Gov. John Endicott was born 1588 in Chagford, Devonshire, England, United Kingdom to Thomas Endicott (c1560-) and died 15 March 1665 Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States of unspecified causes. He married Anne Gourer (1588-c1630) in England, United Kingdom.


John Endecott (also spelled Endicott) regarded as one of the Fathers of New England, was the longest-serving Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which became the State of Massachusetts. He served a total of 16 years including most of the last 15 years of his life. When not serving as governor, he was involved in other elected and appointed positions from 1628-1665 except for the single year of 1634.

Endecott was a zealous and somewhat hotheaded Puritan, with Separatist attitudes toward the Anglican Church. This sometimes put him at odds with Nonconformist views that were dominant among the colony's early leaders, which became apparent when he gave shelter to the vocally Separatist Roger Williams. Endecott also argued that women should dress modestly and that men should keep their hair short, and issued judicial decisions banishing individuals who held religious views that did not accord well with those of the Puritans. He notoriously defaced the English flag because he saw St George's Cross as a symbol of the papacy, and had four Quakers put to death for returning to the colony after their banishment. An expedition he led in 1636 is considered the opening offensive in the Pequot War, which practically destroyed the Pequot tribe as an entity.

Endecott used some of his properties to propagate fruit trees; a pear tree he planted still lives in Danvers, Massachusetts. He also engaged in one of the earliest attempts to develop a mining industry in the colonies when copper ore was found on his land. His name is found on a rock in Lake Winnipesaukee, carved by surveyors sent to identify the Massachusetts colony's northern border in 1652. Places and institutions are named for him, and (like many early colonists) he has several notable descendants.


Most of what is known about John Endecott's origins is the result of research conducted since the 1990s. Biographers of the 19th century believed he was from the Dorset town of Dorchester because of his significant later association with people from that place. In the early 20th century, historian Roper Lethbridge proposed that Endecott was born circa 1588 in or near Chagford in Devon. Interestingly, in the 16th century the prominent Endecott family, together with the Whiddons, Knapmans and Lethbridges, owned most of the mines around the stannary town of Chagford, which might - if he is indeed from this family - explain the Governor's interest in developing copper mining. (Based on this evidence, Chagford now has a house from the period named in Endecott's honour.) However, more recent research by the New England Historic Genealogical Society has identified problems with Lethbridge's claims, which they dispute. Endecott has more recently been definitively determined to have been born in 1588 in Chagford, to Thomas Endecott and an unnamed mother, who died shortly after his birth.

Very little is known of Endecott's life before his association with colonisation efforts in the 1620s. He was known to Sir Edward Coke, and may have come to know Roger Williams through this connection. He was highly literate, and spoke French. Some early colonial documents refer to him as "Captain Endecott", indicating some military experience, and other records suggest he had some medical training.

Endicott's raid

Engraving depicting Endecott's landing on Block Island

This person participated in Endicott's raid, an English ambush on indian settlements conducted by about 90 militia troops from Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony in August 1636 at the start of the Pequot War. This force was led by former colonial governor John Endicott (1588-1665) zealously seeking to punish native americans for the deaths of some English traders in the region.

Marriage & Family

1st Marriage: Anne Gourer

Before he came to the colonies in 1628, Endecott was married to his first wife, Anne Gourer, who was a cousin of Governor Matthew Craddock.

2nd Marriage: Elizabeth Gibson

After her death in New England, he was married August 17, 1630 to Elizabeth Gibson, the daughter of Philobert Cogan of Somersetshire. It is uncertain whether these represent two different wives, or a single wife whose name was Elizabeth (Cogan) Gibson. Because of the uncertainty concerning his wives, it is not known who the mother of his two sons was.

There is only firm evidence that he was already married to Elizabeth in 1640, and the records that survive for the 1630s, when his sons were born, do not otherwise identify his wife by name. Endecott's last wife, Elizabeth, was a sister-in-law of the colonial financier and magistrate Roger Ludlow. Endecott's two known children were John Endecott and Dr. Zerubabbel Endecott, neither of whom, seemingly to his disappointment, followed him into public service. There is also evidence that Endecott fathered another child in his early years in England; in about 1635 he arranged funds and instructions for the care of a minor also named John Endecott.


Offspring of Gov. John Endicott and Anne Gourer (1588-c1630)
Name Birth Death Joined with
John Endicott (c1632-)
Zerubbabel Endicott (1635-)


Notable Descendants

Endecott's descendants include Massachusetts governor Endicott Peabody and United States Secretary of War William Crowninshield Endicott. His descendants donated family records dating as far back as the colonial era to the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1930, the Massachusetts tercentenary was marked by the issuance of a medal bearing Endecott's likeness; it was designed by Laura Gardin Fraser. Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts (once a part of Salem) is named for him.



Footnotes (including sources)

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