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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 tenous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thomas Dudley, our 10th Great Grandfather. Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Thomas Dudley, Our 10th Great Grandfather

Thomas Dudley (October 12, 1576 - July 31, 1653) was a colonial magistrate who served several terms as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Deputy Governor. During his terms he did the following:
  • Founded the city of Newtowne, which later became Cambridge Massachusetts.
  • He built the first home in Cambridge.
  • He signed the Charter creating Harvard University. Thomas Dudley Gate at Harvard was named in his honor, as is the non residential Dudley House

The Charter Creating Harvard University Signed by Our Great Grandfather.

This Great Grandfather was born in Northampton England. In 1629 with tensions between the Puritans and the British government high, Dudley was chosen as one of the five officers to travel to the Americans under the Royal Charter.

It is difficult to understand Thomas Dudley's decision to leave England for the unknown shores of North America. In England he had friends, position and prosperity. But he decided to leave all this behind. Apparently, the pressures of persecution were so great that he was virtually forced to leave England or give up his religious convictions.

In 1630, Thomas and his wife and children sailed to New England with the Winthrop Fleet, a group of eleven vessels carrying 700 passengers. The Dudley family was on the flagship, the Arbella. The Fleet left England in the Spring and arrived in Salem in June.

Thomas was a strict Puritan and clashed several times with other leaders of the colony. He was known to be very inflexible in his views. Cotton Mather wrote that if Thomas Dudley had been alive at the time of the witchcraft trouble, New England would never have been disgraced by the bloodshed of innocent persons. He was one of the principal founders of the First Church at Boston and in the church now standing at Berkley and Marlborough streets is a tablet with the following inscription:

THOMAS DUDLEY. FOR SEVENTEEN YEARS GOVERNOR OR DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY. AS GOVERNOR HE SIGNED THE CHARTER OF HARVARD COLLEGE. BORN IN ENGLAND 1576. DIED IN ROXBURY 1653. A MAN OF APPROVED WISDOM AND OF MUCH GOOD SERVICE TO THE STATE.

On July 31, 1653, Thomas Dudley died at the age of 77 at Roxbury, Massachusetts. There was a great funeral, with the most distinguished citizens as pall bearers. the clergy were present in large numbers. Military units were present with muffled drums and reversed arms. He was buried at Roxbury, near his home, where his tomb may be seen on the highest point of land. His epitaph was written by Rev. Ezekiel Rogers and reads as follows:
In books a Prodigal they say;
A table talker rich in sense;
And witty without wits pretense;
An able champion in debate;
Whose words lacked number but not weight;
Both Catholic and Christian too;
A soldier timely, tried and true;
Condemned to share the common doom;
Reposes here in Dudley's tomb;
To finish our converstion with this Great Grandfather I end with a letter he wrote in 1631. You can read something written by his own hand.

Governor Thomas Dudley 
Letter to the Countess of Lincoln: March, 1631
Upon the river of Mystic is seated Saggamore John, and upon the river of Saugus Sagamore James his brother, both so named by the English. The elder brother John is an handsome young ...[one line missing] conversant with us affecting English apparel and houses and speaking well of our God. His brother James is of a far worse disposition, yet repaireth often to us. Both these brother command not above 30 or 40 men for aught I can learned. Near to Salem dwelleth two or three families, subject to the Saggamore of Agawam whose name he told me, but I have forgotten it. This Sagamore hath but few subjects, and them and himself tributary to Sagamore James, having been before the last year (in James his minority) tributary to Chicka Talbott. Upon the river Merrimack is seated Sagamore Passaconaway having under his command 400 or 500 men, being esteemed by his countrymen a false fellow, and by us a witch.
First printed in 1696 in: Massachusetts; or, The First Planters of New England. The End and Manner of their Coming thither, and Abode there, Boston 1696.

Simply,
Victor