Providence Island, 1630-1641 : the other Puritan colony


Providence Island, 1630-1641 : the other Puritan colony

Karen Ordahl Kupperman

Cambridge University Press, 1995

  • : pbk

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"First paperback edition 1995"--T.p. verso

Originally published: 1993

Includes bibliographical references and index



Providence Island was founded in 1630 at the same time as Massachusetts Bay by English puritans who thought an island off the coast of Nicaragua was far more promising than the cold, rocky shores of New England. Although they expected theirs to become a model godly society, the settlement never succeeded in building the kind of united and orderly community that the New Englanders created. In fact, they began large-scale use of slaves, and plunged into the privateering that invited the colony's extinction by the Spanish in 1641. As a well-planned and well-financed failure, Providence Island offers historians a standard by which to judge other colonies. By examining the failure of Providence Island, the author illuminates the common characteristics in all the successful English settlements, the key institutions without which men and women would not emigrate and a colony's economy could not thrive. This study of Providence Island reveals the remarkable similarities in many basic institutions among the early colonial regions.


  • List of maps
  • Preface
  • Author's note
  • 1. The Providence Island company and its colony: the program
  • 2. Founding a colony on Providence Island
  • 3. Contested authority: the governorship of Captain Philip Bell
  • 4. Frustrated hopes for economic development
  • 5. Land and society: the middling planters
  • 6. Servants into slaves
  • 7. Military requirements and the people's response
  • 8. The turbulent religious life of Providence Island
  • 9. Governing puritan privateers: the governorships of Robert Hunt and Nathaniel Butler
  • 10. The business history of the Providence Island company
  • 11. The end and persistence of Providence Island
  • Appendixes
  • Biographical essay
  • Index.

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