Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Winthrop, John (1606-1676)

WINTHROP, JOHN, the younger (1606–1676), governor of Connecticut, the eldest son of John Winthrop [q. v.], governor of Massachusetts, by his first wife, was born at Groton Manor, Suffolk, on 12 Feb. 1605–6. He was educated at the grammar school, Bury St. Edmunds, and was admitted a student at Trinity College, Dublin, but his name does not appear upon the roll of graduates (which commences in 1591). In November 1624 he was admitted of the Inner Temple (List of Students Admitted, 1547–1660, p. 241), but he found the law little to his taste. In the summer of 1627 he joined the ill-fated expedition to the Isle of Rhé under the Duke of Buckingham. After this he travelled for some time in Italy and the Levant, and was at Constantinople in 1628. In November 1631 he joined his father in New England. In 1634 he was chosen one of the assistants, and held this office in 1635, in 1640 and 1641, and again from 1644 to 1649. In 1633 Winthrop took a leading part in the establishment of a new township at Agawam, afterwards called Ipswich. In the following year Lord Saye and Sele, Lord Brooke, Lord Rich, Richard Saltonstall, and eight other leading men of the puritan party, having obtained a large tract of land by a patent from Lord Warwick and the New England Company, dated 19 March 1631–2, established a settlement on the river Connecticut, and appointed Winthrop governor. But the projected settlement was little more than a factory protected by a fort, and when emigrants from Massachusetts founded the colony of Connecticut the earlier settlement was absorbed in it. It is not clear how long Winthrop's connection with the settlement lasted, but it was evidently at an end in 1639, since the patentees had another agent acting for them; nor does Winthrop seem to have lived there. In 1641 Winthrop was in England. Two years later he started ironworks in Connecticut, which, however, came to nothing. In 1646 he began planting at Pequot (afterwards known as New London), and he moved his principal residence thither in 1650. In 1651 he was chosen one of the magistrates of Connecticut. In 1659 Winthrop was elected deputy-governor of Connecticut, and in the following year governor, a post which he retained till his death in 1676; his salary was fixed in 1671 at 150l. per annum. In 1662 Winthrop came to England bearing with him a loyal address from the government of Connecticut to the king, and a petition for a charter. Winthrop made himself acceptable at court. His taste for natural science secured his nomination as a fellow of the Royal Society (August 1662), and brought him into contact with influential men, and to this was largely due his success in obtaining a favourable charter (sealed on 10 May 1662) for Connecticut. He was also able to secure the incorporation of Newhaven with Connecticut. He contributed two papers to the ‘Philosophical Transactions’—one on ‘Some Natural Curiosities from New England’ (v. 1151), and a second on ‘The Description, Culture, and Use of Maize’ (xii. 1065). At the close of 1675 he went to Boston as one of the commissioners of the united colonies of New England.

Winthrop died on 5 April 1676 at Boston, where he was buried in the same tomb with his father. He married, on 8 Feb. 1631, his first cousin, Martha Fones. She died in 1634, and he married, in 1635, while in England, Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Read of Wickford, Essex, a colonel in the parliamentary army. By his first wife he had no children; by his second wife (she died at Hartford, Connecticut, on 24 Nov. 1672) he had two sons and five daughters. The eldest son, Fitz John, born on 14 March 1638, served under Monck in Scotland, but returned to New England and was governor of Connecticut from 1698 till his death in 1707. The other son, Waitstill, born on 27 Feb. 1641–2, returned to Massachusetts, and became chief justice of that colony. He died at Boston on 7 Nov. 1717. Much of the correspondence between John Winthrop the younger and his two sons is published in the ‘Massachusetts Historical Collection,’ 4th ser. vols. vi. and vii., 5th ser. vol. viii. A portrait is in the gallery of the Massachusetts Historical Society; it is reproduced in ‘Winthrop Papers’ (vol. vi.), in Bowen's ‘Boundary Disputes of Connecticut,’ in Winsor's ‘History’ (iii. 331), and elsewhere.

[Massachusetts Hist. Soc. Collections (esp. 3rd ser. vols. ix. and x.); Winthrop's Hist. of New England; Life and Letters of John Winthrop by Robert C. Winthrop; Benjamin Trumbull's Hist. of Connecticut, 1797, i. 363; J. H. Trumbull's Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, 1850–2, vols. i. and ii.; Palfrey's Hist. of New England; Evidences of the Winthrops of Groton, 1896, p. 27; Thomson's Hist. of the Royal Soc.; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19156, f. 24.]

J. A. D.