An Inward Retreat: From Puritan to Quaker on the Chesapeake Bay

Rachel Marie Love, Liberty University

Document Type Article


Although Puritan studies have been largely focused on New England, Puritanism also existed in the southern colonies, specifically Virginia. A group of Puritans settled south of the James River in what would come to be known as Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Similar to their New England counterparts, the Puritans of early Virginia emerged amongst the volatile religious environment of sixteenth-century England and coalesced around the formation of the Ancient Church in Holland.

As a result of persecution under Governor Berkeley the Virginia Puritans migrated to Maryland in 1649 to once again attempt the creation of a Puritan settlement in the South. Before long Puritan persecution resumed when the Lord Baltimore sought to maintain control of his colony as he watched royalist power fall to the Puritan Protectorate in England. Though the Puritans survived their struggle with Governor Stone and defeated the Cavaliers at the Battle of the Severn, their Puritan theological tenets did not last.

As displayed through the example of these particular Puritans, an overemphasis on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit within the Puritan faith pushed moderate Puritans into the more liberal strands of non-conformity. This eventually resulted in an antinomian faith whose foundations in Cambridge Platonism prepared the path toward Quakerism.