Nathaniel Dickinson must have had an excellent education as shown by the outstanding work which he did in Wethersfield, Connecticut and Hadley, Massachusetts. He may have been trained by private tutors since he did not graduate from either Cambridge or Oxford in England. At the age of 29 he married a widow with an infant son, Anna (?) Gull of East Bergholdt, Suffolkshire, England.

In A.D. 1628/29 the aspect of public affairs in England became more threatening than ever. Charles, I dismissed his Parliament and tried governing without one, introducing a system of tyranny, which eventually brought him to the block. His inquisitorial policy was to extinguish Puritan opinions and to punish with imprisonment and death all deviations from established ceremonies. Reared in the traditions of a race which, for six centuries had braved tyranny from the Norman Rufus to the unfortunate Charles Stuart, is it any wonder that the same spirit led the stern Puritan, Nathaniel Dickinson, at this time, to seek the wilds of America.

On Easter Sunday of 1630, the Dickinsons were among the Puritans gathered at Southampton, England. On Monday the Dickinsons went down to embark on a ship in what has become known as Winthrop's Fleet. John Cotton, the vicar of St. Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire, England, preached a sermon based on the text of 2 Samuel vii 10: "Moreover, I will apoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them that they shall dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as beforetime". In his sermon, John Cotton explained: What he hat planted he will maintain. Every plantation on his right hand hath not planted shall be rooted up, but with his own plantation shall prosper and flourish. When he promised peace and safety what enemies shall be able to make the promise of God of none effect? Neglect not wall and bulwarks, and fortifications for your own defense; but ever let the name of the Lord be your strong tower; and the word of his Promise, the Rock of your refuge. His word that made heaven and earth will not fail, till heaven and earth be no more.

The fare for the voyage was five pounds each. Included in this fare was the food: salt pork, salt beef, salt fish, biscuits, and beer. The butter, pease pottage, and "water grewell' soon ran out. By the end of the voyage, signs of scurvy were appearing among the passengers. There were many storms and sea sickness overcame many of the passengers. All of these were ordered out of their bunks and made to walk up and down the decks holding onto a rope. The fresh air restored them quickly. There were morning and evening prayers. Each change of the watch was marked by the singing of a psalm and the saying of an extemporaneous prayer. There were two sermons each Sabbath. There were the Thursday lecture meetings whose function was to instruct the people in their faith.

On June 12th, twelve weeks from departure, the fleet dropped anchor in Boston Bay. Winthrop had originally intended to form his new colony at Newtown, but the ships of his fleet kept appearing, bringing somewhere between 900 and 1,000 people by the end of the summer. The London Company of Massachusetts Bay had transferred itself and the whole government of its colonists, to its American settlement, and in June, of this year, John Winthrop, chosen Governor by the Massachusetts Company, with his fleet, the Arbella, Talbot, Ambrose and Jewell, bearing three or four hundred colonists, two of whom were Nathaniel Dickinson and his wife, arrived at Salem, Massachusetts. Another two members of the party were his brothers John Dickinson, and Thomas Dickinson.

Some "resolved to set down at the head of the Charles River", others "relinquishing Salem, shipped their goods to Charleston, Watertown and Roxbury". These emigrants had arrived too late to plant crops, for it was August before they had their land allotted and installed their meager possessions in whatever shelter they could erect. Some lived in sail-cloth tents, some in crude log shelters, and some in Indian bark wigwams. On December 26th, bitter cold froze the rivers. The cattle and goats were still without shelter and, as the winter continued, many of them died. People lived on the remnants of salted meat and hard-tack left over from their voyage. Beer rant out and they drank water, considered a dangerous thing to do. They ate hominy, a dish they learned of from the Indians, without butter and salt. Smelt, clams, and mussels kept many of these first Puritans from starvation.

John Winthrop had just passed out the last handful of wheat in his storeroom when the ship "Lyon" was sighted on February 5th. Five days later the ice broke up, temperatures rose, and they "Lyon" could reach shore to unload her cargo and passengers. The struggling Puritan colony was saved, and among them was the Dickinson family.

1635 - 1659 Nathaniel Dickinson is said to have settled at Watertown, where John, Joseph and Thomas were born, and where he remained until 1635/36, when looking for better living conditions, Nathaniel removed his family to Wethersfield, Connecticut, probably coming overland from Watertown, Massachusetts and following the trail as the Thomas Hooker party which settled Hartford, Connecticut. Settling with his gentle wife, Anna (?) Gull, in Wethersfield, Connecticut, 1636, he took front rank. He was one of the first Board of Selectmen, Representative to the General Assembly, from 1646-1656, Recorder for twenty years at Wethersfield, Connecticut; Deacon in the church throughout his life.

Nathaniel helped survey and lay out the homesteads of new settlers like himself. He had a homestead, house and barn plus three acres of farm land. In time he bought half of the homestead lands of Samuel Boardman. His family grew. One by one the sons came until there were nine of them, not including Ann's son by her first marriage. Nathaniel and Nehemiah were twins, a rare and puzzling manifestation of God's notice of the family. The boys were as strong and healthy as their older brothers and thrived; not one died before they were married and had children of their own.

Early in 1648, the oldest son, John, at the extremely young age of 17, married Frances Foote, third daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Deming) Foote. Their child, Hannah, was born on December 6, 1648, which may account for the early marriage. The Dickinsons had commenced their career as grandparents, but had not yet finished being parents. Two years after becoming a grandmother, Anna Dickinson gave birth for the eleventh time. She was almost fifty years old. The baby was a girl and she was named Anna. In October, 1654 he was one of three men (one from each of the river towns) appointed by the General Court as a commission to advise with the Constables about "pressing men for the expedition into the Ninigret country", one of the on-going battles in the Narragansett War against the Indians.

Under one of those theological upheavals, common to the time, and no doubt with promise of bettering their condition, Nathaniel Dickinson and his sons decided on the removal to Hadley in 1659. Nathaniel Dickinson owned east of the "Great River", at Hartford, Connecticut, one hundred acres in the tract called "Naubuc Farms", which was sold on or before the removal to Hadley, Massachusetts. Wethersfield, Connecticut was nearly depopulated by the exodus to Hadley, Massachusetts. The agreement, or engagement, of those who intended to remove from Connecticut to Massachusetts, is dated at Hartford, Connecticut April 18, 1659. Among the fifty-nine signers are Nathaniel Dickinson and his sons John Dickinson and Thomas Dickinson.

A part of the agreement made at this meeting was that William Westwood, Richard Goodman, William Lewis, John White, and Nathaniel Dickinson should go up to the aforesaid plantation on the east side of Northampton, Massachusetts and lay out the number of fifty-nine homelots, and to allow eight acres for every homelot, and to leave a street twenty rods broad betwixt the two westernmost rows of homelots, and to divide said rows of homelots in quarters by highways. 1659 - 1676 In 1659 Nathaniel Dickinson joined the Russell Expedition and moved to Hadley, Massachusetts.

When the time came to join the Reverend John Russell's move to a new town, the entire Dickinson clan responded. Father, stepson, and nine sons with their families all joined the move, however, some of them returned to Connecticut at a later date. John and Frances (Foote) Dickinson had a homelot of their own in the Northeast Quadrant. Joseph Dickinson decided to settle in Northampton, Massachusetts. Thomas Dickinson got the homelot next door to his father, who moved in with Nathaniel Dickinson, Jr. Neither Joseph Dickinson, nor Thomas Dickinson, although in their late twenties, chose to marry at this time. When the homelots opened up on the west side of the river Samuel Dickinson and Obadiah Dickinson got places there. William Gull married Elizabeth, the widow of Nathaniel Foote, Junior [Frances (Foote) Dickinson's brother]. She had four children, three of them sons. She was the daughter of Lieutenant Samuel Smith, the head of the Hadley, Massachusetts militia.

Nathaniel Dickinson put up 200 pounds toward the purchase money, one of the ten who could afford to invest so heavily in future land. With ten sons he had an exceptional number of people to settle. The twins, Nathaniel Dickinson and Nehemiah Dickinson, in 1659 were old enough to bear arms in the town militia, but still underage for anything else. In October, 1660, a town meeting was held at the house of Andrew Warner, when it was voted that no person should be owned for an inhabitant in the Plantation, or have liberty to vote or act in town affairs until he should be legally received as an inhabitant. This was signed by twenty-eight persons, among them Nathaniel Dickinson and Thomas Dickinson. Nathaniel Dickinson was chosen to rebuild a bridge on the country road to Springfield, Massachusetts. As shown above he was one of the original Committee sent to lay out the town; first Recorder there, Assessor, Town Magistrate, member of the Hampshire Troop, one of the members of the first Board of Trustees of the Hopkins' Academy. "An intelligent and influential man, and one qualified to do public business, as well as a man of substance, rating with the highest in the division of lands".

On December 16, 1661, the town bought the boat Nathaniel Dickinson and Richard Goodman owned. They received six pounds in cash, free use of the ferry for a year, and the free use of the boat whenever they needed to carry cattle across the river. For three years, Nathaniel would be able to use the boat four days in order to carry hay and corn. It worked out well, since the Dickinson's homelot was across the road from the river on the south end and he had sons with places in Hatfield on the north side of town. Hadley also formed a committee in 1661 to treat with Nathaniel Dickinson and Samuel Porter for providing a convenient place for public worship. There was no meeting house and presumably the Dickinson and Porters had houses large enough or an enclosed shed or barn suitable for seating the numerous people attending the Sabbath services. Such a space did not have to be heated. In fact, the cold of a winter's day would do much to keep an audience awake and attentive.

On New Year's Day, 1663, Nathaniel was 63 years old. All his family was living in the valley. He was the 31st to draw for his meadow acreage, after his son Thomas, but well before John. Nathaniel was going to be among the ten who would ride over to Northampton and help form the Hampshire Troop. Nathaniel had removed his minister, Mr. Russell, who gave permanent concealment to Generals Whalley and Goffe, two members of the High Court of Justice that condemned Charles I. With the restoration of the SStuarts, a reward was offered for the head of these Generals, but they could not be found.

One Sunday, in September, 1675, the little town of Hadley was panic-stricken by an attack of Indians. The surprise was so great, and the numbers to unequal, that the Indians were fast gaining the advantage. Suddenly there appeared among the settlers a man of towering height, and long streaming hair and beard, dressed in fantastic fashion. Wherever he went the Indians fell, and the courage of the English rose. They though God had sent an angel to lead them out of their sore strait. When the fight was over, the stranger disappeared as suddently as he came. Many believe to their dying day that he was not mortal. He was General Goffe, the Regicide. Without doubt, our ancestor, being an intimate friend of Mr. Russell, was entrusted with the secret of the concealment of the Regicides, and witnessed this exploit of General Goffe.