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What was the Daily Life of a Puritan Like in Colonial Times?

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Noreen Gunnell • updated: 10/23/2012

The Puritans traveled to America to escape religious persecution. Learn more about what daily life was like as a Puritan living in colonial times. Also find additional research topic ideas.

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    Life in the Colonies

    The daily life of a Puritan in Colonial America New England during the 17th century was a busy one. Puritans believed that idle hands were the devil's playground! A typical day started at dawn and ended at dusk. Their lives focused on religion and following God's plan -- attending church was mandatory. Puritans focused on living simple and peaceful lives.

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    Where did the Puritans Come From?

    479px-John Davenport puritan In England in 1530, the English separated from the Roman Catholic Church and reformed their beliefs. The Church of England became the English Protestant Church.

    After 1560, those who wanted to continue the "purification" of the church were called Puritans. If a practice or hierarch was not in the Bible, the Puritans wanted to eliminate it. However, the Puritans could not agree on how far or to what degree to "purify." Those who wanted more purification broke away. A group came to America in 1620; the great migration to New England started in 1630.

    Once the Puritans arrived, they worked in the New England Colonies and placed the church and God as the center of their lives. The ministers of the church were very influential people in these colonies.

    Ideas for Further Research

    The following is a list of possible research topics for you to research. Very basic information is included in this article. However, you will need to complete additional research for a research paper or project. There is a list of resources/references at the end of this article where you can start your research.

    Family Life: The family was very important to the Puritans and most were farming families. The average Puritans lived longer than their counterparts in England, and many lived long enough to be grandparents, which was not common. Many kept journals of their daily lives.

    Clothing: The Puritans wanted simplicity in their clothing and many times wore dark clothing.

    Homes: Early on, families lived in single room mud homes with thatched roofs.

    Food: They farmed and fished. A feast may include fish (fresh or salted), meats, and a stew with vegetables from their gardens. For dessert, there might be custard or sugared almonds. And, surprisingly, they would drink wine and ale, just not to excess.

    Female Roles: Women were not allowed to vote or make decisions in the church. They worked in the home and the garden.

    Male Roles/Jobs: Men who followed the church and were "chosen" were allowed to vote. A male might have the occupation of minister, cooper, hunter, miller, tanner, furrier, surveyor, farmer, etc.

    Education: The literacy rate amongst Puritans was rather high due to the fact that they wanted their children to be able to read the Bible. If a community in Massachusetts had 50 families or more, a school supported by taxes was mandatory.

    Church: Puritans attended church at least two times a week. Government meetings would sometimes follow church meetings. All church members had to pay tithes to the church and attend regularly.

    Punishment: Those who did not follow God's laws would be punished. The punishment was harsh, such as hanging, public whippings, cutting off ears, boring holes in tongues, stockades, etc.

    Once you have chosen a topic and completed your research paper on Puritan daily life, you can share it with your teacher. Make sure to follow the proper format, such as MLA or APA style. And, edit and revise your work before typing or writing your final copy.

    Resources/references:

    Colonial America, http://www.richmondancestry.org/colonial.shtml

    Daily Life of Puritans, http://gtines1600puritans.weebly.com/process--daily-life.html

    Puritans, http://www.sonofthesouth.net/revolutionary-war/pilgrims/puritans.htm

    Puritan Clothing, http://www.fabrics-store.com/blog/2008/01/28/political-dissent-puritans-and-the-use-of-linen/

    Puritan Daily Life, http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jklumpp/comm460/lecture/ne.html

    Puritan Food, http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2007/11/18/so_what_did_the_puritans_eat/

    Puritan Homes, http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1994/issue41/4136.html

    Puritan Life, http://www.ushistory.org/us/3d.asp

    The Puritans, http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/english2/puritans_intro.html

    Photo Reference:

    By engraved by L.S. Punderson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Davenport_puritan.jpg