A marvelously rendered tale of how one extended family helped shape, and was shaped by, the England and New England of the 1600s.
Intrepid seaman William Rainborowe was the patriarch of a family that, though not a household name, went on to have a definitive impact on the founding of Puritan New England and on the English civil war. Tinniswood (Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean, 2010, etc.) chronicles the Rainborowe family history with both the loving care of a true historian and the wit and candor of a storyteller. His work is both a contribution to historical research and a window for the public into the 17th century. William Rainborowe battled piracy around Morocco and in the British Isles while also becoming a wealthy merchant and adviser to the government in naval affairs. Members of his Puritan family would settle in the Boston area in the Great Migration of the 1630s. Some would go on to crisscross the Atlantic again in search of commercial success or in order to take part in English politics. One daughter, Martha, would become the wife of John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her brothers Thomas and William Junior were destined to be leading figures in the English civil war. In a story spanning three continents, nearly half a century and dozens of lives, Tinniswood ably keeps readers’ focus. His ability to weave the Rainborowe family tale into the larger tapestry of English and New England history will be appreciated by amateur and professional historians alike. In the end, it is easy for readers to agree with the author’s assessment: “The Rainborowes mattered. Not only because every life matters, but also because they were there at a moment when the world changed. And they helped it to change.”
An extraordinary glimpse into a pivotal epoch in Western history.