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Thomas Morton (c. 1575 or 1579-1647)


Selected Bibliography on Puritanism
"The American Sense of Puritan" by Scott Atkins of the University of Virginia's American Studies  Group
Teaching Guide from the Heath Anthology site
Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The May-Pole of Merry Mount"

Works Available Online

Manners and Customs of the Indians (of New England), 1637
Morton's account of the revels from New English Canaan
Description of the Indians of New England

About Thomas Morton

Morton was a lawyer, trader, and adventurer whose second trip to New England was as a member of Captain Wollaston's company in 1625.  The band settled at  Mount Wollaston (now Quincy, Mass.), and, when Capt. Wollaston went to Virginia in the spring, Morton called the settlement Ma-re-Mount and began a thriving trading business with local Native American tribes. Morton was captured and sent to England in 1628; when he returned in 1629, his colony had disintegrated.  Captured again and returned to England in 1630, he was released, returning to Massachusetts in 1643 before being sent away by authorities. He was briefly imprisoned when he tried to return, after which he left for Maine, his home for the two years before his death.
The record of Thomas Morton's Merry Mount comes principally from two sources: Morton's own account in Book III, Chapter 4 of The New English Canaan (1637)and William Bradford's very different account in his History of Plimmoth Plantation. John Winthrop also has an account in his History of  New England. Hawthorne wrote about this episode in "The Maypole of Merrymount," and other dramatizations exist, notably Howard Hanson and R. L. Stokes's opera Merry Mount (1934) and John Lothrop Motley'sMerry-mount, A Romance of the Massachusetts Colony (1849).  More recently, L.F. Davidson's 1964 novel The Disturber looks at Morton's life.

For a modern edition with notes, criticism, and biography, see New English Canaan by Thomas Morton of "Merrymount": Text, Notes, Biography ∓ Criticism, ed. Jack Dempsey (2000).

Secondary sources include Donald F. Connors' Thomas Morton (Twayne, 1969).