GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-09 > 1159571676
Subject: Re: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Books.... HEMENWAY
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 2006 19:14:36 EDT
RALPH HEMENWAY OF ROXBURY, Mass.
Ralph Hemmenway is the progenitor of the majority of Hemenways, Hemingways,
and Heminways in America. Little is known of Ralph's origins. He is not listed
on any ship’s documents nor has any record of his birth in England been
found to date.
It is known, however, that he was part of the Great Migration of Puritans
(Independents) to New England that began when John Winthrop's fleet landed in
1630. The Puritans were largely of the English middle and upper middle classes.
Unlike the Pilgrims who were humble, relatively poor people who wanted to be
left alone, the Puritans were by and large substantial men. They were
farmers, artisans, merchants, lawyers, landed gentlemen, and well educated. They
were accustomed to using worldly power and desired to use it to serve God's
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were periods of wrenching social
change and political dislocations in Europe. Armies raped and pillaged. Public
immorality and corruption were rampant. The Puritans saw both church and state
rulers participating in this hell on earth rather than acting to restrain
man's evil as they should. They sought to purify the Church and create a renewed
"Under...Archbishop Laud, every corner of the realm was subjected to
constant and minute inspections. Every little congregation of dissenters was tracked
out and broken up. Even the devotions of private families could not escape
the vigilance of his spies, and many thousands of upright and industrious men,
among them nearly eight clergymen, were driven by persecution to emigrate to
New England...A large number of them were educated, and to their influence it
is owing that schools were so early established, and that so much attention
was paid to instruction in every New England community. Said one of their
number, in the quaint language of those days, "God shifted three kingdoms that
he might send over choice grain into the wilderness"
- Francis S. Drake 1878
The tyrannical Archbishop Laud
See Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were by Leland Ryken
The emphasis of their religion on Bible reading and the proliferation of it,
caused them to establish "Free Schools" and made New England one of the most
literate societies in the world. These were the precursors of our public
school system, which was, in the past, wildly successful. They established
Harvard only six years after they landed. In 1672 Ralph, along with about 23
others, endowed Harvard College with "liberal contributions."
Rev. Asa Hemenway wrote in 1880: "It is difficult to trace the family prior
to 1634. The same difficulty is found by all whose ancestors immigrated about
that same time, as the time 1632 to 1636 was the period of the great rush of
immigrants to New England, and many expedients were resorted to to get
passage. Many unmarried men and women were entered as "servants", no name being
given, and they cannot be traced by either ship or nativity."
Whatever Ralph's origins, it is clear that he rose rapidly. He came as a
young single man, about 22 years of age, in a migration of primarily intact
families. While he is listed as a "man servant" in 1633, he was already one of
the larger landowners and taxpayers in Roxbury by 1639. He married Elizabeth
Hewes in 1634, whose family was of some means. Her brother Joshua soon became a
prominent man in Roxbury.
He is listed in the records of the First Church in Roxbury as:
Ralph Henningway, a man servant, came to Roxbury in 1633.
Freeman Sept. 3, 1634, married Elizabeth Hewes. Became one of the largest
land holders in Roxbury. Active in town affairs. An original donor of the Free
Died June 1 or 8...(1678)