The Land Called Nauset
As an English colonial settlement, the land that became Orleans had its roots in the Mayflower landing of 1620 and the establishment of Plymouth Colony. From the beginning of the settlement, the colonists that settled in Plymouth were concerned about the suitability of the location for the long-term sustainability of their town. The land was not ideal, being sandy and rocky, and the demand for land forced some colonists to leave and form new towns. Duxbury was the first of these, and they attracted such notables as Myles Standish, John Alden, and Elder William Brewster to leave. By 1643, Plymouth was still the largest town in the colony with 147 men aged sixteen to sixty, but seven other settlements had grown sufficiently to be called towns.
In 1644, serious consideration was given to moving the Town of Plymouth altogether. Dissatisfaction with the location continued, with Governor Bradford writing of “the straightness and barrenness of the land” and commenting on the desire of many of the colonists to find a better location. Meetings were held, and attention was given to Nauset at the elbow of Cape Cod, one of the three areas that had been reserved to the purchasers. A committee, led by past and future governor Thomas Prence, was sent to Nauset to evaluate the possibility of moving the town of Plymouth there.