1606-76, colonial governor in America, born in Groton, Suffolk, England; oldest son of John Winthrop (1588-1649). He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, became a lawyer, and emigrated to Massachusetts Bay in 1631. He returned to England in 1634 and in 1635 was commissioned governor of the new colony at Saybrook (now Deep River), Conn., just when other towns were being settled in the Connecticut valley; by agreement he was recognized for a year as titular governor of all. In 1646, Winthrop founded New London, and in 1657 and annually from 1659 to 1676 he was elected governor of Connecticut. After the Stuart restoration (1660), he obtained a charter (1662) that led to the union (1664) of Connecticut and New Haven colonies, and he governed the colony with an administration practically independent of England. He gathered a considerable library and by his interest in chemistry and other sciences helped to promote scientific study in the colonies. Elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1663, he became the first member resident in America.
The Winthrops of New England were among colonial America's foremost political leaders and scientists. John Winthrop, b. Jan. 12, 1588, d. Mar. 26, 1649, country squire and lawyer in Suffolk, England, was a founder of the MASSACHUSETTS BAY COMPANY. In 1630 he left for Massachusetts with the first major group of Puritan emigrants. Winthrop was often elected the colony's governor (1629-33, 1637-40, 1642-44, 1646-49) and had the greatest influence in shaping the settlement into a Bible Commonwealth. He was also deputy governor for ten years. His Journal (1630-49) is the major source of knowledge of the colony's early years. His eldest son, also called John Winthrop, (Jr)., b. England, Feb. 12, 1606, d. Apr. 5, 1676, founded Ipswich, Mass. (1633), and Saybrook (1635) and New London (1646), Conn. In 1662, while governor of Connecticut (1657, 1659-76), he obtained from Charles II a royal charter uniting the colonies of Connecticut and New Haven. Interested in chemistry and astronomy, he was the first American admitted to the Royal Society of London.
In 1693, John Jr.'s son, Fitz-John Winthrop, b. Ipswich, Mass., Mar. 14, 1638, d. Nov. 27, 1707, convinced William III to reaffirm Connecticut's charter, which had been questioned, and was subsequently the colony's governor (1698-1707).
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In Massachusetts ordinary freemen rebelled against the local leadership and elected a land commission representing their interests. Significantly, John Winthrop himself was the only member of the ruling elite elected to this slate. No one accused Winthrop of avariciousness. He would so neglect his private affairs that he would be almost bankrupt by 1640, despite grants totaling thousands of acres. Winthrop might be able to control land distribution in Boston by the force of his own character, but other towns were not so admiring of their leadership. Charlestown, for instance, had a number of citizens who thought that a hierarchy culminating in Dudley could scarcely be a model of Christian charity. His grasping might have been overlooked by his neighbors if there had been ample land nearby for everyone-but there was not. The town was now squeezed between two others. So a group decided to seek ample land for themselves, as well as more autonomy, by moving their settlement beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts into the Connecticut Valley.
Winthrop did his best to dissuade them, at least to keep them within Massachusetts. But of course he was no longer governor, and their complaints were reasonable. So he tried to keep control over the proposed Connecticut settlements indirectly. He knew that a group of Puritan investors had been given a charter for the Connecticut Valley. He had also, while governor, negtiated a treaty with the Pequot Indians who controlled the valley. - The Pequots had become fed up with the grasping Dutch ---. Using his remaining connections in England, he arranged to have his son, John junior, named as the first governor of the Connecticut colony, and to command the valley from a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River.
The new settlers seemed to have been outmaneuvered by the sly ex-governor. They were settling on land that was opened for the English by a treaty negotiated by John Winthrop Senior and was now governed by a charter administered by John junior. The Connecticut Valley would remain under the effective control of Massachusetts. Or so it seemed. The settlers, however, were not without their own resources. They simply would conduct their own diplomacy with the local Indians. They established their settlements far up river, and ignored Junior's fort. Massachusetts refused to leave well enough alone. Connecticut had to be brought to heel. So Massachusetts sent officials to the Connecticut fort to continue negotiation with the Pequots. One of these officials named John Oldham was found murdered on his ship. The Indians caught with his body were killed immediately, without any serious effort to find out what really happened. But that did not end matters. Massachusetts had been looking for an opportunity to demonstrate its control over Connecticut, and here it was. A punitive expedition was sent out, led by a man noted for his rigidity and harshness, John Endicott. (It was said of Endicott that when he reached heaven he was not going to go in but rather was going to patrol its gates to repulse those who reached there by any other path but his.) Endicott now tried to bring the red cross to Connecticut.
He first attacked the tribe apparently responsible for Oldham's death, the Niantics. They simply ran away, however; so he contented himself with burning all villages and crops he could find. Then, on the excuse that the Niantics were dependent upon the Pequots, he marched against them. This time he tried to be subtler by drawing them into ambush, but subtlety was not in his line. He was another Captain Shrimp who received for his efforts only taunts. Once again, he destroyed villages and crops, as well as a few pet dogs. Finally in frustration he returned to Massachusetts, not exactly in triumph. Nonetheless, the Pequots had been hurt. They needed their crops to get through the winter. As far as they could see, the attack had been entirely unprovoked, so they began to attack the English whenever convenient. They were better at marauding than the Puritans, and soon were picking off both soldiers from the fort and colonists from the upriver settlements with alarming efficiency. The soldiers could stay in their fort and get their supplies by sea. The colonists, in contrast, to survive had to work their fields. In one incident alone eight colonists were killed and two young women carried off.
The settlers now faced the choice between returning to the control of Massachusetts and seeing to their own safety. Returning to Massachusetts was unthinkable, for the arrogance of Massachusetts had been the cause of the Indian trouble. Massachusetts had stirred up the wasps; now Connecticut would have to deal with them.
The Connecticut settlers put together an armed force led by a commander experienced in the European wars of religion. They got auxiliaries from Indian rivals of the Pequots, long resentful of their preeminence. Rather than march directly on the Pequots, the commander decided to ship his troops up the coast in order to come at them from behind. Thereby he caught one of their major villages by surprise, at a place the Europeans called Mystic.
The Puritans fought their way into the stockaded village, set it on fire, and then retreated in good order. Most of the Indians simply burned to death in the conflagration-men, women, and children, old and young, all alike in the flames. Some large family groups were led out of the village by their men, in hope of surrendering to their Indian enemies. Custom would have submissive prisoners treated well. A few of the warriors might be tortured to death, but the women, children, and the rest of the men would be adopted into the victorious tribe. The Puritans, however, had formed a circle between their allies and the stockade. Pleas for mercy were answered by the vigorous wrath of the God of the Hebrews. The slaughter was systematic; no prisoners were taken. One participant boasted that "there were about four hundred souls in this fort, and not above five of them escaped out of our hands." The Indian allies who had come to see the Pequots humbled were appalled. They pleaded, "This is evil, this is evil, too furious, too many killed." But they were ignored, or even laughed at. When later another group of Pequots, two hundred of them, did manage to surrender to the allies, the Puritans separated all the men, bound them, took them out into the bay and dropped them for the fishes. One Puritan apologist dubbed the ship that was used in this action "Charon's ferryboat"
The Pequots had taken revenge against the English for hurt done to them without apparent provocation. For this they faced not revenge, but extermination. The Puritans were now running them down like wolves. The Connecticut settlers also put a bounty on Pequot heads, and scarcely a day passed for many months without at least one Indian ally appearing to collect. Within a year of the massacre at Mystic, the Pequot had been entirely destroyed. What had been a thriving people was now only the emptiness of a name (that would fittingly survive on the side of Ahab's ship). So the Connecticut settlement had established its independence from Massachusetts. They needed no help from Massachusetts; what few Indians remained in their valley of death cowered in their presence.
- Arthur Quinn, A New World
(Whereas by our charter we are enjoined to highlight the "events and men" , the women of the colonies warrent attention where their record contributes to our history. The following is the winning essay among the Prize Essays In Early American History sponsored by the Society of the Cincinnati and the Society of Colonial Wars both in the State of Connecticut. The author was a history major at Yale. - Ed.)
"Dutiful 'til Death" The Life of Ann Dudley Winthrop (1684-1776)
Most works on women's history during the colonial era are generalized studies. But biographies can provide rich, specific details of women's experience in colonial New England. For example, Anne Bradstreet's personal records are few, but her biographers use her melodious poetry to reconstruct important details from her life (1612/3 -1672), during the early years of settlement.' Historian Laurel Ulrich has used the diary of Martha Ballard, a Maine midwife, to reconstruct the years 1785 to 1812 . This paper, a biography of Ann Winthrop (1684-1776), provides an example of one woman's experience during the middle years of the American colonies, connecting the early years to the revolutionary era.
Ann Winthrop may not seem like the obvious subject for a biography. Unlike Martha Ballard, she left no diary, and unlike Ann Bradstreet, no poetry. Ann lives on mainly in the writings of others, leaving just enough of her own letters to provide a glimpse of her personal thoughts. In this paper, I present a biographical summary. At times, Ann acted within traditionally prescribed boundaries, as a dutiful wife, while at other points, she pursued the more unusual path of managing the considerable estates left in her care. However, Ann's efforts to preserve the Winthrop properties were consistent with her dedication to her family, for she took it as her central duty to keep the inheritance intact for her children.
Ann was sister, daughter, wife, mother, and friend. Married twice, she signed herself as A.W., Ann Winthrop, A. Winthrop, and later, Ann Miller. I have tried to find her voice in the midst of the many competing claims on her care and affection, and have chosen simply to call her Ann.
As the Winthrops encountered challenges to their social preeminence in southern New England during the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, the family gradually split apart. John Winthrop, Ann's husband, contested his brother-in- law's claim to a portion of the family inheritance. Daughters moved off in search of husbands in Boston, and John traveled abroad, where his son later joined him. However, Ann remained rooted to the family estate in New London, Connecticut, a place where she lived two-thirds of her ninety-two years. Ann looked after her husband's extensive property, and tried to ensure him the means to live in London, to fraternize with members of the British aristocracy. But Ann's years encompassed more than legal and financial transactions. Her complex life, with all its trials and triumphs, is a microcosm of response to social change in southern New England.
Change brought a re-definition of traditional roles. Poorer men farmed land on the Winthrop estates without paying rent. They claimed that the lands, granted by the Crown to previous generations of Winthrops, should now pass into the public domain; some attempted to settle their rents by barter and favors. However, John began to press for payments in the form of cash, since the family was struggling to make ends meet. As the Winthrops became increasingly unpopular with their tenants, and John left to live in London, Ann's role at home changed. She assumed the management of her husband's property, relying on the help of family, a few friends, and her faith. After John's death in 1747, she challenged his outdated will, rather than accept his bequest to her, which would rapidly diminish once creditors demanded payments. Instead, she demanded her dower rights under Connecticut law, receiving a third of her husband's property and securing a home for herself and unmarried daughter.
The center of Ann's concerns changed from family care to land management because of social and economic change in New London. Farmers disregarded old Royal land grants, and settled on Winthrop holdings. Colonists rejected English inheritance law, and divided estates among all of the children. Ann's husband placed his legal battles before family life, and her daughters moved away to cities seeking wealthy husbands. In Ann's life, traditional roles seemed to be reversed tenants defied their landlords, daughters left home to seek husbands, and a woman looked after the family estates. However, even in the midst of such turmoil, Ann dutifully attempted to fulfill all of her social and family obligations, even when they conflicted with one another.
Ann: the best of Women...
Conflict and change filled Ann's earliest years. Her birth on August 27, 1684 coincided with upheaval in both the colonies and her father's political career. A the Stuarts tightened political control over the American colonies, they sought men such as Ann's father, Joseph Dudley, who had "ambition, ability, and arrogance," to act as an agent for the Crown.' As the hold of the previously dominance Puritan clergy loosened, not all colonists were wary of greater Royal control some welcomed the chance to increase trade links with the mother country, to win both political plums and profits.' Ann was probably born in England, where her family had moved while Dudley secured the Presidency of the Massachusetts Council. This position, and his later support of Sir Edmund Andros's brief term as Royal Governor, cost Dudley deportation to England and nine months' imprisonment in 1689. Later, the Crown appointed him governor of the Isle of Wight; finally, he returned to Massachusetts in 1702, settling in Roxbury, two miles outside Boston, and serving as the Governor of Massachusetts until 1715. Ann's childhood must have been disrupted by her father's long absences; indeed, the years at Roxbury may have been her first taste of settled life. Ann was also attuned to political events by her experiences at home. Both Dudley's sons and daughters learned to read; Ann's aunt, Anne Dudley Bradstreet, took "much comfort in reading the scriptures" at as young as six or seven.' Ann's mother Rebekah, the daughter of a prominent member of the Massachusetts Council, may have alerted her to political maneuvers early on.' In any case, Ann grew up in the midst of political activity, and in later years, could discuss public affairs in letters to her husband. Ann's marriage to John Winthrop on December 16, 1707 was based not only on mutual affection, but on the symbolic union of two feuding families, a provincial reflection of the dynastic alliances of England. Ann may have met John through their mutual acquaintance, Samuel Sewall, who frequently dined at the Dudley home in the years prior to her marriage." The wedding took place in Roxbury, and the couple was still receiving well-wishers in the Governor's home four days later, when Sewall presented the bride with a an elaborate leather-bound copy of Samuel Willard's The Blessed Man, and wished "his Excellency Joy of his Son and Daughter Winthrop..." John and Ann may have married for love, but the parents undoubtedly considered the social, political, and economic circumstances before giving their consent. Governor Dudley, after all, allowed his daughter to marry into the same family on which he blamed his humiliating imprisonment." Likewise, the Winthrops were puzzled by John's choice, and cautiously evaluated Ann's suitability as his wife before giving their approval. John's father wrote confidentially to his brother Fitz that he had not yet discussed the matter with John, not having "come [to the] matter of difficulty as yet... Subsequently, the Winthrops grudgingly agreed to the match; Fitz remarked that John might as well marry as he wished, for "tis the family now most in fashion . . .".
Though an old political enemy, Governor Dudley gradually extended his friendship. Two years after the marriage, he invited Ann and John to stay with him, hoping that "a few days will quit me of the General Assembly when I shall attend [to]... nothing but to do my duty in your Entertaynment & Diversion."" The families also exchanged political favors. A few weeks after the wedding, Governor Dudley asked Wait to write on his behalf to Lord Ashurst, an old Winthrop ally, for "Sir Hary would believe your representation of mee as an honest man." In return, Dudley restored Wait to his old office of Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court." Besides these mutual political favors, the Winthrops hoped to increase their family's wealth. A few weeks after learning of John's love for Ann, Wait wrote anxiously to his brother that he hoped Dudley would do something considerable for her, being of some considerable expectation hereafter." Ann's arrival to the Winthrop family soon paid off, as her father willed her one thousand acres of land in Oxford, in addition to her marriage dowry. Wait also strengthened his personal ties with Governor Dudley, writing that he would look after Ann as his own child, for he was "extremely Joyfull to hear of Nanny's Health... I make ten thousand Vows for the prosperity of the best of Women And Wish it was in my power to Lay Imperial purple at her feet." The Winthrop in-laws viewed her as a treasured family member.
However, the marriage was not only made of social ties, inheritances, and political maneuvers. The emotional bonds of John and Ann's marriage are difficult to tease out, for no letters have survived from their courtship. The couple exchanged matching miniatures during their engagement or early weeks of marriage. In the pair, Ann solemnly gazes out, in a low-necked beaded dress, while John smiles, resplendent in a great powdered wig, with ruffled linens, and a jewel-clasped coat. John stood out as a singular character, at once a dandy and a scholar. His youthful desires pre-figured his later stay in England, as he always longed to travel. As a teenager, he begged to accompany his Uncle Fitz on a trip to England, pleading "It will be a very advantageous opportunity for me to see the world." John's writings reveal his florid, expansive nature; once he complained to his father: we meet with so much trouble in these Difficult & hard times, wherein there is Scarce as faithfull honest man to be found, but what proposes some private mean thing to himself[.] Ah Tempora Dura ... My hands & Eyes are always up to the Rock of Ages which is the only hope & Refuge of the Sorrowfull . . .However, within the same letter, he chatted about the latest British victory, and praised the achievements of a mutual friend, Cotton Hunter, the Governor of New York, who as "one of the Fellows of Gresham College,. . . is tinctured with the true Spirit of the Ancient Members of the Society. Ann's husband was a philosopher, as he exchanged letters with Cotton Mather, a political analyst, and dabbler in academia and medicine. John was a charming man, if the reaction of Ann's sister is any indication. Katherine Dudley, her younger sibling, wrote to Ann that: I thank you for your kind letters but more for your Spouses tho I grieve that I have had to let [reveal?]all of his pleasant conversation . . it is nothing but his being yours that keep us from courting him for we are all in love with him . She teased her well-established sister that "I would write more often but I know not what to say that will be pleasing to one of your superior [stance]." But she concluded that her ramblings were to be expected, "considering old maids are all-ways dul[l] . Katherine's letter, bubbling over with frivolity, reflects the early joyful years of the marriage, and the humorous envy of younger unmarried sisters. At least to her sisters, Ann had made a good match indeed.
After living in Boston near their relations, Ann and John moved to New London to look after the family estate . The Winthrops held many lands in New London, for John Winthrop, Jr. founded the town in 1645 and set aside vast tracts of land for his family. The journey from Boston to New London took at least four difficult days. As Sarah Kemble Knight attested in her 1704 Joumal, the road was interspersed with "Bridges which were exceeding high and very tottering and of vast length, steep and Rocky Hills and vast precipices, (Buggbears to a fearful female travailer.)" Moreover, the roads were overgrown, as traveling through Narragansett county, north of New London, she "found great difficulty in Travailing, the way being very narrow, and on each side the Trees and bushes gave us very unpleasant welcomes with their Branches... " As Ann and John traveled these roads a few years later, their efforts to move an entire household must have been arduous. John re-purchased part of the old Winthrop estate, which had been used by James Rogers as a homestead and while he operated the nearby mill." John hired New London resident Joshua Hempstead in the fall of 1712, to improve the property, and prepare the old residence for the arrival of Ann and her three young daughters . Their clapboarded home stood two stories tall, with chimneys at both ends, as shown in a 1794 sketch." A sizable house, it reflected Ann and John's social status, with a "Great Entryway," a parlor where John conducted business, a study, several kitchens in the back, and bedrooms on the second floor. John and Ann settled on an extensive homelot "by the oxe pasture and east by the Great River [Thames River], and having two great oak trees near the south line. . ." They lived on the edge of town; new construction, such as the meeting house and court house, went up south of their home.
The move to New London represented a major change in Ann's life. Their stately home bordered the densely-forested Winthrop's Neck to the East. The area must have seemed desolate to Ann, newly arrived from Boston; a 1703 map indicates nothing but trees on the Neck. She learned to adjust to a rural area, isolated from close neighbors. New London had but 65 freemen in 1700, and slightly over a hundred families. With frequent lawsuits, and a bustling sea port, it had more ties to London than most other towns." Madam Knight, a Bostonian like Ann, immediately noticed a different type of settler on her 1704 journey, as they were "a little too much independent in their principalls, and. . . very Riggid in their Administrations. Ann may not have reacted the same way as did Sarah Knight, but travelers certainly perceived differences between the colonies.
However, with a home near the port of New London, John was frequently absent on business, looking after his father's affairs in Boston and riding over his extensive properties. Ann's letters to John during his trips provide us with the first opportunity to hear her own voice, and it is a voice of loneliness. In November of 1714, Ann wrote to John to inform him of local events, but to also beg for his return. As a dutiful wife, she accepted his absence, writing: "I submit to your business more freely when I think of your inclinations. . ." She reported on various economic, political, and household matters, noting of the price of cider and wine, and the conflicts in the colony's government. Ann may have learned much of the political information from her close contact with Joshua Hempstead and her minister, Eliphalet Adams, both of whom traveled widely and attended court sessions. After a discussion of politics, Ann concluded with a request for "three yards of black silk ... and two yards of black Ribben . . ." Ann may have been wearing mourning for her daughter Elizabeth, who died earlier in the year. Ann's letters grew more plaintive as her husband's stay in Boston lengthened; for example in December of 1717, she wrote "I am Impatient to see you." Wifely acceptance of John's absences changed to melancholy loneliness in later years, as Ann was obliged to accept sole responsibility for an ever-increasing family. However, her early years as stewardess of a large household prepared her to manage the family's estates, once her husband moved to London in 1727.
Ann and John's family rapidly increased in size, with seven surviving children and young women living in their home as servants. However, these were also years of great contrasts; the family would celebrate the birth of a son, but would also experience acute bereavement: two children, Elizabeth and John, died in infancy. Celebratory attitudes towards birth co-existed with the fear that every labor might bring death to either the mother or child, or both. New life and sudden death were closely linked in Ann's world. Families celebrated birth, and both male and female relatives freely discussed details of pregnancy and labor. Husbands exchanged details of their wives' pregnancies, as Thomas Lechmere wrote to his brother-in-law John that "my Wife made a false Allarm 3 days ago, but Still holds her own. . ." Childbirth was a matter of frank discussion, and Lechmere and John competed in family size, for he wrote to John just after his second son's birth that "I hope to follow your steps as fast as I can & have as many as you, tho not so much to maintain them with. . ." Fatherly pride once again burst forth as John wrote of his first son's birth, proclaiming to his father that 1716 was the "Annus Mundi Mirablis!" A son was especially important to the Winthrops, since a direct male heir would keep the family property intact, and out of the hands of John's rapacious brother-in-law. John looked to the Bible to express the blessed destiny of the Winthrops, asking his father to "please ... do as the old Patriarch Jacob, in his Benediction to his beloved Son ..."
Though a son's birth fulfilled the Winthrops' hopes, the family also expressed concern for Ann. Wait wrote to his son, hoping "your wife has got well over by this time, if not I pray God to send her a good time and pray [for a] good root and branch..." A "good time" signified an easy labor, and the health of both the wife and child, as Ann needed to return to household duties soon after the birth. Katherine Winthrop wrote tenderly, "I bless God for his mercy to you in your difficult hour and [to give] you a son. . ." and she wished that he be "made a comfort to you and a blessing in his day."" Labor was the direct act of God's blessing or punishment, for a "good time" came to those who prayed for sanctity. However, legal difficulties and a growing sense of isolation from both family and community began to erode John's place in New London. He had dawdled on settling his father's estate, since the statutes of colonial Connecticut would strip him of a third of his lands. The law directed that intestate property should be divided among all the heirs, the oldest son receiving a double portion, with equal shares to all other siblings." Citing the English law of primogeniture to back up his claim, John chose to follow his father's unsigned will, which left all property to himself. However, his sister Ann and her husband, Thomas Lechmere, questioned his claim to the lands. John began to compile evidence in his favor for example, this from William Gallop of Stonington: the Late Mas[terfull Governall Wait Winthrop Esq. of Boston in new england. . . Winthrop than declared and told me... about the settlement of his estate. . what ever lands he had that was his fathers... should go [to] his son Mr. John Winthrop... to inherit all the lands appertaining to his ancestors ... However, such hearsay was not enough to prevent Thomas Lechmere from filing a warrant for John's arrest in 1723, on the technicality of improper filing of the estate's inventory. This was the first time that the Lechmeres had complained of not receiving their inheritance, for they had trusted John to administer the estate in 1718. While waiting for a settlement, Lechmere's investments failed, and he lost most of his fortune to an unscrupulous business partner. He then tried to recoup his losses by reclaiming a portion of the estates. This incident was one of several quarrels between the two men; meanwhile, Ann tried to maintain normal relations with her sister-in-law.
John became increasingly upset by what he saw as the indifference, or outright hostility, on the part of New Londoners to his family's property rights. John felt that his tenants should pay rent, rather than carving out homelots on distant reaches of the estate. His old tenants resented John's pressure for payment. John encountered an especially belligerent tenant: "Wm Walsworth... has Liv'd on my Farme some time, and pay'd no Rent, and lately calling for his Rent, he brought a stange sort of an acc't. wherein he pretended to Ballance the Rent" by various small chores he had performed. When John objected, Walsworth returned with his brother, and "one of them held me, and the other struck me in the Face and Snatcht away all the papers and away they Run. . ." Defiantly, Walsworth "pul'd up and carryed away all the head Fence of my Farme and Lay'd it common. . ." a symbolic act of turning the vast Winthrop estates over to the use of all New Londoners. When John went to turn him off his land, Walsworth "had a kettle of Scalding Water to fling upon me If I came near the house. And [he] still keeps me out by force haveing 4. men wth. Loaded Guns, & some Syths constantly watching. . ." The saga continued as Walsworth went to a New London Town Meeting and declared that John's "Ancestors had nothing to doe. wth. the Land [,] it belonged to the Towne ... " The conflict between settlers' desire for expansion onto unfarmed lands and John's insistence on almost feudal relations, created popular resentment towards the Winthrops.
Other New London residents turned against John, demanding a chance to purchase the Winthrop lands, or else to live on them rent-free. They felt that the old charter was a guarantee of public, not merely Winthrop, rights to farm the land. Col. Henry Smith, John's attorney in Long Island, wrote the following year to wam John: yoe. concerns here are reduced to [a] very Languishing Condition, by reason you neglect personally coming... yoe. ungracious Tenants [are] selling great Quantityes of Hay... they only pursue their Own, wthout having any regard to yoe Interest. - . William Works, a loyal tenant, wrote of disruptions near Fisher's Island, as about seventy men... with a small hous readdy framed. . sat up the hous and enclosed it... not with standing they remain. and would stay, he supposed, unless thay are Removed of by force of arms. . Connecticut settlers were not merely questioning the authority of the Winthrops to demand rents for land deeded long ago; they actively rebelled.
John was an unsystematic landlord; he clearly did not regulate settlement on his holdings, and sporadically pressed for rents when his family needed cash. John saw himself as a "Silent, humble, and Retired Philosopher" and relished corresponding with the Royal Society more than keeping account books." As early as 1725, he confided to Samuel Sewall that he might leave New London, though Sewall urged him to settle his debts, "lest you leave that heavy burden oppressing your dear Wife and Children. . ." He reminded John that simply leaving would not necessarily improve his fortunes for "twill be extream hard for you to find so good a Country." However despite Sewall's forecast of an up turn in fortunes, John chose to escape his mounting debts and the anger of his tenants by fleeing to London, while hoping to prove his ownership of the Winthrop estates before a Royal court. On 19 July 1726, shortly before setting sail, he made out his will, hoping for "protection and guidance in everything in this long Voyage. . ." He placed his estate in order lest the journey should prove his last, for he left "my faithful kind and most dear Wife one hundred pounds per Annum. . ." He asked that: she will see all my dear children brought up in the fear of God and all others to be educated and live with her till they shall be disposed of in marriage out of the profits of my Estate ... both my Sons to be educated at the Colledge without fail . . . After appearing before the King in Council, John duly won his case. He shared his victory with Ann: "Notwithstanding the many intollerable abuses, lyes, & slanders that have been every way contriv'd to hurt me ... I am at length honourably and publickly acquitted before the highest Court of the kingdom !" John seemed aware of Ann's social isolation in New London, as he assured her, "tho you were disregarded & obliged to dine alone on the Connecticut Thanksgiving Day, . . now rejoyce openly. "
However, to Ann in New London, this costly triumph was a hollow victory. Missing John, she wrote in 1728, "I am much distresst for you, not having heard from you for six months..." and then related the trials she underwent in securing care of his estates. She could not pay John's debts nor borrow money from the Lieutenant Governor, and confessed "I dare not resent it because I am forst to be obliged to him in many things ." As Ann took on the day-to-day management of the household, she acted as a "deputy husband," passing on financial information to John, and engaging managers to check that tenants were paying rent." She came to rely on Joshua Hempstead, a New London resident, for legal advice and sent him on numerous business errands. However, in time, their dealings developed into friendship, as Ann invited him to her home for religious meetings and dinners, as well as for business consultation.
Meanwhile John seemed to adapt well to life in London, taking up lodgings with his wealthy young kinswoman, Henrietta Hyde, who nursed him through his frequent illnesses. He applied for membership in the Royal Society and Hans Sloan and other members vouched for his application, "to become a constant correspondent, when he returns to America. . . "" John frequented the society's meetings, presenting "severall Curiosities from New England. . ." to the membership." Needing funds, he wrote for his son John Still to join him, ostensibly to meet "a young Lady of Fortune & fine accomplishments, and so Nearly Related to so many of the first Rank & Quality her[e]. . ."" However, John Still's visit also had a more covert purpose, as in a confidential letter, he asked his son to "go to Lanthome Hill Unobserved, as privately as you can, [and] about the Hill you will find many White Stones ..." - John Still was to bring the stones, hidden in a bag, over to his father in England. They may have contained the "Two Hundred ounces of Gold Dust ... which is not Insured" that John-Still brought with him on his voyage in the spring of 1742 ." John died in London in 1747, bitterly complaining to the end that: my Owne Children... have even neglected their Duty to me. It is now above four Years Since I had a letter from my Daughter Nanne th6 She writes as fair hand... I think I may very Justly complain for want of the frequent Civillityes of letters from Every Body... Ungrateful Country, but more Cruell people, Adieu ... Upon his estate going to Probate Court, Ann declined to accept the 100 per annum set out for her, choosing her widow's third of property under Connecticut law. However, her refusal to accept John's will was not out of disloyalty, but a desire to secure treasured personal goods to pass on to her daughters.
Ann's later years were spent in settling her children in marriage, as when her daughter Katherine married Samuel Browne of Salem, and Joshua Hempstead attended "a great Entertainment ther in stead of Wedding ... I was yesterday Informed of it & Invited & presented with a pr of [gloves]. In 1750, Ann married the local physician and prominent New London townsman Jeremiah Miller." After Miller's death in 1756, her daughter Ann looked after her, residing in the old Winthrop home together. Ann's last surviving letter is to her sister Mary, assuring her sister that she had "Lived the Date of Mans Life [plus] :14: Years..." Apparently secure of her salvation by daily prayers for grace, Ann died in 1776, the matriarch in an ever-expanding family.
Ann sought to live her life well; to her, that meant following her religion and societal roles. She strove to be at once a good daughter and sister to the Dudleys, a loving wife to an unusual man, and a caring mother to her children. However, Ann faced a difficult job,.at least for most women of her time, as the mistress of vast estates. Ann reacted to this with her characteristic tenacity of purpose. She single-mindedly sought to build up the estates once more, as a means of securing both her and her children's future. When faced with an outdated will, she challenged it, choosing to claim her Widow's third of the lands which she had worked so hard to improve.
Ann sought to lead a life of duty; she probably did not think of herself as forging a new path in any sense. Rather, she dutifully strove to ensure happiness and financial security for her family. Her life reveals that women could meet both traditional expectations and adapt to social changes in the tumultuous world of eighteenth century America. She signed her letters to John, and indeed, lived her life, as "your most faithful Loveing frind, chast[e] and true & Dutifull ... til Deth."
- - - - - Kathryn A. Clippinger