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John Winthrop

John Winthrop

John Winthrop (1588-1649) was an American colonial political leader and historian. He was a very effective governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and his journal constitutes an important historical record.

John Winthrop was the dominant figure in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His actions and ideas gave the Puritan colony much of its essential character. He had close dealings with other important Puritan leaders, such as John Cotton, minister of the church to which he belonged, and Roger Williams, with whom he disagreed.

Winthrop was born on Jan. 22, 1588, near the family seat at Groton in Suffolk County, England. He was the only son of a prosperous landowner, Adam Winthrop. After an education near home, John was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1602; he studied there less than two years. At the age of 17, by family arrangement, he was married to Mary Forth. Sometime during his early years Winthrop had a religious experience. He adopted a zealous Puritanism as a result, although he decided not to enter the ministry.

Winthrop's wife produced six children before she died in 1615. He remarried but his wife died a year later. In 1618 he married Margaret Tyndale, and their relationship is one of the most attractive in history. During these years Winthrop devoted himself to the tasks of a country landholder and also to the study of law; he was admitted to Gray's Inn in 1613 for legal studies. In 1617 he was made a justice of the peace in Suffolk, where he lived at Great Stambridge on dowry lands. In 1627 he was appointed attorney in the Court of Wards and Liveries. But Winthrop found several sources of dissatisfaction. The government's religious and political policies and his unprosperous personal circumstances led to a concern to provide for his sons.

Massachusetts Bay Colony

In 1629 Winthrop agreed to go to America with the Massachusetts Bay Company, and in October, after a decision had been reached to put the government of the colony in the hands of resident leaders, he was elected governor. He was involved in all of the elaborate financial arrangements and preparation of supplies, and in April 1630 he sailed on the Arbella, one of the four ships that brought 400 Puritan men, women, and children to America. Under his direction the colonists settled in the area around the Charles River. Despite courageous and able leadership, 200 colonists died during the first winter, and 80 returned home in the spring. Among the earliest deaths was that of Winthrop's son Henry. Because of the discouragement that resulted among the colony's backers, Winthrop was obliged to invest increasing amounts of his money to provide supplies. The rest of his family did not arrive until the fall of 1631, by which time the colony was solidly established.

Winthrop provided a rationale for the colony in a sermon, "A Model of Christian Charity," which he delivered on the Arbella. Here he argued for the creation of a community covenanted with God, and "a due form of government civil and ecclesiastical." The colony was to be "as a city upon a hill" for all to observe. The key provision was that full citizenship in the colony was to be available only to church members. The churches first established adopted a congregational polity, and thenceforth only congregational churches were permitted. The government took great authority unto itself, though it was based on a principle of representative government. Though in 1634 the citizens elected Thomas Dudley as the colony's governor, Winthrop continued to be the most influential man in the colony.

In 1630 Winthrop had begun keeping a diary, which he continued to the year of his death. It is a dry, cold, and impersonal document in style, but it is of immense interest because of its contents. He referred to it as a journal, though it has been called The History of New England. In it he reports nearly all important events of the day; he also offers profound insights into the essential nature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Religious Controversies

Among the problems that Winthrop and the colony had to deal with was the highly individualistic Roger Williams. The separatist religious tendencies that Williams had demonstrated in Salem (he urged the church there to renounce the other churches of the colony) led to his being banished. But Winthrop, who recognized that Williams's views were potentially destructive to the colony he had helped create, also recognized the virtues of the man and maintained a friendship with him.

Winthrop was much less sympathetic to another member of the church in Boston, Anne Hutchinson. She had arrived in Massachusetts in 1634 to enjoy the preaching of the Reverend John Cotton, whom she had admired in England. As early as 1636 Winthrop began to record a list of the theological errors that she was teaching in weekly meetings. Her fundamental teaching was that "the person of the Holy Ghost dwells in a justified person," in a person called to eternal salvation, and that the presence of the indwelling spirit, not good works, was the evidence that one was of the elect. This antinomianism undercut the Puritan emphasis on the Bible as interpreted by learned ministers, and Mrs. Hutchinson went so far as to declare that only two ministers in the colony, Cotton and John Wheelwright, were among the elect.

At this time, 1636, Winthrop was not governor; the man who held the post was Henry Vane, also a member of Cotton's church and an admirer of Mrs. Hutchinson. Many of the other members of the church also admired her, but she and her views were much less popular outside Boston. Eventually Winthrop was reelected governor, replacing Vane, and Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson were banished. Though Winthrop had been in the minority in his church, his position once more triumphed. In both the Williams episode and the antinomian controversy Winthrop's role was to create unity within the colony, unity necessary for survival.

Winthrop's governorship was intermittent (he served 1630-1633, 1637-1639, 1642, 1646-1648). The General Court recognized his services in 1637 by granting him substantial acreage in Concord. Unfortunately his incapable overseer brought Winthrop deeply into debt. When he put up his Boston house and much of his land for sale, the colony gave him gifts of land and money.

Political Spokesman

The Puritan Revolution in England in the early 1640s led many American colonists to feel a sense of responsibility to their mother country. Some of Winthrop's friends urged his return. But Winthrop felt that it was his duty to remain in Massachusetts. When Dr. Robert Child announced that he was asking Parliament to reduce the colony's independence and abolish the right to limit the vote to church members, Child was promptly fined for contempt, and Winthrop announced that the colony recognized no appeal to higher authority.

One of Winthrop's most important roles in the life of the colony was his spokesmanship for its political position; he sometimes created public policy as well. In July 1645 he delivered a speech to the General Court in which he defined two kinds of liberty: natural (liberty to do as one wishes, "evil as well as good," a liberty that should be restrained) and civil (liberty to do good). It is only the latter, according to Winthrop, that is "the proper end and object of authority." In other words, it is the duty of government to stop corruption and to promote justice, not to promote the general welfare.

Winthrop died on March 26, 1649. Although circumstances in time changed the nature of the colony, many of the features of the New England way he had established remained. He more than anyone else gave the colony its distinctive character, and he was largely responsible for the flourishing state of its 15,000 inhabitants at the time of his death. Of his several children, the most notable was John, who became governor of the colony of Connecticut.

Further Reading

The best edition of Winthrop's journal, The History of New England, 1630-1649, is that of James Savage (2 vols., 1825-1826; rev. ed. 1853). The Massachusetts Historical Society's Winthrop Papers (5 vols., 1929-1947) is also of great value. Other important sources are Robert C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop (1864-1867), and the splendid biography by Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (1958). A valuable discussion of Winthrop in relation to Boston's growth is Darrett B. Rutman, Winthrop's Boston: A Portrait of a Puritan Town, 1630-1649 (1965). □

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Winthrop, John

WINTHROP, JOHN

(b. Boston, Massachusetts, 19 December 1714; d, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 3 May 1779)

astronomy, mathematics.

One of sixteen children of Adam Winthrop and Anne Wainwright. John Winthrop was born into a New England family that was already famous both politically and scientifically. His great-granduncle and namesake, the son of Winthrop the elder, who immigrated to Massachusetts in 1630, was a founding member of the Royal Society of London, and governor of Connecticut from 1660 until his death in 1676. He was a notable administrator of the new settlements and a practical student of chemistry. It is interesting to note that one of his communications to the Royal Society concerned a fifth satellite of Jupiter. Here he anticipated his descendant’s far more extensive astronomical studies.

Winthrop attended the Boston Latin School and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1732. For the next six years he lived at home and studied privately to such effect that in 1738, at the age of twenty-four, he was appointed the second Hollis professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Harvard, succeeding Isaac Greenwood. His duties included giving illustrated public lectures and taking charge of the considerable collection of philosophical instruments in Harvard Hall, used for demonstrations.

During his long tenure of the Hollis chair, which ceased only with his death, Winthrop established the first experimental physics laboratory in America; taught the laws of mechanics, optics, and astronomy according to Newton’s principles; and introduced into the mathematics curriculum the study of the calculus. Perhaps his most important work for Harvard followed the disastrous fire that destroyed Harvard Hall on the night of 24 January 1764. The fire gutted the last of Harvard’s original buildings and wiped out the valuable collection of scientific instruments. It fell to Winthrop to arrange for the replacement of the collection, which he was well equipped to do, both because of his scientific knowledge and because of his family connections and many friends on both sides of the Atlantic. The most active and influential of these friends was Franklin, who knew many of the finest instrument makers in London. The first orders for new apparatus went to London in June 1764, and over the next few years, instruments bearing such names as John Ellicott, Jeremiah Sisson, James Short, Peter Dollond, Benjamin Martin, Edward Nairne, and George Adams were dispatched to Harvard. The two major shipments were valued together at about £540. Among the instruments were two telescopes produced by Short. Winthrop himself owned a telescope by Short (made ca. 1755), which appears in the portrait of him painted by John Singleton Copley about 1773.

After 1739 Winthrop carried out many astronomical observations, the majority of which were reported in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. He observed the transits of Mercury in 1740, 1743, and again in 1769; and he used his observations to help determine the difference in longitude between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Greenwich, England. In April 1759 he delivered lectures on the return of Halley’s comet of 1682. Perhaps his most important astronomical work was concerned with the two transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769, which engaged astronomers all over the world. For the 1761 transit Winthrop organized an expedition from Harvard to St. John’s, Newfoundland, which provided the material for one of his most important papers. In 1769 he published the results of further work in Two Lectures on the Parallax and Distance of the Sun, as Deducible From the Transit of Venus. Winthrop was also interested in magnetism and meteorology, and carried out systematic observations over a period of twenty years, reporting in 1756 on the effects of the severe earthquake in New England.

A number of honors were awarded to Winthrop in his later years. On 27 June 1765 he was proposed as a fellow of the Royal Society at the instigation of Franklin; Short was another of his supporters. Winthrop must have been closely associated with both men at this time, over replacement instruments for his college, and in work on the transits of Venus. Not only did Short make telescopes for observatories throughout the world, but he was also closely concerned with the Royal Society’s plans for observing the phenomena. Winthrop’s election was delayed until February 1766, when the ballot finally took place. Franklin signed a bond for his contributions, and the Harvard records show that his fees, not exceeding fifty-two shillings, were paid out of the treasury of the society in return for his placing a volume of the Philosophical Transactions annually in the library. In 1769 Winthrop became a member of the American Philosophical Society. He received the honorary degrees of L.L.D. from the University of Edinburgh and from Harvard in 1771 and 1773, respectively.

Winthrop’s first wife, whom he married in 1746, was Rebecca Townsend; and three years after her death in 1756, he married Hannah Fayerweather, a widow, who survived him. Winthrop was an ardent patriot, and a friend and adviser of George Washington. His career maintained the family tradition of public service allied with learning.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Winthrop’s works include “Concerning the Transit of Mercury Over the Sun, April 21, 1740 and of an Eclipse of the Moon Dec. 21, 1740,” in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society,42 (1742–1743), 572–578; “An Account of the Earthquake Felt in New England, and the Neighbouring Parts of America, on the 18th of November 1755,” ibid.,50 (1757–1758), 1–18; “An Account of a Meteor Seen in New England, and of a Whirlwind Felt in That Country,” ibid.,52 (1761–1762), 6–16; “An Account of Several Fiery Meteors Seen in North America,” ibid.,54 (1764), 185–188; “Extract of a Letter . . . to James Short,” ibid., 277–278, on longitude and the equation of time; “Observations on the Transit of Venus, June 6, 1761, at St. John’s, Newfoundland,” ibid., 279–283; “Cogitata de Cometis,” ibid.,57 (1767), 132–154; “Observations of the Transit of Venus Over the Sun, June 3, 1769,” ibid.,59 (1769), 351–358; “Observations of the Transit of Mercury Over the Sun, October 25, 1743,” ibid., 505–506; “Extract of a Letter . . . to B. Franklin,” ibid.,60 (1770), 358–362, on the transit of Venus and the aberration of light; “Observations of the Transit of Mercury Over the Sun, November 9th 1769,” ibid.,61 (1771), 51–52; and “Remarks Upon a Passage in Castillione’s Life of Sir Isaac Newton,” ibid.,64 (1774), 153–157.

Some of the material in the above papers was published separately including Relation of a Voyage From Boston to Newfoundland for the Observation of the Transit of Venus, June 6, 1761 (Boston, 1761); and Two Lectures on the Parallax and Distance of the Sun, as Deducible From the Transit of Venus, Read in Holden-Chapel at Harvard-College in Cambridge, New England, in March 1769 (Boston, 1769).

II. Secondary Literature. On Winthrop and his work, see I. Bernard Cohen, Some Early Tools of American Science. An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass., 1950), passim (225 ff.): Raymond Phineas Stearns, “Colonial Fellows of the Royal Society of London, 1661–1788,” in Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London,8 (1951), 178–246; Raymond Phineas Stearns, Science in the British Colonies of America (Urbana, Ill., 1970), esp. 642–670; G. L’E. Turner, “The Apparatus of Science,” in History of Science,9 (1970), 129–138, an essay review of David P. Wheatland, The Apparatus of Science at Harvard 1766–1800. Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass., 1968), written with Barbara Carson; and Dictionary of American Biography, X, pp. 414–416.

G. L’E. Turner

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Winthrop, John (1588-1649)

John Winthrop (1588-1649)

Governor of massachusetts bay

Sources

Youth. John Winthrop was born to privilege as a member of the English gentry. His grandfather had benefited from Henry VIIIs confiscation of Roman Catholic monasteries by buying Bury Saint Edmunds in Groton, Suffolk. Johns father, Adam Winthrop, was also a shrewd businessman, and in addition to his Groton estate he rented and bought lands close by and grew cash crops that he sold to nearby London. He was trained in the law although he did not have a legal practice; presumably he dispensed justice on his estate. Adams second wife, Johns mother, was Anne Browne, the daughter of a wealthy merchant. John was Adams only son, so he knew that the manor at Groton would one day be his. His education befitted his station. His first years were spent under the tutelage of a local minister, but he was being groomed for Cambridge University, where his father had gone and was auditor for Trinity and Saint Johns Colleges. In 1603, at the age of fifteen, John entered college. He left within two years without a degree, but such was expected of a young gentleman such as himself. He also spent some time at Grays Inn, one of the famed Inns of Court where the elite studied law. Again he left without a degree. College had apparently been an unpleasant experience, For being there neglected, and despised, I went up and down mourning with myself.

Country Squire. Winthrop returned to Groton Manor at the age of seventeen and quickly made the arranged and advantageous marriage expected of a man of his estate. His wife was Mary Forth of Great Stambridge, Essex. He became a Puritan, and at the age of eighteen he was a father. Before his wife died in 1615 they had six children. He married Thomasine Clop ton within six months of Marys death, but she lived only another year. Winthrop married for a third time in 1618 when he was thirty years old. His new wife, with whom he lived for almost thirty years, was Margaret Tyndal, daughter of Sir John Tyndal of Much Malstead, Essex. Margaret shared his religious convictions. The couple lived first at Groton and then on the lands in Essex that she had brought him as a dowry. At both places Winthrop learned through hands-on practice how to manage large estates. By 1617 he was a justice of the peace and began a more serious study of the law since as lord of Groton Manor he would hold manorial court for his tenants. Winthrop was thus on his way to living his life as a pious but nonetheless provincial country squire when larger events brought Puritanism to the center of his life and took him far from Groton.

Difficult Times. Both religiously and economically the England of the 1620s was heading for trouble. Since Henry VIIIs break with Rome, Protestants in England had wanted further reforms in the church. Queen Elizabeth had followed in her fathers footsteps. James I, Elizabeths successor, lacked her strength and political skills. He disliked Puritans, seeing them as a threat to the church and to the Crown. Puritans predicted the ruin of England. Economic problems seemed to bear out their dire warnings as textiles, Englands major industry, suffered a depression that rippled through the entire economy. Suffolk, where Groton Manor lay, was hit especially hard, and Winthrop saw his own finances decline. To make matters worse his family was growing. Four of his six children from his first marriage had survived, and the oldest, John Jr., came of age in 1627. Winthrop already had three sons from his third marriage, and more children would come. In 1627 his connections rewarded him with an appointment as attorney in His Majestys Court of Wards and Liveriesthe board that controlled the estates of orphaned children until they came of legal age. This job took him away from his wife and family and also let him see governmental corruption firsthand. In 1625 Charles I replaced his father, James I. Charles was not only more rigid and less tolerant of both Puritans and Parliament but also married to a Roman Catholic. Charles accepted a new direction for the Church of England that promoted good works as a means of salvation. Puritans were horrified since they believed that human beings could not affect their future and God had predestined who was saved and who was damned. It seemed to them as though England were headed straight down the path to ruin. Puritans began to look for a place where a saving remnant might keep faith with both God and human beings. They looked toward America.

New England. Winthrop was not among the earliest promoters of the Massachusetts Bay Company, but once it was clear that the charter did not have to remain in England and that any colony the company founded would be self-governing, he joined and quickly became one of its leaders. In August 1629 Winthrop pledged to move his whole family to Massachusetts. In October he was chosen governor of the company and took charge of organizing the fleet that would sail. To help underwrite it he sold Groton Manor. Leaving most of his family behind to come in 1631, he sailed with the first settlers aboard the Arbella and while on ship delivered one of the most famous sermons in American history, A Modell of Christian Chanty, in which he likened their new enterprise to a Citty upon a Hill, with the eyes of the world upon them. For Winthrop it was a holy errand, and this sense of providential responsibility would allow him to lead others through hard times. It would also make him a fanatic who lost sight of human needs and tolerated few other opinions.

Colonial Leadership. Winthrop arrived in America as governor of the new colony, and he remained so for four years. The first order of business was how to organize the colony religiously. The decision that each congregation establish itself and call its own minister (Congregationalism) set the stage for what would become an unwanted religious diversity. Winthrop also established the colonys government, keeping power in his own hands with the aid of a few assistants. He gave little authority to those men called freemen who sat as a general assembly. In 1634 the freemen challenged Winthrop to show them the companys charter and saw that they had been granted more power than he had allowed them. They formed a representative assembly, elected men from each town, and voted Winthrop out of office. During the next three years Massachusetts was racked by religious controversy. In 1637 the colony turned to Winthrop and elected him governor again. Three years later he was replaced only to be elected again in 1642, demoted to deputy-governor in 16441645, and elected governor again from 1646 to his death at age sixty-one. His wife Margaret had died in 1647, and he quickly married a fourth time. Within a year Martha Coytmore Winthrop had borne him a son, his sixteenth child. John Winthrop died in 1649, the same year that Charles I was beheaded. His colony had survived, but he was a member of an older generation, schooled in the religious persecution of pre-Civil War England. Massachusetts would outgrow the narrow authoritarianism that Winthrop brought to America and that had been useful in the precarious first years of its founding.

Sources

Richard S. Dunn, Puritans and Yankees: The Winthrop Dynasty of New England 16301717 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1962);

Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston: Little, Brown, 1958).

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Winthrop, John

WINTHROP, JOHN

(b. Groton, Suffolk, England, 12 February 1606; d. Boston, Massachusetts, 5 April 1676)

natural philosophy, medicine.

Winthrop, who has frequently been called John Winthrop, Jr., by historians to distinguish him from his father, was the son of John Winthorp and Mary Forth. Born into the Puritan landed gentry, he studied for two years at Trinity college, Dublin read law at the Inner Temple, and toured Europe, In 1631 he married his cousin Martha Fones and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, following his father, who had been chosen governor of the Puritan company.

Thereafter the younger winthrop held various colonial offices. culminating in a long tenure as governor of Connecticut. His first wife died in 1634, and he married Elizabeth Reade the following year. Winthrop’s moderate but fluctuating means gave him a certain degree of independence, and in his spare time he was able to undertake a wide range of scientific activities and to carry on an extensive correspondence with other investigators.

To meet the needs of New England’s settlers and in the hope of providing commodities for export, Winthrop frequently searched for mineral resources. He used processes familiar from reading and observation to produce iron, salt, indigo, saltpeter, and other substances, and he promoted the development of a graphite mine. With the exception of his infant iron and graphite industries, which eventually were brought to fruition by others, these efforts did not achieve lasting success.Nevertheless, Winthrop is widely recognized as one of the founders of American industrial chemistry

Winthrop’s was a devoted student of the Hermetic philosophy, which helped to form his early attitudes toward science. Little is known about his alchemical experiments, which began during hisresidence at the Inner Temple and continued, at least peripatetically, for a long while. Although there is no evidence that Winthrop ever claimed the alchemical secret, he had the reputation of an “adept.” Circumstantial evidence has involved him in the problem of the authorship of the treatises on the theory and practice of alchemy published underthe pseudonym “Eirenaeus Philalethes,” , even though George Starkey probably used Winthrop only as an inspiration for the American adept from whom he claimed to have obtained some of the manuscripts. Winthrop amassed a large collection of alchemical and other scientific books within a general library of considerable extent. Portions of it are in various repositories.

Winthrop’s medical records show that although he dispensed a wide variety of herbal preparations, he depended heavily on chemical medicines, especially antimonials and niter. At first his practice was limited to family and friends, but as word of his skill and willingness spread, he received medical requests from many parts of New England. Frequently his remedies were given free to the poor; and at his death Winthrop was undoubtedly New England’s foremost physician.

His astronomical observations were of little consequence, although in 1660 Winthrop was operating what was probably the first large telescope in the American colonies, a ten-foot refractor. Several years later he was using a smaller instrument, and in 1668 he was attempting to perfect a telescope with a focal length of eight or ten feet.

Winthrop’s letters reveal his interest in scientific phenomena as diverse as waterspouts and the metamorphosis of insects. During one of his voyages to England and Europe, he was admitted in 1662 to the group soon to be chartered as the RoyalSociety, and he was the first fellow resident in North America. While in London (1661–1663) he read papers on diverse subjects at the Society’s meetings and was a faithful correspondent after returning to New England. Several of his communications were printed in the Philosophical Transactions. Although Winthrop contributed little to the history of scientific thought, he was the first scientific investigator of note in British America.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Most of Winthrop’s scientific observations were reported in his correspondence, new being printed by the Massachusetts Historical Society as part of The Winthrop Papers (Boston, 1929– )Earlier selections of his letters are cited below. Cromwell Mortimer, secretary of the royal Society, asserted that Winthrop wrote “several learned Pieces . . . in Natural Philosophy; which indeed his innate Modesty would not suffer him to publish immediately, and when prevailed on by Friends to impart some of them to the Public, he concealed his Name, not being solicitous of the Reputation they might reflect on their Author” (PhilosophicalTransactions of the Royal Society,40 [1737–1738]). The only publications traditionally credited to Winthrop are excerpts from his letters in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society,5 (1670), 1151–1153; and 6 (1671), 2221–2224; as well as a paper, “The Description, Culture, and Use of Maiz,” ibid.,12 (1678), 1065–1069, presented to the Royal Society in 1662.

II. Secondary Literature. The first extensive biography is Robert C. Black, The Younger John Winthrop (New York–London, 1966). The only full-length study of Winthrop’s scientific activities is Ronald S. Wilkinson. The Younger John Winthrop and Seventeenth-Century Science ([London], 1975). E. N. Hartley, Ironworks on the Saugus (Norman, Okla., 1957), examines his ironmaking endeavors. Among other specific modern studies are Ronald S. Wilkinson, “‘Hermes Christianus’: John Winthrop, Jr. and Chemical Medicine in Seventeenth Century New England,” in Allen Debus, ed., Science, Medicine and Society in the Renaissance:Essays to Honor Walter Pagel (New York, 1972), I, 221–241; John W. Streeter, “John Winthrop, Junior, and the Fifth Satellite of Jupiter,” in Isis,39 (1948), 159–163; supplemented by Ronald S. Wilkinson, “John Winthrop, Jr. and America’s First Telescopes,” in New England Quarterly,35 (1962), 520–523; and Ronald S. Wilkinson, “The Alchemical Library of John Winthrop, Jr. and His Descendants in Colonial America,” in Ambix,11 (1963), 33–51, and 13 (1966), 139–186.

Ronald S. Wilkinson

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Winthrop, John (1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony)

John Winthrop, 1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, b. Edwardstone, near Groton, Suffolk, England. Of a landowning family, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, came into a family fortune, and became a government administrator with strong Puritan leanings. A member of the Massachusetts Bay Company, he led the group that arranged for the removal of the company's government to New England and was chosen (1629) governor of the proposed colony. He arrived (1630) in the ship Arbella at Salem and shortly founded on Shawmut peninsula the settlement that became Boston. He was—with the possible exception of John Cotton—the most distinguished citizen of Massachusetts Bay colony, serving as governor some 12 times. He helped to shape the theocratic policy of the colony and opposed broad democracy. It was while he was deputy governor and Sir Henry Vane (1613–62) was governor that Winthrop bitterly and successfully opposed the antinomian beliefs of Anne Hutchinson and her followers, who were supported by Vane. The force of his influence on the history of Massachusetts was enormous. Winthrop's journal, which was edited by J. K. Hosmer and published in 1908 as The History of New England from 1630 to 1649 is one of the most valuable of American historical sources.

See The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630–1649 (1996), abridged ed. by R. S. Dunn and L. Yeandle; R. C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop (2 vol., 1864–67; repr. 1971); Winthrop Papers (5 vol., 1929–47); biographies by J. H. Twichell (1892), E. S. Morgan (1958), G. R. Raymer (1963), and F. J. Bremer (2003); R. S. Dunn, Puritans and Yankees (1962, repr. 1971).

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"Winthrop, John (1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Winthrop, John (1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony)." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/winthrop-john-1588-1649-governor-massachusetts-bay-colony

Winthrop, John

Winthrop, John (1588–1649). Governor of Massachusetts. Of a prosperous Suffolk clothier's family, Winthrop went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and then studied law at Gray's Inn. Of strong puritan principles, he became increasingly disillusioned with the state of England—‘evil times are coming when the church must fly to the wilderness.’ In 1630 he left for America with a group of like-minded families, having been elected governor of the tiny colony of Massachusetts, which had then no more than 700 settlers. During the first summer he founded the settlement at Boston and some thousands of new settlers came in. Winthrop was governor until 1634, and then 1637–40, 1642–4, and 1645–9. He was involved in all the religious disputes of the day, gradually adopting a more austere line towards dissent. The journal which he kept from 1630 onwards is an important source for early colonial history.

J. A. Cannon

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