Puritan Family Order

Sneha & Megan


  • Further religious beliefs
  • Educate younger generations
  • Maintain societal order
  • Grow population
  • Basic unit of society, economy, and church

A Typical Family

Consists of husband, wife, and 3 or 4 children; possibly 1 servant

Man / Father would sustain family and be one of the following: minister, cooper, hunter, miller, tanner, furrier, surveyor, etc.

Woman / Mother would help in the fields and with animals, and may have a trade such as candle maker, weaver, tailor, or midwife

Familial Responsibilities

  • Raise food
  • Make clothing and furniture
  • Teach children to read and worship
  • Care for each other when sick or old
  • Maintain social order


Patriarchal society

Single women had more independence concerning financial and career-related affairs

Few conducted business outside of the home

Common law gave the use and profit of a woman’s real estate and the ownership of all her personal property and earnings to her husband

Wife abuse not uncommon


"The primary task of child rearing was to break down a child’s sinful will and internalize respect for divinely instituted authority through weekly catechisms, repeated admonitions, physical beatings, and intense psychological pressure”

High Infant Mortality rate: for 8-12 children born, 3-4 survive

Adults / Heads of Family most important


  • Short life
  • Obedient
  • Religious training
  • Work from young age

May be "put out"--sent to live with another family to be a servant or apprentice, cared for by the new family just as if the child were a biological family member


Most married

Marriage is a civil contract

Arranged marriage
  • Marry into family of similar trade/status
  • Love develops later
  • Brides give dowries

No adultery

High mortality; remarriages not uncommon

Either party can petition for divorce

Fun Facts

  • Selectmen / tithingmen and constables restored ‘good order’ in households
  • In 1648, there was a Massachusetts law requiring the death penalty for stubborn or rebellious sons over 16 or those who struck or cursed their parents; younger children could be sent to other families
  • In 1638 the Massachusetts Bay Colony required every town to "dispose of all single persons"
  • "The father in early New England felt free to intervene in his children’s lives and to control their behavior. This included the right and duty to take an active role in his child’s selection of a spouse.” (In both courtship and marriage)

Works Cited

Dikes, Jason. "Family Ways." Austin Community College District. Austin Community College District, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://www.austincc.edu/jdikes/Family%20Ways%20ALL.pdf>.

Klumpp, James F. "Puritan New England." University of Maryland. University System of Maryland, 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. <http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~jklumpp/comm460/lecture/ne.html>.

Richards, David. "Puritan Families." SUNY Oneonta. SUNY, n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2013. <http://employees.oneonta.edu/richards/family%20history/Puritan%20family.ppt>.

Vandergriff, Ken. "The Colonial Family in America." Campbell University. Campbell University, 2013. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. <http://web.campbell.edu/faculty/vandergriffk/FamColonial.html>.