Roger Conant (1592 - 1679) MP

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Nicknames: "Founder of Salem"
Place of Burial: Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
Birthplace: East Budleigh, Devon, England
Death: Died in Beverly, Essex, Massachusetts
Occupation: Salter in London, Governor of the Cape Ann Colony 1625-1628
Managed by: Thomas Edward Shirley
Last Updated:

About Roger Conant

Roger Conant (c. 1592 – 1679), son of Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant, Sailed 1623 on ship "Ann" from to the Plymouth Colony from London early in 1623/24, (SIC: may have been "The Charity") with the profession of salter. Early in his colonial life, he became associated with those opposed to the Puritan authorities in Plymouth and led the settlement to outlying areas, particularly in the Salem area, which he is credited with founding. He was the first governor of English settlers in Salem from 1626 to 1628.

"During his very long lifetime Conant had a number of family tragedies, including the death of his wife Sarah, and of sons Caleb, Lot, Roger and Joshua. Only his son Exercise and possibly several daughters succeeded him."[1][5]

Brief Biography

From Cutter:

Roger was the immigrant ancestor of the family here in America. One of his brothers was educated at Oxford University, and he too received an excellent education. On January 20, 1619-20, Christopher Conant, grocer, and Roger Conant, salter, both of the parish of St. Lawrence, Jewry, London, signed the composition bond of their brother, John, for the "first fruits" of the rectory of Lymington. He married, November 1618, and had probably been seven years an apprentice salter in London, living there until her came to America in 1623.

Gov. Roger Conant was son of Richard and Agnes, brother it is said to be Dr. John of the great Assembly of Divines at Westminster. He was appointed in 1625, government agent, or superintend for the Dorchester project of the plantation. Roger requested to be made a freeman 19 Oct. 1630.

Roger Conant was the 1st Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, in book HISTORY OF BEVERLY, 1630 - 1842. He discharged the principal offices in Salem. For several years, and represented Salem in the General Court.

According to History of Beverly, he was "a most religious, prudent & worthy gentleman;" graces that eminently qualified him for the duties he was called to discharge, and which, in one instance at least, enabled him to adjust a difficulty between contending parties at Cape Ann that threatened bloodshed. (Quote from Hubbard's Hist. N.E., pp 106-111.)

Family

Roger Conant

  • Birth: 1591, England
  • Christened: 09 Apr 1591 in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England
  • Death: Nov. 19, 1679 Beverly, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA
  • His suspected burial place is Burying Point Cemetery, Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts, but it has never been determined with certainty.
  • Parents: Richard Conant and Agnes Clark(e)

Married

  1. (1) unknown and
  2. (2) Sarah Horton, married 11 Nov 1618 at St. Ann, Blackfriars, London, England

Father of Sarah (died young), Caleb, Lott, Sarah, Joanna, Roger, Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth and Exercise (a son)


Spouse: Sarah Horton Conant (1598 - ____)


Children:

  • Sarah Conant (1619 - 1620)
  • Caleb Conant (1622 - 1633)
  • Sarah Conant Leach (1623 - ____)
  • Lot Conant (1624 - 1674)
  • Joanna Conant (1626 - ____)
  • Roger Conant (1628 - ____)
  • Joshua Conant (1630 - ____)
  • Mary Conant Dodge (1631 - 1688)
  • Elizabeth Conant (1635 - ____)
  • Exercise Conant (1636 - 1722)

notes

Roger Conant founded Salem, Massachusetts in 1626. On June 17,1913 a statue was built and dedicated to him and is still standing in Salem today. Conant built the first Salem house on what today is Essex Street.

The following Quoted from "The Encyclopedia of Colonial & Revolutionary America" by. John Mack Faraghu, 1990.

DORCHESTER COMPANY (1624-1626)

“Organized in England by the Reverend John White and the Western Merchants, the Dorchester Company's purpose was to provide and alternative for the Puritans to the Separatists in Plymouth and to end double-mannin of the merchants' fishing ships by settling fishermen on Cape Ann (Gloucester, MA). To be incorporated, the colonists had to stay three years and build schools and churches. In 1625, Roger Conant became governor, but he rejected the location and took about 40 settlers to Naumkeag (now Salem). The rest left for England, but the colony was not a total loss, as the Massachusetts Bay Company was modeled on it. He came to American with his brother Christopher on the ship "Anne", along with his wife Sarah and son, Caleb. Roger Conant was born in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England in 1592, the youngest of eight children. In 1623 he emigrated to Plymouth with his wife, Sarh and son, Caleb. However, he was uncomfortable with the strict Pilgrim society in Plymouth and moved his family to Nantasket in 1624. In the late autumn of 1625, Conant was invited by the Rev. John White and other members of the Dorchester Company to move to their fishing settlement on Cape Ann as their governor. Still looking for more favorable conditions for a settlement, he let a group of people to Naumkeag, now Salem, in 1626, and continued as their governor. In 1627 a patent was solicited from Engand and it was obtained by a group led by John Endicott who arrived in Naumkeag in 1628. Endicott and the other settlers of the New England Company now owned the rights to Naumkeag. Fortunately for the peaceful continuity of the settlement, Conant remained in Salem and despite what must have been a disappointment for him, acceded to Endicot's authority as the new governor. Conant built the first Salem house on what is Essex Street today, almost apposite the Town Market. In 1639, his was one of the signatures on the building contract for enlarging the meeting house in Town House Square for the First Church in Salem. This document remains part of the town records at City Hall. He was active in the affairs of the town throughout his life. In 1679, he died at the age of 87.”

There is a dramatic, cloaked statue of Roger Conant facing the Salem Common and stand atop a huge boulder brought from the woods near the floating bridge at Lynn. Artist Henry H. Kitson designed this heroic bronze statue for the Conant Family Association and the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1913. It stands outside the Salem Witch Museum. (Roger is often mistaken as a participant in the Salem witch trials, nothing could be farther from the truth.)

From Salemweb.com:

Roger Conant 1592 to 1679--Salem's Founder

According to records, Roger Conant was baptized in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England in 1592, the youngest of eight children. In 1623 he emigrated to Plymouth with his wife, Sarah and son, Caleb. (on the ship "Ann") However, he was uncomfortable with the strict Pilgrim society in Plymouth and moved his family to Nantasket in 1624. In the late autumn of 1625, Conant was invited by the Rev. John White and other members of the Dorchester Company to move to their fishing settlement on Cape Ann as their governor.

Still looking for more favorable conditions for a settlement, he led a group of people to Naumkeag, now Salem, in 1626, and continued as their governor. In 1627 a patent was solicited from England and it was obtained by a group led by John Endicott who arrived in Naumkeag in 1628. Endicott and the other settlers of the New England Company now owned the rights to Naumkeag. Fortunately for the peaceful continuity of the settlement, Conant remained in Salem and, despite what must have been a disappointment for him, acceded to Endicott's authority as the new governor.

Conant built the first Salem house on what is Essex Street today, almost opposite the Town Market. In 1639, his was one of the signatures on the building contract for enlarging the meeting house in Town House Square for the First Church in Salem. This document remains part of the town records at City Hall. He was active in the affairs of the town throughout his life. In 1679, he died at the age of 87.

This dramatic, cloaked statue of Roger Conant faces the Salem Common and stands atop a huge boulder brought from the woods near the floating bridge at Lynn. Artist Henry H. Kitson designed this heroic bronze statue for the Conant Family Association and the statue was dedicated on June 17, 1913.

Roger Conant: Salem's Founder -

Poor Roger Conant gets no respect.

Because of Salem's reputation as the "Witch City", and because Henry Kitson's bronze statue of the city's founding father stands in front of the salem witch museum, many visitors assume that the likeness of Conant as one respected magazine erroneously called it, that of a "determined sorceress"

Conant deserves better. it was his vision and faith that sowed the seeds of the new plantation at "this place called Naumkeake" in 1626, shortly after the demise of the English fishing settlement at Cape Ann. And it was Conant's tenacity and commitment- with probable encouragement from his wife, Sarah, who had just moved for the fourth time since leaving the comforts of London in 1623-that made the colony a success despite disease, depression and the powerful lure of the warmer Virginia climate.

And it was Conant's decision to stay at Naumkeag and to cooperate with the settlers sent over by the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1628, even after the company replaced him as the legal head of the plantation, that gave the settlement it's new name: Salem, "city of peace".

Roger Conant not only stayed, he devoted his life to serving the town and colony. he was admitted to the first church in 1628 and chosen a freeman, or voting stockholder, of the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1630. Conant was one of the first two Salem representatives to the colony's general court or legislature, and was repeatedly elected a selectman by the people of Salem.

When communities were granted the right to establish district courts by the legislature, Roger Conant became a fixture on the Salem quarterly juries for sixteen years. he was frequently called upon to establish boundaries for new communities as far away as Boston and Saugus. In 1636, Conant, John Woodbury, Richard Trask and John Balch, all original settlers of the town, served on the committee which created separate lots from remaining public lands in Salem. in return for their efforts, these men were each given 200 acres of valuable agricultural land in the Bass River.

In 1659, Roger Conant led the drive by Bass River residents to form their own church. By 1667 they had their church and, a year later, Bass River became the new town of Beverly. Conant was given the task of establishing the boundaries between Salem and Beverly and was the latter's most important citizen. Before giving up civic life in 1671, he served briefly as both selectman and juror and, as he had done in Salem, oversaw the laying out of Beverly land grants.

All of Roger Conant's service was rendered against a backdrop of personal tragedy. He had to endure the death of a daughter and four of his five sons. But he trudged steadily on, working for the common good right up until his own death in 1679. His perseverance in the face of adversity, even more than his status as Salem's founding father, is his true legacy.

Citations

  • 1. Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691, (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1986), pp. 269, 270
  • 5. "Roger Conant in Salem"

References

  1. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Family Sketch of Roger Conant
  2. Frederick Odell Conant, A history and genealogy of the Conant family in England and America, thirteen generations, 1520-1887 : containing also some genealogical notes on the Connet, Connett and Connit families (Privately printed: 1887) p. 99

Sources

  1. A Genealogy of One Branch of the Conant Family 1581-1890: Arranged for Moses Conant Warren ...Emily Wilder Leavitt, Moses Conant Warren. private circulation, 1890 - 18 pages
  2. Frederick Odell Conant, A history and genealogy of the Conant family in England and America, thirteen generations, 1520-1887 : containing also some genealogical notes on the Connet, Connett and Connit families (Privately printed: 1887)
  3. Lineage Book of Hereditary Order of Descendants of Colonial Governors  (Google eBook) Robert Glenn Thurtle Genealogical Publishing Com, Jun 1, 2009 - History - 406 pages.  Page 173
  4. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, vol I, publ 1915.  Edited by William Richard Cutter. Page 98.  "Conant"
  5. Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: Containing Historical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens and Genealogical Records of Many of the Old Families ... (Google eBook) J.H. Beers & Company, 1912 - Barnstable County (Mass.).  Page 383. "Conant"

Links

-------------------- (f/g) Roger Conant Birth: 1592, England Death: Nov. 19, 1679 Beverly Essex County Massachusetts, USA

Roger Conant founded Salem, Massachusetts in 1626. On June 17,1913 a statue was built and dedicated to him and is still standing in Salem today. Conant built the first Salem house on what today is Essex Street.

Son of Richard Conant and Agnes Clark(e) Conant Christianed 09 Apr 1591 in East Budleigh, Devonshire, England Husband of (1) unknown and (2) Sarah Horton, married 11 Nov 1618 at St. Ann, Blackfriars, London, England Father of Sarah (died young), Caleb, Lott, Sarah, Joanna, Roger, Joshua, Mary, Elizabeth and Exercise (a son) Sailed 1623 on ship "Ann" from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts

His suspected burial place is Burying Point Cemetery, Salem, Essex Co., Massachusetts, but it has never been determined with certainty.


Family links:

Spouse:
 Sarah Horton Conant (1598 - ____)
Children:
 Sarah Conant (1619 - 1620)*
 Caleb Conant (1622 - 1633)*
 Sarah Conant Leach (1623 - ____)*
 Lot Conant (1624 - 1674)*
 Joanna Conant (1626 - ____)*
 Roger Conant (1628 - ____)*
 Joshua Conant (1630 - ____)*
 Mary Conant Dodge (1631 - 1688)*
 Elizabeth Conant (1635 - ____)*
 Exercise Conant (1636 - 1722)

Burial: Burying Point Cemetery Salem Essex County Massachusetts, USA Created by: Mindy Alarcon Record added: Aug 29, 2001 Find A Grave Memorial# 5725134 -tcd

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Gov. Roger Conant's Timeline

1592
April 9, 1592
East Budleigh, Devon, England
April 9, 1592
East Budleigh, Devon, England
April 9, 1592
All Saints Church, East Budleigh, Devon, England
1593
April 9, 1593
Age 1
East Budleigh, Devon, Eng
1618
November 11, 1618
Age 26
Blackfriars, London, Middlesex, England
1619
September 19, 1619
Age 27
London, Middlesex , England
1622
May 27, 1622
Age 30
St Lawrence, Jewry, London, England
1623
1623
Age 30
Essex , Massachusetts
1623
Age 30
1626
1626
Age 33
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts