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Book details East Anglia’s contribution to colonial America

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 08:42 20 October 2017

Roger Pugh, from Thetford, has written a book called Uncle Sam's Roots in Eastern England. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Roger Pugh, from Thetford, has written a book called Uncle Sam's Roots in Eastern England. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

Archant

From Abraham Lincoln’s ancestral home to Thomas Paine, East Anglia has a strong connection with the United States of America.

Two family members from Great Yarmouth were executed as part of the Salem witch trials in 1690s. The plaque inside St Nicholas Minster.  Picture: James Bass Two family members from Great Yarmouth were executed as part of the Salem witch trials in 1690s. The plaque inside St Nicholas Minster. Picture: James Bass

But some of the stories and colourful characters which have contributed to the country’s colonial past are not well-known.

Roger Pugh, from Thetford, has brought together a collection of stories and individuals and their contribution to the USA in a book called Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England From Colonial Times Onwards.

The 1st Earl of Arlington of Euston Hall, near Thetford, who the American military cemetery, the Arlington Cemetery was named after. Picture: Denise Bradley The 1st Earl of Arlington of Euston Hall, near Thetford, who the American military cemetery, the Arlington Cemetery was named after. Picture: Denise Bradley

He spent 18 months of “intense” researching and writing to produce the book - which features more than 30 stories from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Lincolnshire.

“I am interested in history generally and there are some great yarns in this movement across the Atlantic,” said Mr Pugh, a keen historian who formerly worked in local government in the South East.

Thetford-born political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine is clased as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The statue of him in Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan Thetford-born political activist and philosopher Thomas Paine is clased as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The statue of him in Thetford. Picture: Sonya Duncan

“East Anglia probably made the biggest contribution to colonial America and USA history than any other counties in Britain.

“We provided the families of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We provided most of the Pilgrim Fathers who went in the 1620s. Indeed, you could say that the birthplace of colonial American was in East Anglia.”

Temperance Flowerdew, from Hetherset, could be said to be the first First Lady of America. Picture: Archant Library Temperance Flowerdew, from Hetherset, could be said to be the first First Lady of America. Picture: Archant Library

One story tells the unfortunate deaths of two sisters who were born in Great Yarmouth and emigrated with their parents in 1640 to Salem, Massachusetts.

Rebecca Nurse and Mary Easty were accused of being witches during witchcraft trials at Salem in 1692 and were hanged - Rebecca was 71.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin who had family from Norwich. Picture: Archant Library Portrait of Benjamin Franklin who had family from Norwich. Picture: Archant Library

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Other stories include the 1st Earl of Arlington of Euston Hall, near Thetford, who was given proprietorship of the colony of Virginia from King Charles II, but never visited.

The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) which is believed to have been planted by Pocahontas. Picture: Chris Bishop The mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor (far right of building) which is believed to have been planted by Pocahontas. Picture: Chris Bishop

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Tradition asserts the Arlington National Cemetery, the United States military cemetery, takes its name from the Earl.

Mr Pugh’s next book will be entitled Troubles, Terror and Triumph The Tudor Saga in East Anglia. He has also written The Most Secret Place on Earth The story of the East Anglian Village of Elveden and the World’s First Tanks.

The book that revealed how East Anglia played a vital role in the First World War

The 74-year-old added: “I wish now I had started [writing] years before. I left it late in life and I have found I thoroughly enjoy it.”

The book is priced at £10 and is available from Amazon Books, Jarrold in Norwich, and the Elveden Courtyard.

Hethersett’s First Lady

Here are some of the other characters and their stories featured in Uncle Sam’s Roots in Eastern England,

Although Martha Washington was the first official First Lady as the wife of President George Washington, a young Norfolk can claim to be the first of America’s First Ladies.

Temperance Flowerdew, from Hethersett, married her first husband in 1609 and embarked for the New World.

In 1617 she became a widow and remarried that year to George Yeardly who was knighted by King James I and appointed the full governor of Virginia.

After his death in 1627 she retained her status by marrying his sucesssor Governor Francis West. She died nine months later.

MORE - The book that revealed how East Anglia played a vital role in the First World War

Franklin’s mother Abiah, was the daughter of Peter Foulger, who left Norwich for Massachusetts in 1635 where Abiah was born.

There is also the story of Legend has it the native American princess Pocahontas who is said to have visited Heacham 400 years ago, after she married a colonist who came from the Norfolk coastal village.

MORE - Remembering Mrs Rebecca Rolfe of Heacham... better known as Pocahontas

She is believed to have planted a mulberry tree in the grounds of Heacham Manor, her husband John Rolfe’s family home, when she visited in 1616.

MORE - Did Pocahontas plant this tree in grounds of Heacham Manor Hotel?

She is the centrepiece of the village sign, in a carving based on the most famous portrait of her.

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