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Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World (Harvard Historical Studies) [Paperback]

by Alison Games
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 5, 2001 0674007026 978-0674007024

England's seventeenth-century colonial empire in North America and the Caribbean was created by migration. The quickening pace of this essential migration is captured in the London port register of 1635, the largest extant port register for any single year in the colonial period and unique in its record of migration to America and to the European continent. Alison Games analyzes the 7,500 people who traveled from London in that year, recreating individual careers, exploring colonial societies at a time of emerging viability, and delineating a world sustained and defined by migration.

The colonial travelers were bound for the major regions of English settlement--New England, the Chesapeake, the West Indies, and Bermuda--and included ministers, governors, soldiers, planters, merchants, and members of some major colonial dynasties--Winthrops, Saltonstalls, and Eliots. Many of these passengers were indentured servants. Games shows that however much they tried, the travelers from London were unable to recreate England in their overseas outposts. They dwelled in chaotic, precarious, and hybrid societies where New World exigencies overpowered the force of custom. Patterns of repeat and return migration cemented these inchoate colonial outposts into a larger Atlantic community. Together, the migrants' stories offer a new social history of the seventeenth century. For the origins and integration of the English Atlantic world, Games illustrates the primary importance of the first half of the seventeenth century.


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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is an admirable work of scholarship--intensely researched, clearly written, and pointed in its interpretation. An exhaustive study of the London emigrant ship list of 1635, it traces the 5,000 people involved in western voyages whose names appear on that list--their origins, characteristics, and destinies, and the way they settled into the New World. It describes the motivation and circumstance behind their departures and the broad imperial awareness that was growing in early seventeenth-century England. Its breadth is impressive: it is a study in Atlantic history, one of the best in that growing field, and at the same time a real contribution to Anglo-American history in the early modern period. (Bernard Bailyn, Harvard University)

[This book is] eminently readable, packed with the results of [Alison Games's] wide ranging-research as well as initiating new ideas for investigation. She also raises thought-provoking points about the youth of the majority of the migrants and the persistence of English culture, as well as offering a lucid explanation of the changing pattern of religious migration from 1630 to 1635. I unhesitatingly recommend this publication to scholars whose interest is migration in the early modern period. (Barbara Macallan English Historical Review)

Alison Games stakes her claim firmly in the emerging field of Atlantic history...Games's most remarkable achievement is to find abot 27 percent of the London migrants in the records of their American destinations. In combination with English local records before 1635, she is able to recreate life stories that sometimes extend well into the middle of the century. (History)

Games's analysis makes clear both the great variety of settlements to which these English men and women voyaged and the striking similarities in the ways by which the migrants strove to adapt to new lives in unfamiliar and often threatening places…Games does an outstanding job of describing why and how a large group of settlers moved from England to America, and what tribulations and triumphs awaited them across the Atlantic. (Natalie Zacek International History Review)

The organizational principle of this book allows the author to present a rich panorama of the opportunities and frustrations that an emigrant's choice of destination could entail…Reflecting wide-ranging and meticulous scholarship, the book's greatest strength lies in the sometimes surprising detail the author has unearthed on the lives and experiences of some of the individuals who participated in this movement. (Ida Altman The Journal of American History)

In the 1630s, the founding and peopling of plantations on the North American mainland and in the Caribbean were high-risk gambles with uncertain outcomes. Alison Games's collective biography of the adventurers who left London in 1635 to colonize the western periphery of England's nascent and precarious empire makes the point vividly and convincingly…Readers familiar with the literature on early America will find this prosopographical study of early English colonization illuminating in detail. (The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography)

From the Back Cover

An admirable work of scholarship-intensely researched, clearly written, and pointed in its interpretation.-Bernaard Bailyn, Harvard University --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Historical Studies (Book 133)
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (December 5, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674007026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674007024
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #878,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The making of the English Atlanic world September 25, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A scholarly investigation into the Atlantic voyages and destinations of those listed in the 1635 London Port Register. The author follows their careers in the extant colonial and English records before and after their voyages. Excellent insights into the English colonies in New England, Virginia, Bermuda, and Providence Island in the Caribbean.
Questions of why these travelers left, how they traveled, what they found when they arrived, how they prospered or failed, and those that returned to their homeland or traveled to other colonies are all dealt with. Excellent sections on the age and sex compositions of the different destinations under study and the effects of this on their colonial development.
Lots of information on the flight of the puritans from Archbishop Laud and the different gathered church societies they established in the puritan colonies. The continuous migration over the life cycle of these English travelers within England, to London, across the Atlantic and within and between colonies is the ongoing theme of the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding work of original research November 11, 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book by Alison Games, based on her PhD dissertation if I am to understand correctly, is an outstanding piece of original research. Games successfully combines her torturous mining of the archives of the UK, Bermuda, US & elsewhere, with a good understanding of statistics, with intellectually honest speculations about the data (where it exists & where it does not, carefully showing where each hold), with a comprehension of the sweep of history in which this work fits, with a fine writing style. This book is denser than most colonial history, but it is worth pushing through that density for the unique insights the history carries with it & the stimulation of mind the book provides to the reader. Fundamentally, as Games shows, history is about ordinary human beings. The aggregation of their actions is what makes something worthy of the historians attention. In Games work, we can see the individual actions of UK "citizens" in the 1500s & 1600s in making the trek to colonies. This book should be on anyone's required reading list for understanding what happened in the British colonies early-on.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Migration and early America May 26, 2007
Format:Paperback
A Ph.d. dissertation by Alison Games "that turned into a book," Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World introduces a novel approach to studying English Colonial history. Insisting that migration played a more significant role in early Atlantic regional and national settlements than previously thought, the author explores and amalgamates common threads to modify previous notions on the origins of English cultural norms in colonial America. Based heavily on the 1635 London Port register, the author chronicles the migration patterns of over 7500 Englishmen and women who moved to the New World.

After establishing a rather dense narrative in the introductory chapters, we learn, in depth, about the travel patterns and challenges of those who braved the Atlantic world. "A spectrum of experience," notes Games, "characterized early colonial settlements, and the intent of my approach is to delineate both the variety of colonial societies and the common processes by which they were formed." (10) The discussions of the aforementioned vignettes are dispersed successfully among several geographic regions such as New England, the Caribbean, and the Chesapeake.

The author provides extensive research of church registers, court records, and other primary sources to advance a careful argument that "common processes" of Old World travelers established the foundations of early American family life. She also correctly highlights the fact that movement between the New and Old World was hectic, and in constant motion, with migrants moving several times once they entered colonial America. The only exception to this argument, which Games downplays, is the large contingent of migrants who moved directly to New England from the Old World and settled there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars People on the Move December 5, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alison Games' Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World is primarily a study of people on the move. More demographic history than social history, Games stresses the importance of migration- the actual physical movement of people from England to colonies and from colony to colony- to the creation of the Atlantic World, especially the English Atlantic World. Examining passenger lists, Games contends that no other European power came close to generating the number of settlers as the English did, making them an exceptional power. Games really stresses the importance of the individual to the creation of the early modern Atlantic, a theme she continues in The Web of Empire: English Cosmopolitans in an Age of Expansion, 1560-1660 that contrasts greatly with historians, such as John Brewer in The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1783, who argue the importance of the state and bureaucracy.

As other reviewers have noted, at times, Games provides too much data without enough analysis. Games needed to find a better balance between presenting data rich evidence with analysis of that data for the reader. There are numerous charts and numbers that help the reader visualize this data, however, it can be overwhelming at time. As this was originally a dissertation that was later adapted to be a book, this is not necessarily surprising. Also, it is rather typical of demographic history in which the numbers tend to speak for themselves.

I would encourage scholars of the English Atlantic World to read this book along with her second book, The Web of Empire. Many of Games' arguments from Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World are further explored in her second book and provides a bit more analysis instead of simply data.
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