Thank you again for your scholarly information, not to mention your wry humour (for some reason objected to their presence).
I have an interest in Family & Social History and over the years have written a number of articles for a local historic society and so forth about groups of people named Atherton that have lived in Lancashire, England between the years of 1350 & 1900.
Some years ago I researched a man named Humphrey Atherton who had been born in Winstanley, Parish of Wigan, Lancashire in 1607 and he was his fathers only son. He belonged to a well recorded family that had been living in this area since 1466 following a land settlement granted to the 'younger son' of a manorial lord.
I am tempted to believe that Humphrey Atherton of Winstanley and Humphrey Atherton of Dorchester, Mass are one of the same man but cannot quite satisfy myself that the profile of the Lancashire man fits the profile of the New England man.
Humphrey Atherton of Winstanley was a minor gentleman. He lived on the margin of gentility and did not work for his living 'as such' but rather on the income yielded by some inherited land holdings. However, such men were expected to participate in local government and were eligible to be appointed to be magistrates. The English class system being as it was meant that leading men in time of war was a perogative of the upper classes and a man like Humphrey would never have been expected to serve in the army other than as an officer.
Whilst I have noted that Humphrey Atherton of Dorchester persued a career in administration, the military and in dispensation of justice I cannot know if these functions were bestowed upon him because of the standing he had enjoyed in England or if these duties could have been bestowed upon any ordinary working man living in the New England colony's.
If you can form an opinion on this issue, I should be very much in your debt.