Governor John Winthrop leads an expedition of about 1,000 Puritan settlers in 11 ships to Charlestown, arriving off Salem in June and landing in Charlestown, on July 12. Despite hardships and disease, July 8 was declared a day of Thanksgiving for God’s protection from the perils of the sea.
On July 30, the first signatures are appended to a religious covenant and the first church is established under a spreading oak tree on the slope of Fort (Town) Hill with Rev. John Wilson as the first Pastor.
Governor Winthrop and his Court of Assistants meet for the first time in the New World on August 23 and establish a government for the Massachusetts Bay Colony under a self-governing charter, with the Great House as its first seat.
After a few months in Charlestown, a majority of the settlers migrate to the Shawmut peninsula which they name Boston, and elsewhere in the area in search of better water and more space. After the Governor’s departure to Boston, the Great House is used as a meeting house (church) for the Charlestown congregation.