Referring back to the top of scene 4, Tom
Mor’s illustration celebrates Thomas Hobson the rich ostler who owns livery stables in the centre of Cambridge offering
many horses for hire. A colourful character, he is famous in history for not allowing his customers their own choice of mount
– you had to take the one nearest the door. Hence today’s phrase ‘It’s Hobson’s Choice’,
i.e. no choice at all. Sir Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, may well have had to take Hobson’s Choice when he was a student
at Emmanuel College in Cambridge.
Ever since 1620 when he was appointed by King James to be New England’s President, Rich has
been busy in charge of planning the expansion of settlement there. The territory placed in his hands, without consultation
of the native American inhabitants, comprises that between the fortieth and forty eighth parallels ‘from sea to sea’
(from what is now Philadelphia to the northern-most tip of Maine). Two other men are working closely with Rich in
plans for systematic planting. Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason, (ex-Governor of Newfoundland) obtain grants of huge
tracts of land. Mason gets a patent for all the land lying between the Nahumbeek and Merrimack Rivers plus a joint patent
between him and Gorges for a tract of land between the Merrimack and Sagadahoc Rivers.
Mason hurries westwards to Plymouth from Portsmouth
in Hampshire where he meets up with his merchant venturer associates again. Thompson, Colmer, Sherwill and Pomeroy whose two
ships are ready to set out for New England. The four Plymothians jointly own the Jonathan, whilst town mayor Pomeroy
singly owns the Providence.
It is now early in 1623 ans the Jonathan and Providence set out,
numbering among their pioneer passengers Mason, Thompson and Edward Hilton. Mason has been given the rank of Deputy Governor
of New England and as such has a stone built and erected for himself on reaching New Plymouth. There he is greeted with the
news of Squanto’s death, who has died of a fever whilst accompanying a food trading expedition with some settlers. He
is sorely missed as an interpreter and guide when Thompson takes the Jonathan up the Pascataqua river to found Little
Harbour. Later the Hilton brothers follow in the Providence to set up Dover. New Hampshire is born.