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The Winslows

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Edward Winslow Letters
 

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The Winslows

The Edward Winslow whose letters form the subject of this website was deeply rooted in the colony of Massachusetts. In 1620, the first Edward Winslow (1595-1654) in North America arrived in Plymouth on the Mayflower. He served as governor of Plymouth Colony, performed duties as an intermediary with Native Americans, and wrote several books and pamphlets. His son Josiah (1628-1680) attended Harvard College and also held high public offices, including governor and militia leader during King Phillip's War in 1675. Josiah's son Isaac (1670-1738) was chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas and President of the Province of Massachusetts Bay.

Edward Winslow Senior (1713-1784), son of Isaac, continued in the family tradition of Harvard education and public service. As selectman for Plymouth, he was responsible for the town's allotment of Acadians who had been shipped to the colonies in 1755. In the early 1770s, he was deputy collector of customs, registrar of the court of probate and, jointly with his son, justice of the peace in Plymouth. Both men were stripped of their positions in 1775 as the Patriots gained the upper hand over the Loyalists in the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Having publicly aligned himself with the Loyalist cause during the American Revolutionionary War, Edward Winslow Senior and his wife Hannah (1712-1795), along with their three children - Penelope (1743-1810), Edward (1746-1815), and Sarah (1745-1822) - were counted among the Loyalist refugees who moved to Nova Scotia in 1783. Edward Winslow Senior died soon after arriving in Halifax but the rest of the family settled in the new colony of New Brunswick in 1784. Neither Penelope nor Sarah married. Edward Winslow Junior and his wife Mary Symonds (1754-1808) had 12 children, five of whom pre-deceased their father. Two of Edward Winslow's cousins also figured prominently in the Loyalist diaspora: Pelham Winslow, whose father John played a major role in the expulsion of the Acadians in 1755, and Benjamin Marston, the son of Edward Senior's sister Elizabeth.

The prominence of the Winslow family in Massachusetts is reflected in the houses they built. Both the Isaac Winslow House in Marshfield, constructed in 1699, and Edward Winslow's Mansion overlooking Plymouth Rock, still serve as a reminder of the lifestyle of elites in colonial Plymouth. The latter, much altered from its original style, now serves as the headquarters of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

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Additional Resources

Edward Winslow (1595-1654)

This site includes a biography of Edward Winslow as well as his portrait and an image of his signature.

Biography of Edward Winslow

This site reproduces the biography of Edward Winslow published in Through Five Generations, V, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1991.

Portrait of Edward Winslow (1651)

This site provides an image and discussion of the portrait of Edward Winslow that hangs in the Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Portrait of Josiah Winslow (1651)

This site includes the portraits of Josiah Winslow and his wife Penelope Pelham Winslow that hang in the Plymouth Hall Museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Isaac Winslow House

This site includes an image and description of the Isaac Winslow house as well as information on the Winslow family.

The Mayflower Society

This site includes an image and description of the mansion built by Edward Winslow, Senior in Plymouth which is currently the headquarters of General Society of Mayflower Descendants.

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