1588–1649, governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, b. Edwardstone, near Groton, Suffolk, England. Of a landowning family, he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, came into a family fortune, and became a government administrator with strong Puritan leanings. A member of the Massachusetts Bay Company
, he led the group that arranged for the removal of the company's government to New England and was chosen (1629) governor of the proposed colony. He arrived (1630) in the ship Arbella
at Salem and shortly founded on Shawmut peninsula the settlement that became Boston. He was—with the possible exception of John Cotton
—the most distinguished citizen of Massachusetts Bay colony, serving as governor some 12 times. He helped to shape the theocratic policy of the colony and opposed broad democracy. It was while he was deputy governor and Sir Henry Vane
(1613–62) was governor that Winthrop bitterly and successfully opposed the antinomian beliefs of Anne Hutchinson
and her followers, who were supported by Vane. The force of his influence on the history of Massachusetts was enormous. Winthrop's journal, which was edited by J. K. Hosmer and published in 1908 as The History of New England from 1630 to 1649
is one of the most valuable of American historical sources.
See The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630–1649 (1996), abridged ed. by R. S. Dunn and L. Yeandle; R. C. Winthrop, Life and Letters of John Winthrop (2 vol., 1864–67; repr. 1971); Winthrop Papers (5 vol., 1929–47); biographies by J. H. Twichell (1892), E. S. Morgan (1958), G. R. Raymer (1963), and F. J. Bremer (2003); R. S. Dunn, Puritans and Yankees (1962, repr. 1971).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. History: Biographies