Letter to the Editor

Echoes of the 1600s

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dear Editor,

The run on 2020 stores during the coronavirus reminds me of the arrival of the William and the George, a 180-ton merchant ship in Boston, Mass.

William Hale delivered supplies to Thomas Hancock of Exeter, England. Its cargo included Irish stockings, chests of castile soap, chocolate, anchors, cables, gun powder and other valuable cargo.

These two men were merchants from southern England. They were Puritans who traded goods all over the world, including the West Indies.

It was illegal for leave England without permission from the king. Then, on March 4, 1629, the Massachusetts Bay Co. was given a charter by King Charles I. It was a commercial company seeking to obtain trade. A large number of Puritans went to America the next few years.

Unlike 2020, they weren’t guaranteed or required to wear face masks. No doubt, they carried some diseases to America.

This exodus took place from Southern England prior to 1655 when Thomas Hancock was killed while on an expedition to the West Indies. Historians know he was in Boston as yearly as 1632.

There were serious diseases in New England including smallpox and measles. The Indians had little immunity to them.

The ship, the William and the George, carried cargo and passengers to Boston. No doubt they brought diseases with them. Coronavirus also ravels overseas, too.

Thomas Hancock was a shipping merchant in Boston. He also owned prime land in Weatherfield, Connecticut.

Merchants in Wethersfield became wealthy from trading in the West Indies in the 1650s and the 1670s. Malaria was a serious problem thee.

King Philip of Spain forbade trade in the West Indies with the colonial merchants.A war occurred with American colonists over this situation. Merchants lost trade. Isolation due to coronavirus saves us from illness, but not money losses

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Nebraska

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