John Winthrop

By: Sruthi Dilleep, Sruti Gorantla, & Monika Sharma

Images of John Winthrop


Family History:

John Winthrop came from a well to do middle class family. He belonged to the gentry class, which played a dominant role in English society. His father, a country gentlemen, owned a 500 acre estate called Groton Manor; the Manor was brought from King Henry VIII at the time of Reformation.

John Winthrop married four times throughout his life and had 16 children. He also attended law school, served as a justice of peace and was in the government office. He was a very religious person and believed that God elected him to salvation.

Political Affiliations/ Loyalties:

John Winthrop was an attorney to the Court of Wards and Liveries. For more than 20 years, he was a country squire at Ganor Manor and was loyal to his position. However when Charles I forced anti Puritans policies, John soon lost his court post in 1629.

He then decided to venture into the Massachusetts Bay Company. John Winthrop was chosen as the first governor by the Massachusetts Bay Company. His loyalties was to his colony only and not to England. John decided to join the company to escape the persecution of Puritans in England, causing him to lose his loyalty to England. He was always loyal to his colony, never wanting to return back to England when many other colonists were returning back; he also took his duties as governor seriously and helped maintain the order there.

Role in Colonial Development:

As Puritans began to be persecuted when Charles I took throne, John Winthrop who was a Puritan was interested in joining the Massachusetts Bay Company that offered the chance of religious freedom in the New World. The Massachusetts Bay Company elected him as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony when he joined. The company transferred the company government and charter to America.

When he was on the Arbella sailing to America, John Winthrop composed a lay sermon called "A Modell of Christian Charity" also known as "A City Upon a Hill". His sermon greatly influenced the colonists. In his sermon, he reminded the Massachusetts Bay colonists of their covenant with God and their obligations to their duties or they would suffer; he gave a warning but also hope to the colonists. He, among with the other Puritan colonists, wanted to create a model Christian commonwealth that England would one day follow.

After arriving, John Winthrop helped guide the colonists on building a tight network of towns with each one having its church of saints. For the next 19 years, he was a father figure to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was repeatedly elected governor and maintained social and civic order in the colony. His political philosophy defined the magistrate to a great extent whereas the people's liberty was to a small extent. John Winthrop however was not a tyrant and was very well respected by the colonists.


Integrity is defined as sticking to a certain set of morals and beliefs and not straying away from them. John Winthrop had integrity in his faith. He never strayed away from Protestantism, even when Protestants were getting persecuted in England. He also had integrity to the his system of strong commitment to Christian faith. When many people were against his system and wanted an representative assembly, he still refused to change it. John was even willing to banish his friend William Rogers from the colony when Rogers began to criticize church-state relations and challenged the religious authority; this shows just have devoted John was to his ideals and his faith.


Citizenship is defined as having the rights, duties and obligations of a member of a society. John Winthrop demonstrated citizenship to his colony. Even when many colonists returned to England to help fight against Charles I in the English Civil War in 1642, he did not abandon his colony and return back. He was also a very great leader in the colony and helped maintain the social and civil order; he argued to the Lords Commissions of Plantations for the colony to be continued when it came under criticism. In addition, John was elected multiple times as governor, further proving that he was an accepted member of the colony and was accepted to lead. He sacrificed much of his time helping the colonists out and never once wished to be back home in his large Groton Manor, which was much bigger than his house in the colony.

Video About John Winthrop

John Winthrop

Video About John Winthrop's Model of Christian Charity

Dr. Bernstein's Intro to John Winthrop's A Model of Christian Charity (Part 1)