The Puritans were a religious group that developed in England. They were Calvinists who disagreed with some of the more Catholic elements retained in the Church of England, and they desired a more "pure" church (hence the name Puritan). The British government frequently persecuted them because of this. They were more successful during the English Republic, when many of them had high government positions, including Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector.
Many of the Puritans emigrated from England to the British colonies in the New England area of what today is the United States, in the 15th and 17th century. They left England in order to be able to practice their religion without interference from their persecutors. For the first few centuries of these colonies' existence, their population was primarily Puritan, and Puritanism was the state religion. After that, however, Puritanism declined, especially with the separation of church from state around the time in this region, and later with the rise of Unitarianism and the Transcendentalist movement. Today there are no Puritans as such left, though many other churches in the United States today hold somewhat similar views.
Some historic Puritan persons include: