Similarities and Differences between New England and the Chesapeake


  • Both of these settlements were populated by the English.
  • Both settlements would face conflict with the Native Americans in the area - the Pequot War for New England and the conflict with the Powhatan Confederacy for the settlers of Chesapeake.
  • Both settlements brought flocks of people from England seeking a better life.
  • Both colonies also retained a predominance of English culture.


  • Family Size: Families in New England were much larger, and consisted of both males and females. In contrast, families of the Chesapeake were primarily men brought over to work the fields.
  • Age: Ages of settlers in New England ranged wildly, seeing as immigrants came in family groups. Chesapeake settlers were all in the same general age range.
  • Health: Since New England was spared the tropical diseases of the south, its inhabitants were considerably healthier. Immigrants to New England actually gained five years on their life expectancy, while immigrants to the Chesapeake lost about ten years. Most women in Chesapeake were married, because there were more men than women. They were only able to bear one to three healthy children because they suffered from mild malnutrition.
  • Towns: The settlements of New England were much more compact than those of Chesapeake, and the houses were meant to last. The towns in New England closely resembled the towns in England from which the immigrants had come, while the towns of the Chesapeake were large, spread-out plantation towns. The Chesapeake had much less development due to the fact that the region had no new development of roads, as water was already the primary transportation source in the region.
  • Economy: New England consisted of skilled merchants who began to develop commercial business in the region. On the other hand, the Chesapeake was vast agricultural tobacco land, which was extremely spread out and was connected by the waters of the Chesapeake bay.
  • Crops: Colonists in the New England region soon discovered that they did not have the soil suitable for growing tobacco, as those from Chesapeake did. New England colonist women planted crops, but they did not need much attention in the first few months after they had been planted. Also, those in the New England used the same fields for a few seasons, instead of rotating like those in the Chesapeake.
  • Land Grants: In the Chesapeake, the colonists followed the Headright System. This, of course, would be abused by the early colonists, as they would encourage indentured servitude, which would give them more workers and land. New England, however, used the Communal land-grant system. This meant that men would have to apply as a group, and were not guaranteed the grant. If the group was granted land, then they would split it themselves, with the best among them getting the choice cuts, and the most lowly getting rather small plots. Though slightly unfair, this system guaranteed that everyone received land.
  • Religion: Chesapeake and New England differed greatly in their religions. Chesapeake was primarily Protestant and Catholic, whereas New England would be Puritan separatists or congregationalists. Chesapeake primarily did not persecute people of different faiths, focusing more on their crops and disputes with the Natives. The settlers of New England, on the other hand - with the exception of those in Rhode Island - felt that God had chosen them for this "special task", which led to religion being extremely important in public life, to the point that at times you could not vote on anything if you did not attend church regularly. Rhode Island, unlike the rest of New England, kept church and state separate and tolerated colonists of all religions.