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This book is the first in over thirty-five years on the early history of Andover, Massachusetts, founded in 1646 and one of the oldest towns in New England. It explores in depth the events that led to the town’s split in 1710 into the North and South Parishes. In a departure from previous works on Andover, this study brings anthropological and linguistic perspectives to bear on the records, offering a new interpretation of the town’s early history and the settlers’ relationships with one another. Abbot follows the colonists from Britain to the Bay Colony through journals, marriage records, court cases, and other documents including the witchcraft trial transcripts of 1692. Combining text and analysis, she notes shifting factions and changing uses of English social identity terms such as country, blood, and company. The author argues for a reassessment of the key role of the company in particular, as both a unit of colonization and an enduring basis for social identity in early New England towns.
Richard Godbeer, Professor of History at the University of Miami and author of The Devil’s Dominion and Escaping Salem, contributes an illuminating foreword placing the study in the wider context of early New England studies.
“Abbot’s book provides us not only with a refreshing new perspective on the early history of Andover but also with a significant and exciting new window into the minds and lives of early New Englanders.” Richard Godbeer
Elinor Abbot received the Ph.D. in anthropology from Brandeis University in 1990. She is an anthropology consultant with SIL International.
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