Gurdon Saltonstall, Colonial Governor of Connecticut

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Gurdon Saltonstall

Birthplace: Haverhill, Massachusetts
Death: Died in New London, New London County, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: New London, Connecticut, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Col. & Justice Nathaniel Saltonstall "Salem Witch Trials" and Elizabeth Saltonstall
Husband of Mary Whittingham; Jerusha Richards; Elizabeth Rosewell; Mary Clarke; Elizabeth Saltonstall and 1 other
Father of Katharine Saltonstall; Roswell Saltonstall; Nathaniel Saltonstall; Gurdon Saltonstall; Richard Saltonstall and 5 others
Brother of Elizabeth Denison and Col. Richard Saltonstall

Occupation: Colonial Governor of Connecticut, Gov.
Managed by: Max Kushner Saltonstall
Last Updated:

About Gurdon Saltonstall, Colonial Governor of Connecticut

Gurdon Saltonstall (27 March 1666, Haverhill, Massachusetts, – 20 September 1724, New London, Connecticut) was governor of the Colony of Connecticut from 1708 to 1724. Born into a distinguished family, Saltonstall became an accomplished and eminent Connecticut pastor before being appointed the colony's governor.

Early Life and Pastor

Saltonstall was the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth (Ward) Saltonstall, a prominent north Massachusetts family active in Massachusetts politics since the 1630s. He received his bachelor's degree in 1684 from Harvard Divinity School, where he studied theology, and was awarded his masters degree in 1687. It was at this time that Saltonstall first preached at First Christ Church in New London where he impressed congregants enough to warrant his appointment as the town's sole pastor. Saltonstall soon grew close to the Connecticut's governor, Fitz-John Winthrop and became not simply an adviser in spiritual matters, but in civil ones as well. When Governor Winthrop's health failed him, Saltonstall eventually began assuming executive responsibilities in the Governor's absence. He was married to Mary Whittinghame (d. 1730), a granddaughter of Mayor of New York John Lawrence (1618-1699).

Political Career

Upon Governor Winthrop's death in 1707, Saltonstall was appointed governor of the Colony of Connecticut by a special session of the legislature, a decision that sparked some outcry because of Saltonstall's status as clergy. Saltonstall himself was hesitant to leave his Church and take on the position of Governor, which prompted the state Assembly to aid his First Church of Christ in finding a replacement pastor. His selection approved by voters in May of that year, however, Saltonstall continued to be re-elected annually until his death. Governor was just one of the influential positions held by Saltonstall, as he was appointed commander of the Connecticut militia and Chief Justice of its Superior Court.

Saltonstall believed strongly in the power of traditional authority, a trademark of his time as clergyman and governor. He was wholly intolerant of divergent Christian sects, and favored the enjoining of Church and government into what he imagined would be a more effective system, an idea enumerated in the Saybrook Platform, a proposal mainly ascribed to him. The governor also found opposition to his government, or dispute within it to be contemptible, and frequently threatened to resign if such discord was not discontinued.

Saltonstall's support of established authority is also seen in his decision-making throughout Queen Anne's War, the second French and Indian War over control of North America. The governor was an loyal supporter of the British cause, seeking to reduce colony opposition to the war, and aided Queen Anne by increasing the recruitment and equipment of Connecticut militiamen sent to battle French forces. The Connecticut soldiers would eventually total 4,000 men, a sizable portion of the colony's 17,000 people. Because of the war's heavy costs, Connecticut's fiscal situation deteriorated, but Saltonstall's enthusiastic support of the Crown won the state much improved relations with Great Britain, recently renamed the United Kingdom.

The governor worked closely with Massachusetts Bay Colony governor, Joseph Dudley, in peacefully resolving the problem of the "Equivalent Lands," just one of many border disputes demanding his attention.


  • The descendants of William and Elizabeth Tuttle, who came from old to New England in 1635, and settled in New Haven in 1639, with numerous biographical notes and sketches : also, some account of the descendants of John Tuttle, of Ipswich; and Henry Tuthill, of Hingham, Mass. (1883)
  • *The Lawrence Genealogy with a strange obtuseness calls John Tuttell's wife "foster mother" to the Lawrence children. In 1659 she writes to Geo. Giddings as her son and so calls John and Simon Tuttle and John Lawrence; John Tuttell, aged 33 yrs. in 1650, which identifies him with Richard's son of that name, she calls ner cousin (nephew). Besides William, John and Jane, wife of Giddings, she had a son Thomas Lawrence who came afterwards. They were from St. Albans in Herts.--Savage.
  • George Giddings settled at Ipswich and d. June 1, 1676. He was Deputy to the General Court 1641,, '54, '9, '60, '1, '3, '4, '8, '72, '75. Long a ruling elder of the 1st church. --Felt's Ipswich.
  • William and John Lawrence rem. from Ipswich to Long Island and were patentees of Flushing in 1644.
  • William was a magistrate and military officer; d. 1680; next year his widow Elizabeth (his 2d wife) a dau. of Richard Smith, m. Sir Phillip Cartaret, Gov. of New Jersey, who founded Elizabethtown and gave it her name. After his dec. she m. a 3d husband.
  • John Lawrence of New Amsterdam (N.Y.) 1663; Alderman 1665; Mayor 1672; one of his Majesties Council 1674 and so by successive appointments to 1698; again Mayor 1691 and '92; Judge of Supreme Court of the Prov. of N. Y. 1693 until Dec. 1699; Sheriff of Queen's Co. 1681; Alderman 1680 to '84 and 1665 to '72. i: 1. Joseph, d. s.i. 2. John d. s.i. 3. Thomas, d. s.i. 4. Martha, d. s.i. 5. Susanna, d. s.i.; m. Galnic Minville one of the Council of the Province and Mayor of New York; (2) Wm. Smith, Alderman. 6. Mary, m. Wm. Whitingham, Harv. Col. 1660; for posterity see Mass. Hist. Soc. Col.; had among others: 1. 'Mary, distinguished for literary acquirements and for benefactions to Harv. and Yale Col.; d. 1739; m. Gurdon Saltonstall, Gov. of Conn.' Thomas Lawrence did not leave Ipswich till after his brothers. He bought the whole of Hell Gate Neck along the East River from H. G. Cove to Bowery Bay. -- N. Y. Gen. Rec. July, 1872.
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Gurdon Saltonstall

Chief Judge, Superior Court, 1711-1712
     Born: March 27, 1666, Haverhill, MA
     Education: Entered Harvard College at 14, graduated 1684. Harvard Divinity School, graduated 1687; Ordained as pastor of First Church of Christ, New London, Nov. 19, 1691.
     Occupations: Governor, Colony of Connecticut, 1708-1724; agent, secretary and political manager to Governor Fitz-John Winthrop, 1698-1707; Pastor, First Church of Christ, New London, 1691-1708.
     Died: Sept. 20, 1724.  Buried: Ancient Cemetery, New London, CT.
     Portrait artist: Gurdon Saltonstall's portrait, which hangs in the Museum of Connecticut History in the State Library and Supreme Court Building in Hartford, was painted by George F. Wright (1828-1881) from a copy at Yale University.
   * View Illustration and Engraving
   * Family ties: Great grandson of Sir Richard Saltonstall, Lord Mayor of London, 1597; grandson of Sir Richard Saltonstall, first associate of Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of its founders; one of the patentees of Connecticut. His father, Nathaniel, was a Magistrate of Haverhill, Massachusetts, a Colonel in the military and one of judges for the Salem witchcraft trials in 1692 (opposed to the proceedings at the trial he denounced the violence of his colleagues and vacated his seat on the bench). Son-in-law of James Richards, richest man in Hartford at the time of his death, 1680 and one of the Commissioners of the United Colonies, 1672-1675.

Items of Note:

   * Connecticut’s first Chief Justice
   * Was first clergyman ever to hold the office of Governor in the Colony of Connecticut
   * In an essay of commemoration upon the death of the Honorable Gurdon Saltonstall, Cotton Mather wrote, in part, The Colony of Connecticut was Exalted, Yea, all New England was brightness, while we enjoy’d our Saltonstall….We will not call him a Star, but even a Constellation…
   * Writing of the Saltonstall family a correspondent for the New York Tribune said of Governor Saltonstall that he was...unquestionably one of the first men in New England—standing at the head of the literati, distinguished for great reasoning powers and captivating eloquence, a profound knowledge of men and things, and extraordinary dexterity and wisdom in the despatch (sic) of business. His moral qualities were of the most pure and exalted kind.
   * Owned first printing press in Connecticut
   * Largely responsible for removal of Yale College from New London to New Haven.

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How was this fellow related? :

Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard (1802-1886) was an American fur trader, insurance underwriter and land speculator. Hubbard first arrived in Chicago on October 1, 1818 as a voyageur. He went on to build Chicago's first stockyard and help foment a land boom for Chicago in the East. Hubbard first arrived in Chicago in 1818 as a member of a brigade led by Antoine Deschamps. Hubbard carried an introduction to John Kinzie, a trader in Chicago, whose son, Morris, had befriended Hubbard. Although Hubbard eventually became a major booster of Chicago and one of its leading citizens, he wouldn’t make his permanent home in the city until 1834. On several trips throughout Illinois, he became the adopted son of Chief Waba of the Kickapoo and married Watseka, niece of Chief Tamin of the Kankakee. After he walked for 75 miles in a single night to warn the town of Danville of an impending raid by Indians, he earned the nickname “Pa-pa-ma-ta-be,” or “Swift-Walker.” When a local Indian tribe questioned his ability to perform this feat, he challenged their champion walker to a race. Hubbard's challenger lost by several miles and was unable to move the next day. Hubbard seemed to be unaffected. Upon settling in Chicago in 1834, Hubbard purchased a cabin near Lake Michigan from Billy Caldwell and became one of the village's first trustees. In the 1830s, Hubbard served in the Illinois General Assembly. While there, he advocated ending the Illinois and Michigan Canal at the Chicago River instead of the Calumet River. In Chicago, Hubbard became a leading figure in the fur trade and opened the first meat packing plant in Chicago as part of his work to supply Fort Dearborn with meat. In support of this business, he built the first warehouse, known as “Hubbard’s Folly,” in Chicago on the south bank of the Chicago River, near modern day LaSalle Street. Building his fortune in meats and furs allowed Hubbard to enter into the insurance business, and he was the first underwriter in Chicago. Following the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, he was nearly bankrupted by the insurance payments he had to make, but he was able to survive the set back. Hubbard was the owner of the Lady Elgin, a steamship which was rammed by a schooner and sank in 1860. (Numerous Irish immigrants who lived in Milwaukee, including some Dela Hunts perished.) Although Hubbard accepted insurance money for the loss, he never abandoned ownership of the ship, which was discovered in 1989. 1860 also saw Hubbard elected alderman of Chicago’s 7th Ward. In the late 1860s, Hubbard began work on his autobiography and had produced an 800 page manuscript which was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. Following the fire, he set to work to reproduce the manuscript, only completing it up to 1829 at the time of his death.

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From: Geneological and family history of modern New York by Wm. Richard Cutter

"...graduate of Harvard College, 1684, and was ordained minister at New London, Connecticut, in 1691. On the death of Governor John Winthrop in 1707 he was chosen his successor, and became govern or of Connecticut in 1708, remaining in office until 1724.

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Gurdon Saltonstall, Colonial Governor of Connecticut's Timeline

March 27, 1666
Haverhill, Massachusetts
May 11, 1690
Age 24
New London, New London, CT
Age 25
New London, New London, CT
April 8, 1694
Age 28
New London, New London, CT
July 5, 1695
Age 29
New London, New London, CT
Age 34
New London, New London, CT
June 9, 1704
Age 38
New London, New London, CT
Age 38
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States