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Winthrop, John (1588-1649), American colonial administrator of Massachusetts, born in Edwardstone, West Suffolk, England, educated at the University of Cambridge, and trained for the law at Gray's Inn, in London. In 1623 he was appointed to the lucrative position of attorney in the court of wards and liveries, but he lost that post in 1629, probably because of his Puritan beliefs and associations. Later in 1629 the Massachusetts Bay Company in London selected him to govern its colony in New England. With some 700 Puritan settlers, Winthrop sailed from Yarmouth in March 1630, and landed at Salem, Massachusetts, on June 12. Shortly thereafter he settled in the Shawmut Peninsula community, later renamed Boston.
Winthrop was elected governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony 12 times between 1630 and 1649. Believing that the colony could be more effectively governed by a few learned and pious leaders, he opposed an unlimited democracy. For this reason, while serving as deputy governor under Sir Henry Vane, he concluded that the doctrines of the religious reformer Anne Hutchinson threatened to subvert moral law. Winthrop presided over the court that found Anne Hutchinson guilty and banished her from the colony. In 1643 he helped to organize the New England Confederation, which he served as the first president. Winthrop's administrative ability and wisdom were in large part responsible for the early prosperity of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His journals were published in 1825-1826 as The History of New England 1630-1649.