Rev. John White

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John White, M.A.

Also Known As: ""Patriarch of Dorcester""
Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Stanton, St John, Oxfordshire, England
Death: July 24, 1648 (73)
Dorchester, Dorset, England
Place of Burial: Dorchester, Dorset, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of John White, of Stanton St-Johns and Isabel White
Husband of Anne White and Anges (Agnes?) White
Brother of Nathaniell White; Mary Terry; Stephen White; Rev. Josias White, vicar of Hornchurch; Martha Moore and 1 other

Occupation: Rector of Holy Trinity and St Peter's Churches in Dorchester
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. John White

This is the John White who is sometimes called the "Patriarch of Dorchester".

He was named in the 1622/3 will of his brother Josias White; in the 1629 will of his brother Stephen White; and in the 1637 will of his sister Mary (White) Terry.

Alumni Oxonienses, page 1614:

John White, fellow New College, 1595, from Wykeham's school, B.A. 12 Apr 1597, M.A. 16 Jan 1600-1; the "Patriarch of Dorchester," baptised at Stanton St. John, Oxon, 6 Jan 1575 (son of John); rector of Trinity, Dorchester, 1605, and vicar of Fering 1605, minister of the Savoy parish, London, one of the Westminster assembly of divines 1643, rector of Lambeth, Surrey; died 21 July, 1648, buried in the church porch of St. Peter in Dorchester; brother of Josias 1593. See Ath. iii. 236; & Foster's Index Eccl.

The Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, vol. ??, page 154:

John White was called the "Patriarch of Dorchester" and was a leading figure in forming the Massachusetts Bay Company. He also formed the group who sailed on the "Mary & John" in 1630. He was born in the 16th century Rectory Farm House, which still stands today, across the road from the St. John, the Baptist church in Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire (2 miles NE of Oxford). His house in Dorchester is also still standing on a narrow street behind St. Peter's church.

The Search for the Passengers of the Mary & John, vol. 3, page 49:

Rev. John White was sympathetic to the Puritan cause, and he gave assistance to the Mayflower company in 1620. In 1623 he personally organized the formation of a trading post or station for fishing vessels at Cape Ann, on the shores of New England. This group was under the leadership of Roger Conant, and this site later became Gloucester, ***, MA. This venture failed after a few years, but then White turned his attention to the acquisition of a Massachusetts Bay Charter [the Mayflower passengers had a charter for Virginia, but were blown off course and landed much farther north; they had no legal right to settle in what later became Massachusetts]. This was the most important event in the history of New England, and its formation was mainly due to the skill and perseverance of Rev. John White. He frequently traveled to London to create and cement the great alliance between the wealthy London merchants and the seamen of West of England.

In 1628 a company sailed on the "Abigail" to establish a settlement at Charlestown. White send along John Endicott of Dorchester, to purchase land between the Merrimac and Charles rivers. The next year, 1629, this company was reinforced by emigrants filling three ships. One of them, the "Lyon's Welp," carried passengers entirely from Weymouth and Dorchester. The Massachusetts Bay Company became a reality when the Royal Charter was granted on 4 Mar 1629, and John Winthrop was named governor. He began recruiting 700 emigrants that were to sail to New England the next year on eleven ships, and this became known as the Winthrop Fleet. The first five ships sailed 8 Apr 1630 from Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, and these ships began arriving in Salem on 13 Jun. The other ships sailed in May and arrived in July. In the meantime, Rev. John White assembled a group from the shires of Dorset, Somerset, and Devon, which he gathered in Plymouth, Devon, to sail on the "Mary & John". This ship left on 20 Mar 1630 and landed at Nantasket Point on 30 May 1630, two weeks before Winthrop. In 1636 Governor Winthrop strongly urged Rev. White to visit New England, but he never made the journey.

John White died 21 Jul 1648 and was buried in the Porch of St. Peter's Church. A memorial brass was made in his honor and is on the wall by his tomb. Another memorial in his honor is in the adjacent Holy Trinity Church. An oak panel at the west reads: "In memory of the Rev. John White, 45 years Rector of the Holy Trinity & St. Peter's, Dorchester, by members of the Holy Trinity Church and those who revere his memory in Dorchester, Massachusetts".

Chalmer's Biographical Dictionary, vol. 31, pages 404-6:

WHITE (John), a puritan divine, and Wood says, usually called the Patriarch of Dorchester, was born in the latter end of December, 1574, at Stanton St. John, in Oxfordshire. He was sent for education to Winchester school, and after two years of probation, was admitted perpetual fellow of New college, Oxford, in 1595. Here he took his degrees in arts, was admitted into holy orders, and became a frequent preacher in, or near Oxford. In 1606 he became rector of Trinity church, Dorchester, in the county of Dorset, where in the course of his ministry he expounded the whole of the scripture, and went through about half of it a second time, having, says Wood, "an excellent faculty in the clear and solid interpreting of it."

About 1624, Mr. White, with some of his friends, projected the new colony of Massachusetts in New England, and, after surmounting many difficulties, succeeded in obtaining a patent. The object was to provide a settlement or asylum for those who could not conform to the church discipline and ceremonies. He himself appears to have been inclined to the same disaffection, and is said to have been in 1630 prosecuted by archbishop Laud in the high commission court for preaching against Arminianism* and the ceremonies. But as no account exists of the issue of this trial, or of his having been at all a sufferer upon this account, it is more probable, or at least as probable, that Wood is right, who tells us that he conformed as well after, as before, the advancement of Laud. Afterwards indeed he was a sufferer during the rage of civil war; for a party of horse in the neighbourhood of Dorchester, under the command of prince Rupert, plundered his house, and carried away his library. On this occasion he made his escape to London, and was made minister of the Savoy. In 1640 he was appointed one of the learned divines to assist in a committee of religion, appointed by the House of Lords; and in 1643 was chosen one of the Westminster assembly of divines. In 1645 he was appointed to succeed the ejected Dr. Featley as rector of Lambeth, and the doctor's library was committed to his care, until his own should be returned which was carried away by Prince Rupert's soldiers. In 1647 he was offered the wardenship of New college, but refused it, and as soon as he could, returned to his people at Dorchester, for whom he had the greatest affection, and where he had passed the happiest of his days, being a man of great zeal, activity, and learning, and, as Wood allows, a "most moderate puritan." Fuller says, "he was a constant preacher, and by his wisdom and ministerial labours, Dorchester was much enriched with knowledge, piety, and industry." He died there suddenly, July 21, 1648, in the seventy-second year of his age. His works are but few, 1. "A commentary upon the first three chapters of Genesis," 1636, folio 2. "A way to the tree of life, discovered in sundry directions for the profitable reading of the Scriptures," &c. 1647, 8vo. 3. "A digression concerning the morality of the Fourth commandment," printed with the preceding. He published also a few sermons.

[*Arminianism = doctrine opposing the absolute predestination of strict Calvinism and maintaining the possibility of salvation for all; in other words, someone who is against Arminianism is for absolute predestination.]

John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester (Dorset) and the Founder of Massachusetts, 1575-1648... (Frances Rose-Troup--1930) pages 413-414:

Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 105 Fairfax:

The last will and testament of John White Sen: Preacher of Gods Word in Dorchest'r in the Countie of Dors'tt.

Imp'rs I doe with all humble reverence and thankefulnes acknowledg and adore the Infinite goodnesse and mercy of God who hath bin pleased to sett me a-parte vnto this greate worke of the Ministery of his Gospell in such a place where I haue found his gratious hand with me th't my Labours haue ben well accepted and p'duced such effects as I haue cause to look vpon with much comfort and thankefull acknowledgment and hath borne me vp with his own hand in despite of the power and malice of those th't haue endeavoured as much as lay in them to hinder me in my course

2ly [secondly]. For the people wherewith he hath intrusted me I bequeath vnto them those truthes That I haue from time to time delivered vnto them as the counsells of God in the bowells of Jesus Christ beseeching them that they soe adheare and cleaue vnto them as the grounds of their faith and rules of their practise and suffer not themselves to be carried vpp and downe w'th every winde of Doctrine w'ch howsoever seemingly plausable att the first view by the novelty thereof will certeinly p've a meanes in time of vnsettling of them from the maine foundation and this I lay vp on them as my strictest charge of the observation whereof they shall giue an accompt to Christ Jesus att the last day. As for my outward estate w'ch the Lord hath intrusted me w'thall as it is but smale and therein most agreeable to mine owne desire soe I am in that respect troubled att nothinge more than that I want meanes to testifie my thankefull acknowledgm't of the favo'rs and hono'rs which I haue rec'ed from this people in the space of forty three yeares Wherein God hath bin pleased to continue me Minister amongst them

3ly. I give and bequeath vnto M'r Friderick Losse of Dorchest'r Phisitian [physician] one peice of my plate such as my foure sonnes by joynt consent shall thinke fitt as an acknowledgm't of his faithfull loue and great paines and care th't he hath taken about me.

4ly. I doe hereby appointe and ordaine th't the remainder of th't little plate w'ch I haue left may be soe disposed amongst my foure sonnes (in such p'portion as they shall agree of amongst themselves) that every one may receive some share thereof to be kept by them as a remembrance of mee

5ly. I giue and bequesth to my fover sisters Ann Drake Martha Moore Elizabeth Allen and Mary White [widow of brother Stephen White] to each of them the some of twentie shillings

6ly. I giue vnto Arthur Hackham my servant the some of Tenn shillings as an acknowledgm't of his faithfull service

7ly. I giue vnto Hanna Mounsell my maide servant the some of Thirtie shillings as an acknowledgment of her great paines she hath taken about me in my weaknes

8ly and Lastly all the rest of my goods and chattles I giue and bequeath vnto my yongest sonne Nathanaell whome I appointe sole Executo'r of this my last will and Testam't and require him w'thin one moneth after my decease to distribute amongst the Godly poore of the parish of Trinitie and St. Peeters in Dorchest'r the some of fortie shillings according to his discretion As for Funerall expences as I never liked the affected solemnityes thereof soe I require that there be order taken by my Executo'r th't as much as may be my Funerall may be solemnized w'th all privacey w'thout any sermon or ringinge of Bells.


John White Sen.

Signed sealed and Acknowledged by the above named M'r Jno White As his last will and Testam't the Twentie nineth day of March An'o: 1648 in the p'sence of vs --

Memorandum that the word (my) in the three and twentieth line and the words (foure) and (Ann Drake) in the Nine and Twentieth lline were interlined before the signinge and sealing hereof in the presence of Jno Whiteway Gabriel Reve

Proved 14th June 1649 by Nathaniel White.

Fos 10 OB. HK

John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester (Dorset) and the Founder of Massachusetts, 1575-1648... (Frances Rose-Troup--1930) pages 414-415:

[brother of Ann (Burges) White]

Prerogative Court of Canterbury, 105 Sadler:

12 September 1634. John Burges, parson of Sutton Coldfield, Warwick.

To be buried in vault in Sutton church where Dorothy my late wife was laid.

To Dorothy, daughter of son John Burges.

to John, Robert and Elizabeth Thurlbie, children of my late daughter Ursula at age of 21; Mary and Ursula Thurlbie have had their portion.

to Thomas, John and Elizabeth Breedon, my grandchildren

to John and Ursula Sherman and their mother my dear daughter Painter.

To dear brother John White of Dorchester, "Stephanus his Latin Concordance, which he gave to me," to my dear sister Anne, his wife.

To my son John silver cup or can given me by the Honourable House of Parliament, my greates standing bowl of silver and gilt and books at present in his hands.

To Mr. Robert Shilton of Birmingham my patron, his wife and children.

To cousin Thomas Willoughbie and wife Elizabeth.

Executrix, wife Lettice.

Proved 26 October 1635.

Birth: BEF 6 JAN 1575 in Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire, England

Death: 21 JUL 1648 in Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England

Christening: 6 JAN 1575 Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire, England

Burial: the porch of Holy Trinity Church, Dorchester, Dorsetshire, England

Father: John White

Mother: Isabel Ball or Bawle b: EST 1548 in probably, Lichfield, Staffordshire, Englan

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Rev. John White's Timeline

January 6, 1575
Stanton, St John, Oxfordshire, England
January 6, 1575
Stanton, St John, Oxon, England
January 6, 1575
Stanton St John, Oxon, Eng
January 6, 1575
Stanton, St John, Oxon, England
July 24, 1648
Age 73
Dorchester, Dorset, England
Dorchester, Dorset, England, United Kingdom