Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Winthrop Family (Pierce Line)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

A Happy Sunday to everyone. The Fortress received a dusting of snow overnight. The valley below is frosted with white crowned with layers of gray clouds. The mountains opposite the lake are beautiful in their own way with this first real snowfall of the season.

We start this Thanksgiving Week by meeting our 13th Great Aunt Elizabeth Reade and her family. Elizabeth was the sister of our 12th Great Grandmother Margaret Reade Lake though the Pierce line. She is known today because of her husband, John Winthrop Jr., son of John Winthrop Senior.

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If you remember your American history, John Winthrop Sn. obtained a royal charter, along with other wealthy Puritans, from King Charles I for the Massachusetts Bay Company and led a group of English Puritans to the New World in 1630.He was elected the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony the year before.

We begin our story with additional information on our 13th Great Grandparents John Lake and Margaret Reade Lake.

John LAKE was baptized at North Benfleet England on 26 Sept. 1590. He married about 1616, to Margaret Reade. Margaret was born 11 July 1598 and baptized at Nort Benfleet 16 July 1598. She died at Ipswich, MA, around 30 Aug.1672.

Sometime between 1631 and 1635, Margaret left John and emigrated with her sisters and their families to New England, taking with her her two daughters, Ann and Martha Lake. For many years she lived with the family of her sister Elizabeth and her husband Gov. John Winthrop, Jr. at New London, CT, and is mentioned repeatedly in the Winthrop family correspondence. The last decade of Margaret's life was spent at Ipswich,
MA, the home of her daughter Martha Harris, and of her brother-in-law, Deputy
Governor Samuel Symonds.

In 1654 Rev. Hugh Peter, Margaret's step-father,wrote from London to John Winthrop, Jr. "John Lake is alive and lusty;" and in 1657 he said "John Lake lives still." On 18 Jan. 1661/2 Margaret wrote the following from Wenham, MA, to her brother-in-law, Governor Winthrop, who was in London:

"Might I not bee to troublesome to you I would have desired yors. to have done mee yt courtesy as to have inquired concerning my husbands death, & how
hee ended his dayes, as also to have inquired of my cousen Thomas Cooke,
whether he knew whether their was any thing left mee or no."
No will of John LAKE has been found. Margaret's will, dated 30 Aug. 1672, left her property to her daughters Hannah Gallop and Martha Harris, and to her grandchildren.
The will of Margaret Lake of Ipswich, widow, was made August 30 and proved September 24, 1672.
To my daughter Hannah Gallop and her children, all my land at new London. To my daughter Hannah, my best gown, my red cloth petticoat and my enamelled ring, anf after her decease my granddaughter Hannah Gallop shall have the ring. To my granddaughter Hannah Gallop, a pair of sheets, one of my best pewter platters and one of the next [best]. To my daughter Martha Harris, my tapestry coverlet and all my apparel not disposed of particularly. To my daughter Martha, my mantle, and after her decease to all of her children as they need it. To my grandson Thomas Harris, the coverlet of tapestry, after my daughter Martha's decease. To my daughter Martha, and
after her decease to my granddaughter Martha Harris, my gold ring. To my granddaughter Martha Harris, my bed and bedstead, one bolster, two blankets, two pillows and one coverlet. To my granddaughter Elizabeth Harris, on heifer at my cousin Eppes. To my grandaughter Margaret Harris, my carved box, a damask table-cloth and six damask napkins. All my brass and pewter, and all my household stuff nt otherwise disposed, to my daughter Harris' children. To my grandson John Harris, my bible and a pair of fringed gloves. To my son Thomas Harris, all the rest of my estate:viz. my part of the vessell, and all my debts. Executors: My son Thomas Harris and my daughter Martha Harris. Witnesses: Thomas Knowlton, Sir James Chute.
The inventory, which was made up of clothing and household articles, totalled

John Winthrop III. Our 1st Cousin 13 Times Removed

Born: March 14, 1637/8, Ipswich, Massachusetts
Parents: John Winthrop Jr. and Elizabeth Reade

Offices Held:

  • Magistrate, Colony of Connecticut, 1664
  • Lieutenant and Captain in Richard Cromwell's Army (England), 1658-1660
  • Deputy, General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1671, 1678
  • New London Representative to the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1671
  • Head, New London County Militia, 1672
  • Sergeant Major of Long Island, 1673
  • Council member, Dominion of New England, 1687-1689
  • Assistant, General Court of the Colony of Connecticut, 1690, 1693-1697
  • Governor, Colony of Connecticut, 1698-1707

Died: November 27, 1707, Boston, Massachusetts

John Winthrop III, given the old Anglo-French patronymic (personal name) "Fitz" ("son of") to help distinguish him from his father, was probably born at what is now Ipswich, Massachusetts, March 14, 1637/38, the son of John Winthrop, Junior and his second wife, Elizabeth (Reade) Winthrop. However, his birth is recorded in Boston. Ipswich, then known as Agawam, had just been established in the Massachusetts wilderness in 1633.

Fitz-John, along with several sisters and a brother, Wait Still, were born into an illustrious family. Their grandfather, John Winthrop, Senior, was the first governor of Massachusetts; their talented and well-known father, John Winthrop, Junior was a physician, served in the Connecticut General Assembly, and was himself Governor of the Colony of Connecticut for eighteen years (1657, 1659-1576). John Winthrop, Junior, was a successful man, and his support and advice were in great demand. He was frequently away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. His changes in career and projects caused the family to move several times in Fitz-John's early years, from Ipswich to Boston to New London. By the fall of 1646, when Fitz-John was about eight, the family had settled at Winthrop's Neck on the Thames River in the New London area.

With all the moving and with the father's absences, the boys' education was somewhat neglected. The house at Winthrop's Neck was the center of several farms owned by their father. Emphasis was not on studies but on the farms, and Fitz-John liked being outdoors, a preference that was to remain with him throughout his life. It was 1653 before he, at age sixteen, was sent with Wait Still to Fitch's School for Boys in Hartford for a year and a half. He was an average student. Then, the boys were sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Wait Still entered a private boys' school while Fitz-John took the examinations for Harvard. Fitz-John did not pass, his lack of education hindering him. A cousin who was a scholar was hired to tutor him for a year, but the cousin became ill and died.

Fitz-John stayed on in Boston with relatives. He had not been especially interested in attending Harvard and had applied mainly to please his father. Preferring action and the outdoors, in 1658 when loyalists in England needed soldiers to help the King retake his throne from Cromwell, Fitz-John jumped at the opportunity. Through family connections he became a lieutenant in Richard Cromwell's Army, eventually rising to the rank of captain. The army moved down from southern Scotland to London and helped restore King Charles II to the throne in 1660. Fitz-John's unit was disbanded, but he remained in England visiting other relatives.

Fitz-John was still there when his father came to London in 1661 to obtain a charter for Connecticut. In April 1663, both returned to New London, and Fitz-John became involved in the political life of the colony. He served as a judge and in October of 1664 was one of the Connecticut boundary commissioners, resolving conflicting land claims along the New York-Connecticut border. One result of the commission's work was that Long Island, formerly part of Connecticut, was assigned to New York.

Fitz-John continued to take part in the Connecticut's government, being elected as one of New London's representatives to the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut in 1671. He served well in the legislature but preferred military campaigns to creating laws. In 1672, he was made head of the New London County Militia. In 1673, he was made Sergeant-Major of Long-Island and helped drive the Dutch from that area.

Fitz-John had many of his father's qualities, but was more of an outdoorsman, a soldier, and his own man. He lived at a time when church and government were not separated, and there was close monitoring of public and private morals. Yet, as the son of a wealthy and influential family, he could flout convention in ways that normally invited serious punishment by church or government authorities. That is perhaps why he was not officially punished when about 1677 he entered into a common-law marriage with Elizabeth Tongue, fifteen years his junior, and the daughter of wealthy New London innkeepers, George and Margery Tongue. The couple had one daughter, Mary. Elizabeth, who signed deeds and letters as late as 1698 as Elizabeth Tongue, died April 25, 1731.

Although people generally saw Fitz-John as someone with a buoyant personality and with much common sense, he was slightly self-indulgent and could hold a grudge against those opposing him. The latter attitude created problems for him in his many business enterprises. He also had a health problem, being plagued all his life by an unknown illness for which he took an all-purpose remedy created by his father, who was a physician.

King Charles II of England, restored to the throne, wanted to centralize New England under one governor, doing away with separate governors for each colony. By 1686, he had created the Dominion of New England with one governor, Sir Edmund Andros, at its head in Boston. Andros governed with a council of 27 members from the various colonies. The only Council member from Connecticut was Fitz-John Winthrop, a great supporter of the King's plan and a friend of Andros.

The Dominion of New England government was not popular. However, when it was overthrown in 1689, Fitz-John was in New London and his participation in the Dominion government did not seem to affect his overall popularity; he was elected as an Assistant to the next General Court in 1690. His individuality showed itself once again in this post, as he did not attend any of the meetings, which were held in Hartford. At the next election, he was not reelected. However, he continued to serve the Colony of Connecticut by commanding its troops on an invasion of Canada. Going north along the Hudson River, this expedition consisted of men from New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and was meant to end the French-supported Indian raids to those colonies. The troops only received limited food and transportation, and the expedition was forced to retreat. Governor Leisler of New York, jealous of Winthrop, used the retreat to accuse him of treason. Leisler imprisoned Fitz-John and held him for court-martial at Albany. There, a large group of friendly Mohawks freed him. Fitz-John returned to Connecticut, cleared his name, and received the thanks of the General Assembly. The next spring, a new royal governor came to New York and tried, convicted, and executed Leisler for treason.

While the 1690 expedition to Canada was in progress, another political crisis was brewing. The settlement of Connecticut had begun without a charter from the Crown. New York and Massachusetts, both chartered from the beginning, often tried to infringe on its territory. Although it had been hoped that the Charter of 1662, obtained by Fitz-John's father, John Winthrop Junior, would prevent Connecticut from being taken over by Massachusetts or New York, those colonies did not give up their claims to Connecticut's lands. Arguing that the creation of the centralized government of the Dominion of New England had invalidated Connecticut's Charter, Massachusetts and New York attempted to annex Connecticut's territory.

Massachusetts and New York officials had friends at Court, and in August 1692, the new governor of New York, Benjamin Fletcher, arrived with power to command the military forces of both New York and Connecticut. Robert Treat was then governor of Connecticut, and he refused to surrender command of Connecticut's troops. Treat and the Connecticut General Assembly called on Fitz-John Winthrop's diplomatic abilities and connections at Court. He was to go to England and appeal the validity of Connecticut's 1662 Charter to King William and Queen Mary. Winthrop left for England late in 1693 and made his case early in 1694. A report prepared by the royal attorney and solicitor-general and ratified by the King and Queen confirmed the validity of the 1662 Charter of the Colony of Connecticut. Connecticut could continue to govern itself.

Fitz-John remained in England for three more years. When he returned to Connecticut, he was awarded five hundred pounds by a grateful General Assembly. He was elected as Governor in 1698, and was reelected annually until his death in 1707.

Although his common-law marriage and health problems somewhat affected his ability to govern, in the end Fitz-John accomplished much as governor. The 1662 Charter was threatened three times during his ten years in office, but each time Winthrop and the Assembly successfully defended it. Winthrop initiated a series of efforts to reorganize Connecticut's political and judicial structure. In 1698, the Assembly broadened the governor's authority to act between legislative sessions, and in 1699 the Assembly was divided into two chambers. The twelve Assistants to the General Court became one chamber, the Upper House, and the elected Deputies from the towns another chamber, the Lower House. Opponents at first criticized this change as no one was sure which House had authority over which issues. But adjustments were made, and these two Houses became Connecticut's first steps towards its modern legislature with a Senate and House of Representatives.

Winthrop considered retiring from the governorship in 1702 after neighboring governors charged him with not supplying enough soldiers for a war against France. The Connecticut voters refused to let him leave office, and he stayed. While on a trip to Boston to see his brother Fitz-John became ill. He died on November 27, 1711 and was buried next to his father and grandfather in the King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston, Massachusetts.

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