Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Jonathan Chu

Second Advisor

Vincent J. Cannato

Third Advisor

Emerson W. Baker


In 1686, Massachusetts Bay Colony lost its charter, and the British government exerted more control over Massachusetts, further enveloping the colony into the folds of the Empire. In the same year, the first Anglican church, King’s Chapel, was established in Massachusetts. With these changes, Boston became more involved in Atlantic trade. During the first quarter of the eighteenth century, the people of Boston began to embrace a more English identity that became evident in the products they were buying, the way they were dressing, and how they worshipped. Just as strict Puritan worship rules waned, new, more English-style methods flourished. Church seating, always regarded with the utmost importance in colonial Massachusetts, began to change as well. What had been a method for arranging the community in a physical representation of the social hierarchy, seating became a matter of business. Instead of the old simple benches, churches began to use pews, enclosed spaces for families to purchase and sit in together. In the eighteenth century, church seating embodied the process of Anglicization that was occurring in Boston as pews became a display of wealth and status and a symbol of the growing consumer revolution.

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