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Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World

Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World

Alison Games

ISBN 9780674007024

Publication date: 11/05/2001

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.


  • 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


  • Alison Games is Associate Professor of History, Georgetown University.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press