About 1563 AD, some people in England decided that they wanted to follow a way of life that they thought would be more according to what the Christian God wanted. They called themselves "the godly", but other people called them "Puritans."
A Puritan family about 1563
If they lived this way, Puritan people thought it would help them get into Heaven. Mainly these people wanted to live quiet, simple lives, spending a lot of their time praying, reading the Bible (which had just been translated into English), and listening to sermons. Puritans wore plain clothes and lived in plain houses. They went to church a lot (all day on Sundays and often on other days too). They thought that God wanted them to work very hard and be very serious. Puritans did not have parties. They did not listen to music, or dance. They did not celebrate holidays, not even Christmas or Easter.
Like other people who had different religious ideas from their neighbors - for example the Quakers - , the Puritans got into trouble in England. King Charles had some Puritans killed. So some of the Puritans decided to leave England and start a new town in North America. In 1630 AD, the first Puritans came to Massachusetts to start a colony there.
Puritans in the 1700s
These Puritans were mostly richer and more educated than the Pilgrims who had come to North America on the Mayflower. They established schools and colleges, including Harvard College. The poet Anne Bradstreet and the midwife Anne Hutchinson, for example, were among these educated Puritans. When Cromwell killed King Charles in 1649, Puritans could safely live in England again, and they mostly stopped moving to America. Today, we call the descendants of the Puritans Congregationalists or Presbyterians.
To find out more about the Puritans, check out these books from Amazon or from your local library: