The land on the western bank of the Connecticut River where Middletown now lies was home to the Mattabesett Native Americans (also spelled Mattabesec, Mattabeseck, and Mattabesek); the area they inhabitednow Middletown and the surrounding areawas named after them. At the time the first European settlers arrived in the region, the Mattabesetts were a part of the group of tribes in the Connecticut Valley, under a single chief named Sowheag. Plans for the colonial settlement of "Mattabesett" were drawn up by the General Court in 1646; the first Europeans arrived from nearby Connecticut colonies in 1650. Life was not easy among these early colonial Puritans; clearing the land and building homes, and tending farms in the rocky soil of New England was a labor-intensive ordeal. Law, too, was often harsh among the Puritans; offenses legally punishable by death in the Connecticut colonies included, "witchcraft, blasphemy, cursing or smiting of parents, and incorrigible stubbornness of children."