Many factors came together to greet Friends

We’ve been looking at fundamentals that set early Dover apart from the rigid Puritan culture that dominated the Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut colonies.

What we’ve also seen is that other localities settled before the great Puritan migration also had conflicts in the face of what is widely presumed to be characteristically colonial New England. Notably, these were Cape Cod; Salem, Massachusetts; Hampton, New Hampshire; and Maine – all of which harbored Quakers. Merrymount, we should note, was one settlement the Puritans outright eradicated through violence.

I’ve been arguing that folkways from Devonshire were far more influential in Dover’s soul than was the commercial nature of the early charters. The Puritans who put down roots in Dover were largely from Devon, not the East Anglia of the Massachusetts Bay arrivals.

One thing that puzzles me is the reticence of the Church of England to establish parishes in New England colonies before Massachusetts subsumed New Hampshire and then Maine. Many of the inhabitants identified as Anglican and preferred its rites but were without priests and guidance. They privately chafed at the Calvinist strictures, and some openly welcomed Quakers who ultimately entered as the principal alternative.

I suspect it wasn’t our message that attracted the early converts as much as our very presence and timing. You know, that “perfect storm” thing.

The upshot was that by the time Dover entered its fourth decade, it was primed for a Quaker seed to land and sprout, with roots here reaching all the way back to one of the very first settlers of the province as well as a few other independent spirits.

The ground itself and surrounding waters proved to be fertile for Friends. Not that the first decades would be easy.

Let’s just say it’s not just size that makes Dover different from Boston.


Check out my new book, Quaking Dover, available in your choice of ebook platforms at

Welcome to Dover’s upcoming 400th anniversary.


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