Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Colonies (1642-1671)

Looking to remove himself from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Thomas Mayhew purchased the right to settle and set up a government on islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket from the Earl of Stirling, and gradually obtained the land from the Wampanoag. Click here for a 40-minute video produced by the Other States of America on January 28, 2024.

The Early of Stirling (above, center) was a Scottish courtier and poet who was involved in the Scottish colonization of Charles Fort, later Port-RoyalNova Scotia in 1629 and Long IslandNew York.

Mayhew (above, left) settled the Vineyard and later sold off Nantucket to a like minded group of friends and extended relations under Tristram Coffin. Efforts by John Eliot (above, center) and others converted much of the Native population to Christianity. Both Islands co-existed as separate colonies run by their proprietors as if it were a joint stock company. Eventually they were annexed by a larger colony, New York.

In 1659 Coffin (above, left) led a group of investors that bought Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew for thirty pounds and two beaver hats. He became a prominent citizen of the settlement. Despite efforts by Pokanoket Massasoit Metacom (above, right), the Indigenous tribes on the two islands remained loyal to the English during King Philip’s War.