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In 1661, the Regicides who had signed the death warrant of Charles I of England were pursued by Charles II.
Two of them, Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, fled to New Haven for refuge.
The city served as co-capital of Connecticut from 1701 until 1873, when sole governance was transferred to the more centrally located city of Hartford. New Haven had the first public tree planting program in America, producing a canopy of mature trees (including some large elms) that gave New Haven the nickname "The Elm City".
The Quinnipiacs, who were under attack by neighboring Pequots, sold their land to the settlers in return for protection.By 1640, "Qunnipiac's" theocratic government and nine-square grid plan were in place, and the town was renamed Newhaven.(However, the area to the north remained Quinnipiac until 1678, when it was renamed Hamden.) The settlement became the headquarters of the New Haven Colony, distinct from the Connecticut Colony previously established to the north centering on Hartford.Reflecting its theocratic roots, the New Haven Colony forbid the establishment of other churches, whereas the Connecticut Colony permitted them.Economic disaster struck Newhaven in 1646, when the town sent its first fully loaded ship of local goods back to England.