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Hooker, Thomas (07 July 1586–07 July 1647), Puritan minister, an architect of the New England Way, and a founder of Hartford, Connecticut, was born in Marfield, a village in Leicestershire, England, the son of Thomas Hooker, a steward for the Digby family, and his wife, whose name is unknown. He probably attended the grammar school that had been endowed by Sir Wolstan Dixie in nearby Market Bosworth, since at Cambridge he held a Dixie Fellowship, restricted to relatives of Sir Wolstan or graduates of his school. Before going to Cambridge, he may have taught school briefly in Birstall, Leicestershire. He matriculated at Queens College, Cambridge, in 1604, although he soon transferred to Emmanuel College, which had already acquired a reputation for the Puritan sympathies of its members. He received his B.A. in 1608 and his M.A. in 1611. He subsequently served as lecturer and catechist at Emmanuel College until 1618. As a fellow at Emmanuel he experienced a spiritual rebirth that validated his career as a Puritan minister and provided the substance for many of his popular sermons that were collected and published during his lifetime. He apparently preached at Emmanuel a series of sermons on the nature of the conversion experience....

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Weld, Thomas (bap. 15 July 1595), Puritan divine and agent of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, England, the son of Edmund Weld, a dealer in fabrics, and Amy Brewster. His surname is also spelled Welde. He graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, with a B.A. in 1613 and an M.A. in 1618. On 2 March 1618 he was ordained a minister at Peterborough and appointed vicar in Haverhill, Suffolk. In 1624 he became vicar in Terling, Essex....

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Roger Williams. From a charcoal drawing by H. Halit. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-94043).

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Williams, Roger (1603?–1683), clergyman and founder of Rhode Island, was born in London, England, the son of James Williams, a merchant, and Alice Pemberton. His precise birth date is unknown, and his own references to his age throughout his lifetime are contradictory. During his teens, Williams experienced a spiritual awakening that moved him to join the ranks of Puritan dissenters who were voicing opposition to the ecclesiastical policies of the Church of England and King James I; his religious fervor, however, caused a falling out with his father, a stalwart supporter of the Anglican church....