John Winthrop - January 12, 1587 - March 26, 1649
John Winthrop was a principal figure in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As an English Puritan lawyer, he led the first wave of English immigrants in 1630 who settled in the New World. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first major settlement after the Plymouth Colony. He served as Governor of Massachusetts Bay for twelve of the first twenty years of the colonies existence. Winthrop saw the Puritan colony as a 'city upon a hill' bringing inspiration and vision to the development of the new English colony. His family was a wealthy landowning merchants. He was trained as a lawyer and became Lord of the Manor at Groton in Suffolk.
Winthrop did not participate in the founding of the colony in 1628 but became involved with the colony the following year. King Charles I was anti-Puritan and began to suppress Nonconformist Protestants. Winthrop was elected to the post of Governor and traveled to the New World in April of 1630. Winthrop led a group of colonies ts to the North American continent who founded a number of local communities in Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River.
Winthrop served twelve terms as governor from 1629 until his death in 1649. He became a profound inflence upon the conservative religious community and a force for compatitive modernization. Winthrop clased with Thomas Dudley who was more conservative. He also clashed with liberals such as Roger Williams and Henry Vane.
His son John became a founder of the Connecticut Colony. The Plantation in New England is a most historical account of life in the early colonial period in America.
The grounds of settling a plantation in New England
First, The propagation of the Gospel to the Indians. Wherein first the importance of the work tending to the enlargement of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and winning them out of the snare of the devil and converting others of them by their means.
Secondly, The possibility of attaining it, God having by his word manifested his will for the spreading of the Gospel to all nations, and intercourse of trade having opened a passage, and made a way for commerce with the East and West Indies and divers plantations of the Dutch and English being settled in several parts of those countries and the ill conditions of the times being likely to furnish those plantations with better members than usually have undertaken that work in former times.
1. The consideration of our own condition like unto theirs in times past.
2. The advantages and benefits we may receive from those parts challenging the rendering of spiritual things for their temporal.
3. The diligence of the Papists in propagating their Religion and suspicion and enlarging the kingdom of Antichrist thereby with all the manifest hazards of their persons and deep engagements of their estates. Reasons to be considered for justifying the undertakers of the intended plantation in New England and for encouraging such whose hearts God shall move to join with them in it:
First, It will be a service to the Church of great consequence to carry the Gospel into those parts of the world, to help on the coming in of fullness of the Gentiles and to raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Antichrist, which the Jesuits labour to rear up in those parts.
2. All other Churches of Europe are brought to desolation and of sins for which the Lord begins already to frown upon us, do threaten us fearfully, and who knows but that God hath provided this place to be a refuge for many whom he means to save out of the general calamity, and seeing the Church hath no place left to flee
into but the wilderness what better work can there be, than to go before and provide Tabernacles, and food for her, against she cometh thither.
3.This land grows weary of her inhabitants, so as man who is the most precious of all creatures is here more vile and base than the earth we tread upon, and of less price among us, than a horse or a sheep, masters are forced by authority to entertain servants, parents to maintain their own children, all towns complain of the burden of their poor though we have taken up many unnecessary, yea, unlawful trades to maintain them.
4.The whole earth is the Lord’s garden and he hath given it to the sons of men, with a general condition, Gen: l.28. Increase and multiply, replenish the earth and subdue it, which was again renewed to Noah, the end is double moral and natural that man might enjoy the fruits of the earth and God might have his due glory from the creature, why then should we stand here striving for places of habitation, (many men spending as much labour and cost to recover or keep sometimes an acre or two of land as would procure them many hundred as good or better in another country) and in the meantime suffer a whole Continent, as fruitful and convenient for the use of man to lie waste without any improvement.
5.We are grown to that height of intemperance in all excess of riot, as no man’s estate almost will suffice to keep sail with his equals, and he who fails herein must live in scorn and contempt, hence it comes that all arts and trades are carried in that deceitful and unrighteous course, as it is almost impossible for a good and
upright man to maintain his charge and live comfortably in any of them.
6.The fountains of learning and religion are so corrupted (as beside the unsupportable charge of the education) most children (even the best wits and fairest hopes) are perverted...
7.What can be a better work and more honorable and worthy a Christian than to help raise and support a particular church while it is in the infancy and to join his forces with such a company of faithful people as by a timely assistance may grow strong and prosper, and for want of it may be put to great hazard, if not wholely
ruined…The Lord revealeth his secrets to his servants the Prophets, it is likely he hath some great work in hand which he hath revealed to his prophets among us, whom he hath stirred up to encourage his servants to this plantation for he doth not use to seduce his people by his own Prophets, but commits that office to the ministry of false prophets and lying spirits…