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now wholly unrecorded for us? We had known his character as displayed here. We have now a most authentic and complete development of the process by which that character was moulded and built abroad. The President of the Massachusetts Historical Society has been privileged to do a service which, with most rare felicity, embraces his indebtedness to his own good name, to his official place, and to the city and State which have invested him with so many of their highest honors.
The Honorable Robert C. Winthrop, a descendant in the seventh generation from our honored First Governor, seizing upon a brief vacation-interval in the course of his high public service, made a visit to England in the summer of 1847. He was naturally drawn towards his ancestral home at Groton, in Suffolk. The borough itself, with its own due share of historic interest, from men of mark and their deeds, is composed of one of those clusters of villages which are sure in an English landscape to have some charm in their picturesque combinations. The visitor had the privilege of worshipping on a Sunday in the same parish church where his ancestors, holding the right of presentation, had joined in the same form of service, to whose font they had brought their children in baptism, and at whose altar-rails they had stood for "the solemnization of matrimony," and knelt in the office of communion. The second entry made in the parish register, still retained in the vestry, records the death of the head of the family in 1562. Outside the church, and close against its walls, is the tomb of the Winthrop family, which, by a happy coincidence, had just been repaired, as if ready to reeeive a visitor from a land where tombs are not supposed to have the justification of age for being dilapidated. The father, the grandfather, and perhaps the great-grandfather of our John Winthrop were committed to that repository. The family name and arms, with a Latin inscription in memory of the parents of the Governor, are legible still. "Beati
sunt pacifici" is the benediction which either the choice of those who rest beneath it, or the congenial tribute of some survivor, has selected to close the epitaph. Only traces of the cellar of the mansion-house and of its garden-plot are now visible to mark the home where the Chief Magistrates of Massachusetts and Connecticut, father and son, had lived together and had matured the "conclusions" on which they exiled themselves. A monstrous and idle tradition, heard by the visitor, as he surveyed the outlines of his ancestral home, prompted him to that labor of love which he has so felicitously performed, and with such providential helps, in a biography. The absurdity of the tradition, equally defiant as it is of the consistencies of character and the facts of chronology, is a warning to those who rely on these floating confoundings of fact and fiction, which, as some one has said, "are almost as misleading as history." Two hundred years and more had seen that manor-house deserted of its former occupants. The neighboring residents had kept their name in remembrance, more, probably, through the help of the tomb than of the dwelling. Speculation and romance would deal with them as an extinct or an exiled family. The story had become current on the spot, that the Winthrops were regicides, and had fled to America, having, however, buried some precious hoard of money about their premises before their flight. Our author suggests the altogether likely idea that a suspicion might have attached to him as having come over to search for that treasure. Little may ho have imagined what thoughts may have distracted the reverence of some of his humble fellow - worshippers in Groton Church who whispered the nature of his errand one to another. Our honored Governor and his son of Connecticut had been near a score of years on this soil before Charles I. was beheaded. Mr. Savage informs us that he was once asked by a descendant of the father whether he had received before his death tidings of the execution of his old master. The annotator is able to quote a letter from Roger Williams, "to his honored kind friend, Mr. John Winthrop at Nameag," [New London,] lettered on the back, "Mr. Williams of y* high news about the king." This letter, conveying recent tidings, was dated at Narragansett, June 26, 1649, two months after the elder Winthrop had died in Boston.
It was but natural that even the absurdity of the tradition lingering around the traces of the Groton manor should have served, with other far more constraining inducements, to excite in the visitor a purpose to employ his first period of relief from official service in rendering an act of public as well as of private obligation to the memory of his progenitors,— especially as there existed no adequate and extended biography, but only scattered and fragmentary memorials of them in our copious literary stores. Happily for him, and surely to the highest gratification of those who were to bo his readers, materials most abundant, and of the most authentic and self-revealing sort, in j ournals and letters, were attainable, to give to the work essentially the character of an autobiography, and that, too, of the most attractive cast. A second visit of the author to England in 1859-60, and the most opportune reception of a large collection of original papers, preserved in another line of the Governor's descendants, put his fortunate biographer in possession of the means for completing a work surpassed by no similar volume known to us in the gracious attractions and in the substantial interest of its contents. The book may safely rely for its due reception upon the noble character, complete and harmonious in all the virtues, and upon the eminent public services, of its subject It has other strong recommendations, affording, in style, method, and spirit, a model for books of the same class, and embracing all those paramount qualities of thoroughness, research, accuracy, good taste, incidental illustration, and, above all, an appreciative spirlt, which stamp the worth of such labors.
We must leave almost unnoticed the author's elaborate chapter on the pedigree and the early history of the Winthrop family. He is content to begin this side of those who " came over with the Conqueror," and to accept for ancestry men and women untitled, of the sterling English stock, delvers of the soil, and spinners of the fabrics of which it affords the raw material. He finds almost his own full name introducing a record on the Rolls of Court in the County of York for the year 1200. Adam Winthrop, grandfather of our Governor, himself the father, as he was also the son of other Adams, was born in Lavenham, Suffolk, October 9, 1498, six years after the discovery of this country by Columbus, and in the same year in which occurred the voyage of Vespucius, who gave his name to the continent. This second Adam Winthrop, at the age of seventeen, went to London, binding himself as an apprentice for ten years under the well-esteemed and profitable guild of the " clothiers," or clothworkers. At the expiration of his apprenticeship, in 1526, he was sworn a citizen of London, and, after filling the subordinate dignities of his craft, rose to the mastership of his company in 1551 The Lordship of the Manor of Groton, at the dissolution of the monasteries, was granted to Adam Winthrop in 1544. Retaining his mercantile relations in the great city, and probably residing there at intervals, he seated himself in landed dignity at his manor, and there he died in 1562. His memorialist now holds in his possession the original bronze plate which was put upon his tomb three hundred years ago, and which was probably removed to give place to the new inscription connected with the repairs already referred to. This ancient sepulchral brass bears in quaint old English characters the following inscription: — " Here lycth Mr. Adam Wynthrop, Lorde & Patron of Groton, whiche departed owt of this Worlde the LX'h day of November, in the yero of owre Lorde God MCCCCCLXII." His widow, who had been his second wife, married William Mildmay;