Economics was the driving force behind the move to the colonies and religion was the prime motivation.
After a millennium of rule over Europe, the Catholic Church had come under increasing pressure brought on by its abuse of power and unpopular doctrines. During the reign of King Henry the VIII, England split from the Catholic Church and changed the national religion to Protestant. After Henry's death, the country switched between Catholic and Protestant as the rulers changed. When Mary became queen in 1553 she banished, persecuted, or killed many people who were not Catholics. When the Protestant religion came back in favor, there were even more dramatic splits in religion as radical Protestants objected to some of the fundamentals of the church. These splits in the churches carried on into the 17th century and eventually fomented into the English Civil War. England was being swept up into the fervor that had engulfed the rest of Europe decades earlier.
The English Civil War, also known as the Puritan Movement, had its beginnings with John Calvin in the 16th century. The puritans objected to the modern Protestant church of the 17th century and insisted the church follow the Calvinist doctrine. The strict teachings of Calvinism earned the followers the name of reformer and non-conformer. These Puritan reformers, outlawed in their own country, were seeking a new place where they could practice their religion with freedom. The Americas were the ideal location, and the economic situation at the time made the journey a necessary reality. Others seeking wealth, resources, and land would facilitate their voyage across the sea.
During the period of religious upheaval, England was also experiencing a dramatic shift in its economic system. By the beginning of the 17th century, the population has swelled and unemployment was escalating. Peasants and laborers moved to the city and were met with impoverished conditions. The increase in population placed a greater demand on goods and services and resulted in widespread scarcities across England. With a high demand and short supply, inflation set in and resulted in the Price Revolution.
Landlords found that they could make more profit during this period of high inflation by producing cash goods rather than renting to tenants. In a process called enclosing, the landowners would evict the current tenants and enclose the property to produce commercial commodities. Though this was good for the economy in that it produced more goods and eased inflation, it resulted in greater poverty for the farmer tenants and increased unemployment in England's cities. These changing economic systems caused people to seek wealth in new areas such as the Americas. America offered the poor an opportunity to own land and the investor the chance to capitalize their fortunes. England saw migration as a means to ease the overpopulation and the overburdened demand for goods.
The impoverished in England were also the most disenchanted and dissatisfied class. They were drawn to radical religious and philosophical doctrines and looked for leadership in these disciplines. Drawn by the promise of prosperity in a new land, they were eager to begin a pilgrimage to a new home. The promise of land ownership and religious freedom combined to make the migration to the Americas possible.
The new immigrants to America began