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Born:January 22, 1588England...(Show more)Died:April 5, 1649 (aged 61)BostonMassachusetts...(Show more)

John Winthrop, (born January 22 , 1588, Edwardstone, Suffolk, England—died April 5 , 1649, Boston, Massachusetts Bay swarm ), first governor that the Massachusetts only Colony, the chef figure amongst the Puritan founders of new England.

Background and also early life

Winthrop’s father to be a recently risen nation gentleman who 500-acre (200-hectare) estate, Groton Manor, had been bought from Henry VIII at the time of the Reformation. Winthrop for this reason belonged come a class—the gentry—that came to be the leading force in English society between 1540 and 1640, and also he early assumed the habit the command proper to a member that the ruling course in a highly stratified society.


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At age 15 he gone into Trinity College, Cambridge. At period 17 that married the an initial of his 4 wives—Mary Forth, daughter of an Essex squire—and the following year the an initial of his 16 children was born. Like numerous members of his class, Winthrop learned law, served as justice of the peace, and also obtained a government office; native 1627 come 1629 he to be an attorney at the Court that Wards and Liveries. For much more than twenty years Winthrop was mainly a nation squire in ~ Groton, v no discernible attention in overseas colonization.

He was an ardently spiritual person. From his early on teens Winthrop threw himself right into scriptural study and also prayers, and gradually the trained himself into a full-fledged Puritan, persuaded that God had chosen him to salvation—or, in Puritan terms, to “sainthood.” His religious experience reinforced his elitist outlook, yet it additionally made him a social activist. Favor other significant Puritans, Winthrop specialized himself come remaking, as far as possible, the wicked people as he observed it, arguing that “the life which is most exercised with tryalls and temptations is the sweetest, and will prove the safeste.”


During the late 1620s, Winthrop felt progressively trapped by the economic slump that decreased his landing income and by Charles I’s belligerent anti-Puritan policy, which cost him his court write-up in 1629. When, in 1629, the Massachusetts Bay firm obtained a royal charter to tree a swarm in brand-new England, Winthrop joined the company, pledging to sell his English estate and take his family to Massachusetts if the company government and charter were additionally transferred to America. The various other members i agreeed to this terms and elected him branch (October 20).

Journey to America

As Winthrop sailed west top top the Arbella in the spring of 1630, he composed a place sermon, “A Modell that Christian Charity,” in which that pictured the Massachusetts colonists in agreement with God and also with every other, divinely ordained to develop “a Citty top top a Hill” in brand-new England, through “the eyes of every people” on them:

If we transaction falsely v our God in this occupational we have undertaken and so reason Him to withdraw His present assist from us, we shall it is in made a story and also a byword throughout the world; we shall open up the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the means of God and also all believers in God; we shall shame the faces of countless of oh my god worthy servants and also cause your prayers to it is in turned right into curses ~ above us, till us are required out of the new land whereby we are going.

Some doubters have seen Winthrop together a visionary utopian while others have seen him together a social reactionary, yet most clearly he was urging his fellow homesteaders to adopt the mix of group discipline and individual duty that gave Massachusetts such immediate and lasting success as a society experiment.

For the remaining 19 years of his life, Winthrop stayed in the new England wilderness, a dad figure amongst the colonists. In the yearly Massachusetts elections the was favored governor 12 times in between 1631 and also 1648, and also during the intervening year he satellite on the court of aides or nest council. His American job passed through three distinctive phases. On an initial arrival, in the beforehand 1630s, the did his most an imaginative work, guiding the colonists as they laid the end a network of tightly organized towns, each through its church of self-professed saints. Winthrop himself cleared up at Boston, which quickly came to be the capital and also chief harbor of Massachusetts. His new farm top top the Mystic flow was lot inferior come his previous estate in ~ Groton, however Winthrop never regretted the move, because he was complimentary at critical to construct a godly commonwealth.

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Opposition versus him gathered after a couple of years, however, together dissidents kept complicated Winthrop’s system in the mid- and also late 1630s. He was nettled when the freemen (voters) insisted in 1634 ~ above electing a representative assembly to share in decision making. He discovered Roger Williams’s criticism of church-state relations intolerable, despite he secretly assisted Williams to flee come Rhode Island in 1636. And he took it as a an individual affront as soon as numerous homesteaders chose to move from Massachusetts to Connecticut.