Born in Suffolk, England in 1588, John Winthrop was the only son of an elite landowner who, following a religious experience in his youth, fervently embraced the Puritan faith. Unhappy in England as a result of both the death of his young wife, Mary Forth, and the court’s increasing intolerance towards Puritanism, he began advocating emigration to the newly-established Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1630, he was elected the colony's governor and set sail on the Arbella along with 400 other eager pilgrims. During his twenty years in Massachusetts Bay, he served twelve terms as governor and his influence had a tremendous lasting effect on its character. Conservative and authoritarian, he opposed any democratic reforms that would take the power of decision-making out of the hands of a select few. He died on the 26th of March, 1649.
Find out more about Winthrop's voyage and the establishment of the colony at the Winthrop Society's website.