The Life of John Winthrop in Colonial America

Essay by SimonAdebisiCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2005

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Puritanism grew to maturity in its native environment before it was brought to America. It taught men and women how to honor God and deal justly with one another, how to live fully on earth and prepare bravely for heaven. In fact, in colonial America, many were aware of the presence of the Lord and worshiped him in their homes and churches. Occasionally one of the people of Suffolk left his or her trim cottage and pleasant fields to dwell in heaven with the Lord. Such a person was Thomasine Winthrop, who was married to John Winthrop of Groton Manor. In the fall of 1616, she died during childbirth, which was quite common during the time. What wasn't common was that John reported the incident in detail; due to his accounts we were allowed to see Thomasine during her final days. This, of course, tells us something about the world they lived in, which enables us to study the relationship between the two and their Puritan God.

John and Thomasine were both children of East Anglian gentry. In the mid-sixteenth century John's grandfather, Adam, had purchased a church property known as Groton Manor, where John would grow up. John was born in 1588, during a time of immense change in England. In fact, it was changing extremely rapidly, and within just a half century, there was a fivefold to tenfold increase in the production of coal, salt, iron, steel, lead, ships, and glass. Also, new industries produced copper, brass, paper, soap, sugar, and tobacco. With all of these goods, the English began to form large trading companies to tap into the wealth of Asia, Africa, and America. This time period is now regarded as England's first industrial revolution. Although there was plenty of change going on around them, the Winthrops'...