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Richard Saltonstall - A Stan Kls Biography

Sir Richard Saltonstall

 

SALTONSTALL, Sir Richard, colonist, born in Halifax, England, in 1586; died in England about 1658. He was a nephew of Sir Richard, who was lord mayor of London in 1597. The nephew was justice of the peace for the West Riding of Yorkshire and lord of the manor of Ledsham, near Leeds. He was one of the grantees of the Massachusetts company under the charter that was obtained from Charles I. On 26 August, 1629, Saltonstall, Thomas Dudley, Isaac Johnson, John Winthrop, and eight other gentlemen signed an agreement to pass the seas and to inhabit and continue in New England, provided that the patent and whole government of the plantation should be transferred to them and other actual colonists. The proposition was accepted by the general court of the company, which elected Sir Richard the first-named assistant of the new governor. 

He arrived with Governor Winthrop in the "Arbella" on 22 June, 1630, and began, with George Phillips, the settlement of Watertown, but, owing to the illness of his two young daughters, who, with his five sons, had accompanied him, he returned with them and two of the sons to England in 1631, where he continued to display in all ways the greatest interest in the colony, and to exert himself for its advancement. He was one of the patentees of Connecticut, and sent out a shallop to take possession of the territory. The vessel, on the return voyage, was wrecked on Sable island in 1635. In 1644 he was sent as ambassador to Holland. A portrait that was painted by Rembrandt while he was there is reproduced in the illustration. He was one of the judges of the high court that sentenced the Duke of Hamilton, Lord Capel, and others to death for treason in 1649. In 1651 he wrote to John Cotton and John Wilson a letter of remonstrance in regard to their persecution of the Quakers.

His son, Richard Saltonstall, born in Woodsome, Yorkshire, England, in 1610; died in Huhne, Lancashire, 29 April, 1694, was matriculated at Emanuel college, Cambridge, in 1627, and emigrated to Massachusetts with his father in 1630. He was among the first settlers of Ipswich, and was chosen one of the governor's assistants in 1637. In 1642 he published a polemic against the council appointed for life. In July, 1643, he signed a letter urging the colonial authorities to take warlike measures against the French in Acadia. He befriended the regicides that escaped to New England in 1660, and protested against the importation of negro slaves. In 1672 he returned to England.--

The second Richard's son, Nathauiel Saltonstall, councillor, born in lpswich, Massachusetts, in 1639; died in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 21 May, 1707, was graduated at Harvard in 1659. He was an assistant from 1679 till 1686, and was offered a seat in the council by Sir Edmund Andros, but declined. After the deposition of that governor he was chosen one of the council under the charter of William and Mary. In 1692 he was appointed one of the judges in a special commission of oyer and terminer to try the persons accused of practicing witchcraft in Salem. Reprobating the spirit of persecution that prevailed, and foreseeing the outcome of the trials, he refused to accept the commission.

Nathaniel's son, Gurdon Saltonstall, governor of Connecticut (pictured above), born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 27 March, 1666; died in New London, Connecticut, 20 September, 1724. was graduated at Harvard in 1684, studied theology, and was ordained minister of New London, Connecticut, on 19 November, 1691. He was distinguished not only for learning and eloquence, but for knowledge of affairs and elegance of manners. He was one of a committee that was deputed by the Connecticut assembly to wait upon the Earl of Bellomont when he arrived in New York in 1698, and was frequently called on to assist in public business. While Governor Fitz John Winthrop was ill, Saltonstall, who was his pastor, acted as his chief adviser and representative, and on the death of the governor was chosen by the assembly to be his successor, entering on his functions on 1 January, 1708.

In the following May he was confirmed in the office at the regular election. His first official act was to propose a synod for the adoption of a system of ecclesiastical discipline. The Saybrook platform, which was the outcome of his suggestion, was by his influence made to conform in some essentials to the Presbyterian polity. Governor Saltonstall was appointed agent of the colony in 1709 for the purpose of conveying an address to Queen Anne urging the conquest of Canada, and raised a large contingent in Connecticut for the disastrous expedition of Sir Hovenden Walker. He set up in his house the first printing-press in the colony in 1709, and was active in the arrangements for establishing Yale college, influencing the decision to build at New Haven instead of at Hartford, making the plans and estimates, and during the early years of the college taking the chief part in the direction of its affairs. He was continued in the office of governor by annual election till his death.

Gurdon's nephew, Richard Saltonstall, jurist, born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 24 June, 1703; died 20 October, 1756, was graduated at Harvard in 1722, and in 1728 was chosen to represent Haverhill in the general court. Subsequently he was a member of the council. From 1736 till he resigned a few months before his death he was a judge of the superior court. He was chairman of a commission that was appointed in 1637 to trace the boundary-line between Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Gurdon's son, Gurdon Saltonstall, soldier, born in New London, Connecticut, 22 December, 1708; died in Norwich, Connecticut, 19 September, 1785, was graduated at Yale in 1725. He was appointed colonel of militia in 1739, served at the siege of Louisburg in 1745, and was one of the commissioners for fitting out expeditions against Canada. He was a member of the general assembly in 1744-'8. then of the house of assistants till 1754, and afterward was sent to the assembly again at intervals till 1757. From 1751 till his death he was judge of probate at New London. In September, 1776, he was appointed brigadier-general of militia, and reported to General Washington at Westchester with nine regiments.--

The see-end Gurdon's nephew, Dudley Saltonstall, naval officer, born in New London, Connecticut, 8 September, 1738; died in the West Indies in 1796, commanded the "Alfred" in Commander Esek Hopkins's squadron in February, 1776, and on 10 October, 1776, was appointed fourth in the list of captains of the Continental navy. He was commodore of the fleet that left Boston in , July, 1779, to reduce a British post on Penobscot river. Saltonstall was desirous of attacking as soon as they arrived, but General Solomon Lovell, the commander of militia, was unwilling. When Sir George Collier appeared off the coast with a formidable naval force, the Americans re-embarked. Saltonstall drew up his vessels in order of battle at the mouth of the river, but was greatly overmatched, and his men were demoralized. As soon as the enemy came near, his ship. the "Warren," was run on shore and burned. Other vessels were deserted in the same manner, while the rest were captured by the enemy. The crews and the land-forces fled to the woods, and made their way by land to Boston. A court of inquiry, wishing to shield the state militia, and, perhaps, establish a claim on the Continental government for a part of the expenses by inculpating a Continental officer, blamed Saltonstall for the disastrous termination of the expedition, which had involved Massachusetts in a debt of $7,000,000, and on 7 October, 1779, he was dismissed the service. He afterward commanded the privateer "Minerva," and among the prizes taken by him was the "ttannah," a merchant ship bound for New York with a valuable cargo.--

The third Richard's son, Richard Saltonstall, soldier, born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 5 April, 1732; died in England, 6 October, 1785, was graduated at Harvard in 1751. He commanded a regiment in the French war, and soon after the peace of 1763 was appointed sheriff of Essex county. In the beginning of 1776 he emigrated to England. While sympathizing with the Tories, he refused to take a command in the royal army to fight against his fellow-countrymen.--

Another son, Nathaniel Saltonstall, physician, born in Itaverhill, Massachusetts, 10 February. 1746; died there, 15 May, 1815, was graduated at Harvard in 1766. He was a skilful physician, possessed high scientific attainments, and during the Revolution was a firm Whig.

An-other son, Leverett Saltonstall, born in Haverhill, Massachusetts. 25 December, 1754; died in New York city, 20 December, 1782, accompanied the British army from Boston to Halifax, was given a commission, and served as a captain under Lord Cornwallis.--

The second Nathaniel's son, Leverett Saltonstall, lawyer, born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 13 June, 1783; died in Salem, Massachusetts, 8 May, 1845, was graduated at Harvard in 1802, studied law, and entered into practice at Salem in 1805. He was speaker of the state house of representatives, president of the state senate, the first mayor of Salem in 1836-'8, a presidential elector on the Webster ticket in 1837, and was elected to congress to fill a vacancy, serving from 5 December, 1838, till 3 March, 1843. Harvard gave him the degree of LL. D. in 1838. He was an active member of the Massachusetts historical society, the American academy of arts and sciences, and other learned bodies. When he died, he left a large part of his library to Phillips Exeter academy, where he had received his early education, and a bequest of money to purchase books for the library at Harvard. He was the author of an " Historical Sketch of Haverhill," printed in the "Collections" of the Massachusetts historical society.--

A descendant of Gurdon Saltonstall, William Wanton, born in New London, Connecticut, 19 January, 1793; died in Chicago, II1., 18 March, 1862, was on his mother's side a great-grandson of Joseph Wanton. He was an early settler in Chicago, and during the last twenty years of his life held the post of assignee in bankruptcy.---

The second Leverett's grandson, Leverett, lawyer, born in Salem, Massachusetts, 16 March, 1825, was graduated at Harvard in 1844, and at the law-school in 1847, and practised in Boston till 1864. In December, 1885, he was appointed collector of customs for the port of Boston and Charlestown. He is an active member of the Massachusetts historical society and of other learned bodies, and is compiling a genealogical history of his family.

 

 

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