Merry Mount

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Thomas Morton (c. 1587—1647) colonist in America

Maypole of Merrymount


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Settlement at Mount Wollaston (now Quincy), Mass., founded in 1625 by Captain Wollaston and Thomas Morton (1590?–1647), a British adventurer and Anglican. When the captain withdrew to Virginia with his indentured white servants, Morton took possession of the site, which was renamed Ma-re-Mount. There, according to Bradford, the Anglican settlers established a “schoole of athisme,” whose members revived “the beastly practices of the madd Bachanalians.” The frolicking of the colonists about a Maypole and their trading of weapons to the Indians caused Myles Standish to be sent to seize Morton, who was transferred to England under arrest (1628). Although the colony was dispersed, several “revelers” lingered on. Morton's New English Canaan (1637) presents his version of events, while Bradford and John Winthrop represent the Puritan and Separatist views in their histories. Hawthorne's “The Maypole of Merrymount” (1837) is an allegorical tale, and other literary treatments include Motley's romance Merrymount (1849) and the operatic version by Howard Hanson and R. L. Stokes, Merry Mount (1934).

Subjects: Literature.

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