Throwback Thursday: Happy Birthday, John Winthrop!

The original Bostonian was born 430 years ago.

john winthrop birthday

Portrait via Wikimedia/Creative Commons. Extremely clever illustration by Madeline Bilis

A few 430 years ago, Massachusetts Bay Colony’s first governor and a founder of Boston was born in Suffolk, England.

At the age of 42, lawyer John Winthrop boarded the Arbella for America with a plan for a resilient Puritan society. In his vision for he colony, he famously declared “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Shortly after arriving in Salem, Winthrop and his deputies founded the city of Boston on the Shawmut Peninsula. He served as governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony for 12 terms between 1631 and 1648, and held various other elected positions. Winthrop also oversaw Ten Hills Farm, which later became present day Somerville, and owned Governors Island, the current site of Logan International Airport.

He sailed to the New World without his third wife, as she was due to give birth around the time of his departure. They were reunited a year later, but according to biographer Francis Bremer, while apart, the couple agreed to think of each other between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. each Monday and Friday to stay connected. (Winthrop may have been a bit of a romantic—he also exchanged steamy letters with the same wife.)

After relocating to Massachusetts, he journaled extensively until the end of his life. Today, Winthrop’s writings are referred to as a “History of New England,” since he chronicles the early history of the region through his experiences and observations.

Happy birthday to Massachusetts’ original Bostonian.