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As important to this epoch-making agreement as the Prince of Denmark to the play of Hamlet is the sentence“ Provided always, that before the last of September next, the whole Government, together with the Patent for the sạid Plantation, be first by an order of Court, legally transferred and established to remain with us and others which shall inhabit upon the said Plantation." This was the great condition, we must bear clearly in mind, upon which Saltonstall, Dudley, Winthrop and the rest agreed to leave the land where they had been born and bred, and “ inhabit and continue" in a new land of which they knew nothing. Two months later John Winthrop was chosen head of the enterprise, with the style and title Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Emphatically, Boston has now begun.”
JOHN WINTHROP AND MARGARET, HIS WIFE
FROM every point of view that was a remarkable group of men who boldly declared at Cambridge their resolution to found a state in the new world. Sir Richard Saltonstall was descended from a former lord mayor of London and occupied a place of no little importance in the England of his time; the ancestors of Thomas Dudley had all been men honoured in English history; John Nowell was related to the dean of St. Paul's in the reign of Elizabeth; John Humfrey married a daughter of the Earl of Lincoln; William Vassall was endowed with a positive genius for trade; William Pynchon possessed unusual learning and piety; Isaac Johnson was a man of very large wealth and another son-in-law of the Earl of Lincoln, and Thomas Sharpe, Michael West, Killam Browne and William Colbron were all English country gentlemen of no inconsiderable fortune and of university breeding. But the greatest man of the group was, of course, John Winthrop, who had been chosen to be its head. And his peer in every womanly respect was Margaret, his noble wife.
As a lad Winthrop had received a good education and had been admitted in 1602 into Trinity College, Cambridge. An early lovematch prevented him from staying to take his degree, however, and when only a youth of eighteen, we find him living at Great Stambridge in the County of Essex with his first wife's family,
very wealthy people for that day and of high standing in the community. Six children were born to the happy young pair and then, when the husband and father was only twenty-five, he was left a widower. Within a year he was married again, according to the customs of that period. Then, in another year, this wife and her infant child were also committed to the grave. Up to this time Winthrop's profession had been that of a lawyer but these successive and severe bereavements made him full of misgivings as to his religious condition and he seriously contemplated the abandonment of the law with a view to taking orders as a clergyman. His introspection at this stage of his development is recorded in a manuscript of“ Religious Experiences " which