John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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John Hancock, Jr.

Birthplace: Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
Death: October 08, 1793 (56)
Hancock Manor, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Granary Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Biological son of Rev. John Hancock Jr. and Mary Thaxter Thaxter
Adopted son of Thomas Hancock, Esq.
Husband of Dorothy 'Dolly' Hancock Scott and Eliza Bale
Father of Lydia Henchman Hancock; John George Washington 'Johnny' Hancock and Nancy Hancock
Brother of Mary Perkins; General Ebenezer Hancock (power house keeper---Deputy Eastern Continental army paymaster); Lucy Hancock; Eva Jane Hancock and Father Hancock

Occupation: President of US Congress, Governor of Massachusetts, first signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Managed by: David Lee Kaleita
Last Updated:

About John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

Tea and the Boston Tea Party
John Hancock
As a result, taxes still had to be paid on imported tea, of course to the dissatisfaction of the settlers. To avoid this tax, more and more traders turned to smuggling. In 1773, the English government granted the British East India Company a monopoly on importing tea from Asia. This angered the settlers who, led by merchant John Hancock (1737-1793), among others, decided to boycott the tea of ​​the East India Company. This boycott turned out to be very successful. After some time the warehouses of the East India Company were overflowing with unsold tea.
England then gave the company permission to sell tea without asking import duties. This allowed the company to sell tea for a lower price than the smugglers. However, the ships of the East India Company were not allowed in many cities. Only in Boston did three tea ships reach port in late 1773. However, on the night of December 16, 1773, hours before the tea was to be brought ashore, the ships were stormed by dozens of settlers dressed as Mohawk Indians. Once on board, they threw the boxes of tea into the water.

John Hancock (January 23, 1737 [O.S. January 12, 1736] – October 8, 1793) was the son of Rev. John Hancock of Braintree and Mary (Hawke) Thaxter of Hingham.

He was an American merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is remembered for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence, so much so that the term "John Hancock" has become, in the United States, a synonym for a signature.


After his father died in 1744, he lived with an uncle and aunt, Thomas Hancock and Lydia (Henchman) Hancock.

He married Dorothy Quincy (May 21 (May 10 O.S.) 1747 – February 3, 1830), youngest daughter of Justice Edmund Quincy of Braintree and Boston and his first wife, Elizabeth Wendell, in 1775. She survived him and married Captain James Scott (1742–1809) second.

Their children:

  1. Lydia Henchman Hancock was born in 1776 and died ten months later.
  2. In 1787, their son, John George Washington Hancock, was ice skating on a pond in Milton, Massachusetts, and died as a result of drowning when he fell through the ice at age 8. [sic: of a head injury sustained while skating]


John Hancock (1737-1793) Representing Massachusetts at the Continental Congress

  • Born: January 12, 1737
  • Died: October 8, 1793
  • Added by Elwin C. Nickerson: Buried Near his Friend in Life - Robert Treat Paine and Other Ancestors - Granary Burial Ground,Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Birthplace: Braintree (Quincy), Mass.
  • Education: Graduated Harvard College (Merchant.)
  • Work: Elected to the Boston Assembly, 1766; Delegate to, and President of, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, circa 1773; Elected to Continental Congress, 1774; Elected President of the Continental Congress, 1775; Member of Massachusetts state Constitutional Convention, elected Governor of Massachusetts, through 1793.

The signature of John Hancock on the Declaration of Independence is the most flamboyant and easily recognizable of all. It is perhaps no surprise that the story of his part in the revolution is equally engaging. Few figures were more well known or more popular than John Hancock.

He played an instrumental role, sometimes by accident, and other times by design, in coaxing the American Revolution into being.

Born in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1737, he was orphaned as a child, and adopted by a wealthy merchant uncle who was childless. Hancock attended Harvard College for a business education and graduated at the age of 17. He apprenticed to his uncle as a clerk and proved so honest and capable that, in 1760, he was sent on a business mission to England.

There he witnessed the coronation of George III and engaged some of the leading businessmen of London. In 1763, his uncle died and John Hancock inherited what was said to be the greatest body of wealth in New England.

This placed him in a society of men who consisted mainly of loyalists, suspected by the working population because of their great affluence and social power.

Hancock, however, soon became very involved in revolutionary politics and his sentiments were, early on and clearly, for independence from Great Britain.

He was in company with the Adamses and other prominent leaders in the republican movement in New England. He was elected to the Boston Assembly in 1766, and was a member of the Stamp Act Congress.

In 1768 his sloop Liberty was impounded by customs officials at Boston Harbor, on a charge of running contraband goods. A large group of private citizens stormed the customs post, burned the government boat, and beat the officers, causing them to seek refuge on a ship off shore. Soon afterward, Hancock abetted the Boston Tea Party.

The following year he delivered a public address to a large crowd in Boston, commemorating the Boston Massacre. In 1774, he was elected to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts and simultaneously to the Continental Congress. When Peyton Randolph resigned in 1776, Hancock assumed the position of President. He retired in 1777 due to problems with gout, but continued public service in his native state by participating in the formation of its constitution. He was then elected to the Governorship of the state where he served for five years, declined reelection, and was again elected in 1787. He served in that office until his death in 1793. The dignity and character of John Hancock, celebrated by friend and enemy alike, did not suffer for his love of public attention. He was a populist in every sense, who held great confidence in the ability of the common man. He also displayed a pronounced contempt for unreasoned authority. A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them.

The story, entirely unfounded, is that on signing the Declaration, Hancock commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." An alternate story, also unfounded has him saying, "There, I guess King George will be able to read that!" He was the first to sign and he did so in an entirely blank space.

[see for more about what he might have said ...]

Sources: PFG, EA

  • Birth: Jan. 12, 1737
  • Death: Oct. 8, 1793

American Patriot Leader and Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts. His signature on the document was so bold that when people sign their names, they are said to have written their “John Hancock.” Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, where his father was a minister. When he was seven years old, his father died suddenly, and his uncle, Thomas Hancock, one of the wealthiest merchants in Boston, adopted him and raised him. John graduated from Harvard College in 1754 and joined his uncle in his business, inheriting the company upon his uncle’s death in 1764. In 1768, when one of his merchant ships, the Liberty, was seized by customs officials, Hancock felt the seizure was unfair and soon became a vocal critic of the British policies. In 1769, he won election to the Massachusetts Legislature, and in 1774, attended the First Continental Congress, and the following year, the Second Continental Congress. Because of his leadership, he was elected to serve as President of both Continental Congresses. On April 19, 1775, the British Army marched out of Boston to Lexington, in part to capture Hancock and patriot Samuel Adams, and it was Paul Reveres ride that gave them warning to flee. Hancock was hesitant to flee, as he wanted to join the Minutemen then gathering on Lexington Green to fight the approaching British. Eventually, he was persuaded to leave the fighting to others and to avoid capture. Shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Hancock was on his way to Philadelphia, to join the Second Continental Congress. As President of the Continental Congress, from 1775 to 1777, he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence. In August 1775, he married Dolly Quincy, with whom he would have two children, however, neither child lived to become adults. He had hoped to command the American Army, and was disappointed when Virginian George Washington was selected instead. In 1778, however, he led 5,000 Massachusetts soldiers in an unsuccessful attempt to free Rhode Island from the British. In 1780, Hancock became President of the Convention which wrote the Massachusetts Constitution, and became the first Governor under the new charter. Extremely popular in his home state, he served nine terms as governor, a total of eleven years, from 1780 to 1785, and from 1787 until his death in Boston in 1793.

Education: Harvard College



John was orphaned as a child and adopted by a wealthy childless uncle. Through his inheritance, he became the wealthiest man in Boston. He was a populist who believed in the ability of the common man.

"The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward." --John Hancock upon signing the Declaration of Independence

'John Hancock

Born in Braintree, Massaschusetts on Jan 1737

to John Hancock and Mary Hawke.

John married Dorothy Quincy and had 2 children.

He passed away on 1793 in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA.

Family Members


John Hancock 1702-1744

Mary Hawke 1711-1750


Dorothy Quincy 1747-1830


Lydia Hancock 1776-1777

John George Hancock 1777-1795

view all 20

John Hancock, Signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

January 23, 1737
Braintree, Norfolk County, Massachusetts
October 1776
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States