Our Company Increases Apace: History, Language and Social Identity in Early Colonial Andover, Massachusetts

Abbot, Elinor

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


  • 11 maps of England, New England, and Andover
  • 7 tables including backgrounds of 37 founding families
  • 4 appendices including town seals and tax records
  • Glossary of social terms in colony records
  • Index of references to early families (162 entries)
  • Bibliography of sources and references

About the Author

Elinor Abbot received the Ph.D. in anthropology from Brandeis University in 1990. She is an anthropology consultant with SIL International.

Table of Contents:

List of Figures and Tables



List of Maps

  1. "Well-Stored" Andover: History and Language, History in Language
    • Philip Greven’s Andover
    • Sources
    • Related Studies
  2. "From the Native’s Point of View": Emic Social Categories in the New England Colonial Record
    • Blood and Country
    • Company and Plantation
    • The Bay Company and the Bay Colony
  3. "Our Company Increases Apace": The Planting of Andover
    • Bay Colony Expansion
    • Planting a Church-Town
    • Planning and Recruitment for Andover: The Gathering of the Company
    • The Planting of Andover
    • Who the Settlers Were: Summary Table
  4. "Cochichawick Called Andover": From Plantation to Town
    • Frontier Andover
    • The Plantation
    • Features of the Town Center
    • Andover in the Regional Setting
    • Growth and Fission: North and South Ends Emerge
    • Settlement and Dispersal
    • What the Tax Lists Show: Summary Table
  5. "A Motion of Marriage": Marriage and Alliance in Early Andover
    • Marriage in Andover
    • Marriage and Social Location
    • Old and New Social Identities in Andover Marriage Patterns
    • Marriage in the Second Generation: Covenanters and non-Covenanters
    • Cousin Marriage and British Regional Backgrounds
  6. "An Axe at Andover": The Course of the Parish Split
    • Overview of Events: 1676-1710
    • Lines of Division in Andover: 1676-1679
    • Arenas of Conflict: 1680-1692
    • Blood, Country, and Witchcraft: 1690-1692
    • The Town Divides: 1692-1710
  7. "As Bees When the Hive Is Too Full": The Aftermath of the Parish Split
    • Marriage and Social Crisis: Greven Revisited
    • Samuel Phillips and the New South Parish
    • "The Peace of the Town"

Appendix A

  • Town Seals and Anniversary Banners

Appendix B

  • Documents: Seating the Meetinghouse
    • B.1 The Beverly text: Seating the Meetinghouse
    • B.2 The Tewksbury text: Seating the Meetinghouse

Appendix C

  • The Reverend Thomas Barnard’s Letter to Governor Dudley (1710)

Appendix D

  • Andover Tax Records, 1679-1716



  • Sources
  • References

Name Index

Subject Index

Retail Price:
xxxvii, 239 pages
ISBN 13:
ISBN 10:
6 × 9 × 0.58 in
1.1 lb
United States
Content Language: