of Roger's that she lent me was, Sex in Middlesex, Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County, 1649-1699, which was probably my least favorite of his books. It just did not share the flavor of a particular community.

Then when the book, From Deference to Defiance, Charlestown, Massachusetts 1629-1692, was advertised through the New England Historic Genealogical Society newsletter it was time for me to make a purchase. That is the first known place of settlement for the Tidd family. Again he covers the history of a time and place that are very pertinent to my research. This book was shared with my friend, but she liked it so much that she bought herself a copy.

The next of his books that would be of great interest to me is Mobility and Migration. All three of the books read so far have enlightened my understanding of the founding of the early New England colonies. New England is my area of focus for my AG or accreditation through ICAPGen. My book shelves have many such resources on them and my goal is to spend more time reading these treasured books.

Now I just wish that Roger would write about Newtown or Cambridge, Lexington and Woburn. Serendipity is finding the tasty little tidbits often hidden between the pages of a great book. Just cracking open a book and smelling the fragrance from within can lift one away to a glorious world of exploration, What books are you reading or sit on your shelf waiting to be read?

No comments:

Post a Comment