Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stoughton, Israel

STOUGHTON, ISRAEL (d. 1645?), colonist, born in England, emigrated to Massachusetts early in 1630, where he and his companions founded the town of Dorchester, of which he was admitted a freeman on 5 Nov. 1633. He was chosen representative (probably, but not certainly) for Dorchester in the assemblies of 1634 and 1635. But in the latter year, when the colony was disturbed by the antinomian disputes, Stoughton wrote a book which, as it would seem, reflected on the constitution of the colony and was displeasing to the general court. The author somewhat strangely petitioned that the book might be ‘forthwith burnt, as being weak and offensive.’ No copy is known to exist. In spite of Stoughton's submission, he was declared incapable of holding office for three years. This sentence, however, was remitted in 1636, and Stoughton was chosen assistant in 1637. In the same year he was intrusted with the command of the Massachusetts force against the Pequot Indians, and discharged it with no great credit to himself either for soldiership or humanity. Stoughton was annually chosen as assistant till 1643, and in 1639 he, together with John Endecott [q. v.], acted as a commissioner on behalf of Massachusetts to settle a boundary dispute with Plymouth. He visited England towards the end of 1643 or the beginning of 1644, returned to America, and crossed again towards the end of 1644. He was then appointed a lieutenant-colonel in the parliamentary army, and soon after died at Lincoln.

William Stoughton (1630?–1701), son of the above, born probably in England about 1630, graduated B.A. at Harvard and was called to the ministry, but soon abandoned it for civil life. He came to England, was incorporated at New College, Oxford, on 28 April 1652, and, after being elected fellow of that society, graduated M.A. on 30 June 1653. After the Restoration he was ejected from New College, and, returning to America, was continuously elected assistant from 1671 to 1686. In 1684, however, and again in 1686, he was so displeased with the general result of the election that he refused to qualify for office by taking the necessary oath. In the politics of his colony he was identified with the moderate party, whose general policy towards the crown was one of concession. In spite of this he seems to have retained the confidence of his fellow-colonists, as he was chosen one of the federal commissioners from 1673 to 1677, and again from 1680 to 1686. In 1677 he was appointed one of two agents to represent the colony in England in a boundary dispute with the proprietors of New Hampshire. In 1692 he was appointed lieutenant-governor under the new charter of Massachusetts, and held that office till his death. In the year of his appointment he presided over the court specially constituted for the trial of the Salem witches, and acted with great severity. He died unmarried at Dorchester, New England, on 7 July 1701. He was a liberal benefactor to Harvard University, founding a hall, called by his name, at a cost of 1,000l., and bequeathing twenty-seven acres of land.

[Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts; Palfrey's History of New England; Sewell's Diary in Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll. 5th ser. vol. vi.; Quincy's History of Harvard University; Hist. of Dorchester (Dorchester Ant. and Hist. Soc.), 1851–8; Collections of Dorchester Ant. and Hist. Soc.]

J. A. D.