John Endicott

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John Endicott

John Endicott (c. 1588March 15, 1665), sometimes Endecott, was a colonial magistrate, soldier and governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

John Endicott was most likely born before 1600. His origins, as of yet, have not been discovered—although there is a building named after him in the English town of Chagford, locally claimed to be his birthplace. Almost nothing is known of him before his presence as one of the six original patentees of the Dorchester Company. This group of Puritan settlers bought land from the Plymouth Company, and settled it in 1628, two years before the arrival of John Winthrop's fleet. Endicott was chosen to lead the first expedition, and he settled with sixty other men in Naumkeag, which would soon become Salem, Massachusetts. The land had been previously settled by one Roger Conant, who had left Plymouth Colony two years before.

Nathaniel Hawthorne relates a story about these years, The Maypole of Merry Mount, where Endicott's strict Puritanism came into conflict with the previous settlers. Endicott was the local governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from April 1629 to June 1630, when John Winthrop brought the charter to Salem and became governor of the colony as well as of the company. Though he was no longer at the head of the colony, Endicott continued to serve in several important positions, including a stint as the leader of a failed expedition against the Pequot in 1636. Though it seems slightly out of character, Endicott strongly defended the religious dissenter Roger Williams, and, around that time, he was alleged to have cut the Cross of St. George from an English flag in protest of the use of the symbols of the Catholic Church. He served as deputy-governor from 1641 to 1644, and governor in 16441645. At times he was also the commander-in-chief of the militia and a commissioner and president of the United Colonies of New England.

After John Winthrop died in 1649, Endicott was elected governor, and by annual re-elections served continuously until his death, with the exception of two years (16501651 and 16541655), when he was deputy-governor.

According to the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica, "Under his authority the colony of Massachusetts Bay made rapid progress, and except in the matter of religious intolerance in which he showed great bigotry and harshness, particularly towards the Quakers, his rule was just and praiseworthy. Of him Edward Eggleston says: A strange mixture of rashness, pious zeal, genial manners, hot temper, and harsh bigotry, his extravagances supply the condiment of humour to a very serious history; it is perhaps the principal debt posterity owes him. He died on the March 15, 1665."

Biographical Information

Endicott married for the first time, probably before 1628, Anne Gower. After her death, he was married to the daughter of Philobert Cogan, of Somersetshire. Anne Gower was named by governor Matthew Craddock as a cousin of his, and Endicott's second wife was a sister-in-law of the colonial financier and magistrate Roger Ludlow. Endicott had two children with his second wife, neither of whom, seemingly to his disappointment, followed him into public service. Despite his high position, Endicott was never wealthy, and he died in poverty.


Robert Charles Anderson. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 16201633, vols. 1–3. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1995.

See C. M. Endicott, Memoirs of John Endecott (Salem, 1847), and a Memoir of John Endecott in Antiquarian Papers of the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, Mass., 1879).

Preceded by:
John Winthrop
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Succeeded by:
Thomas Dudley
Preceded by:
John Winthrop
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Succeeded by:
Thomas Dudley
Preceded by:
Thomas Dudley
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Succeeded by:
Richard Bellingham
Preceded by:
Richard Bellingham
Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony
Succeeded by:
Richard Bellingham

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