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Some Paternal Ancestors of Edwin Brown (“Big Doc”) KUGLER Sr

John Winthrop (1588–1749) [not an ancestor]1


John Winthrop



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John Winthrop was born in Edwardstone, West Suffolk, England, at Groton Manor, the estate of his father, Adam Winthrop. He was educated at the University of Cambridge, and trained for the law at Gray's Inn, in London. In 1623 he was appointed to the lucrative position of attorney in the Court of Wards and Liveries, as well as also being engaged in the drafting of parliamentary bills. Meanwhile he passed through the deep spiritual experiences characteristic of accepting Puritanism, and made wide acquaintance among the leaders of the Puritan party. He lost the Wards and Liveries post in 1629, probably because of his Puritan beliefs and associations. Later in 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Company in London selected him to govern its colony in New England. With more than 700 Puritan settlers, Winthrop sailed in March 1630, and, on June 12, landed at Salem, where a few settlers from the Massachusetts Bay Company already lived. Deeming the Salem site unsuitable for their settlement, they moved on to the Shawmut Peninsula. At first they lived in caves and rude shelters. Their village was declared to be a town in the fall of 1630 and was named for Boston, in Lincolnshire, England, the home town of Thomas Dudley, Winthrop‘s deputy, as well as many others among the colohists.2

The settlers would have starved had not a ship sent back to England arrived in February with more provisions. As it was, 200 died. When spring came, another 200 gave up and went back to England. Winthrop steadfastly led the remainder with his example of hard work and lack of complaint. In that first year, he almost singlehandedly fed his colony out of his own pocket, using money from the sale of his estate in England. Despite this difficult start, the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a great success and some 20,000 settlers came to New England in the next ten years. By the time of his death, Winthrop lived in a large house in Boston.

John Winthrop was elected governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony 12 times between 1630 and 1649, dying in office. His administrative ability and wisdom were in large part responsible for the early prosperity of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was renowned for his kindness, sagacity, and leadership. He required that the Native Americans be treated with dignity and respect. However, believing that a few learned and pious leaders could more effectively govern the colony, he opposed an unlimited democracy. For this reason, he concluded that the doctrines of the religious reformers Anne Hutchinson and the Reverend John Wheelwright threatened to subvert moral law. Winthrop presided over the court that found Hutchinson and Wheelwright guilty and banished them and their followers, including Thomas Pettit, from the colony.

Despite his part in such controversy, Winthrop was the driving force behind the continued success of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The very existence of Massachusetts was due to the courage, faith, and sacrifice of its governor. In 1643 he helped to organize the New England Confederation, of which he was the first president. This was an alliance of Massachusetts, Plymouth, New Haven (which was colonizing Long Island), and Connecticut for the purposes of mutual defense and other matters requiring cooperation between colonies.3 Winthrop’s journals, lost for a century, were rediscovered and finally published in 1825–26 as History of New England 1630–1649.

John Winthrop’s son, John Winthrop Jr (1606–1676) was born in Groton, England, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He joined his father in Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1631, and in 1646 he founded New London, in the Connecticut Colony. From 1657 until his death, Winthrop served almost without interruption as governor of that colony.4

Notes

1 “Winthrop, John (1588–1649)”, Encarta (1998); Winthrop (ws).

2 “Boston (History)”, Encarta (1998); Lovested (ws).

3 New England Confederation 1 (ws); New England Confederation 2 (ws); New England Confederation 3 (ws); New England Confederation 4 (ws).

4 “Winthrop, John (1606–1676)”, Encarta (1998).

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