Some people sling around the word “Puritan” as a shorthand for a prude who is anti-sex. I think the Puritans themselves would find this ironic. Finding Paradise (by Allison Lockwood, published by the Daily Hampshire Gazette, p. 12-13) tells us,
Many [Northampton] Puritan couples were prolific. Elder John Strong fathered 17 children; one of his sons, Thomas, fathered 15; another, Jedediah, fathered 12; yet another, Samuel, also fathered 12; and his grandson, Jonathan, fathered 17. Isaac Sheldon fathered 15 children; David Burt, 13; Medad Pomeroy, 13; and John Clark and John King, 12 each. Within the first 10 years of Northampton’s existence, 330 children were born to 25 couples.
Since the Puritans had no access to modern reproductive technologies, we must conclude they produced their children the old-fashioned way.
In today’s Northampton (2000 census), the average household size is 2.14 people. The population is 28,978. In 1980, the population was 29,286, so Northampton actually shrank a little during that time. I would venture that Northampton was as culturally “unrepressed” during 1980-2000 as it has ever been.
This is not to say that the Puritan lifestyle was all good, or that the only purpose of sex is to have children, but that the issues merit more thoughtful consideration than they’ve been getting from some people.