Stoughton, William

Stoughton, William stō´tən [key], 1631–1701, American colonial statesman. He was probably born in England but studied at Harvard (grad. 1650) before attending New College, Oxford (M.A., 1653). At the Restoration (1660) he was ejected from his fellowship at Oxford. He returned (1662) to Massachusetts Bay colony, where he became active in public life, serving as colonial assistant (1671–86). Between 1677 and 1679 he represented the colony in England in regard to the claims of the heirs of John Mason (1586–1635) and Sir Ferdinando Gorges. Stoughton was a member of the council of Gov. Edmund Andros but eventually joined the opposition. From 1692 to his death he was lieutenant governor of the colony, and for about five years of that time he served as acting governor. He presided with great severity at the Salem witchcraft trials (1692). Stoughton was one of the major early benefactors of Harvard College; Stoughton Hall was named for him.

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