Alice Morse Earle.

Margaret Winthrop online

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Margaret Tyndal's Home in England — Her Family
— John Winthrop's Love-letters — Puritan Methods
of Courtship in the Days of King James — One of
Serjeant Earle's Love-letters I


Groton Manor — Suffolk County Manners and Cus-
toms — Puritan Influences Surrounding the Win-
throp Household — Tolling the Passing-Bell — Mar-
garet's Letters to Her Husband— English Town
and Country Life IQ


Domestic Arrangements in Margaret Winthrop's
Household — The Duties of the Maids — The Mak-
ing of Malt — Cooking — How Linen and Woollen
Homespun were Made — A Young Lady's School
Expenses in 1646 — Women's Dress — Court Cos-
tumes of the Day 53


A Famous Tract — Its Influence in Turning Men to
New England — Its Authorship Attributed to Win-
throp — The Cambridge Agreement — Why the Puri-
tans were Driven to Emigrate — Social, Political and
Religious Questions — Winthrop Sails on the Ar-
bella 100


Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony — A
Gloomy .Jew England Winter — Winthrop's Daily
Life as Told in His Journal — Curious History of
the Original of this Journal — The Governor's Let-
ters to His Wife — She Joins Her Husband in 1631 . 138


The Boston of Margaret Winthrop's Day — An In-
ventory of the Estate of Governor Winthrop Taken
in 1649 — Its Value as Illustrating the Social and
Domestic Condition of the Colonists — The Gov-
ernor's Bequest of Books to Harvard College — The
Winthrop House in Boston — Margaret's Daily Life
— Household Matters 171


Influence of English University Men — Margaret
Winthrop's House a Center of Social and Political
Activity — Hawthorne's Picture of Colonial Boston
— Distinguished Visitors — Amusing and Adventur-
ous Characters — The Indians 19S


Lucy Downing, the Governor's Sister, a Distinct
Personality — Her Letters to Margaret and to Gov-
ernor Winthrop — Her Sense of Humor — Mary
Dudley's Letters — Her Experience with an Insolent
Servant— Penelope Pelham, Joanna Hoar and Others
— Match-making 221


Winthrop's Religious Fervor — Margaret's Connec-
tion with the First Church of Boston — The Service
— Influence of John Cotton— Church Government
and Administration — Manner of Public Worship , 255


Her Part in a Famous Religious Controversy —
Winthrop's Share in Her Banishment— Her Con-
verts—Her Relations with Margaret Winthrop . 269


Visits of La Tour, D' Aulnay and of Madam La
Tour to Boston — Winthrop's Account of their Mis-
sions — A Show of Bravery in Honor of the Gallic
Ambassadors — An Amusing Occurrence — Their
Pate 288


How the Massachusetts Charter was Protected —
Winthrop's Attitude Towards Witchcraft — The
Impeachment of Winthrop — Death of Margaret
Winthrop in 1647 — Her Husband's Entry m His
Journal — Her Children and Her Descendants — Her
Character 309











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My knowledge of the events of Margaret
Winthrop' 8 life has been gained largely through
the printed collections of the Massachusetts His-
torical Society, chiefly in those volumes known
as the Winthrop Papers. For cordial permis-
sion to use extracts from those papers in this
biography , I here express my thanks to the offi-
cers of that Society. The Life of John Win-
throp, hy Mr. Robert C. Winthrojy, has also
been free for purposes of quotation ; to the
author's son, Mr. Robert C. Winthrop, Jr., of
Boston, I give sincere thanks for this courtesy.
The Journal of John Winthrop, known as Win-
throp's History of Neiv England, is invaluable
to every student of early times in that colony ;
I have used its statements and tvords to as large
an extent as possible. Those vast and interest-
ing volumes known as the Memorial History of
Boston have been fidl of suggestions to me.
The work of the Historical Manuscripts Com-
mission of Great Britain has furnished me


ivith historical facts ; and hundreds of letters^
diaries^ and tracts, written during the first half
of the seventeenth century, have been carefully
read and noted, and have all hel'ped to afford
the details of customs and 7nanners during those
years, I have not aimed to give any extended
history of public or political events, but have
simply referred to such succession of public
occurrences as had ascendency over the influ-
ences, or bearing upon the circumstances, of
Margaret Winthrop' s life.

In drawing the picture of her life in Eng-
land, I have heeded little the records of the
court and of fashionable town-life, or of the
pompous routine of vast estates, but have gath-
ered ivholly from the existing records of the
life of the families of English country gentle-
men, lords of the manor. And as far as
possible I have given the words and thoughts of
Puritan diary-writers and authors, believing
that in methods of living and thought these
ivriters would be closely in touch ivith the life
of John and Margaret Winthrop. I have also
limited my authorities largely to those of the
counties of Suffolk and Essex, — the homes of
Margaret Winthrop ; for in that day different
counties of Emgland were like different eoun-


trieSy and the recounting of the manners and
customs of residents of Northumberland, Devon,
or Yorkshire could never he a true portrayal
of ivays of living in Crroton Manor in Suf-
folk. The researches for these facts of manor-
life in Essex and Suffolk have been of special
interest and facility to me, for they have been
among my own forbears and kinsfolk; and I
trust my affection and respect for their memory,
and possibly the power of heredity, have given
to me a clearer insight into the lives and
motives of these Puritan gentlemen and gentle-


Brooklyn Heights, May, 1895.



Down the narrow byways and lanes between
the green hop-fields and hedgerows of sunny
Essex, along the sedgy fens and lily-pulks on
the banks of the river Stour, through the shad-
owy bridle-paths of the forests of Suffolk, there
rode one September day, over two centuries and
a half ago, an English gentleman a-courting.
He was not a gay and gallant cavalier, but a
grave Puritan lawyer and country squire, sober
by nature, and now, though but thirty-one years
of age, saddened more deeply by the death of
his two gentle English wives, and the thought
of his four little motherless children.

The third wife, whom he was now seeking,
was no longer young, as the age of women was
regarded in those days : she was twenty-seven,
and she too was acquainted with grief ; so this
choice of John Winthrop's was one of prudence
1 1


and good sense and compatibility, as well as of

Margaret Tyndal's home, to which John Win-
throp rode, was in Great Maplestead in Essex
County, — a fine manor-house called Chelmshey
House. This mansion had been built by her
father, Sir John Tyndal, to please her mother,
Lady Anne Tyndal, who wished to live near the
splendid home of her son by a former marriage,
Sir John Deane. The Deanes and Tyndals
were folk of much dignity and influence in the
county. Sir John Tyndal was Master in Chan-
cery, and lost his life through an adverse deci-
sion given in his Court. Walter Yonge, in a
contemporary diary, gives this account of his
assassination : —

*' Sir John Tyndal, one of the masters of Chan-
cery, was shot with a dagge by one Mr Bertram,
an old gentleman of seventy years of age, for mak-
ing divers reports against him in Chancery to the
overthrow of Bertram, his wife and children."

The decision which provoked this groundless
murder involved only a petty sum, — scarce two
hundred pounds. The murderer was at once
thrown into prison, and in six days hanged
himself in his cell. Sir Thomas Bacon, Attor-
ney-General to the Crown, examined the case,
and wrote to the King's favorite " Steenie," the



Duke of Buckingham : " Sir John Tyndal as to
his cause is a kind of martyr ; for if ever he
made a just report in his life, this was it."
Margaret's brother, Arthur Tyndal, wrote thus
on 22d November, 1616, to his widowed mother,
of his father's vindication in character : —

" God hath wrought wonderously already in stop-
ping the mouthes of malicious and naughtie people.
Por the vilde wretch that had pretended a wrongs
donne to him by my father and labouring to main-
tains it, God not suffering the blood of his saints
to lye too longe unrevenged, delivered this caitiffe
over to Sathan, in a most marvellous sort dispair-
inge of Gods mercie. All the grave examiners of
that business proclaime my fathers integritie and
say if it had been theire case they must have been
subject to tlie pistol too, for they would have done
as he did."

The widowed Lady Anne Tyndal looked with
much favor on John Wintlirop's courtship of
her daughter Margaret ; for his uprightness of
life and his earnest religious convictions made
him a suitor welcome to any tender and thought-
ful mother, and his beauty of cliaractcr and his
affectionate nature made him equally welcome
as a lover to any high-minded and loving

We know well how this sober but eager Puri-
tan lover looked, what manner of man he was;



for several good portraits of him still exist, — ■
portraits showing him in rich but sad-colored
garments, not wearing the plain, straight fall-
ing-band beloved of the Puritans, but with the
more ornamental, more worldly neck-ruff. The
set plaits and flaring width of this broad neck-
ruff help to aid in his likenesses his general
resemblance to what has been termed the Eliza-
bethan type of features, — a dignified, refined,
intellectual expression, common to portraits of
the time of Elizabeth, and which, as shown in
the countenance of Winthrop, makes him seem
almost of genetic likeness to Shakespeare,
Raleigh, Bacon, and other well-known faces of
the sixteenth century. His flowing locks and
sober beard, his thoughtful forehead and clear-
cut features, combine to make a picture which,
even at first glance, is unmistakably that of a
sincere and kindly English gentleman.

Though John Wintlirop might be deemed
Elizabethan in expression and bearing, we know,
from the testimony of his life, his journal, his
letters, that he was not Elizabethan in nature
and temper. For he was ever orderly, never
capricious ; he had an intense domestic tender-
ness, rather than the broad geniality of the
Elizabethan age ; he was just, rather than sym-
pathetic ; his pulse beat with an equable and
firm force, never with the bounding delight



which marked the Elizabethan temperament.
He had a Christian courteoiisness rather than
a cavalier courtliness ; he was reflective,
self-restrained, and dignified, but always
kind. John Milton has been held by many to
be the noblest type of a Puritan. I think
that John Winthrop, as seen both in his public
career and his domestic life, in deeds as well
as words, is a far nobler personification of the
essential spirit and flower of Puritanism.

Early in the progress of this courtship by
this noble Puritan wooer, a love-letter was
written, which fortunately still exists. It is
a love-letter to Margaret Tyndal, but it was
not written to her by her lover, but by her
lover's father, Adam Winthrop. It is so
quaint in expression, so tender in sentiment,
so winning, that it certainly occupies a unique
position, showing us what a delightful, inter-
esting old courtier a Puritan father-in-law
could be. It shall be given, deservedly, a
first place among the love-letters in this
account of ^largaret Winthrop's courting. It
is written in Adam Winthrop's most careful
and largest hand, and evidently with a new
pen, in honor to the "faire ladye. " It is as
follows: —

I am, I assure you (Gentle Mistress Margaret)
alrerly inflamed with a fatherly Love and affection


towardes you; the w'^'' at the first the only re-
port of your modest behaviour, and mielde nature,
did breede in my hearte; but iiowe throughe
the manifest tokens of your true love & con-
stant minde w"'' I perceyve to be settled in you
towards my soonne, the same is exceedingly in-
creased in mee. So that I cannot abstaine from
expressinge it unto you by my pen in my absence,
w"^ my tounge and mouthe I hoj^e shal shortely
declare unto you in presence. And then I doute
not, but I shal have juste cause to prayse God for
you, and to thincke myselfe happy, that in my olds
age I shal iujoye the familiar company of so vir-
tuous and loveing a daughter; and pass the residue
of my dales in peace and quietnes. For I have
hetherto had greate cause to magnifie his holy
name for his loving kindenes & mercy shewed unto
mee in my children, and in those to whom they
have been maried; that bothe I have alwaies
deerly loved and affected them, and they also
most lovinglye and dutifully have used mee. And
therefore I assure you (good Mistress Margaret)
that whatsoever love and kindenes you shal vouch-
safe to shewe hereafter unto mee, I will not only
requite it with tTie like, but also to the utter most
of my power redouble the same. And for that I
would fayne make it a little parte of your fayth
to beleeve, that you shal be happye in matchinge
w*** my soonne. I doe heere faithfully promise for
him (in the presence of almighty God) that he will
alwaies be a most kinde and lovinge husbande unto
you and a provident stuarde for you and yours dur-


ing his lyfe, and also after his deathe. Thus with
my harty comendacions to your selfe, and to the good
Lady your deere mother, confirminge my true Love
and promise unto you, by a token of a smale value,
but of a pure substance w*^"" I sende you by this trusty
bearer, I doe leave you to ye protection of the most
mighty Trinitye, this last of March 1618.
Your assured frende,

Adam Winthrop.

This solemn and confident assurance of
Adam Winthrop for his son was faithfully
fuiniled. John Winthrop was indeed a " most
kinde and lovinge husbande;" and Margaret
Winthrop was truly "happye in match inge "
with him.

There also still exist two of John Winthrop's
love-letters to his "dearest friend and most
heartily beloved Mrs Margaret Tyndal. " The}''
arc very long, too long to be given here in full ;
but portions of thom must be quoted to show
their remarkable Biblical wording, which was
so characteristic of the man and the times.
The Puritan was a "Scripturist with all his
heart. " He took from Scripture his faith, his
laws, his language, often even his names.
The historian Green says the Englishman of
that day wns a man of one book, and that
book the Bildc. The influence of this con-
stant reading and study of the Bible was


plainly shown both in the Puritan's composi-
tion and his forms of speech. Our ordinary
conversation to-day is full of unconscious
quotation from modern popular authors, —
Dickens, Thackeray, Scott, and from Shake-
speare, Pope, and Dryden; but John Winthrop
and his friends used the figures of speech —
the very words — of their only universal book,
the book of their hearts, the Bible; and this
familiar adoption of Bible imagery and poetic
expression, especially as shown in the Apoc-
alypse and the Prophets, gave a certain
nobility of form and ardour of wording, par-
ticularly in matters of sentiment or deep feel-
ing, which may to-day seem sometimes stilted
or over-forcible and occasionally scarcely
cognate, but never trivial or commonplace.

John Winthrop was evidently a deep
student and lover of the books of the Hagio-
grapha, especially of the Song of Solomon;
and in his Christian Experience, — a curious
and touching record of his inmost spiritual
thoughts, — and in many of his letters to his
friends, he adopts the analogies and compari-
sons of that book, where they scarcely seem
so well adapted as in his love-letters. The
Song of Solomon was at that time termed in
the sacred calendar the Canticle of Canticles,
and the text reference in the letter, " Cant ;



2," is to that title. His first love-letter
begins thus : —

" Grace mercie & peace, «S:c;

"My onely beloved Spouse, my most sweet
friend, & faithfull companion of my pilgrimage, the
happye & hopefuU supplie (next Christ Jesus) of
my greatest losses, I wishe thee a most plentifull
increase of all true comfort in the love of Christ,
w"' a large & prosperous addition of whatsoever
happynesse the sweet estate of holy wedlocke, in
the kindest societye of a lovinge husbande, may
afford thee. Beinge filled w"^ the joye of thy
love, & wantinge opportunitye of more familiar
comunion w*'' thee, w"'^ my heart fervently de-
sires, I am constrained to ease the burthen of
my minde by this poore helpe of my scriblinge
penne, beinge sufficiently assured that, although
my presence is that w*^'' thou desirest, yet in the
want thereof, these lines shall not be unfruitfull
of comfort unto thee. And now, my sweet Love,
lett me a whyle solace my selfe in the remembrance
of our love, of w*^*^ this springe tyme of acquaint-
ance can putt forthe as yet no more but the leaves
& blossomes, whilest the fruit lyes wrapped up in
the tender budd of hope; a little more patience
will disclose this good fruit, & bringe it to some
maturitye; let it be o"^ care & labour to preserve
these hopefull budds from the beasts of the fielde,
& from frosts & other injuryes of the ayre, least o*"
fruit fall off ere it be ripe, or lose ought in the
beautye & pleasantnesse of it; Lett us pluck up


suche nettles & thorns as would defraud o'' plants
of their due nourishment; let us pruine off super-
fluous branches; let us not sticke at some labour in
wateringe & manuringe them; the plentye & good-
nesse of o' fruit shall recompense us abundantly;
o"" trees are planted in afruitfull soyle; the grounde,
& patterne of o' love, is no other but that between
Christe & his dear spouse, of whom she speakes as
she finds him. My welbeloved is mine & I am his;
Love was their banqueting house, love was their
wine, love was their ensigne; (Cant; 2.) love was
his invitinges, love was hir fayntinges; love was
his apples, love was hir comforts; love was his
embracings, love was hir refreshinge; love made
him see hir, love made hir seeke him; (Jer; 2. 2.
Ezek; 16.) love made him wedd hir, love made her
followe him; love made him his saviour, love makes
hir his servant. (Jo; 3. 16. Deut; 10. 12.) Love
bred o'' fellowshippe, let love continue it, & love
shall increase it, until deathe dissolve it. The
prime fruit of the spirit is love; (Gal; 5. 22.)
truethe of Spirit & true love: abound w*** the
spirit, & abounde w''^ love; continue in the spirit
& continue in love; Christ in his love so fill o"'
hearts w'^ holy hunger & true appetite, to eate &
drinke w*^ him & of him in this his sweet Love
feast, w*^** we are now preparing unto, that when
o"^ love feast shall come, Christ Jesus himselfe
may come in unto us, & suppe w*^ us, & we w'*"
him; so shall we be merrye indeed. (0 my sweet
Spouse) can we esteeme eache others love, as worthy
the recompense of o"' best mutuall affections, & can



we not discerne so muclie of Christs exceedinge &
undeserved love, as may cheerfully allure us to love
him above all? He loved us & gave himself for us;
& to helpe the weaknesse of the eyes & hande &
mouthe of o'' faithe, ■vv'^'* must seeke him in heaven
where he is, he offers himselfe to the eyes, hands
& mouthe of o"" bodye, heere on earthe where he
once was. The Lord increace o'^ faithe."

Margaret Winthrop did not say of this, as
of a later letter, that it served as a sermon to
her, but she might well have done so, I
select two paragraphs from a second letter to
show that some opposition was made to the
marriage by Margaret Tyndal's relatives, —
not because it was an unequal match, but sim-
ply because Adam Winthrop was still Lord of
the Manor, and John Winthrop's income was
consequently small, and his power of settle-
ment of money upon a wife was very limited.
John Winthrop was, therefore, without fortune
or fame, and he was also burdened with the
expense of a family of four children.

"By this w*^*^ I have allreadye written I may
seeme to confirrae those objections w'='' thy friends
have moved, & to grant that there should be great
causes of discouragement offered thee in outward
respects; But I trust I shall make it appeare that
thou shalt have no wronge or disparagement by
matchinge w"* mo, all things beingo indifferently


considered; I confesse it is possible that I may die
verye soone, «& then thy maintenance for a while
may be somewhat lesse then convenient; but it is
more likely that I may live a fewe yeares w'*' thee,
w'^'' will certainly better thy conditio. But whether
I live longer or lesse while, I can lett thee see how,
w"" a little patience, thy meanes may be better
than 80"* a 3'eare ; yet can I promise no more for
present certaintye then I have formerly acquainted
thy friends w""; neither would I that thou shouldest
make this knowne to them. I had rather that they
should finde it then expecte it. Whatsoever shall
be wantinge of that w"*^ thy love deserves, my
kindest affection shall endeavour to supplie, whilst
I live, & what I leave unsatisfied (as I never hope
to be out of thy debt) I will sett over to Him who
is able, & will recompence thee to the full; & for
the present, I wish thee to followe the prophets
exhortatio Psal; 27, 14. Waite on the Lord, be of
good courage, & he shall strengthen thyne heart;
Waite I say on the Lorde. . . .

" Havinge seariously considered of that unequall
conflicte w*^** for my sake thou didst lately sustaine,
& wherein yet, (although the odds were great), God
beinge on thy side, thou gatest the victorye, I have
had from hence a large provocatio to acknowledge
Gods providence & speciall favour towards me, & to
give him thankes for so great experience as hathe
been offred me heerby of thy godlinesse, love, wis-
dome, «& inviolable constancie ; — w*^** as in itselfe
it deserves all approbatio, so in me it is of suche
vertue as the more I thinke of it, the more it drawes



& knitts my heart unto thee, and hathe setled that
estimatio of thy love therein, as (I am truly
persuaded) nothinge but deathe shall aholishe or
diminishe it. Such an invincible resolutio could
not have been founds in a poore fraile woman, had
not thine amies been strengthened by the mightie
God of Jacob. He it was w*^** gave an other
spirit to thj^selfe & that good Lady thy mother,
w*^ Caleb &, Josuah, constantly to followe the Lord
against all the discouragements of the greater

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