List of colonial governors of Connecticut

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Map depicting Connecticut's early colonial settlements and boundary disputes Ctcolony.png
Map depicting Connecticut's early colonial settlements and boundary disputes

The territory of the United States state of Connecticut was first settled by Europeans in the 1620s, when Dutch traders established trading posts on the Connecticut River. English settlers, mainly Puritans fleeing repression in England, began to arrive in the 1630s, and a number of separate colonies were established. The first was the Saybrook Colony in 1635, based at the mouth of the Connecticut; it was followed by the Connecticut Colony (first settlement 1633, government from 1639) and the New Haven Colony (settled 1638, government from 1639). The Saybrook Colony merged with the Connecticut Colony in 1644, and the New Haven Colony was merged into Connecticut between 1662 and 1665 after Connecticut received a royal charter.

Connecticut state of the United States of America

Connecticut is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, Human Development Index (0.962), and median household income in the United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, New York to the west, and Long Island Sound to the south. Its capital is Hartford and its most populous city is Bridgeport. It is part of New England, although portions of it are often grouped with New York and New Jersey as the Tri-state area. The state is named for the Connecticut River which approximately bisects the state. The word "Connecticut" is derived from various anglicized spellings of an Algonquian word for "long tidal river".

Connecticut River river in the New England region of the United States

The Connecticut River is the longest river in the New England region of the United States, flowing roughly southward for 406 miles (653 km) through four states. It rises at the U.S. border with Quebec, Canada, and discharges at Long Island Sound. Its watershed encompasses five U.S. states and one Canadian province, 11,260 square miles (29,200 km2) via 148 tributaries, 38 of which are major rivers. It produces 70% of Long Island Sound's fresh water, discharging at 19,600 cubic feet (560 m3) per second.

Saybrook Colony English possession in North America between 1635 and 1644

The Saybrook Colony was established in late 1635 at the mouth of the Connecticut River in present-day Old Saybrook, Connecticut by John Winthrop, the Younger, son of John Winthrop, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Winthrop the Younger was designated Governor by the original settlers, including Colonel George Fenwick and Captain Lion Gardiner. They claimed possession of the land via a deed of conveyance from Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. The colony was named in honor of Lords Saye and Brooke, prominent Parliamentarians and holders of the colony's land grants.

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The Connecticut Colony was one of two colonies (the other was the neighboring Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) that retained its governor during the American Revolution. The last colonial governor, Jonathan Trumbull, became the state of Connecticut's first governor in 1776.

Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1636 and 1776

The Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was one of the original Thirteen Colonies established on the east coast of North America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. It was an English colony from 1636 until the American Revolution in 1776, when it became the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

American Revolution Colonial revolt in which the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain

The American Revolution was a colonial revolt that took place between 1765 and 1783. The American Patriots in the Thirteen Colonies won independence from Great Britain, becoming the United States of America. They defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) in alliance with France and others.

Jonathan Trumbull Revolutionary-era Governor of the Colony and State of Connecticut

Jonathan Trumbull Sr. was the only man who served as governor in both an English colony and an American state, and he was the only governor at the start of the American Revolutionary War to take up the Patriot cause. Trumbull College at Yale, the town of Trumbull, Connecticut, and Trumbull County, Ohio are named after him.

Saybrook Colony, 1635–1644

The Saybrook Colony was established in late 1635 at the mouth of the Connecticut River in present day Old Saybrook, Connecticut by John Winthrop the Younger, son of Massachusetts Bay Colony founder and governor John Winthrop. The former was designated governor by the original settlers who included George Fenwick and Lion Gardiner. They claimed possession of the land via a deed of conveyance from Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of Warwick. The colony was named in honor of Puritan Lords Saye (William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele) and Brooke (Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke), who were prominent Parliamentarians and the colony's principal investors.

Old Saybrook, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Old Saybrook is a town in Middlesex County, Connecticut, United States. The population was 10,242 at the 2010 census. It contains the incorporated borough of Fenwick, as well as the census-designated places of Old Saybrook Center and Saybrook Manor.

John Winthrop the Younger Governor of the Saybrook and Connecticut Colonies

John Winthrop the Younger was an early governor of the Connecticut Colony, and he played a large role in the merger of several separate settlements into the unified colony.

Massachusetts Bay Colony English possession in North America between 1628 and 1684

The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1628–1691) was an English settlement on the east coast of North America in the 17th century around the Massachusetts Bay, the northernmost of the several colonies later reorganized as the Province of Massachusetts Bay. The lands of the settlement were located in southern New England in Massachusetts, with initial settlements situated on two natural harbors and surrounding land, about 15.4 miles (24.8 km) apart—the areas around Salem and Boston.

John Winthrop the Younger, the first governor in Connecticut JohnWinthropJr.jpg
John Winthrop the Younger, the first governor in Connecticut

The colony was little more than a single community. It came under the de facto governorship upon the arrival of Fenwick, who was the only signer of the deed to actually live the colony. In 1644 Fenwick conveyed the right of government to the flourishing Connecticut Colony, although issues surrounding this transfer led to litigation over property rights afterward. Fenwick returned to England and served in the English Civil War, and Winthrop continued to be active in Connecticut politics.

English Civil War series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers") over, principally, the manner of England's governance. The first (1642–1646) and second (1648–1649) wars pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament. The war ended with the Parliamentarian victory at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

# Governor Took office Left office
1 John Winthrop the Younger 1635 1639
2 George Fenwick 1639 1644

New Haven Colony, 1639–1665

The New Haven Colony was established by the Puritan colonist Theophilus Eaton, who was of the opinion that the policies of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were too lax in enforcing Puritan standards. After some exploration he purchased land from local Indians at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River in cx 1638. The colony in 1639 established a government modeled on that drafted by the leaders of the Connecticut Colony, which called for annual elections of its governor. Eaton was elected governor until his death in 1658. Following the restoration of King Charles II to the English throne in 1660, the colony became a subject of his ire when it harbored two fugitive regicides of Charles I, Edward Whalley and William Goffe. In 1662 Charles II issued a royal charter for the Connecticut Colony that merged the two colonies. The process of merger was not completed until 1665. The colony's last governor, William Leete, also later served as governor of Connecticut.

Theophilus Eaton was a merchant, farmer, and Puritan colonial leader who was the co-founder and first governor of New Haven Colony, Connecticut.

Quinnipiac River river in the United States of America

For the river from Norwich, CT: Quinebaug River

Charles II of England King of England, Ireland and Scotland

Charles II was king of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was king of Scotland from 1649 until his deposition in 1651, and king of England, Scotland and Ireland from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 until his death.

# Governor Took office Left office
1 Theophilus Eaton 1639 1658
2 Francis Newman 1658 1660
3 William Leete 1661 1665

Connecticut Colony, 1639–1776

Jonathan Trumbull, the last governor of the Connecticut Colony JohnTrumbull.jpg
Jonathan Trumbull, the last governor of the Connecticut Colony

The Connecticut Colony was formed from the towns of Hartford, Windsor and Wethersfield. Between 1639 and 1655, consecutive terms were not allowed, so the governorship rotated between John Haynes and Edward Hopkins each year, except for 1642 when George Wyllys served.

John Haynes, also sometimes spelled Haines, was a colonial magistrate and one of the founders of the Connecticut Colony. He served one term as governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was the first governor of Connecticut, ultimately serving eight separate terms.

Edward Hopkins was an English colonist and politician and Governor of the Connecticut Colony. Active on both sides of the Atlantic, he was a founder of the New Haven and Connecticut colonies, serving seven one-year terms as governor of Connecticut. He returned to England in the 1650s, where he was politically active in the administration of Oliver Cromwell. He remained in England despite being elected governor of Connecticut in 1655, and died in London in 1657.

George Wyllys or Wyllis served for a year (1642–1643) as one of the early governors of the Connecticut Colony.

John Winthrop the Younger was the governor of the combined Connecticut Colony in 1662, the year it received its royal charter. However, the regime change did not include an election for governor; Winthrop was merely retained in his position. The merger took three years to complete, during which time William Leete remained in New Haven. A similar situation happened to Jonathan Trumbull in 1776; the royal government was discarded for state government without a gubernatorial election, making Trumbull the independent state's first governor.

Sir Edmund Andros attempted to merge Connecticut into the Dominion of New England in 1687. As governor of the Province of New York in the 1670s, he had attempted to enforce the Duke of York's claims to territories as far east as the Connecticut River, and his assumption of Dominion control in October 1687 was marked by a failed attempt to seize the colonial charter. Andros is pointedly excluded from numbered lists of Connecticut governors; however, his portrait hangs, along with those of other governors, in Memorial Hall in the Connecticut State Supreme Court/State Library/State Museum building across from the State Capitol in Hartford. As Andros failed to take the Connecticut Charter, Connecticut was never absorbed into the Dominion of New England.

# Term # Governor Took office Left office
1 1 John Haynes 1639 1640
2 2 Edward Hopkins 1640 1641
1 3 John Haynes 1641 1642
3 4 George Wyllys 1642 1643
1 5 John Haynes 1643 1644
2 6 Edward Hopkins 1644 1645
1 7 John Haynes 1645 1646
2 8 Edward Hopkins 1646 1647
1 9 John Haynes 1647 1648
2 10 Edward Hopkins 1649 1650
1 11 John Haynes 1650 1651
2 12 Edward Hopkins 1651 1652
1 13 John Haynes 1652 1653
2 14 Edward Hopkins 1653 1654
1 15 John Haynes 1654 1655
2 16 Edward Hopkins 1655 1656
4 17 Thomas Welles 1655 1656
5 18 John Webster 1656 1657
6 19 John Winthrop the Younger 1657 1658
4 20 Thomas Welles 1658 1659
6 21 John Winthrop the Younger 1659 1676
7 22 William Leete 1676 1683
8 23 Robert Treat 1683 1698
9 24 Fitz-John Winthrop 1698 1707
10 25 Gurdon Saltonstall 1708 1724
11 26 Joseph Talcott 1724 1741
12 27 Jonathan Law 1741 1750
13 28 Roger Wolcott 1750 1754
14 29 Thomas Fitch 1754 1766
15 30 William Pitkin 1766 1769
16 31 Jonathan Trumbull 1769 1776

Related Research Articles

This section of the timeline of United States history concerns events from before the lead up to the American Revolution.

Edmund Andros British governor of several North American colonies

Sir Edmund Andros was an English colonial administrator in North America. He was the governor of the Dominion of New England during most of its three-year existence. At other times, Andros served as governor of the provinces of New York, East and West Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland.

New Haven Colony English possession in North America between 1639 and 1665

The New Haven Colony was a small English colony in North America from 1637 to 1664 in what is now the state of Connecticut.

Fundamental Orders of Connecticut

The Fundamental Orders were adopted by the Connecticut Colony council on January 14, 1639 OS. The fundamental orders describe the government set up by the Connecticut River towns, setting its structure and powers. They wanted the government to have access to the open ocean for trading.

Robert Treat was an American colonial leader, militia officer and governor of the Connecticut Colony between 1683 and 1698 and the founder of Newark, New Jersey.

Connecticut Colony English, from 1707, British, possession in North America between 1636 and 1776

The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut, originally known as the Connecticut River Colony or simply the River Colony, was an English colony in North America that became the state of Connecticut. It was organized on March 3, 1636 as a settlement for a Puritan congregation, and the English permanently gained control of the region in 1637 after struggles with the Dutch. The colony was later the scene of a bloody war between the colonists and Pequot Indians known as the Pequot War. Connecticut Colony played a significant role in the establishment of self-government in the New World with its refusal to surrender local authority to the Dominion of New England, an event known as the Charter Oak incident which occurred at Jeremy Adams' inn and tavern.

Dominion of New England English possession in North America between 1680 and 1689

The Dominion of New England in America (1686–89) was an administrative union of English colonies covering New England and the Mid-Atlantic Colonies. Its political structure represented centralized control similar to the model used by the Spanish monarchy through the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The dominion was unacceptable to most colonists because they deeply resented being stripped of their rights and having their colonial charters revoked. Governor Sir Edmund Andros tried to make legal and structural changes, but most of these were undone and the Dominion was overthrown as soon as word was received that King James II had left the throne in England. One notable change was the introduction of the Church of England into Massachusetts, whose Puritan leaders had previously refused to allow it any sort of foothold.

Charter Oak unusually large white oak tree growing on Wyllys Hyll in Hartford, Connecticut in the United States

The Charter Oak was an unusually large white oak tree growing on Wyllys Hyll in Hartford, Connecticut in the United States, from around the 12th or 13th century until it fell during a storm in 1856. According to tradition, Connecticut's Royal Charter of 1662 was hidden within the hollow of the tree to thwart its confiscation by the English governor-general. The oak became a symbol of American independence and is commemorated on the Connecticut State Quarter. In 1935, for Connecticut's tercentennial, it was also depicted on both a commemorative half dollar and a postage stamp.

William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele English viscount

William Fiennes, 1st Viscount Saye and Sele was an English nobleman and politician, known also for his involvement in several companies for setting up overseas colonies.

Roger Ludlow English lawyer, founder and deputy governor of Connecticut Colony

Roger Ludlow (1590–1664) was an English lawyer, magistrate, military officer, and colonist. He was active in the founding of the Colony of Connecticut, and helped draft laws for it and the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony. Under his and John Mason's direction, Boston's first fortification, later known as Castle William and then Fort Independence was built on Castle Island in Boston harbor. Frequently at odds with his peers, he eventually also founded Fairfield and Norwalk before leaving New England entirely.

Seal of Connecticut

The Great Seal of the State of Connecticut has been the coat of arms of the U.S. state of Connecticut since May 1784. It depicts three grapevines and a ribbon below with the Latin motto: Qui Transtulit Sustinet, with SIGILLUM REIPUBLICÆ CONNECTICUTENSIS in the border.

Charter colony is one of three classes of colonial government established in the 17th century English colonies in North America, the other classes being proprietary colony and royal colony. These colonies were operated under a corporate charter given by the crown. The colonies of Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts Bay were at one time or another charter colonies. The crown might revoke a charter and convert the colony into a crown colony. In a charter colony, Britain granted a charter to the colonial government establishing the rules under which the colony was to be governed. The charters of Rhode Island and Connecticut granted the colonists significantly more political liberty than other colonies. Rhode Island and Connecticut continued to use their colonial charters as their State constitutions after the American Revolution.

History of the Connecticut Constitution

Connecticut is known as the "constitution state." The origin of this title is uncertain, but the nickname is assumed to be a reference to the Fundamental Orders of 1638–39 which represent the framework for the first formal government written by a representative body in Connecticut. Connecticut's government has operated under the direction of five separate documents in its history. The Connecticut Colony at Hartford was governed by the Fundamental Orders, and the Quinnipiac Colony at New Haven had its own Constitution in The Fundamental Agreement of the New Haven Colony which was signed on 4 June 1639.

George Fenwick (1603?–1657), was an English Parliamentarian, and a leading colonist in the short-lived Saybrook Colony.

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