Jonathan Trumbull was born 12 October 1710 in Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut, United States to Joseph Trumbull (1678-1755) and Hannah Higley (1683-1768) and died 17 August 1785 Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut, United States of unspecified causes. He married Faith Robinson (1718-1780) 9 December 1735 in Duxbury, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States.

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. (October 12, 1710 – August 17, 1785) (the original spelling, "Trumble", was changed for an unknown reason) was one of the few Americans who served as governor in both a pre-Revolutionary colony and a post-Revolutionary state. During the American Revolution he was one of a very few colonial governors who supported the American side.

Trumbull College at Yale, the town of Trumbull, Connecticut, Trumbull County, Ohio, once part of the Connecticut Western Reserve and the mascot of The University of Connecticut, is named "Jonathan" in his honor.

Early life

Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Trumbull (1678–1755) and his wife née Hannah Higley. He graduated from Harvard College with a B.A. in 1727; three years after graduation, during which time he studied theology under the Rev. Solomon Williams at Lebanon, and was licensed to preach at Colchester, Connecticut, this became a Master of Arts degree. He became a merchant with his father in 1731, participating more fully in the business after the death of his brother at sea in 1732. From 1733-1740, he was a delegate to the general assembly, and, in 1739-40, was Speaker of the House. He was appointed lieutenant colonel in Connecticut's militia in 1739.

He married, on December 9, 1735, Faith Robinson (1718–1780), daughter of Rev. John Robinson. They were the parents of six children including:

  • Joseph Trumbull (1737–1778), first commissary general of the Continental Army and an early member of the Board of War.
  • Jonathan Trumbull, Jr. (1740–1809), Aide-de-camp to General George Washington from 1781 to the end of the war; Governor of Connecticut 1798-1809
  • Faith Trumbull (1743–1775), who married General Jedidiah Huntington
  • Mary Trumbull (1745–1831), who married William Williams, signer of the Declaration of Independence
  • David Trumbull (1751–1822), commissary of the Colony of Connecticut
  • John Trumbull (1756–1843), "Painter of the American Revolution"; aide-de-camp of General George Washington for 19 days in 1775.

He served as deputy-governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1766–1769, and, on the death of Governor William Pitkin, became Governor of Connecticut in 1769, serving in that capacity until 1784.

Revolutionary War

British General Thomas Gage arrived in Boston, a city with a history of violent protests against British policies, on May 13, 1774. Given the problems he was inheriting from Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson, within a week of arriving Gage contacted Trumbull and expressed a "readiness to cooperate" with him "for the good of his Majesty's service."[1] When Gage sent Trumbull a request for assistance after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Trumbull refused and made clear his choice to side with the Patriots. He replied that Gage's troops would "disgrace even barbarians," and he accused Gage of "a most unprovoked attack upon the lives and the property of his Majesty's subjects."[2]

On July 6, 1775, along with other officers, the governor of Connecticut commissioned Nathan Hale as a first lieutenant in the newly raised Seventh Regiment.[3]

Trumbull was a friend and advisor of General Washington throughout the revolutionary period, dedicating the resources of Connecticut to the fight for independence. Washington declared him "the first of the patriots."[4] When Washington was desperate for men or food during the war, he could turn to "Brother Jonathan."[5] He also served as the Continental Army's Paymaster General (Northern Department) in the spring of 1778, until the untimely death of his mother forced him to resign his post. As part of his resignation, he requested that the remainder of his back pay be distributed to the soldiers of the Northern Department.[6]


He was one of only two colonial governors to continue in office after independence (the other was Rhode Island's Nicholas Cooke, who assumed office early in the war).

He received an honorary LL.D. from Yale University in 1775 and from the University of Edinburgh in 1787.

Governor Trumbull died in Lebanon, Connecticut and is buried at the Old Cemetery there. His home in Lebanon, the Jonathan Trumbull House, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

See also


  1. ^ Phelps, Page 48.
  2. ^ Eddlem, Thomas R. 25-AUG-03 The New American
  3. ^ Rose, Page 8.
  4. ^ Phelps, Page 59.
  5. ^ Lefkowitz, Page 232.
  6. ^ Misc Letters to Congress 1775-1789


  • Phelps, M. William (2008). Nathan Hale: The Life and Death of America's First Spy, St. Martin's Press.
  • Lefkowitz, Arthur S.(2003). George Washington's Indispensable Men: The 32 Aides-de-Camp Who Helped Win the Revolution, Stackpole Books.
  • Rose, Alexander (2006). Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, Bantam Books.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
William Pitkin (Colonial Governor)
Governor of Connecticut
Succeeded by
Matthew Griswold

Template:Governors of Connecticut


Offspring of Jonathan Trumbull and Faith Robinson (1718-1780)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Joseph Trumbull (1737-1778)
Jonathan Trumbull (1740-1809)
Faith Trumbull (1742-1775) 25 January 1742 Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut, United States 24 November 1775 Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States Jedediah Huntington (1743-1818)
Mary Trumbull (1745-1831)
David Trumbull (1751-1822)
John Trumbull (1756-1843) 6 June 1756 Lebanon, New London County, Connecticut, United States 10 November 1843 Manhattan, New York, United States Sarah Hope Harvey (1774-1824)


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General

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