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John Davenport

John Davenport

English Puritan clergyman and author John Davenport (1597-1670) founded the New Haven colony in America and was its theological ruler for its first 30 years.

Of a distinguished English family, John Davenport was the fifth son of the mayor of Coventry. He attended the free grammar school at Coventry, then entered Oxford but had to withdraw for lack of money. Made vicar of St. Stephen's in London when he was 19, he became widely known as a pulpit orator. He returned to Oxford to take a bachelor of divinity degree. All this time he seems to have remained loyal to the Church of England, although he knew members of the Puritan party. Prior to his election to St. Stephen's he had written letters professing his conformity in order to allay suspicion and silence his opposition.

Davenport's Nonconformism evidently developed gradually. In 1629 he was one of the group actively working for a charter for the America-bound Massachusetts Bay Company, and he was a friend of John Cotton. Davenport's was a strictly orthodox Puritanism; in Holland (as later in New England) he opposed the baptism of the children of the unregenerate. His views brought him into conflict with the Dutch Classis, and he was denied the right to preach. Thus, on John Cotton's invitation, Davenport sailed for Boston in 1637, with his wife and his lifelong friend, the merchant Theophilus Eaton. In Boston, Davenport took part in the Antinomain crisis, which involved Anne Hutchinson's heretical idea of "grace." He founded the colony of New Haven in 1638 and became its pastor, while Theophilus Eaton became its governor.

Devoted to the life of the colony, Davenport also authored many tracts, including The Knowledge of Christ (1653) and The Saints Anchor-hold in All Storms and Tempests (1701). In A Discourse about Civil Government in a New Plantation Whose Design Is Religion (1633) he defended theocracy, which he defined as making "the Lord God our Governor." Davenport's political and theological positions were expressed with the intensity of one who acts in constant expectation of the Messiah. He preached sermons in support of the regicide judges Edward Whalley and William Goffe, who fled to America and were said to have found refuge in his house.

Davenport opposed assimilating New Haven into the larger Connecticut colony. When efforts against this union failed, Davenport in 1667, feeling Christ's interests "miserably lost," accepted the pastorate of the First Church in Boston. He died in Boston on May 30, 1670.

Further Reading

Letters of John Davenport, Puritan Divine, edited by Isabel MacBeath Calder, was published in 1937. For information on Davenport see A. W. M'Clure, The Lives of John Wilson, John Norton, and John Davenport (1846), and Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: or, The Ecclesiastical History ofNew-England (1702; rev. ed., 2 vols., 1853-1855; repr. 1967). Robert G. Pope, The Half-way Covenant: Church Membership in Puritan New England (1969), includes an extensive chapter on Davenport. He is also discussed in Perry Miller, The New England Mind: From Colony to Province (1953). □

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Davenport, John 1960-

DAVENPORT, John 1960-


Born November 2, 1960, in San Francisco, CA; son of Eugene (a car salesman) and Rose (a secretary; maiden name, Kendziorski) Davenport; married Jennifer Locatelli (a preschool teacher), August 12, 1988; children: William, Andrew. Education: San Francisco State University, B.A., 1990; University of Connecticut, M.A., 1991, Ph.D., 1999. Hobbies and other interests: Archery, fishing.


Home 46 Hilltop Drive, San Carlos, CA 94070. E-mail


Social studies and language arts teacher at St. Raymond Elementary School, Menlo Park, CA, 1997-02, and Corte Madera Middle School, Portola Valley, CA, beginning 2002. Military service: U.S. Army, 1978-82.


American Historical Society, Society for History Education, National Council for the Social Studies.


Saladin, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2003.

The U.S.-Mexico Border: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

The Mason-Dixon Line, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

C. S. Lewis, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2004.

The Louisiana Territory, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2005.

Contributor to books, including Mark Stafford, W. E. B. Du Bois: Scholar and Activist, Chelsea House (Philadelphia, PA), 2004; Mary Lawler, Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist Leader, Chelsea House, 2004; and Terry Bisson, Nat Turner: Slave Revolt Leader, Chelsea House, 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of History and Retrospection.

Work in Progress

The Young Readers' Who, What, When, Where, How, and Why Book of the Holocaust.


John Davenport is a middle-school history teacher and the author of several educational books for young readers, including Saladin, The U.S.-Mexico Border: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo, and The Mason-Dixon Line, all of which focus on the history of North America. In addition, Davenport's biography C. S. Lewis sheds light on the life of the twentieth-century English author noted for penning the popular "Chronicles of Narnia." The author's overall goal in writing is to further educate today's youth by providing young people with a broader view of their place in the world and a sense of how they can impact the ever-forming history of tomorrow.

Davenport told Something about the Author: "I write in order to communicate to young people the joy and sorrow, the triumph and tragedy of human life. My hope is that my readers will come to appreciate, by examining the lives of other people at other times, the full richness of their own existence. I strive, moreover, to help my audience locate itself within the historical sweep of the larger society and culture they will someday inherit. Taken together, I work to give young people a better sense of themselves and their place in the world. This task, this challenge drives my pen through its strokes."

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Davenport, John

John Davenport, 1597–1670, Puritan clergyman, one of the founders of New Haven, Conn., b. Coventry, England, educated at Merton and Magdalen colleges, Oxford. Starting as a Church of England cleric, Davenport turned more and more to nonconformity. As pastor of an influential London parish he fostered the Puritan cause and in 1633 had to flee to Holland. There he also got into theological troubles, and, after returning to England, he and Theophilus Eaton headed a party of Puritan colonists who sailed (1637) to New England. In 1638, Davenport led the colonists to a spot chosen by Eaton, and New Haven colony was founded. Davenport was minister in New Haven and a powerful figure in the colony until he lost (1665) the bitter fight to prevent the union of New Haven colony and Connecticut. In 1667 he accepted the call to the First Church in Boston, where new theological disputes caused many of his congregation to secede and form the Third or Old South Church.

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