David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 73 (footnotes omitted):
The provinces of Connecticut and Plymouth also forbade any single person to "live of himself."
These laws were enforced. In 1668 the court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, systematically searched its towns for single persons and placed them in families. In 1672 the Essex County Court noted:
Being informed that John Littleale of Haverill lay in a house by himself contrary to the law of the country, whereby he is subject to much sin and iniquity, which ordinarily are the companions and consequences of a solitary life, it was ordered...he remove and settle himself in some orderly family in the town, and be subject to the orderly rules of family government.One stubborn loner, John Littleale, was given six weeks to comply, on pain of being sent to "settle himself" in the House of Correction.
This custom was not invented in New England. It had long been practiced in East Anglia. From as early as 1562 to the mid-seventeenth century, The High Constables' Sessions and Quarter Courts of Essex County in England had taken similar action against "single men," "bachelors," and "masterless men."