Praying Towns were the settlements founded by the Puritans coming from New England, who attempted to convert native people to Christianity. The process of forming these towns lasted from 1646 to 1675.


The Puritans were ardent followers of Christianity; therefore, believed it was going to be easy to turn Native American into Christians. They thought natives would be mesmerized by the gospels and dispose of their pagan customs, hunting habits, and lifestyle in general.

The first to preach a sermon to the Native Americans was a Puritan missionary, John Eliot, who managed to read in the original. The General Massachusetts Court supported John Eliot and offered to found praying Indian towns. Therefore, fourteen settlements were established within several decades and were situated in a ring surrounding English coastal areas. The most prominent ones were located in the field of Massachusetts: Gay Head, Christiantown, Nantucket, Natick, Mashpee, Hassanamisco, Herring Pond, and Nukkehkummees. The other three took place in Connecticut: Maanexit, Quinnatisset, and Wabaquasset. However, only two towns, Natick and Punkapoag, owned an independent church and congregation. Only the residents could convert natives into Christians; they also had their governing structure and conducted Christian services. The residents changed some habits: they cast aside hunting and became agricultural but preserved English marriage custom and English houses.

Nevertheless, the mission of conversion was short-termed and lasted less than three decades. Years later, when King Philip’s war broke out, the Court disembodied 10 out of 14 authentic praying towns, so that the rest remained under English surveillance, though many communities preserved initial traditions.