Tour Talk

Issue #6, February 2012

Margaret Tyndal, Third Wife of John Winthrop

John Winthrop’s second marriage, to Thomasine Clopton, lasted barely a year, and on 8 December 1616 he became a widower for the second time. Unlike the first time he was widowed, when he waited less than six months to remarry, on this second occasion he did not remarry for nearly a year and a half.

On 29 April 1618, he married Margaret Tyndal at Great Maplestead, Essex, a few miles to the southwest of Sudbury, Suffolk, and just over ten miles southwest of Groton. She was daughter of Sir John Tyndall of Great Maplestead [Muskett, Suffolk Manorial Families, 1:146-54].

After their marriage, John and Margaret returned to Groton, where six children were born to them, two more were born in New England. Four of these children died young, while four [sons Stephen, Adam, Deane and Samuel] survived to adulthood and married. (Sir John Tyndal’s wife was Anne (Egerton) Deane, widow of William Deane of Great Maplestead. Because of this connection, John and Anne named a son Deane, and John and Margaret (Tyndal) Winthrop followed in this tradition.)

When John Winthrop sailed for New England in 1630, Margaret was in the late stages of her sixth pregnancy, and stayed behind at Groton, where she delivered a daughter Anne, who was baptized there on 29 April 1630. John Winthrop and the Winthrop Fleet were on that date already three weeks at sea, passing the latitude of the Azores [WJ 1:17].

After nearly thirty years of marriage, by far the longest of John Winthrop’s four marriages, Margaret (Tyndal) Winthrop died at Boston on 14 June 1647. John and Margaret were separated for much of the time from late 1629, when he began the intensive preparations for the Winthrop Fleet, until late 1631, when she finally joined him in New England. During those two years they exchanged many letters, which reveal a great deal about her character and about their marriage. This correspondence may be found in the second and third volumes of the published Winthrop Papers.

Arthur Tyndal, brother of Margaret (Tyndal) Winthrop, came to New England on the Winthrop Fleet, but he returned almost immediately to old England and was buried at Great Maplestead on 3 October 1633, apparently unmarried.

William Laud

As we continue to iron out the details of the tour, we have just made the arrangements to spend the afternoon of Sunday, August 19, prior to our visit to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, at Fulham Palace, in the western precincts of London. There are many reasons to visit Fulham Palace, including a museum and a pleasant garden. For our purposes, however, the most important reason is that Fulham Palace was the official residence of the Bishop of London and, during the time of interest to us, from 1628 to 1633, this would have been William Laud.

William Laud was born in Reading in 1573 and entered St. John’s College, Oxford, in 1589, receiving his B.A. in 1594 and his M.A. in 1598. He became a Fellow of St. John’s and held a number of other offices there. Although he was more of a politician than a theologian, his inherently conservative approach to life made him a lifelong opponent of the then dominant Calvinist group in the Church of England. In time he became associated with the Arminian party in the church, those who opposed the strict predestinarian doctrines of the Calvinists, holding instead that man could attain saving grace at least in part through his own labors.

Because of his anti-Calvinist position, Laud did not rise as rapidly in the church as did others of his abilities. He held offices at Oxford and a prebendary at Westminster, for example. In 1616 James I appointed Laud to the position of Dean of Gloucester, where he immediately became notorious by insisting that the altar table be moved from its east-west orientation in the nave (tablewise) back to the east end of the chancel in a north-south orientation (altarwise). This was calculated to infuriate the Puritans, and was a warning of what his policies would be as he moved up the ecclesiastical ladder.

As the Arminian party began to grow in strength in the latter years of the reign of James I, Laud was finally inducted as bishop of St. David’s in 1621, then as bishop of Bath and Wells in 1626, of London in 1628, and then Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. During the latter years of the reign of James I, he also attached himself to the royal favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, but managed to survive the demise of that shooting star and gain the full confidence of King Charles I.

Even before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Laud was clearly the leading force in the Arminian party, but not until he became archbishop was he able to fully implement his anti-Calvinist and anti-Puritan policies throughout the kingdom. During the tour we will be paying attention to his years as Bishop of London, a diocese which then included all of Essex and Hertfordshire.

Although now nearly seventy years old, the biography of Laud by Hugh Trevor-Roper remains one of the most important and most accessible studies of this central figure of the first half of seventeenth century England: Hugh Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud: 1573-1645 (London, 1940).

Massachusetts Bay Company: The Precursors (Part II)

In the early 1620s a number of West Country merchants and ministers of a Puritan bent became interested in beginning a settlement in New England. On 18 February 1622/3, they petitioned the Council for New England for a patent and, although the records of the Council are incomplete, this patent was apparently granted.

Little was done in 1623 to advance this project, but in early 1624 a number of leading citizens of Dorchester, Dorsetshire, held a meeting, which was later termed "The New England Planters Parliament." Second in the list of those present at this meeting was the treasurer, "Mr. Humfreys, Esq.," who is none other than John Humfreys, who later became active in the Massachusetts Bay Company, married a daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, and eventually migrated to New England in 1634. Although we cannot be certain, Reverend John White of Dorchester was probably at this meeting as well. This group was also known as the Dorchester Company.

This group sent settlers to New England in 1624, 1625 and 1626. These immigrants to New England were mostly from the West Country, and formed the core of the settlement at Cape Ann under Roger Conant, which soon moved a few miles west to Naumkeag, later named Salem.

The energy of the Dorchester Company flagged, however, and no further provisions or passengers were sent in 1627. The ministers and merchants then looked toward London and East Anglia for further resources, by which time the Dorchester Company was essentially moribund. John White continued to be active, however, and was the leading force behind the gathering of the passenger complement of the Mary & John in 1630, which would precede the Winthrop Fleet to New England and settle the town of Dorchester in Massachusetts.

In the next installment, we will look at the brief life of the New England Company, the final precursor to the Massachusetts Bay Company.

Recommended Reading

Frances Rose-Troup, John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester [Dorset] and the Founder of Massachusetts, 1575-1648, with an Account of the Early Settlement of Massachusetts, 1620-1630 (New York, 1930). This is a companion volume to Rose-Troup’s study of the formation of the Massachusetts Bay Company, which was recommended in the November Tour Talk. Although billed as a biography of Reverend John White, it is also the most comprehensive study of the Dorchester Company and its activities in New England.

Bob Anderson, Tour Leader
Sandi Hewlett, Assistant Tour Leader

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