How The New World Shaped The English Civil War

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Embarkation of the Pilgrims. (United States Capitol Art Collection)
Embarkation of the Pilgrims. (United States Capitol Art Collection)

In his new book, "The Rainborowes", writer and historian Adrian Tinniswood makes the arresting claim: In the 17th century, the people who had first crossed the Atlantic to build a biblical "city upon a hill" in New England, sailed back to fulfill their vision in OLD England.

We're speaking of American Puritans. Though there was really no "America" to speak of in the 1650s, many New England Puritans returned to Britain to fight in the English Civil War.

Some more background: Parliament had had enough of King Charles I and under Oliver Cromwell, fought a civil war to oust him. The war tore apart the British Isles, as citizens picked sides and the fate of the monarchy hung in the balance.

Thomas  Rainborowe was a strong ally of Cromwell and the family had close ties with John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts colony. America's  Rainborowes returned to England to fight for Cromwell. They brought decidedly individualistic New England values with them. Values which then came to full fruition in the American revolution more than a century later.


Andrian Tinniswood, author of The Rainborowes: One Family's Quest to Build a New England.


Daily Telegraph "Who was Rainborowe? By this time he was one of the most famous men in England, a naval commander turned army officer, who, after a string of victories on land (he specialised in brutally effective sieges) had recently been nominated vice-admiral of the Navy. He would become even more famous in the following year, when he was murdered by a posse of Cavalier soldiers in a bungled kidnap attempt. Thousands followed his coffin through the streets of London to its burial in his home parish of Wapping."

The Guardian "Their hoped-for gateway to the New World turned out to be a Panamanian hellhole, where Scotland's imperial ambitions came to dust after disease annihilated the settlers. English propagandists proclaimed the Scots unfit for sovereignty; nine years later, in 1707, the Act of Union obliged Scotland to surrender its independence to England. So much for dreams of Scottish self-determination."

This segment aired on October 8, 2013.


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