For over a century, New Haven citizens had fought in the colonial militia alongside regular British forces, as in the French and Indian War.As the American Revolution approached, General David Wooster and other influential residents hoped that the conflict with the government in Britain could be resolved short of rebellion.It was their hope to set up a theological community with the government more closely linked to the church than the that in Massachusetts, and to exploit the area's excellent potential as a port.
Two of them, Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, fled to New Haven for refuge.
In 1637 a small party of Puritans reconnoitered the New Haven harbor area and wintered over.
In April 1638, the main party of five hundred Puritans who had left the Massachusetts Bay Colony under the leadership of the Reverend John Davenport and London merchant Theophilus Eaton sailed into the harbor.
Davenport arranged for them to hide in the West Rock hills northwest of the town.
Later a third judge, John Dixwell, joined the others.