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Winthrop, John, Governor Of Massachusetts

WINTHROP, JOHN, GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS (1588-1649), a Puritan leader and governor of Massachusetts, was born in Edwardston, Suffolk, on the 1zth of January (O.S.) 1588, the son of Adam Winthrop of Groton Manor, and Anne (Browne) Winthrop. In December 1602 he matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge, but he did not graduate. The years after his brief course at the university were devoted to the practice of law, in which he achieved considerable success, being appointed, about 1623, an attorney in the Court of Wards and Liveries, and also being engaged in the drafting of parliamentary bills. Though his residence was at Groton Manor, much of his time was spent in London. Meanwhile he passed through the deep spiritual experiences characteristic of Puritanism, and made wide acquaintance among the leaders of the Puritan party. On the 26th of August 1629 he joined in the " Cambridge Agreement," by which he, and his associates, pledged themselves to remove to New England, provided the government and patent of the Massachusetts colony should be removed thither. On the aoth of October following he was chosen governor of the " Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England," and sailed in the " Arbella " in March 1630, reaching Salem (Mass.) on the 12th of June (O.S.), accompanied by a large party of Puritan immigrants. After a brief sojourn in Charlestown, Winthrop and many of his immediate associates settled in Boston in the autumn of 1630. He shared in the formation of a church at Charlestown (afterwards the First Church in Boston) on the 3oth of July 1630, of which he was thenceforth a member. At Boston he erected a large house, and there he lived till his death on the 26th of March (O.S.) 1649- Winthrop's history in New England was very largely that of the Massachusetts colony, of which he was twelve times chosen governor by annual election, serving in 1620-1634, 1637-1640, in 1642-1644, and in 1646-1649, and dying in office. To the service of the colony he gave not merely unwearied devotion; but in its interests consumed strength and fortune. His own temper of mind was conservative and somewhat aristocratic, but he guided political development, often under circumstances of great difficulty, with singular fairness and conspicuous magnanimity. In 1634-1635 he was a leader in putting the colony in a state of defence against possible coercion by the English government. He opposed the majority of his fellowtownsmen in the so-called " Antinomian controversy " of 1636- 1637, taking a strongly conservative attitude towards the questions in dispute. He was the first president of the Commissioners of the United Colonies of New England, organized in 1643. He defended Massachusetts against threatened parliamentary interference once more in 1645-1646. That the colony successfully weathered its early perils was due more to Winthrop's skill and wisdom than to the services of any other of its citizens.

Winthrop was four times married. His first wife, to whom he was united on the 16th of April 1605, was Mary Forth, daughter of John Forth, of Great Stambridge, Essex. She bore him six children, of whom the eldest was John Winthrop, Jr. (q.v.). She was buried in Groton on the 26th of June 1615. On the 6th of December 1615 he married Thomasine Clopton, daughter of William Clopton of Castleins, near Groton. She died in childbirth about a year later. He married, on the 29th of April 1618, Margaret Tyndal, daughter of Sir John Tyndal, of Great Maplested, Essex. She followed him to New Englar in 1631, bore him eight children, and died on the 14th of Jur 1647. Late in 1647 or early in 1648 he married Mrs Marti: Coytmore, widow of Thomas Coytmore, who survived him, an by whom he had one son.

Winthrop's Journal, an invaluable record of early Massachusett history, was printed in part in Hartford in 1790; the whole in Boston edited by James Savage, as The History of New England from 163 to 1640, in 1825-1826, and again in 1853; and in New York, edite by James K. Hosmer, in 1908. His biography has been written b Robert C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop (2 vols Boston, 1864, 1867; new ed. 1869); and by Joseph H. Twichel John Winthrop (New York, 1891). See also Mrs Alice M. Earh Margaret Winthrop (New York, 1895). (W. WR.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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