For Kids: Who came to the New World?
The leaders in 17th century England (the 1600s) did not want their best craftsmen and their best farmers to leave England. It was soon put about that the only people immigrating to the New World were the dregs of society, robbers, burglars, and other criminals, along with paupers, vagrants, and people running away from things. That's what the leaders in England kept saying.
There was some truth in this. Criminals, given the choice of death or immigration chose immigration. But, for the most part, those who chose to come to the New World were people with courage, who wanted a better life for themselves and their families. Most came from the middle class - shopkeepers, artisans, craftsmen, weavers, tailors, shoemakers, blacksmiths, and bakers. Unfortunately, most of these people knew very little about farming.
The successful farmers in England were reluctant to move. Some believed the tales put about by the 17th century leaders. But mostly, it was the loss of the privilege of "copyhold" that held them back.
Farmers knew if they gave up their "copyhold", the land their family had leased or owned in England, for hundreds of years in some cases, they could not get it back.
As well, because the 17th century leaders were not sharing information about conditions in the New World, the farmers had no idea if there would be enough fruits and vegetables growing wild or enough wildlife to feed their families, while they waited for their first crops to be harvested.
Things might have gone very badly for the middle class craftsmen who headed to the New World if nearly all the farmers had continued to stay in England. What changed things was several bad harvests in a row. That gave some farmers the incentive to immigrate to the New World.