By: Sruthi Dilleep, Sruti Gorantla, & Monika Sharma
Images of John Winthrop
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.